Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Destiny


                                         You are what your deep, driving desire is.
                                 As your desire, so is your will.
                                 As your will is, so is your deed.
                                 As your deed is, so is your destiny.

                                                        ---Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5---



Grief

Grief is an emotion we have experienced alone and an emotion we have shared. It's an emotion we will experience and share again.

We usually think of grief as a negative. It's sorrowful and lonely. Sometimes it can even be oppressive.

But grief can also be a memorial. An act of love.

The Buddha taught us to be aware of our emotions. To acknowledge our emotions. But to avoid being controlled by our emotions.

I know, from sad personal experience, the depth and strength of my grief is related to the depth of my love.

When grief comes, I don't hide from it, I'm not embarrassed by it.

I embrace it, experience it, and hold it.

I allow grief to be my personal memorial.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Four Noble Truths


                                       The first step of the Four Noble Truths is to be understood.
                                       The second step (which is desire) is to be eradicated. 
                                       Third step (which is Nirvana) is to be realized. 
                                       And the Fourth Step (which is the Middle Path) is to be developed.

Emancipation Without God

For the first time in the history of the world, the Buddha proclaimed an emancipation which each person could gain for him- or herself, during this life, without the least help from a personal god. The Buddha diligently taught the doctrine of self-reliance, of purity, of courtesy, of awakening, of enlightenment, of peace, of empathy, of universal love, respect, and the protection of all Living Beings. The Buddha strongly urged the necessity and importance of knowledge, because without wisdom Awakening can not be attained.

The Buddha said, "One is, indeed, his own savior, for what other savior would there be." Therefore, one should not depend on a savior as such, or on an almighty god, whom no one has ever seen, to direct him or her in the way to live one's life. One should not look to, or expect, a god to protect one from all the day-to-day obstacles in life. Thus, the Buddha explained the futility of expecting emancipation through a god.

The glory of Buddhism is it makes intellectual awakening an essential condition for the emancipation of humankind. In Buddhism, morality and intellectual awakening are inseparable from one another. While morality forms the basis of the higher life, knowledge and wisdom complete it. Dogmatic theology does not explain the world in such a manner, but leaves everything to the will of god, a will not understood by humankind.

According to Buddhism, without an understanding of the Law of Causality, as expressed in the Teaching on Dependent Origination, no one can be said to be moral unless one possesses an insight into these teachings. In this respect, Buddhism differs from all other religious beliefs. Monotheistic religions start with certain assumptions and are contradicted by the growth of knowledge. Buddhism has no assumptions and the teachings are deep because they stand on the firm rock of facts, not hearsay.

The Christians and other monotheistic religions believe in a salvation through a god who is the creator of the Universe.

There is no omnipotent god. Buddhist do not pray to any god for salvation. Death is followed by rebirth guided by the natural Law of Karma (volitional action). Buddhists know salvation is attained through the realization of Nirvana.

Religions such as Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam developed around the belief in a god or gods. As human intelligence grew, a questioning of these beliefs began to develop. An understanding of the lack of justice and fairness and rationality within these beliefs also began to grow and expand.

From a rational point of view, belief in a god gods makes less and less sense.

Buddhism is the first recorded missionary religion in the history of humanity. It carries a universal message of emancipation for all of humankind, all living beings. Bishop Gore, in his challenge to other religions, said, "It is Buddhism, as we find it actually recorded, not a hypothetical primitive system, which still forms a challenge to other religions."

Great Brahma is the personified creator god in Hinduism. According to Islam, Allah is the creator god and the sustainer of all beings. Judaism is centered on a belief in one god. Zoroastrianism believes in Ahura Mazda as the supreme god responsible for the creation of the world. On a logical point of view, one world has been created by many gods.

When one studies religion, one is lead to the conclusion that it appears as if people began to believe in a personified god as a vehicle for their departure from the world.

The belief found in these varied religions that their god is the creator of the world comes from their varied scriptures, which they all claim as true and exclusive.

Today, the intelligentsia, who have reviewed all the available facts about emancipation, have come to the conclusion that, similar to the belief in god, the creation legend must be regarded as an evolution of human imagination, which arose with the false interpretation of the phenomena of nature. These misunderstandings were rooted in a fear and ignorance of primitive humanity who became concerned with the fear of death.

Born as a man, living as a mortal, by his own exertion and intuition, the Buddha attained the supreme state of perfection, that is Buddhahood. Without keeping his awakening to himself, he proclaimed to the world the latent possibilities and the invincible power of the human mind. Instead of placing an unseen almighty god over humanity, and giving humanity a subservient position, in relation to such a conception of divine power, the Buddha demonstrated how humanity could attain the highest knowledge and Supreme Awakening by his own efforts, and seek emancipation by oneself, without offering prayers and sacrifices to a personal god or gods.

