Saturday, October 30, 2010

Too tall

Teaching children isn't difficult.

One day my children were very noisy.

Then suddenly I heard myself asking them:

How would little insects deal with noisy insect children?

We went outside to try and find the answer and within no time all children were in the grass on their bellies, trying to understand insects.

I asked one of the children why they were on the ground and he said:

"Because we can't answer your question when we're standing. Then we are too tall."

Friday, October 29, 2010


 Some people search the whole world for the perfect teacher, but sometimes that perfect teacher is right in front of them.

Like one pointing out hidden treasure,
if one finds a man of intelligence 
who can recognise one's faults 
and take one to task for them, 
one should cultivate the company of such a wise man. 
He who cultivates a man like that 
is the better for it, not worse.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

No texts

 In some religions heathens or people who haven't been in contact with the teachings of that religion are not appreciated.

In buddhism we value everyone.

It's said:

Even if he does not quote appropriate texts much,
if he follows the principles of the Teaching
by getting rid of greed, hatred and delusion, 
deep of insight and with a mind free from attachment, 
not clinging to anything in this world or the next --
that man is a partner in the Holy Life.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Buying clothes is easy, throwing them away too.

Have you ever considered wearing your clothes a bit longer?

And why not putting in some effort to see that your clothes find a good destination?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

See virtue

It's easy to find fault with people.
Doing so is of all ages.

How to see good in people?

A quote.

One day I complained to Suzuki Roshi about the people I was working with.
He listened intently.
Finally he said,
"If you want to see virtue, you have to have a calm mind."
"To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shuryu Suzuki" 
(Edited by David Chadwick)

Monday, October 25, 2010


Buddhism requires a constant willingness to develop oneself.
It doesn't matter when you make mistakes, as long as you try.

A wonderful quote states:

There are only two mistakes one can make 
along the road to truth; 
not going all the way, 
and not starting.



Sunday, October 24, 2010


All tremble at violence,
Life is dear to all.
Comparing others with oneself
One should neither kill nor cause others to kill.

~Dhammapada v. 130

The first of the five fundamental Buddhist precepts is "Avoid killing any living thing."

War is one of the uttter ways of ignoring care and compassion.
But even those finding themselves taking part can change themselves.
There's always someone who can use support and care.

Often it's said that even buddhists have fought in wars.
But that's no reason at all to follow in their footsteps.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Teaching children: all people are equal

One of the challenges of raising children to be responsible adults is to teach them that all people are equal.

I've always said that all people are equal, but we all have different talents.

My children have always been able to deal with that without too many questions.
They were lucky to go to schools where diversity was absolutely normal, so when they reached the age they started to read the paper and listen to the news on TV they commented on the way people exercised control over others and looked down on others.

What other children didn't even notice, they noticed.
From that moment on parenting changed a bit, because they realised that compassion and care is lost by many people when they grow up.

The preschool they went to was a special one, where the talents of individual were more important than marching in line.
There was no need to do things to stand out of the crowd and to be noticed, no need to bully someone to feel good or compensate for something else.

Children learned to feel good about themselves and to practice care and compassion for others.
At times they needed care and compassion for themselves, and at times they gave it to others.

No better learning school for eyality between people then at home and at a school like that.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Guilt is an emotion, a state of mind, which is very central in our society.
It's used as a motivator in raising children and even when these children are parents themselves their parents can exercise their influence by using guilt.

Guilt isn't a wanted emotion in buddhism.
It's a signal of attachment to an idea of how things or a person should be.
It's not living in the present, and it's certainly not linked to care and compassion at all.

Some people set their standards so high that we will never be able to live up to them.
So we will always long to be another person, instead of making the best out of the present.

Most important is to know how we can change into a person we want to be.
When we know how, we can practice.
Valuing a person for working each day to become a better person creates a gigantic motivation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Buddhism and your common sense

I've been raised with many dogma's and I'm still amazed by how easy people accept what is said by representatives of religion.

Some people just accept everything.

In buddhism one should think and practice and see if what is told can be used in daily life.

A quote:

Believe nothing,
no matter where you read it,
or who said it,
no matter if I have said it,
unless it agrees with your own reason
and your own common sense.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Organ donation and buddhism

There's lot to do about organ donation at the moment here in the news and someone asked me if buddhists are able to donate, because they belief they'll be reborn.

Well, many people know there are different ways to dispose of a dead body and as far as I know there are no laws the body should be kept completely whole and accessible after death.

