Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Five Supernormal Powers

The Five Supernormal Powers of other Ways, or other religions, are:
1  To see what is invisible to others;
2  To hear what is inaudible to others;
3  To see into the future and to know the past;
4  To know others' thoughts;
5  To appear at will at any place.

But when a monk asked Master Rinzai what the supernormal powers and the Buddhist teachings on supernormal powers were, Rinzai answered:
1  In the realm of seeing not to be deceived by form;
2  In the realm of hearing not to be deceived by sound;
3  In the realm of smelling not to be deceived by odors;
4  In the realm of tasting not to be deceived by taste;
5  In the realm of thinking not to be deceived by notions.
That is the truly independent man.

These two versions clearly illustrate the difference between what followers of other Ways consider to be the supernormal powers and the Buddhist teachings on the powers of a bodhisattva. The former assume a self that attains and possesses these powers, whereas the later posits a not-self (or true nature) that does not need to be attained and is not bound by any notion of attainment.

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

What Is Buddha?

Let me ask you, what is Buddha? To destroy the moment of delusion is enlightenment, but to hold on to the moment of enlightenment is once more delusion. And to define enlightenment as this or that is opinion.

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

Be Who You Are

Free of Both Delusion and Enlightenment

Karmic outflows (in Sanskrit, asrava) from the actions of ordinary men manifest as their passions, wants, sufferings, and sorrows. They arise because the true nature has been lost sight of. But however free of these one may have become, if one now leans on one's understanding, one has only replaced delusion with enlightenment--and that is not the Way. One genuinely enlightenment is free of both delusion and enlightenment.

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

To Become a Buddha

There is s simple way to become a Buddha: When you refrain from unwholesome actions, are not attached to birth and death, and are compassionate toward all sentient beings, respectful to seniors and kind to juniors, not excluding or desiring anything, with no thoughts or worries, you will be called a buddha. Seek nothing else.


Something To Keep In Mind

Even when you are clearly correct and other mistaken, it is harmful to argue and defeat them. On the other hand, if you admit fault when you are right, you are a coward. It is best to step back, neither trying to correct others nor conceding to mistaken views. If you don't react competitively, and let go of the conflict, others will also let go of it without harboring ill will. Above all, this is something you should keep in mind.


The Perfections

In practicing charity, or any of the perfections, the Buddha warns against attachment to three things: the practitioner (in this case, the person who gives); the beneficiary (the recipient); and the practice (the giving of the gift).

---Red Pine, in his commentary on The Diamond Sutra---

The Six Perfections (Paramitas):

1.........(Dana) Giving, Charity

2.........(Shila) Moral Practice, Ethics, the Precepts

3.........(Kshanti) Forbearance, Patience

4.........(Virya) Diligence, Perseverance

5.........(Dhyana) Meditation

6.........(Prajna) Wisdom, Insight, Understanding

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

For a Teacher (We All Teach)

All those who would teach others should interact with kindness and compassion, softness and compromise, and dwell in equanimity and concord. If others treat you with evil words or looks or with unjust behavior or with insults and slander, you need only step back and reflect. In time, even demons vanish. Once you cross swords and respond with words of ill, when will it ever end?


The Legend of the Ascetic Kshanti and King Kali and the Virtue of Forbearance

King Kali once went hunting accompanied by his harem of concubines. After pausing to eat lunch, the king lay down and took a nap, while the women wandered into the forest to gather flowers. Eventually, they came upon the place where the ascetic Kshanti was sitting in meditation. They were so overcome by his serenity, they laid their flowers before him as an offering. Kshanti then proceeded to talk to them about things they had never heard and about which they were eager to learn more. On waking, the king went looking for his concubines, and when he saw them sitting before an ascetic, he flew into a rage. When Kshanti tried to explain that he was teaching them about forbearance, the King decided to test Kshanti and proceeded to cut off his hands, then his feet, and finally his ears and nose. When the king saw that Kshanti remained unmoved, he realized the cruelty of what he had done and asked Kshanti's forgiveness. Kshanti said he was not angry and there was no need to ask for forgiveness. The king asked Kshanti to prove that he wasn't angry. Kshanti said, "If there is no anger in my heart, may my body be restored to its original condition." And as a result of the merit Kshanti had accumulated over many lifetimes, his body was instantly restored. He then told the king, "You have just used the sword of delusion to cut off the parts of my body. When I attain buddhahood, I shall use the sword of wisdom to cut off your passions." (Nirvana Sutra: 31) Kshanti was a previous incarnation of Shakyamuni, and King Kali was reborn as Kaundinya, the Buddha's first disciple.

