Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spiritual Responsibility

As children grow up, they take on more and more responsibility; personal responsibility. The more mature they become, the more they realize they are responsible for their actions and words and the results of those actions and words.

Buddhism is like that.

Buddhism teaches each person to take responsibility for all they do and say and think. Buddhism teaches each one to be responsible for the results of their words, thoughts, and actions.

Buddhism is spiritual responsibility.

No other is responsible for our actions.

Calla Lily

The Four Noble Abodes

The Brahman-viharas. Translated and referred to as the Four Noble Abodes, the Four Pure Abodes, the Four Immeasurable Minds, or the Four Stations of Brahma.


.........The wish for the welfare and happiness of All Beings.


.........Empathy for those afflicted with dukkha.


Altruistic Joy.
.........Happiness at the success and good fortune of others.


.........A balance response to happiness and sadness.


You don't have to be anything, except aware.


The Search

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.

---Thorin Oakenshield---

Words From Johann


Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. If our minds are filled with sympathy and compassion, they will be resistant to the evil words we hear. We must not let wild words pass our lips lest they arouse feelings of anger and hatred. The words we speak should always be words of sympathy and wisdom.

---Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism)---

There Is No Trash

"Follow me," directed the roshi, and he assigned me my first task: to clean the garden. Together with this seventy-year-old master, I went out to the garden and started sweeping with a bamboo broom. Zen temple gardens are carefully designed with trees planted to ensure that leaves will fall throughout the entire year; not only the maples in autumn but also the oaks and the camphors in spring, regularly shed their foliage. When I first arrived, in April, the garden was full of fallen leaves.

The human being (or, my own mind, I should say) is really quite mean. Here I was, inside my heart denouncing this "old fool" and balking at the very idea of trusting so easily; yet, at the same time, I wanted this old man to notice me, and so I took up that broom and swept with a vengeance. Quite soon I had amassed a mountain of dead leaves. Eager to show my diligence, I asked, "Roshi, where should I throw this trash?"

The words were barely out of my mouth when he thundered back at me, "There is no trash!"

"No trash, but...look here," I tried to indicate the pile of leaves.

"So you don't believe me! Is that it?"

"It's only that, well, where should I throw out these leaves?" That was all that was left for me to say.

"You don't throw them out!" he roared again.

"What should I do then?" I asked.

"Go out to the shed and bring back an empty charcoal sack," was his instruction.

When I returned, I found Roshi bent to the task of combing through the mountain of leaves, sifting so that the lighter leaves came out on top while the heavier sand and stones fell to the bottom. He then proceeded to stuff the leaves into the sack I had brought from the shed, tamping them down with his feet. After he had jammed the last leaves tightly into the sack, he said "Take these to the shed. We'll use them to make a fire under the bath."

As I went to the shed, I silently admitted that this sack of leaves over my shoulder was perhaps not trash, but I also told myself that what was left of that pile out there in the garden was clearly trash, and nothing but trash. I got back, though, only to find Roshi squatting over the remains of the leaf pile, picking out the stones. After he had carefully picked out the last stone, he ordered, "Take these out and arrange them under the rain gutters."

When I had set out the stones, together with the gravel that was already there, and filled in the spaces pummeled out by the rain drops, I found that not only were the holes filled but that my work looked rather elegant. I had to allow that these stones, too, failed to fall into the category of trash. There was still more, though: the clods of earth and scraps of moss, the last dregs. Just what could anyone possibly do with that stuff, I wondered.

I saw Roshi going about his business, gathering up these scraps and placing them, piece by piece, in the palm of his hand. He scanned the ground for dents and sinks; he filled them in with the clods of earth, which he then tamped down with his feet. Not a single particle remained of the mountain of leaves.

"Well?" he queried, "Do you understand a little bit better now? From the first, in people and in things, there is no such thing as trash."

This was the first sermon I ever heard from Zuigan Roshi.

---Novice to Master, by Soko Morinaga Roshi---

The Ten Wholesome Actions

1.....To respect, protect, and save life.


3.....Honoring relationships, both within and outside of sexual partnerships.

4.....To speak the truth.

5.....To use language to create harmony.

6.....To help others to form good intentions.

7.....To rejoice in the happiness of others.

8.....To experience kind and helpful thoughts towards others.

9.....To learn and understand the reality of all things.

10...To create benefits for others.

The Ten Unvirtuous Actions

1.....To harm any Sentient Being.

2.....To knowingly steal.

