Heart of a Buddha: Aphorisms from the Amitabha Buddhist Society
1. We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
2. Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.
3. Even if everyone else is not doing good, I alone will. Even if everyone else is doing wrong, I alone will not.
4. Just as water cools both good and bad and washes away all impurity and dust, in the same way you should develop thoughts of love for friend and foe alike, and having reached perfection in love, you will attain enlightenment.
5. Everything changes, nothing remains without change.
6. 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.
7. There is nothing more worthy than the virtue of selflessness. Selflessness unites people. It is a healing herb that unifies strangers and brings families together. It is the love for others that is higher than self-love. It is our only hope.
8. The rule of friendship means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using friendly and sincere words.
9. If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us? Indifference brings indifference; lovingkindness brings lovingkindness.
10. If a man’s mind becomes pure, his surroundings will also become pure.
11. 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.
12. Rain falls, wind blows, plants bloom, leaves mature and are blown away; these phenomena are all interrelated with causes and conditions, are brought about by them, and disappear as the causes and conditions change.
13. Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love.
14. All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with pure thought, joy will follow him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
15. In the light of his vision he has found his freedom: his thoughts are peace, his words peace, his work peace.
16. The gift of Truth overcomes all gifts. The joy of Truth overcomes all pleasures. The taste of Truth overcomes all sweetness. The loss of desire overcomes all sorrows.
17. Perfect wisdom, perfect tranquillity, perfect compassion arise from our love, our sincerity, our understanding.
18. In separateness, lies the world’s great suffering. In unity, lies the world’s true strength.
19. Impermanence — no self — Nirvana.
20. Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a corrupted heart, then suffering follows you — as the wheel of the cart, the track of the ox that pulls it.
21. Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a calm, bright heart, then happiness follows you, like a shadow that never leaves.
22. We already have perfect compassion, perfect wisdom, perfect joy. We only need to settle our minds so they can arise from deep within us.
23. Develop the quiet, even state of mind. When praised by some and condemned by others, free the mind from hate and pride, and gently go your way in peace.
24. He is able who thinks he is able.
25. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
26. Focus, not on the rudeness of others, not on what they’ve done or left undone, but on what you have and have not done yourself.
27. Those consummate in virtue, dwelling in heedfulness, released by right knowing: evil cannot follow their tracks.
28. As a single slab of rock won’t budge in the wind, so the wise are not moved by praise, by blame.
29. Irrigators guide the water. Fletchers shape the arrow shaft. Carpenters shape the wood. The wise control themselves.
30. Don’t be heedless of merit (“It won’t come to me”). A water jar fills, even with water falling in drops. With merit — even if bit by bit, habitually — the enlightened one fills himself full.
31. Avoid all evil, embrace all goodness, purify one’s own mind.
32. When sitting quietly, reflect upon our own faults. When speaking with friends do not discuss the rights and wrongs of others.
33. Life is an illusion, a dream, a bubble, a shadow. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is worthy of anger. Nothing is worthy of dispute. Nothing.
34. Life is short. Time is fleeting. Uncover the True Nature. Purify the mind and heart to attain happiness. Be kind; be compassionate. Be generous; do good. Concentrate. Understand. Awaken.
35. Overcome greed with generosity, anger with lovingkindness, ignorance with understanding.
36. When we free ourselves of desire, we will know serenity and freedom.
37. Through true honesty, deeply believe that all sentient-beings are one. That all beings have the same true nature, wisdom, virtue.
38. Find your faults, feel deep regret, and correct your mistakes, reform sincerely, practice kindness, concentrate the mind, sever selfishness, awaken.
39. Forgive and be free. Forget that you have forgiven and be freer.
40. Why do we persist in our anger, our hatred, our fighting? Why do we have intolerance, selfishness? We do not truly understand that everything arises from our minds, that every thought we have is instantly felt throughout the entire universe.
41. If we can look upon our work not for self-benefit, but as a means to benefit society, we will be practicing appreciation and patience in our daily lives.
42. Lovingkindness is giving others happiness. Compassion is removing others’ bitterness. Joy is freeing others from suffering.
43. When giving to others do not linger on thoughts of I am giving, what was given, or the one who has received.
44. Since everything is a reflection of our minds, everything can be changed by our minds.
45. When things are going well, be mindful of adversity. When prosperous, be mindful of poverty. When loved, be mindful of thoughtfulness. When respected, be mindful of humility.
46. There are three ways to correct our faults: we can change through behavior. We can change through understanding. We can change from the heart.
47. Until he has unconditional and unbiased love for all beings, man will not find peace.
48. He who receives kindness should never forget it; but he who performs it should never remember it.
49. Cultivate peace first in the garden of your heart by removing the weeds of selfishness and jealousy, greed and anger, pride and ego. Then all will benefit from your peace and harmony.
