Benefits Of Meditation Brain, Body & Spirit

Meditation benefits your brain

1 - Improved mood and working memory - even under stress.
Meditation is not an activity designed to take us away from the problems of life, rather it helps us face them with our full capacity. Everybody has to deal with stress at some point. Whether it is work, school, or family life, our ability to deal with circumstances is sometimes pushed to the limit. Dealing with circumstances that seem beyond your control can result in negative mood, anxiety, or chronic stress. New studies have proven that meditation actually improves mood and working memory; even in times of extreme pressure.
2 - Alleviate mental distractions
Training the mind to stay focused is a major motivation for practicing meditation. Brain scans show that experienced meditators process distracting thoughts with ease, then quickly return to a state of focus. Fortunately the rewards of meditation practice don't take years to cultivate. In a recent study it was shown that less than a week of practice resulted in significant improvement of cognitive abilities across a range of tests.
Meditation also has positive effects and reduces the symptoms of some mental disorders. ADD, anxiety, and depression are all marked by an increase in distracting or otherwise unwanted thoughts. Meditation trains the mind to free itself from detrimental thought patterns.
3 - Increase the size of your brain
That's right, meditating actually causes your brain to grow. You might think "who cares - I like my brain just the way it is", which is a perfectly reasonable response. However, age tends to cause thinning in the frontal-cortex. We all grow older and experience these effects. Without proper mental exercise, the gray matter responsible for language, cognition and emotional processing gradually degrades. This degradation has the potential to leave us with a higher risk for declining cognitive ability.
Thankfully, regular meditation slows thinning of brain tissue. Meditation is also responsible for thickening parts of the brain associated with attention, and working memory - crucial areas that are linked with intelligence. The gains in cognitive performance, experienced through brief periods of meditation, seem to show a positive relationship between meditation and improved intelligence.
Meditation benefits your body
4 - Enhance the strength of your immune response
Studies show that meditation not only improves mood, but also improves the quality of your immune response. One study demonstrated that meditators who were given a flu shot had more antibodies in their blood, as compared to non-meditators. The same study also observed increased activity in areas of the brain associated with positive emotion. Some beneficial effects of the meditation lasted up to four months after practice was concluded.
5 - Alleviate symptoms caused by sickness
We all know that stress influences the ability of our immune systems to fight off disease; which may be why meditation helps improve the symptoms from a wide range of conditions, such as:
  • - Heart disease
  • - High blood pressure
  • - Cancer
  • - Asthma
  • - Allergies
Research shows that meditation can have a positive impact on many health related issues. In one study, it was shown that meditation can enhance the effectiveness of conventional medical treatment. Meditation should not replace any recommendation provided by your doctor, though it might be worth considering as a complement to traditional medicine. Discuss the benefits or possible side effects with your health professional.
6 - Decrease Fatigue
Meditation might be a better stimulant for you than a cup of coffee. If you find yourself in need of a midday nap, or just didn't get enough sleep the night before, it might be time for a meditation break. Several studies have shown a link between meditation and mental alertness. Sometimes meditation can act as a replacement for sleep, with higher gains in performance.
7 - Meditation can help reduce the impact of physical and emotional pain
Chronic physical pain can have a serious impact on your mental health. The negative thinking that can accompany pain leads to stress, which can further exacerbate problems. Fortunately, studies show that meditation can reduce the direct experience of physical pain up to 50%.
Beyond physical pain, chronic pain can have a negative impact on emotional well being. Through meditation people have learned how to respond to pain in a healthier manner. Training the mind allows the opportunity of a choice about how you will experience the present. Learning that you are in control of your response, and training yourself to do so, can have a significant impact on how you experience physical as well as emotional pain.