The Buddha never advocated the approach of the divine for emancipation after death. H. G. Wells (1866-1946), famed for his scientific fantasies, once said, "In some ways, Buddha was nearer to us in our needs. He was more lucid upon our individual importance to mankind than Jesus Christ, and less ambiguous upon the question of personal immortality, and in approaching the divine for emancipation."

The Buddha said prayers begging for divine help serve no purpose and lead only to self-deceit.

The Buddha was not a god or a super-human being. Buddhism is, in actual sense, not a religion. The Buddha was a Sakyan Prince, who lived in the lap of luxury wanting nothing. He renounced the world at the age of 29 years, and having become a wandering ascetic, he spent six years leading the life of rigorous mortification of the flesh. Realizing the futility of the ascetic ideal, he followed the Middle Path rejecting the extremes of self-mortification and sensuous gratification, to become a Buddha. He did not believe in appealing to the divine to achieve his objective.

Buddhism is a moral philosophy and not a religion as such, though it is commonly referred to by that name. There is no religion without a god or gods, and polytheistic religions have a plurality of gods and goddesses. What is meant by religion is the belief in, the recognition of or an awakened sense of, a high unseen controlling power or powers, with devoted fidelity attached to it. In view of this, those who worship and pray to gods are morbidly or sentimentally religious. Buddhism is free from divine worship because there is no god to be approached.

Buddhist do not pray to the Buddha for salvation. To pray means to ask earnestly, to entreat and implore, to express one's desire to, or to commune with a god. Prayer and worship are common to most religions as an integral part to their approach towards the divine.

The philosophy of Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths. The last of these four truths is the Noble Eightfold Path which leads to Nirvana, the summum bonum in Buddhism.

The entire doctrine of the Buddha can be epitomized to fall within the Four Noble Truths:

1 . . . The Noble Truth of Dukkha.
2 . . . The Noble Truth of the Cause of Dukkha.
3 . . . The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Dukkha, and
4 . . . The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the cessation of Dukkha.

(Note: Dukkha is best used untranslated. Western scholars have translated the word as suffering. A more complete understanding might be stress, discomfort, or dissatisfaction.)

The first step of the Four Noble Truths is to be comprehended.

The second step (which is desire) is to be eradicated.

The third step (which is Nirvana) is to be realized.

The Fourth Step (which is the Middle Path) is to be developed.



Sunday, September 25, 2016

An Early Spanish Tomato Sauce


Take half a dozen tomatoes that are ripe, and put them to roast in the embers, and when they are scorched remove the skin diligently, and mince them finely with a knife. Add onions, minced finely, to discretion; hot chili peppers, also minced finely, and thyme in a small amount. After mixing everything together, adjust it with a little salt, oil, and vinegar. It is a very tasty sauce, both for boiled dishes or anything.

---Antonio Latini, Lo scalco alla moderna, vol. 1 (1692), 
translated by Rudolf Grewe---

Friday, September 23, 2016

Who or What is This "I"


According to the Buddha's teaching, it is as wrong to hold the opinion "I have no self" (which is the annihilationist theory) as to hold the opinion "I have self" (which is the eternalist theory), because both are fetters, both arising out of the false idea I Am. The correct position with regard to the question of Anatta* is not to take hold of any opinions or views, but to try to see things objectively as they are without mental projections, to see that what we call I, or being, is only a combination of physical and mental aggregates, which are working together interdependently in a flux of momentary change within the law of cause and effect, and that there is nothing permanent, everlasting, unchanging, and eternal in the whole of existence.

---Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught---


* Anatta: In Buddhism, the term anattā (Pali) or anātman (Sanskrit) refers to the doctrine of "non-self", that there is no unchanging, permanent soul in living beings.


Yogurt and Tomato Soup

2 cups of plain yogurt
6 cups of tomato juice
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, stems removed, finely      chopped (The amount and type depend on your taste.        Remember, the serrano tends to be hotter than the            jalapenos.)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons of minced fresh mint
2 teaspoons of lemon zest

Mix the yogurt, the tomato juice, the olive oil, the lemon juice, and the vinegar.

Stir in the cucumbers and the peppers.

Taste the soup and season with the salt and the black pepper.

Combine the parsley, the cilantro, the mint, and the lemon zest. Stir this blend into the soup.

Chill the soup for at least 2 hours.

