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Zen Koan #41: Parable of Joshu’s Zen – Buddhist Teaching on Being with Disappointment

Zen Koan #41: Parable of Joshu's Zen - Buddhist Teaching on Being with Disappointment Our struggle is obligatory, but it is eventually just our inclination to be present that counts and that this is the true effort of the way. Glad to know that you have time to meditate. In a country like America, where people can do so many things, and where there are so many distractions, to meditate is not easy. One gets older doing this and that, finding no real satisfaction in anything. Coming to accept that there is nothing wrong with me has been a very important part of growing up.

How can one be certain that there was a Teacher known as the Buddha? We present everything to the object of our surrendering. The basic act of surrender does not involve the worship of an external power. Rather it means working together with inspiration, so that one becomes an open vessel into which knowledge can be poured. You may feel liberated. If you do this, you are grasping the false. For instance, suppose you endeavor to clear a blocked pipe by pushing another object into it.

You can see the tip of each blade of grass and the outline of every leaf. The person who is seeking to attain is separate from the attainment, the object of his search. All of your actions will boomerang back to you and you will have to take the consequences.

Zen Koan: “Joshu’s Zen” Parable

Joshu began the study of Zen when he was sixty years old and continued until he was eighty, when he realized Zen.

He taught from the age of eighty until he was one hundred and twenty.

A student once asked him: “If I haven’t anything in my mind, what shall I do?”

Joshu replied: “Throw it out.”

“But if I haven’t anything, how can I throw it out?” continued the questioner.

“Well,” said Joshu, “then carry it out.”

Buddhist Insight on Being With Disappointment

Wisdom is also this development of patience, love, or constancy that you go through so many cycles. Unfortunately, the truth dealt with by science is only a partial one. By looking for complexities of developing and perfecting within the primordial unstructured presence of the nature and disenchantment, the essence without accepting and rejecting will not be seen. The American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck writes in Nothing Special: Living Zen,

When we refuse to work with our disappointment, we break the Precepts: rather than experience the disappointment, we resort to anger, greed, gossip, criticism. Yet it’s the moment of being that disappointment which is fruitful; and, if we are not willing to do that, at least we should notice that we are not willing. The moment of disappointment in life is an incomparable gift that we receive many times a day if we’re alert. This gift is always present in anyone’s life, the moment when “It’s not the way I want it.”

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Zen Koan #40: Parable of In Dreamland – Buddhist Teaching on Loving Our Humanness

Zen Koan #40: Parable of In Dreamland - Buddhist Teaching on Loving Our Humanness Just as gainsaying, the linear conception of time establishes an incipient area of ethical responsibility, so in taking up this responsibility we locate ourselves more entirely and firmly in history. On retreat, you are living with many people, which may create an uncomfortable environment. It is from this particular viewpoint that the rationale for this interpretation has developed. To paraphrase lines three and four: As soon as you discard your likes and dislikes, the Way will immediately appear before you.

At the end, recite some males while visualizing that the beams emitted from the prayer wheel purify all the sufferings and obscurations of the sentient beings of the six realms. These absorb into the prayer wheel and all sentient beings, including you, are then liberated, actualizing the whole path and becoming the Compassion Buddha. Others are too relaxed. There are two possible interpretations of the line “One thought for ten thousand years.”

One is that the mind simply does not move. Perhaps you are having a miserable time from day one. Eventually they are married and are very happy together. This concept can be found in both oriental and western philosophy. Indeed, practice can make you more mature, tranquil, and stable.

Zen Koan: “In Dreamland” Parable

“Our schoolmaster used to take a nap every afternoon,” related a disciple of Soyen Shaku. “We children asked him why he did it and he told us: ‘I go to dreamland to meet the old sages just as Confucius did.’ When Confucius slept, he would dream of ancient sages and later tell his followers about them.

“It was extremely hot one day so some of us took a nap. Our schoolmaster scolded us. ‘We went to dreamland to meet the ancient sages the same as Confucius did,’ we explained. ‘What was the message from those sages?’ our schoolmaster demanded. One of us replied: ‘We went to dreamland and met the sages and asked them if our schoolmaster came there every afternoon, but they said they had never seen any such fellow.'”

