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Zen Koan #33: Parable of Mokusen’s Hand – Buddhist Teaching on Investigating Anger

Zen Koan #33: Parable of Mokusen's Hand - Buddhist Teaching on Investigating Anger Zen is something you do that transforms the mind. Every day, sit down, be quiet, and feel your life. Try to keep company with a koan. Check whether your heart is open when you’re practicing. That’s important. Unbelievably, it is our experience that under a proper guide, this inner peace and purity of mind with light can be secured by all irrespective of their religion or creed, provided they have sincerity of purpose and are prepared to submit to the guide for the period of trial.

Tibetan imperial court and quite popular, especially among women in the royal family. Do not believe in what you have auricular discerned; do not believe in Zen traditions for the reason that they have been bequeathed for many generations; do not believe in anything for the reason that it is rumored and verbalized by many; do not believe merely for the reason that an indicted verbalization of some old sage is engendered; do not believe in conjectures; do not believe in that as truth to which you have become affixed from habit; do not believe merely the ascendancy of your edifiers and elders.

When we bring our mind consciousness into this work, then suddenly we may become aware of the mental formations that are arising. Examine the pure space, which is the meaning of this.

Zen Koan: “Mokusen’s Hand” Parable

Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.

Mokusen visited the adherent’s wife and showed her his clenched fist before her face.

“What do you mean by that?” asked the surprised woman.

“Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?” he asked.

“Deformed,” replied the woman.

Then he opened his hand flat in her face and asked: “Suppose it were always like that. What then?”

“Another kind of deformity,” said the wife.

“If you understand that much,” finished Mokusen, “you are a good wife.” Then he left.

After his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute as well as to save.

Buddhist Insight on Investigating Anger

When you investigate anger, he who returns anger with anger is the wicked. Whether emotions are repressed or articulated, indulged in or sublimated, depends on a combination of factors: innate disposition, family background, and the ethos and mores of the larger society. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth. Interest is something that also can be cultivated, can be nourished, and can develop. The American meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg writes in A Heart as Wide as the World: Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness,

It’s important to investigate the nature of anger because it is such a powerful energy and can be so destructive. When we can face our anger without being afraid of it, or angry about it, or defenseless in the face of it, then we can come close to it. When we are able to look closely at anger, we can see threads of different feelings – the sadness and the fear woven through it – and we can see it’s true nature. When we can uncover the helplessness and powerlessness that often feed anger, we transform them. In being mindful of these feelings, we actually use the sheer energy of anger – without getting lost in it or overcome by it’s tremendously deluding and fixating quality – to reveal instead the courage and compassion that have been concealed.

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Zen Koan #32: Parable of Inch Time Foot Gem – Buddhist Teaching on Valuing Quality

Zen Koan #32: Parable of Inch Time Foot Gem - Buddhist Teaching on Valuing Quality In the Zen Buddhist teaching, it’s clear that to love one is the foundation of the love of other people. Love is a practice. Love is truly a practice. However, it is precisely the greed of someone who wants the Buddha to save him that prevents him from being reborn in the Pure Land.

No matter how disturbing your surroundings or your inner mind, you should take clear note of it and avoid feeling any aversion. To fulfill your original intentions, you must constantly keep your mind on the method of practice. In that case, should you discard the method? The problem with discarding the method is that, while you may seem to have no thoughts, you may still fall into a foggy state. This engenders more ripples. Neither is there any Dharma Realm.

At that time, even though you are practicing very well, you would not think of yourself as practicing. Throughout the discussion, it becomes apparent that each account contains the building blocks out of which the other could be constructed. It cannot be judged by worldly standards. In addition, we do this for the reason that we realize that we struggle all the time and we are not in harmony with the flow of things, which the first noble truth of Zen Buddhism is, that there is suffering in the world.

Zen Koan: “Inch Time Foot Gem” Parable

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen Teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.

Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem.

This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

Buddhist Insight on Value Is In Quality Not Quantity

Like a debate in court, one perception is based on reason and truth, while the other one is not. In Zen Buddhism, we spend so much time talking about third people, most of which is useless. This is admirable meditation on true reality of quality and not quantity. This is where value lies. Nothing is as wholesome as concentrating on this mind. There is actual compassion, direct compassion, and absolute compassion. The British philosopher and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience Alan Watts wrote in Become What You Are,

While modern astronomy tells us of our insignificance beneath the stars, it also tells us that if we lift so much as a finger, we affect them. It is true that we are transient, that we have no abiding self, but the fabric of life is such that one broken thread may work immeasurable ruin. The magnitude of the world with whose destiny we are bound up increases rather than diminishes our importance.

