“Buddha Temple”

The weathered sign swayed in the desert wind outside the old storefront on the poor side of town. Nobody knew what went on there. That’s probably because nobody ever went there, except for some hippies—and everybody knew they were crazy.

One day a couple of cowboys were riding around, drunk as usual, and one dared the other to go inside. They parked noisily. Slamming the doors and laughing, they walked back to the storefront. The door was locked, the windows so dirty they couldn’t see inside.

Finally one noticed the small business card down low in the window, so low your had to bend down to read it: “BUDDHA TEMPLE—please ring bell for service.” Exchanging glances, they didn’t seem so drunk anymore. Finally one said, “Aw, hell,” and pushed the doorbell mounted near the card.

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Authentic Power

False power and phony greatness are easily observed in the world around us. Powerful cartels promote slanted versions of truth in politics, entertainment and religion. People obtain temporary positions of influence through aggressive, false egotistical manipulations. Such phony authority cannot endure; it is lost as quickly as it is obtained. Lasting power and authentic greatness come from being in harmony with dharma, with what is right.

The Buddha teaches us a different way of acquiring and using power leading to true greatness and enduring influence. The Buddha’s teaching shows how to derive power from modesty, justice, gentleness and equanimity. And it shows us how to use that power to attain beneficial results for all.

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Right Foundation

Sabbe sattā bhavantu sukhitattā
“May all sentient beings become happy in their hearts.”
Karanīya Mettā Sutta (Khuddaka Nikaya 9)

Before building a house, we must establish the foundation. If there is any weakness in the foundation, the house will be fragile and faulty. We may have to tear it down and begin again from a right foundation before we can complete the house to our full satisfaction.

Similarly, in building an understanding and practice of the Buddha’s teaching, we must do so on the right foundation. Otherwise, we cannot get the desired result: attainment of Arahantship and complete cessation of suffering. We may have to tear down our wrong understanding and begin again. That is not only painful, but also a waste of precious time.

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Glories of the Buddha

Recollection inspired by the Tathāgata is mindfulness of the Enlightened One’s special qualities. Successful development of the Path comes only to one who has absolute confidence in the Buddha and his teaching. Absolute confidence is the confidence afforded by the Noble Path. It is a constituent of the factors of stream-entry. This confidence is developed by practicing according to the Buddha’s teaching and experiencing the result.

A meditator who wants to develop absolute confidence in the Noble Path should practice recollection of the Enlightened One at the commencement of each session. Fixed in the Precepts, he should go into solitary retreat in a favorable abode, quite secluded from sense enjoyment, free himself from the ten impediments to concentration (attachment to dwelling, family, gain, class, buildings, travel, kin, affliction, books and supernormal powers), and recollect the special qualities of the Enlightened One, the Blessed One, as follows:
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Journey to Truth

An untrafficked highway through the jungle.
An unmarked turnoff, a one-lane road
Becomes a dirt path, deep under the canopy.
Big lizards scurry across the dusty track.

This is where the good stuff is;
This is where the real monks live.
Not in the city, the glitzy showbottle temples.
Deep meditation needs silence and simplicity.

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Beautiful Depression

There’s nothing bad about depression. There’s nothing wrong with being depressed. Actually, depression is beautiful and being depressed is a great opportunity.

Depression is not a disease and contrary to cultural myths, it is not painful. What hurts when we are depressed is that we resist it. We do everything we can to ‘cure’ depression and recover our ‘normal’ emotional outlook. When that fails, we may take extreme measures, such as emotionally deadening psych drugs or even attempting suicide.

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