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Zen Koan #15: Parable of Shoun & His Mother – Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment

Zen Koan #15: Parable of Shoun & His Mother - Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment Zen’s influence over the culture has spread in part for the reason that Japan’s rulers commenced to patronize Zen hundreds of years ago. Zen was thus adopted by the highest classes, and through them, its principles commenced to shape a range of Japanese arts, divesting away the ostensibly frivolous and engendering meaning with impressively austere metaphors or flicks of the brush.

You have left behind the sense of small self and have entered the state of great self. The reality is that anyone truly involved in one of the practices will at least realize there isn’t any special state of mind. Sapience is a very consequential quality to possess. Sapience is very limpidly spelt out in the edifications of the Buddha, in the Noble Eightfold Path. Right understanding refers to our construal of fundamental truths about life and the world around us. We should endeavor to understand two laws; the Four Noble Truths and the law of cause and effect—karma. This is very rudimental and fundamental to Zen Buddhism.

The temporality of momentariness is thereby understood to reside in its very passing away, in its actual and ineradicable finitude. However, it can be experienced for the reason that if your practice reaches a certain depth.

Zen Koan: “Shoun & His Mother” Parable

Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen. When he was still a student his father passed away, leaving him to care for his old mother.

Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him. Since she accompanied him, when he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks. So he would built a little house and care for her there. He would copy sutras, Buddhist verses, and in this manner receive a few coins for food.

When Shoun bought fish for his mother, the people would scoff at him, fo a monk is not supposed to eat fish. But Shoun did not mind. His mother, however, was hurt to see others laugh at her son. Finally she told Shoun: “I think I will become a nun. I can be vegetarian too.” She did, and they studied together.

Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harp, which his mother also played. On full-moon nights they used to play together. One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music. Deeply touched, she invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play. He accepted the invitation. A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality. Others laughed at him. He had visited the house of a woman of the streets.

One day Shoun left for a distant temple to deliver a lecture. A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead. Friends had not known where to reach him, so the funeral was in progress.

Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff. “Mother, your son has returned,” he said.

“I am glad to see you have returned, son,” he answered for his mother.

“Yes, I am glad too,” Shoun responded. Then he announced to the people about him: “The funeral ceremony is over. You may bury the body.”

When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching. He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morning, telling them he was going to pass on at noon. Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacher, he wrote a poem:

For fifty-six years I lived as best I could,
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has ended, the clouds are clearing,
The blue sky has a full moon.

His disciples gathered around him, reciting sutra, and Shoun passed on during the invocation.

Buddhist Insight on The Value of Present Moment

The true elimination of suffering is only concerned with yourself in this present moment. Compassion produces happiness for those who suffer. This is because their nature is uncompounded by the present moment. To work with these forces, along with naming them and being aware of them, you really have to let yourself touch them with your heart. In Zen Buddhism, Remedy violations of every aspect of these and try to confess them. One further point must be addressed. This is the time for parents to practice compassionate joy and value the present moment. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman and American vipassana teacher Jack Kornfield write in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart,

The present moment is the most profound and challenging teacher we will ever meet in our lives. It is a compassionate teacher, it extends to us no judgment, no censure, no measurement of success and failure. The present moment is a mirror, in its reflection we learn how to see. Learning how to look into this mirror without deluding ourselves is the source of all wisdom. In this mirror we see what contributes to the confusion and discord in our lives and what contributes to harmony and understanding. We see the relationship between pain and its cause on a moment-to-moment level, we see the bond between love and its source. We see what it is that connects us and what it is that alienates us.

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Try Salabhasana (Locust Pose) To Stand Up Straighter

The culture of India has produced a great assortment of systems of spiritual beliefs and practices. Primordial seers used yoga as a method to discover the exterior and interior world and, perhaps, eventually to attain wisdom and knowledge of the sacred Indian texts: the Vedas, Upanishads, and Shastras. These great teachers, or gurus, did not equate yoga with religion but more as an art of living at the highest level in attunement with the larger life—realism. The weight in yoga was on personal verification rather than on belief. The practice of yoga was a way to inner joyfulness and outer harmony.

If you spend hours a day hunched over a computer, you may end up with a rounded upper back—a condition associated with weak and painfully tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and spine area.