Buddhist Insight on Loving Our Humanness

In Zen Buddhism, these thoughts can cause your discriminating mode of apprehension of the object, the mind’s being too tight, to lower or slacken somewhat whereby you are better able to stay on the object of observation in humanness. With respect to one object, therefore, as you get used to understanding its non-inherent nature, not only is it impossible at that time to generate love for humanness. The American clinical psychologist John Welwood, who frequently writes about the integration of psychological and spiritual concepts, writes in Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships,

Although perhaps only saints and buddhas embody absolute love completely, every moment of working with the challenges of relative human love brings a hint of this divine possibility into our life. As the child of heaven and earth, you are a mix of infinite openness and finite limitation. This means that you are both wonderful and difficult at the same time. You are flawed, you are stuck in old patterns, you become carried away with yourself. Indeed, you are quite impossible in many ways. And still, you are beautiful beyond measure. For the core of what you are is fashioned out of love, the potent blend of openness, warmth, and clear, transparent presence. Boundless love always manages somehow to sparkle through your limited form.

Bringing absolute love into human form involves learning to hold the impossibility of ourselves and others in the way that the sky holds clouds – with gentle spaciousness and equanimity. The sky can do this because its openness is so much vaster than the clouds that it doesn’t find them the least bit threatening. Holding our imperfections in this way allows us to see them as trail makers of the work-in-progress that we are, rather than as impediments to love or happiness. Then we can say, “Yes, everyone has relative weaknesses that cause suffering, yet everyone also possesses absolute beauty, which far surpasses these limitations. Let us melt down the frozen, fearful places by holding them in the warmth of tenderness and mercy.”

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Zen Koan #39: Parable of Sleeping in the Daytime – Buddhist Teaching on Surrendering to what is

Zen Koan #39: Parable of Sleeping in the Daytime - Buddhist Teaching on Surrendering to what is The Dharma being the collection of Universal Laws, is worthy of knowing whether one is a Buddhist or not. However, to follow your own nature, in this sense, is not the same as following your personal habits or whims, as in the expression “be natural?” Nature here refers to your self-nature, or Buddha nature. Maybe the light will only stay on for a minute, but at least you can see some of the problem areas. You may be disturbed by the noise of children, visits of friends or stress at work.

Opposition implicatively insinuates duality. Everything has been decided already in store consciousness. At that moment, we are caught; we are not free people. Our sense of beauty, our sense of liking or disliking, has been decided very certainly and very discreetly on the level of store consciousness. The enlightened individual does not see things as bad, good, coarse, or fine. If so, why are we unable to attain it? Another reason why we cannot see our Buddha nature is that we are burdened with ideas.

Do not be fearful when your mind is scattered; just recognize that it is temporary. The unity of self and universe is a joyous experience. The next day there was heavy rain and the river rose to a higher level. Thus, we cannot verbalize of one or two.

Zen Koan: “Sleeping in the Daytime” Parable

The master Soyen Shaku passed from this world when he was sixty-one years of age. Fulfilling his life’s work, he left a great teaching, far richer than that of most Zen masters. His pupils used to sleep in the daytime during midsummer, and while he overlooked this he himself never wasted a minute.

When he was but twelve years old he was already studying Tendai philosophical speculation. One summer day the air had been so sultry that little Soyen stretched his legs and went to sleep while his teacher was away.

Three hours passed when, suddenly waking, he heard his master enter, but it was too late. There he lay, sprawled across the doorway.

“I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon,” his teacher whispered, stepping carefully over Soyen’s body as if it were that of some distinguished guest. After this, Soyen never slept again in the afternoon.

Buddhist Insight on Surrendering to What is

Giving with an expectation of reward is giving, but not the perfection of giving. Again, the prince Buddha began to think profoundly and ask himself if it really was so, that all the attractiveness and beauty of the shows of life all have something at the back of them that is not pretty and beautiful at all. This is the natural state, eternally unborn. Then out of our fear comes aggression through surrendering to what is. The American clinical psychologist John Welwood, who frequently writes about the integration of psychological and spiritual concepts, writes in Ordinary Magic, Everyday Life as Spiritual Path,

Hard as this may be to grasp, the Buddha, or awakened mind in each person, is whatever we are experiencing in the moment – the wind in the trees, the traffic on the freeway, the confusion we are feeling – if we but surrender to it. Surrendering to it means experiencing it fully, giving it our full attention, without struggling against it or trying to make it something other than it is. In opening to what is, without strategies or agendas, we touch what cannot be grasped – a moment of nowness, sharp and thin as a razor’s edge. And walking on this razor’s edge cuts through the struggle between self and other that separates us from a more immediate presence to life.