In fact the body doesn't belong to the mind.
And one could state that clinging to the body, even after death, is a form of attachment. So it's not done.

People who won't commit themselves to donate are rather attached to their bodies and being good looking even as a corpse.

So donating is showing understanding of anatta (not self) and generosity (dana).
Most people who donate do it because the feel compassion for the people who suffer bad functioning organs.

So there's no conflict at all between organ donation and buddhism.
On the contrary.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Four ways of verbal action

And how is one made pure in four ways by verbal action?

There is the case where a certain person, abandoning false speech, abstains from false speech.
When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty, if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward. Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world. 

Abandoning divisive speech he abstains from divisive speech.
What he has heard here he does not tell there to break those people apart from these people here.
Thus reconciling those who have broken apart or cementing those who are united, he loves concord, delights in concord, enjoys concord, speaks things that create concord.
Abandoning abusive speech, he abstains from abusive speech.
He speaks words that are soothing to the ear, that are affectionate, that go to the heart, that are polite, appealing & pleasing to people at large.
Abandoning idle chatter, he abstains from idle chatter.
He speaks in season, speaks what is factual, what is in accordance with the goal, the Dhamma, & the Vinaya.
He speaks words worth treasuring, seasonable, reasonable, circumscribed, connected with the goal.
This is how one is made pure in four ways by verbal action.

Anguttura Nikaya, book of 10s, Sutta 176

Monday, October 18, 2010

A family ...

We all know that harmony is important in a family.
A positive attitude towards another and oneself prevents many problems.

I found a nice quote I want to share with you:

A family is a place
where minds come in contact with one another.
If these minds love one another
the home will be as beautiful
as a flower garden.
But if these minds get out of harmony with one another
it is like a storm
that plays havoc with the garden.

Author unknown.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Dharma knows many translations and has many different meanings.

So when you're part of a group you'd better follow the meaning the group gives. Otherwise misunderstandings will be created.

But for others the main meaning of Dharma is something like preventive skills.
In daily life we can prevent problems and negativity and we can prevent the development of the negative side of our consciousness.

We can do so because in buddhism we are responsible for ourselves and our own mind.

The more we are aware that all living beings are interconnected, the more we live with care and compassion, the more we try to be grateful and full of joy, we will be able to leave negativity aside.

What happens in life can ofcourse be seen as obstacles, but when we see them as invitations to learn and to make positive changes we are able to transform problems into something positive in our lives.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sakya Trizin

Sakya Trizin (born in 1945) is the spititual leader of the Sakya order and he's one of the most important teachers of Tibetan Buddhism.
He's famous for his insight and knowledge of Dharma and his clear way of transforming insight and knowledge to the listeners.
He's the emanation of Buddha Manjushri, the buddha of wisdom and insight.

Sakya Trizin means ‘keeper of the throne of Sakya’. he's the last one in line of the holy Khön family which is older than buddhism in Tibet.
members of the family have been underking in the Tibethan province of Tsang.
History tells that around the year 750 the family gained knowledge about buddhism by the teachings of Padmasambhava.

His Holiness Sakya Trizin has been in London in June 2010.
He was five days at Sakya Dechen Ling and his teachings were recorded.

You can find them here.

Ofcourse you're welcome to share your thoughts in the comments or contact me directly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Buddhism and science

Buddhism is old, very old, but it doesn't cling to former knowledge and strives to be as up to date as possible.
While the old wisdom guides us through the days and touches the inner truth of many people both in the eastern and western world, through the ages, people of today have to deal with the influences of science in a day to day setting too.

Some religions and worldviews simply ignore the advances of science as well as they can, but buddhism doesn't.

There's a growing number of buddhistic leaders who create bridges between the western world and buddhism and even the dalai lama keept an open mind for whatever changes are necessary to keep Buddhism up to date.

He states:

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality. By learning from science about aspects of reality where its understanding may be more advanced, I believe that Buddhism enriches its own worldview.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Art of living

Today I want to share a quote a friend has on her wall.

I'm sure you'll love this quote too.

The person
who is a master in the art of living
makes little distinction
between their work and their play,
their labor and their leisure,
their mind and their body,
their education and their recreation,
their love and their religion.
They hardly know which is which.
They simply pursue
their vision
of excellence and grace
in whatever they do,
leaving others to decide
whether they are working or playing.
To them,
they are always doing both.

Zen Buddhism


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Accepting feedback

Accepting feedback on behaviour can be very difficult.
People often think that criticism on behaviour says something about how good or bad they are as a person, whereas in fact feedback is meant to accentuate the good in a person and eliminate the bad.
When the person wgho gives feedback doesn't believe in the good of the other he won't give feedback.

