Sharon Salzberg

‘Our freedom to love arises from discovering that we can live without the concept of self and other. The joy of this discovery is incomparably greater than many of us have previously known, or even imagined – so much that our entire view of life changes.’ (Lovingkindness)

Dzogchen Ponlop

‘Renunciation does not necessarily mean simply running away from something. It means that we will go into the depths of any such reality to find freedom within it. That is very important here. The desire to free ourselves and others must be balanced with the sense of complete trust in our ability to achieve liberation. We do not see samsara as something that consists solely of unfavorable situations; we also see the possibilities for freeing ourselves from suffering right on the spot. We see that freedom, liberation, and enlightenment are possible within this very moment. Once we recognize this, samsara is no longer seen as something to escape. Freedom is not seen as something that exists outside samsara. Therefore, there is nowhere to run. For example, if you are in Manhattan and you run to a Himalayan cave, you will carry Manhattan with you. It may be even worse for you because the case is much smaller than Manhattan. In the cave, you will probably appreciate and long for all the good qualities of Manhattan: there are nice subways and it is easy to get around.’ Wild Awakening)

Tara Brach

‘Even when it’s hard to appreciate goodness in someone, we can send lovingkindness anyway. At first we might feel fake or irritated; our good wishes may feel hollow or flat. But if we can regard those feelings with kindness and continue the practice, a surprising thing happens. By simply offering care, our care begins to wake up.‘ (Radical Forgiveness)

Perhaps you are sceptical about this claim. I did not start out my practice believing this kind of thing. But I invite you to try it for yourself and see. What do you have to lose, anyway?

Toni Packer

‘What do people mean by “self-realization”? A powerful experience that will settle our daily problems? Awakening to a state of nirvana, bliss, ecstasy? Is that what people believe it to be? I am asked about this all the time. We all have read so many accounts of enlightenment experiences and one wants that same experience for oneself. One will give anything for it, practice any method, follow any teacher.
What is self-realization if not the immediate, moment-to-moment insight into the processes of the human mind? Can fear and wanting be instantly seen and directly understood – not just the present feeling of it, but the root cause and the inevitable consequences that follow? Not thinking or speculating about it, but a penetrating awareness that dispels what is seen? This seeing, this undivided openness, has nothing to do with any experience. There is no experiencer in it – no realizer, no recipient of anything. It is something entirely new and unknowable.’ (The Work of this Moment)

Dzogchen Ponlop

‘From the Buddhist point of view, when we refer to karma, we are not talking about fate but about a situation in which our actions from the past carry a certain weight and power to affect our present lives. We do have a blueprint, but it is one in which our past karma and our present karma both carry a certain percentage of the power. For example, there might be a particular situation in which our past karma carries fifty percent of the weight. This would mean that there is space – room for present conditions to arise and affect the current situation – for our present karma also to exert half of the total influence on that situation. These two together – past and present karma – constitute one hundred percent of our karma, or the totality of the causal elements that are present in any given situation.
From this perspective, our previous karma is like the seed of a beautiful flower. This seed has the potential to grow and produce a beautiful blossom. However, if we were to leave this flower seed on a table for a hundred years, then it would not produce any result. In order for the seed to produce its potential result, a number of supporting conditions must come together, for example, proper soil, proper temperatures, and sufficient water and sunshine. When these supporting conditions are present at the same time, the seed produces its result, which is a flower.’ (Wild Awakening)

I find it difficult to explain karma convincingly, so I am always glad to find passages where skilled teachers can lay it out in a simple manner like this.

Tara Brach

‘Especially when things seem to be falling apart – we lose a job, suffer a serious injury, become estranged from a loved one – our lives can become painfully bound by the experience that something is wrong with us. We buy into the belief that we are fundamentally flawed, bad and undeserving of love… we forget our goodness and feel cut off from the heart. The Buddha taught, however, that no matter how lost in delusion we might be, our essence, our Buddha nature, is pure and undefiled… Basic goodness is the radiance of our Buddha nature – it is out intrinsic wakefulness and love.
This doesn’t mean that we can do no wrong. But in sharp contrast to our cultural conditioning as heirs of Adam and Eve, the Buddhist perspective holds that there is no such thing as an evil person. When we harm ourselves or others, it is not because we are bad, but because we are ignorant. To be ignorant is to ignore the truth that we are connected to all of life, and that grasping and hatred create more separation and suffering. To be ignorant is to ignore the purity of awareness and capacity for love that expresses our basic goodness.’ (Radical Forgiveness)