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A Dalai Lama Reading List

The 14th Dalai Lama, Lhamo Thondup, Gejong Tenzin Gyatsho (also Tenzin Gyatso,) is called Sku ‘dun (pronounced “Kundun”) out of respect, which means literally “the presence before us.” He spent his early years between the Potala and the Nor bu gling kha summer palace, studying Buddhism under the supervision of scholarly Dge lugs pa monks. This altered suddenly in 1950 when, at the age of fifteen, a political predicament forced the Tibetan government to ask him to undertake both political and spiritual authority.

When Mao Zedong declared Tibet an integral part of the Chinese homeland and China’s Red Army marched in to Tibet, easily defeating the badly equipped Tibetans in 1950 at on the traditional border between central and eastern Tibet. In despondency, Tibet’s political leaders invested the young Dalai Lama with full political authority. In 1951 China forced a totally conquered Tibet to sign the Seventeen Point Agreement in which it was declared that Tibet had always been a part of China.

The Dalai Lama finished his traditional studies in 1959. Soon after, when the Chinese army suppressed a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa protesting tightening Chinese control, the Dalai Lama fled as a refugee to India. He was eventually followed by about 100,000 of his people. Now he travels widely, giving explanations of Buddhist teaching and exchanging ideas with scientists and leaders of other faiths.

