Sunday, May 20, 2012

A few quotes I find inspiring

While I had been introduced to formal meditation by a philosophy professor in college (thanks Dr. Brown, wherever you may be!), I didn't sit again until another professor in grad school basically told me he would not sign off on my Buddhism thesis unless I meditated. He had a good point there -- and therein lies the reference for my first inspiring quotation, from the Dhammapada:

If one, through reciting much of texts, is not a doer thereof, a heedless person; he, like a cowherd counting other's cows, is not a partaker of the religious quest. If one, through reciting little of texts, lives a life in accord with the dhamma, having discarded passions, ill will, and unawareness, knowing full well, the mind well freed, he, not grasping here neither here after, is a partaker of the religious quest.

After graduate school, the only mediation I practiced was a few minutes on the mat before Aikido. So fast forward about six years. Got married, we got pregnant, and suddenly I had a fire lit under me to get serious about meditation. But of course, I had to read even more about it before I could get down to brass tacks.

I read texts from the Tibetan, South Asian, Zen traditions, you name it -- being at that time a hopeless and unacknowledged perfectionist I wanted to be sure I was doing this sitting thing right. so the following are just a few more quotations I noted in my sketchbook from those years that I found particularly informative or inspiring:

Do not think, nor conceive. Abide in the natural relaxed state, without contrivance; with the absence of all projections is the innate nature attained. Such is the way followed by all victors of the three times. -- Nagarjuna

When Mind has no place where it can stop (and become limited) the mahamudra [lit. the great attitude] is present. By cultivating such an attitude one attains supreme enlightenment...universal attitude of mind, infinite, all embracing, jewel-like casket of the original mind, free from selfish passions, shines like the [infinite] sky. -- Tilopa

Too close to be recognized. Too deep to grasp. Too easy to believe. Too amazing to be understood intellectually. Still water is clear; mind free of strain is happy. From possessiveness comes want. From nonattachment, satisfaction. -- unnatributed

Whether we are of greater, middling or lesser abilities, the best signs of success are a decrease of self-centeredness and the easing of mental afflictions. -- Gampopa, Precious Garland of the Sublime Way

For the strings to vibrate harmoniously, they must have the right tension. Well the same is true of your mind. To practice with the correct attentiveness, it should be not too tight, not too relaxed. We then let our minds remain at rest, open and without strain, fidgeting or distraction, and we abide attentive to the mind as it is. The ability to return to the breath and thereby to remember the meditation, is called recollection. Attention and recollection are two essential elements of Samatha practice. -- [I think this is from Breath Sweeps Mind but I will have to double check.]

Caught in the self-centered dream, only suffering. Holding on to self-centered thoughts, exactly the dream. Each moment, life as it is the only teacher. Being just this moment, compassions way. -- Charlotte Joko Beck

Become one with whatever you are doing. -- Dogen Zenji

You have stopped running from your suffering. You know now that we all suffer. You have become more compassionate, which means you are including others in your practice. Now deepen. Buddhism is a two-edged sword, wisdom and compassion. Keep both edges sharp. Take it with you wherever you go and there is nothing you cannot meet with deep joy. -- Dainin Katagiri Roshi

Turns out I gave away my only copy of Breath Sweeps Mind, so unless somone has a copy they can check, we'll have to wait to confirm that one.

Any inspiring quotes that pertain to beginning the path, or being on it, that you want to share?


  1. I have no quotes for you, but your quote about "not too tight, not too relaxed" was the title of a post by Susan Piver - a meditation teacher on line. You may have heard of her... She is of the Shambhala Tradition. Here is the link in case you want to check her out.

    And another link for her about her upcoming "Practitioner level" online meditation program starting June 1. (I'm not promoting her btw :) - just offering possibilities for practice :)

    And I believe ZenDotStudio has done some Vipassana Meditation that you can check with her about if you're interested...

    Hope the links work :)

    1. Hey thanks I will check out Susan's site, and yes I love ZDS's blog but was not aware what tradition of meditation she practices. Thanks again.

  2. Hey, another one- Dr. Mazis, philosophy professor at Penn State, taught me to sit Zazen in 2003. I have sat every day since then.