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Introduction to Buddhism

2017 For post Oct 10, Intro poster for email & web

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The Myth of the Self


Imagine standing on a scenic mountain peak and looking out at the world in all directions without any obstructions.

These days, if we see someone behaving selfishly, we might say they’re “being egotistical.” If someone thinks you have a really “big ego,” they may even post a blog calling you an “egomaniac.” From the standpoint of our mental health, it’s important to have self-esteem or what some psychologists call “a healthy ego.”

So when we’re talking with our friends and mention our “ego,” what do we mean?

From a Buddhist point of view, the ego is something made up by the mind. It’s the sense of self — a flash of “I” or “me” that we believe in and cling to. It’s the basis of our feeling of self-importance. It’s a story, a myth of self that we keep telling ourselves.

That “self” is the center of our universe. No matter what we’re doing, our actions always come from, and reflect back to our sense of self-consciousness.  This ego-self we cling to is the source of most of our problems. Wherever we get hung up in pain and confusion, there we’ll find the ego.

The Buddha taught that the root cause of our suffering—ignorance—is what gives rise to this tendency to “cling.”


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2017 Winter Retreat is Coming!

Please join us for Nalandabodhi’s 2017 East Coast Winter Retreat! Start the New Year with fresh insight and a fresh mind.Nalandabodhi-East-Coast-Winter-Retreat-2017.v1

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How to Be Kind to Difficult People



We have so many concepts about others, and sometimes even before we know that person, we’ve already given them this label: “Difficult.” It’s like a big tag they’re wearing whenever we see them. So I think what’s obstructing us from dealing with them is our prejudgments and preconceptions about who they are. We have so many thoughts about them even before we get to know them. In a sense, this may make you less able to deal with a “difficult” person. And actually, if you take a closer look, it may turn out that the difficult person is you.

Whenever we have a biased view, there’s a big problem, right? When we look at someone with a negative view, a negative bias, then we only see this huge, negative quality of this person––nothing positive. When we’re having a difficult time in our relationship with a partner, for example, we begin to see only the negative side. “His desk is always a mess,” “She’s always late,” and things like that. But in reality, that person has both negative and positive qualities. We magnify one side of that person or another at different times. When we’re first falling in love with someone, we only see the positive. We don’t see anything negative about them at all. Isn’t that nice?


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Why Go Kind? Demystifying Kindness

DPR-Article-Image_Why-Go-Kind-Demystifying-KindnessAt the end of a retreat in Malaysia earlier this month, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche spoke about how working with our mind is a way of helping others, how to make kindness a regular practice, and how to overcome the obstacles that prevent us from doing what we can to help.


Getting to know our mind is not only good for enlightenment. It is also helpful in dealing with our relative life.

When we recognize our mind we say, “Oh, my mind is like this.” Then as we deal with various challenges in our life––when confusions or emotions come up––we can recognize, “Oh yes, this is how my mind is. My mind has this tendency toward emotion and confusion. So I have to be careful.” Or, “My mind has this tendency of not paying attention to detail.”

This kind of thing might come up regarding your car key or your house key. Maybe you have a special place for all your keys. Then it is easy to keep that place very clearly in mind, “I put my keys here every day when I come home.” If you have a special place, then every day when you arrive home, you put your car key and your house key in the same spot. When you’re ready to go out again, your keys are right there. It’s a very simple kind of mindfulness, a very simple thing you need to remember to do.

On the other hand, when you don’t do that, you cannot find the key you want. If you’re looking for your car key, you may have to go through your whole clothes closet to find it. Is it in this jacket? No. That jacket? No, it’s not in that one. After all that searching, you still cannot find it and you end up having to borrow another key. A few weeks later you find your keys in a pocket you didn’t check. So much trouble!

So we need to see that even paying a little attention, a few minutes’ attention­­, taking a few minutes to look at our mind, can help us so much in everyday life. Like taking a few seconds to simply take the key out of your pocket and put it on its usual spot on the table where you will be able to find it again.


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