  • 'The Art of Happiness' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 1594488894) The Art of Happiness (2009) … In the Dalai Lama’s best-selling tome, he sits down with Dr. Howard Cutler to investigate the keys to happiness in the face of life’s complications. From anxiety, anger, and discouragement to relationships and loss, the Dalai Lama presents how we can find inner peace amongst the problems of modern life.
  • Ethics for the New Millennium (2001) … The Dalai Lama offers a moral philosophy based on universal rather than religious principles. Its definitive goal is happiness for every individual, regardless of religious beliefs. Reasoning for basic human goodness, he points out that the number of violent or dishonest people is tiny compared to the great majority who wish others well.
  • For the Benefit of All Beings: A Commentary on The Way of the Bodhisattva (2009) … The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva is one of the best-loved texts of Mahayana Buddhism and a distinct preference of the Dalai Lama’s own Buddhist tradition. With this classic text as his guide, he shows how all of us can develop a good heart and aspire to become enlightened for the sake of all beings.
  • The Essence of the Heart Sutra (2005) … The Heart Sutra is a core text of Mahayana Buddhism, declaring its central doctrine that all things are empty of self. The Dalai Lama offers his interpretation on the Heart Sutra and places the text in historical and philosophical context. Since the Dalai Lama’s Gelugpa school concentrates in the philosophy of emptiness, this is an authoritative discussion of one of the world’s foundational religious texts.
  • 'A Profound Mind' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 0385514689) A Profound Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life (2012) … In Buddhism, wisdom is defined as the realization of non-self. The Dalai Lama unpacks the Buddhist view of emptiness and explains why it helps us lead a more meaningful, happy, and loving life. Using the arduous logic for which he is famous, he takes us on a step-by-step journey to understanding the reality of unselfishness.
  • My Land and My People (1997) and Freedom in Exile (2008) … The Dalai Lama’s first autobiography, My Land and My People, was published in 1962, just three years after he reinstated himself in India and before he became an international celebrity. His second autobiography, Freedom in Exile, was released in 1990. The Dalai Lama regards both as accurate and reissued My Land and My People in 1997 to coincide with the release of the film Kundun, saying, “The sense of immediacy and urgency in my writing then would be difficult to recreate today.”
  • The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2006) … Discussing Darwinism, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, meditation, and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws substantial parallels between the scientific and contemplative examinations of reality. His conclusion is that these different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.
  • Toward a True Kinship of Faiths (2011) … Interfaith harmony, the Dalai Lama argues, does not require accepting that all religions are fundamentally the same or that they lead to the same place. He shows how believers can be pluralist with regard to other religions without compromising their commitment to their own faith.
  • 'Beyond Religion' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 054784428X) Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2012) … The Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most famous religious leaders, yet he often supports a nonreligious path to an ethical, happy, and truly spiritual life. Transcending the religion wars, he outlines a system of ethics for our shared world and makes a stirring appeal for deep appreciation of our common humanity.
  • Stages of Meditation (2003) … The Dalai Lama explains the principles of meditation in a practice-oriented format especially suited to Westerners. Topics include the nature of mind, developing compassion and loving-kindness, and how to establish a union of calm abiding and insight. He draws on a favorite text that he calls “a key that opens the door to all other major Buddhist scriptures.”
  • Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection (2004) … The Dzogchen teachings are the heart essence of the ancient Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Exploring this mysterious subject in print for the first time, the Dalai Lama offers comprehensions into one of Buddhism’s most profound systems of meditation. He discusses both the philosophic foundations and practices of Dzogchen and explains why it is called “the pinnacle of all vehicles.”
  • How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life (2003) … Buddhism is often described as the practice of samadhi, prajna, and shila—meditation, wisdom, and morality. The Dalai Lama breaks down the Buddhist path into a series of distinct steps we can take to practice these three components of enlightenment. This accessible book will help you open your heart, refrain from doing harm, and maintain mental tranquility.
  • 'The World of Tibetan Buddhism' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 0861710975) The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice (2005) … In this book, the Dalai Lama delivers a survey of the entire Buddhist path that is both concise and profound, accessible and engaging. He writes, “I think an overview of Tibetan Buddhism for the purpose of providing a comprehensive framework of the path may prove helpful in deepening your understanding and practice.”
  • Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions (2017) … The Dalai Lama joins with American Buddhist nun Thubten Chodron to map out the convergences and the divergences between the Mahayana and Theravada schools of Buddhism. They examine the different ways these traditions treat foundational Buddhist principles such as the four noble truths, meditation practice, and the meaning of enlightenment.
  • How to See Yourself as You Really Are (2007) … The Dalai Lama explains how we recognize and dispel misguided notions of self and embrace the world from a more realistic—and loving—perspective. Through step-by-step exercises, The Dalai Lama helps readers see the world as it actually exists and explains how, through the interconnection of meditative concentration and love, true altruistic enlightenment is attained.
  • An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life (2002) … How does one actually become a compassionate person? What are the mechanisms by which a selfish heart is transformed into a generous heart? In An Open Heart, the Dalai Lama writes simply and powerfully about the everyday Buddhist practice of compassion, offering a clear and practical introduction to the Buddhist path to enlightenment.
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Zen Koan #38: Parable of Gisho’s Work – Buddhist Teaching on Healing Presence

Zen Koan #38: Parable of Gisho's Work - Buddhist Teaching on Healing Presence Zen Buddhism stresses intimacy, while in Theravada and Tibetan forms of Zen Buddhism you will find “mindfulness” and “compassion” to be the salient terms. Yet the ultimately mindful is personally most intimate some of us close space by hammering our point through; others do it by trying to smooth the waters. Recedes are like road repair. We should carry our patience around as if the hermit crab carries its shell.

Our patience will also protect us and help us survive! Please understand that the hermit crab does not live like a parasite, it lives like an orchid. Some Westerners question whether Zen Buddhism is a religion at all. It is identically tantamount with the mind. Probably Zen Buddhism, although the evidence is circumstantial. There is a suggestion that the most likely arrival of the first Buddhists in this continent may have been with the armada of Cheng Ho in the 15th century.

The spiritual friend who teaches the instructions of the four immeasurable is the dominant condition. This is difficult to accomplish without practice. Breath should be smooth, natural, and deep in the belly. When we think we have gotten something, we have not really gotten it and when we think we have lost something, we have not really lost it.

Zen Koan: “Gisho’s Work” Parable

Gisho was ordained as a nun when she was just ten years old. She received training just as the little boys did. When she reached the age of sixteen she traveled from one Zen master to another, studying with them all.

She remained three years with Unzan, six years with Gukei, but was unable to obtain a clear vision. At last she went to the master Inzan.

