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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Stay Attentive and Avoid Indifference


Attentiveness is the path to true life;
Indifference is the path to death.
The attentive do not die;
The indifferent are as if they are dead already.

-Dhammapada

James's comment: There is a fine line in Buddhism between indifference and non-attachment. There are times when I think that I am practicing non-attachment when in reality I'm actually being indifferent!!

I think that this especially applies with some Buddhists in regards to politics. It is important to be engaged with politics but not attach to it. Where as ignoring politics is a form of indifference. As aspiring bodhisattvas we desire for all beings to be free from suffering and being engaged in peaceful politics can be a tool to help bring about less suffering if used properly.

-Peace to all beings-

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Epic Feature on the Life of the Buddha Coming

Indian telecommunications mogul Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Modi will finance an epic feature on the life of Buddha, based on the best-selling book "Old Path White Clouds" by renowned Buddhist Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says The Hollywood Reporter.

"I, Robot" executive producers Michel Shane and Anthony Romano have signed on to produced the film which is expected to start shooting in November in the U.S., Japan, China and India.

The $120 million English-language film will be one of the most expensive films shot in India. It is Modi's first foray into film-making.

James: This from IndieWIRE:

Not only are A-list stars being courted for the lead roles, but the Dalai Lama has given his blessing and will consult on the film. Hanh and Dr. Modi are both in Cannes to finalize their deal. [Kristina Woo/indieWIRE]

James: Also this from NewKerala:

Says Thich Nhat Hanh: "The Buddha has suffered far too much deification over the centuries. This film might help in making him human again. The idea is to make the Buddha relevant to everybody so that the world can become a better place."

James: And this from Rediff India Abroad:

'I've wanted to do this film for several years now,' Modi told Hollywood Reporter. 'I discovered the book two years ago and it changed my life, and I felt it was up to me to share my happiness with the world.'

The film is going to be a spiritual adventure, said Shane. 'We are looking at this as an epic film for the ages -- a Lawrence of Arabia meets Gladiator,' he declared.

James's comment: I'm currently reading, Old Path, White Clouds and am very excited that a film based on this wonderful book is in the works!! Not sure though how a film about the life of the Buddha could be a Lawrence of Abrabia meets Gladiator as they both are quite violent but I'm still looking forward to this epic film.

Anyway, let's spread the news about this film and create a buzz.

-Peace to all beings-

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One Becomes a Prayer

By alignment with surrender to being a channel of God's will, one's life thereby becomes transformed into a prayer by which one is that prayer.

-Dr. David R. Hawins, Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment.

This is so how I have been feeling lately in "my life."

-Peace to all beings-

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fresh Ink



From top to bottom: Chinse calligrapy for Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.



Close up.



Zooming out to show the proportion of tattoo to my over-all arm and body.

-Peace to all beings.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Thoughts on Self-Hatred, Hyper-Perfectionism and Self-Punitive Guilt in Spirituality

As many of you know, being severally hard on myself has been a big obstacle for me over the years. However, I am making progress thanks to meditation, mindfulness and the process of detaching, watching and observing. Another aspect to my healing and moving on from this perfectionism in following my spiritual path has been the words of the Great Mystic Dr. David R. Hawkins. And I wanted to share some of the quotes from his current book that have really helped me begin to soften up on myself so that I can finally make progress past this negative and retardive hyper perfectionist (in regards to spirituality) habit energy.

So without further ado I offer you the words of Dr. Hawkins from his book, Trascending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment:

"Anxieties and uncertainties are accepted as normal and concomitant to growth."

"Successful self-inquiry requires a realistic appraisal of the limitations of human development and tolerance for both ambiguity and the normalcy of being less than perfect."

"The lower emotions still erupt periodically and require correction, but they are now unwelcome rather then sought or valued."

"Fear of failure is diminished by realizing that one is responsible for the intention and effort but not the result, which is dependent on many other conditions and factors that are nonpersonal."

"Transitory difficulties of social realities are ACCEPTED ASPECTS OF HUMAN LIFE rather than being seen as personal insults."

James's comment: I hope some of these words help you as much as they have helped me.

The following is the review that I wrote for Dr. Hawkins and his manuals/books:

add my voice to the chorus of others speaking about this man changing their lives. His books have been THE motivators and manuals in my spiritual development, realization and advancments.

I too had the chance to attend one of his seminars and the energy in the conference was amazing. If he is in your area then I HIGLY recommend that you attend as this man is probably the most inspiring person, mystic and teacher on the planet today.

At the seminar I attended I had the chance to meet Dr. Hawkins up-close. I asked for a picture and put my arm around him for the photo. As I placed my hand around him his beautiful energy poured into mine and I was instantly invigorated and blostered. He then looked up at me and said, "Hello. It's good to see you."I was so touched that he seemed to recognize my energy and I came away from the whole experience exhausted but floating on air.

Again, I urge ANY spiritual aspirant (regardless of your "religion," if you have one) to get and read all of his books. They WILL change your life for ever and for the better. Namaste.

-Peace to all beings-

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nothing, Everything, Praise and Blame

We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.

Author unknown but found via BigHappyBuddha.com

Develop the mind of equilibrium. You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind: follow the calmness, the absence of pride.

-Sutta Nipata

James: This second quote reminds me of a refrain from the Desiradata poem:

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons then yourself.

-Peace to all beings-

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Letting Go of What You Cling to



You only lose what you cling to.

