Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Sage

The Buddha, Lao-tzu, and Confucius by Seigan Hanai

Many traditional societies have venerated the role of sage but perhaps none more clearly than the Chinese. The two formative philosophies of Chinese history, Taoism and Confucianism, each see the sage as the primary keeper and transmitter of wisdom, culture, values, and spirituality.

~William Martin,
in the Introduction to his work
The Sage's Tao Te Ching



Our Endless Stories


Sometimes when you see yourself beginning to dive into one of those stories you've told yourself a thousand times—"no one understands me," "I can't get anything right," "I'm always surrounded by fools . . ."—whatever that story is, sometimes it's possible to just say, "This story is not helping anyone," let it go, and move on.

~Ben Connelly, in Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Potato Balls

This recipe comes from an old Italian farm woman I was honored to meet.

1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1 sprig of fresh marjoram, leaves stripped and minced
2 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 large eggs
Olive oil for frying
1 cup of breadcrumbs
Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes in water to cover until soft, then drain.

When the cooked potatoes are cool enough to handle, grind them in a mortar with the pine nuts, the butter, the marjoram, and the cheese.

Separately whip the egg whites until frothy.

Add the egg yolks to the potato mixture and stir energetically with a wooden spoon to obtain a soft and creamy texture that is not too solid.

Heat several inches of olive oil in a high-sided pan.

Shape the potato mixture into balls, dip them in the frothy egg whites, then in the breadcrumbs, and fry in the hot oil until golden.

Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt (I added a wee bit of powdered cayenne), and serve.



Dukkha


I recently came across an interesting definition of the Pali word dukkha.

Mark Epstein, M.D. in the introduction to his book Open to Desire uses the phrase, ". . . the gnawing sense of incompleteness."



Who We Have Become

Painting by Xu Zhao Qian

Although those of us approaching or already in the midst of this saging third of our lives have much to appreciate and enjoy, the wisdom accumulated over a lifetime often clashes with the admonitions of others to pursue the life of the forever young. Each of us must come to terms with those messages that are at odds with who we have become.

~Chungliang Al Huang,
in his Forward to William Martin's
The Sage's Tao Te Ching




Becoming Wise Requires a Lifetime

Painting by Martin Driscoll

At fifteen I was committed to learning. At thirty I took my rightful position. At forty, I was no longer totally perplexed. At fifty, I began to understand the unfolding of my true nature. At sixty, I was in harmony with contradictions and ambivalence. At seventy, at long last, I may follow my heart's desire without going astray.

~Confucius



Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Ultimate Aspiration of Buddhist Practice





Deep meditative states are not the ultimate aspiration of Buddhist practice; the root aspiration is the alleviation of suffering.

~Ben Connelly, in Inside Vasubandu's Yogacara



Awareness










Sometimes when I get angry and self-pride becomes intense, I begin to feel very sure that I am right. I get tense and my mind churns over and over, imaging arguments I'll never have.

~Ben Connelly, in Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara












A Sick-Nurse


When a sick-nurse has five qualities, he is unfit to look after the sick: he is not clever at preparing medicine; he does not know what is and what is not suitable, so he brings what is unsuitable and takes away what is suitable; he looks after the sick for mercenary reasons rather that with thoughts of loving-kindness; he is squeamish about removing excrement, urine, spittle or vomit; he is not clever at instructing, urging, rousing and encouraging the sick with timely talk of the Dharma. When a sick-nurse has the five opposite qualities, he is fit to look after the sick.

~The Buddha, in The Mahavagga



The Buddha and the Sick Monk


Now a certain monk was once sick with dysentery, and he lay fouled in his own urine and excrement. As the Blessed One was going the round of the lodgings with the venerable Ananda as his attendant monk, he came to that monk's dwelling. When he saw him lying where he was, he went up to him and said, "What is your sickness, monk?"

"It is dysentery, Blessed One."

"But, monk, have you no attendant?"

"No, Blessed One."

"Why do the monks not look after you, monk?"

"I am of no use to the monks, Lord; that is why they do not look after me."

Then the Blessed One said to the venerable Ananda, "Ananda, go and fetch some water. Let us wash this monk."

"Even so, Lord," the venerable Ananda replied, and he brought some water.

The Blessed One poured out the water and the venerable Ananda washed the monk. Then the Blessed One took him by the head and the venerable Ananda took him by the feet, and they raised him up and put him on a bed.

