Sunday, February 28, 2016

Metta Meditation

Metta is a Pali word that can be translated as benevolence, friendliness, amity, friendship, good will, or kindness. English speakers usually translate the word as loving-kindness.

Metta, or Loving-kindness is the first of the Four Noble Abodes:
Sympathetic joy

In the practice of Metta Meditation you extend Loving-Kindness to all Living Beings.

Begin the practice with yourself. You cannot love others, help others, until you love and help yourself.

May I be free from harm and danger,
May I be free from mental stress and anxiety,
May I be free from physical suffering,
May I be well and happy.

Next extend the same happiness you have just wished for yourself to others. Begin by thinking of and holding a mental image of a living person for whom you have deep affection, a family member or dear friend. Think of this person's good qualities as you radiate loving-kindness.

Expand your loving-kindness to include a neutral person such as a clerk or bank teller. Then choose a difficult person.

May he/she be free from harm and danger,
May he/she be free from mental stress and anxiety,
May he/she be free from physical suffering,
May he/she be well and happy.

You now follow this with expressing loving-kindness for all people everywhere.  

May all people be free from harm and danger,
May all people be free from mental stress and anxiety,
May all people be free from physical suffering,
May all people be well and happy.

And you complete the meditation by expressing the same loving-kindness for all beings everywhere.

May all beings be free from harm and danger,
May all beings be free from mental stress and anxiety,
May all beings be free from physical suffering,
May all beings be well and happy.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Poem by Ryokan

See and realize
that this world
is not permanent.
Neither late nor early flowers
will remain.

Classic Pizza Sauce

Italian soldier, 1945.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 pounds of tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, all the juices included,
              or 1 (28-ounce) can and 1 (14-ounce) can of whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped,
              juices included
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the salt, the sugar, and the pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the tomatoes have reduced to a thick pulp.

Pass the sauce through the medium blade of a food mill. If there is much more than 1 1/2 cups of pureed sauce, or if the mixture is too watery, return it to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching, until the sauce is the desired consistency.

Adjust the salt and the pepper.

Use the sauce immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to three days.


Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.

---Helen Gahagan Douglas---

The Wise

The wise are controlled in bodily action,
controlled in speech and controlled in thought.
They are truly well-controlled.

---The Dhammapada, verse 234---

The State of Eternal Freedom

There is an old saying that you have to regard the Buddha and all the Zen predecessors as enemies before you can begin to study.

Right now you probably think that all the Zen classics and written records of the predecessors are true, and that the Avatamsaka Sutra and the Lotus Sutra are nothing but pure Truth. But if and when you become really enlightened, you will realize that all of these are nothing but thorns to the Eye.

To become enlightened, and thus free-flowing, you must transcend the Buddha and you must transcend the records of the masters. If you feel that you have to listen to this person talk or that person talk, or if you get tied up in this expedient or that expedient, you will continue to do nothing but fail in your quest and you will not live in the state of eternal freedom.

---Venerable Song Chol (1912~1993)---

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tomato White Bean Salad

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of fresh (not bottled) lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 (15-ounce) cans of cannellini beans, drained          and rinsed
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and diced*
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh flat-leaf  parsley

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch the garlic cloves for 5 minutes and then remove them with a slotted spoon.

Transfer the garlic to a blender or food processor. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, the olive oil, the lemon juice, and the salt and pepper. Puree until you have a smooth dressing.

Combine the beans, the chopped plum tomatoes, the diced chile, and the parsley in a bowl. Pour on the dressing and mix well.

Serve at room temperature.

*Use 2 chiles if you prefer a salad with a bit more excitement.

The Deva Domain

The devas have a joyful, pleasure-filled, and carefree existence in their heavenly mansions.

So Buddhist mythology depicts this psychological state.

This is a condition of constant entertainment with unending pleasures. Pain and hardship is unknown. It is very difficult for a deva to awaken to spiritual practice, or the necessity or reason for such an endeavour.

The Asura Domain

This domain represents jealousy and unending, overreaching, self-centered ambition. We can recognize this state when we observe a wealthy executive who can only think of having more power and material possessions without ever simply enjoying the wonders of the life that surrounds him (or her).

