Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nichiren Buddhism

I am a practicing Nichiren Buddhist. I used to think this was a big jump from other forms of Buddhism and questioned things like the difference between chanting and meditation/ reaching the holy grail of Buddhism - Nirvana / enlightenment as a bi-product. I have come to discover that I was listening to members who were just learning themselves. The problem for me is that I am thoughtful and when being told, "Be Skeptical it will lead you to having faith", I couldn't help notice that the people I asked about this seemed to be real sketchy with answers. They said to be skeptical but when I was they looked at me like I was stupid and then didn't understand my questions from THEIR BOOK. I was told that the reason I was so inquisitive is that I read a lot. The problem is that every book has words that make me wonder the definition. Some people don't read so they just practice. The idea of meditation or chanting is to empower yourself to become more of what enlightened persons are supposed to be. Enlightenment recently became clear as I read what an extremely intelligent Bodhisattva named Shin Yatomi said. "...Enlightenment is the realization of life's supreme potential, and delusion it's negation. The true benefit of our Buddhist practice lies in our consistent efforts to nurture enlightenment and stem delusion." Pretty simple. I don't necessarily need to practice in a certain way, as long as my intentions are good. Not understanding the essential practice for what it represents is wrong. If I am treating chanting or my Gohonzon (object of devotion that I chant before) as if it were the Santa Clause in the sky that I am begging for things from instead of using my chant to pump up my inner conviction and fight against the three poisons, greed, anger, and foolishness, then I am doing something for selfish reasons and following an impure teaching. If I had not read and understood that to begin with, I might be following delusion.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The More I Chant

The more I chant, meditate, or focus on something in my life or life in general, the more clear my life becomes. I somehow reach plateaus and for some reason it seems I freeze and let things get built up to a head. I can't do that anymore and my focus can only work if it is constant. I am not telling anyone what THEY need to do, but it works for me. I am going to do a little promotion here of some of the videos from YouTube that will allow me to show you what I understand but let someone else put it into their words.

First, Tina Turner:

Larry went to high school with her?

Now, Richard Gere:

Now, the Vietnam War Peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh :

Don't You Love This Guy?

Why aren't more of our world leaders this smart? This man speaks several different languages. He is the "Buddha of Compassion" who loves all people. It shows in his nature. He is happy and laughing despite all the stuff that happened to him.

I grew up here in the United States and one of the things I had to "un-learn" was my Christian background which teaches you how to judge, conceive, and look at everything. This man undoes all my past views about who Buddhists and also Asians are. I am grateful to be able to learn this all now. I would have loved it more sooner but I didn't know I needed it.
He is so honest about the magic of the spirit. I think his idea about global responsibility is something we should all demand from the people who gain the highest level of monetary gain. Philanthropy used to be a virtue, now it is a rarity and usually only done for public relations moves. That is so unfortunate.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Hidden Messages In the Movie Avatar

The Hidden Messages In the Movie Avatar

I wonder when people post things on the internet bulletin boards and blogs if they ever read it first or if they just spell check it on the blog page and then approve and send. Most of them don't even seem to spell check. Some people obviously write things that take a few minutes instead of thinking about their selection and then just post it. I am learning alot through any new experience that relates to my life. Last night I went to see the movie "Avatar" for the second time. I have read alot about other people's feelings towards it but my experience with the Jains made me realise that they actually feel that way and I am sure that many relgions would like their members not to watch this movie, but I realised in watching it that I was told the same thing by the Jains.

When, in the movie, the Navi walked upon the ground, rocks, trees, etc. and that portion of the surface lit up I remembered our guide at the Jain Center saying that when you walk you kill things. They respect nature so much that they try to not harm any of it AND in all Buddhist, Hindu, Siek and several other Eastern Oriental Religions they believe that every person, animal, every speck of dust is connected. If you start to understand that THOSE PEOPLE make up the majority of the world, then Americans, especially Christian Americans who think ignorance of the world around them is bliss, are completely delusional and it isn't any wonder that the rest consider them the epitomy of selfish, self-centered, uncaring lames.