The routine of yoga in the Indian subcontinent has been documented as early as 3000 BCE. The word yoga comes from the equivalent Sanskrit origin as the word for yoke; it suggests exploiting oneself to a discipline or a way of life. This procedure has a widespread appeal in that it is not connected with religious faith, and it is deliberated a procedure of personal development. There are several types of yoga; two are Hatha and Raja yoga, the most frequently performed in the West. Yoga involves educating the mind and body through exercises and meditation.

Sage Patanjali‘s earliest description of yoga-sutra is in Sanskrit language in poetic structure. Initially taught in the oral tradition, yoga-sutra afterward was transliterated in various languages. The original translation affirms that yoga is proof in itself of its benefits and has been practiced for several hundred years. It since has stood the test of time. Salabhasana or locust pose:

Try Salabhasana (Locust Pose) To Stand Up Straighter

  1. Lie prone with arms by the side, palms facing up. Inhale and lift the head, chest, and legs off the floor simultaneously.
  2. Most of the weight should be on the stomach and not on the arms, which continue to lie on the floor.
  3. Maintain this position for a few seconds, exhale, and return to prone position.

Mind-body interventions identical to yoga are encouraging approaches for healing cancer-related fatigue. Yoga involves physical postures (asanas) that advance strength and flexibility and promote relaxation. Yoga is also a contemplative practice, because the practitioner focuses on the body and breath in each pose. A growing body of research indicates that yoga has advantageous effects on physical and social outcomes in cancer patients and survivors, embracing enhancements in quality of life, mood, and fatigue. Nevertheless, as with the behavioral interventions, none of the published yoga trials has targeted patients with fatigue. Moreover, very few of these trials have included an active control group to maneuver for attention, group support, and other broad-based components of the treatment.

There are an assortment of books and pamphlets about yoga that have included precise recommendations for the cure of soreness and even certain kinds of stiffness. Proponents of these regimens quote ancient traditions passed on from teachers to students. Ostensibly, trial and error have been included to some degree. The valuable effects of yoga on arthritis are attributed to stretching, extending, and relaxing to bring calmness of the mind. Gurus are quoted as saying that they identify root causes of disease and treat these and not only symptoms and signs.

Yoga: postures advance physical strength & flexibility and promote relaxation

Try the Locust pose, or salabhasana, a basic yoga position.

It can combat aches and poor posture by stretching and strengthening those muscles.

  1. Lie on stomach, forehead on floor, arms reaching behind your back.
  2. Keep your legs close to each other.
  3. On an inhale, lift your head, chest and legs off floor; think of broadening your chest through your collarbones.
  4. Stay lifted for 3 to 5 breaths, resting on lower ribs, stomach, and front pelvis.
  5. Gaze forward, making sure you don’t scrunch your neck. Lower and repeat 3 to 5 times.

Individually yoga and physical exercise have been distinctly found to change the physical fitness, cognitive performance, and emotional wellbeing in individuals. Yoga and physical exercise diverge in three main ways, since yoga practice places a prominence on (i) breath mindfulness, (ii) controlled breathing, and (iii) mindful relaxation. Hence randomized precise examination aimed to compare the effects of yoga with those of physical exercise on physical fitness, cognitive functions and self-esteem.

Controlling for pre-intervention health differences, children in the yoga group had healthier post-intervention undesirable behavior scores and steadiness than the non-yoga group. The bulk of children in the yoga group testified improved wellbeing. The results recommend a possible role of yoga as a precautionary technique as well as a means of cultivating children’s identified wellbeing.

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Inspiring Buddhist Quotes from Nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Inspiring Buddhist Quotes from Nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (born 1943) was born Diane Perry Woolmers Park, Hertfordshire, during the Blitz to an English house cleaner and a fishmonger. Although spiritualist meetings were held in her childhood home, at age eighteen, she decided she was a Buddhist in 1961 when she read a library book on the subject. She then traveled by sea to India in search of a teacher. On her twenty-first birthday, she met her religious teacher, the eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche. Three weeks later, she became the second Western woman (after Freda Bedi, another English woman who in 1966 became the first Western woman to take ordination in Tibetan Buddhism) to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

'Reflections On A Mountain Lake' by Tenzin Palmo (ISBN 1559391758) At thirty-three, with her lama’s sanction, Tenzin Palmo took up residence in a six-by-six-foot cave, 13,200 feet up in the Himalayan valley of Lahaul, and lived there for twelve years. Since then, she has given her uniquely practical teachings around the world in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, in Himachal Pradesh, India, which she founded in 2000.

