The Urban Dharma Newsletter... March 1, 2004


In This Issue: Love in Buddhism

0. Humor...
1. Loving Eyes
(tib. Chenrezig)
2. Buddhism: Love
...Contributor: Sakoun Sok, NY
3. Love in Buddhism
4. Love as the basis of Spiritual Growth
...Ven. Prof. Dhammavihari Thera
5. How would Buddha love?
...Lama Surya Das
6. Temple/Center/Website:
California Vipassana Center
7. Book/CD/Movie: A Dictionary/Encyclopedia of Buddhism -
999 Pages - (4.7 MB) - Free Download


0. Humor...

By all means marry.
If you get a good wife or husband, you'll be happy.
If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
- - Socrates

1. Loving Eyes (tib. Chenrezig)


Loving Eyes is the white, four armed Buddha aspect, symbolizing the united love and compassion of all Buddhas. His mantra OM MANI PEME HUNG is used worldwide in most Buddhist traditions. The six syllables purify the six realms of exsistence:

* OM purifies pride - the god's realm,
* MA purifies jealousy - the realm of demi-gods,
* NI purifies desire / attachment - the human realm,
* PE purifies stupidity - the animal realm,
* ME transforms greed - the realm of hungry ghosts,
* HUNG transforms hate and anger - the hell realm.

2. Buddhism: Love ...Contributor: Sakoun Sok, NY


A rich man said to the Buddha, "I see you are the Awakened One and I would like to open my mind to you and ask your advice. My life is full of work, and having made a great deal of money, I am surrounded by cares. I employ many people who depend on me to be successful. However, I enjoy my work and like working hard. But having heard your followers talk of the bliss of a hermit's life and seeing you as one who gave up a kingdom in order to become a homeless wanderer and find the truth, I wonder if I should do the same. I long to do what is right and to be a blessing to my people. Should I give up everything to find the truth?"

The Buddha replied: "The bliss of a truth-seeking life is attainable for anyone who follows the path of unselfishness. If you cling to your wealth, it is better to throw it away than let it poison your heart. But if you don't cling to it but use it wisely, then you will be a blessing to people. It's not wealth and power that enslave men but the clinging to wealth and power.

"My teaching does not require anyone to become homeless or resign the world unless he wants to, but it does require everyone to free himself from the illusion that he is a permanent self and to act with integrity while giving up his craving for pleasure.

"And whatever people do, whether in the world or as a recluse, let them put their whole heart into it. Let them be committed and energetic, and if they have to struggle, let them do it without envy or hatred. Let them live not a life of self but a life of truth, and in that way bliss will enter their hearts."

[Majjhima Nikaya]

3. Love in Buddhism


The definition of love in Buddhism is: wanting others to be happy.

This love is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance (including self-acceptance).

The "near enemy" of love, or a quality which appears similar, but is more an opposite is: conditional love (selfish love).

The opposite is wanting others to be unhappy: anger, hatred.

A result which one needs to avoid is: attachment.

This definition means that 'love' in Buddhism refers to something quite different from the ordinary term of love which is usually about attachment, more or less successful relationships and sex; all of which are rarely without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to de-tachment and the unselfish interest in others' welfare.

'Even offering three hundred bowls of food three times a day does not match the spiritual merit gained in one moment of love.' - Nagarjuna

"If there is love, there is hope that one may have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue" - His Holiness the Dalai Lama from 'The little book of Buddhism'

4. Love as the basis of Spiritual Growth ...Ven. Prof. Dhammavihari Thera


Let us see how Buddhism presents and develops its concept of love or respect and concern for all that lives. The Buddha preached and maintained that all life in the universe is a product of natural evolution, each little thing therein in the diverse eco-systems possessing its own right to exist. This thinking blossomed out in Buddhism's greatest contribution to mankind, namely the concept of mettà [Skt. maitrã ] or universal loving kindness. One loves every other thing in the universe in a direct relationship of one to another, without a mediator or creator. We are, after all, in the world we live in, a part of a complete network. Inspite of our differences, we are integrated into a whole and each one of us loves to be loved. Therefore harmony and healthy relationships of one to another are considered a must which necessarily leads to a smooth running order in the universe.

