Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Dharma Is Beyond Compare

Hui Neng said, "The Way is neither dark nor light. Light and dark refer to things that are opposites. And even if light leads to light without end, it still has an end, because it is defined in terms of its opposite. Thus, the Vimalakirti Sutra says, 'The Dharma is beyond compare, because it has no opposite.' "

Thursday, August 24, 2017


If you have a garden and a library you have everything.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Five Hindrances

Sensory Desire
Ill Will
Dullness - Drowsiness
Restlessness - Worry

Five Methods of Expelling the Hindrances:

The First Method are the Remedies:

  • Sensory Desire  = Meditation on Impermanence. Contemplation on the unattractive nature of the body.
  • Ill Will = Meditation on Loving Kindness
  • Dullness or Drowsiness = Walking Meditation, A firm determination to continue to strive. Meditation of an image of energy such as a ball of light.
  • Restlessness or Worry = Turning the mind to a simple object that calms; mindfulness of breathing.
  • Doubt = Investigation, inquiring, asking questions, studying the Buddha's Teachings.

The Second Method is the marshaling of ethical shame or moral dread = One reflects on what is vile or ignoble about the hindrances and considers the consequences of each.

The Third Method is the deliberate diversion of attention. Redirecting one's attention elsewhere.

The Fourth Method is to face the hindrance analyze it, scrutinize it, and search for its source.

The Fifth Method is suppression. Not the best. To be used only as a last resort. But sometimes the only thing. Hold down the hindrance as a strong man holds a weaker man on a wrestling mat.

Bean Sprout Salad

Bean Sprouts – blanched
Baby Bok Choy – blanched and thin sliced
Green Onions – thin sliced
Sesame Seeds
Water Chestnuts – cut into matchsticks
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce

Combine everything and serve at room temperature.

The Teaching

The Buddha taught dukkha*.
The Buddha taught the cause of dukkha.
The Buddha taught the ending of, the freedom from dukkha.
The Buddha taught the way to that ending, that freedom.

The Buddha shared the Four Noble Truths for the ending of and freedom from dukkha. 

Each person experiences, expresses, and practices the Buddha's Teaching as best resonates with them.

*Dukkha: pervasive unsatisfactoriness, stress, anxiety, discomfort, dissatisfaction, non-ease, insufficiency, insecurity, suffering.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


The insight of impermanence helps us to go beyond all concepts. 

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Abstaining From Taking Life

"Abstaining from taking life" has wider application than simply refraining from killing other human beings. The precept enjoins abstaining from killing any sentient being. A "sentient being" (pani, satta) is a living being endowed with mind or consciousness; for practical purposes, this means human beings, animals, and insects. Plants are not considered sentient beings; though they exhibit some degree of sensitivity, they lack full-fledged consciousness, the defining attribute of a sentient being.

The "taking of life" that is to be avoided is intentional killing, the deliberate destruction of life of a being endowed with consciousness. The principle is grounded in the consideration that all beings love life and fear death, that all seek happiness and are averse to pain.

~Bhikkhu, in The Noble Eightfold Path

Saturday, August 19, 2017


It is not enough to be compassionate—we must act.

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama


The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference. 

~Elie Wiesel

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Evolution of Man

Artist: Kamille Corry

The evolution of man is the evolution of his will, and 'will’ cannot evolve involuntarily.

~Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff

Idle Chatter

He avoids idle chatter and abstains from it. He speaks at the right time, in accordance with facts, speaks what is useful, speaks of the Dhamma and the discipline; his speech is like a treasure, uttered at the right moment, accompanied by reason, moderate and full of sense. (Anguttara Nikaya)

Idle chatter is pointless talk, speech that lacks purpose or depth. Such speech communicates nothing of value, but only stirs up the defilements in one's own mind and others. The Buddha advises that idle talk should be curbed and speech restricted as much as possible to matters of genuine importance. In the case of a monk, the typical subject of the passage just quoted, his words should be selective and concerned primarily with the Dhamma. Lay people will have more need for affectionate small talk with friends and family, polite conversation with acquaintances, and talk in connection with their line of work. But even then they should be mindful not to let their conversation stray into pastures where the restless mind, always eager for something sweet and spicy to feed on, might find the chance to indulge its defiling propensities.

