If you’re looking for a book to open the door into Buddhist philosophy for you, then The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur is a good place to start. It’s written well, covers the essentials, and isn’t too long.
May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all sentient beings have joy and the causes of joy.
May all sentient beings remain in great equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.
- “The Tibetan Buddhist term for mind is sem, a word that may be translated into English as “that which knows.” This simple term can help us to understand the Buddhist view of the mind as less of a specific object than of a capacity to recognise and reflect on our experiences.”
- “The nature of those who have gone that way.”
- “If you chase after them [your thoughts], if you let them lead you, they begin to define you, and you lose your ability to respond openly and spontaneously in the present moment. On the other hand, if you attempt to block your thoughts, your mind can become quite tight and small.”
- “A lot of people think that meditation means achieving some unusually vivid state, completely unlike anything they’ve experienced before. They mentally squeeze themselves, thinking, I’ve got to attain a higher level of consciousness…I should be seeing something wonderful, like rainbow lights or images of pure realms…I should be glowing in the dark.”
- “The mind is the source of all experience, and by changing the direction of the mind, we can change the quality of everything we experience.”
- “Psychologists often refer to this sort of transformation as “cognitive restructuring.” Through applying intention as well as attention to an experience, a person is able to shift the meaning of an experience from a painful or intolerable context to one that is tolerable or pleasant.”
- “Compassion, in Tibetan terms, is a spontaneous feeling of connection with all living things. What you feel, I feel; What I feel, you feel. There’s no difference between us.”
- “Once we recognise that other sentient beings – people, animals and even insects – are just like us, that their basic motivation is to experience peace and to avoid suffering, then, when someone acts in some way or says something that is against our wishes, we’re able to have some basis for understanding: “Oh, well this person (or whatever) is coming from this position because, just like me, they want to be happy and they want to avoid suffering.”
- “The more problematic issue is that most people don’t have a very clear of what happiness is, and consequently find themselves creating conditions that lead them back to the dissatisfaction they so desperately seek to eliminate.”
- “Emotions such as fear, disgust and loathing appear in part as a heightened activation of neurons in the right frontal lobe, the region of the neocortex located at the very front of the right side of the brain. Meanwhile, emotions such as joy, love, compassion, and confidence can be measured in terms of relatively greater activity among the neurons in the left frontal lobe.”
- “If someone is yelling at us, for example, we rarely take the time to distinguish between the bare recognition “Oh, this person is raising his voice and saying such and such words” and the emotional response “This person is a jerk.” Instead, we tend to combine bare perception and our emotional response into a single package: “This person is screaming at me because he’s a jerk.””
- “It stems, rather, from a spacious and relaxed state of well-being, which allows them to see people and situations more clearly, but also to maintain a basic sense of happiness regardless of their personal circumstances.”
- “Thinking is the natural activity of my mind. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts. Meditation is simply a process of resting the mind in its natural state, which is open to and naturally aware of thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they occur.”
- “The process of observing your thoughts goes on and on in this way: thoughts followed by gaps, followed by thoughts, followed by gaps.”
- “Loving-kindness implies a sort of challenge to develop this awareness of kindness or commonality on an emotional, even physical, level, rather than allowing it to remain an intellectual concept.”
- “The only reason you’re ever scared is that you’ve failed to recognise that whomever or whatever you’re facing is just like you: a creature that only wants to be happy and free from suffering.”
- “Developing relative bodhicitta always involves two aspects: aspiration and application. Aspiration bodhicitta involves cultivating the heartfelt desire to raise all sentient beings to the level at which they recognise their Buddha nature.”
- “The first step in developing relative bodhicitta is to let go of your distaste for “crocodilelike” people and cultivate some sense of compassion toward them, because they don’t recognise how much of the richness and beauty of life they’re missing.”
- “There is no greater inspiration, no greater courage, than the intention to lead all beings to the perfect freedom and complete well-being of recognising their true nature.”
- “When you set aside time for formal practice, you develop a constructive habit that not only weakens old neuronal patterns, but effectively succeeds in establishing new patterns that enable you to recognise the participation of your own mind in how you perceive.”
- “Meditation is about learning to work with the mind as it is, not about trying to force it into some sort of Buddhist straight jacket.”
- “Be free from all striving” – Tilopa, Ganges Mahamudra translated by Elizabeth M Callahan
- “You recognise that they aren’t just jerks, but are people who, like you, want to be happy and peaceful; they’re only acting like jerks because they haven’t recognised their true nature and are overwhelmed by sensations of vulnerability and fear.”