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Into the Heart of Life

Jetsunma's new book 'Into the Heart of Life'
Foreword by His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo's new collection of teachings has been recently published by Snow Lion in the U.S. and Allen & Unwin in Australia. 'Into the Heart of Life' offers a general audience the practical insights Jetsunma has gleaned from more than 40 years of engagement with Buddhist practice.

As Jetsunmna says in her Preface, 'This book comprises some of the talks that I have delivered over the years to audiences in the East and West who are united in the common challenge to make something meaningful of their lives. This is not a book about esoteric practices or advanced methods of meditation. The contents of this book deal with ordinary practitioners concerned with translating Dharma instructions into an ongoing life experience.

"One of the true yoginis of our time, a woman who has dedicated her life to Buddhism...Tenzin Palmo's is a voice we need to hear, a woman who has fully experienced what she speaks about with an absolute honesty, delightful humor, and real insight."
—Tsultrim Allione, author of Feeding Your Demons

"Tenzin Palmo is one of the most genuine and accomplished of Western practitioners."
—Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart

 

Extract from Chapter 9 'Practicing the good heart'

Whatever our external circumstances, in the end happiness or unhappiness depends on the mind. Consider that the one companion whom we stay with, continually, day and night, is our mind. Would you really want to travel with someone who endlessly complains and tells you how useless you are, how hopeless you are; someone who reminds you of all the awful things that you have done? And yet for many of us, this is how we live - with this difficult-to-please, always-pulling-us-around, tireless critic that is our mind. It entirely overlooks our good points, and is genuinely a very dreary companion.

The point is that when our mind is filled with generosity and thoughts of kindness, compassion, and contentment, the mind feels well. When our mind is full of anger, irritation, self-pity, greed, and grasping, the mind feels sick. And if we really inquire into the matter, we can see that we have the choice: we can decide to a large extent what sort of thoughts and feelings will occupy our mind. When negative thoughts come up, we can recognize them, accept them, and let them go. We can choose not to follow them, which would only add more fuel to the fire. And when good thoughts come to mind - thoughts of kindness, caring, generosity and contentment, and a sense of not holding on so tightly to things any more, we can accept and encourage that, more and more. We can do this. We are the guardian of the precious treasure that is our own mind.

A genuinely good heart is based on understanding the situation as it really is. It is not a matter of sentimentality. Nor is a good heart just a matter of going around in a kind of euphoria of fake love, denying suffering, and saying that all is bliss and joy. It is not like that. A genuinely good heart is a heart that is open and alight with understanding. It listens to the sorrows of the world. Our society is wrong to think that happiness depends on fulfilling one's own wants and desires. That is why our society is so miserable. We are a society of individuals, all obsessed with trying to obtain our own happiness. We are cut off from our sense of interconnection with others; we are cut off from reality. Because in reality, we are all interconnected.

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