Archive for January, 2011

Bosque by Jacky

Posted: January 27, 2011 in Poetry
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In my dream,
I am alone in the forest.

A calm, dark night
Where the only discernable sound is the occasional wind passing through the branches.
In such serene and peaceful ambiance,
My heart is at ease.

Moonlight permeates the tree crowns and warms up the forest bed.
A path emerges and I gladly take the invitation.
A pack of dogs greets me at the trailhead,
Oh, how wonderful it is to be among old friends.

We head for the flickering light in the distant window.
Following a familiar winding trail,
We arrive at the doorsteps of a stone house.

Knock, knock.
Time begins to coagulate.
My placid grin is set to burst into ecstatic smiles.
Who will be there to answer the door?

In my dream,
I have come back home.
To the forest that gave birth to my soul.

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Posted: January 25, 2011 in Quotes

Life for both sexes — and I looked at them, shouldering their way along the pavement — is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to one self. By feeling that one has some innate superiority — it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney — for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination — over other people.

– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

War Photographer [2001]

Posted: January 25, 2011 in Multimedia
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[Photographs of/by James Nachtwey]

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

– Robert Capa

  • He is a loner to a great extend and I think sometimes you have to be to work that well and to give so much of yourself. It is hard to divided your attention, your emotion and your energy. I think you have to be single-minded…and he is.
  • I really felt that I was witnessing history and not witnessing history from an academic point of view, not from a distance; but really what happens to people, ordinary people in the course of history. This was to be the most exciting, the most worthwhile experience and exactly the kind of experience why I became a photographer. That’s what I wanted to get across.
  • I also had to learn in taking pictures how to develop a personal vision. How to express my own feelings about it and in order to do that I had to get in touch with my own feelings. It was kind of true photography, true to the discipline of the frame, I learned about the world. It became the way which I discovered the world, also became the way which I discovered about myself.
  • They make you realize that this is serious and important. You, by the way you cover a story or by the way you tell a story, defines the way the world sees that story. You better do it right. You better know what you are doing. I deeply, deeply believe that.
  • In a war, the normal code of civilized behaviors are suspended.
  • Those pictures could have not been made unless I was accepted by the people I am photographing. It is simply impossible to photograph moments such as those without the complicity of the people I am photographing. Without the fact that they welcomed me, that they accepted me, that they wanted me to be there. They understand that a stranger who’s come there with a camera who show the rest of the world what has happening to them gives them a voice in the outside world that they otherwise wouldn’t have. They realized that they are the victims of some kind of injustice, some kind of unnecessary violence. By allowing me there to photograph it, they are making their own appeal to the outside world and to everyone’s sense of right and wrong.
  • It is more difficult to get publication to focus on issues that are more critical, that do not provide people with an escape of reality but to attempt to get them deeper into reality, to be concerned about something much greater than themselves. I think people are concerned. I think publishers quite often don’t give their audience enough credit for that.
  • Why photograph war? Is it possible to put an end to a form of human behavior which has existed throughout history by means of photography? The proportions of that notion seems ridiculous out of balance yet that very idea has motivated me. For me the strength of photography lies in its ability to provoke a sense of humanity. If a war is an attempt to negate humanity then photography can be perceived as the opposite of war. And if it is used well, it can be a powerful ingredient in the antidote to war.
    • In a way, if an individual assumes the risk of placing himself in the middle of war in order to communicate to the rest of the world what is happening, he is trying to negotiate for peace. Perhaps that’s the reason why those who are in charge of perpetuating war do not like to have photographers around.
  • In the field where your experiences are extremely immediate, where what you see is not an image on a page in a magazine 10,000 miles away with an advertisement for Rolex watches on the next page. What you see is unmitigated pain, injustice, and misery. It has occurred to me that if everyone can be there just once, to see for themselves what white phosphorus does to the face of a child, or what unspeakable pain is caused by the impact of a single bullet, or how a jagged piece of shred mill can rip someone’s leg off; if everyone can be there to see for themselves the fear and the grieve just one time, then they would understand that nothing is worth letting things get to the point where that happens to even one person, let alone thousands. But everyone cannot be there and that is why photographers go there. To show them, to reach out and grab them and make them stop what they are doing and pay attention to what is going on. To create pictures powerful enough to overcome the deluding effects of the mass media and shake people out of their indifference. To protest and by the strength of that protest to make others protest.