The Human Domain

The human domain is the most likely domain from which to set out on a spiritual path.

This domain represents rational thought and the ability to empathize.

The Animal Domain

The fourth domain, represented by animals, is a swirl of appetite and fear. We can recognize the animal-like state in people who alternate between craving and satisfaction, and in their fight-or-flight response to perceived physical threats.

The Preta Domain

Within Buddhist mythology, a Preta, or Hungy Ghost, is depicted as a frustrated being with a very large stomach and a tiny mouth and needlelike throat. They can never swallow enough food to satisfy their hunger.

A Preta represents the inability to satisfy unending wants and desires.

We can recognize an element of such desperate hunger and hopeless dissatisfaction in the American consumerist culture. This is a culture predicated on a cancerous necessity for boundless growth in a finite world.

Americans have been conditioned by television commercials and many other artful stimuli that creates endless wanting and desire. The idea that one is not complete without 'something else'.

The Hell Domain

Taking sides and labeling some as "the enemy" only perpetuates the Hell Domain created when we imagine ourselves separate and unrelated to others. 

The Six Domains

The Deva Domain (God, Angel)

The Asura Domain (Jealous God, Titan)

The Human Domain

The Animal Domain

The Preta Domain (Hungry Ghost)

The Hell Domain

The Six Domains are a major Mahayana psychological teaching. They can be understood as the basic mental states that are commonly experienced by any person throughout the course of a day.


To truly, truly, realize the self, both the self's lack of inherent separate existence and as the larger Self of interconnectedness of all beings and all things, is what is called Liberation.


The Fundamental Buddhist doctrine of Emptiness means all things are empty of inherent self-existence.

The Way

Emmon asked, "What does the Way ultimately depend on?"

Master Nyuri answered, "Ultimately it does not depend on anything. Like emptiness, it relies on nothing. If the Way did depend on anything there would be stopping and starting, lord and retainer."

---The Ceasing of Notions---

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In that letter, Henderson satirized creationism by professing his belief that whenever a scientist carbon-dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there "changing the results with His Noodly Appendage". Henderson argued that his beliefs were just as valid as intelligent design, and called for equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.


Honor, Truth, Concern

I'm trying to change the face of American politics.

                                    ---Bernie Sanders---

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Offering Compassion to Oneself

We cannot offer compassion to others if we cannot be compassionate, accepting, and forgiving of ourselves. We can hear and acknowledge our own feelings of fear, frustration, and anger with calm uprightness, rather than needing to react externally and act them out inappropriately.

---Taigen Dan Leighton, in Faces of Compassion---

East African Spinach in Coconut Milk

1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup of canned tomatoes, chopped
2 pounds of spinach, chopped
1 cup of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of curry powder
Salt to taste

Put the onion and the tomatoes in a soup pot and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the spinach, the coconut milk, and the curry powder. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Season to taste with the salt.

Serve with white rice.


An unknown soldier in Vietnam, 1965.

The Mahatma

Gandhi's strategy was not to vanquish his opponents but to compassionately and wisely guide them and help them transform themselves by opening their hearts and minds.

Buddhism is Not a Passive Tradition

Be kind.
Be wise.
Be mindful.

Buddhism is Not a Passive Tradition

Let a person guard themselves against irritability in action;
let them be controlled in deed.
Abandoning bodily misconduct,
let them practice good conduct in deed.

Let a person guard themselves against irritability in speech;
let them be controlled in speech.
Abandoning verbal misconduct,
let them practice good conduct in speech.

Let a person guard themselves against irritability in thought;
let them be controlled in mind.
Abandoning mental misconduct,
let them practice good conduct in thought.

---The Dhammapada, verses 231 - 233---

Buddhism is Not a Passive Tradition

Overcome the angry by non-anger;
overcome the wicked by goodness;
overcome the miser by generosity;
overcome the liar by truth,

---The Dhammapada, verse 222---

Care of Your Body

If a man wishes to cross a river he is very careful of his raft. If he has a long journey to make, he takes good care of his horse. So, if a man seeks to attain Enlightenment he must take good care of his body.