Inzan showed her no distinction at all on account of her sex. He scolded her like a thunderstorm. He cuffed he to awaken her inner nature.

Gisho remained with Inzan thirteen years, and then she found that which she was seeking!

In her honor, Inzan wrote a poem:

This nun studied thirteen years under my guidance.
In the evening she considered the deepest koans,
In the morning she was wrapped in other koans.
The Chinese nun Tetsuma surpassed all before her,
And since Mujaku none has been so genuine as this Gisho!
Yet there are many more gates for her to pass through.
She should receive still more blows from my iron fist.

After Gisho was enlightened she went to the province of Banshu, started her own Zen temple, and taught two hundred other nuns until she passed away one year in the month of August.

Buddhist Insight on A Healing Presence

We each create our own misery and unhappiness, and even regulate the degree to which we suffer by the prospects we set up, and by the strength and inflexibility with which we hold those expectations. The healing presence is a step in renunciation. Don’t worry about this, try to keep your mind in the present. If everything seems to become indifferent, arouse kindness and meditate on that. The American clinical psychologist John Welwood, who frequently writes about the integration of psychological and spiritual concepts, writes in Ordinary Magic, Everyday Life as Spiritual Path,

In opening to our experience, without holding onto any story about it, we create a compassionate space that allows new parts of ourselves to unfold, and old parts that were cut off to enter the stream of awareness and be included. We can only be healthy and whole when our awareness circulates freely through all aspects of our being. Unconditional presence promotes this kind of circulation, which is the essence of health.

When children are in pain, what they want is this kind of presence, rather than band-aids or consolations. They want to know we are with them in what they are experiencing. That’s what our wounded places most need from us as well – just to be there with them. They don’t need us to say, “Things are getting better every day.” The full presence of our being is healing in and of itself.

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Zen Koan #37: Parable of Publishing the Sutras – Buddhist Teaching on Silence and Simplicity

Zen Koan #37: Parable of Publishing the Sutras - Buddhist Teaching on Silence and Simplicity Zen Buddhism is not a religion according to the dictionary meaning of the word religion for the reason that it has no center in god, as is the case in all other religions. Rigorously verbalizing, Zen Buddhism is a system of philosophy co-ordinated with a code of morality, physical and pyretic. The goal in view is the extinction of suffering and death. To be attached to the one can either take the form of pure materialism or monotheism.

Like those who have narrow views and only optically discern what is in front of their ocular perceivers, it is a shallow and circumscribed perspective. However, for the reason that you have a concept of emptiness, your mind is still subtly present. This is for the reason that in the reality of totality, there is no gain and no loss. Many psychological traits were associated with having longer telomeres, including greater mindfulness skills, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness.

How do you return to the root? By letting go of all words, thoughts, eliminating all grasping, and rejection. If you spend your time hoping that a pleasant experience will return, or trying to avoid pain, you will become more aware of the passing of time. A tree should be watered very gradually as it is growing.

Zen Koan: “Publishing the Sutras” Parable

Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.

Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.

It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. Famine followed. Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.

Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.

The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

Buddhist Insight on Silence and Simplicity

Buddhists maintain the freedom of the individual to choose. You could look into the situation in terms of cause and effect and gain some understanding of it through simplicity. In that, way much that is to be surpassed will be transcended and good dharma that are true and superb will be established. The intention is gentle, silence, but the practice is very harsh. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

In the search for simplicity we can learn to explore the space between thoughts. Listening closely to our mind, the thoughts begin to slow down. We discover that just as the out-breath is followed by a pause before the in-breath, there is also space between the thoughts. We learn to seek the gaps – the space between sounds, between sensations, between thoughts, and to explore the nature of these gaps. The gaps are the home of the mind, the limitless silence of the mind. Thoughts arise in that silence and fall back into silence. Exploring the nature of silence we begin to understand that it is not dependent on the absence of thought but is the prevailing sound that permeates all thought. Silence is profoundly simple – resisting nothing, wanting nothing, lacking in nothing yet present and complete in all moments.