The word kali in Sanskrit means "strife," as in the expression kali-yuga (age of strife), which is, according to Hindu mythology, the final age in this present kalpa. Kali is also the son of Krodha, whose name means "anger." The name is also given to the wife of Shiva, the Hindu personification of destruction. Hence, the choice here is intended to emphasize the forbearance of what upsets us the most: losing what we love and meeting what we hate. The word kshanti, meanwhile, means "forbearance" and is also the name of the third of the Six Perfections.

---Red Pine, in his commentary on The Diamond Sutra---

Monday, July 28, 2014

Detachment From Form

There is no reality in the sense that the essence of things is empty and silent, with no appearance that can be apprehended. And yet there are countless inherent potencies within it, which are not hidden when put to use; and so it says there is no unreality either.

You may want to say it is real, yet no defining characteristics can be found; you may want to say it is unreal, yet it functions without interruption. Therefore it cannot be said not to exist, yet cannot be said to exist. It can be nothing, yet is not nothing; no words or metaphors can reach it--does this not describe true wisdom alone?

---Hue-neng, in his commentary on The Diamond Sutra---


The Religion of Greed

The Great Realization

...students should concentrate on turning their hearing within. And they should keep listening until they realize the Buddha, all beings, and the mind are not three different things.

---Chiang Wei-nung---

A Theft


Know that fundamentally you do not lack unsurpassed enlightenment; you are replete with it continuously. But you may not realize it...



Unless we have the determination to increase our mindfulness from moment to moment, we will easily forget to practice it.

---Ayya Khema---

Sunday, July 27, 2014

I Am Not a Burger - I Am a Living Being

The Buddha Teaches

The Buddha never stopped teaching. When asked, he taught through words, or silence. Otherwise, he taught by his example.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Way

Emmon: "What is it then?"

[Master] Nyuri: "Free of all standards, discriminations, and desires."

---The Ceasing of Notions---

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Awareness only need to know yourself right now.


Starving-Student Skillet Squash

1 medium acorn squash
1/3 cup of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Cut the squash into 1/2-inch thick slices. Discard the seeds and stringy membrane.

Arrange the slices in a large skillet.

In a small bowl, combine the juice, the sugar, and the cinnamon. Pour the juice over the squash rings.

Bring the liquid to the boil and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, until the squash is tender.

Arrange the squash on a platter and pour the remaining sauce over top.

Remind the dinner to avoid eating the rind.


To study the way of enlightenment is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.


The False

None of the things that fill our lives is by itself false. It is only our conceptualization and attachment that make them false.

---Red Pine, in his commentary on The Diamond Sutra---

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Lojong Practice

The world is imperfect and will remain that way. I cannot change this but will see it as an opportunity to awaken. I cannot control events but I can change my attitude towards them. I will develop the wisdom not to assume my initial responses are always true.

---Cultivating Bodhicitta---

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Practice

A Whisper

We must aspire to the highest of ideals without becoming arrogant in our manner.

---Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's commentary on Dogen's Instructions for the Zen Cook---

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Man Not Working in the Way

A person who is influenced by the quality of a thing, or who changes his speech or manner according to the appearance or position of the people he meets, is not a man working in the Way.

---Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's commentary on Dogen's Instructions for the Zen Cook---


We already know that shikan-taza means to just do zazen, but what does that mean, to "just do zazen"? Dogen Zenji describes the type of zazen we do as the "King of Samadhis." We can trace the word "zazen" back to the Sanskrit words dhyana and samadhi. Samadhi is sometimes called toji, to hold or see all things equally, and sometimes toji (written with different Chinese characters), or in Sanskrit, samapatti. Another definition of samadhi is that mind and environment are innately one. And finaly, samadhi has been defined in this way: "The buddhadharma should be grasped so that mind and object become one."

---Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's commentary on Dogen's Instructions for the Zen Cook---

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Perfection of Wisdom

Subhuti has finally begun to understand this teaching and asks for a name by which to remember it. The Buddha not only gives us a name, he shows us how it works, as he applies this teaching first to the teaching itself, then to the world in which it is taught, and finally to those who teach it, all of which turn out to be empty of anything real. And if we would emulate such teachers, renunciation is of no help. For anything we might renounce is equally illusory. Hence, the Buddha does not suggest we renounce anything. For renunciation is also attachment. This is where arhans and bodhisattvas part company. The Buddha asks us simply to see things as they are and to share this vision with others. Buddhas do not arise from emptiness but from this teaching, which liberates us from both delusions and emptiness as well as from the renunciation of delusions and emptiness.

---Red Pine, in his commentary on the Diamond Sutra---

Conceptualization and Attachment

None of the things that fill our lives is by itself false. It is only our conceptualization and attachment that make them false.

---Red Pine, in his commentary on the Diamond Sutra---

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sitting in Meditation

Drop all relationships, set aside all activities. Do not think about what is good or evil, and do not try to judge right from wrong. Do not try to control perceptions or conscious awareness, nor attempt to figure out your feelings, ideas, or viewpoints. Let go of the idea of trying to become a buddha as well.

---Dogen Zenji---

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Meaning of the Buddha-Dharma

The deep sky never obstructs the floating white clouds.

---Shitou Xiqian, answering Daowu's question about the meaning of the Buddha-Dharma---

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sitting In Zazen

Dogen Zenji, then, did not intend that we get rid of all the delusions, fantasies. or thoughts that come into our heads during zazen. Yet, if we go about pursuing these thoughts, we are sitting in the zazen posture thinking, and not actually just doing zazen. Trying to get rid of our thoughts is just another form of fantasy. Zazen, understood as mind being innately one with all phenomena, is a means of seeing all things from the foundation of pure life, wherein we give up both pursuing thought and trying to chase it away. Then we see everything that arises as the scenery of our lives. We let arise whatever arises and allow to fall away whatever falls away.

---Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, in his commentary on Dogen's Instructions for the Zen Cook---

Friday, July 11, 2014


Meditation provides a way for us to train in the middle way-in staying right on the spot. We are encouraged not to judge whatever arises in our mind; in fact, we are encouraged not to even grasp whatever arises in our mind. What we usually call good or bad we simply acknowledge as thinking, without all the usual drama that goes along with right and wrong. We are instructed to let the thoughts come and go as if touching a bubble with a feather.

Starving-Student Cottage Cheese Stuffed Potatoes

2 baking potatoes, baked and cooled enough to handle
1 cup of cottage cheese
1 tablespoon of minced chives
1 teaspoon of onion powder

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides, making sure you do not damage the shells.

Return the shells to the oven and bake until crisp. The time for this varies, so watch the shells closely.

Whip the potato flesh with the cottage cheese, the chives, and the onion powder.

Put the potato-mixture back into the crispy shells.

Return the potatoes to the oven and bake until thoroughly heated, perhaps 15 minutes.

Receiving the Teachings

When receiving the teachings, it is important to have the correct attitude. It is not practicing the Dharma properly to listen with the intention of gaining material advantage or reputation. Neither should our goal be higher rebirth in the next life, nor should we be wishing only for our own liberation from samsara. These are all attitudes we should reject. Instead, let us listen to the teachings with the determined wish to attain the state of omniscience for the sake of all beings.

---His Holiness the Dalai Lama---

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Discovering and Making Known the True Meaning

Chuang-tzu once compared studying the words of sages to collecting dried turds, while Chinese Zen masters demanded huo-yu (living words) from their disciples. Hence, when we study and explain this teaching to others, we should not restrict ourselves to the written or printed text. Only if we discover and make known its true meaning will this lineage continue.