Striking a very high note as it were, in his personal admonition to his own son Rahula in the Mahàràhulovàda Sutta [ M.1.424 ], the Buddha tells that the cultivation and practice of mettà or universal loving kindness, dispels the unwholesome mental frame called enmity or hostility. It eliminates the possibility of 'coming into conflict with' those around us. This conflict and confrontation is referred to as vyàpàda and is considered as leading thereafter to violence or vihimsà. [Mettaü hi te Ràhula bhàvanaü bhàvayato yo vyàpàdo so pahãyissati. loc.cit.].

In loving via the medium of mettà, one expects nothing back as a return or reward. Love in mettà knows of no bleeding hearts, with or without arrows piercing through them. This concept of love also brings along with it the cognate virtue of equality [or egalite]. In love, all have to become equal, and where honest equality prevails love must know no barriers, as known or unknown, friendly or otherwise. Not even as I and another. The amount of love one is required to give to others cannot in any way be less than what one wishes and expects others to bestow upon oneself.

Phrases like ' He who loves himself harms not another ' [Tasmà na hiüse paraü attakàmo as at S.1.75] or ' Taking oneself as the norm [i.e. that one likes to be loved and treated with respect ] let one cause no harm or injury to others ' [Attànaü upamaü katvà na haneyya na ghàtaye as at Dhp. v. 129] clearly indicate the Buddhist self-stand [attåpanàyika] judgement in the practice of love towards others. This applies to all grades of life [sabba-pàõa-bhåta-hita-anukampã], literally all living things.To us, this practice of love does not appear as an injunction that one must love oneself first, and then and thereafter, extend love to others. The direction given is that one must love others to the same extent that one wishes to be loved by others. That is the meaning of attànaü upamaü katvà = taking oneself as the model of loving. It certainly does not mean giving priority to oneself.

The Buddhist concept of love has the capacity to extend not only from human to animal but also from animal to the world of plants as well. There are schools of scientists in the world today who maintain that the world of plants also yearn for love and care. They claim that plants react very specifically to human emotions like love and cruelty in their own way. Besides, the plants as an integral part of our ecosystem have to be treated with utmost respect and recognition. For in the guarantee of their survival lies our own survival. There seems to be very little doubt about that. We shall discuss elsewhere, from the Buddhist point of view, about their being animate or inanimate, sentient or insentient. At any rate, it appears to be the greatest day in the life of a Buddhist saint when he sees no difference between his own body of flesh and blood and the trees and the grass that grow in the wild around him. So wishes Thera Tàlapuña in verse No. 1101 of the Theragàthà.

When will that ever be, when I can compare
All infinite components of which I am made,
Those within me, with those without
Like trees and grass and creepers that trail ?

Seeing them all equal , well and true !

When will such vision , mine ever be ?

[Translated by the author]

Kadà nu kaññhe ca tiõe latà ca khandhe ime ' haü amite ca dhamme
Ajjhattikàn ' eva ca bàhiràni samaü tuleyyaü tadidaü kadà me.
Thag. v.1101

In Buddhism, this practice of universal loving kindness or mettà is called ' the Godly way of living ' or brahma-vihàra. It knows no revenge. It is one of four gradually upgraded qualities of love. Collectively they are also called 'sates of unbounded or magnanimous living' : appamàna-vihàra or appama??a. The other three are compassion or karuõà , appreciative [not sympathetic] joy or mudità and equanimity or upekkhà . We wish to stress here adequately the word living [vihàra]. These aspects of love cannot remain as mere thoughts in one's head or as mere wishes on one's lips. They must necessarily get translated into a philosophy of living. It must indeed be lived. If wishes were horses, then beggars would be kings. By virtue of their being life-toners, they are literally soul-elevating. They enrich our lives as we live that way. Hence they are called Brahma-vihàra , i.e. Godly or Heavenly Modes of Living.

At the same time, universal loving kindness [or universal acceptance of friendship with everything that lives] practiced in this manner contributes to the much needed Buddhist virtue of ego-destruction or ridding oneself of the menacing notion of I and mine [ahaükàra- mamiükàra- mànànusaya ]. This absence of ego is the basic character of the goal of Nirvana. The over-inflation of the ego or self-hood is said to stand in the way of true happiness in this life as well as in the way of final release out of the painful round of births and deaths of saüsàra. It warps and distorts good human relationships. It takes the lubricants off our interpersonal relationships.

Because we know we love ourselves and we know love plays such a great role in our lives, let us give this freely to others. Let none in the world we live in suffer for want of love. And let none suffer because we do not truly practice love towards all that live, like ourselves. Let us not forget our callous disrespect for the lives of others and the pain we thereby bring upon them.

