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Friday, March 31, 2006

Don't Hate the Hate



Some things are unfortunately quite painful, quite harmful; those are not recommendable. But you are not to hate them either; hatred is not accepted. So you have to appreciate it as it is.

~ His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa

James's comment: This is like a spiritual chiropractic adjustment. Often when I do something that hurts or is painful to me or others I then start on the "hate myself" guilt train not remembering that the self hate only makes the suffering worse.

Bows to His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa deeply.

-Peace to all beings-

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Dalai Lama Interview with CNN's Richard Quest

I just saw an interview on CNN with the Dalai Lama and reporter Richard Quest. The words from His Holyness were perfect for what I needed to hear as I have been too hard on myself lately (one of my biggest obstacles) :

Quest: Do you get angry?

HH: OH YES!!

Quest: (In a surprised tone) Really??

HH: OH YES!! If you ask some stupid question I may loose my anger (deep, genuine laughing).

Quest: People never think of the Dalai Lama as getting angry.

HH: That is non-sense. I am a human being. Of course, I think I, I spent a lot, a lot of time and/or energy try to shape my mind trying to lessen these negavite moods. Anger, hatred and jealousy. I am Buddhist. From the Buddhist view-point it may take eons, it make take several lifes. Year by year, decade by decade you can see some improvement. Now to this mind, [muffled part] compare, say, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, today, I tink (tink was how he pronouned "think" and I added his pronounciation as he said it because I think it is cute) hopefully, at least hopefully I think my mental state, much better. So, that's, I believe the result of my practice. But still I am human being, a normal human being!

Quest: No, no no [talking over H.H.] No no no. No.

HH: Therefore I think I should have angry of anger in order to show I am human being!! (laughing jovially).

[James: The taped interview with HH ends and then it the anchor Kiera Phillips (I think that's her name) connects up with Richard Quest for a live, satellite "debriefing" of sorts].

KP: Richard Quest joins be live from London now for more of his close encounter with enlightenment. Now Richard, tell as you were that close, eye to eye did he reach you??

Quest: (nods) Oh not only that (said in a light tone) he gave me a big hug!! (Kiera laughs) I was a big oncerned Kiera!! (all the while smiling). This is His Holiness the Dalai Lama!! Was I allowed to touch him?!! Would it have been a diplomatic faux pas to shake his hand?!! Not a bit of it. Walk into the room, the man with that infectuous laughter just goes, "Ha ha ha ha ha" Biiig hug from Dalai Lama! And I'm just sort of left thinking, "This is one of those career moments that you will, or I will remember."

KP: Everybody dreams of an interview like that and I'm extremely jealous but then again I'm not being very spiritually sound (laughing) if I'm being jealous so I have to be very thankful that you got this interview (smiling and chuckling). Tell me more of what he was like and what you really walked away from, Richard, with.

Quest: We were there to talk primarily about spirituality. And the key question, THE KEY QUESTION!! Do you have to have "God" to be spiritual? Now, in the same program that I was making an American pastor Rick Warren said, "YES YOU DO HAVE TO HAVE GOD!!" The Dalai Lama is very clear, you can have something called, "secular spirituality." It is about being good within and that's the one thing you feel when you meet this man.

He has striven for 50 YEARS, FIVE DECADES in exile Kiera!! And this man has striven to be at peace, to try and find tranquility and he says, YOU CAN DO IT without having any "God" if you like into the equation.

That was most surprising for me.

KP: Well did he, was he somehow saying that "God" is in all of us however you look at it? "God" is in all of us. It's just a matter of finding it and figuring out how to bring it out in the best way?

Quest: No, I think he was more suggesting that actually, in some cases, "God" can be a hinderance to finding that spirituality. [muffled] and I can hear the right, Christian movement, you know, frothing at the mouth, reaching for their lap tops and texting their [muffled] as we speak but the Dalai Lama is sayin is that it is about doing good. The, the, what they call the "golden rule." Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And if you can do THAT and train your mind to get rid of the anger, the jealousy, bad luck their you're going to have to work a bit harder one that (Kiera laughs) if you can get rid of all of those, then you stand a chance.