---Red Pine, in his commentary to the Diamond Sutra---

Monday, July 7, 2014


'The Gay-friendliest Writer in Television' Comes Out in His 50s

I'm gay. There, I said it, and it only took five decades.
When I told my son Caleb, who's in college, 10 months ago, he asked, "It took you this long to figure it out?"
"No," I said. "It took me this long to say it."
"Oh," he replied. "Where do you want to go for dinner?"
I was relieved and thrilled by his open acceptance. And I think that reflects his generation, one that doesn't define sexuality as good or bad but as something that just is. Of course, it's still not easy for all young LGBTQ youth to come out, but it's better now than it was when I was growing up in Denver, when I thought being gay meant a lifetime of sadness, something to be dreadfully fearful of. Our band teacher was gay, and I remember feeling sorry for him, thinking that his life could only be one of dire loneliness and pain.
Those dark messages I picked up from the culture, from my friends, and from the media made me hate myself for many years. They made me fear that if anyone found out who I really was, I'd be doomed; I wouldn't have a family; I wouldn't have a job; I wouldn't have friends. When I finally came out, because of stories like the ones I've recounted just now, I was relieved. No, it was more than relief: It was an ineluctable freedom and joy. I can say to you that I'm glad I'm gay, that I love being gay. I love being who I am.
But a year ago I never would have imagined that I'd be saying those words.
For me, being gay means being honest and -- I know the word is almost cliché today -- being authentic. You see, when you're in the closet, your life is based on shame and lies. You tell tales about yourself that kill you a little bit every day.
Now, telling tales has been my forte, too. Maybe being gay made me a storyteller because I fantasized so much about being straight from a very early age. I loved romantic films and lost myself in them when I was young, because they represented what I longed for -- to be loved -- and what I wanted to be: straight. Then I started writing for television, and I didn't realize it, but who I really was seeped into stories on ER and SVU. I wrote about the struggles and accomplishments of gay youth, destigmatizing HIV/AIDS, whether transgender youth should be allowed to take hormone blockers, bullying, the pain of being on the down low (I really know about that one), AIDS deniers. Those stories were preparing me to come out.
I was the gay-friendliest writer in television, a gay editor told me. But that's because I had so much support. I'm so grateful to all the writers and directors and actors I've worked with who made these stories authentic. Thank you, Anthony Edwards, for the powerful, unforgettable work you did on ER dealing with the first HIV-positive character on primetime television. Thank you, BD Wong, for playing a gay psychiatrist on SVU with passion and integrity.
I know the power that stories can have in changing our hearts and minds. And I'm truly grateful for having had the chance to tell so many stories close to my own heart and soul. Being authentic isn't easy, especially when you've tap-danced your way through life avoiding who you really are. Stories make the difference. Adam Chandler's New York Times op-ed "The Best Little Boy in the World -- That's Me" is the story that "flipped the switch" for me. He writes, based on the work of Andrew Tobias, that closeted gay men who achieve at all costs do so to divert attention away from who they really are. "See what I do, not who I am." But achingly, those achievements are never enough, because they can never fill the hole in one's soul when one is not honest with oneself. So I thank Adam for his story, which changed my life. I read his op-ed on May 6, 2013, and said aloud for the first time in my life, "I am gay." The roof didn't cave in; the floor didn't give way; the walls didn't crash down. But my life changed momentously.
This is a wonderful and terrifying and exhilarating and challenging journey. But I wouldn't have it any other way. And journeys are not possible without friends and family who are guiding stars or touchstones or way stations. My wife Gerrie has been tirelessly understanding and loving throughout this sometimes-stormy time, and my son Caleb a never-ending fount of support.
Everyone should have the right to live with dignity, respect and safety.

My Young Hero, The Wise (and Rather Cute) Steve Shives

Largest Study Of Its Kind Confirms Same-Sex Couples Raise Happier, Healthier Kids

A new study touted as the "largest of its kind internationally" confirms that children raised by same-sex couples are happier and healthier than their peers raised by different-sex couples. 

Researcher Simon Crouch has completed his multi-year study of 500 children raised by more than 300 same-sex couples, and concludes the kids are happier, healthier, and have higher levels of family unit cohesion than their peers raised by different-sex parents.

Crouch believes that because same-sex couples aren't forced into traditional gender roles they tend to operate in their areas of comfort, leading to happier parents -- and happier and better-adjusted children. Overall, Crouch, who performed the study, titled the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, found a six-percent increase in those aspects.

"That's really a measure that looks at how well families get along, and it seems that same-sex-parent families and the children in them are getting along well, and this has positive impacts on child health," Dr. Crouch told Australia's ABC News.