Nature may seem to have little regard for individuals; it may let them die in millions as if it mattered nothing. But value is in quality, not quantity. A pea may be as round as the world, but as far as roundness is concerned, neither is better than the other. And man is in himself a little universe; the ordering of his mind and body is as complex as the ordering of the stars. can we say, then, that the governing of a man’s universe is less important because it is different in size?

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Zen Koan #31: Parable of Everything Is Best – Buddhist Teaching on Listening

Zen Koan #31: Parable of Everything Is Best - Buddhist Teaching on Listening Criticism is usually unjustified. Yet even in the midst of this noisy and crowded world, we are given a small area to practice. After defining all those you have to work out how to do it in real life—that’s the hard part—how to abstain from all these. If others can practice, then at least you can endeavor. Let us verbalize about rest. You should have faith that every method is a good method and every individual is good practitioner. If any part of your body feels painful, you should try to relax it. However, this Bodhi tree is alive and growing. When examining a branch, we can’t disconnect it from the earlier branches, the trunk, or the roots. They’re all part of the whole.

A Bodhi tree (ficus religiosa) is withal a stringy looking fig tree, with branches that infrequently weave into each other, and then back out again. So long as you practice diligently, practice is the totality. If you were to leave the water alone, the ripples would eventually subside and the surface would be still.

You may be critical of the food, or the style of the retreat. It is just as if when one side senses it is losing the battle, suddenly all resistance is gone and they are defeated very quickly. This was due to his greed for the experience.

Zen Koan: “Everything Is Best” Parable

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

“Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer.

“Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.”

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

Buddhist Insight on Listening

Anger, hatred, aversion is related qualities, according to Zen Buddhism. It’s not that you should do it, but these are just laws of what makes life richer or better off in some way. They should be reminded that there are some listening eternal truths, which can never become out-of-date. However, if you have an interesting idea or very original thought, listening, ill will is willing to hear it out. Shunryu Suzuki, the Japanese-American Zen monk who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, writes in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,

When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe the way he is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good or bad. We just see things as they are with him, and accept them. This is how we communicate with each other. Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it.

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Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues

As a young adult, Ben Franklin identified 13 virtues he aspired to. To implement these virtues in his life, he devised a “Plan for Self Examination,” an agenda whereby he concentrated his attention, one virtue at a time, for one week at a time, rotating through the entire list four times a year. He kept a detailed log of the actions he took to develop the virtues in himself, along with his personal results.

He traced his development by using a little book of 13 charts. At the top of each chart was one of the virtues. The charts had a column for each day of the week and thirteen rows marked with the first letter of each of the 13 virtues. Every evening he would review the day and put a mark by the side of each virtue for each error committed with respect to that virtue for that day.

Unsurprisingly, his goal was to live his days and weeks without having to put any marks on his chart. At the start he found himself putting more marks on these pages than he ever anticipated, but in time he enjoyed seeing them diminish. Eventually he went through the series only once per year and then only once in several years until ultimately omitting them entirely. But he always carried the little book with him as a reminder.

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
  11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
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Zen Koan #30: Parable of Calling Card – Buddhist Teaching on Understanding and Awakening

Zen Koan #30: Parable of Calling Card - Buddhist Teaching on Understanding and Awakening In the commencement, the Buddha wasn’t composing stuff like that and it had more effect in those days—there were lots more people who seemed to be doing a lot better in their Zen Meditation with fewer diversions—things were simpler. People used to just cogitate and heedfully aurally perceive the construal of the words. To come to a retreat merely out of curiosity shows a lack of faith in yourself and in the practice; it would be impossible for you to get good results.

Generally, people enjoy living in the world of confusion for the reason that it is much more entertaining. So long as your mind is filled with greed, hatred, or ignorance, you will be immersed in vexation and suffering. There are two types of food for the body: nutrition and contact. Later when your Zen Meditation is not as pleasurable, you may try to analyze how you sat so well that one time and why you are so uncomfortable now.

Disassociate yourself from the part of your body that is painful. Trouble can only develop in a state of discrimination. The more you go after it, the more it eludes you. The more you want benefits from Zen, the further you will be from obtaining them. Practice is a foolish endeavor, like climbing a crystal mountain covered with oil.

Zen Koan: “Calling Card” Parable

Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.

His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.

“I have no business with such a fellow,” said Keichu to his attendant. “Tell him to get out of here.”

The attendant carried the card back with apologies. “That was my error,” said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out the words Governor of Kyoto. “Ask your teacher again.”

“Oh, is that Kitagaki?” exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. “I want to see that fellow.”

