Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Walrus

One of the core ideas in Buddhist philosophy is that subject and object are one. Or, as John Lennon said in "I Am the Walrus," "I am he as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together." That's actually a very coherent Buddhist statement. The Rutles' parody of this song (Piggy in the Middle") begins, "I know you know what you know, but you should know by now that you're not me." This is also straight-up Buddhism. I'm not kidding.

~Brad Warner, in It Came From Beyond Zen

What's Going On

We often don't really enter the present moment because we're too bound up with ideas about. . .well, about a whole bunch of things. We're stuck in our concepts about what's going on and we miss what's actually going on.

~Brad Warner, in It Came From Beyond Zen

Right Effort

If your practice is good, you may become proud of it. What you do is good, but something more has been added. Pride is extra. Right effort is to get rid of something extra.

~Shunryu Suzuki

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Buddhist Temple’s Addiction Recovery Program Receives $5,000 Grant

Below is a press release sent out today to all the news papers in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Ludington, and the Advanced Community newspapers.

HEADLINE: Buddhist Temple’s Addiction Recovery Program Receives $5,000 Grant

The Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple has received a $5,000 grant from the Frederick P. Lentz Foundation for American Buddhism to support and expand its Buddhist Based Addiction Recovery Program.

The Temple’s Addiction Recovery Program was developed by the Temple itself through the efforts of several of its members who saw the need for an alternative to the traditional 12 step recovery programs. It began with the Temple’s opening in 2011 with an initial meeting of 12 participants. Today over 100 people attend one or more of its now five meetings in Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, and Ludington.

The Buddhist Based Addiction Recovery Program is a 12 step program that reflects the Buddhist teachings on personal responsibility, love, kindness, and compassion. It is the only Buddhist based Addiction Recovery Program in West Michigan.

The Frederick P. Lentz Foundation for American Buddhism is headquartered in Los Angeles California. It was established by Dr. Frederick P. Lentz (“Rama”) to foster the growth and development of an authentic American Buddhism that is uniquely suited to the contemporary American society and culture. It promotes Dr. Lentz’ goals through grant making, programming, and his own teachings on tape and video. The Foundation grants up to $5 million a year to those institutions and organizations whose activities support of Dr. Lentz’ vision.

The grants proceeds will be used to expand the Temple’s ability to make the Buddhist Based Addiction Recovery Program more available. In addition, some of the proceed will be used to train additional facilitators on the Temple’s program.

For more information on the Buddhist Based Addiction Recovery Program visit the Temple’s website or call the Venerabl Ahm Koh at 616-437-2310

Monday, January 15, 2018


You are the Universe.

The Universe is You.

A Simple Apple Pie

3 cups of peeled and finely diced apples
1 cup of sugar (brown or white, they both work well)
2/3 cup of cream
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 rounded tablespoon of flour
1 store-bought pie shell

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients except the shell.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake the pie for 30 to 40 minutes longer.

When the pie is about halfway done, take a table knife and push the top apples down into the pie to soften them.

When finished, allow the pie to rest about 20 minutes.


Just a Trick of Thought

Life, the universe, and everything are exactly what they are. When we think we're trying to understand them, what we usually end up doing instead is trying to find foolproof ways to describe them to ourselves rather than just fully experiencing them. We try to make symbolic representations of them in our brains. But it doesn't work because the representation in never the thing it represents.

Dogen and other Buddhist teachers suggest, instead, allowing the mind to be like a mirror that reflects clearly the world it encounters without trying to reduce it into something else. If you can do this, you start to see that the division you think exists between yourself and the rest of the universe is really just a trick of thought. It has some usefulness for communication purposes, so that you can describe that one unit of the universe you image yourself to be. But it's not real. The universe is more you than the "you" that you've created could ever be.

~Brad Warner, in It Came From Beyond Zen

What is Equality?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What Is Compassion?

Ungan asked, "What does Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, do with her bazillions of hands and eyes?"

Dogo answered, "She's like someone reaching for a pillow in the middle of the night."

Ungan replied, "Right on. I get it."

Dogo asked, "How do you get it?"

Ungan answered, "The entire body is hands and eyes."

Dogo said, "Not bad. I'd give you a B-plus."

Ungan said, "That's my take on it. What's yours bro?"

Dogo said, "No matter where you go it's all hands and eyes."

Lots of people have tried expressing what compassion really is, but nobody has ever equaled Ungan and Dogo. If you really want to know about compassion you should study their words.

Along with Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion has a lot of other names, too. Sometimes she's called "the One Who Hears the Sounds of the World" and sometimes she's called "the One Who Perceives Everything."Don't think of Kannon as one of the lesser Buddhist deities. She is the mother and the father of all the Buddhas. She's a pretty big deal.

