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Zen Koan #20: Parable of A Mother’s Advice – Buddhist Teaching on Love and Relationships

Zen Koan #20: Parable of A Mother's Advice - Buddhist Teaching on Love and Relationships Thought and emotion work together in receiving and processing information about the world and in guiding goal-oriented behavior. Emotions incline us toward or away from options, not simply as motivators but as identifiers of these options. They include any doubts about the correctness of your method, or whether your decision to attend this retreat was a right or a wrong one.

We can pursue scientific discovery without knowing what we are looking for, for the reason that the gradient of deepening coherence tells us where to start and which way to turn, and eventually brings us to the point where we may stop and claim a discovery. Practice is the last best hope of living up to that good-heartedness, the only thing that never hurts and customarily avails. In any activity, you have to find just the right way to do it.

Knowing the dimensions of the perception will help you determine the framing that will communicate exactly what you’ve seen. Therefore, we veraciously endeavor the method and then we work with what comes up. I’ll just put the method aside and let my mind wander a little bit. This is a wrong way to practice. There are some who admit they are not enlightened, but nevertheless refuse to recognize accepted rules of behavior.

Zen Koan: “A Mother’s Advice” Parable

Jiun, a Shingon master, was a well-known Sanskrit scholar of the Tokugawa era. When he was young he used to deliver lectures to his brother students.

His mother heard about this and wrote him a letter:

“Son, I do not think you became a devotee of the Buddha because you desired to turn into a walking dictionary for others. There is no end to information and commentation, glory and honor. I wish you would stop this lecture business. Shut yourself up in a little temple in a remote part of the mountain. Devote your time to meditation and in this way attain true realization.”

Buddhist Insight on Love and Relationships

In love and in relationships, meditation is simply a question of being, of melting, like a piece of butter left in the sun. Here there are the expression of offering and the promise to compose the text. Finally, mindfulness is essential to seeing all the precepts, and one’s constant effort to maintain the precepts in turn issues in an increase in the clarity of mindfulness. The American clinical psychologist John Welwood, who frequently writes about the integration of psychological and spiritual concepts, writes in Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships,

Imagining others to be the source of love condemns us to wander lost in the desert of hurt, abandonment, and betrayal, where human relationships appear to be hopelessly tragic and flawed. As long as we fixate on what our parents didn’t give us, the ways our friends don’t constantly show up for us, or the ways our lover doesn’t understand us, we will never become rooted in ourselves and heal the wound of the heart. To grow beyond the dependency of a child requires sinking our own taproot into the wellspring of great love. This is the only way to know for certain that we are loved unconditionally.

In emphasizing the importance of not looking to others for perfect love, I am not suggesting that you turn away from relationships or belittle their importance. On the contrary, learning to sink your taproot into the source of love allows you to connect with others in a more powerful way – “straight up,” confidently rooted in your own ground, rather than leaning over, always trying to get something from “out there.” The less you demand total fulfillment from relationships, the more you can appreciate them for the beautiful tapestries they are, in which absolute and relative, perfect and imperfect, infinite and finite are marvelously interwoven. You can stop fighting and shifting tides of relative love and learn to ride them instead. And you come to appreciate more fully the simple, ordinary heroism involved in opening to another person and forging real intimacy.

Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #19: Parable of The First Principle – Buddhist Teaching on Qualities Within

Zen Koan #19: Parable of The First Principle - Buddhist Teaching on Qualities Within Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases utilized by Zen edifiers to make you descry yourself, to transcend the words and wonder what your own mind and being are. This is the purport of all Zen edifying—to make you wonder and to answer that wondering with the deepest expression of your own nature. Fixating on what’s transpiring right here and right now, which is this physical body, whatever sensations there might be, and breathing.

Someone may think, “If a good person is the same as a bad person, wouldn’t this create a lot of confusion?” This problem does not arise for one who is deeply enlightened. The experience of one’s method and body disappearing can be due to two factors. It is still on a worldly level. It is not that they will not arise, but you will not worry about them.

Hold on to one method and go into it as deeply as possible. You are all cognizant that this Zen center is not an ideal environment for practice. It’s a spirit of taking what comes to us and really working with it. You can learn from that as well as anything else. Let it be simple. However, this creates a duality of subject and object. A carefree approach does not mean not caring about how you practice; it means considering anything that happens as natural.

Zen Koan: “The First Principle” Parable

When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words “The First Principle”. The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a mastepiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.

When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which the workmen made the large carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticise his master’s work.

“That is not good,” he told Kosen after his first effort.

“How is this one?”

“Poor. Worse than before,” pronounced the pupil.

Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.

