Insights for January 2016

Winter Bark, by Margaret Gervais


“Perfectionism is our most compulsive way of keeping ourselves small, a kind of psychoemotional contortionism that gives the illusion of reaching for greatness while constricting us into increasingly suffocating smallness.” Ursula K. Le Guin, “Dogs, Cats, and Dancers: Thoughts about Beauty,” in “The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination”

“True maturation on the spiritual path requires that we discover the depth of our wounds.” Jack Kornfield

“What is your perception of truth? We all see truth and know truth through our own lens, heart and soul.” Margaret Gervais

“Psychology takes the approach of fixing an emotional problem in order to make the person functional again. That may be the goal of a society or a culture, but that is not necessarily the goal of a wisdom tradition. Anybody who has been in any tradition of depth has noticed that people who have what look like psychological emotions might be taking a positive stop toward disassembling their old way of being, so that a new, greater possibility can come through. If you’re always fussing at and fixing your mind, you don’t get that journey.

There’s also a kind of voluptuousness about what’s given b the psyche, which at some level is what’s given us by the universe. We can take the ride and see what discovery is happening. Not a thrill ride, but more of a quest. The problem is not the emotion; the problem is being at war with the emotion or acting out the emotion.” John Tarrant, “21st Century Buddhists in Conversation”, page 41.

“The second lesson of karma is that just as you’re the primary architect of your own happiness and suffering, other people are the primary architect of theirs. If you really want them to be happy, you don’t just treat them nicely. You also want to them learn how to create the causes for happiness.” Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Head & Heart Together”

“If you treat your mind like a trash can, don’t be surprised when you reach for a thought and all you get is garbage.” Zero Dean


“When concentration is strong enough, we slip below the waves of ordinary senses to a deep, silent realm. Here consciousness is filled with stillness, rapture, happiness and a steady awareness. Entering states of absorption, we feel like a scuba diver going from the wind-blown surface of the ocean to the silent depths below. Absorption states are discrete worlds of inner experience, each more silent and refined that the one before it. They are characterized by unwavering steadiness, purity, radiance and happiness.” Jack Kornfield

“As we progress along the path of meditation, the key point becomes developing a stillness in which we find freedom from the disturbing elements of emotions.” Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, “21st Century Buddhists in Conversation”, page 5.


On HEALING, and Seeds from our Ancestors: “If we’re aware of the habit energies in us, we can transform not only ourselves but also our ancestors who planted the seeds.

Whatever kind of action we take, if we look deeply into it, we’ll be able to recognize the seed of that action. That seed may come from our ancestors. Whatever action we take, our ancestors are taking it at the same time with us. So father, grandfather, and great-grandfather are doing it with you; mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother are doing it with you. Our ancestors are there in every cell of our body. There are seeds that are planted during your lifetime, but there are also seeds that were planted before you manifested as this body.

Sometimes we act without intention, but that is also action. ‘Habit energy’ is pushing us; it pushes us to do things without our being aware. Sometimes we do something without knowing we are doing it. Even when we don’t want to do something, we still do it. Sometimes we say, ‘I didn’t want to do it, but it’s stronger than me, it pushed me.’ So that is a seed, a habit energy, that may have come from many generations in the past.

We have inherited a lot. With mindfulness, we can become aware of the habit energy that has been passed down to us. We might see that our parents or grandparents were also very weak in ways similar to us. We can be aware without judgment that our negative habits come from those ancestral roots. We can smile at our shortcomings, at our habit energy. With awareness, we have a choice; we can act another way. We can end the cycle of suffering right now.” Thich Nhat Hanh, “Reconciliation”, Parallax Press

“…it’s possible for information to be inherited biologically through our DNA. More specifically, their research shows that behavior can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory.”

What can we do with a sudden strong upsurge of emotion? “One of the first things to do is notice the “add-ons.” There’s the rising of the emotion, which is its own state, but on top of that we add a future. Or we add a reaction, like shame or exaggeration. Or perhaps we add comparison, by holding ourselves up to an ideal we’re not attaining. So probably the first thing to do is to release some of those add-ons, so we can come back to the original experience. Then we can maybe let ourselves be with the basic emotion in as mindful a way as possible. That will open up a little space, and in that space, we can see option.” Sharon Salzberg, “21st Century Buddhists in Conversation”, page 48.

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