A Short Prayer for Living and Dying 

This life is like a water bubble on a fast-moving stream; the truth is – it’s almost over. With your brief and limited time, live life to its depth, not to its limit.
Coming and going like falling waves – you have been known by many names and titles. Behind each one – a lengthy story, an unconvincing tale, a collapsing myth. Where are they now? These characters in your boat – they were drilling holes when you weren’t looking! Stop wasting time being entranced and taken with these identities and illusions. You’re far too concerned with temporary pleasures, reputation and gain that will all disappear without a moments notice.

Pay attention now so you don’t live in fear later. Prepare for death while you are alive – before it is thrust upon you. Don’t be foolish, this is not your only life. Everything continues, so don’t bet the wrong way. You will experience the results of your thoughts, speech and actions – so watch your conduct carefully while you are still here. Repair and amend your mistakes while you still have time.

The more you struggle to live, the greater the current, the greater the wake. Turn inward to find tranquil seas. You are moving closer to the truth with every passing tick, every moment, every beat, every breath. What you are seeking is not outside – all rivers lead inward. Sever your attachment to the fifty-one that cling. Stop struggling, resist swimming against the tide. Follow the stream – any of which will bring you home. Let go, nothing leaves without something better coming.Hurry and learn the skill of loosening the knots. Uncoil everything and you will find true acceptance.

The work of the eyes and the senses is almost done. Be naked and transparent – unveil your self to reveal yourself. Turn toward and acknowledge the inner sun – don’t hide or be fearful of the light. This is awareness. Bask in luminous brilliance.
Prepare for death as in life. Each time you sleep – cross the hypnagogue, but this time cross while awake, lucid, and conscious. The same process happens while dying. It’s time to let go now – you will soon come to know the truth about material things and possessions. Release this shimmering sea of outer reflections that seem like existence. Let your attachment to friends and loved ones go, be by yourself now.

You will thirst for water and your skin will dry out. You will alternate between feeling very light and very heavy. Heat will recede from your limbs and you will become cold. Your breath will become short, shallow and raspy. Your vision will become blurry. Close your eyes – turn toward what seem like sparks, fireflies, faint echoes, dancing colors and shifting lights. These are only the subtle display of the mind. Don’t become frightened or mesmerized. All will become dark. This is not the end, just the next beginning.

Then there will be an endless light. Rest peacefully in this motionless brilliance. This is timeless awareness. If you fail to recognize this a combination and swirl of frightening images, loved ones and unknown figures will begin to appear… Let these images come and go…don’t be drawn in. These are mere appearances – attach to none of them. Until you recognize the light of awareness – the cycle will continue, endlessly so. Awaken.🌷
Prepare for death as you would for life. Say your goodbyes and forgiveness’ now. Leave no anger in your heart. Visualize these instructions each day in preparation, and this will help you to live your life more fully and when the time comes – you will die peacefully and without regret.

Remember the instructions and may all be auspicious. 🙏

An instruction letter from my mountain hermitage. Dzogchen Valley, Kham, Eastern Tibet.

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Happiness and Poverty Mentality

  
Pure present moment joy. Once you leave Bangkok and travel northeast into the jungles and rice fields of Issan province this is what you’ll find: A way of life called, “sanook,” in Thai – it means to find the joy in whatever you do. 

When I left investment banking and became a Buddhist monk this was where the first forest temple (Wat) I lived in was – and the experience inalterably changed my life for the better. Living in Thailand shined a stark light on what has become an obvious and evident truth – that true joy comes from the inside – and exudes and shines its way out through expression, speech and action.

When I first arrived in this rural area near the Laotian border I thought everyone – all of these happy people were impoverished. It didn’t take long to discover that it was me who was lacking. Poor and desolate. That with all of this money, education and ambition that I was so incredibly vacant, so uninformed and pathetically poor – immersed in what I have come to understand and termed as, “poverty mentality”. Poverty mentality is in opposition to joy, it is falsely seen through the eyes of consumerism and materialism as something to cultivate and even admire. The attitude and stance that nothing is ever enough: To always want and need more – to never be satisfied. Insatiable craving and thirsting for more and more. In retrospect I don’t know how I didn’t see it. 
There is no real sanook in consumerism – just temporary and fleeting gratification from mundane pleasures that are mistaken for happiness, but far from well-being. There’s nothing wrong with material things as long as you know their actual worth: that all things actually have no inherent value beyond the conditioned mind that assigns and attributes a price to their perceived function.