-Author Unknown but found at BigHappyBuddha.com

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Dalai Lama on Compassion, Anger, Hatred

I would like to explain the meaning of compassion, which is often misunderstood. Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, but rather on the rights of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes for peace and happiness and wishes to overcome suffering, then on that basis we develop genuine concern for his or her problem. This is genuine compassion. Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion. This is not compassion; it is attachment. Even in marriage, those marriages that last only a short time do so because of attachment - although it is generally present - but because there is also compassion. Marriages that last only a short time do so because of a lack of compassion; there is only emotional attachment based on projection and expectation. When the only bond between close friends is attachment, then even a minor issue may cause one's projections to change. As soon as our projections change, the attachment disappears - because that attachment was based solely on projection and expectation. It is possible to have compassion without attachment - and similarly, to have anger without hatred. Therefore we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment, and between anger and hatred. Such clarity is useful in our daily life and in our efforts towards world peace. I consider these to be basic spiritual values for the happiness of all human beings, regardless of whether one is a believer or a nonbeliever.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

From the site BigHappyBuddha.com

-Peace to all beings-

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Final Analysis



People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway!

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway!

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Be successful anyway!

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway!

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway!

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway!

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway!

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you have anyway!

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God:
It was never between you and them anyway!

~Mother Teresa

James: Call it "God," "Infinite Consciousness," "Enlightenment," "Nirvana" or whatever. It still rings true.

-Peace to all beings-

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meditation is Running into Reality

Meditation is running into reality. It does not insulate you from the pain of life. It allows you to delve so deeply into life and all its aspects that you pierce the pain barrier and go beyond suffering.

-Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, "Mindfulness in Plain English"

James's comment: This reminds me of an article that I was refered to by a friend stating that it is easy to use meditation as a crutch or a drug to numb out and avoid pain rather then using it to pierce through that pain barrier to go beyond suffering.

-Peace to all beings-

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Congo's Tragedy: The War the World Forgot

If you think Rwanda and Sudan and Iraq were/are bad then you need to read about what was/is going on in Congo.

I Implore you to please, PLEASE read the full article. It is difficult to stomach and quite lengthy but so so very important.

-Peace to all beings-

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Friday, May 05, 2006

God Broken Up Into Several Less Powerful Deities


Doyle Redland of the Onion Radio News (the fake, sarcastic "news" agency) files a shocking report:

Calling the theological giant’s stranglehold on the religious industry “blatantly anticompetitive” a U.S. district judge has ruled that God is in violation of antimonopoly laws and ordered Him to be broken up into several less powerful deities. . .[Said the judge,] “He has carved out for Himself an illegal monotheopoly.” Leading theologians are applauding the God break-up, saying that it will usher in a new era of greater worshipping options, increased efficiency, and more personalized service.

James: I had a good laugh with this one.

Touche.

I found this story through the TricycleBlog: The Buddhist Review

Link to the full radio spot HERE. I found it funnier listening to the spot then reading it.

-Peace to all beings-

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Enlightenment and Coconuts

Some people think that Buddhist practice and meditation are about stopping thoughts. As the saying goes, if that were true, a coconut would be enlightened.

- Prof Robert Thurman, talking in Cleveland.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kindness is Always Possible

Be kind whenever possible - It is always possible.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

James's: This is something that I have to remember when feeling anger boil up in my heart for President Bush. :/

That doesn't mean, however, that I have to agree with his policies and actions or not work to change them but I still must be kind toward him as a fellow being.

-Peace to all beings-

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Think For Ourselves.



Accept my words only when you have examined them for yourselves; do not accept them simply because of the reverence you have for me. Those who only have faith in me and affection for me will not find the final freedom. But those who have faith in the truth and are determined on the path, they will find awakening.

-Majjhima Nikaya

James's comment:

This is one of the teachings that really peeked my interest in Buddhism. It doesn't require undying, blind faith in a "leader." It requires looking within oneself and finding truth through experiencing it ourselves by meditating and being mindful in our daily lives. Meditating upon the words of teachers and finding that they are true through our own comfirmations.

Isn't that a gorgeous peaceful face on that Buddha statue??? I think that it captures that bliss of the enlightenment and nirvana of the Now perfectly. I think that it is one of the most beautiful images of the Buddha that I have seen. It reminds me (as all Buddha images do) of the Buddha within me and us all.

-Peace to all beings-

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Monday, May 01, 2006

The Sangha

I know that many people in the Blangha and beyond have tackled this question but I would still like to pose it here.

What does "sangha" mean to you?

Traditionally it has meant the body of monks and not so much the laity. Even today in many eastern countries the laity isn't considered apart of the sangha. Here in the west the laity is apart of the sangha as much as the monk sanghas.

Then there are the online sanghas or "blanghas" (or whatever catchy, snappy term you wish to call them).

For me it depends. I frequent a "physical" sangha from time to time. However, since I have schizoaffective disorder and thus a bit of agrophobia and anxiety when around others I tend to prefer the online communities for a regular connection to other Buddhists.

And then there are all the books and retreats that make the teachings of the great teachers more accessable to everyone. However especially to those living in areas without a physical sangha or to those who have other obstacles that keep them from being able to physically hear the mesage of the teachers and/or monks. Also email provides a great avenue for people to be in touch with teachers and ask them questions about ones personal practice.

How can any of us judge which of the above options (or others not mentioned) is more "Buddhist" or "acceptable" then the other? Isn't the most important thing that people stay connected with other Buddhists and teachers one way or another??

Would love your thoughts here.

By the way this also applies to those who are Christian or of other faiths. Is one more "holier then thou" in regular church, mosque, synogue, temple attendance or does it not matter "where" or with "whom" you "worship" or "commune?"

PHOTO CREDIT: It's a painting done by (I think) Ralph A. Schultz

-Peace to all beings-

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