Tenzin Palmo is recognized as one of the very few Western yoginis trained in the East, having spent twelve years living in a remote cave in the Himalayas, three of those years in strict meditation retreat.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is the author of such well-known books as Reflections On A Mountain Lake: Teachings On Practical Buddhism and Into the Heart of Life. Four quotations from her interview called “No Excuses: There are no obstacles, just opportunities.” with Lucy Powell for the Tricycle Winter 2009 magazine:

  • “It is really very impressive how many excuses we can invent for why we aren’t sitting. This idea we have that when things are perfect, then we’ll start practicing—things will never be perfect. This is samsara!”
  • “Our fundamental problems are our ignorance and ego-grasping. We grasp at our identity as being our personality, memories, opinions, judgments, hopes, fears, chattering away—all revolving around this me me me me.”
  • “Our mind is a treasure. But it’s very absorbent, so we must also be very discriminating in what we hear, read, and see. And in the spiritual life, our fence is our ethics. If we know we are living ethically to the best of our ability, the mind will become peaceful.”
  • “The difference between love and attachment … Attachment is the very opposite of love. Love says, “I want you to be happy.” Attachment says, “I want you to make me happy.””
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Zen Koan #14: Parable of Muddy Road – Buddhist Teaching on Living with Reality

Zen Koan #14: Parable of Muddy Road - Buddhist Teaching on Living with Reality Renunciation is not a spiritual destination, nor a heroic experience dependent upon great striving and will. Repudiation is a practice of kindness and compassion undertaken in the midst of the small details and intense experiences of our lives. You’re not endeavoring to document your cognizance. You are endeavoring to practice it. You climb until you are completely exhausted, and suddenly you find yourself on the top of the mountain.

Meditation is only one part of the path to enlightenment. If you use a gentle flame, the rice will be perfect and easy to digest, whereas with a high flame, it will burn before it is done.

This deep mutuality is the essence of the Zen process. It’s been wonderful training for a stubborn person like me, softening me considerably over the years, and expanding my horizons. Nevertheless, you have no cull. Bodies melt into waves. As long as you stay in a state of one mind, nothing can bother, tempt, or excite you. It is only then that you realize that even this one is not ultimate. Likewise, you should not hold on to any experiences that may come up. We don’t have an inordinate quantity of ambitions. We must look after ourselves. In addition, where there is an object there must be a subject, namely, the self.

Zen Koan: “Muddy Road” Parable

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

Buddhist Insight on A Way to Live with Reality

In Zen Buddhism, everyone ought to try to live without doing harm to any one either in word or in act. The wounded bird by right belongs to the one who saved its life. That is the way to live. The most hazardous, but also the most interesting, is the category where you embellish it without sensing the reality. Life is like an empty bubble, or like a furrow drawn on the water, which immediately disappears again. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

The Buddha taught enlightenment. He did not teach that we will never be depressed. he taught us not to be defeated by it. He did not teach us how to avoid suffering. He taught is to meet affliction and live nobly, so that suffering in not necessarily multiplied. There is suffering enough in the world. He did not put himself above us. he was a man who never claimed divinity. He showed a way to live with reality, with all its alternations and with all the emotions and internal changes that result from them, and to see that this is our path.

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Zen Koan #13: Parable of A Buddha – Buddhist Teaching on True Love and Commitment

Zen Koan #13: Parable of A Buddha - Buddhist Teaching on True Love and Commitment Zen is simply to be consummately alive. Of course, Zen is withal a form of Zen Buddhism, but this is authentically just another way of saying identically tantamount. Zen Buddhism is the way of religious liberation, which finds its inceptions in the experience of enlightenment. It traces its history back to Shakyamuni Buddha, who lived in India twenty-five centuries ago and realized the truth of his life after a long and arduous quest. The method is another way of grasping onto thoughts, but it is a way that allows us to eventually overcome grasping.

The precedent two lines referred to Zen as being illimitable by time. Religion is whatever the individual takes to be his ultimate concern. A kind of cognizance, and for many the world behind Zen arts as well, seemed a divergent perspective from the Western and is one that has appealed to Westerners. That magnetization led to the sprouting of Zen centers in most major countries outside Asia and to a “Zen” cultural influence that has gone far beyond its formal practice, affecting art, architecture, music, poetry, novels, and even brand denominations.

This is another way of describing the totality of space. The previous thought is continually at war with the following thought.