3.....To engage in sexual misconduct.

4.....To knowingly lie.

5.....To knowingly slander.

6....To use abusive speech.

7.....To gossip.

8.....To indulge in covetousness.

9.....To indulge in thoughts of harming another being or thing.

10...To surrender to wrong views.

The Skandhas

According to the Teaching of the Buddha, a human being is composed of Five Skandhas or Aggregates. These are form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

The component parts of the skandhas work together so seamlessly that they create the sense of a single Self or an I. 

But the Buddha taught there is no Self occupying the skandhas.

Understanding the skandhas is helpful in seeing through the illusion of Self.

The word 'skandha', a Sanskrit word, may be translated as 'a mass', 'a heap', 'a pile', 'a bundle', or even 'a tree trunk'.


Form or Matter: Matter. The body. The physical world. The sense organs. The nervous system.

Feelings or Sensations: Experiencing something as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

Perception, Conception, Appreciation, Cognition, or Discrimination: Registers whether a thing is recognized or not.

Mental Formations, Impulses, Volition, or Compositional Factors: All types of memory, mental habits, thoughts, ideas, opinions, prejudices, compulsions, and decisions triggered by sensual contact with a thing.

Consciousness or Discernment: The base of everything that we are and the ground of our mental formations.

The skandhas are not linear, they are each supported by the others.


Vegetarianism is not a what, it is a why.

God and the Atheist or What If You're Wrong?

The Practice

The practice of Buddhism is not a set of limits of what not to do - it is a choice of what to do.

Christians With Two Religions and Atheistic Smart Alecks

No One Can Drink Your Tea For You

Everything we perceive as being real is nothing but the perceptions of our own minds. Understanding this is something each one must realize and experience for themselves.

This understanding cannot adequately be expressed in words.

To Ch'an Masters these two teachings, realizing and experiencing, became known as "have a cup of tea" and "taste the tea."


Queen Samavati and Khujjuttara

Through the influence of the Dhamma, Samavati became determined to develop her abilities more intensively. Her most important asset was the way she could feel sympathy for all beings and could suffuse everyone with loving-kindness and compassion. She was able to develop this faculty so strongly that the Buddha called her the woamn lay disciple most skilled in spreading metta, "loving-kindness."

---Great Disciples of the Buddha, by Nyanaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker---

Friday, May 30, 2014

Binding the Mind

The Way has to flow freely. Why block it up? The Way flows freely when the mind doesn't dwell on any Dharma. Once it dwells on something, it becomes bound.

---The Platform Sutra---

Knowing Your Mind

Unless you know your mind, studying the Dharma is useless. But once you know your mind and see your nature, you understand what is truly important.

---The Platform Sutra---


You need know your mind before you can know enlightenment.

A Simple Teaching

Delusion and Enlightenment are in people, not in the Dharma, not in Reality.

The Duties of a Buddhist Householder

To understand the Four Noble Truths.

To understand and Practice the Eightfold Path.

To respect all others, including yourself.

To be capable at your job.

To work with diligence and skill.

To perform your household duties efficiently.

To respect your parents and to be hospitable when they visit.

To respect your in-laws and to be hospitable when they visit.

To respect your friends and to be hospitable when they visit.

To be faithful to your spouse.

To practice generosity.

To cultivate wisdom - not book knowledge, but experiential understanding.


Life is the authorless unfolding of a complex array of conditions, all of which emerge contingently.


In Japanese Zen Buddhism, an intuitive apprehension of the nature of reality that transcends thought and cannot be expressed through 'words and letters'. There are various degrees of satori and students work to deepen the experience by constant training.

---Dictionary of Buddhism, by Damien Keown---


A Chinese term corresponding to the Sanskrit bodhi, meaning 'enlightenment' or 'awakening'. The same character forms the root of the Japanese term satori.

A Chinese term meaning 'non-being' or 'to lack'. In the earliest attempts by Chinese Buddhists to understand Indian Buddhist thought and translate texts, wu was used to mean 'emptiness' (sunyata), but was later supplanted by the word k'ung. The word wu has been retained to denote the absence of all distinguishing characteristics that would separate phenomena from each other in an ultimate way; such as, it is the negation of all dualities. In this regard, it appears in the compound pen wu, or 'original nonbeing', in contraposition to miayo wu, or 'marvelous being', which complements it by affirming the real existence of separate things within the matrix of Dependent Origination (pratitya-samut-pada). In the famous riddle (koan) 'Chao-chou's dog', a monk asked Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen whether or not a dog had Buddha-nature, to which the master replied, 'wu', meaning it has not. This word 'wu', then, became the 'critical phrase' (Chinese, hua-t'ou), and the object of meditation when working with this koan.

