buddha5It’s my experience that we are each other’s teachers…in every moment, every situation- if we’re paying attention.

I’ve never met someone who didn’t teach me something— sometimes the most miserable humans have shown me, made me grateful for what I’m not, who I’m not.

Often amazing people have represented who I hope to be, how I want to be and remind me what I’m capable of.

Across the world this month, Buddhist communities are celebrating Vesak Day, or more commonly, Buddha day.  It’s most often celebrated on the first full moon of May and represents the birth, enlightenment and passing of The Buddha more than 2600 years ago.

For me, it’s a celebration of another really amazing leader.

Although it’s not commonplace here in our Western Society, we are familiar with celebrating other great teachers of the past…we’ve got holidays and tradition and ritual surrounding Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr and so many others.  We love to quote Mother Teresa and you can’t drive thru any city in America without seeming a Gandhi inspired bumper sticker…

I love that we pause and recognize these masters.

I learn from them all often, look to them, observe who they were and what they taught.

Every single day I make decisions, lead and live with the influence of so many:

Martin Luther King: 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Jesus:

“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

 Mother Theresa:

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

 Gandhi:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Fantastic, right?

Of all the great teachers, Buddha resonates with me at the deepest levels not because I believe everything, or buy into all the dogma—I don’t.  But a while ago, I read a single quote that started my personal journey into his teachings:

“Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances.  Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion.  Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real. Discover that there are virtuous things and there are non-virtuous things. Once you have discovered for yourself give up the bad and embrace the good.”

This is exactly what I needed to hear.

In honor of Buddha day, here are some of Buddha’s core teachings that I rely upon every day, broken down into various subjects:

Famous Quotes:

.    “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

.    “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”

.    “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”

.    “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

.    “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”

.    “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”

.    “There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.”

.    “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

.    “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

.    “What we think, we become.“

Action:

            “A jug fills drop by drop.”

            “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”

            “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”

            “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

            “However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”

            “I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

            “I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”

            “To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.”

Anger, Forgiveness, and Compassion

            “Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time. Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.”

            “Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike; each has their suffering. Some suffer too much, others too little.”

            “In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”

            “Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

            “To understand everything is to forgive everything.”

            “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

Fear

            “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”

            “The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.”

            “When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear.”

Health

            “Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.”

            “Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”

            “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

            “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

            “To keep the body in good health is a duty … otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

            “Without health life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering an image of death.”

 Life and Living

            “He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.”

            “Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”

            “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.”

            “Life is suffering.”

            “On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.”

            “The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.”

            “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.”

            “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”

            “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

            “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”

            “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”

Love, Connection, and Unity

            “All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”

            “Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals.”

            “He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.”

            “Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.”

            “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”

            “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Mind, Thought, and Thinking

            “All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?”

            “An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.”

            “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

            “He is able who thinks he is able.”

            “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.”

            “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

            “Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.”

            “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

Personal Development

            “Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.”

            “The virtues, like the Muses, are always seen in groups. A good principle was never found solitary in any breast.”

            “To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others.”

            “Virtue is persecuted more by the wicked than it is loved by the good.”

            “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

 Self-Reliance

            “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

            “Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.”

Speech

            “A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”

            “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

            “The tongue like a sharp knife … Kills without drawing blood.”

            “The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.”

            “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”

Truth

            “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”

            “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”

                        “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”