Meditation benefits your spirit

8 - Getting into a state of flow
The state of flow has been described in many different ways, but generally reflects the same experience. Flow consists of a harmonious state with positive qualities, that leads to a joyful state of being. When the characteristics of flow are described it's clear how flow is synonymous with a meditative state.
Losing yourself in the activity, intuitively knowing what you're going to do next, reacting spontaneously and purposefully to present circumstances, being unaware of the passage of time and confidence in your ability to face challenges; these are all feelings which accompany a state of flow.
One of my favorite descriptive terms to explain the experience is being "in the zone". Hopefully you've experienced this feeling before. Sometimes it happens spontaneously, while at other times it happens through a great deal of preperation. Maybe you were confident in your ability to complete a project, and things seemed to fall into place. If you play competitive sports, it's possible that your training led you to a high level of performance, and it felt like you were guaranteed to win.
Regardless of how you experienced flow, meditation can help you recapture this feeling. The clear focused attention required to get in flow can be cultivated through practice and carried over to other areas of your life. Capturing this state can help you move forward with purpose, confident in your ability to reach your goals.
9 - Improve your powers of empathy
Cultivating compassion can have a profound impact on how we deal with others. Forgiveness and compassion are important for building strong relationships, while at the same time contributing to a positive self-image.
Loving-kindness meditation (also called metta meditation) focuses on building thoughts of compassion for all sentient beings. To begin, we must first have compassion for ourselves, it can then be extended to friends, family and others. Building compassion for ourselves is not a selfish act - in fact it is one of the most unselfish things you can do. Compassion for the self leads to self-acceptance, even in light of past mistakes. Compassion and forgiveness are interrelated - we cannot begin to forgive others if we cannot first forgive ourselves.
Self-acceptance can lead to much more positive interactions. Understanding someone else's mental and emotional state can help us put their actions in context. When we have knowledge of other people's suffering, we can work to alleviate it. Compassion can ultimately lead to greater happiness for all. Through training we can actually move away from negativity and begin to experience a more joyful state of being.
10 - Attain enlightenment
Enlightenment is possibly the end-all of spiritual aspiration. This elusive attainment has kept philosophers and spiritual seekers contemplating the mysteries of the world for thousands of years. Achieving enlightenment is supposed to reveal the underlying nature of reality to those who attain it. Those who attain it describe it as the greatest paradox one could imagine, but also freeing and expansive.
Is this something you believe is possible? Is this your ultimate reason for meditating? If the idea of meditation raises more questions than you are comfortable with, then you may want to seek a spiritual guru to guide you on your path. Enlightenment may reveal some answers, while unveiling even deeper mysteries - much like scientific progress.
Some spiritual traditions describe levels of progress in the various stages of practice. It's said that through regular engagement in meditation, it's possible to have deep insights into one's own being
With all of the benefits of meditation, it's a worthwhile practice regardless of personal feelings toward spiritual attainment.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: 7 Facts You May Not Have Known About Him

Independent India's first Law Minister, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the architect of the Indian constitution. From being one of the most influential names to be working against social discrimination, he inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement in India.
Popularly known as Babasaheb, the Indian jurist, politician, economist and social reformer, who was born in 1891 in Mahoo, Madhya Pradesh, was known for his campaigns against social discrimination against dalits, women and labour.

Dr. Ambedkar, who had inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement, had died in his sleep on 6 December 1956 at his home in Delhi.
On his 125th birth anniversary, we bring to you 7 facts you may not have known about him:
  • BR Ambedkar was the 14th child of his parents.
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  • Ambedkar's ancestors had long been in the employment of the British East India Company's army.
  • Ambedkar's original name was actually Ambavadekar. But his teacher, Mahadev Ambedkar, who was fond of him, changed his surname from 'Ambavadekar' to his own surname 'Ambedkar' in school records.
  • He also held the position of a principal at the Government Law College, Mumbai for 2 years.
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  • Ambedkar was opposed to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gives a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Ambedkar was the first Indian to pursue an Economics doctorate degree abroad.
  • Ambedkar suffered from a severe case of diabetes in the later years.
source and credit:huffingtonpost

11 Quotes From Alan Watts That Will Change Your Life.

Alan Watts is considered as the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West. He had an astonishing and an indescribable way of writing the unwritable.
Among all the qualities of this great orator and writer, he had an unique gift of expressing complex thoughts in the form of simple and illustrated thoughts. The simple way he exemplified and expressed all his reflections made him and universal philosopher, someone that could be comprehended by the vast majority of the people. Let’s see some of Alan Watts’ magic and awakening quotes.

1. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” – Alan Watts.