5. How would Buddha love? ...Lama Surya Das


"If one's thoughts towards spirituality

were of the same intensity as those towards love,

one would become a Buddha

in this very body, in this very life."

--from the Love Poems of the Sixth Dalai Lama

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite American holidays. The fact that this heart-centered if over-commercialized day falls around the same time as Tibetan New Year reminds me to make new year's resolutions relating to those I love and renew my commitment to cultivating goodness of heart. These resolutions usually involve opening my heart and mind; listening better; learning to forgive and to love even those I don't like; and coming to accept and bless the world, rather than fighting with it or trying to escape from it. As Zen Master Dogen says: "To study the Buddha Way is to be intimate with all things."

Some say we are here in this world to learn and to evolve in consciousness. Certainly primary among life's lessons is how to love and to love well, and to BE love, as well to give and receive it. I believe love is central to happiness, growth and fulfillment.

How would Buddha love? By seeing every single being, human and otherwise, as fundamentally like himself, and thus able to treat them and love them in the way he would be treated. We call this infinitely benevolent, selfless love, Bodhicitta or the Awakened Heart, the very spirit of enlightenment.

One can find this taught beautifully in the "Loving-kindness Sutra"; in Shantideva's classic "The Way of the Bodhisattva"; in Atisha's "Mind Training and Attitude Transformation"; and in Togmed's "Thirty Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas"... As well as in the Old Testament.

Each relationship and every single encounter can be a vehicle for meaningful spiritual connection, through the transformative magic of Bodhicitta. Buddha taught that this Bodhicitta or spiritual love has four active arms, known as the Four Boundless Heartitudes, and four expressive faces known as the Four Forms of Compassion in action. This is how we love, Buddha-style: impartial to all, free from excessive attachment or false hope and expectation; accepting, tolerant, and forgiving. Buddhist nonattachment doesn't imply complacence or indifference, or not having committed relationships or being passionately engaged with society, but rather has to do with our effort to defy change and resist the fact of impermanence and our mortality. By holding on to that which in any case is forever slipping through our fingers, we just get rope burn.

Buddhist love is based on recognizing our fundamental interconnectedness and knowing that all beings are like ourselves in wanting and needing happiness, safety, fulfillment, and not wanting suffering and misery. The Dalai Lama says, "If you want to be wisely selfish, care for others." All the happiness and virtue in this world comes from selflessness and generosity, all the sorrow from egotism, selfishness, and greed.

The immaculate image of Buddhist love is the four-armed Avalokitsevara, known as Chenrayzig in Tibet and Kuan Yin in China. Each of his/her four arms represent one of the Four Boundless Attitudes, and each one of her four radiant faces or aspects - peaceful, magnetizing, powerful, and fierce-express one of the four styles or modes of active compassion.

We might, for example, think of Buddhist spirituality as peace-loving, calm, virtuous and nonviolent; but in the case of a child or a pet running into the street, the active sides of compassion's calm heart spontaneously blaze forth, even as the loving center remains unchanged. Thus, the selfless Bodhisattva could possibly use force for the greater good, to protect, or to prevent harm and so forth, and need not be passive in the face of danger or when there is need for skillful, appropriate action.

The first arm of Buddhist love is maitri or lovingkindness, a boundless feeling of friendliness and wishing well for others. Maitri, or metta in the Pali language, implies friendliness: befriending and accepting yourself, your body and mind, and the world.

The second is karuna, or compassion, empathy, being moved by feeling what others feel. The third arm is upeksha, equanimity, recognizing the equality of all that lives. This recognition leads to the wisdom of detachment but not indifference or complacence, which are its near enemies.

The fourth arm is mudita, spiritual joy and satisfaction. This includes rejoicing in the virtue and success of others, -- the antidote to envy and jealousy.

The essence of Buddhist relationship is to cultivate the cling-free relationship, enriched with caring and equanimity. It is helpful in intimate relationships to communicate honestly, stay present, tell the truth of your experience using I-statements rather than accusations and judgments, and honor the other enough to show up with an open heart and mind and really listen.