The traditional exegesis of abstaining from idle chatter refers only to avoiding engagement in such talk oneself. But today it might be of value to give this factor a different slant, made imperative by certain developments peculiar to our own time, unknown in the days of the Buddha and the ancient commentators. This is avoiding exposure to the idle chatter constantly bombarding us through the new media of communication created by modern technology. An incredible array of devices—television, radio, newspapers, pulp journals, the cinema—turns out a continuous stream of needless information and distracting entertainment the net effect of which is to leave the mind, passive, vacant, and sterile. All these developments, naively accepted as "progress," threaten to blunt our aesthetic and spiritual sensitivities and deafen us to the higher call of the contemplative life. Serious aspirants on the path to liberation have to be extremely discerning in what they allow themselves to be exposed to. They would greatly serve their aspirations by including these sources of amusement and needless information in the category of idle chatter and making an effort to avoid them.

~Bhikkhu Bodhi, in The Noble Eightfold Path


A student once asked Zen Master Seon Nakagawa, " I'm very discouraged. What should I do?"

The Master answered his student, "Encourage others." 


As long as we think, act, live via an object, or as an object: that is bondage.

~Wei Wu Wei

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.

~Eckhart Tolle


Learning Zen is a phenomenon of gold and dung. Before you learn it, it's like gold; after you learn it, it's like dung.

~Zen Proverb


Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is just opinion.



One thing I know, that I know nothing. This is the source of my wisdom.



People don't realize their own mind is the Buddha. They keep searching outside.


Letting Go

Monday, August 14, 2017


Those who make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.




When in harmony with the nature of things, 
           your own fundamental nature,
you will walk freely and undisturbed.
However, when mind is in bondage, the truth is hidden,
and everything is murky and unclear,
and the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from attachment to distinctions and separations?

~The Hsin Hsin Ming 

Racism, Sexism - Why?

There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

~The Christian Bible - The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians 3:28

Thank You, Science

The Three Poisons (The Source of the Unwholesome)

                  Passion (Desire, Greed)
          Aversion (Hate, Anger)
          Delusion (Ignorance)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fried Potato Cakes

This recipe will make about 18 cakes.

14 ounces of potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup of cooked soybeans
2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds, roasted*
4 tablespoons of sesame oil

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 2 minutes
In a bowl, combine the flour and the water, then add the potatoes, the salt, the parsley, the soybeans, and the sesame seeds. Mix this all well.

Heat a frying pan, then add the sesame oil.

When the oil is hot, pour small amounts of the potato mixture into the frying pan to form cakes about 3 inches in diameter.

Cook the cakes over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning until both sides are golden brown and crispy.

Repeat this process until all the potato mixture has been used.

Drain the cakes on paper towel.

Serve at once.

Spicy Stir-Fried Potato

This recipe will serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course.

14 ounces of potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons of red miso
1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of sake'
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 dried red chilies, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of soy sauce

Rinse the prepared potatoes and then boil them in salted water until they are tender crisp.

In a bowl, combine the red miso, the sugar, and the sake' and mix well.

Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan. Add the chili slices and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.

Add the potatoes to the chilies and fry until they are transparent, then add the soy sauce.

Add the miso mixture to the frying pan and cook over low heat for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring, until the potatoes are completely coated with the sauce.


Training in Loving-Kindness

Bhikkhus, even if bandits were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a two-handled saw, he who gave rise to a mind of hate towards them would not be carrying out my teaching. Herein, bhikkhus, you should train thus: "Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner hate. We shall abide pervading them with a mind imbued with loving-kindness; and starting with them, we shall abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will." That is how you should train, bhikkhus.

~The Simile of the Saw - Majjhima Nikaya 21

You Shall Awaken

Free from all ties,
free from the bonds of existence,
you shall awaken.