Posted: January 22, 2011 in Quotes
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There is no such thing as natural law, the expression is nothing more than a silly anachronism … There is no such thing as right, except when there is a law to forbid a certain thing under pain of punishment. Before law existed, the only natural thing was the strength of the lion, or the need of a creature who was cold or hungry, to put it in one word, need.

– Stendhal

  • Why do we try to create our own little worlds so we have the illusion of being completely in control of our entire existence? When we know with absolutely certainty that we are not?
  • Why do we go on and on about individuality being the very essence of who we are, and then accept a degrading level of conformity in virtually every facet of life?
  • Why do we get so hung up on what we don’t agree on, when in fact it’s our differences that make life interesting?
  • The truth is that often we’re so focused on what we are doing that we lose sight of where we are going?
    • But what are we actually doing? The modern world is filled with questionable distractions, deadlines, and priorities.
    • We rush, rush, rush to get to a certain ideal point in our life, and then what?
  • So many of us start off dreaming about a wonderful life that is wild and free, but that’s usually a long way from where we actually end up.
  • Of all the awful feelings that make you feel sick to your stomach, nothing feels half as bad as knowing your had a chance to do what you truly love, and you didn’t take it.
  • The truth is, we are all born with potential greatness and blessed with numerous opportunities to soar to dizzying new heights. But sadly, many of us are too lazy, too concerned about what others might think, or too afraid of change to ever stretch our wings and realize our tremendous talents.
    • It is important that you just do your own thing – whatever makes you truly happy – and do it as best as you can.
    • The only thing that matters is that you feel great about what you’re doing.
    • Keep in mind that whatever you do, mistakes are part of life. So don’t waste time kicking yourself for the past.
    • Don’t stall or stress over whether you’re doing the right thing. You’ll always know the answer in your heart.
    • Rather than being be discouraged, always remember that rejection and resistance are almost guaranteed when you are doing something very important and very special.
  • Remember that everybody struggles at times. It’s incredibly draining to live through the day doing something you really don’t enjoy or even care about.
    • But if you follow your dreams, at least you will exhaust yourself doing what you love most.

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Quotes

I cannot consent to place in the control of others one who cannot control himself.

– Robert E. Lee

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Quotes
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A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.

– Oliver Wendall Holmes

The Story of Kisagotami

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Short Stories
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Kisagotami was the daughter of a rich man from Savatthi; she was known as Kisagotami because of her slim body. Kisagotami was married to a rich young man and a son was born to them. The boy died when he was just a toddler and Kisagotami was stricken with grief. Carrying the dead body of her son, she went about asking for medicine that would restore her son to life from everyone she happened to meet. People began to think that she had gone mad.

But a wise man seeing her condition thought that he should be of some help to her. So, he said to her, “The Buddha is the person you should approach, he has the medicine you want; go to him.” Thus, she went to the Buddha and asked him to give her the medicine that would restore her dead son to life.

The Buddha told her to get some mustard seeds from a house where there had been no death. Carrying her dead child in her bosom, Kisagotami went from house to house, with the request for some mustard seeds. Everyone was willing to help her, but she could not find a single house where death had not occurred. Then, she realized that her’s was not the only family that had faced death and that there were more people dead than living. As soon as she realized this, her attitude towards her dead son changed; she was no longer attached to the dead body of her son. She left the corpse in the jungle and returned to the Buddha and reported that she could find no house where death had not occurred.

Then the Buddha said, “Did you not get the single pinch of mustard seed?” “No, that did I not, Venerable. In every village the dead are more in number than the living.” Said the Buddha, “Vainly did you imagine that you alone had lost a child. But all living beings are subject to an unchanging law, and it is this:

“The prince of death, like a raging torrent, sweeps away into the sea of ruin all living beings; with their longings still unfulfilled. Gotami, you thought that you were the only one who had lost a son. As you have now realized, death comes to all beings; before their desires are fulfilled death takes them away.

On hearing this, Kisagotami fully realized the impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and insubstantiality of the aggregates and attained sotapatti fruition.