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Zen Koan #36: Parable of Flower Shower – Buddhist Teaching on Cultivating Respect

Zen Koan #36: Parable of Flower Shower - Buddhist Teaching on Cultivating Respect People relish verbalizing, especially if they feel solitary. Those who incline to verbalize non-stop generally have arduousness with practice, and withal make it arduous for others to practice. In our Zen recede, verbalizing is verboten, but there are still some people who cannot resist covertly saying a few words. Others accolade the rule and abstain from verbalizing, but that does not designate that they are not verbalizing with themselves.

All day long, while they are sitting, they come up with a theme, and then carry on a conversation with themselves. They ruminate over all sorts of issues. There is still a duality. However, someone who is hit by an adept monitor will feel very good and consider the board a great help. If this is so, it should be very facile to progress in the practice. You should keep your attention entirely on practice, without trying to attain any results. Even if there seems to be very little we can do, we can still help people by our presence of mind and by what we project out. We can affect the environment for the better.

Even though the method is not real, it is even worse to be suspended in a nebulous frame of mind. In the owner’s mind, this was a grave defect. You are truly tired and uncomfortable.

Zen Koan: “Flower Shower” Parable

Subhuti was Buddha’s disciple. He was able to understand the potency of emptiness, the viewpoint that nothing exists except in its relationship of subjectivity and objectivity.

One day Subhuti, in a mood of sublime emptiness, was sitting under a tree. Flowers began to fall about him.

“We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness,” the gods whispered to him.

“But I have not spoken of emptiness,” said Subhuti.

“You have not spoken of emptiness, we ahve not heard emptiness,” responded the gods. “This is the true emptiness.” And blossoms showered upon Subhuti as rain.

Buddhist Insight on Cultivating Respect

One who seeks the true perfection of happiness must also attend to the cultivation of the mind and cultivate respect, according to Zen Buddhism. Repeatedly they would have to go through a course of desolation endured on earth to get happiness in heaven, and then the same again, always and always, lacking any end. Insanity in this case is giving up logical arguments, giving up concept. The American vipassana teacher Jack Kornfield writes in The Wise Heart, Buddhist Psychology for the West,

Whether practiced in a forest monastery or in the West, Buddhist psychology begins by deliberately cultivating respect, starting with ourselves. When we learn to rest in our own goodness, we can see the goodness more clearly in others. As our sense of respect and care is developed, it serves us well under most ordinary circumstances. It becomes invaluable in extremity…

When we bring respect and honor to those around us, we open a channel to their own goodness. I have seen this truth in working with prisoners and gang members, When they experience someone who respects and values them, it gives them the ability to admire themselves, to accept and acknowledge the good inside. When we see what is holy in another, whether we meet them in our family or our community, at a business meeting or in a therapy session, we transform their hearts.

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Zen Koan #35: Parable of Every-Minute Zen – Buddhist Teaching on Compassion

Zen Koan #35: Parable of Every-Minute Zen - Buddhist Teaching on Compassion Meditation gives us the opportunity to have an open, compassionate attentiveness to whatever is going on. The meditative space is like the big sky— spacious, vast enough to accommodate anything that arises. Nothing much has really transpired in that period of time. In the actual human world, we can’t avoid the choice between good and bad, for the reason that there is no absolute level apart from the relative and compassionate levels.

Relative, compassionate, and absolute are ways of talking about the moral choices we make with these human bodies and minds, in an actual, lived, physical world. Having an equal mind means that there is no conception of relativity between things. To illustrate this, suppose you are walking along a road and it starts bearing to the right. What is the best approach?

Pay close attention to the method. Love inductively authorized as a payment is not love at all. They tell themselves that they could be doing so many other things at home, or furthering their career. Thoroughly enlightened people spontaneously help sentient beings in accordance with causes and conditions. The secret of all the teachings of Zen Buddhism is how to live in each moment, how to obtain absolute freedom moment after moment.

Zen Koan: “Every-Minute Zen” Parable

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others, after all learning all one can isn’t as easy as learning how to ask a girl out or how to ride ones bicycle. These are lessons that take the span of a decade to master. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wodden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.”