Then when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: “Now this is my chance to escape his keen eye,” and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: “The First Principle.”

“A masterpiece,” pronounced the pupil.

Buddhist Insight on Awakening the Dormant Qualities Within

Having the good fortune of formerly hoarded merit, those of the highest powers, with the condition of the holy guru, are unshackled just by realizing that they are already liberated. By awakening the dormant qualities within, the nature of mind should be gripped as being like space, according to Zen Buddhism. Instead of being less conscious, rather than running away or deluding yourself, what brings you face-to-face with life and awakens you up—Cultivate that. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

The third of the wise and skillful efforts is the effort to encourage, inspire, and cultivate the emergence of the healing, lovely, and wise qualities of heart and mind that lie dormant within us. Vision reminds us of our capacity to listen deeply, to be aware, and to realize our own potential for greatness of heart and mind. It is wise effort to nudge those seeds of potential from dormancy into life. In the midst of our impatience in a traffic jam, we surprise ourselves by cultivating loving kindness. As we turn away with aversion from the person begging from us on the street, we pause for a moment and remember the power of compassion. As we feel ourselves becoming seduced by our inner stories of resentment or bitterness, we remind ourselves of our own capacity to find balance and calm. In the moments when feel we feel most despairing, powerless, or confused, we remember that we have the capacity to listen deeply and find connectedness. We remind ourselves of the simplicity, calm, and peace possible, and we cultivate them.

Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #18: A Parable – Buddhist Teaching on the Heart of Compassion

Zen Koan #18: A Parable - Buddhist Teaching on the Heart of Compassion Zen Meditation should just be a part of life. Zen people verbalize about viciousness for the reason that when you arouse, the maps that hold your notions are suddenly gone. Our intention in receiving the precepts is not just to bring awareness to behavior, as one might expect, but also to explore, as the thirteenth-century Zen master Dogen Zenji suggests, who we think we are. This is why there are various levels in Zen Buddhism. However, during the vacation, their minds will scatter and their concentration will dissipate.

This is crucial to how Zen Meditation helps us, for the reason that everything we do is colored by our state of mind. For instance, if we feel good, then things seem interesting, and we want to learn; we’re intrigued. If someone needs a demon, a demon will appear; if they need the Buddha, then the Buddha will appear; if someone needs Zen practice, then Zen methods appear. Soon the snores may become hypnotic and repetitive, actually pleasant sounding. You have to hold it just right—not too tight, not too loose.

When it comes to practice, however, it is arduous for us to apply the same principle. Those who tend to talk non-stop generally have difficulty with practice, and also make it difficult for others to practice.

Zen Koan: “A Parable” Parable

Buddha told a parable in sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

Buddhist Insight on The Heart of Compassion

In Zen Buddhism, the offering ends with the practitioners asking the deities to forgive them for any mistakes in the performance of the procedural, such as improperly reciting the words of the text. With a heart of compassion, a mother should contemplate carefully whether she should continue to be a working mother of a homemaker giving all the fondness and care for the well-being of her child. The American author Marc Ian Barasch writes in Searching for the Heart of Compassion,

At its root meaning of “to suffer with,” compassion challenges our tendency to flinch away from life’s too-tender parts. I know this much: when I acknowledge my own pain, I am much less squeamish about drawing nearer to yours. I see to acquire my compassion piecemeal, hurt by hurt. After a bad sprain and time spent on crutches, I became more sympathetic to the locomotion-impaired – the lame and the wheelchair bound, those who hobbled on canes and walkers.

Perhaps Thomas Aquinas was not far off when he claimed. “No one becomes compassionate unless he suffers.” I take this less as a mandate fro medieval masochism than an indecorous call to embrace our own authentic experience. If we’re not at home with the depth of our feelings, we’re likely to skirt the deep feelings of others.

Posted in Faith and Religion

Faithfully Plant Seed in the Spring for a Noble Harvest

Originative Thought Shapes Your Destiny

Youth has been called the springtime of a man’s life. It is an appropriate comparison, as spring is the time when nature mobilizes all her energies for new adventures, and youth is like that too. It is the time when every fiber of one’s being is glowing with vitality, and the readiness for bold new tasks. It is the time for the dreams and visions that beckon us.

Nevertheless, spring is not merely the time for adventure; it is also the time of preparation, the time of planting and sowing. In spring, the world awakens to make ready for the harvest of tomorrow. Events, too, have stirred his way. Youth also has this task of preparing its strength to bring into the world the ripened fruits of maturity.