Passion becomes compassion when we bring it into the path, when we recognize every moment in life as a possibility of awakening. Human love and sexual consummation can be like the tip of the iceberg of divine love, an ecstatic intimation of eternity, a portal to infinite depths of the groundlessness and boundarylessness that transports us beyond our limited, egoic selves. People often ask me how to find their Soul Mate, or even if I believe in such a concept. I think that rather than focusing on past lives or on finding the perfect mate in this world, we would generally do better to work on improving and developing ourselves. Make yourself the "perfect" mate, without being too perfectionistic about it, and you will be a good mate with almost anyone. When your heart is pure, your life and the entire world is pure.

We all feel the desire to possess and be possessed, to love and be loved, to connect and be embraced and to belong. However, I think that the most important thing in being together is the tenderness of a good heart. If our relationships aren't nurturing the growth and development of goodness of heart, openness, generosity, authenticity and intimate connection, they are not serving us or furthering a better world.

To truly love people I have learned that I need to let them be, and to love and accept and appreciate them as they are (free of my projections and illusions) and not as how I would like them to be. This is equally true for loving and accepting oneself.

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana writes, in his "Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: "Whatever attitudes we habitually use toward ourselves, we will use on others, and whatever attitudes we habitually use toward others, we will use on ourselves. The situation is comparable to our serving food to ourselves and to other people from the same bowl. Everyone ends up eating the same thing--we must examine carefully what we are dishing out."

I notice that children let go of anger and would rather be happy than right, unlike so many of us adults. Like them, my dog reminds me that love is a verb, not a noun. Staying present in this very moment, through mindful awareness and paying attention to what is-- rather than dwelling on the past or the future, or on who I think I am and who I imagine others are-- helps free me from excess baggage, anxiety and neurosis - and opens me to love.

6. California Vipassana Center


P.O. Box 1167; North Fork, CA 93643

Phone:  559.877.4386   Fax:  559.877.4387

Email: info@mahavana.dhamma.org

The California Vipassana Center, in North Fork, CA, is dedicated to the practice of Vipassana meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka. This technique gradually eradicates all inner suffering.

The Center is in the Sierra foothills south of Yosemite. It lies four hours from San Francisco and five from Los Angeles, with bus, rail, and air connections an hour away in Fresno.

Stands of oak, pine, cedar, and manzanita occupy the bulk of the 109-acre site, and are complemented by a tranquil pond and a broad meadow. Wildlife abounds.

A newly constructed meditation hall allows expanded courses of 100 students or more; other recent additions include a teachers' residence and accommodations for meditators working long-term at the center. Plans are moving forward for a complex of individual meditation cells.

An Interview with S. N. Goenka on the Technique of Vipassana Meditation

This interview first appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of Tricycle:

S. N. Goenka has been teaching Vipassana meditation for thirty-one years and is most widely known, perhaps, for his famous introductory ten-day intensive courses, which are held free of charge in centers all around the world, supported by student donations. Born in Mandalay, Burma in 1924, he was trained by the renowned Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899-1971). After fourteen years of training, he retired from his life as a successful businessman to devote himself to teaching meditation. Today he oversees an organization of more than eighty meditation centers worldwide and has had remarkable success in bringing meditation into prisons, first in India, and then in numerous other countries. The organization estimates that as many as 10,000 prisoners, as well as many members of the police and military, have attended the ten-day courses.

S. N. Goenka came to New York this fall for the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations. He was interviewed there by Helen Tworkov.

Photos by Chris Dinerman


Tworkov: According to some people, Vipassana is a particular meditation practice of the Theravada School; for others, it is a lineage of its own. How do you use the term?

S.N. Goenka: This is a lineage, but it is a lineage that has nothing to do with any sect. To me, Buddha never established a sect. When I met my teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin, he simply asked me a few questions. He asked me if, as a Hindu leader, I had any objection towards sila, that is, morality. How can there be any objection? But how can you practice sila unless you have control of the mind? He said, I will teach you to practice sila with controlled mind. I will teach you samadhi, concentration. Any objection? What can be objected to in samadhi? Then he said, that alone will not help—that will purify your mind at the surface level. Deep inside there are complexes, there are habit patterns, which are not broken by samadhi. I will teach you prajna, wisdom, insight, which will take you to the depth of the mind. I will teach you to go to the depth of the mind, the source where the impurities start and they get multiplied and they get stored so that you can clear them out. So when my teacher told me: I will teach you only these three—sila, samadhi and prajna—and nothing else, I was affected. I said, let me try.

How is sila generated by watching the mind?