Buddhist Insight on Understanding and Awakening

The uncontrolled harm of things is limitless. Take a few minutes off your daily chores, sit down in a quiet place, and be mindful of your thoughts. That doesn’t mean that we have to go off in a hermitage, but our household life, our driving, our interpersonal relations, they are our considerate practice, and they require some working with. She wrote this note after a couple of days of trying meditation awareness. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman and American vipassana teacher Jack Kornfield write in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart,

In spiritual life there is no room for compromise. Awakening is not negotiable; we cannot bargain to hold on to things that please us while relinquishing things that do not matter to us. A lukewarm yearning for awakening is not enough to sustain us through the difficulties involved in letting go. It is important to understand that anything that can be lost was never truly ours, anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us.

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The Different Types and Varieties of Rice

The Different Types and Varieties of Rice

Rice is usually divided into three general categories: long, medium and short grains. All have their special bites, textures, sizes and colours.

  • Long-grain rice, as the name denotes, is long and thin. It has a fluffy texture when cooked, and its grains remain separate. Parboiled rice is similar in appearance and texture to long-grain rice, but has been steamed and cooked before being milled.
  • Medium-grain rice is slightly shorter and fatter than the other types. It absorbs more liquid and has a creamier finish when cooked.
  • Short-grain rice is very short, and absorbs an immense amount of liquid during cooking, making the end result sticky and wet.

Primary Dietary Staple

At just under 400 calories for every lOOg in its raw state, rice is the main dietary staple of half the world’s population. From standard white grains to nutty-flavoured brown, to creamy risotto rice, to the exotic wild, rice offers something to tantalise most appetites.

  • American Longgrain: you’re bound to have this as a staple in your store-cupboard. American longgrain is the most commonly available rice, and a standard in the kitchen.
  • White Basmati: from the foothills of the Himalayas, this rice, with the bran taken out, is full of flavour and aroma. Serve with curries or other dishes which have a sauce to mingle with the rice.
  • Brown Basmati: the same as white basmati but with the bran left in. Use this like the white variety.
  • Carnaroli Rice: these tubby grains release starch as they cook, which is why Italian risotto is such a great comfort food.
  • Red Camargue Rice: this is French rice with a distinctive red colour and nutty flavour. It’s good when served with fish, meat or in salads.
  • Sushi Rice: this small, chubby Japanese grain is the perfect rice for making sushi because it gets so sticky when cooked.
  • Thai Fragrant: this is grown in the paddy fields of Thailand; it becomes fluffy when cooked and has a faint jasmine fragrance. It is delicious with any Thai dish.
  • Wild Rice: this is not true rice but an aquatic American grass. It must be cooked for longer, but the texture is satisfying and the nutty flavour is delicious. It is good mixed with white rice, but you can’t cook the two together. Cook them separately, starting the wild rice ahead of time, and then mix them together.

The highest consumption of rice per capita is in Myanmar (Burma), which is perhaps not surprising when you consider that Burma is smack in the middle of territory where rice cultivation most likely originated thousands of years ago. Radiocarbon dating of strata containing grains of rice found in south China indicates rice was cultivated as far back as 7,000 years ago. Researchers say that rice may have been indigenous to India and then moved eastward to Indochina and south-east Asia.

Rice is a Primary Dietary Staple It is amylose—a linear polymer of glucose—in cooked long-grain rice that causes it to seize up or harden when refrigerated. This is called retrogradation; the starch cells collapse, squeezing the moisture out and causing the realignment of the starch molecules. Much to the chagrin of the cook, the rice turns hard. Retrogradation cannot be avoided, but it can be reversed when the rice is reheated. Don’t keep cooked rice in the fridge for long. Cooked rice is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, brought about by the bacteria Bacillus Cereus, which develops when cooked rice is left too long in the fridge. Cooked rice should be cooled rapidly and stored in a clean, sealed container within an hour of cooking. Treat it like meat: no more than four days in the fridge.

Rice is gluten-free and easily digestible, making it a good choice for infants and people with wheat allergies or digestive problems. A half-cup of cooked white rice provides 82 calories; an equal amount of brown rice provides 89 calories.

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Zen Koan #29: Parable of No Water, No Moon – Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment

Zen Koan #29: Parable of No Water, No Moon - Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment Material development alone sometimes solves one quandary but engenders another. For example, certain people may have acquired wealth, a good edification, and a high convivial standing, yet ecstasy eludes them. They take slumbering pills and drink an extravagant amount of alcohol.