It is no news that we humans take things too seriously. We over think to the point where we become anxious. We over analyze and overvalue things to the point of depression.
If there was something that Mr.Watts wanted us to do is to enjoy life and live it as a joyous dance. We are a tiny spot in an enormous, out-of-our-eyes universe, no need to take things too seriously! Go out and enjoy this beautiful experience!

2. “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts.

This quote makes reference to the reverse effort principle. What Mr.Watts simply wants to say is to don’t force things, don’t create tension. Sometimes things work out better if we let them flow and simply “happen”.
Just as floating in the water, it is not about the effort we put into floating but about letting go! Flow as water!

3. “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts.

This quote does much reference to the former one. Trust, as some people wrongly conceive, is not about holding on to things or people, it is about letting go and having faith in the process.
In life, we can’t hold on to fears, over constructed thoughts, or plans. Any of this security searching habits and trust habits will only impede us from moving forward and really enjoying life. Let go and trust the waters!

4.“The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” – Alan Watts.

A common seen reflection in the Eastern philosophies is the thought that life’s essence is the impermanence we find in it, something which is certainly true. Life is all about the process between life and death, creation and destruction, change.
Everything changes every moment. Cells multiply, plants grow, universe expands. Everything which is alive will be in constant motion, and this is the beauty of life. It is always passionate to change and it always brings something new to us! We have to acknowledge this as our nature, for it is!

5. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts.

Mr. Watts made a lot of emphasis on the inefficient word system we use. Words exist thanks to a contrast with other words. Right exists because there is wrong to contrast with.
Alan Watts saw this system of naming meaningless, for there is no bad or good, negative or positive. Ultimately everything is the same, just a different side of the same coin. To live life fully and with no restrictions, we have to acknowledge that any experience is just an experience and a learning process. If we constantly oppose to one side of the coin we will never see life as it really is, a color pallet with many different colors and shades.

6. “No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.” – Alan Watts.

Rigidity is just a synonym of boring, unnatural and narrow vision. In life it is essential to flow as water, this is why so many Eastern philosophers refer to water as a great teacher.
Life is wiggly and spontaneous, being rigid in life will only lead us to a boring, narrow path in life. We won’t enjoy fully and at the end of the curse we will notice that we have wasted all of our time. Be like water!

7. “We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.” – Alan Watts.

One of the greatest problems of society that Alan Watts pointed out is the intense separation between man and nature. Human beings tend to see themselves as aliens that came to Earth.
We have a constant will to change, destroy and manipulate nature. We, forgetting that we are also nature, are subjects to all the consequences of our acts. Global warming, total destruction of our resources, water pollution… There will arrive the moment were all of us notice that we are connected to this world and universe, just as the roots of a tree are connected to earth. We can’t keep going like this! Earth dies, we die!

8. “Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.” – Alan Watts.

Doubtlessly, what makes this world a beautiful experience is, the impermanence and mutability of all things. This world will always have a mysterious and unpredictable way of flow.
Everything is changing and it is necessary that we acknowledge that and live with it. We are organic to this world, an so, we are submit to change too. We cant oppose to our nature, we have to admit and flow with this beautiful dance.

9. “Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.” – Alan Watts.

Alan Watts held a firm point of view were he saw all life as something undefinable and with a sole purpose of experiencing it. He always said that this universe cant be defined by worlds and that the harder we try to do this the more we separate from the real experience.
To live this experience we have to see the object that we point at with our finger, not our finger. In other words, we have to live each experience and not try to define it!

10. “…tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.” – Alan Watts.

Alan Watts was clearly a follower of an Eastern philosophy type of view. Something that any Eastern philosophy pushed on was the fact of living in the present.
It is more than true that only by living in the present we really enjoy all the pleasures of live, and more so, we eliminate any fear of the future, anxiety or depression. Making plans for the future is only useful for those who know how to enjoy this future when it arrives. It is useless to live for a future when we don’t live it when it arrives. Learn to enjoy the now and you will be able to enjoy everything else that comes at you!

11. “Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way” – Alan Watts.

All problems have a solution, problems are soluble in solutions, and solutions are inexhaustible. We have powerful minds which work by creativity and logic, we certainly have the power to create solutions.
Alan Watts, with his positive mindset, had a great ability to pose problems and find their solutions. We all can do this, it takes breathing, calming down and concentrating! Sometimes it is all about how we approach the problem!

