Monday, November 30, 2015
The illusion of the self is wrapped up in hundreds of threads of thought, activity, and posture. Our illusion is wrapped up in our way of doing things; our way of dealing with people, our way of working, our way of eating, our way of driving a car, playing with children, interacting with animals, appreciating the wilderness.
All of these dimensions of life are inundated with our habit patterns, patterns that are dualistic and associated with our conditioning.
The process of undoing our patterns is very gradual.
There are no grand experiences of clarity here, no world shattering discernments. It's day by day meticulous work.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Mara is Defined as the Personification of One's Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance. Sometimes a Person's Nonsense Spills on to Other Lives
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
The Interpenetration of All Phenomena - One Thing Contains All Other Existing Things, and All Existing Things Contain That One Thing
---Thich Nhat Hanh---
Monday, November 23, 2015
I'm terrified of Muslims. I don't want sharia law in America.
OK. Let's avoid that by separating church and state.
Nope. I believe in Jesus and want this country to be more Christian.
OK. Here are some refugees who need help.
Nope. Not helping refugees while we still have homeless kids and veterans here.
OK. Here's a bill to help vets.
Nope. I don't want to raise taxes.
OK. What about homeless kids? Surely they deserve some help.
Nope. Their parents are just lazy and want handouts. They shouldn't have had kids if they can't afford kids.
OK. Let's fund Planned Parenthood to help people plan their parenthood.
Nope. Some of that money might go for an abortion, and I'm Pro Life.
OK. Let's give everyone easier access to health care to improve and extend their lives.
Nope. That's socialism. I believe in the Constitution, not dirty, dirty socialism.
OK. At least we can agree on that. I especially like the way the Constitution gives everyone freedom of (and from) religion.
Yes! Freedom of religion. Except Muslims. I'm terrified of Muslims...
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Do you need to become a Buddha? Do you need to run after enlightenment? The wave does not have to seek to become water—she is water, right here and now. In the same way, you are already nirvana, you are already a Buddha; you are already what you want to become. What is essential is to enter the path of practice in order to realize this truth and to help others realize it too.
---Thich Naht Hanh---
You may think 2015 has been full of gloom and doom, but there is plenty of good news out there if you know where to look. It includes the wonderful news that baby tortoises have been spotted for the first time in over 100 years in the Galapagos.
There hadn't been one single baby tortoise sighting in more than a century on the Galapagos Island of Pinzon, until a small group of the tiny, shelled youngsters were spotted this year.
The recent births are helping to pull the critically endangered animals back from the brink of extinction after they were nearly laid to waste as a result of human activity.
This is huge news for a species that has been struggling to survive for a century, relying on humans raising young tortoises bred in captivity until they are large enough to not fall prey to rats and predators.
Researcher James Gibbs, who was among the first to see the hatchlings, told The Dodo earlier this year, "I'm amazed that the tortoises gave us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes after so long."
"The incredible eradication of rats on this island, done by the park service and others, has created the opportunity for the tortoises to breed for the first time," he added.
Gibbs said that while the researchers were conducting a survey to find out how things were going for the tortoises, they found the 10 new hatchlings, and while it may hardly seem like a baby boom, he says it's "just the tip of the iceberg."
"Given projection probabilities, I'm sure there were a hundred times more hatchlings out there, he explained. Gibbs and his team spotted 300 tortoises in all on the trip, which suggests there are likely more than 500 currently living on the island.
In the 1960s, just 100 of the tortoises lived here. Good news indeed.
In order to touch the ultimate dimension, we have to transcend conventional notions of same and different, coming and going, inside and outside, above and below, before and after, birth and death.
---Thich Naht Hanh---
Where there is darkness, suffering, oppression, and despair I will work to bring light, hope, relief, and liberation. I am determined not to forget about or abandon those in desperate situations. I will do my best to establish contact with those who cannot find a way out of their suffering, those whose cries for help, justice, equality, and human rights are not being heard. I know hell can be found in many places on Earth. I will do my best not to contribute to creating more hells on Earth, and to help transform the hells that already exist. I will practice in order to realize the qualities of perseverance, so, like the Earth, I can always be supportive and faithful to those in need.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Spring breeze is a definite experience. We can take a jar, run out with it into a warm April morning, and capture some air in it. Put a cap on the jar and label it "spring breeze." What do we have? Obviously, not the spring breeze. It is now an idea, not an ineffable experience. After the first glimpse of the True Self, people quickly latch onto it, make a concept out of it, grasp, and strangle it. That's not it. That misses it.
This attempt to intellectualize our lives is a continuous peril of the spiritual journey. There is no way to avoid it. We do it all the time. We distance ourselves from our lives with our thoughts. We distance ourselves from our clarity with no thoughts. And what rests ahead of us on the spiritual path is the uninterrupted training of letting go of that tendency; of learning how to appreciate and trust the direct experience and the mystery that is unspeakable.
---John Daido Loori---
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Always, when I was a boy,
I would play here and there.
I used to put on my favorite vest
And ride a chestnut horse with a white nose.
Today I spent the morning in town
And the evening drinking amid the peach blossoms by ........the river.
Returning home, I have lost my way. Where am I?
Laughing, I find myself next to the brothel.
Ananda came to the Buddha and said, "Half of the holy life is beautiful friendship, beautiful association and beautiful intimacy."
The Buddha replied, "Don't say that Ananda. Don't say that. It is the whole of the holy life, not half, this beautiful friendship, this beautiful association, this beautiful intimacy."
The mind's capacity is limitless, and its manifestations are inexhaustible. Seeing forms with your eyes, hearing sounds with your ears, smelling odors with your nose, tasting flavors with your tongue, every movement or state is all your mind. At every moment, where language can't go, that's your mind.