When someone wants to give feedback sit down and free your mind.
Lsiten well, try to understand what is said, summarise and if needed ask for more information.
It's also nice to show appreciation for the effort taken. The other offers a learning moment and a way to improve yourself.

It's up to you to do with the feedback what you want. So why not take it positive?

It's kinf od natural to defebnd yourself, but refrain from that.
take a close look.
Do you recognise the way the other describes your behaviour, does the other need extra information to reach another intrepretation?(be careful with that, because he might feel criticised or not taken seriously).

Ask for alternative behaviour. "You said you thought that I didn't listen to Karin. Can you tell me how I can show better that I'm listening to her?

Try to be honest about how the feedback affects you and what you're going to do with it.

"I understand you saw behaviour indicating I didn't listen. I don't agree. I did listen. But next time I'll sit down and tell het to sit down too to create a more listening situation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giving feedback

We all can do with a bit of self-reflection and feedback.

Giving feedback, hoever, is an art in itself.
It's not throwing your opinion at the feet of the other, but enabling self-reflection and maybe change.

Feedback isn't about interpretations, because the other doesn't need your stream of thoughts, but it's about what can be observed.
So don't tell the other you saw he was upset, because he might get into a discussion with you stating he wasn't upset at all.

Describe what can be observed: I saw you were standing in the kitchen and the knife sounded very hard when it was put down, your face was read, your voice was loud, and when you walked away I heard the door close very loud with a smash.

Feedback should be given as soon as possible after an incident, so the person can look back at his behaviour and remember his feelings and thoughts, but not before anger and irritation are gone.

Describe what you have observed as neutral as possible and in words that indicate it's your perception.
It's important that the other doesn't feel he or she should defend him/herself or can start a discussion.

Be as concrete as possible.

Never say: you did..., but I feel...

And check if the message your trying to get across has arrived: "Do you recognise this? Do you understand what I mean?"

When the other can't deal with the feedback, accept that.
Stay close to the aim of your feedback.
Only give feedback when you know the behaviour you're giving feedback on can be changed.

It's ofcourse best when you're able to give alternative behaviours to try out, and explain why these behaviours might enhance the way the other functions.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Active listening: asking questions

Yesterday we saw that many people think they're listening carefully, whereas in fact they're fitting the information they get in their own streams of thought.

But how do we justice to the speaker?
When do we really listen?

Why do people think their friends listen better to them than others without any proof their friends really do listen better?

That's because they follow the stream of thoughts of the speaker and ask questions at the right time.

So the secret of active listening is not in interpreting and giving advice, but in asking questions to follow the stream of thoughts of the speaker.

When you do that, you'll be able to stand beside the speaker and hear what's happening. At crossroads of thoughts you'll be able to ask the questions that lead to all directions, thus broadening the understanding of what's going on.

That's active listening as it's supposed to be.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Active listening: selective perception and tunnelvision

Many people think that active listening is listening with care and attention, and drawing conclusions right on the spot, so good advice can be given.

But it doesn't do right to what the speaker is saying, because we limit our frame of mind.. because we listen with a frame of mind.

That means that we sort the information we get into streams that fit our thinking processes.
That means in fact that what fits into those streams of thought is heard and many other things are not perceived.
One calles it selective listening: sorting out what's needed, what fits.
And the result: tunnelvision (yes, it's called that way when you're listening too.)
Everything that's outside the streams of thoughts is not perceived.

Sometimes this is a conscious process. When we're studying, or writing a paper, we only need certain information.

But when you're reseraching, examining, assessing or just listening well, you're not doing justice to the person.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Early years of the Dalai lama

To me it has always been important to be a stay at home mom.

People say now I'm not emancipated.


I've made my own choices and I've been able to see my children grow up.

It's a privilige to see a child develop in his own environment where he can be himself, instead of in a room with a few leaders attending to what's needed for hygiene, food and drinks.

Ofcourse a child needs to learn to adjust and needs to learn to assume a role in a group, but the first years should be dedicated to development of the person, of the wish to discover the world in all aspects. Not only those that are presented by others.

The importance of those first years is shown by the account of the mother of Dalai Lama of the first years of her son.
Observing a child reveals many messages as you can see here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Two worlds

At times I don't feel at ease in this world.

Living as a buddhist means letting go.
But I'm living in a society that clings to so many things that people have no moment in their agenda left for enthousiasm, sitting down to talk with someone without registering it first etc etc.