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Buddhist Insight on Compassion

In Zen Buddhism, everybody is trying to work out his or her artistic self-expression and compassion. In addition, after they had lived together for some time in married cheerfulness, the Queen became aware that the day was drawing near when she should bring forth a child. However, compassion also exterminates delusions. The intermediate Zen meditative state can last from a moment to seven days, depending on whether or not an appropriate compassion is found. It means learning skillful means not to be so caught up in things, not to be so attached. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

Compassion is not a quality to romanticize, idealize, or project into a future moment. Nurturing compassion does not depend upon personal perfection. We meet suffering, pain, and confusion every day of our lives. The homeless person on the street, the frail parent, the hurt child, the stressed executive, the alienated teenager. It is not easy to open our hearts to the bottomless depths of pain in the world. We hold in our hearts our own mortality and the mortality of others. All life is fragile; we live in a fragile world. health turns to illness, well-being to pain, safety to uncertainty, life to death; none of us can control the countless supports upon which our well-being rests. The moments of sorrow and confusion we meet are moments that invite us to cultivate a listening heart, to let go of separation, and to be present with every cell of our being. The difficult moments and encounters in our lives are the gateways of compassion. Our enemies are angels of compassion in disguise, inviting us to be present, to attend, and to receive. Here we discover for ourselves the healing, balancing power of compassion.

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Zen Koan #34: Parable of A Smile in His Lifetime – Buddhist Teaching on Cultivating Equanimity

Zen Koan #34: Parable of A Smile in His Lifetime - Buddhist Teaching on Cultivating Equanimity There is a Chinese novel called Monkey. It is a theory curiously at odds with the edifications of transformation held within great spiritual Zen traditions, and with the cognizance of countless people who explore those edifications in depth. At the heart of a vision of arousing is a simple truth—that just for the reason that something has a long history, it is not a life sentence. Our capability to be aroused in our lives designates that transformation is always possible. Do you understand?

Don’t worry if you don’t. However, this is still not Zen. This question is hard to answer. Are you killing any living beings? You must have sagacity. We are not supposed to ravage the world. You have to cerebrate care entirely about what results it might bring. When we go to the bathroom and turn on the sultry or cold dehydrogenates monoxide, even then we engender different effects.

However, the sooner you want to get results, the longer it will take to get anywhere. When your mind wanders to extraneous concerns, put them down as soon as they appear. Under these circumstances, it is almost impossible to attain a peaceful state of mind. This is not the attitude of the Buddha or the patriarchs. However, if you sneak up on it gradually, you can pretend it.

Zen Koan: “A Smile in His Lifetime” Parable

Mokugen was never known to smile until his last day on earth. When his time came to pass away he said to his faithful ones: “You have studied under me for more than ten years. Show me your real interpretation of Zen. Whoever expresses this most clearly shall be my successor and receive my robe and bowl.”

Everyone watched Mokugen’s severe face, but no one answered.

Encho, a disciple who had been with his teacher for a long time, moved near the bedside. He pushed forward the medicine cup a few inches. That was his answer to the command.

The teacher’s face became even more severe. “Is that all you understand?” he asked.

Encho reached out and moved the cup back again.

A beautiful smile broke over the features of Mokugen. “You rascal,” he told Encho. “You worked with me ten years and have not yet seen my whole body. Take the robe and bowl. They belong to you.”

Buddhist Insight on Cultivating Equanimity

Zen teachers of present and past have adeptly help the students notice how they view this world, and the life they are living. Thus, if one meditates with many skillful means, patience will be established without hindrance. Now, by means of practicing what is to be practiced, guarding is taught. Cultivating equanimity, the most delightful thing, it’s fantastic. The Japanese Zen priest and author Kosho Uchiyama writes in Opening the Hand of Thought,

Ordinarily, we spend all our time comparing and discriminating between this and that, always looking around fro something good to happen to us. And because of that, we become anxious and restless about everything. As long as we are able to imagine something better than what we have or who we are, it follows naturally that there could also be something worse. We are constantly pursued by misgivings that something bad will happen. In other words, as long as we live by distinguishing between the better way and the worse way, we can never find absolute peace such that whatever happens is all right. This anxiety or lack of peace of mind is like that felt by the Japanese high-school student aiming to succeed in the entrance exams.

When we let go of our thoughts that distinguish better from worse and instead see everything in terms of the Universal Self, we are able to settle upon a different attitude toward life – the attitude of magnanimous mind that whatever happens, we are living out Self which is only Self. Here a truly peaceful life unfolds.

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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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