Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mindfulness

"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; if he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom." - Buddha, Gautama Buddha, or The Buddha, also Gotama Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha and Buddha Śākyamuni NULL

"Mindfulness should be strong everywhere, for mindfulness keeps the mind away from distraction, into which it might fall, since faith, energy and understanding partake of the nature of distraction: and away from idleness, into which it might fall, since concentration partakes of the nature of idleness." - Bhadantācariya Buddhaghoṣa

"Satipatthana Sutta - The Foundation of Mindfulness Translated from Pali: A monk lives contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness, and grief; he lives contemplating feelings in feelings, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating consciousness in consciousness, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief; he lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects, ardent, clearly comprehending and mindful, having overcome, in this world, covetousness and grief." - Satipatthana Sutra NULL

"The purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at un-extraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each even of ordinary life." - Peter Matthiessen

"Faith is the inspiration of nobleness, it is the strength of integrity; it is the life of love, and is everlasting growth for it; it is courage of soul, and bridges over for our crossing the gulf between worldliness and heavenly-mindfulness; and it is the sense of the unseen, without which we could not feel God nor hope for heaven." - William Mountford

"Mindfulness is the way to deathlessness, inattentiveness the way to death. Those who are diligently attentive do not die, those who are thoughtless are as if dead already." -

"This middle path… is the noble path, namely: right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, right means of livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, right meditation… Which leads to insights, leads to wisdom, which conduces to calm, to knowledge, to perfect enlightenment, to Nirvana." - Mahavagga of the Vinaya Texts NULL

"This is the Noble Eightfold Path: right views, right intention; right speech, right action, right livelihood; right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration." - Samyutta Nikaya "Connected Discourses" or "Kindred Sayings" NULL

"He searches all around for his thought. But what thought? It is either passionate, or hateful, or confused. What about the past, future or present? What is past that is extinct, what is future that has not yet arrived, and the present has no stability. For thought, Kasyapa, cannot be apprehended, inside, or outside, or in between both. For thought is immaterial, invisible, nonresisting, inconceivable, unsupported, and homeless. Thought has never been seen by any of the Buddhas, nor do they see it, nor will they see it. And what the Buddhas never see, how can that be an observable process, except in the sense that dharmas proceed by the way of mistaken perception? Thought is like a magical illusion; by an imagination of what is actually unreal it takes hold of a manifold variety of rebirths. A thought is like the stream of a river, without any staying power; as soon as it is produced it breaks up and disappears. A thought is like a flame of a lamp, and it proceeds through causes and conditions. A thought is like lightning, it breaks up in a moment and does not stay on... Can thought review thought? No, thought cannot review thought. As the blade of a sword cannot cut itself, so a thought cannot see itself. Moreover, vexed and pressed hard on all sides, thought proceeds, without any staying power, like a monkey or like the wind. It ranges far, bodiless, easily changing, agitated by the objects of sense, with the six sense-fields for its sphere, connected with one thing after another. The stability of thought, its one-pointedness, its immobility, its undistraughtness, its one-pointed calm, its nondistraction, that is on the other hand called mindfulness as to thought." - Satipatthana Sutra NULL

"Happiness is not external; it is not a function of what one does or does not. Happiness is in the attitude that one brings to everything one does... So if we create our own happiness, what should we be aiming toward? The answer: happiness is the fulfillment of our dreams, the accomplishment of what we set out to do, living our lives as we want to live them... Happiness, then, can reside in the carrying out of the myriad everyday tasks that we all take for granted, with one very small, but significant difference. Outwardly, we may be doing what we always do, but inwardly, our entire being is immersed and engaged more fully n each and every action, a condition known as mindfulness." -

"Happiness is not external; it is not a function of what one does or does not. Happiness is in the attitude that one brings to everything one does... So if we create our own happiness, what should we be aiming toward? The answer: happiness is the fulfillment of our dreams, the accomplishment of what we set out to do, living our lives as we want to live them... Happiness, then, can reside in the carrying out of the myriad everyday tasks that we all take for granted, with one very small, but significant difference. Outwardly, we may be doing what we always do, but inwardly, our entire being is immersed and engaged more fully n each and every action, a condition known as mindfulness." - Alan Epstein

"Parenting and family life can be a perfect field for mindfulness practice, but it’s not for the weak-hearted, the selfish or lazy, or the hopelessly romantic. Parenting is a mirror that forces you to look at yourself. If you can learn from what you observe you just may have a chance to keep growing yourself." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

"The willingness to harm or hurt comes ultimately out of fear. Non-harming requires that you see your own fears and that you understand them and own them. Owning them means taking responsibility for them. Taking responsibility means not letting fear completely dictate your vision or your view. Only mindfulness completely dictate your vision or your view. Only mindfulness of our own clinging and rejecting, and a willingness to grapple with these mind states, however painful the encounter, can free us from this circle of suffering. Without a daily embodiment in practice, lofty ideals tend to succumb to self-interest." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

"To find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the sacred in the profane, sounds appealing in theory... Everyday spirituality requires mindfulness, an alert quality of mind that nonjudgmentally observes what happens in each moment. When mindfulness is present, a deep, penetrating awareness develops that gives insight into the world and ourselves. This penetrating quality of mind enables us to respond to the present with greater spontaneity and freedom." - Ronald S. Miller

"Chopping wood is meditation. Carrying water is meditation. Be mindful 24 hours a day, not just during the one hour you may allot for formal meditation or reading scripture and reciting prayers. Each act must be carried out in mindfulness. Each act is a rite, a ceremony. Raising your cup of tea to your mouth is a rite. does the word “rite” seem too solemn? I use the word in order to jolt you into the realization of the life-and-death matter of awareness." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"To live with a high degree of artfulness means to attend to the small things that keep the soul engaged in whatever we are doing, and it is the very heart of soul making. From some grand overview of life, it may seem that only the big events are ultimately important. But to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance." - Thomas Moore

