Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Hua Yen School of Buddhism

Avatamsaka – Sanskrit

Hua Yen (Hua Yan) – Chinese

Flower Garland (Flower Ornament) – English

The name Flower Garland is meant to suggest the crowning glory of a Buddha's profound understanding of ultimate reality.

Known in Korea as Hwaeom.

Known in Japan as Kegon.

An overview of Hua Yen doctrine: “All in one, one in all.”

The Hua Yen School emphasizes the interdependence and interbeing of all things, the emptiness of all phenomena, the inherent Buddha nature in all Beings, and the Bodhisattva Ideal.

Scriptures of the Hua Yen School: The primary scripture is The Avatamsaka Sutra. Two other important scriptures are the Lotus Sutra, and the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

The Hua Yen School focuses on explaining the ultimate nature of the world, the universe, all things from the point of view of a Fully Awakened Being, a Buddha

The Hua Yen is often said to be the philosophical articulation of Chan (Zen) meditation.

The Hua Yen School was influenced by the Yogacara and Madhyamaka Schools of Buddhism as well as by the Taoist teachings.

Hua Yen teaches any phenomenon exists only as part of the total nexus of reality, its existence depends on the total network of all other things, which are all equally connected to each other and contained in each other.

The Hua Yen Patriarchs used various metaphors to explain the teaching. Two popular metaphors were Indra's Net and a hall of mirrors.

The third Hua Yen Patriarch, Fa-tsang, illustrated the teaching to the great Chinese Empress Wu by surrounding a candle on all sides with mirrors. When the candle was lit it was reflected in each mirror and each of the reflections was reflected in every other mirror. A continuous non-ending reflection on reflection.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Lion's Roar

The ultimate realm of truth is inconceivable.

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

Monday, February 26, 2018

Entry Into the Realm of Reality

I hope you are not vicious,
Do not steal,
Are not promiscuous,
And do not lie.

I hope you do not cause discord,
Do not slander others,
Do not covet others' goods,
And are not hostile toward anyone.

May you not stand on the wasteland of views;
May your intelligence not be taken away by habits;
May you not exert bad influence on people
By guile or deceit.

Do you love and respect your parents,
Relatives, friends, and elders?
Does your heart reach out
To give to the poor to help them?

Are you well disposed toward spiritual benefactors
Who tell you about religion at the appropriate time?
Are you truly healthy and capable
In body and mind?

Do you respect the buddhas
And love the enlightening beings?
Do you know the supreme Teaching
From which the enlightening beings are born?

Can you abide by the supreme religion
And not do any wrong?
Do you have higher love and respect
For the infinite ocean of virtues?

Are you kind
To the helpless and lost?
Are you really compassionate
Toward evildoers?

Are you most happy
To see the success of others?
Are you indifferent, by the power of wisdom,
To those who annoy you for no reason?

Seeing people in the slumber of ignorance,
Do you firmly seek supreme enlightenment?
Would you not weary of endless ages
Of spiritual practice?

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I Decide What To Carry

What I carry in my heart is what I am.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Noblest Way of Living

Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, cultivate boundless love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. Let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below, and across. Our love will know no obstacles. our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living.

~From the Buddha's Discourse on Love

The Teacher

The teacher teaching the student is the teacher meeting him- or herself.

~John Daido Loori

Civilized People

A civilized nation does not arm its teachers with any weapons other than integrity, honesty, wisdom, compassion, and a desire to nurture.


All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no need to exert the mind.

~The Hsin Hsin Ming (Xinxin Ming)

Creamed Celery

4 cups of chopped celery
2 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of milk
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of pecan halves
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Lightly oil a 1 1/2 quart casserole.

Boil the celery until it's tender, maybe 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and then stir in the milk and the flour.

Stir the milk and flour mixture until it thickens and becomes creamy. Add the salt and the cooked celery.