Soon afterwards, Kisagotami became a nun. One day, as she was lighting the lamps she saw the flames flaring up and dying out, and suddenly she clearly perceived the arising and the perishing of beings. The Buddha, through supernormal power, saw her from his monastery, and sent forth his radiance and appeared to her in person. Kisagotami was told to continue meditating on the impermanent nature of all beings and to strive hard to realize Nibbàna (nirvana). She reached higher stages of spiritual awakening.

It is from this incident that the Buddha was prompted to utter the following verse which forms part of the Dhammapada scripture:

Though one should live a hundred years without seeing the Deathless State, yet better indeed, is a single day’s life of one who sees the Deathless State.

Desires of the Senses

Posted: January 10, 2011 in Short Stories
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There is no way to get free from the trap of worldly passions.

Suppose you caught a snake, a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a fox and a monkey, six creatures of very different natures, and you tie them together with a strong rope and let them go. Each of these six creatures will try to go back to its own lair by its own method: the snake will seek a covering of grass, the crocodile will seek water, the bird will want to fly in the air, the dog will seek a village, the fox will seek the solitary ledges, and the monkey will seek the trees of a forest. In the attempt of each to go its own way there will be a struggle, but, being tied together by a rope, the strongest at any one time will drag the rest.

Like the creatures in this parable, people are tempted in different ways by the desires of their six senses, eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch and mind, and is controlled by the predominant desire.

If the six creatures are all tied to a post, they will try to get free until they are tired out, and then will lie down by the post. Just like this, if people will train and control the mind there will be no further trouble from the other five senses. If the mind is under control people will have happiness both now and in the future.

Buddha

  • If he looks in the right way he recognizes the true nature of sickness, old age and death, and he searches for meaning in that which transcends all human sufferings. In my life of pleasures I seem to be looking in the wrong way.
  • Consider your body: Think of its impurity. Knowing that both its pain and its delight are alike causes of suffering, how can you indulge in its desires? Consider your “self”; think of its transiency; how can you fall into delusion about it and cherish pride and selfishness, knowing that they must all end in inevitable suffering?
  • The point of the teachings is to control your own mind.
    • Keep your mind from greed, and you will keep your behavior right, your mind pure and your words faithful.
    • By always thinking about the transiency of your life, you will be able to resist greed and anger, and will be able to avoid all evils.
  • The demon of worldly desires is always seeking chances to deceive the mind. If a viper lives in your room and you wish to have a peaceful sleep, you must first chase it out.

Dharma

  • Everything is a succession of appearances whose source is the accumulation of causes and conditions.
  • The activities of the mind have no limit, they form the surroundings of life. An impure mind surround itself with impure things and a pure mind surrounds itself with pure things; hence, surroundings have no more limits than the activities of the mind.
    • There is nothing in the world that is not mind created.
  • As the wheels follow the ox that draws the cart, so does suffering follow the person who speaks and acts with an impure mind.
  • The Middle Way
    • There are two extremes that should be carefully avoided.
      • Indulgence in the desires of the body.
      • Ascetic discipline, torturing one’s body and mind unreasonably.
    • The Noble path, that transcends these two extremes and leads to Enlightenment and wisdom and peace of mind, may be called the Middle Way.
      • Avoid being caught and entangled in any extreme, that is, always to follow the Middle Way.
  • Enlightenment has no definite form or nature by which it can manifest itself; so in Enlightenment itself, there is nothing to be enlightened.
    • Enlightenment exists solely because of delusion and ignorance; if they disappear, so will Enlightenment.
  • Buddha’s teaching leads us to non-duality, from the discriminating concept of two conflicting points of view.
    • It is a mistake for people to seek a thing supposed to be good and right, and to flee from another supposed to be bad and evil.
    • Buddha teaches the Middle Way transcending these prejudiced concepts, where duality merges into oneness.
  • When a man is beset by worldly passions, he should first ascertain their origins.
  • Water is round in a round receptacle and square in a square one, but water itself has no particular shape. People often forget this fact.
    • People see this good and that bad, they like this and dislike that. Being caught in these entanglements and becoming attached to them, they suffer.
    • People need to give up their attachment to these imaginary and false discriminations, and restore the purity of their original minds, then both their mind and their body would be free from defilement and suffering; they would know the peacefulness that comes with that freedom.
  • There are two kinds of worldly passions that defile and cover the purity of Buddha-nature.
    • The passion for analysis and discussion by which people become confused in judgment – Delusion of reasoning arises from ignorance.
    • The passion for emotional experience by which people’s values become confused – Delusion of practice arises from desire.
  • Human desires are endless. It is like the thirst of a person who drinks salt water: one gets no satisfaction and one’s thirst is only increased.
    • A person who seeks to gratify one’s desires only gains increased dissatisfaction and one’s thirst is only increased.
    • People will sin in an attempt to satisfy their desires, knowing perfectly well that the gratification will ultimately bring unhappiness and suffering, so imperious is desire.
  • Of all the worldly passions, lust is the most intense.
    • Lust is a viper hiding in a flower garden; it poisons those who come in search only of beauty.
  • From desire action follows; from action suffering follows; desire, action and suffering are like a wheel rotating endlessly.
  • There are three kinds of people in the world.
    • Those who are like letters carved in rock; they easily give way to anger and retain their angry thoughts for a long time.
    • Those who are like letters written in sand; they give way to anger also, but their angry thoughts quickly pass away.
    • Those who are like letters written in running water; they let abuse and uncomfortable gossip pass by unnoticed; their minds are always pure and undisturbed.
  • Regardless of rich or poor, people worry about money; they suffer from poverty and they suffer from wealth. Because their lives are controlled by greed, they are never content, never satisfied.
  • It is true that everything in life is transitory and filled with uncertainty, but it is lamentable that anyone should ignore this fact and keep on trying to seek enjoyment and satisfaction of his desires.
    • Times of luxury do not last long, but pass away very quickly; nothing in this world can be enjoyed forever.
    • Nothing in the world is permanent or lasting; everything is changing and momentary and unpredictable.

