Often, remarks that leap into our minds don’t meet the guidelines of Wise Speech, and the best way to practice with Wise Speech is to say nothing.  It can be really hard.  It takes self-restraint, patience, and wisdom.  It’s a little easier if we understand why silence is the wisest course in such a situation.

The elements of Wise Speech prescribe that whatever we say should be: 1) true, 2) kind, 3) helpful and 4) appropriate.  All these elements need some explanation.  Truth means it’s accurate, based on observable facts.  Kind means it flows from a respectful and loving motive.  Helpful means it’s really going to do some good for others.  And it’s appropriate if it is timed and communicated in a way that those who receive the message can understand its intended meaning.… Continue reading

There’s a Zen story about a great master who was asked to sum up Buddhist practice in three words.  He answered, “Attention, attention, attention.” 

Being human is hard.  Countless factors interfere with our awareness.  We’re predominantly visual, yet our sight is poor compared to other species.  Plus, our eyes are positioned forward, leaving us blind to most of our surroundings.  With brains more complex than we can even comprehend, we all have weaknesses in some areas, like memory, analysis, speed, etc.… Continue reading

Best wishes to all at this turning of the year, from gradually shorter days to longer, brighter ones.  Each religion has its time to pause, review our conduct and celebrate good fortune, while resolving to do our best in the future.  This is a common time of year for these contemplations.  Being together with loved ones, too, or just holding them in our hearts supports sentiments of good will for all. 

These feelings are the guiding light of Buddhism, the Wise Intent to harm no sentient being – in other words, kindness.… Continue reading

Most of us are attracted to meditation because of the serenity and ease it fosters.  That can keep us going for the rest of our lives.  But our practice can do so much more.  It can make us much happier than we ever imagine possible.

There are two main points to remember about the Buddhist idea of “dukkha,” often translated as suffering or dissatisfaction.  First, the Pali term dukkha isn’t about bad stuff happening, but about how we react to events.… Continue reading

The Refuge of Sangha

We can take refuge in any moment, amid the turmoil of any day, in the Buddha and the Dharma.  In its simplest form, the refuge of Buddha is taking a breath mindfully.  It doesn’t even have to be a deep one.  The bare-bones of the Dharma is recognizing your suffering (dukkha), and remembering that it’s optional. 

To take refuge in the Sangha may require a text, a phone call or a visit to a sangha meeting.  Without the support of other people, our journey on the Path can be misdirected.  When you have a sangha, or spiritual friends, the commitment to mindfulness practice that you share with them is wonderfully supportive.… Continue reading