I am picturing military minded socially retarded egomaniacs like the Colonel in the story and Corporate evil entity of a selfish person. I am not one of those who tries to rationalize that a corporation is a person. That is like saying a cactus is a cactus needle.

Bodhisattva Vows

I am presently beginning to understand that the people in the twelve step program whom I am also a member of are really misguided to put it kindly. I understand the concepts and they understand HOW to make this work, but don't understand even closely why. There is something spiritual in the Universe that connects us together. There is an old proverb about the bodhisattva.
"...Three men are lost in the dessert and are hungry and dying of thirst. They have become dehydrated and are trying desparately to find water. They top the crest of a hill and see a well. The first man runs to the well as soon as he can, leans way over to drink and falls into the well and drowns. The second man tries to improve on the first man's approach but eventually falls in as well. The third man goes to find others who are thirsty to help them find a way to satisfy their thirst, and continues doing so for the rest of his life. Such is the life of the Bodhisattva."
Ancient texts tell all kinds of stories and parables but this touches on and explains the basis of spiritual principle. Why would each exalted master go on a pilgrimage to share the knowlege he has gained? Because he understands the idea that the best way to learn, not intellectually or on paper but to learn deep in one's innermost self is to teach the thing you are studying to someone else. In the Alcoholics Anonymous book we call the Big Book, there is a chapter entitled "Working With Others". The first sentence says, "PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail." So much for that old line about, "You can't help anyone else unless you get help first." That is ALL WRONG, I get help BY helping other people, not in order to do so. But the therapy people want you to believe that if you don't pay them first, and be on prescribed medications, then you will never recover properly. I didn't get better until I started ignoring those people and just worked the 12 steps.
Most religious people are very judgemental and insist that you must fix yourself in order to be good enough to go before your God. You must bring yourself to your God and ask him to fix you. That is the higher power I know. The one people try to go back and borrow from religion "again" (I say that since most of them weren't able to stay sober while practicing relgious beliefs previous to coming to AA. The book itself says in Chapter Five, "How It Works" that "... Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God's help. ..." Also, the idea that Christianity was a big part of the Big Book is a falsehood. Earlier in the book, in the part about the second step, came to believe that a power greater than yourself could restore us to sanity." and it says, "... If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. we had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God. ..."

You may have noticed that the word "JESUS" was not found anywhere in this reading, in fact even mentioning religion drives alcoholics out of AA. That is why in the format of every meeting of twelve step programs, it says, "... We are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation, or institution." Even though that is said some members have started a campaign of trying to say that the big book was written from the sermon on the mount and other nonsense trying to ally AA with Christianity. This is an example of mixing outside issues with the real message. That is something from the fifth and sixth traditions of AA, which read: "...5.Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
6.An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
So, my contention takes this one step further. The whole Christian Ideology of lacking responsibility by saying "The Devil Made Me Do It", (the Flip Wilson defense) is NO WHERE IN THE BIG BOOK. Although it does say we need to be responsible for our own actions and that: "...invariably we find that at some time in the past, we made decisions based on self, which later placed us in a position to be hurt." According to what I read, that sounds like Karma to me.
NOW, the whole point is that helping others is also a necessary component of the Bodhisattva vow and seems to be the main principle of any REAL spiritual action. If you don't believe me, look at the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul's, Mother Theresa, Father John Aquinas, etc. If caring about someone else's needs above your own is a disease (condependency) then all of those saintly people needed treatment, I suppose? Or did they find a better way. Don't try to make yourself good enough to go to your higher power, take yourself to that power and let it fix you while taking the spiritual actions.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Jains