Zen Koan: “A Buddha” Parable

In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha’s precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o’clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. Whenever he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime he slept.

One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is suppposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.

“Hello, brother,” Tanzan greeted him. “Won’t you have a drink?”

“I never drink!” exclaimed Unsho solemnly.

“One who does not drink is not even human,” said Tanzan.

“Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!” exclaimed Unsho in anger. “Then if I am not human, what am I?”

“A Buddha,” answered Tanzan.

Buddhist Insight on True Love and Long-Term Commitment

The Buddha taught the pathway to happiness through body, through speech, through the heart, through the mind—altogether. These remain the guide through life to what is beyond life through long-term commitment, of millions of the human race. Think of the underprivileged person you have ever met, and then before acting asks if or how this act will be of benefit to that person. It is as is said here and elsewhere. Returning good for good is exceptional. That is true love. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Teachings On Love,

True love includes the sense of responsibility, accepting the other person as he is, with all his strengths and weaknesses. If we like only the best things in the person, that is not love. We have to accept his weakness and bring our patience, understanding, and energy to help him transform. The expression “long-term commitment” helps us to understand the word love. In the context of true love, commitment can only be long-term. “I want to love you. I want to help you. I want to care for you. I want you to be happy. I want to work for happiness. But just for a few days.” Does this make sense? We are afraid to make a commitment. We want freedom. But we have to make a long-term commitment to love our son deeply and help him through the journey of life as long as we are alive. We can’t just say, “I don’t love you anymore.” When we have a good friend, we also make a long-term commitment. We need her. How much more so with someone who wants to share our life, our soul, our body. The phrase “long-term commitment” cannot express the depth of love, but we have to say something so that people understand.

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Nagarjuna: Founder of Madhyamika School of Mahayana Buddhism

Nagarjuna (A. D. 200-300) was an Indian Buddhist philosopher who founded the Madhyamika School of Mahayana Buddhism. He studied both the secular and religious branches of Hindu knowledge before turning to Buddhism and spent most of his life in the great Mahayana centers of learning in south-east India. Two of the compositions credited to Nagarjuna are verses of counsel to a king, which recommends that he achieved some distinction during his lifetime. Other sources specify that he also served as abbot of a monastery and that he was the instructor of Aryadeva, the author of important Madhyamika texts.

Nagarjuna —The Most Sophisticated Buddhist Philosopher

Nagarjuna's Philosophy in the Buddhist Tradition Two texts most clearly present Nagarjuna’s views: The Mulamadhyamikakarika (Stanzas of the Middle Way) and the Vigrahavyavartani (Treatise on Averting Arguments). The former is read and studied by philosophers of all major Buddhist schools of Tibet, China, Japan and Korea and is one of the most influential works in the history of Indian philosophy.

Nagarjuna’s stature in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions is enormous and the Tibetan tradition even identifies him as a magician-alchemist. The Madhyamika School is characterized by its logical refutation and negation of all philosophical systems, —Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike—while claiming no unique philosophy of its own. Nagarjuna’s philosophical method is referred to as negative dialectics.

Nagarjuna is the Most Famous Thinker in the History of Buddhism After the Buddha Himself

Nagarjuna is the Most Famous Thinker in the History of Buddhism After the Buddha Himself Nagarjuna especially attacked the Adhidharmas, claiming that the real agenda of dharma theory, atomism, was not really momentarism, time or causality but a new form of anatta (substantialism.) It is an unfolding argument culminating in the triumphant assertion of the reality of only emptiness. Despite lacking any essence, he argues, phenomena exist conventionally, and conventional existence and ultimate emptiness are in fact the same thing. This represents the radical understanding of the Buddhist doctrine of the two truths, or two levels of reality.

Nagarjuna tried to re-establish Buddha’s middle path, affirming neither existence nor non-existence, permanence nor impermanence, identity difference, but showing the relativity of all conceptions. Even the basic elements of dharma, existence, are taken to be void of ultimate reality. The structure of ultimate transformation used by Nagarjuna requires an understanding that ideas, even ‘emptiness’, have no indispensable content. Non-attachment to mental images aids in the transformation of awareness, allowing one to perceive the arising and overindulgence of the world without interfering with it. The mind of inner cognition complete with its assertions and denials, is free from all attachment.

