Attachment to Work

Attachment to work is to be found in every country. That worldly activity is the first chapter of life. So long as the Rajas quality predominates, attachment to work increases. One cares more for one's own good, -riches, honor, fame. It gradually leads to ignorance which makes one forget God, the Reality of the universe. God cannot be realized until the Sattva qualities, such as devotion, right discrimination, dispassion and compassion for all, prevail. All attachment to lust and gold proceeds from Rajas and Tamas qualities, but work cannot be renounced entirely. Propelled by nature (Prakriti) you plunge into work even against your wish. Therefore I say you should work with non-attachment; in other words, you should work without seeking the fruit.In a great religious ceremony we give alms to the poor and do various other charitable works and may think that we are absolutely unattached to the results of such work, but in the end we find that the desire for name and fame has crept up in the heart, we do not know how. But he alone who has seen and realized God can become absolutely unattached to work and its result.Q: What is the path for those who have not realized God? Is it necessary for them to give up all work and worldly activities?Sri Ramakrishna: In this age (Kali Yuga) the path of devotion and love (Bhakti Yoga) is easy for all. The practice of Narada's Bhakti is better adapted to this Yuga. One should repeat the Holy Name of the Lord and chant His praises and with earnest and sincere heart, pray to Him, saying: "O Lord, grant me Thy divine Wisdom, Thy divine Love. Do Thou open my eyes and me realize Thee."When Karma Yoga is so difficult to practice, one should pray to the Lord in this manner: "O Lord! Do Thou reduce our Karma to a minimum, and the little work that we daily perform, may we do it with non-attachment by Thy grace. O Lord! Do not let our desire for work increase in number and bind us to worldliness."