Pour the mixture into the oiled casserole, top with the pecan halves, and cover with the bread crumbs.

Bake the dish for 15 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles.


The Avatamsaka Sutra

The central theme of the Avatamsaka Sutra is all things are interdependent. Therefore, all things imply all other things. The existence of each element of the Universe includes the existence of the whole Universe. Each element of the Universe is as extensive as the Universe itself.

There Is No True Benefit For One Group Alone That Is Won At The Cost Of Another

It is generally characteristic of Mahayana or universalistic Buddhism that the mundane welfare of beings is considered a legitimate, if not ultimate, aim of bodhisattva activity, and many aspects of the ethical and practical life of bodisattvas may be seen in this light. While psychological and physical well-being is not considered the ultimate goal, it might appropriately be thought of as an elementary stage in the realization of humanity, a removal of conflicts and anxieties to free more energy for higher development. It is axiomatic, based on the world view of Buddhism, that since all people and indeed all creatures share in each other's existence, there is no true benefit for one group alone that is won at the cost of another.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable


Although all dualities arise from the One,
do not be attached even to ideas of this One.

~The Hsin Hsin Ming


As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the Single Way
cannot be free in either activity or quietude,
              in assertion or denial.

~The Hsin Hsin Ming

The Liberation and Enlightenment of All Beings

The ethic of the Hua-yen teaching is based on this fundamental theme of universal interdependence; while the so-called bodhisattva, the person devoted to enlightenment, constantly nourishes aspiration and will going beyond the world, nevertheless the striving for completion and perfection, the development of ever greater awareness, knowledge, freedom, and capability, is continually reinvested, as it were, in the world, dedicated to the liberation and enlightenment of all beings.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable

The Hua-yen School

The Hua-yen doctrine shows the entire cosmos as one single nexus of conditions in which everything simultaneously depends on, and is depended on by, everything else. Seen in this light, then, everything affects and is affected by, more or less immediately or remotely, everything else; just as this is true of every system of relationships, so it is true of the totality of existence. In seeking to understand individuals and groups, therefore, Hua-yen thought considers the manifold as an integral part of the unit and the unit as an integral part of the manifold; one individual is considered in terms of relationships to other individuals as well as to the whole nexus, while the whole nexus is considered in terms of its relation to each individual as well as to all individuals.

~Thomas Cleary, in Entry Into the Inconceivable

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Heart of Great Compassion

If you make sentient beings happy, you make all Buddhas happy. Why? Because the heart of great compassion is the substance of the Buddhas. Therefore they develop great compassion on account of sentient beings, develop the will for enlightenment based on great compassion, and attain true awakening on the basis of the will for enlightenment. It is like a giant tree in a desert; if the roots find water, then the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits all flourish. The giant tree of enlightenment in the desert of birth and death is also like this. All living beings are the root of the tree; the Buddha and bodhisattvas are the flowers. Benefit living beings with the water of great compassion and you can obtain the flowers and fruits of knowledge and wisdom of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.

~The Avatamsaka Sutra

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Big Mind

Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called "mind-only," or "essence of mind," or "big mind." After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

~Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Life and Death

Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life.

~Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

The Positive

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

~The Buddha

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Three

Mind, Buddha, and Sentient Beings; There is no difference in the three.

~Avatamsaka Sutra

Sentient Beings

In Buddhism, Sentient Beings are Beings with consciousness, sentience.

Consciousness is awareness of oneself and that outside oneself.

Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive or experience subjectively. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Old Man

Respond to anger with virtue.
Deal with difficulties while they are still easy.
Handle the great while it is still small. 

~Lao Tzu

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Heaven and Earth

A simple dish of warm mashed potatoes mixed with warm, well seasoned applesauce, salt, and enough sugar and cider vinegar to give a slight sweet-sour tang.

Serve warm with brown butter poured over it.