Originative Thought Shapes Your Destiny We now shall turn over the several faults in the constitution at this period of life; and the diseases rising from them. Each of us has the capacity to render some service to our fellow man. Be they much or little, distinguished or humble, the good deeds we perform are the fruits, which our lives were expected to produce for humanity. Nevertheless, our capacities will remain asleep in our souls unless they are encouraged to develop, for they are the seeds the Lord placed in our beings at birth, and we must prepare the soil for them to germinate and yield the fullness of their promise. Evangelos Christou, Professor of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida, wrote,

Validity in psychology can be seen as resting on three different possible foundations. One is on logic, the second is on experiment, and the third is on meaning. If your psychology rests on logic, then it’s going to be deductive. … If your psychology rests on experiment, it’s going to be more physicalistic and empirical, potentially behaviouristic. But if it rests on meaning, then psyche can be the focus.

One of the questions, which every young person ought to ask himself, is, “Will I develop sufficiently to yield some precious fruit at the time of my harvest?” Am I storing up a fund of knowledge about man and the world to draw upon in later years? Am I imbibing the thoughts of great masters from whom I may find guidance in my own tasks in life? Do I offer my mind the stimulation of diverse ideas, the exhilaration of the uninhibited search for truth? This is how we prepare the garden of our lives so that the precious seeds imbedded there shall germinate and come to fruition.

Being a Good-luck Charm

Being a Good-luck Charm No material can possess all of these qualities and thus some compromises must be made. From this it appears, that a body reduced to powder can be thrown but to a very small distance, the resistivity being cracking, because the bodies in motion are but small a fowler who shoots with minuscule shot, is reasonable that the charge can carry it but a short way, if compared to the distance to which a bullet would go.

If the facts sometimes seem obscure, it is because they are cloaked in a “disguise” in order to outflow the censor. The key to deputation is finding people that know the functionality of requisite tasks, but that also know how to conform to particular procedures.

Next are considered in order the following topics: The objectiveness of mental contents, rational contents, and selfhood, and the all-embracing philosophic implications of the respective theories. Real, constructive mental power lies in the originative thought that shapes your destiny, and your hour-by-hour mental behavior produces power for change in your life. Formulate a train of thought on which to ride. The nobility of your living as well as your happiness depends upon the centering in which that train of thought is going.

Their ship’s company remaining healthy has amply rewarded those who have had the doggedness to make their men practice it for their trouble. If it becomes otherwise, it is uncorrupted. In proportionality as our inwards life fails, we go more incessantly and urgently to the post-office. So much for being a good-luck charm.

Barren men whose lives contain no nourishment for the fruit of the human soul are pathetic indeed. They are as pathetic as the barren trees, as the barren earth, which can only produce weeds.

O God, do Thou watch over our youth and guide it to make the ways of its spring a prelude to a bounteous harvest.

Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #17: Parable of Stingy in Teaching – Buddhist Teaching on Compassion

Zen Koan #17: Parable of Stingy in Teaching - Buddhist Teaching on Compassion The potential for Buddhahood is already within your own nature. However, for the reason that the Dharma body of the Buddha has no self, all sentient beings are identical to this body. Bearing witness has to be done by first entering the state of not knowing. However, as soon as you reach this stage, leave it behind. This uncanny fact—radical individuality within the context of shared understanding—seems to be an indelible feature of Zen.

No matter where they ambulate, they step into shit. When you first set out to practice, you will definitely have a goal in mind. However, today the sitting went very poorly. Don’t pay attention to any phenomenon that occurs to the body; if you are concerned with it, problems will arise. Your mind is at rest within activity. To him it would be ideal if they would just do their job and not have to eat. In the end, you will not have achieved a concentrated mind but an attached mind. There is no affirming, no hope of gaining something back, no probing for gratitude, and certainly no probing for control, influence, or potency.

Precisely for the reason that we want to acquire the Buddha’s insight and merits, we are unable to perceive Buddha nature. The most important thing in practice is to be natural and spontaneous.

Zen Koan: “Stingy in Teaching” Parable

A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.

“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”

“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”

“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.

When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a begining, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive instruction.

Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat your patients with kindness. That is Zen.”

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A phsisician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of your patients.”

It was not clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on the forth visit he complained: “My friend told me that when one learns Zen one loses his fear of death. Each time I come here you tell me to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you anymore.”

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind-enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued in concentration for another yet and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern of life and death.