~An edited plagiarizing of Brad Warner's work It Came From Beyond Zen

Note: In Sanskrit Kannon is known as Avalokiteshvara; In Chinese he/she is know as Quan Shi Yin. 

The Moon on Waves

There is only one moon, but as it sets into the sea, each wave reflects it a little differently. It's the same way with us human beings and the truth. "The truth is only one," as Nishijima Roshi used to say. But each of us reflects that truth a bit differently.

~Brad Warner, in It Came From Beyond Zen

Meditation Off the Cushion

Cooks enact the Buddhist Way by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.

~Eihei Dogen

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Freedom is Found in Understanding


The Indian thought and practice encountered by Buddha was based on an idea of human beings as a combination of spiritual and physical elements. They thought that the physical side of man bound the spiritual side, and so their religious practice was aimed at making the physical element weaker in order to free and strengthen the spirit. Thus the practice Buddha found in India emphasized asceticism. But Buddha found when he practiced asceticism that there was no limit to the attempt to purge ourselves physically, and that it made religious practice very idealistic. This kind of war with our body can only end when we die. But according to this Indian thought, we will return to another life, and another life, to repeat the struggle over and over again, without ever attaining perfect enlightenment. And even if you think you can make your physical strength weak enough to free your spiritual power, it will only work as long as you continue your ascetic practice. If you resume your everyday life you will have to strengthen your body, but then you will have to weaken it again to regain your spiritual power. And then you will have to repeat this process over and over again. This may be too great a simplification of the Indian practice encountered by Buddha, and we may laugh at it, but actually some people continue this practice even today. Sometimes without realizing it, this idea of asceticism is in the back of their minds. But practicing in this way will not result in any progress.

Buddha's way was quite different. Buddha was not interested in the elements comprising human beings, nor in metaphysical theories of existence. He was more concerned about how he himself existed in this moment. That was his point.

~Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Simply Do What You Are Doing

To cook, or to fix some food, is not preparation, according to Dogen; it is practice. To cook is not just to prepare food for someone or for yourself; it is to express your sincerity. So when you cook you should express yourself in your activity in the kitchen. You should allow yourself plenty of time; you should work on it with nothing in your mind, and without expecting anything. You should just cook!

~Shunryu Suzuki

The Avatamsaka Sutra

As to the Avatamsaka-Sutra, it is really the consummation of Buddhist thought, Buddhist sentiment, and experience. To my mind, no religious literature in the world can ever approach the grandeur of conception, the depth of feeling, and the gigantic scale of composition, as attained by the sutra. Here not only deeply speculative minds find satisfaction. but humble spirits and heavily oppressed hearts, too, will have their burdens lightened. Abstract truths are so concretely, so symbolically represented here that one will finally come to a realization of the truth that even in a particle of dust the whole universe is seen reflected—not this visible universe only, but a vast system of universes, conceivable by the highest minds only.

~D. T. Suzuki

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Hua-yen Eight

1 . . . Hold Compassion and Wisdom [Insight] in equal measure.

2 . . . Know the metaphor of Indra's Net.

3 . . . Understand opinion is not necessarily reality.

4 . . . Beliefs are not facts.

5 . . . Examine everything.

6 . . . Observe without judgment.

7 . . . Question everything.

8 . . . There is no discernible beginning, there is no discernible ending.

All Living Things

In time, say the scriptures, every living thing, even the grass, will enter the unspeakable bliss of nirvana. Were it otherwise, it would not be the Dharma.

~Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra, by Francis H. Cook

Buddhism Entails Much More Than Having A Certain Philosophy Of Existence

Buddhism is praxis, something that one does. Although elements such as having faith, possessing a warm feeling about the religion, and adhering to certain credal formulas are not absent from Buddhism, it may safely be said that these things are not in themselves enough. Likewise, there is a lot of "philosophy" in Buddhism, in the form of logic, cosmology, and epistemology, but to be a Buddhist entails much more than having a certain philosophy of existence. One must make the philosophy a lived reality, so that systems of thought such as Hua-yen must give rise to a particular mode of activity. Otherwise, the believer is merely indulging in intellectual fun, and Buddhism would claim that the problem of life is too pressing to waste in fruitless mind-games.

Faith, attitudes, credal purity, and the like, are not without value, but in themselves they are insufficient for spiritual freedom. They may help in some way to make the long journey to infinite light, but the journey itself is a series of acts of a certain kind, including some glimpse, however partial and imperfect, of the light itself.

~Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra, by Francis H. Cook

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Mexican Pie

4 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Jalapeno sauce to taste
1 cup of shredded Anejo cheese
1 4 ounce can of diced green chilis
1 tomatillo, diced
1 9-inch single pie crust.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the eggs in a large bowl and beat well.

