“You have something in yourself that is fundamentally good. Something that is wholesome and worthwhile exists in all of us. Whenever you see a bright color, you are witnessing your own inherent goodness. Whenever you hear a musical sound, you are hearing your own basic goodness. Whenever you taste something sweet or sour, you are experiencing your own fundamental goodness … Things like that are always happening to you, but you have been ignoring them, thinking that they are mundane and ordinary. It’s time to pay closer attention to them and feel the freshness of your goodness, again and again.”
“Committing to the practice of meditation brings a sense of homecoming. The practice is no longer a myth, but a real experience. A complete new world, a new old world, of meditative life could be established. There is so much joy to go with that, the joy of being intimately connectedwith the universe.”
“In addition to the sitting form of meditation, there is the practice of panoramic awareness in everyday life. This particular kind of practice is to identify with whatever activities you are involved in. You could apply it to artwork as well. It requires confidence. Any kind of activity that requires discipline requires confidence. You cannot have discipline without confidence; otherwise it becomes a sort of torturing process. If you have confidence in whatever you are doing, then you have real communication with it – no matter what you are doing. You are not concerned with producing masterpiece. You are just involved with the thing you are doing. Somehow the idea of masterpiece is irrelevant.”
“Sometimes people speak of our planet as a thing. This attitude will not lead to the feelings of closeness and affection that would move us to take care of the earth. The earth is not a dead rock floating in space. It is a living system, in itself as a whole and in each and every part. I do not see the earth as an inanimate object – a lump of stone. I think of it as being alive. Sitting on the earth, I can feel that the earth is a goddess – a living, breathing, and constantly giving goddess.”
“It has been said in the Buddhist teachings that without exertion, you cannot journey on the path at all. When you are taking a vacation, you are very inspired to wake up in the morning, because you are to have a tremendous experience. Exertion is like the moment you wake up on a holiday trip: you trust that you are going to have a great time, but you also have to put your effort into it. So true exertion is devotion and delight, which is free from laziness.”
“Letting go is only possible for short periods. We need some discipline to bring us to ‘letting be.’ We must walk a spiritual path. Ego must wear itself out like an old shoe, journeying from suffering to liberation. The truth of the spiritual path is in the practice of meditation.”
“If I were asked the question, ‘What religion are you?’ it would seem very odd if I did not say, ‘I am a Buddhist.’ After all, people look to me as a Buddhist leader! To keep things simple, it is easier for me to say, ‘I am a Buddhist.’ Yet that is not how I see myself. Rather, I see myself as a follower of the Buddha. I aspire to follow in the Buddha’s footsteps. To hold on to the label of ‘Buddhist’ and wave it like a banner is something else altogether.”
“One of the problems we have is feeling poverty-stricken. To overcome that, we have to be direct, and we have to trust ourselves. We are not poverty-stricken. If we are capable of smiling, we have goodness in us, always. Whether young or old, very old or very young, still, there are always possibilities of a smile. So keep smiling. Enjoy your goodness.”
“Enlightenment is referred to as en-lighten-ment. It is further luminosity; it illuminates life. Up to this point, we had a very bad lighting system; but now we are getting a better lighting system. We begin to see every curve of skin, every inch of our world, properly. We might even get irritated by such sharpness and precision. This seems to be part of the perspective that Buddha is everywhere.”
The only thing I know about my paternal great-grandmother, besides her name being Tang De-Fu (湯德富), is that she was the most accomplished practitioner in her Buddhist temple, so accomplished that she passed away sitting in a full-lotus position meditating.
Sometimes I wish I knew more about her. Come to think of it though, what else could be better telltale of a transcendent being, than that specific piece of information about her I already know? Utterly it has spoken it all, hasn’t it? If you could die like our great-grandma did, with that kind of composure, in so sublime a state, attaining such profound realization, what other particulars about you could possibly be further revealing?
I realize I don’t really need to know more about her – I have known everything about her that truly matters.
It would be nice though, if we had a picture of her. The point is not to know what she looked like. The point is to have a focus for gazing, to have an embodiment of the sublime qualities I know she must have acquired – confidence and compassion, forbearance and generosity, rejoice and delight, insight and wisdom, clarity and purity … I yearn for a connection with her. I need her to be less faraway.
So I made this drawing of my great-grandmother, based on my idea about her in my mind’s eye. I certainly lack the skills to convey all her spiritual qualities. But now that I can gaze upon her with all my admiration and appreciation, she is no longer distant in history; she is right here with us.
But then, in the past she’s never really faraway, I realize now. She’s been in my blood. This undercurrent of inherited essence has been there all the time. It is a built-in mechanism, our inborn nature. Thanks to great-grandma’s full-lotus posture, the inspiration it passed on remains fully alive. The seed will sprout one day. I know it has to.