What Happens When We Die? Here's What Buddhism Says

When we talk about life and death, some think that death means the end of everything. Thus, we must first clarify these misunderstandings about "death" before we discuss "life". People normally have a fear of death. In fact, death is nothing to be afraid of. This is analogous to the businessman who runs a good business at all times and manages it well until the closure of the financial year. When the New Year comes he will certainly enjoy a comfortable life. Therefore, as long as we have prepared well during our lives, we should be happy when we are healthy, and should not be frightened when sickness or even death comes. 

The Three Types of Death

According to Buddhism, there are three types of death:

1. The end of life: No matter how long we live, once the life that we obtained from our past karma is finished, we will die. This is like a lamp. When the fuel is consumed, the light will go out. If the "karmic fuel" for our life is for one hundred years, then, at the end of one hundred years, we will die, and there are no alternatives!

2. The exhaustion of merit: We need daily necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter in order to live. Some of us may die before we reach old age because of the exhaustion of our merits. We may die of hunger or cold.

3. Death at a time when one should not die: Some of us may die because of wars, floods, fires, accidents, sickness, lack of care or nutrition, or over-work. This type of death is different to the other two types mentioned above.

With regards to death, a practicing Buddhist should remember two points:

1. Whether we are young or old, we may die at any time. Although humans have an average life span, exhaustion of merits or unforeseen circumstances for any individual may cause us to die at any time. Life is impermanent. So we should be diligent in practicing the Buddha’s teachings, and not wait until the next life, or life thereafter!

2. Do not think or misunderstand that life is determined by our past karma only. In fact, the major influence comes from our actions in the current life. If we always commit wrong deeds, do not take care of ourselves, and are lazy, then consequently we may become poor and may die of starvation while young or middle aged. But death as such does not necessarily imply the end of one’s actual life process.

How Does the Cycle of Life and Death Come About?

What is this cycle of birth and death? How does this cycle of life and death come about? What determines our improvement or deterioration? According to Buddhism, it is determined by our karma. Karma is the energy or influence that is left behind by our actions. Due to our past karma, we are born as human beings in this life. Similarly, the good and evil karma of this life and past lives will also affect our future lives. Many Buddhists think of ‘karma’ as ‘evil karma’ only. This is not true. The energy that is left behind by our actions or thoughts, be it good or evil, is referred to as ‘karma’. Our future is determined by our karma. Thus, the Buddha Dharma says, "We reap what we sow".
Between our past and present, which bad or good karma, will determine our next life? There are three situations as stated in the following:

a) Strong karma

When we are at the brink of death, the good and evil karma we have generated in our life will appear in front of our eyes. Usually we generate a lot of good or bad karma every day. At the moment of our death, if strong good or evil thoughts arise, they will determine our future.

For example, the memory of killing one’s own father is unforgettable. The thought will always be in one’s mind. At the moment of death, this evil scene (karmic action) will appear in front of one’s eyes. Similarly, one who is very filial will see their own filiality and good deeds at the moment of their last breath. This is similar to a debtor. At the end of the year, all creditors will come and chase after the debtor for their money, and the debtor will pay the creditor who applies him the greatest pressure first.

b) Habitual Influence
Some people may have karma that is neither extremely good nor extremely bad. In these circumstances, habitual actions may become the major influence on their fate. Accumulated minor evil actions will produce an evil result. Accumulated minor good deeds will produce a good result. There is a saying;

"Although a drop of water is tiny, it may gradually fill a big container."
The Buddha also gave us an example: If there is a big tree that is leaning to the east, it will certainly fall towards the east when being axed.

The Chinese always say: "At the time of death, the ghosts that feel injustice will come and ask for one’s life." Those who killed pigs and goats will see pigs and goats, and those who killed snakes will see snakes. If we see these, we will have great suffering. We may tremble with intense fear, and lose our minds. In fact, the pigs, goats and other animals that have been killed would have been reborn according to their own karma. However, those who did the killing will tend to continue to act in an evil way. They will accumulate more evil karma. Thus, at the moment of death the karmic action (cows, snakes, pigs, or goats etc. requesting recompense of life for lives taken) will appear in front of us and we will receive retribution according to our karma.