Then he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

Buddhist Insight on Compassion Ends Separation

One of the fundamental points of the spiritual journey is to endure along the path. After the Buddha was enlightened, he was walking down the road in a very happy state. His compassion terminated the separation. Therefore, you take the attitude that you are willing to dedicate yourself to others. You’re still working with the breath, all these states come, and you try to hold them. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World,

The universe is full of beings, those you know and those who will be forever strangers. The world is made up of those you care for, those who you are indifferent to, and those you fear or dislike. With those you love and care for, your compassion is often unhesitating; you real out to console, support, and encourage without reservation. With those who are strangers, your response may vary. … You listen again to the anguish of the person you resent and find that your history of struggle with him is released, as the hardness of your heart begins to soften. Suddenly you are present in a new way – free of prejudice and fear. It is as if your heart has expanded, revealing all of life in one organism.

Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #16: Parable of Not Far from Buddhahood – Buddhist Teaching on Reality

Zen Koan #16: Parable of Not Far from Buddhahood - Buddhist Teaching on Reality The realization of a Zen koan includes a somatic (non-verbal) constituent with variable levels of cognition, and occasionally the understanding includes some emotional aspects. Although the realization includes one or more of these three constituents, no single one of the three is essential to the experience of insight. That’s the kind of role model who embodies the warrior commitment.

Making time for friendship to develop—persevering with the challenges that relationship inevitably brings—respects the value that community plays on our path. These two lines are speaking of the limitlessness of space. But if we fail to optically discern that a merely conventional, superficial purification is very much homogeneous to groping in the dark without the erudition of the import of ease, our spiritual horizon will draw itself within narrow limits like a snail retiring within the shell, and we may lose our pristine, intrinsic, spontaneous liberation and tranquility, which belong to the mind by its own constitution. As opposed to the pure fruition, approach where it is said that primordially here is nothing to purify. We may put ourselves under a nonessential yoke, moving only within a prescribed circle.

There is a paradox here: a universal orientation and an appropriation of the essence of our particular Zen traditions. As perception is free from conception, it is unconfused.

Zen Koan: “Not Far from Buddhahood” Parable

A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: “Have you ever read the Christian Bible?”

“No, read it to me,” said Gasan.

The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: “And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these… Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

Gasan said: “Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man.”

The student continued reading: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

Gasan remarked: “That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood.”

Buddhist Insight on Reality, Practice, and Path

In Zen Buddhism, if one is to do well, it must be done in the minute particulars. It’s true about jobs too; there is not the perfect job. That is how one should think about reality. The flower engagement has no form in practice and path. This set of strategies, if it’s too strong, you can rather cool it out a little by raising energy when you feel yourself being too sleepy or dull, or by working with mercy when the anger is too strong to just witness. The American Buddhist author Claude Whitmyer writes in Mindfulness and Meaningful Work,

All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher that the religious institutions originally worked with: reality. Reality-insight says get a sense of immediate politics and history, get control of your own time; master the twenty four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick – don’t let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our ‘practice’ which will put us on a ‘path’ – it is our path.

Posted in Faith and Religion

The Divine Source of All Life

The Divine Source of All Life

Everything is Ordained by God’s Providence

The Divine Source of All Life The water that runs through the faucet does not originate in it. The faucet is only the last link in a channel through which it flows into my home. My life is like that too.

I conceive thoughts. I am inspired by visions. I commit my energies to tasks of one kind or another. However, none of these originates in me. There is a spring out of which wells forth in unending abundance the physical and spiritual power that motivates the universe. We do not initiate the will, the purpose, the direction of the underlying scheme of life on earth, but we are its instruments, who are given some opportunity to cooperate with the world’s purpose, and to implement it. My muscle and my brain are the final links in a channel that draws its precious elements from the divine source of all life.

The literal test of friendly relationship is: Can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you relish together those moments of life that are absolutely simple? They are the moment’s people looks back on at the end of life and number as their most sanctified experiences.

Shall the faucet complain that it can contain only a tiny quantity of water? Shall I complain that only a tiny portion of life’s assets resides in me? The abundance does not have to be in the faucet, nor does it have to be in me. There is an unending fountain from which more will flow, and it will reach me when I am ready for it.

And this was known to the ancients, for lactations assures us, that a globe filled with water, would arouse a fire even in the thick of winter, which he thought still the more surprising.

God’s Providence Moves to Achieve the Designs it Has for Man

Our reliance upon providence As long as we are caught up in incessantly looking for certainty and happiness, rather than honoring the taste and smell and quality of exactly what is happening, as long as we are always running away from uncomfortableness, we are going to be caught in a wheel of unhappiness and disappointment, and we will feel weaker and weaker.