The Way of Practice

  • A man who chases after fame and wealth and love affairs is like a child who licks honey from the blade of a knife.
  • It is only when a person maintains a pure and peaceful mind and continues to act with goodness when unpleasant words enter his ears, when others show ill-will toward his or when he lacks sufficient food, clothes and shelter, that we may call him good.

My mind is unshakable. Words of hatred and anger shall not pass my lips. I will surround my enemy with thoughts of sympathy and pity that flow out from a mind filled with compassion for all sentient life.

  • Whenever a person expresses the thought of his mind in action there is always a reaction that follows.
    • If one abuses you, there is a temptation to answer back, or to be revenged. One should be on guard against this natural reactions. It is like spitting against the wind, it harms no one but oneself.
  • Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
  • When a wise man is advised of his errors, he will reflect on them and improve his conduct. When his misconduct is pointed out, a foolish man will not only disregard the advice but rather repeat the same error.
  • A foolish man always thinks only of the results, and is impatient without the effort that is necessary to get good results.
    • No good can be attained without proper effort.
    • There cannot be a third level of a building without the first and second level.
  • Foolish people are avaricious for good results only, but are too timid to go after them and, therefore, are continually failing. They have neither faith nor courage to face the internal struggles of the mind by which alone true peace and harmony can be attained.
  • Misery rises from lust and fear rises from lust. Those who remove lust have no misery or fear.
  • Disciplines for practical behavior, right concentration of mind, and wisdom must be understood and followed for those who seek Enlightenment.
    • Discipline – follow the precepts of good behavior; control both the mind and body.
    • Concentration of the mind – get quickly away from greedy and evil desires as they arise and to hold the mind pure and tranquil.
    • Wisdom – perfect understanding and patient acceptance.
  • If one gives away a gift only when convenient, or because it is easier to give than not to give, it is an offering, of course, but it is not a True Offering. A True Offering comes from a sympathetic heart before any request is made, and a True Offering is the one that gives not occasionally but constantly.
    • Neither is it a True Offering if after the act there are feelings of regret or of self-praises; a True Offering is one that is given with pleasure, forgetting oneself as the giver, the one who receives it and the gift itself.
    • True Offering springs spontaneously from one’s pure compassionate heart with no thought of any return, wish to enter into a life of Enlightenment together.
  • An evil mind is as hard to get rid of as a watchdog, and a right mind is as easy to lose as a deer in the forest.
  • You cannot attain Enlightenment if you stretch the strings of your mind too loosely or too tightly. You must be considerate and act wisely.
  • If a person possesses a repentant spirit one’s sins will disappear, but if one has an unrepentant spirit one’s sins will continue and condemn that person forever.
  • It is only the one who hears the true teaching rightly and realizes its meaning and relation to oneself who can receive and profit by it.
  • When a man is practicing archery, he does not expect quick success but knows that if he practices patiently, he will become more and more accurate. A river begins as a brook but grows ever larger until it flows into the great ocean -> The importance of training with patience and perseverance.
  • If one keeps one’s eyes open, he will see the teaching everywhere, and so his opportunities for Enlightenment are endless.
  • Pain is only a reaction of the mind. Don’t let it get out of hand and see the deeper thoughts behind it.