"The habit of ignoring our present moments in favor of others yet to come leads directly to a pervasive lack of awareness of the web of life in which we are embedded. This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of our own mind and how it influences our perceptions and our actions. It severely limits our perspective on what it means to be a person and how we are connected to each other and the world around us. Religion has traditionally been the domain of such fundamental inquiries within a spiritual framework, but mindfulness has little to do with religion, except in the most fundamental meaning of the word, as an attempt to appreciate the deep mystery of being alive and to acknowledge being vitally connected to all that exists." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

"There was once a lady who was arrogant and proud. Determined to attain enlightenment, she asked all the authorities how to go about it. She was told, ‘Well, if you climb to the top of this very high mountain, you'll find a cave there. Sitting inside that cave is a wise old woman. She will tell you.’ Having endured great hardships, the lady finally found this cave. Sure enough, sitting there was a gentle spiritual-looking old woman in white clothing, who smiled beatifically. Overcome with awe and respect, the lady prostrated at the feet of this woman and said, I want to attain enlightenment. Show me how. This wise woman looked at her and asked sweetly, Are you sure you want to attain enlightenment? And the woman said, Of course I'm sure. Whereupon the smiling woman turned into a demon, stood up brandishing a great big stick, and started chasing her, saying, Now! Now! Now! For the rest of her life, that lady could never get away from the demon who was always saying, Now! Now--that's the key. Mindfulness trains us to be awake and alive, fully curious, about now. " - Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown

"Shabbat, or Sabbath, is a kind of retreat. During a Sabbath you do not engage with your environment in order to change it. Shabbat means literally to sit or to cease. When you sit or cease, you become present to the created world. We are so busy creating more, trying to survive and reach goals during the week. Sabbath is a meditation, a 25-hour-a-week mini-retreat. When we go on retreat in a way we are recreating a Sabbath." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"In the Talmud (some 1800 years ago) it is said that the holy men of old would sit for an hour before prayer. We don’t have an exact idea of what they were doing, but it was probably a kind of contemplative practice. In the Prophets, Elijah says God doesn’t appear in a thundering storm cloud but in a still, small voice. The primary unpronounced name of God in Hebrew is made up of vowel letters that are sounds of the breath itself. The name denotes Being itself. The very rejection of idol worship is akin to liberation from attachment. Hasidism was a popularization of Jewish mysticism or kabbalah. It originated in eastern Europe in the 18th century and drew on a long and complex history of Jewish meditative literature and practice. Hasidism emphasized practicing with intentionality. It taught a notion of dissolution of ego, expanding consciousness, through ecstatic practices but also through contemplative practices. We are not Hasidim, but we are inspired by their teachings. I work with a colleague, Rabbi Jonathan Slater, who teaches a weekly course unpacking Hasidism as a mindfulness practice. Was what we think of as mindfulness meditation exactly what they were doing? Probably not. We integrate other contemporary influences into our worldview such as pluralism, egalitarianism, feminism. But we are in their lineage. The Zohar, the classic mystical text, says that there is no place devoid of God’s presence. The Hasidim say: the whole world is filled with glory. If one is able to come to awareness, one is able to realize one is in God’s presence." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"God created one human being, who was male and female. That means ultimately all of us are interconnected. That there is one God means we are all connected. Individual well-being depends on the greater well-being of everyone. There is no separation. This is a call for inclusion. Jews see it as including the weaker, the marginal, the orphans, the stranger. We were slaves in Egypt. Our task is not to replicate Egyptian power. We are free so we can operate differently, and not replicate slavery. Judaism is a complex, ongoing civilization, in which there is more than one view. Judaism is a religion of interpretation. We believe interpretation is part of the unfolding of creation and Divine creativity. Our interpretive tradition draws a connection between spirituality and social justice." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"A modern princess—of England, say, or Monaco— serves the purpose of being an adornment in the fantasy life of the public. Consequently, she receives the kind of education that one might think of giving to a particularly splendid papier-mâché angel before putting it at the top of the Christmas tree: an education whose main goal is proficiency in the arts of looking pretty and standing straight. Our century, whatever virtues it may have, is not an optimal time for princesses. Things were different in the Renaissance. Intelligence had a primary value then. At almost every level of the social order, education was meant to create true amateurs—people who were in love with quality. A gentleman or lady needed to be at least minimally skilled in many arts, because that was considered the fittest way of appreciating the good things in life and honoring the goodness itself. Nor did being well-rounded mean smoothing over your finest points and becoming like the reflection of a smile in a polished teaspoon. Intelligence walked hand in hand with individuality, although having finely sharpened points of view did not, it was felt, require you to poke other people with them. If wit was a rapier, courtesy was the button at the end of the blade." - Stephen Mitchell

"Being rich is an obstacle to loving. When you are rich, you want to continue to be rich, and so you end up devoting all your time, all your energy, in your daily life to stay rich." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"In modern society most of us don't want to be in touch with ourselves; we want to be in touch with other things like religion, sports, politics, a book - we want to forget ourselves. Anytime we have leisure, we want to invite something else to enter us, opening ourselves to the television and telling the television to come and colonize us." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Live in such a way that you embody true peace, that you can be peace in every moment of your daily life. It is possible for everyone to generate the energy of peace in every step." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"The next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha will take the form of a community; a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the Earth." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"The quality of our life depends on the quality of the seeds that lie deep in our consciousness." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Richard didn't even have time to ask if I thought I'd ever amount to anything in this life before I looked him eye to eye and said, I already have, mister." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"What the eye sees not the heart rues not." - Italian Proverbs