Nagarjuna’s Process of Ultimate Transformation

For Nagarjuna a general term simply distinguished a particular class of items from another class of items. The central organizing element in this structural process is the potency of a posture or vigilance that pervades all perceptions, sense of identity, feelings, concepts, or demeanor.

Nagarjuna, along with other Buddhists, pointed out how many people, though unaware, were being pushed by the very language and assumptions of language that they thought were helping them understand their existence. Such an interpretation utilizes a different norm for identifying authenticity than the one found in this structural process.

Nagarjuna's Process of Ultimate Transformation Similarly, the focus on a future fulfilment of a spiritual goal in one process may be inappropriate in another, for the release from evil and suffering in a context where there is a clear separation of time and eternity will be different from one where release is available only in a moment of existence by means of a shift in consciousness. The absolute is not within the sphere of mind.

The ignorance which is eliminated by insight is something more than just the lack of information or an inaccurate description of something. The realization of nirvana is not attaining a self-existent opposite to some sorrow—as was the highest reality conceived in some other forms of Indian spiritual life. Nirvana is the enlightened world, a way of being where concepts like good and evil are empty, without substance, where there is no birth and death, and where everything is totally interdependent and without abiding form.

The deepest illusions are thereby dissipated through the highest insight; these illusions are not simply faulty identification of subsisting entities, but affirming to the notion that identification of entities can insure absolute truth. The ideal authenticity, then, is not something other than what is right now; it is innate in the individual field of experiences that is indeed in fluctuation, and which can be cultivated and adroitly sensitized to other possibilities.

Nagarjuna’s Philosophy in the Buddhist Tradition

Nagarjuna: Founder of Madhyamika School of Mahayana Buddhism Meditation is a practice that has been used throughout the Buddhist tradition to de-automate habitual patterns of experience. While Nagarjuna did not advocate meditation directly in his Fundamentals of the Middle Way, there are texts that are credited to him, such as his “Letter to a Friend” which suggest that he accepted meditation as a critical part of the Buddhist path. The external world is gathered into the form of the deity. Nagarjuna states,

  • Know that there are three things that block the gate to the city of freedom, and that you must cast aside: sole reliance on rites and penance, perverted views and doubt. None of the joys of this life are desired.
  • Freedom depends upon you alone, for no one else can help you: strive in the four noble truths, with study and virtue and meditation. Their limitless qualities are a precious treasury. Similarly, within the nature there are also no path, meditation, and so forth.
  • Ever train yourself in higher virtue, higher wisdom, higher meditation, for within these three are gathered more than a hundred and fifty trainings. The subject is extinguished with the object. The wisdom of the path of meditation is called the wisdom of full attainment.

This liberation is expressed philosophically in the Buddhist tradition as the middle path between the extremes of essentialism and nihilism; it is articulated by Nagarjuna in a negative dialectic and the assertion that all phrenic, physical and emotional objects of vigilance.

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Dharmachakra and the Eightfold Path

Wheel of Konark is the same as the Dharmachakra of the Buddhists The dharma, the path to enlightenment, is often presented by a wheel, known as the Dharmachakra. Generally a dharma wheel will have eight spokes, representing each of the principles of the Eightfold Path:

  1. Right Views, which involve an accurate understanding of the true nature of things, specifically the four noble truths;
  2. Right Intention, which means avoiding thoughts of attachment, hatred, and harmful intent and promoting loving-kindness and nonviolence;
  3. Right Speech, which means refraining from verbal misdeeds, such as lying, backbiting and slander, harsh speech and abusive language, and frivolous speech and gossip;
  4. Right Action or Right Conduct, which is refraining from physical misdeeds, such as killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct;
  5. Right Livelihood, which entails avoiding trades that directly or indirectly harm others, such as selling slaves, selling weapons, selling animals for slaughter, dealing in intoxicants or poisons, or engaging in fortune-telling and divination;
  6. Right Effort, which is defined as abandoning unwholesome states of mind that have already arisen, preventing unwholesome states that have yet to arise, sustaining wholesome states that have already arisen, and developing wholesome states that have yet to arise;
  7. Right Mindfulness, which means to maintain awareness of the four foundations of mindfulness, viz., body, physical sensations, the mind, and phenomena; and
  8. Right Concentration, which is one pointedness of mind. It is defined generally as the concentration of the mind on wholesome objects.

The circle represents the perfect whole of the dharma, while the hub represents meditation, the core discipline in following the path. The rim represents samadhi, the composition of mind required by the teachings. Some wheels have more than eight spokes, often 12, 24, or 31. These numbers also have significance in more in-depth aspects of Buddhist philosophy.