MEDITATION for instance!! Whether it be transcendental or otherwise.

KP: Well, I'm a deep believer in meditation. It's the discipline part, that's it.

[James's comment: And the interview ends. Well, the discussion was a bit simplistic, a Buddhism or "spirituality" 101 if you will but I am glad that discussion of Buddhism is spreading and being talked about especially in the "mainstream media." Maybe if more people understand meditation and the Dharma better then we have a chance of coming together as a people rather then as different "religions."]

Besides, simplicity is the best way that any of us learn anything, especially spirituality!!

If you get a chance, please send an email to CNN thanking them for covering the Dalai Lama and Buddhism in general. Go HERE to get to the CNN form email page for their TV programming.

Thanks!

I bow to you all.

-Peace to all beings-

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Silence Speaks Great Wisdom

"A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker."

-Provided by Ryan Burda @ BigHappyBuddha.com

James's comment: A great reminder that silence often speaks more wisdom then the most eloquent of words and in-depth philosophizing.

Painting by Qaio Seng

-Peace to all beings-

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Let the Universe Breath Through You


What is meditation?

When you empty yourself and let the universe come in you.

-Author unknown

James's comment: One of the greatest meditations is to meditate on emptyness so that we can let go of our perceptions of "mine" or "yours" and experience the peaceful reality of inter-being. I often use the image of the vast and beautiful Universe to bring me back to center being and allow the energy of life to flow in and flow out of myself. To acknowledge the tiny molecules that cluster together to make a "body." Yet this seemingly solid body is really like a fabric woven with thousands of tiny threads coming together to form One Body. We are each like one of these tiny threads coming together to form the vast and infinite nature of Oneness of all things. How marvelous!! Celebrate and be joyful.

-Peace to all beings-

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is Emptyness Really Heavy?

"When I first started reading about Buddhism, I said this emptyness is really heavy!"

~Rev Ryunyo King

-Peace to all beings-

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Pleasure, Enjoyments and Austerities are Good. Just Don't Grasp at Them.

Contrary to what some people might believe, there is nothing wrong with having pleasures and enjoyments. What is wrong is the confused way we grasp onto these pleasures, turning them from a source of happiness into a source of pain and dissatisfaction.

-Lama Thubten Yeshe, "Introduction to Tantra"

James's comment: I use to think that in order to achieve "enlightenment" I needed to live a cold, grey, boring Puritanical life. One devoid of pleasure but that only brought me suffering as I tried to deny the natural propensity for pleasures. Swinging me to the other extreme of total austerity. However, I am slowly learning that being human is also being able to enjoy the finer things in life in balance and mindfulness with austerities. The issue is not to attach to them and believe that they are my salvation. Drifting too far to one side of the Middle Path or the other only creates confusion and more suffering. I can't cling to a life of austirites but I also can not cling to a life or hedonism.

Attachment to either extreme leaves me stuck in a tree of attachments to these pleasures or denials with the sweeping power of the river of life's impermanence roaring on below me. In the beginning I cling to the tree because I feel that it will "save me" from suffering and maybe initially it helps.

However, the more I cling to the tree the higher the water rises and eventually it pulls me out of my tenuous grip from my precious, ignorant attachments. And I suffer as I desperately grasp for those fleating holograms as I mistaken them for solid, life-saving devices. The river of change always, eventually snaps my weak tree of attachments and I am plunged back into the rapidly moving river of impermance. But instead of just letting go of fear and floating with the current I desperately try to swim upstream looking for another tree (attachment) to cling to.