Lama Tsultrim Allione on Feeding Your Demons

Feeding your demons rather than fighting them might seem to contradict the conventional Western approach to what assails us, but it turns out to be a remarkably effective path to inner peace and liberation. Demons are our obsessions and fears, chronic illnesses, or common problems like depression, anxiety, and addiction. They are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark places; they are within us, the forces that we fight inside ourselves. They are inner enemies that undermine our best intentions.The approach of giving form to these inner forces, and feeding rather than struggling against them, was originally articulated by an eleventh-century female Buddhist teacher, Machig Labdrön (1055-1145). Her exact dates are debatable and vary according to the source, but most scholars agree she was born in 1055 and lived well into her nineties. Her spiritual practice was called Chöd (pronounced "chuh"), which means "to cut through." She developed this form of meditation, unusual even in her time in Tibet, and it generated such amazing results that it became very popular, spreading to all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism and beyond.In today's world we suffer from record levels of inner and outer struggle, and find ourselves ever more polarized politically and spiritually. We need a new paradigm, a fresh approach to conflict. Machig's strategy of nurturing rather than battling our inner and outer enemies offers a revolutionary path to resolve conflict that leads to psychological integration and inner peace.In 1967, at age nineteen, I had the good fortune to travel to India and Nepal and meet the Tibetans who had settled there as refugees after being forced into exile during Communist China's invasion of Tibet. I fell in love with the Tibetans and returned to India in 1969 after spending six months at the first Tibetan monastery in Scotland, founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. in 1970 I was ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, in Bodhgaya, India, and for the next few years I had the immeasurable blessing of receiving teachings at the feet of many great Buddhist masters trained in Tibet. As I describe in the following pages, after several years I made the decision to return my monastic vows, It was at this time of great transition and uncertainty that I was first introduced to Chöd. I subsequently returned to America, became a mother, and sought to integrate Tibetan wisdom into my life as a layperson. I was eventually guided to discover Machig Labdrön's biography (written in Tibetan), and her teachings became pivotal for me.Because I myself was able to find such enormous relevance in Machig's teachings, I was motivated to find a way to make her approach accessible in a Western context. When I began to teachthe Chod practice in the West, I developed an exercise of visualizing, dialoguing with, and feeding demons that yielded tangible results. Gradually from this exercise the five-step process described here evolved into a method I call feeding your demons, which began to be used independently of the Tibetan Chöd practice by my students, For the past twenty-five years-most recently at our Colorado retreat center, Tara Mandala, in Chöd and in Kapala Training retreats-I have taught this way of feeding your demons to make friends with that which we would most like to avoid.Those who have used the method report that chronic emotional and physical issues such as anxiety, compulsive eating, panic attacks, and illness were resolved or significantly benefited from this approach. The five-step process has also proved helpful in dealing with short-term upheavals such as the breakup of a relationship, the stress of losing a job, the death of a loved one, and interpersonal problems at work and at home. Sometimes the results have been instantaneous and seemed nothing short of miraculous, while other effects have been more gradual and subtle.The method that I call feeding your demons-based on the principles of Chöd- is a simple five-step practice that doesn't require any knowledge of Buddhism or of any Tibetan spiritual practices. In the first step we find where in the body we hold our "demon" most strongly. This demon might be addiction, selfhatred, perfectionism, anger, jealousy, or anything that is dragging you down, draining your energy. To put it simply, our demons are what we fear. As Machig said, anything that blocks complete inner freedom is a demon. She also spoke of gods and god-demons. Gods are our hopes, what we are obsessed with, what we long for, our attachments. God-demons occur when a hope and a fear are closely attached to each other; when we shift back and forth between hope and fear, this is a god-demon. Although in the following pages I refer for the most part to demons, the same approach applies equally well to our gods and god-demons.In the second step we allow the energy that we find in the body to take personified form as a demon right in front of us. In the third step we discover what the demon needs by putting our-self in the demon's peace, becoming the demon. In the fourth step we imagine dissolving our own body into nectar of whatever it is that the demon needs, and we let this flow to the demon, In this way we nurture it, feeding it to complete satisfaction. Having satisfied the demon, we find that the energy that was tied up in the demon turns into an ally. This ally offers us protection and support and then dissolves into us. At the end of the fourth step, we dissolve into emptiness, and in the fifth and final step, we simply rest in the open awareness that comes from dissolving into emptiness.Paradoxically, feeding our gods or demons to complete satisfaction does not strengthen them; rather it allows the energy that has been locked up in them to become accessible. In this way highly charged emotions that have been bottled up by inner conflict are released and become something beneficial. When we try to fight against or repress the disowned parts of ourselves that 1 call demons, they actually gain power and develop resistance. In feeding our demons we are not only rendering them harmless; we are also, by addressing them instead of running away from them, nurturing the shadow parts of ourselves, so that the energy caught in the struggle transforms into a positive protective force.

Giving our demons form by personifying them brings inchoate energies or harmful habitual patterns into view, allowing them to be liberated rather than leaving them as invisible destructive forces. The alternative to feeding our demons is to engage in a conflict we can never win: our unfed demons only become more and more powerful and monstrous as we either openly battle them or remain ignorant of their undercover operations.

Although the therapeutic technique of personifying a fear or neurosis is not unfamiliar in Western psychology, the five-step practice of feeding your demons takes this approach deeper. Its additional value lies in dissolving our own bodies and nurturing rather than just personifying and interacting with our inner enemies, and in the experience of non-dual meditative awareness that occurs in the final step of the process. This is a state of relaxed awareness, free from our usual fixation of "self" versus "other," which takes us beyond the place where normal psychotherapy ends...- Lama Tsultrim Allione, Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict

Zen and Leonard Cohen

LEONARD COHEN – My Zen Whispererby John "Krishna" BushI met Leonard again, looking like this, at two different week-long Zen sesshins with Sasaki Roshi in the early 80’s. Ram Dass and I traveled to one the year before and it was profound. Now Leonard, an old student of Roshi, was serving as Shoji, an officer of the zendo and fellow practitioner who cared for our physical needs, like getting me some aspirin.leonard-cohenHis kind approach helped ease me into the rigor of waking at 3:30 am and meditating through the day til 10 pm, in black robes, two rows facing each other, sitting straight up, cross legged, hands in mudra, no movement allowed, no closing of eyes, meals taken in silence still on the pillow. Walking meditation in line like a centipede.

