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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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God is the Great Healer

Time May Be a Great Healer, but it’s a Terrible Beautician.

Time May Be a Great Healer “Time is a great healer.” You have often heard that, but have you ever paused to think how absurd a statement it is?

Time itself does not act. Only one who has a will, only one who has a mind and purpose of his own, can act. A healer is one who knows what pain is, who loves life and seeks to prolong and improve it. Time is an abstraction, the span of moments or of days within which actions occur. Therefore, time itself cannot heal us.

When we say, “Time is a great healer” we mean that apparently without man’s intervention our bodies and our spirits are mended. This is true. However, while man does not intervene, a great doctor, unseen to the human eye, does the work of healing. Our grief gradually recedes, the bruises in our skin disappear, and the ache in our hearts gives way. God who formed life endowed it with amazing recuperative powers. The process of recuperation takes time, but the restorer of health is He who is also the giver of life—Almighty God.

God is the great Healer and He heals in time.

Have you ever met a perfectly healthy person? I am certain that you have not, because such a person does not exist. Everyone suffers from some deficiency, from some impairment of one organ or another.

In addition, what is true of physical health is true of mental health. No life is perfectly serene, without some distress, without some grief.

We have already said that the air contained a variety of different substances, salts, metals, sculptures, and such-like; these when uniting with the surfaces of planetary bodies must naturally corrode them, as we see aqua forties, which is made of a mineral acid, rust iron.

Success Cannot Be Pursued; it Must Ensue

Success Cannot Be Pursued All the same, our failure to recognize this necessity often causes far more pain in the end. It prevents us from mourning our losses properly, submitting to uncomfortable medical tests and treatments, and removing splinters. In fact, our power to endure necessary pain and to delay satisfaction in general has been shown to be more strongly correlated with success than high IQ or even educational layer. Resiliency of this kind may, in fact, be the key to happiness.

Separate scales were created to ascertain for these apparent gender differences and, using the two separate scales, men and women did not differ in hostility. Even so, before we begin to assess the efforts of this flexible power, it will not be wrong to inquire from whence the power itself proceeds. The thing indeed recommends itself, and must do so to every person, whose heart is adequate two of the least tincture of compassion for such vast numbers of poor forlorn Indians.

Fledged affection, homage, devotion, does not easily convey itself. Its vocalization is low. It is modest and self-effacing; it lays in lying in wait and waits. Such is the mature fruit. Sometimes a life glides away, and finds it still ripening in the shade. The light inclinations of very young people are as dust compared to rocks. The Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl wrote about success in his treatise Man’s Search for Meaning:

Again and again I therefore admonish my students in Europe and America: Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.

That is encouraging to people who are afraid to start the recitation—to know that relating directly with your suffering is a doorway to welfare for yourself and others, rather than some kind of masochism. Thus then, continues Leibnitz, we have two kinds of forces; dead forces, which are as the weight multiplied by the velocity; and animated forces, which are as the weight multiplied by the squares of the velocity. Moreover, the people are powerless to do anything about it. Only people enjoying affluence, people on a run of good luck, make fun of such fallacies.

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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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Zen Koan #26: Parable of Trading Dialogue for Lodging – Buddhist Teaching on the Eyes of Love

Zen Koan #26: Parable of Trading Dialogue for Lodging - Buddhist Teaching on the Eyes of Love In our most tenebrous times of being disoriented or inundated, there is additionally sapience in reaching out to ask for avail. The mentors, sagacious friends, and guides who treasure our celebrity, are allies to call upon in the moments of greatest pain. However, if you go one step further into no mind, you cannot even be in the present. There is a saying that is useful for practitioners: “Put down the myriad thoughts.” Even if you convince yourself intellectually that everything is illusory, you may still have a lurking concept of the reality of things and be attached to them.