Instead of going with the flow and experiencing each tree of pleasure or austerity as it appears. Catching my breath and then slipping back into the stream of change, I swim upstream in hopes that I will find a bigger and taller tree which will be stronger and last longer and will protect me from the vast power of the changing current of life then the last one. In the end though I realize that the swimming upstream is only exhausting me and leaving me more panicked, more fearful and more miserable.

I must realize that it is o.k. to stop off at the island of a tree (pleasure, austerity) now and then in the changing, truthful power of impermance. However, the trick is to not stay too long in the tree to where I become delusional that the tree (pleasure, austerity) will last forever and somehow help me to avoid the pain and suffering for good. This in fact goes for clinging too much too the Dharma as well and taking my spiritual development too seriously in my opinion. "Spirtual materialism" as the late, great Choygam Trungpa use to call it.

Again, some pleasure and austerity is o.k. but it is much like a stick burning. It can help me see through the confusion and fear of the dark but if I hold onto it too long it will burn me, plundging me into severe pain and darkness.

-Peace to all beings-

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Liberation Through Personal Experience and Meditation


However much we may pray to the Buddha we cannot be saved. The Buddha does not grant favors to those who pray to him. Instead of petitional prayers there is meditation that leads to self-control, purification and enlightenment. Meditation is neither a silent reverie nor keeping the mind blank. It is an active striving. It serves as a tonic both to the heart and the mind. The Buddha not only speaks of the futility of offering prayers but also disparages a slave mentality. A Buddhist should not pray to be saved, but should rely on himself and win his freedom.

-Anonymous

James's comment: Buddhism is not a religion of revelation rather it is a religion of personal experience. The Buddha has shown us the path and it is up to us to walk it or not walk it. There are going to be pit-falls along the way but no one is going to "save us." In point of fact, the Buddha is within us therefore we already have the tools needed (the Dharma) to get out of those traps. If someone were to save us then we would not learn the lessons that we need to learn. Not unlike the chick being kicked out of the nest so that it will learn to fly for itself. It is the chick who must do the work itself to fly and so the same is for us.

When we find ourselves trapped in a deep pit we need to sit, meditate and contemplate the teachings of the Dharma until we figure a way out of our hole or a path beyond our obstacle. I heard a monk from Shasta Abbey in California explain it this way (and I'm paraphrasing partly in listing his words. Also, my words/thoughts are not bold, red or italisized):

Peace, joy, beauty, stability, and love are all found within ourselves. It is not something that we can create it is not something artificial, rather it is something that comes to us naturally like the wind or the sunlight. "Enlightenment" or "Nirvana" is not a place, it is more a state of personal experience. It is hard to explain to someone else. Much like trying to explain to someone what salt tastes like. A person needs to put their finger in the pile of salt and taste it for themselves to fully experience the taste of salt. This is why we meditate so that we may know these things naturally. Knowing what we already know and remembering what we've already forgotten is why we meditate as well. In training we all begin in the same place in this body and mind and in these present circumstances whatever they maybe. Our circumstances may differ and they do but we are all starting in the same place. The "good news" is that everyday it starts all over again and the "bad news" is that everyday it starts all over again. Don't hold onto your thoughts or push them away. Don't grasp them and don't reject them. Allow them to rise and stay and pass as they are going to do. Just let that happen but but but but AND instead of putting your will behind all that, ok., instead of putting energy and intensity and everything you can, just be willing to be still. And do that with stillness and mindfulness and kindness. Be still in whatever you are doing. After a while it creeps into your life and it's like a fungus in a way as it begins to grow on everything. The difference, however, is that we want it to stay because it's rather nice. ;)

-Peace to all beings

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Oldie but a Goodie



Before enlightenment,
I chopped wood and carried water.
After enlightenment,
I chopped wood and carried water.

-Zen saying

James's comment: This is one of my favorite Zen sayings. I think it really sums everything up. Not much that I can add other then it's beautifully simple yet complete.