---The Teaching of Buddha, published by the Buddhist Promoting Foundation---

A Place of Purity

What you call a monastery we call a sangharama, a place of purity. But whoever denies entry to the three poisons* and keeps the gates of his senses pure, his body and mind still, inside and outside clean, builds a monastery.


*Hatred (anger), Desire (greed), and Delusion (ignorance).

The Universal Vision

The universal vision cannot be apprehended by one who sees the self as fundamentally at war with others, "looking out for number one" at the expense of others who must be bested. Only when we see that we are all in it together, and invigorate our intention to live constructively in that light, can we see each one as truly integral to the whole.

---Taigen Dan Keighton, in Faces of Compassion---

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Seven Factors of Enlightenment









Eithei Dogen (1200 - 1253) was the founder of the Soto Zen school in Japan. Following the death of his mother when he was just seven, he became a monk at Mount Hiei, the central monastery of the Tendai school, which was the dominant Buddhist tradition in Japan at the time. But at the age of 23, unable to reconcile the prevalent teaching of "original enlightenment" with Buddhist practice—if we are all originally enlightened, what is the point of practice, he asked—Dogen left Mount Hiei to seek answers in China. There, he received dharma transmission from Rujing, a Chan master, and returned to Japan to teach.

A fierce advocate of shikantaza, or objectless seated meditation, Dogen taught "practice-realization." His view was that enlightenment, rather than being a fruit of practice, is practice itself—and that practice is itself enlightenment. A prolific and poetic writer, Dogen composed volumes of teachings on topics ranging from how to wash one's face to the workings of karma to the nature of time, all the while training monks and laypeople and laying the ground for what would become the Soto school of Zen. His masterwork, the 95-chapter Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shobogenzo), is considered one of the seminal works in Buddhist literature.

---Koun Franz---

The Mind

The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It's like the root of a tree. All a tree's fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its roots, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort. Those who don't understand the mind practice in vain. Everything good and bad comes from your own mind. To find something beyond the mind is impossible.



We can only awaken to our open, clear, radiant nature by examining and acknowledging the obstructions and self-graspings of our conditioning that inhibit this deepest reality.

---Taigen Dan Leighton, in Faces of Compassion---

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Earnest

The earnest spiritual aspirant, fearing sloth, advances like a fire, burning all fetters. Such seekers will never fall back: they are nearing nirvana.

---The Dhammapada---

Thich Nhat Hanh and the First Aim

The first aim of the practice is to be free of all attachments, especially attachments to views. This is the most important teaching of Buddhism.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

Unacknowledged Minority

Although irreligious people account for an estimated 17%-22% of the world’s population (ICM/BBC), people who do not believe are treated poorly. Discrimination and ill treatment can span multiple areas of life, including the familial, societal, institutional and state level.
Discrimination can be further compounded for those who are minorities within minorities (e.g. Ex Muslims, Ex Jews, Ex Mormons, Ex Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc). 
---From the Description of the Website Faith to Faithless ( 


Verily I say unto thee: The Blessed One has not come to teach death, but to teach life, and thou discernest not the nature of living and dying.

---The Gospel of Buddha, by Paul Carus---

The Great Way

The Great Way is broad,
Neither easy nor difficult.

---The Hsin-Hsin Ming---

Point Number Ten

We uphold our commitment to tolerance, compassion and mutual understanding within and among our diverse traditions, as well as between us and the religious and secular communities outside our traditions and, in order to foster a collective effort towards global, harmonious development, undertake:
                a...To study and appreciate one another's teachings, religious and social practices and                                      cultural heritage;
                b...To avoid imposing our beliefs through coercion, manipulation or force, and
                c...To utilize every opportunity for dialogue and cooperation.

---Ten-Point Convention on Buddhism Across Cultures---

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Respect For Life

The Buddha-Dharma

                                   Even if you search in all directions,
                            You will find no other vehicles—
                            Except the skillful means of the Buddha.

---The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Dharma (The Lotus Sutra)---

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Knowledge and the Truth

He who knows nothing is closer to the Truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

---Thomas Jefferson---

Wisdom From Calvin

The Practice

An American soldier caring for a kitten during the Korean War.