When I began to learn Vipassana meditation, I became convinced that Buddha was a not a founder of religion, he was a super-scientist. A spiritual super-scientist. When he teaches morality, the point is, of course, there that we are human beings, living in human society, and we should not do anything which would harm the society. It's quite true. But then—and it's as a scientist he's talking here—he says that when you harm anybody, when you perform any unwholesome action, you are the first victim. You first harm yourself and then you harm others. As soon as a defilement arises in the mind, your nature is such that you feel miserable. That is what vipassana teaches me.

So if you can see that mental defilement is causing anxiety and pain for yourself, that is the beginning of sila and of compassion?

If you can change that to compassion, then another reality becomes so clear. If instead of generating anger or hatred or passion or fear or ego, I generate love, compassion, goodwill, then nature starts rewarding me. I feel so peaceful, so much harmony within me. It is such that when I defile my mind I get punishment then and there, and when I purify my mind I get a reward then and there.

What happens during a 10-day Vipassana course?

The whole process is one of total realization, the process of self-realization, truth pertaining to oneself, by oneself, within oneself. It is not an intellectual game. It is not an emotional or devotional game: "Oh, Buddha said such and such . . . so wonderful . . . I must accept." It is pure science. I must understand what's happening within me, what's the truth within me. We start with breath. It looks like a physical concept, the breath moving in and moving out. It is true. But on the deeper level the breath is strongly connected to mind, to mental impurities. While we're meditating, and we're observing the breath, the mind starts wandering—some memory of the past, some thoughts of the future—immediately what we notice is that the breath has lost its normality: it might be slightly hard, slightly fast. And as soon as that impurity is gone away it is normal again. That means the breath is strongly connected to the mind, and not only mind but mental impurities. So we are here to experiment, to explore what is happening within us. At a deeper level, one finds that mind is affecting the body at the sensation level.

This causes another big discovery . . . that you are not reacting to an outside object. Say I hear a sound and I find that it is some kind of praise for me; or I find someone abusing me, I get angry. You are reacting to the words at the apparent level, yes, true. You are reacting. But Buddha says you are actually reacting to the sensations, body sensations. That when you feel body sensation and you are ignorant, then you keep on defiling your mind by craving or by aversion, by greed or by hatred or anger. Because you don't know what's happening.

When you hear praise or abuse, is the response filtered through the psychological mind to the bodily sensations, or is it simultaneous?

It is one after the other, but so quick that you can't separate them. So quick! At some point automatically you can start realizing, "Look what's happening! I have generated anger." And the Vipassana meditator will immediately say, "Oh, a lot of hate! There is a lot of hate in the body, palpitation is increased . . . Oh, miserable. I feel miserable."

If you are not working with the body sensations, then you are working only at the intellectual level. You might say, "Anger is not good," or "Lust is not good," or "Fear is not—." All of this is intellectual, moral teachings heard in childhood. Wonderful. They help. But when you practice, you understand why they're not good. Not only do I harm others by generating these defilements of anger or passion or fear or evil, I harm myself also, simultaneously.

Vipassana is observing the truth. With the breath I am observing the truth at the surface level, at the crust level. This takes me to the subtler, subtler, subtler levels. Within three days the mind becomes so sharp, because you are observing the truth. It's not imagination. Not philosophy or thinking. Truth, breath, truth as breath, deep or shallow. The mind becomes so sharp that in the area around the nostrils, you start feeling some biochemical reaction that means some physical sensation. This is always there throughout the body, but the mind was so gross it was feeling only very gross sensations like pain or such. But otherwise there are so many sensations which the mind is not capable to feel.

7. A Dictionary/Encyclopedia of Buddhism - 999 Pages - (4.7 MB) - Free Download


The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism: A Dictionary/Encyclopedia of Buddhism - Sutra Translation Committee of USA/Canada

This is a revised and expanded edition of 'The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism.' The text is a compendium of excerpts and quotations from some 350 works by monks, nuns, professors, scholars and other laypersons from nine different countries, in their own words or in translation.

How to use the Glossary: This book can be used in threeways: to find the definition of unfamiliar terms; to gain a broader understanding of specific Buddhist concepts; and also as an introduction to Buddhism. In the last instance, we suggest that readers begin with the entry on Parables, then move on to Practice,Obstacles to Cultivation and Ten Non-Seeking Practices. Other entries of a more contemporary interest can be read with benefit by all. These include: Birth Control, Organ Transplants, Vegetarianism, Universe, Immortality.


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