Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Evolution of Man

Artist: Kamille Corry

The evolution of man is the evolution of his will, and 'will’ cannot evolve involuntarily.

~Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff

Idle Chatter

He avoids idle chatter and abstains from it. He speaks at the right time, in accordance with facts, speaks what is useful, speaks of the Dhamma and the discipline; his speech is like a treasure, uttered at the right moment, accompanied by reason, moderate and full of sense. (Anguttara Nikaya)

Idle chatter is pointless talk, speech that lacks purpose or depth. Such speech communicates nothing of value, but only stirs up the defilements in one's own mind and others. The Buddha advises that idle talk should be curbed and speech restricted as much as possible to matters of genuine importance. In the case of a monk, the typical subject of the passage just quoted, his words should be selective and concerned primarily with the Dhamma. Lay people will have more need for affectionate small talk with friends and family, polite conversation with acquaintances, and talk in connection with their line of work. But even then they should be mindful not to let their conversation stray into pastures where the restless mind, always eager for something sweet and spicy to feed on, might find the chance to indulge its defiling propensities.

The traditional exegesis of abstaining from idle chatter refers only to avoiding engagement in such talk oneself. But today it might be of value to give this factor a different slant, made imperative by certain developments peculiar to our own time, unknown in the days of the Buddha and the ancient commentators. This is avoiding exposure to the idle chatter constantly bombarding us through the new media of communication created by modern technology. An incredible array of devices—television, radio, newspapers, pulp journals, the cinema—turns out a continuous stream of needless information and distracting entertainment the net effect of which is to leave the mind, passive, vacant, and sterile. All these developments, naively accepted as "progress," threaten to blunt our aesthetic and spiritual sensitivities and deafen us to the higher call of the contemplative life. Serious aspirants on the path to liberation have to be extremely discerning in what they allow themselves to be exposed to. They would greatly serve their aspirations by including these sources of amusement and needless information in the category of idle chatter and making an effort to avoid them.

~Bhikkhu Bodhi, in The Noble Eightfold Path


A student once asked Zen Master Seon Nakagawa, " I'm very discouraged. What should I do?"

The Master answered his student, "Encourage others." 


As long as we think, act, live via an object, or as an object: that is bondage.

~Wei Wu Wei

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.

~Eckhart Tolle


Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold and dung. Before you learn it, it's like gold; after you learn it, it's like dung.

~Zen Proverb


Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is just opinion.



One thing I know, that I know nothing. This is the source of my wisdom.



People don't realize their own mind is the Buddha. They keep searching outside.


Letting Go

Monday, August 14, 2017


Those who make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.




When in harmony with the nature of things, 
           your own fundamental nature,
you will walk freely and undisturbed.
However, when mind is in bondage, the truth is hidden,
and everything is murky and unclear,
and the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from attachment to distinctions and separations?

~The Hsin Hsin Ming 

Racism, Sexism - Why?

There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

~The Christian Bible - The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians 3:28

Thank You, Science

The Three Poisons (The Source of the Unwholesome)

                  Passion (Desire, Greed)
          Aversion (Hate, Anger)
          Delusion (Ignorance)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fried Potato Cakes

This recipe will make about 18 cakes.

14 ounces of potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup of cooked soybeans
2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds, roasted*
4 tablespoons of sesame oil

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 2 minutes
In a bowl, combine the flour and the water, then add the potatoes, the salt, the parsley, the soybeans, and the sesame seeds. Mix this all well.

Heat a frying pan, then add the sesame oil.

When the oil is hot, pour small amounts of the potato mixture into the frying pan to form cakes about 3 inches in diameter.

Cook the cakes over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning until both sides are golden brown and crispy.

Repeat this process until all the potato mixture has been used.

Drain the cakes on paper towel.

Serve at once.

Spicy Stir-Fried Potato

This recipe will serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course.

14 ounces of potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons of red miso
1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of sake'
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 dried red chilies, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of soy sauce

Rinse the prepared potatoes and then boil them in salted water until they are tender crisp.

In a bowl, combine the red miso, the sugar, and the sake' and mix well.

Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan. Add the chili slices and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.

Add the potatoes to the chilies and fry until they are transparent, then add the soy sauce.

Add the miso mixture to the frying pan and cook over low heat for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring, until the potatoes are completely coated with the sauce.


Training in Loving-Kindness

Bhikkhus, even if bandits were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a two-handled saw, he who gave rise to a mind of hate towards them would not be carrying out my teaching. Herein, bhikkhus, you should train thus: "Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner hate. We shall abide pervading them with a mind imbued with loving-kindness; and starting with them, we shall abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will." That is how you should train, bhikkhus.

~The Simile of the Saw - Majjhima Nikaya 21

You Shall Awaken

Free from all ties,
free from the bonds of existence,
you shall awaken.

~The Dhammapada 385

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 19

Abandon wisdom, discard knowledge,
And people will benefit a hundredfold.
Abandon benevolence, discard duty,
And people will return to the family ties.
Abandon cleverness, discard profit,
And thieves and robbers will disappear.

