Friday, April 28, 2017
Rather than attaining nirvana, I see the aim of Buddhist practice to be the moment-to-moment flourishing of human life within the ethical framework of the eightfold path here on earth.
~Stephen Sampson, in Secular Buddhism
Thursday, April 27, 2017
In Room 33 of the British Museum you will find a small clay, second century CE Gandharan bas-relief, which represents the Buddha as a stylized image of the sun placed on a seat beneath the Bodhi tree. In the Pali Canon, Gotama describes himself as belonging to the "solar lineage" (adiccagotta), and others call him by the epithet "solar friend" (adiccamitta). A true friend (kalyanamitta), he remarks, is one who casts light on the path ahead just as the rising sun illuminates the earth. Yet as Buddhism grew into an organized Indian religion, it seemed to lose sight of its solar origins and turned lunar. Nirvana is often compared to the moon: cool, impassive, remote, and also—as they didn't know then but we know now—a pale reflection of an extraordinary source of heat and light. Perhaps we have reached a time when we need to recover and practice again a solar dharma, one concerned with shedding its light (wisdom) and heat (compassion) onto and into this world, which, as far as we know, might be the only one that ever has been or ever will be.
~Stephen Batchelor, in Secular Buddhism
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
1 shallot, minced
2 large yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and diced
Rosemary, to taste, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of mushroom broth
3 fresh porcini mushrooms, cleaned and diced
Thyme leaves, to taste
16 sheets of dry lasagna pasta
Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the shallots and saute for a few minutes.
Add the potatoes and the rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. Saute for a minute.
Add the broth and cook for 8 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and the thyme leaves.
Boil the lasagna to desired tenderness and then drain.
Form individual lasagnas on warmed serving plates by alternating layers of pasta and the potato-mushroom sauce.
You can make 2, 3, or 4 plates of lasagna.
1 . . . Nothing is Lost in the Universe
Matter turns into energy, energy turns into matter. A dead leaf turns into soil. A seed sprouts and become a new plant. Old solar systems disintegrate and turn into cosmic rays. We are born of our parents, our children are born of us.
We are the same as plants, as other people, as the rain that falls. We consist of that which is around us, we are the same as everything. If we destroy something around us, we destroy ourselves. If we cheat another, we cheat ourselves.
Understanding this truth, the Buddha and his disciples never killed an animal or a person.
2 . . . Everything Changes
Everything is continuously changing. Life is similar to a river flowing on and on, ever-changing. Sometimes it flows slowly and sometimes swiftly. It is smooth and gentle in some places, but later there are logs and rocks that must be flowed over or around. As soon as we think we are safe, something unexpected happens.
Once dinosaurs, mammoths, and saber-toothed tigers roamed the Earth. They all have become extinct, yet life has not come to and end. Other forms of life, smaller mammals, appeared. Eventually humans appeared.
Now we can see the Earth from space and are able to understand the changes that have taken place on this planet. Our ideas about life have changed.
People once believed the Earth was flat, now we understand the reality of it being a sphere.
3 . . . The Law of Cause and Effect
The Buddha explained there is continuous changes due to what he termed the Law of Cause and Effect. This is the same law of cause and effect found in every modern science textbook. In this manner, Buddhism and modern science are similar.
The Law of Cause and Effect is know as karma. Our actions (thoughts, word, and deeds) determine the kind of life we can have. If we do the good, it is very likely good will happen. If we do the non-good, it is very likely the non-good will happen.
Every moment we create new karma by what we think, say, and do.
If we understand this Truth we can create a health life and society.
Once we have allowed the theory of a transcendental self to dissipate we begin to understand we are a collection on memories, a history of our experiences. We come to see we are simply the stories we have been telling ourselves in our own minds. These stories, while unique, are inextricably interwoven with the stories of others.
The god of the Christian Bible orders the patriarch Abraham to kill his son Isaac and to then burn the boy's body on a stone altar as a sacrificial offering. Abraham shows his love for the god of the Bible by his willingness to kill his son.
Violence is acceptable to many within the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Meditation on emptiness is not a mere intellectual exercise but a contemplative discipline rooted in an ethical commitment to nonviolence. It is not just a description in unsentimental language of the way reality unfolds; it offers a therapeutic approach to the dilemma of human anguish.
Proponents of the doctrine of emptiness, at least from the time of Nagarjuna, have been subjected to the same kind of criticism as postmodernists receive today. They too have stood accused of nihilism, relativism, and undermining the basis for morality and religious belief. And not only from non-Buddhists; the concept of emptiness is still criticized within the Buddhist tradition itself. The history of the idea of emptiness has been the history of the struggle to demonstrate that far from undermining an ethical way of life, such a life is actually realized through embracing the implications of emptiness.