Monday, November 16, 2015
---Thich Nhat Hanh---
The place for meditation is often imagined to be a peaceful location far from other people. But if you're constantly afflicted with discrimination and illusion, you will have no proper place for meditation.
The best place for meditation is not a matter of place.
In the Vimalakirti Sutra, a young bodhisattva is preparing to leaving the noisy city of Vaishali and find a secluded and quiet place for meditation. As he is walking through the city, the young man meets Vimalakirti.
"Where are you coming from?" he asks Vimalakirti.
"From my place of meditation," Vimalakirti answers.
Surprised the respected man was practicing meditation in the midst of the busy and nosy city the young bodhisattva asks, "From your place of meditation? Where is that?"
And Vimalakirti answers, "The straightforward mind is the place of meditation."
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Two men stood outside a church holding signs. One sign read "THE END IS NEAR!" The other sign read "TURN BACK BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!"
After a while, a car came around the corner. Seeing the two men and their signs, the driver slowed and angrily yelled out of the window, "Get out of here, you religious nuts!" and zoomed past them.
About ten seconds later, the two men heard a loud splash.
One man turned to the other and said, "Maybe we should have written BRIDGE OUT instead."
In the beginning, the sutras appeared in the form of verse that were passed on orally. So it is in verse form that the Lotus Sutra first made its appearance, and the prose sections were added later to expand upon and further the teachings in verse.
The reason for this is that for the first 400 years during and after the Buddha's lifetime, his teachings were transmitted orally, memorized, and recited . . . . In order to be easier to understand and learn by heart, the teachings were transmitted in verse form in a poetic language called Prakrit. This language had its own metric rules . . . .
So the earliest form of the Buddhist teachings were in verse, and only later, when the teachings began to be recorded in written form in Sanskrit, the classical language of religion and philosophy of India, did long prose sections, called sutra, emerge. The word "sutra" means "thread" in Sanskrit, so a sutra is a thread of prose that links and expands upon the verse form of a teaching.
---Thich Naht Hanh---
Friday, November 13, 2015
Bodhi means "awaken."
Citta means "mind."
Bodhicitta means "the mind of awakening."
That is, generating the aspiration to attain awakening, or enlightenment, not for one's own liberation only but in order to help all other beings to liberation.
Bodhicitta is the first step on the path of a bodhisattva.
A Buddhist temple is not about the Buddha.
A Buddhist temple is about you understanding your mind.
Through that understanding comes freedom and joy.
Through that understanding comes an awareness, and ability, even an eagerness to assist others as they walk the Path
Through that understanding we are able to reach out and help all Beings, the planet, and everything.
1 small, or 1/2 of a medium-sized onion, chopped
1/2 cup of thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of tomato juice
Crushed red pepper flakes
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.
Add the onion and the celery. Saute until the onion is tender.
Slowly, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the flour is slightly browned.
Slowly, add the tomato juice, stirring as you add.
Stir the mixture until it is smooth with no lumps and it is the thickness of gravy.
Add a little water to thin slightly. Add the sugar, the salt, and the red pepper flakes all to taste.
Heat the soup to almost the boil and then add some milk to make it the desired consistency.
3/4 cup of shortening
3 (scant) cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 pound of dates, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups of your favorite nuts, chopped
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix all the ingredients.
Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes.
The Lotus Sutra was the first Mahayana sutra to use loving speech and the first to accept all schools and tendencies of Buddhism. Therefore, the Lotus Sutra is like a cool breeze, a gentle rain, assuaging the stifling atmosphere of contention between the conservatives and the progressives.
---Thich Nhat Hanh---
The highest spiritual ideal of the Theravada is the arhat (one who is worthy), who through his own effort and practice attains liberation. The early monastic Sangha was focused only on personal salvation, thinking about nirvana only in individual terms. The Mahayana put forth the ideal of the bodhisattva (bodhi, "awakened," sattva, "being"), who shares the fruits of his or her practice with all other beings. The bodhisattva is someone who, upon attaining enlightenment, vows to forgo entering nirvana until all other sentient beings—down to the very last blade of grass—are also liberated. This insight was very profound. Buddhism expressed in Mahayana terms is engaged, quite positive. and very beautiful.
---Thich Nhat Hanh---
Bryce and Michael playing guitar
during the Sunday service at the
Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple and Zen Center
---Thich Nhat Hanh---
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The true issue is not about living a life as a layperson or as a monastic.
The true issue is about awakening to no-self and living in the world with compassion and wisdom.
To the extent living a lay life actually creates such condition, it is worthy of respect, as is the monastic life.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Monday, November 9, 2015
Friday, November 6, 2015
Everybody understands the beautiful to be "beautiful."
But this only creates the concept of "ugly";
Everybody understands the good to be "good,"
But this only creates the concept of "bad."
---The Tao Te Ching as quoted in the Zencharoku---
The words 'nothing holy' remind us that there is nothing demonstrably religious in Zen. There are no choirs of angels, no saints to pray to, no ecstasy of spirit. Zen is our everyday ordinary life—whether we are tying a shoe, notching an arrow, or drinking a cup of tea.
Dogen said to the tenzo, "This is awfully hard work, isn't it? Why don't you have a younger man do it?"
The tenzo answered Dogen, "If another person does it, I won't be able to do it myself."
"That's so," replied Dogen. "But it's so hot right now. Wouldn't it be better to do it on a more pleasant day?"
And the tenzo responded, "And when would such a pleasant day be? Answer me that. Will there ever be another time like this one, right now?"
Dogen could say nothing, and the tenzo worked on, sweating in silence.