-Peace to all beings-

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Gift of the Dharma


A gift of Dhamma conquers all gifts;
the taste of Dhamma, all tastes;
a delight in Dhamma, all delights;
the ending of craving, all suffering
and stress.

-Dhammapada, 24
Translated by Thanissaro Bhikku

James's comment: This reminds me of a time when after sangha a group of us went to a yummy Nepalese/Tibetan restuarant to celebrate a birthday. I remember eating my food and thinking that it tasted better then any food I'd ever eaten (especially the grapes). So I posed the question, "Is it because I just came from meditating and discussion from sangha that it tastes so good?" The guy with the birthday responded saying something to the effect that it's wasn't a coincedence and I agreed. I then realized how much I savor and eat mindfully the orange, cookies and tea that I drink during the discussion time at sangha as well.

It is amazing how far reaching the influence of the Dharma has in our lives. Right down to enjoying and savoring our food and tea that much more because when we eat or drink mindfully we focus on what we are eating and drinking and nothing more.

Too often I just take my plate of food into the living room, plop down on the couch and eat while watching the t.v. I zone out to the point that I'm not even aware as to what I am eating as i shovel it into my mouth. Part of this bad habit is that our place is too small for a dinning room table but the bigger issue is not being mindful when eating.

Being mindful truly does open-up our lives to a much greater and fulfilling experience because we are fully engaged in what we are doing in that moment. This allows us greater interaction with the activity or thought so that we can really feel the unity between us and what we are doing/thinking. This then allows us to have the clarity to either keep doing or thinking what brings us peace or toss out that which does not.

Without mindfulness we are lost to the unending waves of delusion that confuse us, leave one into a fog or lead us astray.

So I feel that I must recommit to being mindful in all things every morning before I even start out into the "rat race." I don't always do this but I am making progress. :)

-Peace to all beings-

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Another Book to Add to the Stack

I am going to shamelessly lift much of a post from the blog Meditate NYC because it is so good.

The writer recommends what seems to be an excellent book. I must read it being the book worm that I am. The book is titled, "The Book of Rinzai: The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Rinzai (Linji)." Translated by Eido Roshi:

[MNYC]: Contemporary readers will find in The Book of Rinzai the same demanding spirit as Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen. Bodhidharma urges practitioners to go beyond the writings and sayings of the sages and depend on themselves for liberation. Master Rinzai speaks to Zen students in the same vein:

"Followers of the Way, don’t consider Buddha to be the ultimate truth. In my view, it is like a shit hole. Bodhisattvas and arhats are chains to bind people . . . Even the doctrines of the Three Vehicles, the Five Natures, and the perfect enlightenment, all these are nothing but medicine to cure temporary diseases. There is no true Dharma . . . If you seek Buddha, you will lose Buddha. If you seek the Way, you will lose the Way. If you seek the Patriarch, you will lose the Patriarch."

[MNYC]: He relentlessly implores us to attain genuine insight:

"Nowadays, those of you who practice Buddha-Dharma need to have true insight. If you get true insight, you will no longer be tainted by life and death, and you will be free to go or stay."

[MNYC]: In these times of excessive materialism and comforts, Master Rinzai’s words serve as a wake-up call to remind us of the urgency with which we should practice:

"Followers of the Way, you must not be deceived by your illusory companion. Sooner or later, you will face impermanence. What are you seeking in this world in order to emancipate yourself? You look for something to eat, spend time patching your robe. You would better visit an outstanding master, rather than hanging around and pursuing comfort. You must begrudge the passing of the day. Remember that moment after moment is impermanence itself. Don’t be swayed by external circumstances."

[MNYC]: This new translation is a much-needed addition to the many books on Zen that already line the shelves of bookstores. To order your own copy of The Book of Rinzai, or for more information, please visit daibosatsu.org, or call the Zen Studies Society at (845) 439-4566.

Gassho!

-Peace to all beings-

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

And the Award Goes To...

