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 Quote: Every Bit Counts


No good deed is insignificant,
especially to the one
who benefits from it.

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 The TDE Collection
 Realisation: The Old & Young Monks Who Killed & Saved Ants



Mind precedes all mental states.
Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.
If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts,
suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

- Dhammapada Verse 1
Opening and closing this article are the famous first two twin verses of the Dhammapada, which is a collection of sayings by the Buddha inspired by real events. Once, some monks sighted some dead insects, which they suspect to be trampled by the old and blind Cakkhupala during his walking meditation. Hearing this, the Buddha remarked that just as they didn't see him killing the insects, Cakkhupala did not either. Besides, as he was already an arahat, it was impossible for him to have the intention to kill. Thus, he did not create any negative karma. His blindness however, was the negative karmic result of having blinded someone in a past life. A woman had promised him then, when he was a physician, to become his servant, together with her children, if her eyes get completely cured. However, she lied that her eyes were getting worse when they became cured. Out of vengeance, he gave her another ointment, which really blinded her.

In a related story, the master of a young novice monk, who could see probable events in the future, saw that the latter was likely to pass away eight days later due to negative karma. Out of compassion, he sent him home for a break, to see his parents one last time. Unaware of his situation, the novice went off delightedly. On his journey, he noticed an ant nest with a stream nearby. Its level was rising due to rain upstream. Attempting to prevent the ants from drowning, he used soil to built an embankment around the nest and diverted the stream away. To great astonishment, eight days later, his master saw him returning cheerily to the monastery. Perplexed at how he escaped death, he realised that his act of saving the insects had amassed so much merits, that his life expectancy extended. As such, the novice lived to a ripe old age.

The two stories illustrate the central role of intention in the creation of karma, be it positive or negative. As the Buddha taught, 'It is intention [or volition; instead of just an action], monks, that I call kamma [karma], for having willed, one performs an action through body, speech and mind.' Just as the old monk's ill intention created great negative karma, the young monk's pure intention create immense merits [pure karma]. Though both did not create new negative karma, they had to suffer for their past negative karma. Despite this, both were able to make the best of their situations. We too should take our negative karma in our stride, to rise above our present situations. We are not limited by our karma; only by our lack of diligence to do better, to render our negative karma relatively powerless with overwhelming positive karma and wisdom. Karma is not cast in stone! – Shen Shi'an: http://facebook.com/shenshian

Mind precedes all mental states.
Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.
If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts,
happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

- Dhammapada Verse 2
Related Articles: Can Negative Karma be Diluted with Buddha Mindfulness? |
The Story of Dhammapada Verse 2 (How Buddha Mindfulness Leads to a Better Rebirth)
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 Excerpt: It's Time for Mindful Self-Examination




Mindfulness is the root of all the methods that tame the mind. First it focuses the mind. Then it eases the mind. Finally it is the luminous nature, beyond thoughts.

- Patrul Rinpoche

 

We should take a moment to reflect on our Dharma practice from when we began practicing up until now. Have our afflictive emotions decreased since that time? Are we less angry, less dramatic, and less extreme? Are we less worried about the behavior of others and more mindful about our own behavior? Has our self-attachment decreased? Are we experiencing more clarity and stability in the mind? Are we able to practice more?

If, after making this examination, we feel that we are progressing pretty well, then it would be good to keep at Dharma practice just the way we have been. If we examine ourselves and then think: "I haven't changed as much as I should have as a result of practicing this long," it would be good to evaluate and reflect on ways that we could change.

Tibetan Buddhists say "the mind is not hidden from us" - in other words, we are the only ones who can really see the qualities of the mind. It is the same idea we express in English when we say that no one knows us better than we know ourselves. We are with ourselves constantly, and only we have the ability to discern our true motivations. However, self-attachment and the ego are very seductive. It is very easy to be lured into thinking, based on our self-attachment, that "I'm doing really well. I'm a great practitioner." It is easy to not be objective in evaluating how our practice is going and what we are like as human beings. For example, it is difficult to reflect on situations as an outsider and consider how people perceive us. If we engaged in this mental exercise, we might start to have a different idea about who we are as compared to the person that we typically imagine ourselves to be.

Momentary Buddhahood: Mindfulness and the Vajrayana Path
Anyen Rinpoche
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Movies: Serious Stuff from 'Funny People'
The Time Machine from 'The Science of Sleep'
Is 'District 9' Fictitious?

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Madman: Oh Fut-Fut-Fut-Fart!

Misc: What's the Big Deal with Beaches?
A Circle of Metta (Loving-Kindness)

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