Quotes to Contemplate

Quotes to Contemplate

Zoo:  At times, our inner world seems like a zoo. Learn to love these wild animals.


Vulnerability:  Talking honestly about your experiences in meditation can make you feel vulnerable. Though it’s counter-intuitive, being more vulnerable makes you less scared. When there’s less to hide, you’re freer.


Thoughtful:  By welcoming thoughts into your meditation and reflecting upon them -- you’ll become more insightful. You’ll also become a kinder person since you’ll no longer try to avoid thinking, a basic mental function.


Onward Leading:  What relieves your pain, hurt, and stress? This is tricky because what relieves in the short-run, might lead to greater misery in the long-run. This is how addiction works. To know what is onward leading, you best keep looking inward to discover what reliably sustains you over time.


Ethical:  Buddhism is fundamentally an ethical path-- learning to hurt yourself and others less. Ethics are complex, what helps and what hurts is rarely clear-cut. As awareness of your experience increases, you’ll feel hurt more acutely. Then the only thing that makes sense is to be kinder. Kindness is a value shared with most religions.


Reactivity:  Your heart pounds. Your breath tightens. You break out in a cold sweat. You say things you wish you hadn’t said.  You’d like to eliminate reactivity, which some Buddhist teachers consider to be liberation. Be curious about what you react to. Something here really matters to you.


Respect:  I respect the unique ways you, and each meditator, develop in meditation and life. Our groups are founded on a respect for this diversity.


Aspiration:  It’s good to know what hopes, desires and intentions you bring to meditation. Hopefully, as your meditation and understanding of the teachings develop, your aspirations also mature. I used to believe that I could manipulate my aspirations to turn them into the “right” ones. I no longer believe I have this much control. Instead as I become more aware of my aspirations, they shift and change. (See Awareness, See Eightfold Path)


Gentleness:  If you’re conditioned to believe that progress comes from hard work, being gentle might seem frivolous. Consider that the developments that come from gentleness are of a different nature. You’ll learn to be friendlier to yourself and erode the belief that you’re in charge of how you progress. (See Humility)


Gratitude:  Appreciation. In my morning’s meditation, waves of gratitude washed over me-- how fortunate I’ve been to live in the USA during decades when our government had some stability and integrity. This gratitude welled up on its own, after months of reflection about the current political situation. It was grounded in long-term contemplation.  In my experience, this kind of receptive gratitude is more enduring than gratitude generated by intentionally recalling what I am grateful about.


Journaling:  Why write down your meditation? Isn’t “higher truth” deeper than words? Maybe, though writing down your meditation has many benefits. Honor and listen to your experience like a trusted friend and more will be revealed. Your awareness, understanding and caring grows slowly. Your journal chronicles this, along with much else.


Ideals / idealization:  “the action of regarding or representing something as perfect or better than reality” Oxford Dictionary. Meditative and spiritual traditions are bursting with high ideals; meditation teachers and spiritual leaders are fodder for our superhero fantasies. We long for something, someone, someplace that is better than our reality. Sadly, these fantasies can’t help but betray us.


Explorative Dialogue:  The conversation with a teacher or mentor after meditation has many useful functions. Please know our intention is to help you gain more awareness of your experiences and to support your unique inclinations in meditation. It is never to improve or shame you. (See Awareness)


Complex:  Our inner worlds are intricately complex. Rather than recoil from this web of complexity, become more interested in it. This leads to a more poignant and rich life. Becoming too focused, for too long, on an object of meditation, such as the breath or a sound, can divert us from our complex inner life.


Friendliness:  metta. One of the “brahma viharas” or the heavenly abodes, commonly translated as the realm of the Gods. Just think how heavenly it feels when you feel genuine friendliness towards yourself. Being gentle and curious about your meditative experiences cultivates this kind of friendliness.


Integrate:  As you gain greater awareness of experience, multiple aspects come together or integrate in a way that is healing. For example, my stomach churns, I tremble a bit—then hear the distant sound of a siren. I remember my recent hospitalization. This awareness combines and I feel tender towards myself. Often this process takes place below the threshold of awareness—but somehow, I feel better afterwards. It feels like I have digested experience.


Awareness:  The great elixir. When awareness (sati) combines with gentleness and curiosity, transformation eventually follows. No need to conquer your problems or fix yourself—let awareness be the subtle yet powerful change agent.


Receptivity:  Befriending experience as it is in meditation, rather than trying to generate a “better” state of mind. We’d like to believe that we are “the boss” of our inner world.  It’s vulnerable and humbling to know how much we can’t control.


Lonely:  Sometimes you encounter a barren, destitute internal landscape seemingly only populated by an occasional prickly cactus, which never seems to flower. It’s hard to believe that being with this loneliness is better than running from it. (See Tolerating)