Living in the present is a struggle, because people want replies on letters that are not worth a reply, people want one to cling to emotions from years back, and people want plans formulated long before there is even a chance to realise them.

It's almost as if we need to plan our complete lives ahead, and there's no room to discover who we really are.

No wonder so many people are burned out.
They have forgotten to keep in contact with their inner rest.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

All people are equal, except...

Isn't it interesting that most people agree that all people are equal, but when you give them the chance to speak freely they place themselves aside from that rule.

There are so many exceptions that it is as if there's a special race/class/level to this society.
We don't have a proper name for this people yet, but they're sure more than others, as they suggest.

I have the luxury of not feeling that way.
I don't think I'm more than others, or better, and when I look int the mirror I know I'm quite average on the outside too.

Strange thing is that I respect some people so much I almost place them above me, but then the voice of my grandmom pops up saying that these people too have to eat and are naked when they're undressed.

This week I've dealt with many people who think they're better than others and I find myself struggling with the fact that it makes me feel very uneasy.
At times I almost want to proof myself I'm just as good as they are, but I've left that area of behaviour a while ago.

There's one battle to be fought inside.

The person who really stated in words, knowing what he was saying, that his opinion counted far more than mine didn't get a hand when we left.
I couldn't answer the outreach, as his hand looked dirty and his eyes like that of a statue.

I don't shake hands with statues.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Attachment - concepts

There's a slight discrepancy between the original word Trishna, which is literally translated by thirst and which means not only attachment, but also desire, clinging, greed, craving, or lust.

Attachment follows from not accepting that all things and people are impermanent and are not seperate. To seek permanence we cling to people, things and ourselves.

Dvesha is a concept which belongs to this too. It means avoidance, hatred. To want things to be separate from us we're also trying to escape from the deep truths of life: that everything is connected.
We intensily try to make clear we're not connected to something or someone, and by that we cling to the connection.

The reason we cling to things, people, thoughts is not fully understanding the impermanence of things: avidya. Ignorance or the refusal to see.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Suffering - some thoughts

Critics state that buddhism allows suffering.

Well, it certainly doesn't impose suffering on people like some other religions do.
"All people live in sin, including newborn babies", sounds like doom to me and doesn't do justice to the fact that a child can't have done anything wrong. Especially not when that religion grants a person just one life.

Some say that buddhism is the perfect religion for those who want to be a vitim of their circumstances.
I can't see why.

To me buddhism is not only bringing hope, by pointing out in the 4 Noble Truths why and how suffering is caused, but also by providing a way out. Not by some magical performance, but by adjusting our lifestyle by the Eightfold Path.

In clear and comprehendable language we're told how we can adjust our lives to feel better and to escape from suffering.
We can work on this every day, so there's no need to dwell too long on the fact that we're suffering.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Suffering - concepts

The Four Noble Truths state that:

  1. Life is suffering.
  2. Suffering is due to attachment.
  3. Attachment can be overcome.
  4. There is a path for accomplishing this.

The original Sanskrit word is duhkha. It has a slightly different meaning of the word suffering, even though suffering is the best translation.
There's also an element in it of stressfulness, imperfection, filled with anguish.
One could say it's more descriptive. It states the psychological impact of the fact of suffering in closer detail.

The anguish of suffering is brought about partly by anitya, the overwhelming feeling and knowledge that all things and people are impermanent.

Often used when discussing suffering is the concept of anatman or anatti (Pali) which literally means: "no soul". It means that everything and everyone is interconnected and interdependent in such a way that nothing and no one has a seperate existence.

So there's no need to think of "I", as identity is never a seperate issue. And there's no need to consider things "mine".

At another post I'll go deeper into the meaning of anatman/anatti.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


It's long ago that I suddenly realised that many things cane be seen in mini, midi and maxi.
Like the molecules at mini level and the stars at maxi.

Later I found out that mathematics has a word for it: fractals.

Here's a movie about that concept.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Real charity can't be found as easy as in the past.
People want to show the world what they have done and have many means to do so.
It makes one wonder if people pay for advertising themselves, or if they really want to give their money to someone else.

Turning the question a 180 degrees: are you prepared to give me money so I can donate it to people who really need it? Without your name attached to it, I mean.

On internet I see many give-aways, but they're not really give-aways.
People have to visit sites, twitter about it and do many other things, mainly for the benefit of the person who gives away.

That's not really charity, it buying web-presence.
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