Tuesday, January 31, 2017


When the causes and conditions exist, the results occurs accordingly. Who has created this? It is just the law of nature. When it break ups, that is also nature.

~Achaan Chah

Thich Nhat Hanh

[He] is a holy man . . . a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to world brotherhood, to humanity.

~Martin Luther King Jr.

Calming Our Emotions and Nourishing Our Joy

Mindfulness is the foundation of happiness. A person who is unhappy cannot make peace. Individual happiness is the foundation for creating peace in the world. To bring about peace, our hearts must be peace.

Mindfulness is the practice of stopping and becoming aware of what we are thinking and doing. The more we are mindful of our thoughts, speech, and actions, the more concentration we develop. With concentration, insight into the nature of our own suffering and the suffering of others arises. we then know what to do and what not to do in order to live joyfully and in peace with our surroundings.

Two important practices that help us cultivate the energy of mindfulness are mindful breathing and mindful walking. Our breath and our steps are always with us, and we can use these simple everyday acts to calm our emotions and nourish our joy.

  ~Thich Nhat Hanh 

The Great Teaching of the Buddha

We are past the moment of being introduced to and amazed by this great teaching. Now we are ready to learn how to make use of it for the lives we are living here in our time.

~Norman Fischer

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Help Build a New Temple

The Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple started five years ago in a small store front with twelve people and a teacher.  Within weeks, our weekly services filled up the space, and we had to move to another store front to keep up with this rapid growth. Today, just two years into our new store front, we are bursting at the seams again.  We have grown from 12 to an active Sangha of over 150 and newsletter subscribers of 750.

We have developed a Buddhist-based addiction recovery program that operates six times a week at the temple and other locations in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Ludington.  We offer an active, growing children's program each week. Our ordained teachers are often invited to discuss Buddhism in schools, churches and other organizations throughout West Michigan.

With the success of these programs as well as our weekly services and class schedules, we have simply outgrown our current 3,000 sq ft location.  

We have many more programs and services we would like to offer, but do not have the right amount and type of space to offer them.

We need the stability of a permanent temple, not a rented store front.  We are the only Buddhist temple that serves Westerners in our area.  

Our goal is to raise $150,000 as a down payment for a permanent structure,  We are strictly a donation-based, all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization.  We have enough income for operational expenses but need to raise funds for a down payment on a building.  It is only with our own building that we can continue to expand our offerings in our community which, as our growth testifies to, wants us here and thriving.  

Any amount you can give is deeply appreciated, Thank you!

I you can help, go to gofundme.com and type in Build Buddhist Temple Grand Rapids.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Guide

We can dispense with everything involved in ritualized religion simply by listening carefully and following the still, sensitive, compassionate, virtuous inner guide. Be still and know the life within. Do good, refrain from evil, and clear your mind of unworthy distractions.

~Ajahn Sumano

Your Teacher

The teacher you seek to lead you out of your stress or anxiety is within you. 

You may need direction and guidance. You may need a hand now and then to help remove a log or a stone along the path, but, your Teacher is you.

Observe. Be brutality honest with yourself. Get off your ass.

Take the steps.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Poem by Ryokan

                  Time passes,
                  There is no way
                  We can hold it back—
                  Why, then, do thoughts linger on,
                  Long after everything else is gone?

Starving-Student Onion Tomato Soup

4 tablespoons of butter
1 small onion, chopped
Celery leaves (or a very thinly sliced celery stalk)
1/2 cup of flour (approximate)
Tomato juice (About 4 cups)
Water as needed
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Milk to taste (The milk is optional.)

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-heat.

Saute the onion and the celery (if using leaves, add them during the last seconds) until the onion is tender.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir several times during the cooking.

Slowly stir in the tomato juice. Stir as the mixture heats until the lumps have all disappeared.

If the soup is too thick add some water.

Season to taste with the sugar, the salt, the red pepper, and the milk (if using).

Serve with a good sandwich.

The Tree

In 1973, E. F. Schumacher wrote, “Every follower of the Buddha ought to plant a tree every few years and look after it until it is safely established.”
I'll take the liberty and rephrase his suggestion, “Everyone who cares about Earth and the life upon it ought to plant a tree every few years and look after it until it is safely established.”

Understanding is Freedom

We are imprisoned by our ideas of good and evil.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

The Meaning, Not the Words

The teaching of emptiness, non-arising, non-duality, and the absence of self-existence pervades all the sutras spoken by the buddhas. Every sutra teaches these truths. But because every sutra responds to the longings of beings, they differ as to how they express these truths, which are not really in the words. Just as the sight of a mirage confuses a herd of deer, whereby the deer imagine the appearance of water where there is no water, likewise the teachings of the sutras are meant to gladden people's hearts. But buddha knowledge is not found in the words. Therefore, trust the meaning and don't cling to the words.