There is a story about a person who robbed and murdered a rich man in the middle of the night. After the incident, he felt that the rich man was always following him asking for his money and life. In time the murderer was frightened to death. Later, it was found that the rich man was only injured and was still alive. This anecdote illustrates that evil ghosts do not come to ask for one’s life. The Buddha’s explanation of karmic action explains the result perfectly. Those who did evil will see suffering at the last moment before death overtakes them, and those who behaved well will be peaceful and happy at that last moment. So we should be careful about the habitual karma that we generate daily!

c) The Last Thought

Some people may not have accomplished great things; perpetrated particularly evil deeds; nor established distinct habitual actions. During the last moment of their lives such people may suddenly think of something. This last thought, whether good or evil, will influence their next rebirth. The Buddha’s teachings encourage those who are seriously ill to remember and to recite the merits of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the merits of Dana and of following the precepts. This will help us to have good thoughts. Relying on the energy of these good thoughts, we may have a good rebirth. Some may generate a lot of good karma during normal times, but may be nervous or sad during their last breath. This may cause evil thoughts to arise and hence result in a poor rebirth. This is analogous to a merchant who has done good business throughout the year but who does not manage his business affairs well during the closing period of the financial year and thus causes the whole year’s effort to be wasted.

When someone is about to die, whether they are young or old, we should try not to cry, as this may affect the dying person’s emotional state and cause them suffering. We should advise the person to let everything go and to think about the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, good acts of Dana, and other meritorious deeds that they may have done.
It is as if our business was not very good during the year, but because of skilful management during the crucial end of year period, we may nevertheless have a happy new year. However, we should remember that our daily effort is still important. It is not rendered insignificant compared to the last minute’s effort. If we habitually commit evil deeds it is hardly to be expected that we will have good thoughts at our death. If we habitually accumulate great merits, or have more modest tendency to do good, then with the assistance of others in recalling these merits during the moment of our last breath, we may have a better rebirth.

Other Defilements Necessary for Rebirth

How does rebirth occur after our death? Normally death refers to the moment when one’s breathing and mental activities have stopped, and the body temperature drops. On the other hand, birth refers to the time when the baby is born. However, according to the teachings of the Buddha, our past karma is the main cause of the new life which comes about when the father’s sperm cell combines with an egg from the mother. This is referred to as conception: the initiation of the birth process. Thus, those who carry out abortions are in fact committing the evil deed of killing. Why are we reborn after death? It is not inevitable that everyone will be reborn. Some may be reborn and others may not. Rebirth is caused by one’s karma. 

With good karma we will produce good fruit. With evil karma we will suffer evil results.
If we generate good and evil karma all the time, does this mean that our cycle of life and death will continue endlessly? In fact, karma alone may not cause us to be reborn. Besides karma, defilements are needed as the secondary cause of rebirth. The major defilement is the ‘love’ of life. Thoughts of greed and attachment to this illusory world, with the foolish wish to live forever, plant in our deluded minds the seeds for continuous life and death.

A practicing Buddhist who wishes to end the cycle of life and death needs to let go of self-centered love and attachment to self-destructive living. This is similar to planting crops. Although we may have seeds, without water and fertilizer, the seeds will not sprout. Thus, even though we may have generated a lot of good or bad karma, without the fertile conditions provided by defilements (i.e. love and attachments), the seeds of our sufferings will not sprout. If we crave for comfort, luxury and wealth, and cling to our life, we will never break the cycle of life and death. In order to end the cycle of life and death, we must let go of our attachments thoroughly, then new life will not emerge.

To achieve this we should remember not to do evil, but to do more good. We should accumulate our merits in order to gain a good repay in the future. We should not attach ourselves to the process of life and death, but to strengthen our determination to leave this deluded, suffering world.