The feeling of resistance to the pain, the feeling of utter helplessness, and the feeling of hopelessness disappear. To respond appropriately to any given situation, an individual must have some understanding of that situation. A practitioner should not consider his own security. However, the effort to still your mind will cause it to become more active. There might be more placidity. Originally, you had to work very hard on your method, but when you get to the second level, everything flows naturally.

This does not mean that you do nothing, but that your mind is in a state of rest. Their minds are filled with thoughts of misery and a sense of failure.

Zen Koan: “Trading Dialogue for Lodging” Parable

Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live there, any wondering monk can remain in a Zen temple. If he is defeated, he has to move on.

In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together. The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had but one eye.

A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about the sublime teachings. The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take his place. “Go and request the dialogue in silence,” he cautioned.

So the young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down.

Shortly afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said: “Your young brother is a wonderful fellow. He defeated me.”

“Relate the dialogue to me,” said the elder one.

“Well,” explained the traveler, “first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and his followers, living the harmonious life. Then he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here.” With this, the traveler left.

“Where is that fellow?” asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.

“I understand you won the debate.”

“Won nothing. I’m going to beat him up.”

“Tell me the subject of the debate,” asked the elder one.

“Why, the minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes. Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended it!”

Buddhist Insight on Seeing With The Eyes of Love

In Zen Buddhism, it is quite likely that the mental faculty is most active at every crucial hour. If there’s confusion and doubt, to read something or to speak with someone—it just reminds you of another part of yourself that’s a counter to that, so then you come into enough stability to watch it. By the damp womb, it is fettered, in unbearable fearful stench. Practically anything useful can be given as a gift when seen with the eyes of love. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Teachings On Love,

When the energy of love is strong in us, we can send it to beings in all directions. But we must not think that love meditation is only an act of imagination – we might imagine our love as being like waves of sound or light, or like a pure, white cloud that forms slowly and gradually spreads out to envelop the whole world. A true cloud produces rain. Sound and light penetrate everywhere, and our love must do the same. We have to observe whether our mind of love is present in our actual contact with others. Practicing love meditation in the sitting position is only the beginning.

But it is an important beginning. We sit quietly and look deeply into ourselves. With practice, our love will increase naturally, becoming all-inclusive and all-embracing. As we learn to see with the eyes of love, we empty our minds of anger and hatred.

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The Significance of Weeds in the Garden

Why God Made Weeds

Why God Made Weeds A farmer once sighed after he had finished weeding his garden. His back was bent; the perspiration ran down his face. “If not for those cursed weeds,” he said to himself, “gardening would be such a joy. Why God made weeds is really beyond me.”

The farmer mused a little as he contemplated the heap of weeds he had pulled out. Suddenly one of the weeds spoke up. Its face was already pale and wilting, but it mustered enough strength to speak in self-defense.

“You should not speak ill of any of God’s creatures,” the little weed said. “You have given us a bad name and decried our presence in the world. We render you a thousand uses you may not be aware of. We tend your soil when you are not there to cultivate it. We prevent your precious earth from being washed away by the rain. We do not allow it to be carried away by the wind as dust. Moreover, do we not justify our existence even in your carefully cultivated garden? Your flowers would never be able to stand the elements, to survive the blowing winds and lashing rains, if we did not toughen them. In their skirmishes with us, they gain strength. When you enjoy their spectacle, remember that we had a part in their growth.

If a great part of humanity had their eyes thus tinctured, each would see objects different from his fellow, yet none would be sensitive of the mistake.

If even those weak forms of religion, mixed with so much wrongdoing, were significant to society; how much more, that reasonable and true worship of God which the gospel teaches? True religious belief introduces the idea of regular subjugation, by accustoming humankind to the awe of super ordinate power, in the divinity, joined with the esteem of superior wisdom and goodness.

The weed made a marked impression, and then although almost exhausted it continued in a peroration, “The vegetation you cultivate is like the people in your own world. They need some opposition to be toughened for the formidable business of living.”