---Dictionary of Buddhism, by Damien Keown---


For in the end all phenomena know neither birth nor extinction--this is the meaning of impermanence.

---The Vimalakirti Sutra---


The path is not related to knowing or not knowing. You should get rid of the mind which clings to its delusion and looks forward to enlightenment, and listen to me.


Basho Haiku

From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon beholders.


Whoever, whether at morning, noon or night, practices righteousness of body, speech and mind - they have a happy morning, a happy noon and a happy night.

---The Buddha---

Starving-Student Salsa Pasta

8 ounces of rotini
1 16-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of cooked sweet corn kernels
One 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa
Cumin to taste
A squeeze of lime juice, to taste
3 green onions, sliced

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, combine all the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Combine the pasta and the sauce, toss well, and serve.

Brian Boyle

Prepared For the Unseen

When you see a truck bearing down on you, by all means jump out of the way. But spend some time in meditation, too. Learning to deal with discomfort is the only way you'll be ready to handle the truck you didn't see.

---Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana---

A Proper Teacher

When someone asks you a question, answer him or her sincerely, and when you are not asked, do not force your teaching upon others.

---Polishing the Diamond, by Jae Woong Kim---

To Dream the Impossible Dream

All those who have a role to play in finance and business should develop a sense of responsibility based on altruism and consider what is good for the entire world.

---Imagine All the people, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama---


If not comparing, nor attached to "refined" and "vulgar"--
you will not fall into judgement and opinion.

---Hsin-Hsin Ming---

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Seekers who disdain clamor to seek quietude are as it were throwing away flour but seeking cake. Cake is originally flour, which changes according to use.

Afflictions are not other than enlightenment. When there is no minding, there are no objects. Samsara is not different from nirvana. Craving and anger are like flames, like shadows.

The wise have no mind to seek Buddha. The ignorant cling to wrong and right. Passing all their lives in wasted toil, they do not see the sublime peak of realization of being as is. If you realize the essence of lust is empty, then even hellfire is cool.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama Speaks of the Practice of the Buddhadharma and Christians

I think it is quite possible that a person who is basically a Christian, who accepts the idea of a God, who believes in God, could at the same time incorporate certain Buddhist ideas and techniques into his/her practice. The teachings of love, compassion and kindness are present in Christianity and also in Buddhism.... While remaining committed to Christianity it is quite conceivable that a person may choose to undergo training in meditation, concentration, and one-pointedness of mind, that, while remaining a Christian, one may choose to practice Buddhist ideas.


Stealing does not begin at the moment one takes something, but as soon as one differentiates between oneself and others.

---Soko Morinaga Roshi, in his commentary on The Ceasing of Notions---

Understanding Capitalism

Starving-Student Pasta with Triple Red Sauce

1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced (do not us oil-cured tomatoes)
12 ounces of you favorite pasta
1 28-ounce jar of a very fine quality of pasta sauce
1 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained and sliced into strips
Grated Parmesan cheese

If the sun-dried tomatoes aren't moist, soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes and then drain.

Cook the pasta according the package directions and drain.

In a large saucepan, combine the pasta sauce, the dried tomatoes, and red pepper strips. Cook slowly, string frequently, until it is heated through.

Combine the cooked pasta and the sauce in a serving dish and toss well.

Serve, passing the Parmesan tor topping, if desired.


A bodhisattva refuses nothing and shows no preferences. Without pondering or judging whether Way or roundabout path, he acts in accordance with what the situation demands because he knows that the Way and the roundabout path are one.

---Soko Morinaga Roshi, in his commentary on The Ceasing of Notions---


...foolish people see things in terms of characteristics, not the wise.

---The Buddha, in the Lankavatara Sutra---


The Full Realization of Emptiness

As a young monk, Master Dogen Kigen was plagued by the question of why, with true nature being inherently perfect and complete, it should be necessary to undergo any training. Since no one in Japan could answer that question for him, he traveled all the way to China to find out. After enlightenment he understood that "Even though one is originally Buddha, without training this cannot come into awareness for it does not reveal itself without enlightenment." This "letting Buddha reveal himself" is the full realization of emptiness.

---Soko Morinaga Roshi, in his commentary on The Ceasing of Notions---


Human Rights