~The Buddha, in The Lankavatara Sutra

A Good Physician

Thus my teachings are diverse
tailored to the situation
if a teaching doesn't fit
then it isn't taught

Because each patient differs
good physicians adjust their cures
buddhas teach beings
according to their capacities

   ~The Buddha, in The Lankavatara Sutra 

The Teaching of the Lankavatara Sutra

Uninformed people see things in the terms of characteristics, the informed do not see things in this manner.

The Teaching of the Kalama Sutta

The people of Kalama asked the Buddha who to believe out of all the ascetics, sages, venerables, and holy ones who, like himself, passed through their town. They complained that they were confused by the many contradictions they discovered in what they heard. The Kalama Sutta is the Buddha’s reply.

— Do not believe anything on mere hearsay.

— Do not believe in traditions merely because they are old and have been handed down for many generations and in many places.

— Do not believe anything on account of rumors or because people talk a great deal about it.

— Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.

— Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because it is extraordinary, it must have been inspired by a god or other wonderful being.

— Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favor, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true.

— Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests.

But, whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it.

Do not accept any doctrine from reverence, but firstly try it as gold is tried by fire.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Upatissa Meets Assaji

The monk Assaji said he was a disciple of the mendicant Gotama of the Sakyan clan, who he referred to as the Buddha, the Awakened One.

When Upatissa begged Assaji to explain the Buddha's doctrine, Assaji modestly said he was only a beginner and could not explain it in detail, but he could share the gist of it.

Upatissa said he would be satisfied with whatever Assaji could explain.

Assaji recite a short stanza that summed up the main points—a stanza that in the centuries and millennia to follow was to become famous wherever the Buddha's Teaching was carried.

        Of those things that arise from a cause,
        The Tathagata* has told the cause,
        And also what their cessation is:
        This is the doctrine of the Great Recluse*.

When Assaji spoke this stanza, Upatissa had a stainless experience of understanding and replied, "All that has the nature of arising has the nature of cessation."

*The Buddha

Buddha Nature - Mind

Buddha is Sanskrit for what you call aware, miraculously aware. Responding, perceiving, arching your brows, blinking your eyes, moving your hands and feet, it's all your miraculously aware nature. And this nature is the mind. And the mind is the buddha. And the buddha is the path. And the path iz zen. But the word zen is one that remains a puzzle to both mortals and sages. Seeing your nature is zen. Unless you see your nature, it's nor zen.


Salvatore Sapienza, Pastor of Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ, in Douglas, Michigan

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How To Walk the Buddha-Dharma Path

Avoid all evil, cultivate the good, purify your mind: this sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

~The Dhammapada, verse 183

Do not find fault with others, do not injure others, but live in accordance with the dharma. Be moderate in eating and sleeping, and meditate on the highest. This sums up the teaching of the Buddhas.

~The Dhammapada, verse 185

Chickpea and Corn Soup

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano, crumbled (Mexican variety if it is available.)
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
3 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (Capture as much of the juice as possible and add with the          tomatoes.)
1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 cup of sweet corn kernels
4 cups of a very good vegetable broth (Remember a soup stands or falls by the quality of the broth.)
1/2 teaspoon or Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 Haas avocado, peeled and diced
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onions until they're translucent, perhaps 4 minutes.

Add the garlic, the oregano, the cumin, the thyme, and the tomatoes.

Cook, stirring, until the juices reduce and the mixture is nearly dry, maybe 5 or 6 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, the corn, the broth, the Worcestershire sauce, the salt to taste, and the crushed red pepper to taste.

Bring it all to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the corn is tender. This should take 10 minutes, maybe more, maybe less.

Divide the soup among 4 warmed bowl.

Top each serving with some diced avocado and some chopped cilantro.

Serve with the lime wedges on the side.

The Mystical

The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.

~Ludwig Wittgenstein

Meditation (or The Everyday Sublime)

Meditation originates and culminates in the everyday sublime. I have little interest in achieving states of sustained concentration in which the sensory richness of experience is replaced by pure introspective rapture. I have no interest in reciting mantras, visualizing Buddhas or mandalas, gaining out-of-body experiences, reading other people's thoughts, practicing lucid dreaming, or channeling psychic energies through chakras, let alone letting my consciousness be absorbed in the transcendent perfection of the Unconditioned. Meditation is about embracing what is happening to this organism as it touches its environment in this moment. I do not reject the experience of the mystical. I reject only the view that the mystical is concealed behind what is merely apparent, that it is anything other that what is occurring in time and space right now. The mystical does not transcend the world but saturates it. "The mystical is not how the world is," noted Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1921, "but that it is."

~Stephen Batchelor, in after buddhism


In meditation we learn to neither engage or to suppress a thought or an emotion.

The same is true with desire or wanting; we do not engage or suppress. We allow it to pass.


