Monthly Archives: May 2018

Wise Effort

The Dalai Lama was giving a talk one day while sitting under the Bodhi tree, and the pilgrims had come from miles and miles on foot from the high Himalayas to be with the him in Bodhgaya, and he said to them, “Okay, you’re here, and you think you’re very fortunate because you have the blessings of being under this Bodhi tree where the Buddha was enlightened, with all these famous lamas, and the Dalai Lama himself, and you have the teachings, the sacred meditations, and mantras, and all these things. It won’t do you any good. The only thing that makes it work is if you take the trouble to practice it. All the rest of it is very nice, but you might as well watch Dallas or something like that. It’s not so different. Maybe you would learn more from Dallas, I don’t know. At least it wouldn’t be pretentiously spiritual.” So what is needed is “effort.”

Effort is central in our spiritual practice. It’s the effort of learning how to cultivate or generate that which is skillful – which means awareness, loving-kindness, or caring for the world around you, or living more in the present, the effort to abandon the habits, the fears of things that we get caught in that create suffering and that keeps us in the muck. This is wonderful because it’s a teaching that we can apply to our daily life; it’s not just a retreat teaching; it’s small habits and all the little pieces of life. Our life is made up of little activities, little habits, and little ways.

“Ego is a movement…”


“Ego is a movement. It’s a verb. It is not something static. It’s the after-the-fact movement of mind that’s always becoming. In other words, egos are always on the path. They are on the psychology path, the spiritual path, the path to get more money or a better car. That sense of ‘me’ is always becoming, always moving, always achieving. Or else it is doing the opposite – moving backwards, rejecting, denying. So in order for this verb to keep going, there has to be movement. We have to be going forward or backward, toward or away from. We have to have somebody to blame, and usually it’s ourselves. We’ve got to be getting somewhere because otherwise we are not becoming.”

~ Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

Right Livelihood

Satya Narayan Goenka, a leading Burmese lay teacher, says: “This is the Teaching of the Buddha as it affects the lay-person’s life. It is at once an ideal and a method. As an ideal, it aims at the evolution of a person toward the attainment of Nirvana — in this very life itself, by one’s own efforts. As a method, it teaches us that the ideal can become real by the practice and development of the Noble Eightfold Path. Each of us develops according to our own ability; according to our needs, using our own minds, by our own efforts come to know ourselves, train ourselves, and free ourselves from craving and attachment, aversion, and most of all — from ignorance. The Buddha taught Dharma – the way to liberation – which is universal. He never taught a sectarian religion.”

The great thing about the Buddha-Dharma is that it is a teaching for everyone. The Buddha’s teaching opened the doors of social freedom to all, regardless of caste, color, sex, or class. In his teachings all people unite “even as do the waters of the rivers that flow into the sea.” Our religion or our parentage or social class doesn’t really matter, what does matter is the skillfulness of our actions.  In many, many of his talks, the Buddha gave practical guidance for the lay life and sound advice to cope with life’s difficulties. The economic aspect of a community profoundly affects its other aspects. The Buddha said that society, as with all conditioned phenomena, “has no finality of form and therefore changes with the passage of time.” People are driven to action by beliefs and desires; so social change is created by ideology and economics… we all have the right to work, to feed and house our families, to earn our own self-respect.  A hungry person is an angry person. When we are restless, irritable, and discontented we can hardly be in a condition to develop our spiritual or our ethical life. Economic insecurity leads to all kinds of problems not just tension and irritability, but loss of self-respect…isolation… we have to feel valuable; that we have a place in the world.

Jack Kornfield said, “You know, you can work and treat each person you meet as somebody else to deal with in your work, or you could treat each person you meet as your brother or your sister, or you could do what Mother Teresa did in her work and treat each person you meet as Jesus, and care for them, and wash their feet, or love them, or do whatever you do in the same way you might love Jesus or the Buddha. You can work on one day and just get through the day or the night. And you can work on another day and have each person that comes to you, and each person you meet, be a place where your heart really opens, and where you share a love and a caring and a tenderness.”


Open Heart Sangha is an on-going dharma practice group that focuses on the teachings of the Buddha and mindfulness meditation.  Our goal is to incorporate the teachings and practice into our daily lives through study, practice and the support and loving-kindness of the teacher and the spiritual community.

We are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the base of Pikes Peak. Our address is 2525 West Pikes Peak Avenue, Suite B, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80904. We sit on Thursday evenings at 5:30. Please contact us for more information.