The weed resumed its silence. The farmer straightened his back as he wiped his brow. A smile of satisfaction came over his face. He looked out on the field that was yet to be weeded, but he knew that weeding would no longer be a disagreeable task. They are fixed in a frame, which can interpolate their focal distance at pleasure, so that the same machine, which throws the combined reflected rays to a distance of two hundred feet, may, by the turn of a handle, be made to throw their united force upon an object not distant above twenty.

We Value Medicine for the Role Can Play in Promoting a Return to Health

Promoting a Return to Health The level to which a signal would alter the lives of our descendants depends on whether we could decipher any attached message. The assortment of sounds is innumerous; but because the ear cannot compare two sounds so as promptly to differentiate their discriminations when they exceed the proportionality of one and seven, musicians have been contented to confine all concordance within that compass, and allowed but seven notes in musical composition. Mark Rowlands The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness

According to many philosophers, happiness is intrinsically valuable. What they mean is that happiness is valuable for its own sake, not for the sake of anything else. Most of the things we value, we do so because of other things they can do for us. We value money, for example, only because of other things we can purchase with it: food, shelter, security, perhaps, some of us thing, even happiness. We value medicine not in itself but because of the role it can play in promoting a return to health. Money and medicine are instrumentally valuable, but they are not intrinsically valuable.

The honor and glory of the average man is that he is capable of following that enterprisingness; that he can respond internally to wise and noble things, and be led to them with his eyes open. He went from being a demanding boss to a very verbally opprobrious boss to a boss who would come in and throw things at you. In such moments, and in many early moments likewise, he reminds one of the approbatory spirits of Ronald Reagan and, like Reagan, reminds his listeners of the better angels of their nature. Various bitter wars were fought over the issue and the country changed hands a number of times, until 198 B.C.E., when by a decisive feat of arms, the Seleucid king added her to his kingdom.

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Zen Koan #25: Parable of Three Days More – Buddhist Teaching on Attention and Awareness

Zen Koan #25: Parable of Three Days More - Buddhist Teaching on Attention and Awareness A Zen master may seem insouciant, but behind superficial appearances, there is a solid substratum. However, the important thing is that the Dharma is universal. In that moment we have let go of the pathways of stories and speculation about what is happening, and have turned our attention to what is actual and true in each moment.

The practice of renunciation is essentially a celebration of simplicity some people approach retreat as if they were a caterpillar hoping to transform himself or herself into a beautiful butterfly. If you were elected president of the United States, would that be a success? Later on, you would most likely be criticized as a failure. You will not even be reborn in the heavens, not to mention be liberated from birth and death. We have all disappointed ourselves through being impatient at some time. There are many times in our life when we have to do, to go, to act.

Patience is not always staying still, not hurrying, not rushing. Everything has to be ready on time, and patience is the discipline and training to be able to achieve that objective. If there is no object, then what about a subject? When you enter deeply into this method, even though you may not be enlightened, you will not have any sense of self.

Zen Koan: “Three Days More” Parable

Suiwo, the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.

Suiwo gave him the problem: “Hear the sound of one hand.”

The pupil remained three years but could not pass this test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo. “I must return south in shame and embarrassment,” he said, “for I cannot solve my problem.”

“Wait one week more and meditate constantly,” advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. “Try for another week,” said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.

“Still another week.” Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They were without result. Then he said: “Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself.”

On the second day the pupil was enlightened.

Buddhist Insight on Attention and Awareness

According to Buddhist culture, duty supersedes rights through attention and awareness. To be mindful first means simply to come into the present—to pay attention with our senses, with our heart, with our physical body, with our ears, with our eyes, awareness, to what is essentially here in the present; the body, the heart and the mind. Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. The American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck writes in Nothing Special: Living Zen,

There’s an old Zen story: a student said to Master Ichu. please write for me something of great wisdom.” Master Ichu picked up his brush and wrote one word: “Attention.” The student said, “Is that all?” The master wrote, “Attention, Attention.” ..