With this as the occasion and this as the reason, the Blessed One summoned the monks and asked them, "Monks, is there a monk sick in a certain dwelling?"

"There is, Blessed One."

"What is that monk's illness?"

"He has dysentery, Lord."

Has he anyone to look after him?"

"No, Blessed One."

"Why do the monks not look after him?"

"Lord. that monk is of no use to the monks; that is why they do not look after him."

"Monks, you have neither mother nor father to look after you. If you do not look after each other, who will look after you? Let him who would look after me look after one who is sick. If he has a preceptor, his preceptor should as long as he lives look after him until his recovery. His teacher, if he has one, should do likewise. Or his co-resident, or his pupil, or one who has the same preceptor, or one who has the same teacher. If he has none of these, the Sangha should look after him. Not to do so is an offence of wrongdoing.

"When a sick man has five qualities, he is hard to look after: he does what is unsuitable; he does not know the measure of what is suitable; he does not take medicine; he does not disclose his illness to his sick-nurse who seeks his welfare, or tell him that he is better when it is so, or worse when it is so, or the same when it is so; he is of a type unable to endure arisen bodily feelings that are painful, harsh, racking, piercing, disagreeable, unwelcome and menacing to life. When a sick man has the five opposite qualities, he is easy to look after.

~The Buddha, in The Mahavagga



Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Four Comforts


With his heart thus unhostile and unafflicted by ill will, thus undefiled and unified, a noble disciple here and now acquires these four comforts.

He thinks: "If there is another world and there is fruit and ripening of actions well done and ill done, then it is possible that on the dissolution of the body, after death, I might be reborn in a heavenly world."

This is the first comfort acquired.

"But if there is no other world and there is no fruit and ripening of actions well done and ill done, then here and now in this life I shall be free from hostility, affliction and anxiety, and I shall live happily."

This is the second comfort acquired.

"If evil befalls one who does evil, then since I have no evil thought of anyone, how shall evil deeds bring suffering to me, doing no evil?"

This is the third comfort acquired.

"But if no evil befalls one who does evil, then I know myself to be pure in this life on both counts."

This is the fourth comfort acquired.

~The Buddha, in The Anguttara Nikaya



Friday, June 23, 2017

Three Translations of a Section of the Hsin Hsin Ming


If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to embrace them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise person attaches to no goals
but the foolish person fetters himself or herself.
There is one Dharma, without differentiation.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.


~translated by Richard B. Clarke


If you with to enter the one vehicle,
Do not be repelled by the sense realm.
With no aversion to the sense realm,
You become one with true enlightenment.
The wise have no motives;
Fools put themselves in bondage.
One dharma is not different from another.
The deluded mind clings to whatever it desires.
Using mind to cultivate mind 
Is this not a great mistake?

~translated by Ch'an Master Sheng Yen


If you wish to move in the One Way,
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise attaches to no goals,
but the foolish fetter themselves.
There is but one Dharma, not many.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
Using mind to stir up the mind
is the original mistake.

~Eric Putkonen





Vegetarianism or Food Fad


Some vegetarians have a near obsession with meat and its consumption and little or no interest or concern about any other kind of cruelty towards animals (the circus, animals used in labor or entertainment, exotic pets) or they exhibit a carelessness towards the environment in which animals and humans need to live.

For many vegetarians, simply abstaining from meat is enough. From a thoughtful Buddhist perspective, this may not be enough.

You can be a scrupulous vegetarian and at the same time be unkind and uncaring towards other Beings.

Vegetarianism is good, but if it does not go hand-in-hand with a compassionate regard for all human and animal life it's just another food fad.

If a person decides to be a vegetarian, may they be aware and be an intelligent and compassionate one.


Mind


If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming




Mind


If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to embrace them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming



Mind


If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to embrace them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise person attaches to no goals
but the foolish person fetters himself or herself.
There is one Dharma, without differentiation.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming




Mind


The wise person attaches to no goals
but the foolish person fetters himself or herself.
There is one Dharma, without differentiation.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming




Mind


There is one Dharma, without differentiation.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming



Mind


Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming



Mind


To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.