Life After Death


The difference between death and birth is only a thought-moment: the last thought-moment in this conditions the first though-moment in the so-called next life, which, in fact, is the continuity of the same series. During this life itself, too, one thought-moment conditions the next thought-moment. So, from the Buddhist point of view, the question of life after death is not great mystery, and a Buddhist is never worried about this problem.

---Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught---


Rebirth Without a Soul


If there is no permanent, unchanging entity or substance like Self or Soul (atman), what is it that can re-exist or be reborn after death? Before we go on to life after death, let us consider what life is, and how this continues now. What we call life, as we have so often repeated, is the combination of the Five Aggregates, a combination of physical and mental energies. These are constantly changing; they do not remain the same for two consecutive moments. Every moment they are born and they die. "When the Aggregates arise, decay, and die, O Bhikkhus, every moment you are born, decay and die." Thus, even during this life time, every moment we are born and die, but we continue. If we can understand that in this life we can continue without a permanent, unchanging substance like Self or Soul, why can't we understand that those forces themselves can continue without a Self or a Soul behind them after the non-functioning of the body? When this physical body is no more capable of functioning, energies do not die with it, but continue to take some shape or form, which we call another life. In a child all the physical, mental and intellectual faculties are tender and weak, but they have within them the potentiality of producing a full grown man. Physical arid mental energies which constitute the so-called being have within themselves the power to take a new form, and grow gradually and gather force to the full.

---Walpola Rahula, in What the Buddha Taught---

Free From Superstition


And consider the Buddha's marvelous brain, no emotionalism. That great brain never was superstitious. Believe not because an old manuscript has been produced, because it has been handed down to you from your forefathers, because your friends want you to, but think for yourself; search truth for yourself; realize it yourself. Then if you find it beneficial to one and many, give it to the people. The weak minded cannot find the true. One has to be free and as free as the sky. One has to a mind that is crystal clear. Only then can truth shine.

---Swami Vivekananda---


Asia is the Mother of Earth's Major Religions


Christians who regard Buddhism as unsuitable for European conditions forget the Asiatic origin of their own religion, and of all religions for that matter.

---Dr. Edward Conze, in Buddhism---

A Homemade Tomato Juice

5 pounds of very ripe garden tomatoes, peeled,         cored, and seeded
1 small red onion, cut in quarters
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 ribs of celery, with the leaves, cut into large            chunks
1 small bay leaf
1 or 2 (According to your taste.) serrano
      peppers, whole and pierced with a toothpick
4 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
Salt
Sugar

Combine all the ingredients except the salt and the sugar in heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Place over medium heat.

When the tomatoes come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir one or twice during the cooking process.

Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for 15 minutes, covered.

Discard the bay leaf, the parsley, the celery, and the peppers.

Press the mixture through a food mill or a sieve, discard the solids, and chill the juice.

When the juice is thoroughly chilled, taste it and adjust the seasoning with salt and a wee bit of sugar. Don't over sweeten it.

Taste the juice again, and adjust the flavor with salt or sugar. Adjust carefully; you can't remove the salt and sugar once you've added them.

Serve chilled.

Garnish with a wedge of lime or rib of celery.

Non-Alcoholic Cocktail - Tomato Juice Cocktail


4 cups of tomato juice (A homemade juice makes the best            cocktail.)
1 cup of fresh orange juice
The juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1 teaspoon of celery salt
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and taste the juice.

Adjust the seasoning, heat, and acid (vinegar).

Chill thoroughly and serve over ice.

Attaining Liberation








Buddhists do not prefer a religion whose founder is proclaimed to have come down to Earth to clean them of their sins while they laze in armchairs. Instead of that, Buddhists practice to allow their passions to fall away in order to attain liberation by leading a wholesome life based on Compassion and Wisdom, not fear and punishment.

---An Anonymous American Protestant Minister, 
Retired--- 

Hinduism's Debt to the Buddha


It is my deliberate opinion that the essential part of the teachings of the Buddha now forms an integral part of Hinduism. It is impossible for Hindu India today to retrace her steps and go behind the great reformation that Gotama effected in Hinduism. By his immense sacrifice, by his great renunciation, and by the immaculate purity of his life he left an indelible impress upon Hinduism, and Hinduism owes an eternal debt of gratitude to that great teacher.

---Mahatma Gandhi---


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mind


The mind is the nucleus of samsara and nirvana.

                                    ---Lama Thubten Yeshe---

A Dishonest Defense


The pretence by "sophisticated theologians" that the typical Christian in the pews doesn't take the bible literally is nothing short of dishonest.

---Richard Dawkins, 
in his Foreword to Dan Baker's 
God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction---

Mindfulness


In the beginning mindfulness takes away worries and fears about past and future and keeps us anchored in the present. In the end it points to right view of self.