For “attention” we could substitute the word “awareness.” Attention or awareness is the secret of life and the heart of practice.. Every moment in life is absolute in itself. That’s all there is. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don’t pat attention to each little this, we miss the whole thing. And the content of this can be anything. This can be straightening out our sitting mats, chopping an onion, visiting one we don’t want to visit. It doesn’t matter what the contents of the moment are; each moment is absolute. That’s all there is, and all there ever will be. If we could totally pay attention, we would never be upset. If we’re upset, it’s axiomatic that we’re not paying attention. If we miss not just one moment, but one moment after another, we’re in trouble.

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Boredom is a Sickness of the Soul

The Only Unhappiness is a Life of Boredom

The Only Unhappiness is a Life of Boredom Have you ever been bored? When we have nothing in particular to do, and have time on our hands, a strange unrest seizes us, and we feel our life to be futile and meaningless.

Nearly all unhappiness in life comes from the inclination to blame someone else. Let us always hope well of a cause that is good in itself, and beneficial to human race. The pathology of the case up until now remains concealed in darkness. At that profundity the bottom, which had no pressure of water above it, and had a substantial pressure below, would not sink nor fall from the tube, but in reality swam at that depth upon the water? There is no one rationality why all these states got into trouble. Much is already being done, but more is needed. It is called the sewer serene, a disquiet in which the eye is, to all appearance, as capable of seeing as in the profound state; but, notwithstanding, the individual remains for life in gross darkness.

Boredom is not an uncommon human experience. It is a divine judgment against our uncreative life. The Lord placed us in this world for a purpose. We have tasks waiting to be done. In us, there is the energy of hand and heart and mind, craving for release, for action. Yet we allow the tasks to remain undone, and our energies to be untapped. Our feeling of boredom is an indication of God’s displeasure with what we are making of ourselves. This unrest of the soul calls for no special cure except work, work that will serve someone in the world, work that will give us the most priceless of all joys—the satisfaction of being useful, of being creative.

God has woven many safeguards, for our own wellbeing, into the fabric of our natures. In the face of peril, we are pervaded by an emotion of fear. When our bodies need sustenance, we feel a sensation of hunger. Because the Lord wanted us to live with mates in the family of life, He gave us the sexual urge. These pressures in our nature are the controls the Lord has set upon us to steer us die way He wishes us to go. Boredom is just such a control.

The Lord did not want us to stagnate through idleness. We each have a job we can do, and should do. It may be a rigorous job, and initially it may appear hard, even beyond us. Nevertheless, let us put our hand and heart to it, and if we suffer from any feeling of boredom, it will fade before we know it, as morning mist fades at the oncoming sun.

Boredom is One of the Greatest Tortures of Life

Boredom is One of the Greatest Tortures of Life Humans defend their territory covetously—trapping, snaring, poisoning, shooting offhanded, and putting the dogs on the contention. The Japanese have a term, kenzoku, which translated literally means ‘family.’ The connotation suggests a bond between people who have made an interchangeable commitment and who possibly therefore share a similar fate. It implies the presence of the deep connection of friendship, of lives lived as comrades from the distant past. The air upon the Italian desolate coast, still open and dry the soil, is incessantly found grievous; while universally through Europe the most thickly settled cities are reckoned the most healthful.

Normally, people believe that defeat is characterized by a general bustle and a vehement rush. Bustle and rush are the signs of victory, not of defeat. Victory is a thing of action. Every participant in victory sweats and puffs, carrying the stones for the building of the house. But defeat is a thing of tiredness, of incoherence, of boredom. Above all of futility. Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his best selling Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,

Nobody would doubt that all the new technologies will enhance again the collective power of humankind, but the question we should be asking ourselves is what’s happening on the individual level. We have enough evidence from history that you can have a very big step forward, in terms of collective power, coupled with a step backwards in terms of individual happiness, individual suffering. We need to ask ourselves about the new technologies emerging at present, not only how are they going to impact the collective power of humankind, but also how are they going to impact the daily life of individuals.

