By connecting to your inner teacher, you can be your own guru first and foremost, and even if you choose to follow a guru, teacher or master, you always have yourself to check in with along the way to see if you're in agreement with their teaching or comfortable with the experience.
For years, I prided myself on being an atheist and had no interest in god or religion. Back then, the word "spirituality" wasn't part of our everyday vernacular. But all that changed during the 1970s when spirituality became a buzz word.
Buddha's own simple truth was that nirvana is right here and now. It is within each of you. And it is up to you to uncover it and live it in the present moment, not through the layers and rituals that different men and women have added, but through what should be very simple teachings.
The eightfold Path was designed to be practiced as a seamless whole. Otherwise things can go awry. Any single practice or effort can go off the rails. The ego constantly looks for ways to bend the benefits of the practice back toward the self and its selfish needs.
We need the courage to trust our own insights and awakenings. Oprah is on the cutting edge of this media revolution, and she shares every step of her search, but her answers may not always be applicable for all of us.
"They're telling the nuns, 'Oh, you're so humble, you're not interested in gaining prestige and power like these Westerners,'" Lekshe says with a calm voice but a quizzical look. "Well, I just wonder why they are not telling the monks that."
I have visited, prayed, chanted, bowed and meditated in many, if not most, of the great houses of worship of this evanescent world. And at this holy time of year, I send my warmest wishes and prayers for your health and well-being.
The effort of remembering our shared humanity assures us that we are embraced by a wider community, not forsaken as isolated individuals. This daily practice can enhance our appreciation for life. It can also make us more able to face death like a Buddha.
Sitting silently, simply breathing, then becoming aware of what is arising in the mind and in the body. What thoughts and mind states are occurring? Are they wholesome or unwholesome? Edible or inedible?
There are said to be three principle aspects of the path to Buddhahood -- renunciation, bodhicitta and wisdom. These are called "principle aspects" because of the crucial role they play in following the path.
This plain-speaking young man in his deep red and gold robes, praying with such intent for all of us, a living Buddha in his own right, expressed a deep compassion for the suffering of the entire planet and all of the living beings on it as he spoke of the nuclear threat.
Norman Fischer says, "Life comes and goes. Life comes and goes very quickly. We don't need to worry so much." When in doubt, find your footing in change. Instead of fighting the current, take cue, and for once in your life, flow downstream.