Awakening (or Enlightenment) is essentially knowing things in accordance with reality. When one sees in this manner there are no misconceptions or mental projections about the appearance of a thing or a course of events. The seeing is entirely clear and according to reality.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Constantly watch over the mind as a parent watches over a child. Protect it from its own foolishness.

It is incorrect to think that at certain times you do not have the opportunity to meditate. You must constantly make the effort to know yourself; it is as necessary as your breathing, which continues in all situations.

~Achaan Chah

White Bean Spread

1 2/3 cups of cooked white beans
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 cup of minced fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of cayenne pepper

Pulse the beans a few times in a food processor.

Add the lemon juice, the oil, the garlic, and the paprika, and process into a smooth paste.

Pulse in the cilantro.

Season to taste with the salt, the pepper, and the cayenne.

Note: You can replace the cilantro with dill opr tarragon and take this spread into a whole new direction.



To think there are sentient beings without buddha-nature, or insentient things with buddha-nature—these are false views.


Cashew and Sesame "Cheese"

1/2 cup of drained cooked white beans
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of cashew butter
2 tablespoons of tahini
Salt to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed

Pulse the beans in a food processor a few times.

Add the remaining ingredients, using the water only if needed to help in the processing.

Process into a smooth, thick paste.

Note: If you don't use the oil on top of the cashew butter you will create a firmer "cheese."


Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of finely chopped chives or scallions before or after processing.

Add 1 teaspoon of paprika with a pinch of cayenne before processing.

Stir in 1 teaspoon of ground caraway seeds, 2 teaspoons of finely chopped pickles (or pickle relish), and some freshly ground black pepper after processing.


Nonviolence is not blind faith in fantasy solutions. Nonviolence is a considered and thoughtful effort guided by a concern to pluck nonviolent contributions out of the complexities of the swirling and transient array of human social existence.

A Religion or a Way of Life

The attempt to find situational guidance from the Buddha for our personal problems is a misunderstanding and a misuse of his teachings. This misuse creates "Buddhism"—an ideology—in the place of Dharma—a lifelong experience of understanding and growth in compassion and wisdom guided by observation and personal experience.

Our Actions

Our actions have consequences. Where we have a choice we should choose the option with the most positive outcome. If we are aware that our actions are resulting in harm, we should change the way we act wherever it is feasible. Not to do so is unethical.

~Bodhipaksa, in Vegetarianism

Causing Harm

We may not be able to live without causing any harm at all but we can certainly live in such a way that we cause less harm.

~Bodhipaksa, in Vegetarianism

Words From A Japanese Zen Master

Compassion is the dignity of Buddhism.

Monday, January 23, 2017


In every country in the world, killing human beings is condemned. The Buddhist precept of non-killing extends even further, to include all living beings.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Lentil and Walnut "Chopped Liver"

1 1/2 cups of dry lentils
4 cups of water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup of finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the lentils and place them in a large pot with the 4 cups of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue to simmer, stirring often, until the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until caramelized, about an hour.

Place the lentils, the walnuts, the tamari (or soy sauce), and the salt and the pepper in a food processor, and puree into a thick paste.

Chill thoroughly before serving.

Serve on a bed of lettuce or other greens or with crackers, rye bread, or wheat toast.


Ahimsa is boundless, universal love and compassion.

A true spiritual practice does no deliberate harm.

Buddhist Ethics

Buddhist ethics are simply expressions of compassion and loving kindness.

Green Bean and Walnut Pate

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cups of steamed green beans, cooled and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound of firm regular tofu, rinsed
1 cup of chopped walnuts
A pinch of ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the oil in a skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until it is dark brown, approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the onions from scorching. Be watchful, stir as often as necessary.

Simmer the tofu for 10 minutes in enough water to cover. Drain the tofu and allow it to cool. When you can easily handle it, squeeze it carefully to remove the excess water. Blot it dry with a towel,

Place the tofu in a bowl and mash with a fork or your hand.

Place the tofu, the sauteed onion, the steamed green beans, and the chopped walnuts in a food processor, and puree until you have a smooth paste.

Season with the allspice and the salt and pepper.

Chill thoroughly before serving with crackers or bread.

Compassion and Wisdom

According to Buddhism, for a person to be perfected, there are two qualities she or he should develop equally: compassion and wisdom.

Walpola Rahula, at the World Buddhist Sangha Council in Sri Lanka in 1967, said, "Following the example of the Buddha, who is the embodiment of Great Compassion and Great Wisdom, we consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth."

There's a very popular Buddhist teaching that compares compassion and wisdom to the two wings of a bird. Without both wings the bird cannot fly. Without compassion and wisdom, in equal measure, a person cannot attain Awakening, or Nirvana.

Most Buddhist teachings can be viewed as training manuals that teach various forms of meditation and other techniques for generating wisdom and compassion.