This gives rise to a tremendous stirring, one based not on hope but on experience. When the Dutch, smith bole, cut down the clove trees of the island of ternate, of which it was full, in order to raise the cost of cloves in Europe, this produced such a shift in the air, that the island from being exceedingly salubrious, became sickly and unhealthy to an uttermost degree. At least you would ultimately know how mystifying the hole is. Yet what is inside is the only origin of happiness.

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Zen Koan #24: Parable of Reciting Sutras – Buddhist Teaching on Beginner

Zen Koan #24: Parable of Reciting Sutras - Buddhist Teaching on Beginner's Mind Before enlightenment, people distinguish between a quiescent state, which they call “nirvana,” and a chaotic state, which they call “samsara.” They want to leave samsara behind and enter nirvana. If you take a snapshot with a high quality camera, everything in front of the lens will be imprinted on the film in minute detail. If you can grasp a small spot, you have access to totality. Yet you must visually examine non-subsistence from the perspective of subsistence. The true practitioner is not affected by the environment. They dedicated the remainder of their lives to saving other living beings.

Though some of you have trouble concentrating, it cannot be that during the entire recede there has not been at least once when you could concentrate to some extent. Those who take up the study of Zen Buddhism before their views have expanded are subject to fears and doubts. They may be able to get into that state again, but nonetheless it is an attachment. It is simultaneously the most immensely colossal and the most diminutive.

Each day provides myriad opportunities to continue this practice. That is, they should discard the mentality of relishing and mispricing. Illusory dharma is the dharma of distinctions, of small and large, of positing one thing against another. You follow worldly conventions.

Zen Koan: “Reciting Sutras” Parable

A farmer requested a Tendai priest to recite sutras for his wife, who had died. After the recitation was over the farmer asked: “Do you think my wife will gain merit from this?”

“Not only your wife, but all sentient beings will benefit from the recitation of sutras,” answered the priest.

“If you say all sentient beings will benefit,” said the farmer, “my wife may be very weak and others will take advantage of her, getting the benefit she should have. So please recite sutras just for her.”

The priest explained that it was the desire of a Buddhist to offer blessings and wish merit for every living being.

“That is a fine teaching,” concluded the farmer, “but please make one exception. I have a neighbor who is rough and mean to me. Just exclude him from all those sentient beings.”

Buddhist Insight on Beginner’s Mind

Have you noticed, for many people, when you start to work with the breath, there’s this tendency to hurry it up, or to move it, or to change it, how it takes a little while? If that had happened before you started to teach me, I’m sure, it would have absolutely destroyed me. In Zen Buddhism, so one with a beginner’s mind has decided that spiritual practice is worthwhile for some reason. Shunryu Suzuki, the Japanese-American Zen monk who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, writes in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,

In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.” The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind.

For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our “original mind” includes everything within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything, In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, “I have attained something.” All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion, When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless.

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Zen Koan #23: Parable of Eshun’s Departure – Buddhist Teaching on Arduous Discipline

Zen Koan #23: Parable of Eshun's Departure - Buddhist Teaching on Arduous Discipline Humility in the Zen tradition additionally involves some kind of frolicsomeness, which is a sense of humor. In most religious Zen traditions, you feel self-effacing for the reason that of trepidation of penalization, pain and sin. In the Shambhala world, you feel full of it. You feel salubrious and good. In fact, you feel proud. Consequently, you feel humility. That’s one of the Shambhala contradictions or, we could verbalize, dichotomies. Authentic humility is genuineness. To be able to conquer your pain and your fear of death requires great determination.

However, you should be cognizant that this kind of interrupted practice is not the ideal approach to Zen. We can bear with greater ease those losses that we know we will inevitably face, for the reason that we identify with the thread of wakefulness that we meet in all of them. We call this retreat a Zen retreat but actually, it is just a suffering or training retreat. After all, if you are not a good practitioner, why are you still here after five days?

Your mind is still limpidly cognizant of kenning certain things but does not endeavor to bring up these recollections as criteria for comparing and judging. Using the method can be likened to pumping air into a tire.

