7.2 Editor's Pick
March 21, 2012

Pretty much my favorite Buddhist quote ever.

One of my five favorite Buddhist quotes.

Bonus: just below, I’ve added another all-time favorite, that helped me when young to remember that sadness is not only okay, it’s essential to our empathy, to our vision of creating an entlightened society…

…and that the fruition of all this meditation practice and study, of the power and the vision, of our genuine sadness and empathy for suffering, but…

…the fruition is simply right here, right now, in our present actions: like how we drink our tea.

naropa trungpa elephant journal

How can beauty and joy and positive things…and suffering and depression and war and rape coexist? How do we deal?

And what is the fruition of opening to this wonderful yet heartbreaking world?

So many of my friends don’t want to hear about factory farming or climate change. They want to be happy. That’s understandable!

The world is beautiful, they tell me. They’re right!

But here’s what’s ugly: ignoring. We can—we must—be able to look with brave vulnerable empathy at world that will soon be roiling in the waves of our self-inflicted climate crisis, that already attacks the weakest and most vulnerable of us. In only a few decades, say, billions of people in India and China will lose their drinking water source–high up in the Himalayas. That will cause more than thirst and death–it’ll cause warfare, looting, rape, suffering untold. Can we avoid it?

Mostly: but only if we don’t ignore.

But it ain’t enough for us to be martyrs for good. It ain’t enough to care. We need to find our joy, too, and remember that this life of ours is precious, and celebrate how beautiful planet of ours.

Here’s a Buddhist poem that sums up this pain/happy contradiction—it helped guide me years ago:

“Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun.
Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea.”
~ Pema Chodron

With notes: “Hold the sadness and pain of samsara [suffering, confusion] in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun [fundamental awake human nature]. Then the warrior [brave enough to look at & work with reality] can make a proper cup of tea.” ~ Pema Chodron



Since everything is but an apparition,

perfect in being what it is,

having nothing to do with good or bad,

acceptance or rejection,

one may well burst out in laughter.

~ Longchenpa

Spirituality, meditation, enlightenment isn’t serious stuff. If you’re overly serious about it, you have much work left to do. For many years, this beautifully-calligraphed quote hung in Marpa House. Not sure where it hangs, now. ~ ed.



Best Quote from the Dalai Lama Ever.

My Favorite Buddhist Quote By Someone I’ll Bet You Never Realized Was Buddhist.

Bonus! Once you’ve made your cup of tea and burst out in laughter, wake your mind up to the present moment:


This is all Buddhists want:

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Alexandra Lúcio Jul 24, 2019 10:53am

Thank you Waylon ?? I though so many times to write for the Elephant Journal, but english is not my mother language… Maybe I’ll practice more to improve my writing in english ?

Mish Jul 23, 2019 10:17am

Have been smiling over these quotes ever since I clicked through to read them:)

zenguitarguy Sep 4, 2015 9:23am

My favorite:
The Way of Transformation

by Karlfried Gras von Durkheim

The man who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive.

Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it, thus making of it a "raft that leads to the far shore."

Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him. In this lies the dignity of daring. Thus, the aim of (spiritual) practice is not to develop an attitude which allows a man to acquire a state of harmony and peace wherein nothing can ever trouble him. On the contrary, practice should teach him to let himself be assaulted, perturbed, moved, insulted, broken and battered – that is to say, it should enable him to dare to let go his futile hankering after harmony, surcease from pain, and a comfortable life in order that he may discover, in doing battle with the forces that oppose him, that which awaits him beyond the world of opposites.

The first necessity is that we should have the courage to face life, and to encounter all that is most perilous in the world. When this is possible, meditation itself becomes the means by which we accept and welcome the demons which arise from the unconscious, a process very different from the practice of concentration on some object as a protection against such forces.

Only if we venture repeatedly through zones of annihilation can our contact with Divine Being, which is beyond annihilation, become firm and stable. The more a man learns whole-heartedly to confront the world that threatens him with isolation, the more are the depths of the Ground of Being revealed and the possibilities of New Life and Becoming opened.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.