These three, though, are superficial, and not enough.
Let this be what to rely on:

Behave simply and hold on to purity.
Lessen selfishness and restrain desires.

Abandon knowledge and your worries are over.

Greed (In All Its Nasty Forms) Leads To Some Truly Dangerous Foolishness

Commentary on Chapter 21

An abundance of opinions will generate heat
but accomplish nothing.
You no longer have to comment
on each and every little thing.
You can observe events with a detached serenity.
When you speak,
your words are gentle, helpful, and few.
Your silence is as beautiful as the Harvest moon.

                                                      ~William Martin,
                                                         commenting on chapter 21 of 
                                                         The Sage's Tao Te Ching

Cultivating the Mind

The practice of, the training in, the Five Moral Precepts is the cultivation of the mind.

Sila = Proper Speech, Proper Action, Proper Livelihood

The English word "morality" and its derivatives suggest a sense of obligation and constraint quite foreign to the Buddhist conception of sila; this connotation probably enters from the theistic background to Western ethics. Buddhism, with its non-theistic framework, grounds its ethics, not on the notion of obedience, but on that of harmony. In fact, the commentaries explain the word sila by another word, samadhana, meaning "harmony" or "coordination."

~Bhikkhu Bodhi, in The Noble Eightfold Path

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Training

A young monk once asked the Buddha to explain his training in brief.

The Buddha answered, "First establish yourself in the starting point of wholesome states, that is, in purified moral discipline and in right view. Then, when your moral discipline is purified and your view straight, you should practice the four foundations of mindfulness."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Seven Recommended Books to Help Understand Buddhist Practice

1...The Dhammapada – Any Translation
Perhaps the most cherished part of Buddhist scripture.
The temple gives the translation by Eknath Easwaran
to its Preceptors.

2...Buddha – by Karen Armstrong
An excellent biography of the Buddha.

3...The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching – by Thich Nhat Hanh
The basics.

4...Buddhism Plain and Simple – by Steve Hagen
Buddhism in everyday, accessible language without religious ritual.

5...What the Buddha Taught – by Walpola Rahula
Somewhat scholastic, but arguably the best introduction to the Teaching and the Practice.

6...What Buddhists Believe – by K. Sri Dhammananda
An excellent overview of the Teaching. From a Theravada point of view, but extremely thorough with regards to the foundational Teachings. Difficult to find in print, but a free electric copy is available for your telephone.

7...The Noble Eightfold Path – by Bhikkhu Bodhi
The practice of Buddhism is the Noble Eightfold Path. This book is an excellent guide to the Path and to the Practice.

Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple
451 S. Division

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Carrot Butter

1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of almond butter
2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
Salt to taste (You may find the salt is not needed.)

Boil the carrots until they are very tender.

Drain the carrots and place them with all the other ingredients, except for the salt, in food processor.

Blend until the mixture is completely smooth.

Taste. Add a pinch of salt if needed. If the salt has been added, process for a few seconds to blend it into the butter.

Serve this butter on bread, toast, muffins, baked potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, cooked vegetables, or any food you fancy.

It will keep in the refrigerator for a week if tightly covered.


Never forget your own true nature is Buddha.

It is as effortless for you as breathing.

Pause, and remember who you are.

The Unicorn

You have the right, as everyone does, to believe in a god or multiple gods. You have the right to any religion you decide best fits you. You have the right to believe a female brontosaurus lives under the Brooklyn Bridge with her fourteen pups. You have every right to believe unicorns live in your shoes. But the day you begin telling me not to wear shoes because I'll upset the unicorn, a problem appears. The day you start involving the unicorns in deciding how I should live my life, a problem appears. The day you begin making decisions for my family and my country based on the opinions of your unicorns, a very large problem appears.


Probably most of the anger and hostility we direct to others springs from negative attitudes we hold toward ourselves.

~Bhikkhu Bodhi

Friday, August 4, 2017


There's a Pali word, a very important Buddhist word: Metta. 

Metta can be translated as loving kindness, benevolence, friendliness, goodwill, active interest.

Speaking of metta, Bhikkhu Bodhi says: “Once one has learned to kindle the feeling of metta towards oneself, the next step is to extend it to others. The extension of metta hinges on a shift in the sense of identity, on expanding the sense of identity beyond its ordinary confines and learning to identify with others. The shift is purely psychological in method, entirely free from theological and metaphysical postulates, such as that of a universal self immanent in all beings.

The procedure starts with oneself. If we look into our own mind, we find that the basic urge of our being is the wish to be happy and free from suffering. Now, as soon as we see this in ourselves, we can immediately understand that all living beings share the same basic wish. All want to be well, happy, and secure.

To develop metta towards others, what is to be done is to imaginatively share their own innate wish for happiness.

We use our own desire for happiness as the key, experience this desire as the basic urge of others, then come back to our own position and extend to them the wish that they may achieve their ultimate objective, that they may be well and happy.”


Nirvana means non-attainment.
Immediate and gradual enlightenment are not separate.
Realizing this, one lives with freedom
right in this present life.

~Chanting From the Heart: 
Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices,
by Thich Nhat Hanh
and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village