Something is missing, something still not consummated, so these people take refuge in drugs or in a bottle. It is when you do not feel successful that you put in the effort. As soon as you become attached to something, you lose the direction of the method. When you experience everything as equal, all distinctions will naturally disappear. You are definitely in this place and not some other. The realization of a koan is not just a cognitive understanding, and this naturally follows from the essential theme cited earlier that logic cannot be used to understand a koan. If you try to eliminate the difficulties, it would be like observing a pan of water. In fact, their efforts have only increased their mental vexations, and have created physical ones as well.

By practicing daily Zen Meditation and going on recedes, at least you are pumping the air into the tire to some extent. On the contrary, everything is there clearly, and in place.

Zen Koan: “No Water, No Moon” Parable

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!

Buddhist Insight on Return to the Present Moment

In Zen Buddhism, you can practice with annoyance with your partner or your spouse in the present moment. Moreover, you can be as happy watching a sunset or taking a walk as having an overgenerous night out on the town because you know how to relate to those things. There’s a mythology of returning to the present moment in our country that is false. When you’ve gotten good, you can even try loving some of our politicians. The American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck writes in Nothing Special: Living Zen,

Most of our difficulties, our hopes, and our worries are empty fantasies. Nothing has ever existed except this moment. That’s all there is. That’s all we are. Yet most of us human beings spend 50 to 90 percent or more of their time in their imagination, living in fantasy. We think about what has happened to us, what might have happened, how we feel about it, how we should be different, how others should be different, how it’s all a shame, and so on; it’s all fantasy, all imagination. Memory is imagination. Every memory that we stick to devastates our life.

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Health is the Greatest of Life’s Gifts

Consciousness of Strength

Consciousness of Strength Health is relative. A wholesome person is one who lives with the consciousness of his strength. Morbidity consists in concentrating on our aches and pains. If there were enough energy at our disposal to balance our weakness, then we need not fear, for we then have sufficient strength to meet the commitments of living.

Let us be among those whose lives are determined by their strength rather than by their weakness.

It is filled with hopes and fears, and produces very trivial lasting or rich happiness. From thus we may learn, that if a man sees his solid image in a plain looking-glass, the part of the glass that reflects his prototype, is but one half as long and one half as broad as the man. We also exercise generousness to free others, to extend welfare and happiness to all beings, to in some way, as much as each one of us can, lessen the suffering in this world. The microscope, which magnifies small bodies to such vast bulks, is a tool of myriad use to philosophical system, since by it a new world is opened to the eye, of which humanity before never even suspected the creation.

Honor is Dearer Than Life Itself

Honor is Dearer Than Life Itself A little of this is essential to old men, and according to the constitution and erstwhile manner of life, more may be born without incommodiousness, or indeed with advantage.

If people insist that honor is dearer than life itself, what they really mean is that existence and well-being are as nothing compared with other people’s opinions. Of course, this may be only an exaggerated way of stating the prosaic truth that reputation, that is, the opinion others have of us, is indispensable if we are to make any progress in the world. It is called the steam engine, a simple machine by which the thrust of steam is made to answer all the purposes of the joined strength of hundreds. Jonathan Haidt writes about changing opinions in The Righteous Mind:

… The main way that we change our minds on moral issues is by interacting with other people. We are terrible at seeking evidence that challenges our own beliefs, but other people do us this favour, just as we are quite good at finding errors in other people’s beliefs. When discussions are hostile, the odds of change are slight. The elephant [one’s intuitions on the issue] leans away from the opponent, and the rider [the rational mind] works frantically to rebut the opponent’s charges.

But if there is affection, admiration, or a desire to please the other person, then the elephant leans [or is already leaning] toward that person and the rider tries to find the truth in the other person’s arguments. The elephant may not often change its direction in response to objection from its own rider, but it is easily steered by the mere presence of friendly elephants (that’s the social persuasion link in the social intuitionist model) or by good arguments given to it by the riders of those friendly elephants (that’s the reasoned persuasion link).

There are even times when we change our minds on our own, with no help from other people. Sometimes we have conflicting intuitions about something, as many people do about abortion and other controversial issues. Depending on which victim, which argument, or which friend you are thinking about at a given moment, you judgement may flip back and forth as if you were looking at a Neckar cube.

And finally, it is possible for people simply to reason their way to a moral conclusion that contradicts their initial intuitive judgement, although I believe this process is rare.

The second procession condenses commentary subject and engenders forms inside the cosmic circle; sets the countless worlds floating in the electric space, and infuses the stupid, blind life-principle into every form. It is said, in general terms, that an echo is a thoughtfulness of sound, striking against some object, as an image is reflected in a glass. It is to be inferred from this, that the health of ship companies depends in a great measure upon state of affairs within the power of officers, and upon them much more than the medical branch, the physical condition of the men depends, in as much as prevention is better than cure, and the art of physic is at best but imperfect.