---Ayya Khema---

A Suggestion For Atheism




[Richard] Dawkins and [Dan] Barker have both written books encouraging readers to become atheists. Who knew all they had to do was direct everyone to the Bible?

---Hemant Mehta, editor of FriendlyAtheist.com---

God Needs Salvation, Also











For the first time in human history the Buddha admonished, entreated and appealed to people not to hurt a living being, not to offer prayer or sacrifice to gods. With all the eloquence at his command the exalted one vehemently proclaimed that gods are also in dire need of salvation themselves.

---Professor Rhys Davids---

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Proper Livelihood












There are five trades that a lay follower should avoid. What five? They are: trading in weapons, living beings, meat, liquor, and poisons.

---The Buddha---

Mexican Cauliflower and Onion Soup


1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
30 ounces of vegetable broth (make this a very good broth, it is the foundation of the soup)
1 cup of milk
1 medium baking potato, peeled and sliced
1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
4 green onions, including the green tops
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of minced red jalapeno

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch over over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until softened, around 4 or 5 minutes.

Add the broth, the milk, the potato, the cauliflower, the green onion, the cumin, and the salt. Bring this to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetable are all very soft, perhaps 20 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Return the soup to the pan and stir in the black pepper.

Again, bring the soup to the boil, lower the heat, simmer uncovered until it is thoroughly hot.

Serve sprinkled with the minced red pepper.

The Arhat

Arhat in a Red Robe, by Fan Yang

That which is the exhaustion of lust, of hate, and of delusion is called Arhatship.

---The Buddha---

This Body

Painting by Jacques-Louis David

This body is impermanent, 
it is formed, and it is dependently arisen.

---The Buddha---

Karma and Rebirth


Actions done out of lust or hate or delusion ripen wherever an individual selfhood is generated, and wherever those actions ripen, there their ripening is experienced, whether here and now or on next reappearance or in some life-process beyond that.

---The Buddha---


Perception


There are these six bodies of perception: perception of vision, of sounds, of odors, of flavors, of touch, and of mind objects.

---The Buddha---






Quality is Subjective


On the whole, we naturally tend to trust our everyday perceptions; we assume their validity without it even occurring to us to question them. We naively believe that the way we perceive things is identical with the way things are. And so, because events and things, including the self, appear to have objective reality, we conclude, tacitly and often without any reflection at all, that they do in fact have an objective reality. Only through the process of careful analysis can we see that this is not so, that our perceptions do not accurately reflect objective reality.

. . . all sensory experiences of the external world arise through the coalescence of three factors: a sensory faculty, an object, and our mental perception. This perception of an external object then gives rise to a subjective evaluation: we find the object either attractive or unattractive. We then project desirability or undesirability onto the object, feeling the quality to be an objective reality in the object.

---His Holiness the Dalai Lama--- 

Instruction, Not Punishment


There is no sin in Buddhism.

There is ignorance, not knowing something; and there is delusion, having the wrong information.

The person who does wrong is not a wicked person, but someone who is guided by ignorance or delusion.

The person who performs wrong by word, thought, or deed does not need punishment, they need instruction.


No Fear


Practitioners of the Buddha Dharma are not convinced of the existence of an omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God or Gods that Humanity should fear and obey.

The Buddha asked no one to fear Him.

Freedom and Salvation


Buddhism explains the facts of the world through natural laws and not through the supernatural or extra-mundane intervention of a God or other mystical forces.

Buddhism is a religion for the salvation and freedom of all Living Beings through Awakening.


Salvation


The Buddhist scheme proclaims the ultimate salvation of all beings. Christianity in its most widespread historic forms still condemns an uncounted number to endless torment and unceasing sin.

---J. E. Carpenter, in Buddhism and Christianity---


Words of Neru


No new path can be found to save mankind through fresh conflicts and wars but by pursuing the old path shown to the world by the greatest pathfinder it had known - Gotama Buddha.

---Nehru---

Nothing Permanent


All schools of Buddhism agree that there is nothing human or divine that is permanent.

---Radhakrishnan---

No Hell, No Heaven - Cause and Effect


The Buddha Dharma does not frighten people with the threat of eternal punishment.

Practitioners of the Buddha Dharma do not tremble before the wrath on an angry god.

The Buddha Dharma does not entice people with the promise of an eternal rewards.

Practitioners of the Buddha Dharma do not kowtow for an eternal utopia.

Without Causality: No Science, No Buddhism


The notion of conditioned phenomena maintains the deterministic position of contemporary scientists that no event is without a cause. If we do not believe in causality there can be no Science and no Buddhism.