Add all the other ingredients except the pie shell. Stir well to combine.

Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Buddhist Practice

Buddhism is not about something "out there." It is no pie-in-the-sky religion. Buddhism is about your mind, your actions, your responses, and your moment-to-moment daily life.

Buddhist Practice

If you practice, you will become the Practice—that is the Practice.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Cream of Brie and Leek Soup

1/2 cup of unsalted butter
8 large leeks (white part only) finely chopped
4 cups of unsalted vegetable broth
1/2 cup of flour
2 cups of milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds of Brie cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped chives to garnish

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt 1/4 cup of the butter

Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.

Strain the leeks from the broth.

In a food processor, puree the cooked leeks with 1/2 cup of the broth. Pour the pureed leeks back into the pot and keep the heat on low.

Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter. Blend to create a smooth paste.

Add the flour paste to the soup broth and stir well.

Blend in the milk and the cream, one cup at a time. Whisk the soup until it is smooth.

Chop the brie, including the rind, into small cubes. Add the chopped cheese to the soup in small batches. Blend between each addition until the soup is smooth. The small bits of rind will remain but the soup will become smooth.

It will take some time for the cheese to melt, but do not turn up the heat or you'll scald the milk and the cream.

Keep adding, stirring, and blending the cheese until all is melted.

If you enjoy the flavor of the brie rind, leave it in the soup. If you are not a fan of brie rind, dip it out with a strainer.

Season the soup with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the chives.


Verses Spoken by Prince Light of Great Power

Illumined by Buddha's light, 
All beings are peacefully happy;
All pains of existence cleared away,
Their minds are filled with joy.

See the hosts of enlightened beings
Gathering from the ten directions,
All emitting clouds
Extolling the praises of Buddha.

The enlightenment sight produces wondrous sound,
Extremely deep and far reaching,
Able to eliminate the suffering of sentient beings;
This is the Buddha's spiritual power.

Everyone's paying reverent respect,
All greatly joyful at heart,
Together before the World Honored One,
Gazing at the King of Truth.

~The Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra), 
Book Six: Vairocana

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Buddhist Creation Story - For Children


Guilt has been, and still is, a very powerful tool of the Abrahamic traditions. Christianity has used, and still uses, guilt to great effect.

Guilt has no place in a spiritual tradition. Guilt poisons and crushes and creates fences

When an error has been made, recognize it. Correct it if possible. Heal or repair if necessary, and possible.

Use your error as a teaching tool.

Do not allow guilt to invade and poison and distort.

Hua-yen Buddhism

Sunday, December 31, 2017


What Is A Sentient Being?

The New Oxford American Dictionary (2001): able to perceive or feel things.

Is a cow sentient?

Can a cow feel a human hand petting it?

Are protozoa sentient?

Can protozoa perceive light or cold?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Words of a Scientist

Our metaphysics must follow our physics.

~Dr. Sean Carroll

The Practice of Buddhism

Reading about Buddhism is important. But to be aware of my actions, my words, and my thoughts are also very important. To understand my actions (words, thoughts, deeds) have results is important.

A good beginning in the practice of Buddhism to the measure of the Five Precepts: Respect for Life, Respect for the Property of Others, Respect for Sexual Boundaries, Respect for the Use of Language in Regard to Others, and the Respect for My Body and My Mind.

The Practice of Buddhism is not an intellectual exercise. The Practice of Buddhism is a course of Action. The Noble Eightfold Path is Buddhism. It is the Expression of the Teaching and the Experience of Freedom from stress and anxiety.

If you want to know Buddhism, know the Eightfold Path.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Finger Pointing at the Moon

A finger pointing at the moon:
Such are the Teachings, they say.
The Writings themselves are not the Truth;
They merely point the way.

Direct experience leads us to
The gateway of the inspired.
Yet trying to describe the ineffable with words
Leaves much to be desired.

Journeying through life we encounter distractions,
Which in their clever fashion
Can obfuscate the clarity
Of the heart of true compassion

Or lead us down a confusing path
Where knowledge and wisdom are blurred,
And the hopes of our transcending the mundane
Are stifled by a word.

Seeking the Truth is a noble goal;
Awareness comes never too soon.
Just be careful not to mistake
The finger for the moon.

~Bob B

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


True joy happens when the ego is not involved.

~Steve Thayer

Monday, December 18, 2017

An Alternative to Materialism

Americans seem to assume that the alternative to materialism is poverty. I find that ironic because it’s clear to me that the necessary result of materialism is emotional and mental impoverishment.

So the alternative to materialism isn’t poverty. The alternative to materialism is an indifference to wealth that provides a relative immunity to greed.

~Dan Hagen