It’s only nominally yours

Contemplate the body and mind so as to see their impersonality, see that neither of them is “me” or “mine.” They have a merely provisional reality. It’s like this house: it’s only nominally yours, you couldn’t take it with you anywhere.

  • Ajahn Chah
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Awareness of conventional speech

We conventionally say the sky is blue. 

Yet there is no colour existing anywhere in physical reality. The blueness of sky is only an appearance perceived in consciousness to represent the light frequencies detected by our eyes. The colour blue is a mental phenomenon; light frequencies are what our eyes detect. 

Similarly there is no separate sky existing above our head in reality. If we take an aeroplane up to the blue sky, no matter how we look, we can’t apprehend a separate thing that can be called the blue sky. 

Still we would conventionally say the sky is blue, and people would understand what we mean. 

Resilience and resourcefulness

Quite often we believe that as long as we do what we should, misfortunes and calamities will not befall us. 

But minimizing risk does not mean eliminating risk. Shit still does happen despite all that we have done. Such is fate. 

What’s important is developing resilience and resourcefulness in handling all that that comes. Prevention has its limits. 

The lure of zero-sum thinking

It is surprisingly hard to find a zero-sum game in the real world. Most commercial transactions offer benefits to both sides, otherwise why would they take place at all?

A trip to a restaurant provides good food and a pleasant evening for me, gainful employment for the waiting staff and the chef, and a lively environment for the neighbourhood.

Everyone can gain. There are zero-sum elements to the affair: Every penny I hand over is a loss to me and a gain to the restaurant staff or owner. But it is best all round not to obsess too much on such matters.

Populists of all stripes focus on zero-sum arguments because they’re easy to explain and emotionally appealing. Any toddler understands the idea of grabbing what someone else has; most adults prefer a situation where everyone gains.

Racism vs prejudices & biases

Taken from http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/let-s-talk-about-race-in-ground-breaking-documentary-7839688

 

Q: In the show, one taxi driver said he did not think he was racist, but then went on to describe why he picked passengers based on their race. How did it make you feel to hear those stereotypes about your own race?

There’s the conflation of prejudice and racism. And he, the taxi driver, Uncle Steven, has prejudice. And he understands he has prejudice.

He still has to pick up his customers. He might not always have a good experience with some customers, or he may have a bias about some customers. But then he sees it is important that he behaves in a non-racist way, and he thinks of himself as non-racist.

And it is that separation – that fine line of racism versus bias and prejudices. We are not going to get rid of people’s prejudices and biases. It is about how you cope with it. And in a strange way, Uncle Steven has some of the most insight… He understands his biasness and prejudice, and he understands that it is important not to be racist.

That is kind of what we need to achieve.

Karmic habits

Since all is impermanent, pleasurable feelings cannot be maintained or repeated permanently; painful things (such as sickness and death) cannot be avoided permanently.

The greater the dissonance between our actual impermanent experience and our expectations for permanent desired ends, the more we suffer, and the greater tendency toward projecting our desires onto the world as compensation.

Just as a plant develops from its roots unseen underground, so do previous karmic experiences fester unseen in the mind; just as a plant sprouts from the ground when nourished by proper conditions, so do karmic habits, under the right causes and conditions, reassert themselves as new experiences; just as plants reach fruition by producing new seeds that re-enter the ground to take root and begin regrowing a similar plant of the same kind, so do karmic actions produce wholesome or unwholesome fruit that become latent seeds for a later, similar type of action or cognition.

– excerpt of Dan Lusthaus’s commentary on yogacara