9 Life Lessons from Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master who brings life lessons to people around the world. His message of mindfulness, peace and spirituality has changed countless lives through the numerous books, lectures and poems he’s written. Here are nine particularly pertinent life lessons Thich Nhat Hanh has to offer:

9 Life Lessons from Thích Nhat Hanh

1. “Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”

This is a particularly harsh lesson from Thich Nhat Hanh where he really wants to emphasize the importance of living in the moment. When we become preoccupied with negative feelings about the future and past it makes it impossible to do our best in the present moment.
Worrying about things that we cannot change puts us out of control of the present moment, so in a sense we are dead when we do not work in the now. So release your worries.

2. “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”

It is so easy for us demonize and blame others for complex problems. Yet when the tables turn and we do something wrong we justify it with the numerous factors that led to the incident. We should extend the same courtesy to all others giving them the same compassion we would want to receive when making a mistake.

3. “To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow you to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”

Just because you live in the moment, doesn’t mean that you should not ever consider the future and past. The past offers us a lot of wisdom. We have to plan for our future to live responsibly. To live in the moment means just to not get swept away by the future and past, so that we forget to experience the beauty of the present.

4. “People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” 

We can often get caught up in the difficulty of our current set of problems, so that we don’t want to branch out and grow. No matter what improvements or changes we make in our lives there will always be problems, but often we prefer those problems that we already know how to manage.
We should not let our fear of the unfamiliar inhibit us from growing.

5. “Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”

Think carefully about what you say, do and think, because these are the things that form your identity. Living mindfully also means to live carefully to work towards creating an identity where you wouldn’t mind your signature being on everything you produce.

6. “We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.”

Holding onto knowledge and ideals does not let us to explore. Keeping open to the world of different perspective we may find we learn a lot. It will also help us grow compassion for others, who are a lot more like us then we think they are in reality.

7. “Every sliver of carrot needed the sun, the water, the air, the care of another human being. Imagine the effort to grow that carrot, take it from the earth, pack it, cut it and get it here for you. Pay tribute to that. Chew mindfully. At times, close your eyes and pay homage to the carrot. Think of the nourishment it needed to be and the nourishment it’s providing as a gift for your body.”

Every small activity of the day is filled with wonder. By learning to take note of all the complexities of the luxuries of everyday life, we get a great appreciation for the abundance that we live in. This leads to not desiring so many additional things since we already have so much.

8. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” 

Our body can have a great deal of influence on our mood. To carry one’s self with confidence and happiness can help bring the brain out of a rut. Next time you are feeling down, stand up straight and smile to help improve your mood.

9. “My actions are my only true belongings.” 

Things come and go, but what determines the course of our lives is the way we act. Choose wisely when making decisions for actions and inactions, because these are the things that permanently alter the course of our lives and those around us.

source: guidedmind

Five Ways Of Putting An End To Anger

Shariputra shared with monks, five ways of putting an end to anger:

1. If there is someone whose bodily actions are not kind but whose words are kind, if you feel anger toward him, meditate to put an end to your anger.

A bhikshu practicing asceticism wears a patchwork robe. On a filthy garbage pile one piece of cloth is still intact. So he takes it home, washes, and sews it into his patchwork robe. If you are wise, when someone’s bodily actions are not kind but his words are kind, pay attention to his kind words. This will help you end your anger.

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2. If you become angry with someone whose words are not kind but whose bodily actions are kind, meditate to put an end to your anger.
The surface of a lake is covered with algae and grass. A thirsty man takes off his clothes, jumps into the water, and with his hands clears away the algae and grass, and enjoys bathing in and drinking the cool water. It is the same, with someone whose words are not kind but whose bodily actions are kind. Pay attention to his bodily actions and not words, to end your anger. 

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3. If there is someone whose bodily actions and words are not kind, but who still has a little kindness in his heart, if you feel anger toward that person, meditate to end to your anger.

At a crossroads a weak, thirsty, hot and deprived person sees a buffalo’s footprint with some stagnant rainwater in it. She thinks, ‘If I use my hand or a leaf to scoop it up, it will become muddy and undrinkable. I will have to kneel down, put my lips right to the water, and drink it directly.’ She does just that. When you see someone whose bodily actions and words are not kind, but where there is still a little kindness in her heart, pay attention to the little kindness that is in her heart so you may end your anger. 

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4. If there is someone whose words and bodily actions are not kind, and in whose heart there is nothing that can be called kindness, if you are angry with that person, meditate to end your anger.