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Zen Koan #12: Parable of Happy Chinaman – Buddhist Teaching on Human Dignity

Zen Koan #12: Parable of Happy Chinaman - Buddhist Teaching on Human Dignity A mind of equanimity is a mind without distinctions; in other words, there is no rest and no activity. Some people think that Zen advertises moral indifference, that Zen practitioners in general are free to ignore ethical principles. Discombobulating is the raw material of sapience. The problem of being prey to someone else’s power is reinforced, of course, by one’s own infantile desire to be taken care of. There is nothing outside of your mind.

Progress is measured in terms of time, but when faith and mind are not separate, these distinctions are abolished. However, if nothing is real or lasting, what is the point of coming to retreat and practicing Zen? The point is that during the course of practice, you may come to realize that everything around you, as well as whatever you seek out of life, is illusory. Just as fish cannot live without water, compassion cannot develop without agelessness. For the practice of Zen, you must pass the barrier set up by the ancient masters of Zen.

To attain to marvelous enlightenment, you must completely extinguish all the delusive thoughts of the ordinary mind. We run into trouble only when we close down and couldn’t care less—when we’re too cynical or depressed or full of doubt even to bother.

Zen Koan: “Happy Chinaman” Parable

Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America with observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.

This Hotei lived in the T’ang dynasty. He had no desire to call himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples about him. Instead he walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.

Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: “Give me one penny.” And if anyone asked him to return to a temple to teach others, again he would reply: “Give me one penny.”

Once he was about his play-work another Zen master happened along and inquired: “What is the significance of Zen?”

Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.

“Then,” asked the other, “what is the actualization of Zen?”

At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.

Buddhist Insight on Human Dignity

Buddhism does not support passivity in the face of violence and evil. Beings by karma are bound to the individual human dignity. That blankness is connected with mindfulness. All of these parts are the path and bring a certain joy, certain strength to our practice. You have to relate to your country, its politics, its culture. It came to life after several hundred years of philosophical development. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

Enlightenment means to experience with complete clarity the fact of dukkha – the travail of being born, working, relating to others, growing up, growing old and so on – is part and parcel of human dignity; that all attempts to run away from it are undignified and that this applies just as much to spirituality, psychologically or socially sophisticated forms of escapism as it does to worldly or primitive ones. People are not made happy by an endless supply of pleasures. many rich people are miserable. People are happy when they live noble lives. Misery is not created by lack of pleasure, but by resentment, bitterness, and the degradation of character. Rich people do not generally accumulate their wealth in order to have pleasures. They accumulate wealth because they think this will make them respectable. In this way they hope to set their minds at rest. Of course, in reality quite the opposite often results. The means by which wealth is accumulated often involves action which leaves a stain of guilt that the person never manages to live down.

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The Traditional Celebration of Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving (1912--1915) by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Thanksgiving is a traditional celebration to mark an auspicious event.

Religious celebrations of gratitude took place among many settlers in the Americas in the 1600s. In the United States, the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November is associated with the Pilgrim settlers of the Plymouth colony in present day Massachusetts.

The most common account of the first Thanksgiving links the celebration to 1621, when the Pilgrims joined with indigenous people to give thanks for a particularly good harvest after a difficult year within the settlement. Several other settlements in the Americas around this time also have claims for celebrating early Thanksgiving.

The idea of the Thanksgiving event had its origins in England during the Protestant Reformation, when reformers were anxious to replace Catholic public holidays with feast days of their own. A tradition began of celebrating fortuitous events with a special thanksgiving meal; conversely, adverse events were marked by a day of fasting. It was hoped that giving thanks to God might bring further good fortune, while fasting might prevent additional disasters.