Zen Koan: “Eshun’s Departure” Parable

When Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.

Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire around the edges.

“O nun!” shouted one monk, “is it hot in there?”

“Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself,” answered Eshun.

The flames arose, and she passed away.

Buddhist Insight on Arduous Discipline

Conventional truth alone is the teacher of the absolute. Without arduous discipline, nobody can become perfect by merely ceasing to act. In addition, they must sometimes contemplate in their minds the thought that someday they will turn away from the transient things of the world to something better, to something more sure and lasting. I am not particularly trying to be dramatic. The Scottish Episcopal cleric writer Richard Holloway writes in Doubts and Loves: What is Left of Christianity,

The genius of Buddhism is it is a Middle Way that repudiates two extremes, the worthless life of self-indulgence and the equally worthless life of self-torture. The difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that Buddhism is essentially a practice, an arduous discipline that can deliver peace and compassion to its adherents. Christianity also has its spiritual disciplines, but it has never able to divest itself of the belief that doctrines are themselves saving and life-changing. Much of this goes back to the originating genius of Christian theology, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul. The paradox is that what was for Paul a liberating psychological experience was later to be hardened into a formula that radically contradicted his original insight and the experience that prompted it.

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Zen Koan #22: Parable of My Heart Burns Like Fire – Buddhist Teaching on Wakeful Presence

Zen Koan #22: Parable of My Heart Burns Like Fire - Buddhist Teaching on Wakeful Presence Love is the ultimate transgression, bell hooks argues. Its transformative power can shatter the status quo. In Zen Meditation, we develop states of great clarity but we also develop states of cow-like ignorance, bovine ponderousness. The important thing is not to have any resentment against your suffering, or any expectations of happiness. In fact, when some people encounter trouble, it does not reinforce their practice at all.

By grasping what is selfless as a self there is confusion. Since many of you have traveled far, or have worked hard to set aside the time, you have a great deal invested in this retreat. If you can take this attitude, eventually it will go away. The practice just keeps moving like a ball rolling down a hill. Freedom is shown in according one’s life with realities. The wisdom of the Buddha is not difficult to perceive; it can be attained in the instant between two thoughts. Musing requires excruciating motivation. The ones who come have some authentic desire for spiritual, moral, philosophical, or astute uplifting.

Being free to go wherever you wish, you are outside of the cycle of birth and death. If you do not abide in duality, neither having too much nor too little confidence, then what should you do? You have not come here to get enlightened, but to practice.

Zen Koan: “My Heart Burns Like Fire” Parable

Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: “My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes.” He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.

In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.

Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.

Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.

Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.

When an opportunity comes do not let it pass by, yet always think twice before acting.

Do not regret the past. Look to the future.

Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.

Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.

Buddhist Insight on Wakeful Presence

According to Buddhism, everything mental and physical ensues in accordance with laws and conditions; and if it were otherwise, chaos and blind chance would reign. Nevertheless, such a thing is intolerable and disproves all laws of thinking. In the wakeful presence of the mind, other kinds of happiness diminish and are exhausted. Most people tend to be locked into a quite dreary round of tasks, and experience little peace or harmony, according to Zen philosophy. 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,

Our society would have us believe that inner satisfaction depends on our success and achievement. Yet struggling to “get somewhere” keeps us perpetually busy, stressed-out, and disconnected from that essential inner resource – our ability to be fully present – which could provide a real sense of joy and fulfillment. Our life is unsatisfactory only because we are not living it fully, because instead we are pursuing a happiness that is always somewhere else, other than where we are right now…

Cultivating the capacity to be fully present – awake, attentive, and responsive – in all the different circumstances of life is the essence of spiritual practice and realization. Those with the greatest spiritual realization are those who are “all here,” who relate to life with an expansive awareness that is not limited by any fixation on themselves or their own point of view. They don’t shrink from any aspect of themselves or life as a whole.

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