A man on a long journey falls sick. He is alone and exhausted and he fears he will die. Someone comes along and takes the man’s hand and leads him to the next village. She ministers to his needs. Because of this compassion and loving kindness, the man’s life is saved. When you see someone whose words and bodily actions are not kind, and in whose heart there is nothing that can be called kindness, think: ‘That someone is undergoing great suffering. Unless he meets a good spiritual friend, there will be no chance for him to transform and be happy.’ You will open your heart with love and compassion. 

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5. If there is someone whose bodily actions are kind, whose words are kind, and whose mind is also kind, if you are angry with that person, meditate to end your anger.

A lake’s water is clear and sweet. A thirsty man takes off his clothes, jumps into the water, and finds great comfort and enjoyment in drinking and bathing in the pure water. His suffering disappears. Give your attention to all his kindness of body, speech, and mind, and do not allow anger or jealousy to overwhelm you. Abridged from a Plum Village discourse.


The Dalai Lama’s Hard Hitting Message for World Leaders About The Reality of War

The Reality of War

Of course, war and the large military establishments are the greatest sources of violence in the world. Whether their purpose is defensive or offensive, these vast powerful organizations exist solely to kill human beings. We should think carefully about the reality of war. Most of us have been conditioned to regard military combat as exciting and glamorous – an opportunity for men to prove their competence and courage. Since armies are legal, we feel that war is acceptable; in general, nobody feels that war is criminal or that accepting it is criminal attitude. In fact, we have been brainwashed. War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It is monstrous. Its very nature is one of tragedy and suffering.
War is like a fire in the human community, one whose fuel is living beings. I find this analogy especially appropriate and useful. Modern warfare waged primarily with different forms of fire, but we are so conditioned to see it as thrilling that we talk about this or that marvelous weapon as a remarkable piece of technology without remembering that, if it is actually used, it will burn living people. War also strongly resembles a fire in the way it spreads. If one area gets weak, the commanding officer sends in reinforcements. This is throwing live people onto a fire. But because we have been brainwashed to think this way, we do not consider the suffering of individual soldiers. No soldiers want to be wounded or die. None of his loved ones wants any harm to come to him. If one soldier is killed, or maimed for life, at least another five or ten people – his relatives and friends – suffer as well. We should all be horrified by the extent of this tragedy, but we are too confused.
Frankly as a child, I too was attracted to the military. Their uniform looked so smart and beautiful. But that is exactly how the seduction begins.  Children starts playing games that will one day lead them in trouble. There are plenty of exciting games to play and costumes to wear other than those based on the killing of human beings. Again, if we as adults were not so fascinated by war, we would clearly see that to allow our children to become habituated to war games is extremely unfortunate. Some former soldiers have told me that when they shot their first person they felt uncomfortable but as they continued to kill it began to feel quite normal. In time, we can get used to anything.
It is not only during times of war that military establishments are destructive. By their very design, they were the single greatest violators of human rights, and it is the soldiers themselves who suffer most consistently from their abuse. After the officer in charge have given beautiful explanations about the importance of the army, its discipline and the need to conquer the enemy, the rights of the great mass of soldiers are most entirely taken away. They are then compelled to forfeit their individual will, and, in the end, to sacrifice their lives. Moreover, once an army has become a powerful force, there is every risk that it will destroy the happiness of its own country.
There are people with destructive intentions in every society, and the temptation to gain command over an organisation capable of fulfilling their desires can become overwhelming. But no matter how malevolent or evil are the many murderous dictators who can currently oppress their nations and cause international problems, it is obvious that they cannot harm others or destroy countless human lives if they don’t have a military organisation accepted and condoned by society. As long as there are powerful armies there will always be danger of dictatorship. If we really believe dictatorship to be a despicable and destructive form of government, then we must recognize that the existence of a powerful military establishment is one of its main causes.
Militarism is also very expensive. Pursuing peace through military strength places a tremendously wasteful burden on society. Governments spend vast sums on increasingly intricate weapons when, in fact, nobody really wants to use them. Not only money but also valuable energy and human intelligence are squandered, while all that increases is fear.
I want to make it clear, however, that although I am deeply opposed to war, I am not advocating appeasement. It is often necessary to take a strong stand to counter unjust aggression. For instance, it is plain to all of us that the Second World War was entirely justified. It “saved civilization” from the tyranny of Nazi Germany, as Winston Churchill so aptly put it. In my view, the Korean War was also just, since it gave South Korea the chance of gradually developing democracy. But we can only judge whether or not a conflict was vindicated on moral grounds with hindsight. For example, we can now see that during the Cold War, the principle of nuclear deterrence had a certain value. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to assess al such matters with any degree of accuracy. War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.
For instance, in the case of the Cold War, through deterrence may have helped promote stability, it did not create genuine peace. The last forty years in Europe have seen merely the absence of war, which has not been real peace but a facsimile founded on fear. At best, building arms to maintain peace serves only as a temporary measure. As long as adversaries do not trust each other, any number of factors can upset the balance of power. Lasting peace can assure secured only on the basis of genuine trust.