I am honored (and humbled as you can tell in the picture. Wink, wink. Hehe) to win my first Blogisattva Award in the category of, "Best Kind and Compassionate Blog." Thanks Tom for allowing us sometimes too serious Buddhist Bloggers to have some, relaxing good fun.

I'd like to thank the academy. Boy, oh boy is this aluminum statuette heavy. Oh wait, wrong awards. Instead, I'd like to thank the Buddha without whom none of this would be possible. What a wonderful path he has given us all. Thank-you as well to all my dear friends in the blogosphere. HERE's TO 2006!!! :)

May I continue to be reborn until all realize liberation from suffering.

-Peace to all beings-

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Try Not to Escape Life, But Face It

The important point of spiritual practice is not to try to escape your life, but to face it -- exactly and completely.

~Dainin Katagiri Roshi

James's comment: So often we try to run from the very thing that will liberate us. We are scared of our own shadow. When we can stop running and face our shadow we realize that it is nothing to be afraid of. We should view our "difficulties" in life as the great liberators.

It is the prime teaching to allow us freedom from attachments. If we can detach from our notions of what our life should be and just face it for whatever it is then we have a much greater chance to ride the waves rather then drown in them.

-Peace to all beings-

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Mindfulness Bell Computer Application Repost

I have received several requests again for the link to the mindfulness bell application for your computer. So here is the link (and I will create a permanent link for it on the right in my "links" section):

http://www.mindfulnessdc.org/mindfulclock.html


Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any problem finding it. :)

-Peace to all beings-

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Friday, March 03, 2006

The Sound of the Bell

I have discussed on here before the tool on my computer (which one of my fellow sangha members tipped me of to and to whom I am very grateful for doing so as it helps me on a very profound level) that rings a bell every so often.

When ever it sounds I always stop my typing or surfing, close my eyes, breath deeply and recite the following:

"Body, space and mind. I send my heart along with the sound of this bell. May the hearers (including myself) awaken from their forgetfulness and transcend the path of anxiety and fear."

I then go on to say, "I listen, I listen. The sound of this bell brings me back to my true home."

These are mantras that Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) teaches us to use whenever we hear a bell ring. I have also added the following:

"May this sound cut through the ropes of my attachments to free me from suffering that I might then helps others do the same."

-Peace to all beings-

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Little Hope for Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan


Kabul, Afghanistan -- There was universal outrage - even in the Muslim world - when the Taliban made good their threat to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas in an act of religious piety on March 1 five years ago.

Just six months later, following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, the US moved to topple the Taliban. But the damage wrought on the famous statues is permanent and, according to the UN cultural organisation UNESCO, there are currently no plans to rebuild them.

Buddhist monks carved the two statues standing 38 and 55 metres high out of the cliff face in the sixth century.

The niches cut out of the rock in which the huge Buddhas stood have been propped up to prevent collapse, remains of the statues have been collected and stored, and what was left of the wall paintings has been preserved.

There is little more that can be done, according to Afghanistan expert Christian Manhart of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre. "Reconstruction is not possible at this stage," he says.

There have been repeated proposals, mainly from Switzerland, to rebuild the statues. Permission from the Afghan government and the technical capability are lacking, but the main reason for the absence of progress is fund shortage, says Manhart. He estimates rebuilding to cost $30 million.

There is a cheaper alternative. Instead of carving the statues from stone as was done originally, they could be cast in concrete, but UNESCO has rejected this.

"Then we would be left with a kind of Bamiyan Disneyland, and not the original that was created by the efforts of the Buddhist monks," Manhart says.

James's comment: Personally I would like to see new statues built in concrete. I don't think that the original monks would be too concerned about starting over with the Buddhas since we Buddhists believe in rebirth and living in the present and not mourning too much for the past.

Besides I think that it would be a great symbol of the rebuilding, diversity and tolerance of the new Afghanistan.

That's my two cents worth anyway. :)

-Peace to all beings-

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