Note: Brown butter is made by cooking unsalted butter long enough to turn the milk solids brown while cooking out any water present in the butter. Often described as tasting nutty or toasty, it has a deeper, richer, more intense flavor than melted or clarified butter. Brown butter is a  for vegetables.

Heaven and Earth

1 1/3 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 1/2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and diced
3 apples, peeled, quartered, cores removed
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar
1/4 pound of tempeh, diced
2 onions, sliced

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, bring the water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the boil.

Add the potatoes and return to the boil. Cook until the potatoes are just tender.

Add the apples, return to the boil, and cook until the apples are tender.

Season with the 1 teaspoon of salt, the sugar, and the vinegar.

Saute the tempeh and the onion slices in a very small amount of sesame oil until done to your liking.

Drain any water from the apples and the potatoes.
Pour the onion and the tempeh mixture over the potatoes and the apples and serve hot.

This Is Buddhism

To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do, like eating supper and going to bed. This is Buddhism.

Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

The Buddha Said, and Then Five Hundred Years Later, The Christ Said

The Buddha:

Stealing, deceiving, adultery; this is defilement. Not the eating of meat.

The Christ:

There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.


Whatsoever a person does, whether is it a virtuous deed or a non-virtuous deed, none of these are of little import; all bear some kind of fruit.

~The Buddha

The Buddha Said, and Then Five Hundred Years Later, The Christ Said

The Buddha:

Do not look at the faults of others, or what others have done or not done; observe what you yourself have done and have not done.

The Christ:

They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?" Jesus said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

Conversation is Speaking and Listening

When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe what his way is.

Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion.

~Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Do not seek the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.

~The Hsin Hsin Ming


Do Something

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Observing the Breath

That day, the Buddha also spent time teaching the two young men various methods of observing the breath. Though Svasti and Rahula had received similar instruction before, this was the first time they received it directly from the Buddha. The Buddha told them that the first fruit of mindfully observing the breath was overcoming dispersion and forgetfulness.

~Old Path White Cloud, by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Path of Awakening

The nun Mahapajapati [Siddhartha's maternal aunt and stepmother] said to the Buddha, "Lord, please show compassion and explain how I may best make quick progress on the path of liberation."

The Buddha answered, "Nun Mahapajapati, the most important thing is to take hold of your own mind. Practice observing the breath and meditate on the body, feelings, mind, and objects of mind. Practicing like that, each day you will experience a deepening of humility, ease, detachment, peace, and joy. When those qualities arise, you can be sure you are on the correct path, the path of awakening and enlightenment."

Monday, February 12, 2018


Don't waste your time in arguments and discussions attempting to grasp the ungraspable.

~The Hsin Hsin Ming

Seasoned Crisped Tempeh

1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons of salt
6 ounces of tempeh, cut into slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
Oil for frying

Combine the water and the salt.

Dip the slices of tempeh into the seasoned water.

Heat the oil in a saute pan.

Dip the slices of tempeh and then allow them to rip dry on a rack. (Water and hot oil can spatter.)

Slip the sliced tempeh into the oil and cut for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown on each side.. Turn halfway through.

Serve alone or on rich or in a sandwich. Use your imagination.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Concentration (Meditation) - The Third of the Three Mental Development Aspects of the Path

Proper Concentration or Meditation is the gradual process of training the Mind to focus on a single object, and to remain fixed upon that object without wavering. The object of concentration may be a material thing such as a flower or a stone or a quality such as Loving Kindness. Or the object may be, and this is the most common because it is always with use, our breath.

Even if one practices for as little as fifteen minutes a day, one will begin to notice changes. The faithful daily practice of Meditation helps one develop a calm and concentrated Mind.

The faithful daily practice of Meditation prepares one for the attainment of Wisdom and Compassion and Awakening.

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Mindfulness - The Second of the Three Mental Development Aspects of the Path

Proper Mindfulness is an essential quality in everyone's daily life. It's a mental factor that enables us to remember, and to keep our awareness and attention on, what is beneficial in terms of thoughts, words, and deeds.