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Zen Koan #28: Parable of Open Your Own Treasure House – Buddhist Teaching on Wise Choices

Zen Koan #28: Parable of Open Your Own Treasure House - Buddhist Teaching on Wise Choices Buddha just means awake; one who is awake. When we allow thoughts, we can create incredible stories that make us laugh and make us cry. The more you try to control your mind, the more stray thoughts will come up to bother you. At this point, we may have come to the conclusion that we should drop the whole game of spiritual materialism; that is; we should give up trying to defend and improve ourselves.

Let’s return to the opening lines of the poem, “The Supreme Way is not difficult if only you do not pick and choose.” Actually, it is not hard to reach enlightenment if you do not grasp or reject. If you carried it home with you, your bowels would be in serious trouble. They ponder over all sorts of issues. They doubt the method and whether they can reach their objective. It requires meticulous attention. Those who do not practice Zen are not aware of their deepest vexations.

Daily problems and the pain of daily life may often feel almost poisonous. However, meditative awareness can help you to convert that poison into medicine, the medicine of cheerfulness. Taking refuge in the Dharma means taking refuge in the law, in the way things are; it is acknowledging our surrender to the truth and allowing the Dharma to unfold within us.

Zen Koan: “Open Your Own Treasure House” Parable

Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: “What do you seek?”

“Enlightenment,” replied Daiju.

“You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked.

Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”

Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”

Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: “Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”

Buddhist Insight on Wise Choices

In Zen Buddhism, these words embody an experience just as the world love embodies an experience of mind and body. All these phenomena arise dependent upon a number of casual factors. Doing so will help one to forget one’s insignificant worries and troubles, to clarify one’s thinking, and to recall the decisive values and truths upon which one should build one’s life. With wise choices, no discipline is ever needed. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

How much of the knowledge, information, and strategies of our story serve us well? In our life story we experience hurt, pain, fear and rejection, at times caused by others, at others self-inflicted. Understanding what causes sorrow, pain, and devastation translates into discriminating wisdom, and we do not knowingly expose ourselves to these conditions. We are all asked to make wise choices in our lives – choices rooted in understanding rather than fear.

The Buddha used the analogy of a raft. Walking beside a great river, the bank we are standing on is dangerous and frightening and the other bank is safe. We collect branches and foliage to build a raft to transport us to the other shore. Having made the journey safely, supposing we picked up the raft and carried it on our head wherever we went. Would we be using the raft wisely? The obvious answer is “No.” A reasonable person would know how useful the raft has been, but wisdom would be to leave the raft behind and walk on unencumbered.

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Zen Koan #27: Parable of Voice of Happiness – Buddhist Teaching on Groundlessness

Zen Koan #27: Parable of Voice of Happiness - Buddhist Teaching on Groundlessness Zen meditation was found to reduce stress and blood pressure, and be efficacious for a variety of conditions, as suggested by positive findings in therapists and musicians. Subliminal processing is frequently thought to be automatic and independent of attention. However, the present framework implies that top-down attention and task set can have an effect on subliminal processing. People respond to arduousness in different ways. Let it ache away. It is for the reason that you choose and reject that you are not free. Zen meditation increases access to unconscious information.

On completing the great supreme dharma, there is the arising of the wisdom of the path of seeing. It has the nature of sixteen moments. There are also other states that are terrifying. Meditation takes gumption. It is certainly a great deal easier just to sit back and watch television. So why bother? Simple. For the reason that you are human. Heavenly states can only be attained by performing meritorious deeds with a minimum of desire. However, the methods themselves are wandering poetic conceptions. If you are really paying attention to the method, you will be aware of a stray thought as soon as it arises. Later, there will be things to learn in other places.”

Zen Koan: “Voice of Happiness” Parable

After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master’s temple told a friend:

“Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person’s face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.

“In all my experience, however, Bankei’s voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard.”

Buddhist Insight on Groundlessness

Groundlessness 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 interdependent and without abiding form. In addition, it is possible to feel that because one is proficient origin of great suffering this faculty raises one above the insensitive herd. After a little while, he was able to sit up, feeling very much better than he had felt for a long time. In addition, he began to think about why it was he had fainted, and why he was now feeling so much refreshed in body and mind. The American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron writes in Buddha’s Daughters,

When things fall apart and we’re on the verge of we know not what, the test for each of us is to stay on the brink and not concretize. The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell. In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable. Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.

The very first noble truth of the Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last – that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security. From this point of view, the only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out and we can’t find anywhere to land. We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep. Right now – in the very instant of groundlessness – is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and of discovering our goodness.

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