Keep your mind level. If the mind is level, the whole world will be level.

  • A tree leaning toward the east will naturally fall eastward and so those who listen to the Buddha’s teaching and maintain faith in it will surely be born in the Buddha’s Pure Land.
  • On the long journey of human life, faith is the best of companions; it is the best refreshment on the journey; and it is the greatest possession.
    • Faith is the fire that consumes all the impurities of worldly desires, it removes the burden, and it is the guide that leads one’s way.
    • Faith removes greed, fear and pride; it teaches courtesy and to respect others it frees one from the bondage of circumstances; it gives one courage to meet hardship; it gives one power to overcome temptations; it enables one to keep one’s deeds bright and pure; and it enriches the mind with wisdom.
    • Wisdom is the best guide and faith is the best companion. One must try to escape from the darkness of ignorance and suffering, and seek the light of Enlightenment.
    • On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a person lives a pure life nothing can destroy that person; if one has conquered greed nothing can limit one’s freedom.
  • There is nothing more dreadful than doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relationships. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.
  • Anger will never disappear so long as there are thoughts of resentments in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.
  • If a roof is improperly made or in disrepair, rain will leak into the house; so greed enters the mind that is improperly trained or out of control.
  • It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him into evil ways.
  • The one who protects his mind from greed, anger and foolishness, is the one who enjoys real and lasting peace.
  • Sinful actions are like coals of fire that are hidden in the ashes and keep on smoldering, finally causing a greater fire.
  • To be healthy is a great advantage; to be contented with what one has is better than the possession of great wealth; to be considered reliable is the truest mark of friendliness; to attain Enlightenment is the highest happiness.
  • One must remove resentment when he is feeling resentful; one must remove sorrow while he is in the midst of sorrow; one must remove greediness while he is steeped in greed. To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.
  • Do not become attached to the things you like, do not maintain aversion to the things you dislike. Sorrow, fear and bondage come from one’s likes and dislikes.
  • Rust grows from iron and destroys it; so evil grows from the mind of human and destroys him.
  • Everyone is the master of oneself, one is the oasis he can depend on; therefore, everyone should control himself above all.
  • The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live wisely and earnestly for the present.

The Brotherhood

  • It is foolish to guard against misfortunes from the external world and leave the inner mind uncontrolled.
  • One should always remember that nothing in the world can strictly be called “mine.” What comes to a person comes to him because of a combination of causes and conditions; it can be kept by him only temporarily and, therefore, he must not use it selfishly or for unworthy purposes.
    • Every article entrusted to us must be used with good care in some useful way, because it is not “ours” but is only entrusted to us temporarily.
Twenty difficulties at the beginning of the path to Enlightenment
1.  It is hard for a poor man to be very generous.
2.  It is hard for a rich man to learn the way of enlightenment.
3.  It is hard to seek enlightenment at the cost of self-sacrifice.
4.  It is hard to see the Buddha-world in the present world.
5.  It is hard to hear the Buddha-teaching in the turmoil of the world’s life.
6.  It is hard to keep the mind pure against the instincts of the body.
7.  It is hard not to desire things that are beautiful and attractive.
8.  It is hard for a strong man not to use his strength to satisfy his desires.
9.  It is hard when one is insulted not to get angry.
10. It is hard to remain innocent when tempted by sudden circumstances.
11. It is hard to apply oneself to study.
12. It is hard not to despise a beginner.
13. If successful it is hard to keep humble.
14. It is hard to get a good friend.
15. It is hard to endure the discipline that leads to enlightenment.
16. It is hard not to be disturbed by external conditions and circumstances.
17. It is hard to teach others by being mindful of their natures.
18. It is hard to attain a peaceful mind.
19. It is hard not to argue about right and wrong.
20. It is hard to find and learn and practice a good method.