"Previous research has suggested that parenting roles and work roles, and home roles within same-sex parenting families are more equitably distributed when compared to heterosexual families," he said.
"So what this means is that people take on roles that are suited to their skill sets rather than falling into those gender stereotypes, which is mum staying home and looking after the kids and dad going out to earn money.
"What this leads to is a more harmonious family unit and therefore feeding on to better health and wellbeing."
On issues like self-esteem, mood, behavior, and temperament, the studied children of same-sex couples scored equal to kids raised by different-sex couples.
Based on his years of research, Couch, of the University of Melbourne, disagrees with those who claim kids need a mom and a dad.
"Quite often, people talk about marriage equality in the context of family and that marriage is necessary to raise children in the right environment, and that you need a mother and a father to be able to do that, and therefore marriage should be restricted to male and female couples," Dr Crouch said.
"I think what the study suggests in that context is that actually children can be brought up in many different family contexts, and it shouldn't be a barrier to marriage equality."
One year ago The New Civil Rights Movement reported on Crouch's study when interim results were published. Unlike highly-partisan "studies" paid for and designed by the religious right to be used as tools in Supreme Court cases, Crouch's study actually deals entirely with hundreds of same-sex couples, not just two same-sex couples.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.

---Doug Larson---

What Will Work - Is Work

The second area in which the teachings of the Dhammapada are timelessly relevant are in the Buddha's constant insistence on the necessity of training and "guarding" the mind. No other person in history has analyzed with such calm ruthlessness how our ongoing reality mirrors the inner state of our thoughts and intentions. The unexamined life held no charm whatsoever for the Buddha. He knew how savage and destructive its thoughtlessness could be, and he knew how hard it is to keep the mind constantly in the stream of compassion and insight, and so he stressed meditation and intense dedication to spiritual practice. The greatest of all pragmatists makes it clear to all seekers that on the path to self-realization no magical solutions or quick fixes will work. What will work in the end is work. As the Buddha said on his deathbed, refusing one last time to flatter or make any false promises, "Work out your own salvation with diligence." As it is said in the Dhammapada: "By one's self is evil left undone; by one's self one is purified....Be not thoughtless, watch your thoughts! Draw yourself out of the evil way, like an elephant sunk in mud."

---Andrew Harvey, in his Foreword to Jack Maguire's Annotated and Explained Dhammapada---

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Wise

Trinlay Rinpoche

The wise have mastered
Body, word and mind.

---The Dhammapada, Thomas Byrom's translation---

Starving-Student Roasted Marjoram-Potatoes

4 medium potatoes, quartered
3 small onions, quartered
3 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of minced fresh marjoram or 1/2 teaspoon of crushed dried

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the potatoes and the onions in a 2-quart casserole.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and the marjoram.

Pour the butter mixture over the potatoes and onions and stir to coat the vegetables.

Cover the dish and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the vegetables are pleasingly tender.



The banal pseudo-cheerfulness of much of New Age spirituality cannot help us in a time like ours when we are going to have to, without illusion or false consolation, face up to everything we are doing to each other and to nature if we are to have a chance of survival.

---Andrew Harvey, in his Foreword to Jack Maguire's Annotated and Explained Dhammapada---

A Creeping New Orthodoxy

There is a creeping new orthodoxy in modern society that is sometimes called "positive thinking." At its worst, this habit of optimism allows us to bury our heads in the sand, deny the ubiquity of pain in ourselves and others, and to immune ourselves in a state of deliberate heartlessness to ensure our emotional survival. The Buddha would have had little time for this. In his view, the spiritual life cannot begin until people allow themselves to be invaded by the reality of suffering, realize how fully it permeates our whole experience, and feel the pain of all other beings, even those whom we do not find congenial.

---Buddha, by Karen Armstrong---

Discover Your Master

Love yourself and watch -
Today, tomorrow, always.

First establish yourself in the way,
Then teach,
And so defeat sorrow.

To straighten the crooked
You must first do a harder thing -
Straighten yourself.

You are your only master.
Who else?
Subdue yourself,
And discover your master.

---The Dhammapada, Chapter 12 - Thomas Byrom translation---