                                     ~The Hsin Hsin Ming





Thursday, June 22, 2017

Drunken Cauliflower



3 pounds of cauliflower, cut into florets and rinsed
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine (Trebbiano or Orvieto work well)
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, halved
Chili pepper flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste

Put all the ingredients into a soup pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover.

Cover the pan and cook slowly at a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender to your liking.

Remove the bay leaves and serve.



Asparagus with Fried Eggs

2 pounds of asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 large eggs

Cook the asparagus upright in the basket of an asparagus pot or in a large saucepan with water to cover until they are bright green.

Drain well, divide equally, and lay out on four warmed plates.

Sprinkle the cooked asparagus generously with the cheese.

Heat the butter in a pan, fry the eggs sunny-side up, and top each serving of asparagus with one of the eggs so the cheese melts.


The Simplicity of the Enlightened Person


When it gets cold,

                 put on more clothes;

when it gets hot,

                  use your fan.

                                              ~Confucian Wisdom




The Practice


Becoming a Buddha in this very existence.

                                                             ~Kukai



In the "Zencharoku" the Author Quotes the "Tao Te Ching" in Regard to the 'Truly Good'


Everybody understands the beautiful to be "beautiful,"
But this only creates the concept of "ugly";
Everybody understands the good to be "good,"
But this only creates the concept of "bad."




Drowning in Superstitious Ignorance



(Need I point out this man starts in the singular and ends in the plural, avoids the conjunction 'and', and fails to end his sentience with the required period?)

It Is Not Divine, It Is Not A Sacred Mystery Known Only To A Select Few, It Is Not Magic, It Is Realization Through The Practice Of Awareness


Realizing that bodily sensation, and the body itself, is not I, me, or mine; impulses to act are not  Ime, or mine; being aware is not  Ime, or mine. We see this through nonjudgmentally observing things arise and go away, seeing that all phenomena, including those that we'd normally categorize as being "ourselves," are just fleeting things that are happening.

~Ben Connelly, in Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara



Karma


Karma is intention, having intended, one does karma through body, speech, and mind.

~The Buddha, in The Anguttara Nikaya




Wisdom Learned


I began to realize that yelling at dangerous drivers was not going to promote my welfare and the thing to do was take care of my reactivity, my consciousness.

~Ben Connelly, in Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara




The Four


That you and I have had to travel and trudge through this long round is owing to our not discovering, not penetrating, four truths. 

What four?

They are:
(1) the truth of dukkha,
(2) the truth of the origin of dukkha,
(3) the truth of the cessation of dukkha,
and (4) the truth of the way leading to the cessation of dukkha.

~The Digha Nikaya



There Is No Beginning


Monks, the round is beginningless. Of the beings that travel and trudge through this round, shut in as they are by ignorance and fettered by craving, no first beginning is describable.

~The Samyutta Nikaya



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Liberation of Meditation

In Buddhist practice we come to know things through mindfulness, through nonjudgmental, moment-to-moment awareness. As we pay attention to sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and thoughts, we begin to see that they are just things that come and go. We begin to dis-identify with them, to not hold tightly but let them be. The realization that our thoughts are just something that is coming and going, that they are not ourselves, is often one of the most striking and liberating aspects people experience when they begin meditation.

~Ben Connelly, in Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara



Freedom


At the beginning of the Heart Sutra, the most widely chanted Mahayana sutra, the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, relieves all dukkha by understanding and then sharing all dharmas, all phenomena are empty, without their own self-nature.

Deep practice in the Mahayana tradition is to see that nothing at all has its own self-nature.



Tomato-Lentil Soup with Brown Rice




2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 bunches of green onion, white parts thinly sliced, green tops thinly sliced and reserved
2 small carrots, scrubbed and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic (large or small, your taste), finely chopped
4 cups of vegetable broth (Use a good broth. A soup stands or falls on the quality of its broth.)
1 cup of water
1 cup of lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/4 cup of brown rice
1 (14-ounce) can of whole tomatoes, drained, seeded, and coarsely chopped, reserve the juices
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
1 large bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste




In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the chopped onion, the white parts of the green onions, the carrots, the celery, and the garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, the water, the lentils, the rice, the tomatoes, the reserved tomato juices, the thyme, the bay leaf, and the salt and pepper.

Bring everything to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, until the lentils and the rice are tender, stirring occasionally, 50 to 60 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf.

Serve hot garnished with the reserved green onion tops.