Leonard deepened my sense of the protocols around meeting the zen master twice a day for koan testing. In a soft voice he said that when around Roshi he “hears tiny silver bells ringing in the air.” Already hugely successful, and able to do anything, Leonard chose to do this for more three decades. Roshi died at 107.The other zendo officer, the Jikijitsu, walking with a bamboo sword to keep you awake when nodding - with a deep bow, a few thwacks to each shoulder blade, followed by another bow. How the samurai were humbled into becoming monks.At the end of the week, ego was parked in the corner and I was opened up inside, the dualism had fallen away and I was looking forward to entering the world anew.The last night, after the sesshin ended, Leonard went out and came back with two large bottles of Cognac. Not my usual Buddhist retreat. Those of us who remained got pretty well lubricated, telling stories and singing songs. Yet it still seemed ritualized, so I asked Leonard what was the purpose. He said with kindness “to wash away the stench of enlightenment.”The next morning I left with a major hangover and an understanding that true perfection was greater in its apparent absence.

Meditation for Anxiety, Stress and Panic Attacks this short video, Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche talks about his experiences dealing with panic and anxiety as a child. In a second clip, "Using meditation to deal with panic attacks, anxiety, and other painful feelings," he describes how he used the practice of meditation to transform the way he related to these crippling attacks. These clips are drawn from the teachings presented in the Joy of Living meditation workshops, which are offered at Tergar Meditation Centers and Groups around the world. For more information, please visit

The Way by Dogen

Fukanzazengi, Dogen Zenji writes:

The Way is basically perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent upon practice and realization? The Dharma vehicle is free and untrammeled. What need is there for man’s concentrated effort? Indeed, the whole body is far beyond the world's dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from right where one is. What is the use of going off here and there to practice?

And yet, if there is the slightest discrepancy, the Way is as distant as heaven from earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the Mind is lost in confusion. Suppose one gains pride of understanding and inflates one's own enlightenment, glimpsing the Wisdom that runs through all things, attaining the Way and, clarifying the Mind, raising an aspiration to escalate the very sky. One is making the initial, partial excursions about the frontiers but is still somewhat deficient in the vital Way of total emancipation.

soto_zen-svgNeed I mention the Buddha, who was possessed of inborn knowledge? The influence of his six years of upright sitting is noticeable still. Or Bodhidharma's transmission of the mind-seal? The fame of his nine years of wall-sitting is celebrated to this day. Since this was the case with the saints of old, how can men of today dispense with negotiation of the Way?

You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate yourself. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will be manifest. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.

The Soul

I first believed without any hesitation in the existence of the soul, and then I wondered about the secret of its nature.I persevered and strove in search of the soul, and found at last that I myself was the cover over my own soul.I realized that that in me which believed and that in me that wondered, that which was found at last, was no other than my thanked the darkness that brought me to the light, and I valued this veil that prepared for me the vision in which I saw myself reflected, the vision produced in the mirror of my soul.Since then, I have seen all souls as my soul, and realized my soul as the soul of all. And what bewilderment it was when I realized that I alone was, if there were anyone, that I am whatever and whoever exists, and that I shall be whoever there will be in the future.~Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Great Reversal by Sakyong Mipham