The first day as a monk I begged (Buddhist monastic tradition) for food from a young woman with two infants who lived nearby in a small corrugated tin shanty. I’ll never know her name. She fed me in the rice field that I was walking through that day – she simply placed rice and vegetables in my bowl and offered prayers. There are fewer humbling experiences than begging for alms. How to accept food from someone who has less than you? Only to quickly realize she had so much more. Sitting outside on a thin rice mat smiling with her children and hands in prayer. She was so rich and so filled with the joy of generosity. 

I never felt so poor as that moment. In that time and space it occurred to me almost instantly that my ambitious values and constant craving were at odds with harmony, contentedness, peace and love – even for myself. Right there in the middle of that rice field thousands of miles from home my knees buckled and I wept and wept. That was the day I gave up, let go and truly started to give in. That was the day I found my good heart and began to discover the joy in the easy naked simplicity of just being. Sanook. 

May you be happy, may you be well, truly peaceful and at ease 🙏❤️🌷😊

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Present Moment Love

  
Perhaps our dreams are there to be broken, and our plans are there to crumble, and our tomorrows are there to dissolve into todays, and perhaps all of this is all a giant invitation to wake up from the dream of separation, to awaken from the mirage of control, and embrace whole-heartedly what is present. 
My life is a passing succession of events, just like yours. Only I have detached and see the passing show as a passing show….
Friends, appearances do not bind the mind, attachments bind the mind. Cut through your attachments…
You are not your name, where you are from your race, country, religion or gender…
You are not your thoughts or feelings…
Relax your attachments and your sorrows will become unmasked. Joy is all that will remain.

Cling to nothing. Stop fixating. Release your hopes, fears, expectations and worries. Relax into awareness without an object. 

Know the state of pure and total presence to be a very vast expanse, without center or border. All that remains when you let go is love – and that is the great secret. When this is realized you will burst into a beautiful spontaneous laughter❤️

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Nisargadatta Maharaj

Tilopa’s Instruction to Naropa 

Foster

Longchenpa

Myself

Endless Compassion

  
Recently I was asked how it was possible to remain upbeat and cheery when meeting with so many people day in and day out with so many difficulties. 

This type of query is not about counseling or therapy though. This is about something much larger, much bigger than a profession. 
Who among us hasn’t tried to rescue someone? Tried to save someone? Become involved in the suffering of others only to make things worse? Who among us hasn’t fruitlessly thrown money at problems? Given unheeded and/or unhelpful advice? Become weighed down by the very people we thought we were helping?

Look at the projective nature. Better to ask what is it in yourself that wishes to be rescued? What is it in yourself that wants to be saved? That believes if only the right person would enter your life with just the right words, or if only you had ‘x’ amount of money that everything would be okay.

How to remain present with people when they’re suffering? How to bear compassionate witness to others in the midst of pain without being drawn in to their drama is a teaching for all of us. To be an empathetic witness who doesn’t stoically compartmentalize for fear of the pain they might feel. To not suffer from tyrannical compassion and walk the delicate line and to feel the pain of others without trying to commandeer or control the other persons emotional outcome is a skill. To not suffer from idiot compassion and become complicit in the loss of boundaries and drown in unhealthy copendency is a skill. 
A skill for whom? For everyone alive, in family, in relationship, in friendship, as lovers, as neighbors, as enemies, in society, in the environment and simply – in the world. 
While there are endless facets to examine in helping to avoid these common mistakes of compassionate caring – there is a foundational basis that needs to be there to keep your sanity, composure and your good heart intact.
When you can look into the suffering face of another and see them as inseparable from yourself, as a reflection of your own being – only then is your compassion aligned with wisdom. 
To be compassionate with suffering first requires an acceptance of suffering. Suffering is an intrinsic part of life and cannot be avoided. You can’t help anyone to change who doesn’t have an intention to change or doesn’t see an issue with their actions. I can’t tell you just how important it is to be able to separate out the difference between your version of another persons suffering and their actual suffering. Even more importantly to know the difference between their suffering and your discomfort with their suffering. To react to your own discomfort has nothing to do with compassion, but is more aligned with fear. 

