Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Guest Speaker (Nov 2001)

Some Q/A with Master Mao, a Taoist teacher from China (para-phrased quotes below):

What is the difference between wisdom and compassion?

There is none. They are one and the same thing. The vow to help all living beings is really the vow to be aware of all of your thoughts, emotions and other mental states.

How can I observe my thoughts without identifying with them?

You can't judge them -- there should be no suppression. You have to be very sneaky -- watch your breath without letting your breath know; watch your thoughts without letting your thoughts know; watch your mind without letting your mind know. Then the distinction between the observer and the observed naturally falls away.

How can I remain aware during sleep?

Don't focus on that -- instead, increase your awareness during the day and the night time awareness will automatically sharpen. It is actually much easier to be aware at night than to be aware during the day. But you must be sure to bring this awareness to every possible moment in the day. Sitting meditation is good for deepening your concentration, but until it's brought to all your activities, it remains limited.

Is there a good and a bad? What about Hitler?

No. These judgements all come from the limited mind. When you wipe a table with a sponge, you kill billions of beings. Hitler killed millions of people. Assigning values is dependent on your perspective and understanding and what is impermanent is not real. There is no absolute good or bad.

How can I distinguish between the mind and the heart?

Don't distinguish between the two. Your effort in trying to separate the two is also a part of the mind. And whenever you separate, there is a division -- a division that isn't real. Your job is to just watch and observe whatever arises without labeling it.