When we awake we can determine for this day to try not to harm other Living Beings or other things. We can determine to do our best, in even the smallest of ways, to benefit others.

The Mind must constantly be aware of what is happening for neither mishap nor misgivings to occur.

Proper Mindfulness is necessary if one is to progress towards Wisdom and Compassion and Awakening. The Mind must be protected against distraction. Greed and anger should be consciously avoided. Attention is given to the Mind because it is through the Mind that everything is comprehended, interpreted, and understood.

If lasting happiness is to be attained, the undisciplined Mind should be tamed.

To tame the Mind is to tame the World.

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Effort (Skillful Means or Diligence) - The First of the Three Mental Development Aspects of the Path

Proper Effort is needed to develop one's Mind, because one is often distracted or tempted to take the easy way.

The Buddha taught attaining True Happiness and Awakening (Enlightenment) depends on one's own efforts. Effort is the root of all achievement. So, no matter how great the Buddha's achievement or how excellent his Teaching, one must put the Teaching into practice before one can expect to obtain results.

There are four types of Proper Effort that should be practiced.

These four are:

1 . . . The Effort to prevent the arising of unwholesome thoughts of greed, hatred, and ignorance.

2 . . . The Effort to rid oneself of the unwholesome thoughts that have arisen.

3 . . . The Effort to develop wholesome thoughts of generosity, loving kindness, and other positive qualities.

4 . . . The Effort to maintain the wholesome thoughts that have arisen, even though they may not be appreciated by others.

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Livelihood - The Third of the Three Moral Conduct Aspects of the Path

Proper Livelihood means earning one's living in a way that is not harmful to others. In the choice of one's occupation, one should show respect for the life and welfare of All Living Beings.

There are five trades that the Buddha considered unworthy for making one's living. These trades should be avoided because they cause suffering and unhappiness to others and they create disunity in society.

The five trades the Buddha considered unworthy are the manufacture and/or sale of deadly weapons, the breading and raising of animals for slaughter (which includes the killing and butchering of animals), owning or selling human beings as slaves (this includes sexual slaves), the manufacture and/or sale of intoxicants, and the manufacture and/or sale of poisons (this includes insecticides and herbicides).

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Action - The Second of the Three Moral Conduct Aspects of the Path

The practice of Proper Action involves respect for the life of others, respect for the property of others, respect for the personal relationships of others, and respect for the sexual boundaries of others.

Proper Action helps to develop a character that is self-controlled and mindful of the rights of others.

Proper Action includes avoiding by word or action killing or causing to kill, harming or causing to harm, and sexual misconduct.

Proper Action is not simply avoiding, it is also doing something. This doing something includes acting and speaking in a manner that will benefit others.

Proper Action includes helping and rescuing others from danger.

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Speech - The First of the Three Moral Conduct Aspects of the Path

We should make an effort to notice and comment upon others' good qualities and achievements instead of venting frustration or anger towards them. We can give one another moral support, consolation in times of grieve, and share the Dharma with them. Speech is a powerful tool. When used wisely, many will benefit.

Proper Speech includes the avoidance of lying, rumor, harsh language, and idle talk.

Proper Speech includes praise when appropriate, constructive and compassionate criticism, healing words, truthful words, and silence when necessary.

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper Thought (Resolve) - The Second of the Two Wisdom Aspects of the Path

Proper Thought means to avoid Craving and Ill Will, and to cultivate thoughts of Renunciation (giving up Attachment), Loving Kindness, and Compassion. Craving should be avoided because it can never be fully satisfied, leading to unwholesome actions. Thoughts of Renunciation remove Craving, while thoughts of Loving Kindness and Compassion remove Ill Will.