Even though several of the symbols and traditions of Thanksgiving are taken from the story of the Pilgrims at the Plymouth colony, the holiday is now a celebration of a spirit of gratefulness rather than a commemoration of a particular day or event. As a religious celebration, Thanksgiving is intended to remind those who celebrate it of God as the provider of all good things. Thanksgiving in the United States is also celebrated with a secular appreciation of the work ethic and perseverance of the early U.S. colonists.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is the Proclamation of Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America. It was issued by William H. Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State on October 3, 1863.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

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Zen Koan #11: Parable of Story of Shunkai – Buddhist Teaching on Inner Strength

Zen Koan #11: Parable of Story of Shunkai - Buddhist Teaching on Inner Strength Your first impulse toward spirituality might put you into some particular spiritual scene; but if you work with that impulse, then the impulse gradually dies down and at some stage becomes tedious, monotonous. This is a useful message. Everything is absolute in the sense that there is no separation between you and others, between past and future. In reality, all realms lie within us. The one conveyance is the Buddha Way. She mentally conceived of an expeditious method: Afore she genuinely indicted anything down, she would first skim through the entire test to weed out the answers she did not understand. To be in bondage to your thoughts means to be influenced and carried away by various conditions in your surroundings.

Love can’t be exclusive. It is boundless, empty, open, and free. Spiritual friendship is too. One of them was rejoicing that his term was ending for the reason that the next day someone would be replacing him. Therefore, this interpretation does not hold here. At the tip of a fine strand of hair all the Buddha of the three times and the ten directions are turning the Dharma wheel. When you approach the practice with any expectations, you will not be able to sit well. Neither extreme is salutary.

Zen Koan: “Story of Shunkai” Parable

The exquisite Shunkai whose other name was Suzu was compelled to marry against her wishes when she was quite young. Later, after this marriage had ended, she attended the university, where she studied philosophy.

To see Shunkai was to fall in love with her. Moreover, wherever she went, she herself fell in love with others. Love was with her at the university, and afterwards when philosophy did not satisfy her and she visited the temple to learn about Zen, the Zen students fell in love with her. Shunkai’s whole life was saturated with love.

At last in Kyoto she became a real student of Zen. Her brothers in the sub-temple of Kennin praised her sincerity. One of them proved to be a congenial spirit and assisted her in the mastery of Zen.

The abbot of Kennin, Mokurai, Silent Thunder, was severe. He kept the precepts himself and expected the priests to do so. In modern Japan whatever zeal these priests have lost for Buddhism they seemed to have gained for having wives. Mokurai used to take a broom and chase the women away when he found them in any of his temples, but the more wives he swept out, the more seemed to come back.

In this particular temple the wife of the head priest had become jealous of Shunkai’s earnestness and beauty. Hearing the students praise her serious Zen made this wife squirm and itch. Finally she spread a rumor about that Shunkai and the young man who was her friend. As a consequence he was expelled and Shunkai was removed from the temple.

“I may have made the mistake of love,” thought Shunkai, “but the priest’s wife shall not remain in the temple either if my friend is to be treated so unjustly.”

Shunkai the same night with a can of kerosene set fire to the five-hundred-year-old temple and burned it to the ground. In the morning she found herself in the hands of the police.

A young lawyer became interested in her and endeavoured to make her sentance lighter. “Do not help me.” she told him. “I might decide to do something else which will only imprison me again.”

At last a sentance of seven years was completed, and Shunkai was released from the prison, where the sixty-year-old warden also had become enamored of her.

But now everyone looked upon her as a “jailbird”. No one would associate with her. Even the Zen people, who are supposed to believe in enlightenment in this life and with this body, shunned her. Zen, Shunkai found, was one thing and the followers of Zen quite another. Her relatives would have nothing to do with her. She grew sick, poor, and weak.

She met a Shinshu priest who taught her the name of the Buddha of Love, and in this Shunkai found some solace and peace of mind. She passed away when she was still exquisitely beautiful and hardly thirty years old.

She wrote her own story in a futile endeavour to support herself and some of it she told to a women writer. So it reached the Japanese people. Those who rejected Shunkai, those who slandered and hated her, now read of her life with tears of remorse.

Buddhist Insight on Inner Strength

In Zen Buddhism, there’s something in us, in our nature, which compels us to discover. By that, the meditation will gain the advantage of freshness and grow in inner strength. The opposite of generosity is parsimony, holding back—having a poverty mentality. Mere appearance without assertion and denial does not produce attachment. Hence their inability to see the truth. The American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron writes in Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change,

You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving-kindness for yourself. Loving-kindness for yourself does not mean making sure you’re feeling good all the time – trying to set up your life so that you’re comfortable every moment. Rather, it means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate, self-honesty. In this way you become more attuned to seeing when you’re biting the hook, when you’re getting caught in the undertow of emotions, when you’re grasping and when you’re letting go. This is the way you become a true friend to yourself just as you are, with both your laziness and your bravery. There is no step more important than this.

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