Notes & Quotes: Secular Buddhism by Noah Rasheta

The following are my favorite quotes from Noah Rasheta's Secular Buddhism: Eastern Thought for Western Minds.
  1. "The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself." Thich Nhat Hanh
  2. The essence of Buddhism is to discover that there are two realities: reality the way it is and reality the way we think it is.
  3. There isn't room for new awareness or understanding in a mind already filled with ideas and beliefs.
  4. We humans have a tendency to want to search for answers to questions that are frankly irrelevant. 
  5. Spirituality is really just a combination of two things: connection and meaning.
  6. When we seek connection and meaning, we're on a spiritual path.
  7. "Declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true." Daniel Kahneman
  8. The anger we feel around a situation has nothing to do with the situation itself, and everything to do with the story we tell ourselves about it.
  9. Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and the author of Man's Search for Meaning, talks about how there is a space between the stimulus and our response, and in that space we have the freedom to act. This is the sense of freedom that is important on the spiritual path. There is no freedom in reactivity.
  10. From the Buddhist perspective, faith is simply the attitude of being open to whatever may be, and not attaching to an idea or belief of how we want or expect things to be.
  11. As Koyo Kubose likes to say: "Wisdom is nothing more than the attitude of adaptability."
  12. The Four Noble Truths:
    1. There is suffering.
    2. The cause of suffering.
    3. The cessation of suffering.
    4. The path to end suffering.
  13. This is the cause of suffering: suffering emerges when we want life to be other than it is.
  14. Wanting to change others is wanting for life to be other than it is, which is the very definition of suffering. 
  15. Letting go is an act of liberation rather than a sacrifice.
  16. The Eightfold Path:
    1. Wise understanding.
    2. Wise intent.
    3. Wise speech.
    4. Wise action.
    5. Wise livelihood.
    6. Wise effort.
    7. Wise mindfulness.
    8. Wise concentration.
  17. Buddhism if often referred to as a practice because you're always practicing to be a better whatever you already are. The Eightfold Path can serve as a guideline for the specific areas of our lives where we can focus on becoming better versions of ourselves.
  18. The water in a river is continually flowing and changing, so it's always a new river. The fire from a candle is continually flickering and burning more fuel, so therefore it's constantly a new fire. Life is constantly changing from moment to moment. All things are constantly changing and evolving...all things are impermanent.
  19. The understanding of emptiness is that all things are empty of meaning until we assign meaning to those things.
  20. This is emptiness. It's the understanding that as life unfolds, it doesn't mean anything...and that's not a positive or a negative thing (who knows what is good and what is bad). All things are simply as they are.
  21. "It's not happiness that makes us grateful; it's gratefulness that makes us happy." Brother David Steindl-rast
  22. Simply stated, karma is the law of cause and effect within a system of interdependence.
  23. In this incredible vastness of space and time, at some point, you and I came into existence. Through absolutely no effort on our part, we each suddenly became alive and conscious.
  24. From the Buddhist perspective, birth and death are not the beginning and end of life. Death is simply the culmination of the phase that started with birth but the overall process of life started long before and will continue long after our individual birth and death.
  25. There is no need to fear death because while death may be the end of the song, it is not the end of the music.
  26. What is there about us that is permanent? There is nothing. When the building blocks of our identity are removed, what do we have left? We have an empty person that we do not know. We've been living with ourselves, like a stranger for a roommate that we've never actually met.
  27. We can begin here and now to make life meaningful by understanding that meaning isn't out there waiting to be found, it's in you, waiting to be created.
  28. Buddhism teaches us that there is no need for regret. The present moment is the result of the past and it can't be changed. We only experience regret when we compare the present moment as it is to how we think the present moment should be.
  29. Of all the goals we an aspire to be, we serve ourselves and the world best when we aspire to discover and become exactly who we are.
  30. One of the most difficult and dangerous ways that suffering shows up is in the labels and titles we add to ourselves...The thing is, labels never define the reality of ourselves, because they represent who we think we are, not who we actually are.
  31. When we learn to look in we awaken to one of the key teachings found in Buddhism: that we are already perfect. We always have been.
  32. Try removing the ideas and concepts you have about people and situations in your life and see what happens. Perhaps you will suddenly see something that was there all along but you were blind to it all this time This is what it means to be awake, to be capable of seeing ourselves and others as we see the clouds--perfect shapes that are constantly changing and interdependent with their environment.