These concerns were found upon institutionally held spiritual convictions. It is no surprise, then, as the great masters have pointed out, that to uphold mindfulness for as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea accumulates more merit than years of practicing generousness, discipline, and austerity. The most valuable things in life are not measured in pecuniary terms. The genuinely important things are not houses and lands, stocks and bonds, automobiles and real estate, but friendships, trust, confidence, empathy, mercy, love and faith. Discussing the stoics, the Swiss-born British author and philosopher Alain de Botton once wrote,

“Stoicism” was a philosophy that flourished for some 400 years in Ancient Greece and Rome, gaining widespread support among all classes of society. It had one overwhelming and highly practical ambition: to teach people how to be calm and brave in the face of overwhelming anxiety and pain.

We still honour this school whenever we call someone “stoic” or plain “philosophical” when fate turns against them: when they lose their keys, are humiliated at work, rejected in love or disgraced in society. Of all philosophies, Stoicism remains perhaps the most immediately relevant and useful for our uncertain and panicky times.

Many hundreds of philosophers practiced Stoicism but two figures stand out as our best guides to it: the Roman politician, writer and tutor to Nero, Seneca [4–65 CE]; and the kind and magnanimous Roman Emperor (who philosophised in his spare time while fighting the Germanic hordes on the edges of the Empire), Marcus Aurelius [121–180 CE]. Their works remain highly readable and deeply consoling, ideal for sleepless nights, those breeding grounds for runaway terrors and paranoia.

The same holds true in the unnatural classes; the greater the reason, the more unmanageable it is to discover the lie. Out of these two tendencies flow good and evil, which thus reside, in variable measure, to be sure, in every individual as part of his indigenous equipment for life? Hot air is reckoned exceedingly prejudicial to health. We can domesticate the energy of mindfulness while we walk, while we respire, while we work, while we wash the dishes or wash our clothes. In addition, you have to interpret the history to really understand the ethnic implication. For this reason, comedy is not easily transferred from one age or country to another. They came to a street without corner and turned right. Many, like the mine countermeasures undertaking, still had a long way to gothic was high-tech stuff that required lots of research and development.

Posted in Faith and Religion

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.

Posted in Faith and Religion

The Twelve Apostles: Jesus’ Dearest and Closest Companions

The Twelve Apostles in Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper

The Gospels record that Jesus had many disciples, from whom he chose a dozen to be his hand-picked affiliates. He called this group “the Twelve.”

The term apostle comes from the Greek word “apostolos” which means, “one who is sent out.” The twelve apostles abandoned of their home, family, and all else for the sake of spreading the “Good News.” To the twelve apostles, Jesus gave the power to cast out evil, to heal, and to preach his teachings.

Jesus instilled in his apostles commitment to one particular task: to announce the “Good News,” the news of the coming kingdom of God. Jesus said to the apostles, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”

The apostles lived in poverty, carried no money, accepted any hospitality and generosity offered to them, and shared the nomadic way of life with Jesus. They thus were able to focus unhindered to their task as his selected messengers. No apostle looked back to his old life with regret.

The list of the disciples of Jesus who comprised the Twelve appears in all three synoptic gospels in the Bible:

The lists are matching:

  • Peter/Simon (sometimes called Cephas) and his brother Andrew,
  • James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
  • Philip,
  • Bartholomew (Nathanael in John’s gospel),
  • Matthew (or Levi) the tax collector,
  • Thomas Didymus (” the Twin”),
  • James, the son of Alphaeus,
  • Simon the Zealot,
  • Thaddaeus, the son of James, sometimes called Lebbaeus, and
  • Judas Iscariot.

The Twelve were a set group who remained closest to Jesus. After the death of Judas Iscariot, the group of twelve was maintained by choosing Matthias because he accompanied Jesus throughout his entire ministry. Until their deaths, the new twelve continued to carry out Jesus’ work.

The Twelve Apostles: Jesus' Dearest and Closest Companions The number twelve corresponded to that of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. This was a purposeful choice: Jesus assured the Twelve that at the time of reckoning, their reward would be to sit on twelve thrones and to judge the twelve tribes.

Jesus’ specially chosen disciples—his Twelve Apostles—carried his Word to the people, building the foundation of early Christianity. Nevertheless who were the men who dedicated their lives and their souls to this sacred task?

The Twelve Apostles series is a wonderful introduction to Jesus’ dearest and closest companions, and the important mission that bound them into an everlasting brotherhood.

  1. Apostle Peter
  2. Apostle Andrew
  3. Apostle James the Elder
  4. Apostle John the Evangelist
  5. Apostle Matthew
  6. Apostle Philip
  7. Apostle Bartholomew
  8. Apostle Jude Thaddeus
  9. Apostle Simon, the Zealot
  10. Apostle James the Younger
  11. Apostle Thomas
  12. Apostles Judas and Matthias
Posted in Faith and Religion

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.””
Posted in Faith and Religion