Message From The 14th Dalai Lama

For Original Source at Dalai Lama’s Home Page CLICK HERE

30 Alan Watts Quotes That Will Make You Rethink Life

Alan Watts is often viewed as one of the most prolific philosophers of the 19th century and is widely known for his interpretations of Zen Buddhism and Indian and Chinese philosophy

He’s authored more than 20 books on the philosophy and psychology of religion and has built an extensive archive of lectures in audio form, brimming with his characteristic lucidity and humor.
Watts spent his career teaching others how to unlearn everything that society teaches us, and focuses much on recognizing that the only moment that exists perpetually is the one we live in presently.
Any questions about life, love, reality or the self can be illuminated by Watts and his ideas that quench existential wonder.  Even after his death in 1973, his teachings and musings remain applicable to our day-to-day lives.
Here are 30 of his most famous quotes:

On Perception

  • “This whole world is a phantasmagoria, an amazing illusion.”
  • “We notice only what we think noteworthy, and therefore our visions highly selective.”
  • “Memory creates the future as well as the past, you wouldn’t know that you were going to have anything happen tomorrow if you didn’t have something yesterday.”
  • “The world is precisely the relationship between the world and its witnesses, and so if there are no eyes in this world, the sun doesn’t make any light, nor do the stars.”
  • “If you don’t remember anything you don’t know you’re there.”
  • “There is nothing except the eternal now.”
  • “Things and events have only a verbal reality.”

On Art & Creativity

  • “An artist is a person who performs certain things skillfully, but doesn’t really know how he does it. You learn art by methods that you don’t know how you learnt, you can’t describe, because your brain is capable of absorbing all kinds of information that is much too subtle to be translated into words.”
  • “Creative people can stimulate creativity in others, by osmosis.”

On the Universe

  • “You and I are as much continuous with the universe as a wave is continuous with the ocean.”
  • “Everything in this universe depends on everything else.”
  • “Everything that happens, everything that I have ever done, everything that anybody else have ever done is part of a harmonious design, that there is no error at all.”
  • “Through our eyes, the universe perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

On Life & Death

  • “Dying should be one of the great events of life.”
  • “The meaning of being alive is just being alive.”

On Balance

  • “Everybody has to be salted by a certain unrespectability.”
  • “The positive cannot exist without the negative.”
  • “To be implies not to be.”
  • “All insides have outsides.”
  • “You can only be on the in in relation to something that is out.”

On Choice & Misguidedness

  • “Choice is not a form of freedom in the sense of the word; choice is the act of hesitation that occurs before making a decision.”
  • “We have been literally hypnotized by social convention into feeling and sensing that we exist only inside our skins.”
  • “Every manifestation of life is impermanent. Our quest to make things permanent, to straighten everything out, to get it fixed is an impossible and insoluble problem.”

On Emotions

  • “There are no wrong feelings.”
  • “This is one of the peculiar problems of our culture, that we are terrified of our feelings.”
  • “Most problems that are solved in a rush are solved in the wrong way, especially emotional problems between people.”
  • “We have frustration because we are fighting the changing of things.”

On Love

  • “The first thing to discover is what indeed you do love, and you will find there is something.”
  • “Love is not something that is a sort of rare commodity, everybody has it.”
  • “Never pretend to a love which you do not actually feel, for love is not ours to command.”

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