Thoughts influence one's words and actions. If one speaks or acts out of Greed or Anger, then one will speak or act wrongly and suffer consequently. It's necessary to purify one's thoughts if one really wishes to improve one's conduct. Proper Thought is knowing how to use the knowledge that we have for the benefit of oneself and others, for the benefit of all species and all things.

The Noble Eightfold Path: Proper View (Understanding) - The First of the Two Wisdom Aspects of the Path

Proper View is the seeing of all things as they really are without the filters of opinion, belief, wish, want, or desire; everything as it is rather than as it appears to be.

An inquiring and analytical attitude is important in the practice of Proper View. The Buddha taught us not to rely on hearsay, tradition, or authority for Reality but to observe and judge the Truth in the light of our own unbiased and objective experience. The Buddha taught that just as a wise person does nor accept any metal that glitters as being gold on the advice of another, but to test its properties for themselves, even so, one should not accept what is heard or read without testing it by one's own experience.

Nonetheless, in seeking the Truth, one can do well to turn to the Teachings of the Buddha for guidance. This is the first step towards developing Proper View. One should listen to and study the Teachings of the Buddha and the explanations of qualified teachers. But listening to and reading about the Buddha's Teachings is not enough. One should also practice the Buddha's Teaching.

The Buddha said developing Proper View is similar to a blind person who has regained their sight and whose attitude towards things they used to like and dislike now changes because they can now see them accurately.

Emptiness in Everyday Life

To treasure everything
(in this moment)
as All is transient;

To be unattached to everything
(in this moment)
as All is transient.

Spiritual Cultivation

The perfection of Wisdom and the perfection of Compassion form the twin peaks of spiritual cultivation, also referred to as Nirvana, Awakening, Enlightenment, Liberation, Freedom, or even Salvation.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Five Aggregates

What causes us to experience dukkha in an impermanent world is not impermanence itself, but the desire within each of us to attach to things that are not lasting. We harbor this desire, this craving, this thirst as long as we cling inappropriately to the ego-oriented notion of self. Such a limited, artificial perspective—distinguishing between self and other, instead of realizing the interpenetration of both—easily gives rise to the so-called three poisons, or defilements, of greed, anger, and ignorance. These poisons, in turn, feed desire: the urge to acquire, to overcome, and/or to win.

In distinct opposition to the belief in a personal self that at death passes from a life in one body to a life in another body or the belief that at death the self passes to an eternal reward or an eternal punishment, the Buddha taught the doctrine of no-self. Individuals, of course, live as a self in the world, and need to think in terms of a self to a certain degree for basic survival. Nevertheless, the self does not exist as a spiritual or metaphysical entity. Instead, it's simply the name given to a temporary combination (or “personality”) of impermanent aggregates (differing elements that combine to form a whole).

Buddhism posits five groups of aggregates (Skandhas in Sanskrit) that combine to form an individual.

These Five Aggregates or Skandhas are matter, sensation, perception, mental formation, and consciousness.

Matter: The eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. In Buddhism each of these is considered a sense organ. Thus, Buddhism teaches we have six senses not five, the sixth being the mind which defines what the other senses perceive.

Sensation: The raw data of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mental activity.

Perception: The recognition and naming of the sensations received by the sense organs.

Mental Formation: All mental acts that generate activities—for example, will, judgment, fear, dislike, love, pride, and so on. This aggregate or skandha can manifest the three poisons—greed, anger, and ignorance—or their medicinal counterparts—wisdom, compassion, and enlightenment. This aggregate's function links us to our karma, which explains the Buddha's words, “We are what we think.”

Consciousness: The awareness, registration, and ordering of the perceptions.

The understanding and examination of the Aggregates illustrates no entity called the “self” abides—or needs to abide. When we delude ourselves with the notion of a fixed self operating as its own agent we kindle self-oriented desires which in turn give rise to dukkha.

To understand the Aggregates is to under the words of Buddhaghosa, the great Theravada scholar of the fifth century C.E., “Suffering exists, but not the sufferer.”