~The Dhammapada 385

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 19

Abandon wisdom, discard knowledge,
And people will benefit a hundredfold.
Abandon benevolence, discard duty,
And people will return to the family ties.
Abandon cleverness, discard profit,
And thieves and robbers will disappear.

These three, though, are superficial, and not enough.
Let this be what to rely on:

Behave simply and hold on to purity.
Lessen selfishness and restrain desires.

Abandon knowledge and your worries are over.

Greed (In All Its Nasty Forms) Leads To Some Truly Dangerous Foolishness

Commentary on Chapter 21

An abundance of opinions will generate heat
but accomplish nothing.
You no longer have to comment
on each and every little thing.
You can observe events with a detached serenity.
When you speak,
your words are gentle, helpful, and few.
Your silence is as beautiful as the Harvest moon.

                                                      ~William Martin,
                                                         commenting on chapter 21 of 
                                                         The Sage's Tao Te Ching

Cultivating the Mind

The practice of, the training in, the Five Moral Precepts is the cultivation of the mind.

Sila = Proper Speech, Proper Action, Proper Livelihood

The English word "morality" and its derivatives suggest a sense of obligation and constraint quite foreign to the Buddhist conception of sila; this connotation probably enters from the theistic background to Western ethics. Buddhism, with its non-theistic framework, grounds its ethics, not on the notion of obedience, but on that of harmony. In fact, the commentaries explain the word sila by another word, samadhana, meaning "harmony" or "coordination."

~Bhikkhu Bodhi, in The Noble Eightfold Path

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Training

A young monk once asked the Buddha to explain his training in brief.

The Buddha answered, "First establish yourself in the starting point of wholesome states, that is, in purified moral discipline and in right view. Then, when your moral discipline is purified and your view straight, you should practice the four foundations of mindfulness."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Seven Recommended Books to Help Understand Buddhist Practice

1...The Dhammapada – Any Translation
Perhaps the most cherished part of Buddhist scripture.
The temple gives the translation by Eknath Easwaran
to its Preceptors.

2...Buddha – by Karen Armstrong
An excellent biography of the Buddha.

3...The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching – by Thich Nhat Hanh
The basics.

4...Buddhism Plain and Simple – by Steve Hagen
Buddhism in everyday, accessible language without religious ritual.

5...What the Buddha Taught – by Walpola Rahula
Somewhat scholastic, but arguably the best introduction to the Teaching and the Practice.

6...What Buddhists Believe – by K. Sri Dhammananda
An excellent overview of the Teaching. From a Theravada point of view, but extremely thorough with regards to the foundational Teachings. Difficult to find in print, but a free electric copy is available for your telephone.

7...The Noble Eightfold Path – by Bhikkhu Bodhi
The practice of Buddhism is the Noble Eightfold Path. This book is an excellent guide to the Path and to the Practice.

Grand Rapids Buddhist Temple
451 S. Division

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Carrot Butter

1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of almond butter
2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
Salt to taste (You may find the salt is not needed.)

Boil the carrots until they are very tender.

Drain the carrots and place them with all the other ingredients, except for the salt, in food processor.

Blend until the mixture is completely smooth.

Taste. Add a pinch of salt if needed. If the salt has been added, process for a few seconds to blend it into the butter.

Serve this butter on bread, toast, muffins, baked potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, cooked vegetables, or any food you fancy.

It will keep in the refrigerator for a week if tightly covered.


Never forget your own true nature is Buddha.

It is as effortless for you as breathing.

Pause, and remember who you are.

The Unicorn

You have the right, as everyone does, to believe in a god or multiple gods. You have the right to any religion you decide best fits you. You have the right to believe a female brontosaurus lives under the Brooklyn Bridge with her fourteen pups. You have every right to believe unicorns live in your shoes. But the day you begin telling me not to wear shoes because I'll upset the unicorn, a problem appears. The day you start involving the unicorns in deciding how I should live my life, a problem appears. The day you begin making decisions for my family and my country based on the opinions of your unicorns, a very large problem appears.