50. Our problems are not solved by physical force, by hatred, by war. Our problems are solved by lovingkindness, by gentleness, by joy.
51. Awakening is natural, delusion is not.
52. Do not become attached to the things you like, do not cherish aversion to the things you dislike. Sorrow, fear and bondage come from one’s likes and dislikes.
53. Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others.
54. Those who are truly wise will remain unmoved by feelings of happiness and suffering, fame and disgrace, praise and blame, gain and loss. They will remain calm like the eye of a hurricane.
55. Maintain a state of balance between physical acts and inner serenity, like a lute whose strings are finely tuned.
56. Dignity and quiet joy in all that we do are the expression of perfect concentration and perfect wisdom.
57. Natural laws are impartial. Only those are virtuous are in harmony with nature.
58. To be honorable in thoughts, sincere in words, good in deeds, is to have the heart of a Buddha.
59. Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.
60. If the causes we create arise from wisdom, so then will the results. If the cause we create arise from ignorance, so then will the results.
61. Good fortune comes from selflessness. Misfortune comes from selfishness.
62. Everything that happens to us is the result of what we ourselves have thought, said, or done. We alone are responsible for our lives.
63. In our interactions with others, gentleness, kindness, respect are the source of harmony.
64. This body is not “I.” This body is just like our clothing. When finished with it, we will discard it and choose another, like putting on a new set of clothing.
65. When we think only of sincerely helping all others, not ourselves, we will find that we receive all that we wish for.
66. Lovingkindness as Thought is Tranquility. Lovingkindness as Speech is Softness. Lovingkindness as Activity is Altruism. Lovingkindness as Practice is Peace.
67. Everything arises from the mind.
68. As human beings we chase after fleeting pleasures like a child licking honey off a sharp knife or a person carrying a torch against the wind.
69. Whatever suffering there is in this world, all arises from desiring only myself to be happy. And whatever joy there is in this world, all arises from desiring to share my happiness with everyone.
70. Those accomplished in integrity, dwelling in mindfulness, liberated through wisdom, fear cannot harm.
71. Think of the last time you were happy… Think of the last time you were angry… Which will you choose next time?
72. Speaking pleasant words without practicing them, is like a fine flower without fragrance.
73. Ignorance leads to ego, ego to selfishness, selfishness to resentment, resentment to anger, anger to hatred, hatred to annihilation.
74. Happiness and tranquility arise from concentration. Frustration and worries arise from desire.
75. It is our own thoughts that lead us into trouble, not other people.
76. Our words should be carefully chosen for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or for ill.
77. Wherever there is light, there is shadow. Wherever there is length, there is shortness. Wherever there is white, there is black. Just like these, nothing can exist alone.
78. To be proud of what we have received or to envy others for what they have will rob us of our peace of mind.
79. Serenity and generosity are qualities of the heart. Insight and concentration are qualities of the mind. Compassion and wisdom are qualities of the true nature.
80. When eating, be mindful of eating. When walking of walking. When smiling, of smiling.
81. I am the owner of my karma. I inherit my karma. I am born of my karma. I live supported by my karma. Whatever karma I create, whether good or evil, that I shall inherit, and I alone.
82. Lovingkindness can never exist unless it flows from the mind and heart, from understanding and love.
83. The contented person, who moves amongst sense objects, free from attachment or loathing, gain or loss, wins eternal Peace.
84. Greed and anger, ignorance and arrogance, doubt and wrong conceptions. Even these can be restrained by the heart that is calm and compassionate.
85. Pity arises when we are sorry for someone. Compassion is when we understand and help wisely.
86. If you know anything that is hurtful and untrue, do not say it. If you know anything that is helpful but untrue, do not say it. If you know anything that is hurtful but true, do not say it. If you know anything that is helpful and true, find the right time.
87. He who experiences the unity of life sees himself in all beings, and all beings in himself. He looks on everything with an impartial eye.
88. Serenity, respect, simplicity, self-control, purity of thought are virtues of the mind.
89. Generosity, stillness, gratitude, happiness, purity of feeling are virtues of the heart.
90. Rely on the teacher’s message, not the personality. Rely on the meaning, not just the words. Rely on the real meaning, not the provisional one. Rely on your wisdom mind, not just your ordinary judgmental mind.
91. Purity engenders wisdom, passion avarice, ignorance attachment, worry darkness.
92. Hear what is said, retain what is important, speak what is worthy. Attach to nothing.
93. Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for love, honesty and trustworthiness.
94. Understand that the body is merely the foam of the wave, the shadow of a shadow. Snap the flower arrows of desire and then, unseen, escape the king of death, and travel on.
95. May all sentient beings be filled with lovingkindness and happiness. May they wish to become healing herbs in the days of epidemics to cure the ill. May they wish to become rice plants in the days of famine to save the hungry.