The Great Reversalby Sakyong Mipham Rinpochetsp-sakyong-miphamThe Mahayana Buddhist tradition is defined by the supreme thought of bodhichitta, the intention to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment. Those who vow to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of others are known as bodhisattvas. Their path is based on the six transcendent perfections, the paramitas.Paramita is a Sanskrit word meaning “arriving at the other shore.” On the bodhisattva path, one’s view, practice, and action are based on simultaneously benefitting self and other. The bodhisattva is likened to a ferry operator whose sole purpose is to take passengers across the water. Yet while taking others to the other shore, the ferry operator is crossing, too.The paramitas are generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and prajna — wisdom or “best knowledge.” They are the supreme way to attain merit, giving one the fuel and strength to take all beings across the waters.Only with prajna are the other paramitas transcendent. Without prajna they are simply ordinary generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, and meditation. The paramita of prajna is like the ferry operator keeping an eye on the other shore, which we could equate with great emptiness and great wisdom. Prajna always sees the purpose of the journey. Therefore, prajna keeps the boat from going adrift. Generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, and meditation are like the oars of the boat.In practicing the paramitas, bodhisattvas progress along the bhumis , the stages of realisation. Through generosity, they create favorable conditions. Through discipline, they become excellent at knowing what to accept and what to reject. Through patience, they retain all the previous merit. Through exertion, they progress joyfully. Through meditation, they exchange self for other and create equanimity. Through prajna, they understand reality. Thus, the paramitas become the bodhisattva’s view, action, and meditation — all fueled by bodhichitta, the supreme thought.We should not confuse bodhichitta with buddhanature, the inherent possibility of becoming a buddha. Everyone has this seed and is fully capable of attaining enlightenment. Since bodhichitta leads to full enlightenment, it too could be regarded as a seed. However, while all beings have buddhanature, we do not all have bodhichitta.While the seed of all beings is buddhanature, at the core of bodhichitta is the exchange of self and other. The two elements that enable one to exchange self and other are loving-kindness and compassion. loving-kindness is engendered by the thought, “May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.” Compassion is engendered by the thought, “May all beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.” When we unify these two, we have bodhichitta, the vow to bring all beings to the perfect state of buddhahood.Love and compassion are essential to the teachings of the Mahayana and the way of the bodhisattva. love and compassion lead to buddhahood because for beings to be truly happy, they must understand the true source of happiness, and for beings to be free from suffering, they must understand the true source of freedom from suffering. If beings do not understand the source, they might have a temporary state of happiness, but they will not have a permanent state of happiness.The bodhisattva exists in order to help others. One is not helping others simply because one is inspired and wants to do it for oneself, for the bodhisattva does not believe in the self. rather, the bodhisattva helps others because they are utterly confused about the source of both happiness and suffering. Trying to be happy, sentient beings act out of self-interest and engage in non-virtue — that which benefits self instead of others. In fact, it is said that within samsara, the cycle of suffering, sentient beings act as though it is virtue that will destroy them. and in a way that is true, for if we define virtue as a lack of self-centeredness, virtue ultimately does destroy the self.The bodhisattva sees that entire realms of beings are going up and down the ladder of existence, trying harder and harder to achieve happiness: in the hell realms through anger, in the ghost realms through jealousy, in the human realms through desire, in the god realms through pride, and in the animal realms through ignorance. Clearly these beings are perpetually suffering and utterly confused about how to free themselves. Therefore, the bodhisattva sees an urgent need to apply bodhichitta and liberate them.Bodhisattvas make a vow that they will remain in this cyclical place of pain and suffering until all these beings have perfected view, meditation, action, and the six paramitas. When all beings have perfected those, the bodhisattva stays to ensure that they attain the noble qualities of perfect buddhahood. In this way, the bodhisattva is like a shepherd, remaining until every being in samsara attains the perfect state.Bodhisattvas attain buddhahood themselves as a means to lead all beings to rouse the mind of bodhichitta and attain buddhahood too. In this light, the bodhisattva is said to be like a monarch, first demonstrating the principle so that other beings will follow. Otherwise, they may not follow and, since they do not know what buddhahood is, they might even fear it. Therefore, bodhisattvas perfect the state of buddhahood for the benefit of all.The ferry operator, the shepherd, or the monarch — all these virtues of the bodhisattva stem from bodhichitta. In the sutras, the buddha says that arousing bodhichitta protects the mind like a suit of armor. With bodhichitta, the mind is free from fear. as well, having bodhichitta brings perpetual joy, and arousing bodhichitta gathers unimaginable merit. Once one begins to understand the awesome potency of bodhichitta and its benefits, one starts rousing the mind to generate it. This potent switch from a subjective orientation toward the self to an objective orientation toward others yields vast results.In this light, if one is drawn toward bodhichitta and develops faith, that propels the mind for many lifetimes into the future, laying the ground for enlightenment. Obviously, if one does not know the value of such an intention, one will not generate it. It is also said that the minor effort it takes to arouse bodhichitta is vastly outweighed by the benefits. Thus, the bodhisattva — whether sitting, eating, walking, or talking — raises this attitude, accumulating infinite clouds of unseen merit.