Short book with chapters meant to work as an aid to practicing meditation. Found it a bit hard to get into the text. I found Thich Naht Hahn’s "Peace Is In Every Step" a stronger book. But I believe this would work great as support during a longer retreat. Gets much better toward the end.

Notes

When people start any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.”

  • The message of the dathun is to be with oneself without embarrassment or harshness.
  • There’s a common misunderstanding among human beings that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just get comfortable.
  • A more joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisition is bitter or sweet.
  • The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice is about befriending who we are already.
  • We’re here to study ourselves and know ourselves now, not later.
  • Be playful.

Maitri—a Sanskrit word which can be translated to “friendship” or describe two people being on the same wavelength.


When you begin to think that everything is just perfect and feel complacent and superior to others, watch out!

Be the worst horse. It’s okay. Sympathize with that and use it as a motivation to keep developing yourself, to find your true nature.

In our daily lives there are three qualities we can nurture, cultivate, and bring out: precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go.

Nobody else can really begin to sort out for you what to accept and what to reject in terms of what wakes you up and what makes you fall asleep.

Our neurosis and our wisdom is made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom.

Mindfulness and awareness

  • Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.
  • Mindfulness is loving all the details in our lives.
  • Awareness is when you realize that you’re always standing at the center of the world. Life begins to open up.
  • Meditation begins to open up your life, so that you’re not caught in self-concern, just wanting life to go your way.
  • Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’re always in the middle of the universe.

See the miracles for what they are

  • There are all kinds of miracles. If you have ever lived without water, you really appreciate when you turn on the tap, and water comes out. Everything is like that, absolutely wonderful.
  • It doesn’t matter what you’re given. Whatever it is it can wake you up or put you to sleep.
  • Make friends with yourself.
  • There isn’t any hell or heaven except for how we relate to our world. Hell is just resistance to life.

Belief systems

  • The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.
  • Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life.
  • Using your belief system this way creates a situation in which you choose to be blind instead of being able to see.
  • When a belief system is threatened, people may even become so fanatical that they kill and destroy.
  • It’s what’s called fundamental theism, you want something to hold on to.
  • A good laugh is the best way to kill the Buddha.
  • There is a concrete instruction to follow in meditation practice: see what is. Acknowledge it without judging it as right or wrong.
  • There is nothing more, nothing less: just your interpretation of reality.

Recognize that we also change like the weather. We ebb and flow like the tides and we wax and wane like the moon. We do that, and there’s no reason to resist it. If we resist, life becomes misery.

Start over

If you find yourself distracted in your practice, you can simply come back and wake up and give yourself a fresh start. This can be applied not only to meditation, but throughout your whole life.

Samsara—the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth and death.

Touch and go

Learn how to touch and go by the practice of tonglen. Taking your feelings on the in-breath and sending them away on the out-breath.

  • Working with obstacles is life’s journey.
  • You have a certain life, and whatever life you’re in is a vehicle for waking up. There’s no better situation than the one you have.
  • Stick with one thing and let it put you through your changes. Don’t go around and change boats all the time.

The warrior’s journey—when you start to want to live your life fully, when you begin to feel this passion for life and for growth.

The in-between

When you leave home, and leave the things you know, and there’s no way back. But still, you haven’t arrived anywhere. That’s called the bardo, the in-between.

Life’s purpose is simply to walk forward and continually use your life to wake you up rather than put you to sleep.

Beginning to realize how precious life is becomes one of your most powerful tools. It’s like gratitude.

If you want to change your habitual stuckness, you’re the only one who can do it.

Highlights

If your mind is all caught up and driving you crazy, you can just stop practicing altogether. Just stop practicing. Give up the whole struggle. Give yourself a break.

Page 50

Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again.

Page 53

Start taking off that armor. That’s all anyone can tell you. No one can tell you how to do it because you’re the only one who knows how you locked yourself in there to begin with.

Page 70

Opting for coziness, having that as your prime reason for existing, becomes a continual obstacle to taking a leap and doing something new, doing something unusual, like going as a stranger into a strange land.

Page 94