May you practice a gentle loving and living compassion for others that is not contingent upon their actions, behavior or your expectations of outcome. May you see yourself in every suffering being, and may you recognize them as a reflection of your own unfinished business. May every suffering being you meet be met with a heart and mind imbued with a deep genuine concern for their happiness, safety, peace and well-being. In this way may we all experience the fruits of our loving and compassionate heart in this very life.

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Be Present Just for A Moment

  
Notice whatever your current predominant attitude, emotive, or felt state is. That’s conceptual – meaning your thinking is describing what you’re experiencing. See if what you’re experiencing is only what your mind is describing. Briefly rest with that experience.

Now notice what the awareness is like that is recognizing that predominant state. What’s it like – only what it feels like – not what you think about it. Recognize its spacious, light, warm quality. This is called non-conceptual awareness. Rest with recognition in that awareness.

Go one step further: what is the awareness of that awareness like? What does it feel like? That’s awareness recognizing itself – which we call self realization – not you recognizing awareness – simply awareness recognizing itself.

When you stop paying attention to awareness what awaits you are appearances to awareness – Sounds, visual phenomena, tastes, smells, tactile sensations, thoughts and emotions. All of these are appearances are rising from, briefly abiding in, and returning to and not separate from awareness. These appearances are the results of your past thoughts, speech, and actions – they are not you. You are not a temporary mental or emotional state. Be the awareness.

Consequently go for protection from suffering as well as the joy of contentment in awareness – not in the appearances of awareness, or you will be like a suffering dog who cannot stop chasing its own tail. Free yourself. Relax. Don’t fixate on, adopt, or reject any appearance. Simply let them come and go without attachment. Recognize and rest in present moment natural uncontrived awareness. 

May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease.

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The Garden

I walk softly through the garden of my mind planting the seeds of love and kindness, nurturing the growth, tending to the future harvest. May never-ending abundance fall from these limbs encouraging and feeding the lives of others. May the shade from these trees provide protection from the heat, and the weary a place of rest and gentle sleep. May these falling leaves and changing seasons remind me of my short time and brevity. I will mindfully sow my thoughts, reaping every action. These actions will flower into habits, and these will blossom and become my character. With every thought sewn, I weave the fabric, this colorful field of my reality.

There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our thoughts. Bertrand Russell

Imagine that there is no knowable world out there independent from your mind and the way that you think. 
When the Buddha was asked, “Where does the world and all of its inhabitants come from?”
He replied, “From movements of the mind.” 

Imagine that now. Imagine all that you’re perceiving now is the result of your previous conditioning. We reap what we sow. Thought by thought, word by word, action by action – tend to your garden wisely, creating your future harvest.

And another perspective: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7

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Ultimately Speaking

Not until you let go of everything that you crave and cling to will you receive all that you truly need. Furthermore – if you will simply pay attention you will recognize that you already have all that you need, I promise it is only the craving for more that stops you from realizing this. How could you ever have more than being a part of everything?
Finally you will need to let go of the person you think you are to discover what you just might already be. Only by releasing the grasping to the various identities you’ve unnecessarily created will you see that everything you’ve longed to become was already a part of you.

Relax the craving and the grasping. Everything is fine as it is. Everything is fine in its own place. There is nothing to cling to or control. There is nothing to fixate on, nothing to adopt or reject. Everything is free just as it is. Relax into this awareness, release the striving. Relax and observe the appearances of the mind like stormy weather passing through a perfect sky. You will burst into laughter when you discover that you have made a big deal about absolutely nothing for far too long now.

May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease.

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