The emptiness of self, for instance, is not the denial of individual uniqueness but the denial of any permanent, partless, and transcendent basis for individuality. The anguish and uncertainty of human existence are only exacerbated by the preconceptual, spasm-like grip in which such assumptions of transcendence hold us. While seeming to offer security in the midst of an unpredictable and transient world, paradoxically this grip generates an anxious alienation from the processes of life itself. The aim of Buddhist meditations on change, uncertainty, and emptiness are to help one understand and accept these dimensions of existence and thus gently lead to releasing the grip.
~Stephen Batchelor, in Secular Buddhism
For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. ~Christian Bible, chapter 7 verse 4
Why did the Christian god want to kill all the animals on the planet? Of what crime is an animal capable?
Is a raccoon living in a forest, an animal who has never seen a human being, a criminal in the eyes of the Christian god?
This fluidity has enabled Buddhism throughout its history to cross cultural frontiers and adapt itself creatively to situations quite different from those in the lands of its origin on the Indian subcontinent. (The most striking example being that of its movement nearly two thousand years ago to China.) This creative process requires Buddhism to imagine itself as something different. It entails adopting compatible elements from the new host culture while at the same time critiquing elements of that culture that are at odds with its own Buddhist values. So it is hardly surprising that Buddhists today instinctively home in on elements of postmodernity that resonate with their own understanding of the dharma. The danger is that, for the sake of appearing "relevant," they sacrifice the equally vital need to retain a lucid, critical perspective.
~Stephen Batchelor, in Secular Buddhism
Monday, April 24, 2017
When hearing the name of Dharma, don't get the idea that it is anything other than nature. We have it; we are it. Whatever you practice, strive to make it genuine. Strive to make the mind see—see impermanence, see unsatisfactoriness, see the absence of a self. See that nothing is permanent or lasting throughout this world of ours. That is all.
1 head of red cabbage
Salt to taste
2 cups of apple cider vinegar
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
Shred the red cabbage, Place it in a bowl and sprinkle it with the salt.
Combine the vinegar, the water, and the sugar in a sauce pan and bring to the boil. Stir well and turn off the heat.
Pour the hot liquid over the cabbage and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
This cabbage will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
1 pound of sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of caraway seeds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 apples, peeled, cored, and grated
Put the sauerkraut in a large salad bowl and loosen it with a fork.
Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Remove the oil from the heat. Stir in the caraway seeds and immediately pour the oil and seeds over the sauerkraut.
Add the onions and the grated apple.
Mix well and serve.
In the practice of meditation, within the Buddhist tradition, we do not take up a passing thought, nor do we push it way. Both these actions are a form of involvement. In the practice of meditation we simple allow the thought (or emotion) to pass as a cloud passes a mountain top.
Easily said, difficult to do.
This is the practice.
Overcoming attachment does not mean becoming cold and indifferent. On the contrary, it means learning to have relaxed control over our mind through understanding the real causes of happiness and fulfillment, and this enables us to enjoy life more and suffer less.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
The way we carry out a deed is more important than the actual deed itself. It's the driving force that determines the consequences. Having this understanding leads us toward a deeper knowledge—the path of wisdom and compassion. The way we do anything is the way we do everything.
Life functions on many levels.
If we choose to live on the comic book, television, or video game level, our lives will be without refinement or poetry.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
|Artwork by Mayumi Oda|
Avalokiteshvara is Compassion.
Manjushri is Wisdom.
Samantabadhra is Action, Doing Something.
Kshitigarbha is Justice.
Sadaparibhuta is Never Giving Up. Don't Lose Heart. Keep Going.
Whatever you attach to becomes a sect or cult. The sectarian tendency is one of humanity's great problems, whether it's religious or political or whatever. When people say, "My way is right and all the rest are wrong," or "Mine is the best and the rest are inferior," that's attachment. Even if what you have might be the finest, if you're attached to the finest, you're still an unenlightened person.
Friday, April 21, 2017
1 cup of minced yellow onion
1 cup of minced cremini mushroom
1 medium carrot, very finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups of cooked or canned Great Northern beans, rinsed well and drained
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon of tamari
1/4 cup of minced fresh parsley
Put the oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high.
When the oil is hot add the onion, the mushroom, and the carrot and saute for 7 minutes.
Stir the garlic into the mixture and saute for 3 minutes more.
Place the sauteed vegetables, the beans, the nutritional yeast flakes, and the tamari in a food processor.
Process until the mixture is fairly smooth. You'll have to stop every so often to scrap down the sides of the processor bowl.
The finished mixture should be very thick with a bit of texture.
Stir in the parsley.
Transfer the mixture to a storage container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Serve on crackers or bread.
This recipe will make 2 cups of pate. It will keep for about a week if it is refrigerated.
The Buddha told his disciple Ananda to see impermanence, to see death with every breath. We must know death; we must die in order to live. What does this mean? To die is to come to the end of all your doubts, all your questions, and just be here with the present reality.