The Heart’s Compass

This, from Jack Kornfield

In times of difficulty it is this repeated setting of our heart’s compass that determines the result. Whether in a family disagreement or community conflict, before we speak and act, we can become aware of our deepest intention. Even the simplest words can have a vastly different effect depending on our intention. The phrase “What do you mean?” can sound accusing and judgmental or considerate and humble. Our hearts are like seismographs, picking up the tremors of intent.

Notice how this works in conversation. Do we speak from a subtle sense of control or self-righteousness, or do we really wish to listen, to learn? If we set our minds toward freedom, our good intentions will help us to let go of what blocks our openness. If we set our hearts toward compassion, we will reaffirm our love in spite of whatever difficulties we face.

Instead of inflaming a bad situation, we can seek ways of touching the good in another. Without denying pain and injustice, we can also look for the secret beauty of others. Our spiritual practice can be this simple: to see with eyes of compassion and act with our wisest intention. This often has a surprising effect. Nelson Mandela put it this way: “Thinking too well of people often allows them to behave better than they otherwise would.”

Do no doubt the transformation that can be born out of such conscious attention. When Ananda, attendant and close friend of the Buddha, met a young outcaste woman at a village well, he politely asked her for water to drink, but she was ashamed and refused him, lest her untouchability contaminate his holiness. Ananda replied, “I ask not for caste but for water.” Her life was transformed by this simple kindness, and she joyously and lovingly followed Ananda to the monastery. There the Buddha blessed her and bid her to take up the kindness Ananda had shown her and, by keeping that simple intention, to “let the actions of your life shine like the jewels of royalty.”

It is in such small things that we fulfill the lessons of the heart. It is from our intentions that our life grows. It is in opening to one another that our path is made whole.

This excerpt is taken from the book, “After the Ecstasy, the LaundryYARPP

Lighten Your LIfe

I have always had a problem with envy of those who have more than me. I suffer from the idea that comfort equals happiness. All the while I was wishing I could medicate myself like the wealthy do with more and more comforts. I still struggle with this false notion, this “drug.” Below, Ram Dass speaks eloquently about this.


As you observe the patterns of your thoughts during meditation, notice which areas of your life keep cropping up as distracting thoughts and pulling on you. You will easily see what you must clean out of your closet in order to proceed more smoothly. For example, if you have heavy debts, and thoughts about these debts intrude when you meditate, rather than accrue more and more debts as our society urges, you will find yourself wanting to lessen them. As you simplify things like your finances, you see more clearly the way the laws of cause and effect work in your life. You will want to get your life lighter and clearer, so that there are fewer expectations upon you from all quarters. Later, when your meditative center is strong, you can carry many responsibilities without clinging to thoughts about them.

Each time you lighten your life, you are less at the whim of thought forms, both your own and others’. It’s as if you have built a world based on the thoughts of who you seem to be. As you meditate you become aware that these models are merely thoughts, not really who you are at all. Each time you give up an attachment to a thought form, your world becomes that much lighter and clearer.

Meditation affects your life and your life shapes your meditation. It goes both ways. Less busyness in life brings greater richness in meditation. This richness makes you content with less of the trimmings of outer life. As this process continues, less is more.


– Ram Dass

No Coming, No Going

Thich Nhat Hanh is Gravely Ill

Today I got this notice:

Dear friends,

We have received word that Thich Nhat Hanh is currently in a coma at a hospital near Plum Village. He is still alive, and this may or may not be his time of transition.

Plum Village has asked his students around the world to perform meditation and chanting tonight to send healing and loving energies to him. I invite the sangha to come sit and chant with me tonight in our meditation hall in Tampa at 7:30 PM. For those unable to attend or not in the Tampa Bay area, please join us in your homes.

In the Dharma, Fred


In honor of my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, I opened up the book “no death, no fear” to a random page and here is what it says:


When Paul Tillich said, ‘God is the ground of being,’ that being should not be confounded with the being that is opposed to non-being. You are invited to look deeply into the notion of being in order to be free from it.

Mindfulness of Emotions Talk and Meditation


From Michael Singer’s book “The Untethered Soul”

I’ve been reading this book lately after first thinking it would not have anything for me. Wrong. He writes with great clarity and insight about the concepts I am working with and my Buddhist practice. Here is a section of how the ego is built on fear: (bolding of sections is mine)

One of the essential requirements for a true spiritual growth and deep personal transformation is coming to peace with pain…The psyche is built upon avoiding this pain, and as a result, it has fear of pain as its foundation…You will see that any behavior pattern based upon the avoidance of pain becomes a doorway to the pain itself. If you are afraid of being rejected by someone and you approach that person with the intention of winning their acceptance, you are skating on thin ice. All they have to do is look at you sideways or say the wrong thing, and you will feel the pain of rejection…The avoidance of pain is what your actions are linked to…

If you do not want to deal with the pain at its core, then what you do to avoid it had better work. If you are hiding yourself in a busy social like, then anything anyone does that challenges you self-esteem, such as not inviting you to an event, will cause you to feel the pain. Let’s say you call a friend to go see a movie , and they say they’re busy. Some people feel hurt by that. You will feel pain if the reason you called them was the avoidance of pain...Then in order to avoid pain, you try to stay busy with friends and hide in their acceptance. That is the first layer out. Then, in order to assure your acceptance, you try to present yourself a certain way so that you can win friends and influence people. That is another layer out. Each layer is attached to the original pain….If the core pain was not the motivation behind proving yourself each day, what people say would not affect you…You end up so sensitive that you are unable to live in the world without getting hurt.

If you want out, if you want a decent life, you had better not devote your life to avoiding psychological pain. You had better not spend your life worrying about whether people like you or whether your car impresses people. What kind of life is that? To spend your life avoiding pain means it’s always right behind you. At any point you could slip and say the wrong thing…So you end up devoting your life to the avoidance of pain.

I recommend reading his book for his answers to this universal dilemma.

Thomas Merton on Compulsive Activisim

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his or her work for peace.

~Thomas Merton

What Continues Addiction

<a href=";

Have to be careful though that compassion doesn’t turn into enabling. I felt so sorry for an addict’s pain, he took advantage of that and robbed blind. I’ve heard that called “idiot compassion” and I was brought up thinking it was a virtue!

The Way Out of Stress

ET Explains

Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 241 other followers

%d bloggers like this: