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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Music Meditation


I don't quite know what it is about the trance genre of electronica music but it always brings me into a beautiful state of meditation. Relaxing yet energized at the same time. A synchonicity of sensations without one over-powering any other. It is an ever patient and present teacher that guides me in my many forms of meditation. It pulls me up out of my ego into a place of beautiful nothingness where everything is possible. All channels are open to my heart and I flow effortlessy in the present moment as if I was being softly craddled on my back in the vast, endless clear blue ocean. Then the present moment shifts as the music lifts me softly but methodically up into the vastness of space where I am find myself again floating. However, this time in a field of purple effervescent light that wraps me in warmth as my thinking is suspended and I just exist or do not exist. It does not really matter as thoughts can not describe this moment or any moment for that matter. I'm not even sure how I'm writing this post right now to tell you the truth.

All "things" and descriptions fall apart to reveal the "real reality." Where the beautiful, silent yet powerful lotus of Nirvana pushes through the confusing layers of mud that is the ego to bloom in the clear light of Oneness. In this present moment where the union of body, space and mind are realized I find true freedom.

Music is a great teacher that penetrates the crust around our heart that is formed by our delusions to reveal our inner Buddha-nature. But only if we allow it to work its healing energy. It is like a gentle but constant breeze that refreshes our true Self if we only open the windows to our very being and let it fill our lungs and bring us home to where we always were--the present moment. With new eyes we realize that the present moment and Nirvana are not seperate.

Will you open the doors of your heart and let it in or let it pass you by again as you waste away in chasing the winds of delusion? I know for myself that I am tired of chasing after the vapor trails of an illusion.

~Peace to all beings~

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Practice Appreciation and Validation.

"Violence never ceases by violence, but by love," said the Buddha. Our hurts have caused us to direct huge amounts of internal violence towards ourselves in the form of self-criticisms, low expectations, lack of self-worth, and so on. Such internal negative chatter cannot withstand a steady dose of self-appreciation. Repeatedly telling yourself things like, "I forgive myself," or "You are fine just the way you are," or "I'll never give up on you," done with mindfulness and persistance, can bring healing tears of release and joy. Loving kindness, or metta meditation points us to our inherent well-being: may I be filled with love and compassion; may my body be peaceful and at ease; may I be safe from fear and harm; may I be happy; may I be healthy. Directed towards oneself, metta is a form of self-appreciation that serves to counter the sometimes constant drone of negative self-talk.

-John Bell "Cultivating Our Blue Sky Nature: Skillful Means for Emotional Healing," in The Mindfulness Bell Journal of the Art of Mindful living. Summer 2004, Issue 36, page 39.

James: As some of you may know, I have schizoaffective disorder (but the disorder is not me) and depression is a big aspect of the illlness. This is an excellent post to help me know what to do when I feel heavy self-criticism and inappropriate guilt. I especially relate to the two affirmations, "I forgive myself" and "I'll never give up on you." I am way too hard on myself so these are great mantras for me to remember. I am going to write them down and put them up on my mirror to see everyday so that I'll remember them. I hope that you may find some comfort in these words as well.

~Peace to all beings~

PHOTO: Lotus pond, Japanese Garden. Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Nothing and Everything and Between the Two My Life Flows.

The great Indian teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, "Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between the two my life flows." "I am nothing" does not mean that there is a bleak wasteland within. It does mean that with awareness we open to a clear, unimpeded space, without center or periphery--nothing separate. If we are nothing, there is nothing at all to serve as a barrier to our boundless expression of love. Being nothing in this way, we are also, inevitably, everything. "Everything" does not mean self-aggrandizement, but a decisive recognition of interconnection; we are not separate. Both the clear, open space of "nothing" and the interconnectedness of "everything" awaken us to our true nature. This is the truth we contact when we meditate, a sense of unity beyond suffering. It is always present; we merely need to be able to access it.

--Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness

James: I breath in interconnectedness of all things and breath out the Universe. I am always present in you especially in your darkness moments. Death is merely an exhale and birth a new breath. I feel the Infinite consciouness of freedom in your smile. Your peace is my peace and your pain is my pain. I am you and you are me. Together we are stronger then steel and sharper then diamonds. With the reality of this inconnectivity we bend when needed but do not break for we are two links in the unbreakable chain of the Infinite One. Our clear and sharp mindfulness of the Higher Diamond Self cuts through delusions, illusions and the ego self as a knife shreds through paper.

Reality is unfolding as it should and we are integrated into the very heart of this all encompassing, Enlightened Presence. The all poweful light of this ultimate consciousness fills the darkest caves and the most awesome black holes. There is no place where the Unexplainable Divine is not present. Rejoice in this moment for it is the door beyond which samsara fades away. Let us go beyond all doors, explode and merge into the pure light of MahaPariNirvana. There is no other reality then this. OM.

~Peace to all beings~

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Introducing: Deer Park DharmaCast

The Deer Park Monastery in California, USA has created a blog where we can find podcasts of guided meditations, chanting and dharma talks. It is a great resource and blessing that I would like to share with you all. I just enjoyed the 4 September 2006 podcast titled, "Saturday Evening Guided Meditation and Chanting." It is a beautiful offering and makes for a very peaceful and uplifting meditation.

Enjoy!

~Peace to all beings~

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

International Day of Peace

21 September 2006 In New York Secretary-General Kofi Annan rang the Peace Bell, on the seared fields of conflict in Somalia appeals rang out to end the violence and in Afghanistan children flew the once forbidden kites of hope as the United Nations system today marked the annual International Day of Peace from its stately Headquarters building to the furthest flung trenches of warfare.


“For some of us, peace is a day-to-day reality,” Mr. Annan declared as he stood in front of the bell, a gift from Japan cast from the pennies donated by children from 60 nations, before driving the ringing beam into it three times,” the last time he will do so as he steps down from his office at the end of the year.

“Our streets are safe; our children go to school. Where the fabric of society is strong, the precious gifts of peace can almost go unremarked. But for far too many people in the world today, those gifts are only an elusive dream. They live in chains: a climate of insecurity and fear. It is mainly for them that this day exists.”

James: As Buddhists we know that we are interconnected with all people and things. As long as one person suffers then we all suffer. As long as one child is in bondage then we are all in bondage. As long as one person is living in fear then we are all living in fear. We are only as strong as our weakest link.

And yet, if peace is in our hearts then it is in the hearts of the darkest corner of the darkest heart as all things inter-are. That light of peace, happiness, compassion and loving-kindness might be simply a tiny seed but it is there as it is in all of us. If we cultivate peace in our own lives then that peaceful influence will grow and grow sending out radiant beams of penatrating peace that will feed the seed of peace in all beings. We can realize peace in the world by realizing peace in ourselves. Peace day is a great reminder to us all that peace exists and waits to be realized and uncovered like hidden treasure.

May we continue to work to realize universal peace.

~Peace to all beings~

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Buddhism: Science of the Mind.

Did you know that Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in America? Yep, most scholars and research buffs have it behind Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The number of adherents rose by 170 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the American Religious Identity Survey. An ARIS estimate puts the total in 2004 at 1.5 million, while others have estimated twice that. "The 1.5 million is a low reasonable number," says Richard Seager, author of "Buddhism in America."

Yet I have found that many people do not know much about Buddhism. This was really made clear to me last night in viewing the first episode of the new season of "The Amazing Race." This is a reality show where contestants travel around the world in hopes of winning $1 million. Well, one of the girls in the cheerleader duo team said, "Do Muslims believe in Buddha?" I was not offended by this statement of ignorance but it did make me think, "Do we Buddhists need to be doing more to inform the general public as to what we believe and what we are all about or should we just continue to focus on our own practice?

Generally we Buddhists do not proselytize and I think that is still the way to go. In fact, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that people should not become Buddhists!! Interestingly, Buddhism is often called the "religion of no religion." The Dalai Lama would most likely agree with such a definition since he sees "Buddhism" actually being more a science then a religion as Buddhism urges personal experience/experiment rather then accepting things upon faith. In addition, the Buddhist master says, "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change. In my view, science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality."

As we all know Buddhism is also very much about radical acceptance of the role change plays in samsara and that includes the very religion itself. We should not become attached to "Buddhism" and the idea of being a "Buddhist" as they are simply hallow words, things and just more attachments. And I believe also that numbers should not matter to practioners as those change too. People come and go. And perhaps one day "Buddhism" will no longer exist but that is nothing to fear. There will hopefully always be a path available to those trapped in samsara but it may not be known as "Buddhism."

Thus, in conclusion I believe that one's karma is what brings one to the path of the Dharma. It can be no other way can it? For if we come to Buddhism through coherson(sp?) or because it is "cool" then it actually becomes a negative as we simply see it as a "thing" rather then a path to liberation, a tool. Perhaps the saying, "when the student is ready the teacher arrives" is cliche but it is still none the less true.

Just my two cents anyway. Of course I could be totally off base so don't take my word for it--see for yourself. Look within for answers to your questions. Experiment with the "science of the mind" better known as "Buddhism" (smile).

~Peace to all beings~

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Darkness or Light

In early times in Japan, bamboo-and-paper lanterns were used with candles inside. A blind man, visiting a friend one night, was offered a lantern to carry home with him. "I do not need a lantern," he said. "Darkness or light is all the same to me." "I know you do not need a lantern to find your way," his friend replied, "but if you don't have one, someone else may run into you. So you must take it." The blind man started off with the lantern and before he had walked very far someone ran squarely into him. "Look out where you are going!" he exclaimed to the stranger. "Can't you see this lantern?" "Your candle has burned out, brother," replied the stranger.

--Paul Reps, in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Indra's net Glistens


Soft, misty rain touches the One in the many.
Indra's net* glistens.

Thunder rumbles across the horizon.
Birds flutter in the light shower.
The face is graced with a smile.

All is well in the Universe.
And when is it not.

-"James"

*The Indra's Net: What Is It?

FAR AWAY IN THE HEAVENLY ABODE OF THE GREAT GOD INDRA, THERE IS A WONDERFUL NET WHICH HAS BEEN HUNG BY SOME CUNNING ARTIFICER IN SUCH A MANNER THAT IT STRETCHES OUT INDEFINITELY IN ALL DIRECTIONS. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EXTRAVAGANT TASTES OF DEITIES, THE ARTIFICER HAS HUNG A SINGLE GLITTERING JEWEL AT THE NET'S EVERY NODE, AND SINCE THE NET ITSELF IS INFINITE IN DIMENSION, THE JEWELS ARE INFINITE IN NUMBER. THERE HANG THE JEWELS, GLITTERING LIKE STARS OF THE FIRST MAGNITUDE, A WONDERFUL SIGHT TO BEHOLD. IF WE NOW ARBITRARILY SELECT ONE OF THESE JEWELS FOR INSPECTION AND LOOK CLOSELY AT IT, WE WILL DISCOVER THAT IN ITS POLISHED SURFACE THERE ARE REFLECTED ALL THE OTHER JEWELS IN THE NET, INFINITE IN NUMBER. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT EACH OF THE JEWELS REFLECTED IN THIS ONE JEWEL IS ALSO REFLECTING ALL THE OTHER JEWELS, SO THAT THE PROCESS OF REFLECTION IS INFINITE

THE AVATAMSAKA SUTRA
FRANCIS H. COOK: HUA-YEN BUDDHISM : THE JEWEL NET OF INDRA 1977


~Peace to all beings

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Cup Runneth Over

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the cup overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in." "Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

--Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

James: This is one of my favorite teachings. The tea analogy is perfect.

Switching subjects, I won my disability case. Thank-you for your thoughts and well wishes. I was sooo nervous ahead of time but I had a good meditation and thus felt relaxed going into it. I was nervous again in front of the judge but my deep breathing helped me stay focused and present. What a blessing is the Dharma!

~Peace to all beings~

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Monday, September 04, 2006

There is Nothing Such as Nirvana to be Sought.

Just understand that birth-and-death is itself nirvana. There is nothing such as birth and death to be avoided; there is nothing such as nirvana to be sought. Only when you realize this are you free from birth and death.

-Dogen, "Moon in a Dewdrop"

James: It's always easier then we like to make it isn't it? I really like the clear and concise teachings of Dogen. It is one that I take to heart and use to remind myself of the bigger picture of it all. The more I learn the less I realize that I need to "know" and the more I see that I need to let go. In letting go we "gain" so much more. I guess "gain" isn't the best word to describe what happens when we let go. What else can be said about this teaching? Words are so inadequate in describing the indescribable.

~Peace to all beings~

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Don't Chase the Past, Don't Seek the Future.

The first step ... is to cut off the chain of associated concepts and words that flood the mind, holding it with recollection on the present, on what is. Thus in a famous verse, the Buddha used to say, "Don't chase after the past, don't seek the future; the past is gone, the future hasn't come. But see clearly on the spot, that object which is now, while finding and living in a still, unmoving state of mind."

--Bhikkhu Mangalo, The Practice of Recollection

James: As with all teachings it seems, this one came at the right moment. My disability hearing is coming up on the 6th and most of last week I was so stressed out that my stomach was in knots. Starting yesterday though I began to breath and remember this priceless teaching. I have planned as much as I can for this hearing and now I am letting go of it. It has been over two years in the making and now I have to let the final moment unfold as it will. I can not control what the judge will decide. In fact, there is not much I can control at all so I might as well breath deeply and ride the wave. Why go against the current if I don't have to? I am not going to fight a fight that has yet to appear.

I'm sure I will be stressed on hearing day when I go before the judge but I am not going to stress over it right now. I am not going to loose my mindfulness over this hearing. Even we don't win, it is not worth loosing my inner peace over. Life will go on and I will deal with whatever moment arises then. Right now I am breathing deeply and that is my only reality.

The only thing I ask is that you keep me in your thoughts on 6 September around 2:00 mountain time. Thanks everyone for your support.

~Peace to all beings~

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Friday, September 01, 2006

The One Appearing in the Many


From his divine power comes forth all this
Magical show of name and form, of you
And me, which casts the spell of pain and pleasure.
Only when we pierce through this magic veil
Do we see the One who appears as many.

-Shvetashvatara Upanishad

James: The One appearing in the many is for me, "God."

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