Meditation on the colour blue calms the mind

Sometimes in a spiritual group a dispute develops over practically nothing. Although it is so trivial, people feel strongly about it. No one seems to know the cause of what is happening, or what to do. When the teacher first founded the group they were poor, and had...

You can’t expect a man in chains to do anything

A man said to his teacher, ‘I have tried to break my habit of going to wine-shops and brothels, but I can’t do it. I am in chains to my nature. You can’t expect a man in chains to do anything.’ The teacher met him going to the town one evening. He was smartly dressed...

These people will never understand the spirit of Tea

Not long ago, a Japanese Tea Ceremony master made a visit to a certain foreign country to give demonstrations. His hosts found a beautiful garden, with two pavilions in it. In one the guests were to assemble, and then a group of fifty would go to the other pavilion,...

The doctrine of the will of God

Allied to the doctrine of the grace of God is the doctrine of the will of God, and this too can be a stumbling block to those who use it as an excuse. A famous judge in India, at the end of the last century, was well-known as a devotee of God, and once a thief who was...

There is no God other than the higher self of man

Some followers of Yoga tend to think that it is somehow ‘higher’ not to believe in any God. ‘There is no God other than the higher self of man they say, throwing their heads back proudly. This is fine as long as circumstances go quite well; it sounds all right to a...

Do things well. But not very well.

If actions - even the best of actions - are accompanied with the thought ‘I am doing good’, the benevolent man may become depressed. For instance UN medical teams, working in primitive areas, have greatly reduced infant mortality by giving some simple instructions to...

No one listened to the hare’s story

After the tortoise had won the race against the hare, the other animals began to consult him about improving their running speeds. They had not seen what happened during the race: half of them had been at the start, and the other half at the finishing tape. The first...

The Way of Heaven has no love for him

Traditionally and historically, the Chinese have not been fond of fighting. They have generally rated the warrior’s role as something undesirable though sometimes necessary. They could fight well when needed; Confucius remarked, I do not like to fight, but if I must...

The heart of the giver must be pure

In the sermon, the preacher said that a gift must be not only proper in its time and place and recipient, but the heart of the giver must be pure. If there is a desire for recognition, or for a return of any kind, or even just a feeling of superiority, the gift will...

Meditation on the Dharma-world

  A buddhist nun in Japan, who by her strong character, farsightedness and sympathetic persuasion had a great influence in the community where she lived, was asked how she came to give her life to Buddhism. She said that she had lost her parents when a small child,...

A cross chosen is not a true cross

Sometimes a new idea can change the whole landscape of endeavour, so to speak; everything appears in quite a different light. This applies in most fields of human activity, but in the case of spiritual endeavours it has some special overtones. Take the case of doing...

Neither cast ye your pearls before swine

Sometimes from an unexpected quarter one can get a new light on a very familiar phrase, so that it shows a completely different meaning. One of the best-known texts in the Bible is the one about the pearls and swine: ‘Neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest...

If a thing’s karma is to perish, it must perish

A young Brahmachari in India was very high-spirited and tended to be happy-go-lucky in carrying out tasks. The teacher warned him about it, but he found it difficult to change. One day he said to the teacher: ‘Master, in the sermon the other day on karma, you said...

Is there a fourth truth, which you have not declared?

An enthusiast was explaining about Buddhism to a friend, and told him, ‘Perhaps I can best give the spirit of it by one of the traditional stories. The bodhisattva - that is, the Buddha-to-be - was walking past a mountain, pondering the great questions, when he heard...

The blind man and the bridge

A blind man lived in a village in the deep mountains. He was not afraid of the mountain paths, which he had known since childhood, and when spring came and the snows melted, he used to pride himself on the being the first to go to visit his brother in another village...

The Pure Land of Amitābha

In China and Japan many millions of Buddhists have been - and in Japan still are - devotees of the Pure Land doctrine. According to this a bodhisattva made a great vow which in time fulfilled itself as the manifestation of the Buddha Amitabha (infinite light), who...

He knew a tremendous lot of Vedanta

A lecturer on Vedanta made a tour of the towns of northern India, dazzling the audiences with his erudition. He had a phenomenal memory, and his replies to questions were a revelation. The disciple of a traditional teacher went to one of these lectures, and was much...

The Buddha-nature in all is always perfect

‘You’ve often told us in your sermons that the Buddha-nature in all is always perfect, and their nature loses nothing even if the mind is disturbed, and gains nothing when the mind is calm. Why then do you tell people to control their passions and acquire peace of...

He never again lost his temper in public

A young and able businessman was hampered in his career by sudden outbursts of fury when he was contradicted in front of others - at a board meeting, for instance. He was making some attempts at spiritual training, and he consulted one of the senior members of the...

And how do you think you have done?

A famous preacher of Vedanta had a pupil of sixteen years who, under his instruction, acquired a very fine knowledge of the philosophy. He did not teach him rhetoric, as he did not consider that the boy would make a good speaker. One day however the master suddenly...

Samsara is Nirvana, the passions are enlightenment

The final word of Mahayana Buddhism, as expressed in the Garland Sutra of China, is that Samsara, this world of suffering, is Nirvana, and the passions are enlightenment, bodhi. It is only illusion that causes us to see differences between them. ‘Samsara is Nirvana,...

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