Sunday, May 02, 2010 and decending by date;
Today I went to the Jain Temple in South Phoenix and came away from the experience AWED by what seems to be people who I can't help but respect. They are so non-violent that they don't eat anything that grows in the ground because it might kill something in order to dig it up. Their whole faith is built on non-violence and they even believe if you think it, you have already done harm that is part of your karma. We compared notes on the eightfold path and their precepts and they are pretty much the same. I am trying to register as a Jain Schollar and will read everything I can about them. I will write more later, I am tired and hungry right now.
Monday, May 3rd, 2010. The idea that anyone anywhere can understand all the things in the Universe makes me hesitant to believe anyone anywhere can know all that. We as human beings have a discovery to make that each of us have to make for ourselves. I have a friend whom I love dearly and is has been a real helpful force in my life but I hear him say things that worry me. He says things while talking about others like, "Then they launch into SGI speak." But then he says things like, "...enlightenment is happiness." When I know that is SGI speak, that bothers me. If being happy were a sign of enlightenment, explain how the guy who is mentally deranged, sitting in a mental hospital, tells us that he is happy after he just chopped someone's body up? How is the homeless wino who eats other people's garbage, sleeps on garbage, and has built a life around being surrounded by garbage happy? Some would tell us that is delusional. Isn't becoming happy just becoming delusional and believing that we are having a good time despite what else happens around us? I was also raised by people who, upon their death, some of my family members said, "They set the bar high for all of us...", and some people, like myself at times, sees that as NEVER BEING HAPPY WITH ANYTHING YOU DO. Because when it came to their closest friends and relatives, then never set a bar, they were just happy with whatever that person accomplished.
Let's look at what the divinely celebrated masters, the exalted honored ones, who said to us in writing or speeches what the true meaning of enlightenment is. The early founding fathers of this country had their own idea and collected the different parts of the definition down to a science. One of them, Peter Gay said: "The philosophy of the Enlightenment insisted on man's essential autonomy: man is responsible to himself, to his own rational interests, to his self-development, and, by an inescapable extension, to the welfare of his fellow man. For the philosophes, man was not a sinner, at least not by nature; human nature -- and this argument was subversive, in fact revolutionary, in their day -- is by origin good, or at least neutral. Despite the undeniable power of man's antisocial passions, therefore, the individual may hope for improvement through his own efforts -- through education, participation in politics, activity in behalf of reform, but not through prayer." [Peter Gay] More Later, Monday, May 3rd
From WikiPedia, the definition of Bhagavad Gita:
"...The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit भगवद्गीता, Bhagavad Gītā, "Song of God"), also more simply known as Gita, is a sacred Hindu scripture, considered among the most important texts in the history of literature and philosophy. The Bhagavad Gita comprises roughly 700 verses, and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Krishna, who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of God himself, and is referred to within as Bhagavan, the Divine One.

The content of the Gita is the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra war. Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. During the discourse, Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Svayam Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His divine universal form.
The Bhagavad Gita is also called Gītopaniṣad, implying its having the status of an Upanishad, i.e. a Vedantic scripture. Since the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is classified as a Smṛiti text. However, those branches of Hinduism that give it the status of an Upanishad also consider it a śruti or "revealed" text. As it is taken to represent a summary of the Upanishadic teachings, it is also called "the Upanishad of the Upanishads". Another title is mokṣaśāstra, or "Scripture of Liberation".
Fundamentally, the Bhagavad Gita proposes that true enlightenment comes from growing beyond identification with the temporal ego, the 'False Self', the ephemeral world, so that one identifies with the truth of the immortal self, the absolute soul or Atman. Through detachment from the material sense of ego, the Yogi, or follower of a particular path of Yoga, is able to transcend his/her illusory mortality and attachment to the material world and enter the realm of the Supreme.
Krishna does not propose that the physical world must be forgotten or neglected. Rather, one's life on Earth must be lived in accordance with greater laws and truths, one must embrace one's temporal duties whilst remaining mindful of timeless reality, acting for the sake of service without consideration for the results thereof. Such a life would naturally lead towards stability, happiness and, ultimately, enlightenment. ..." And so enlightenment is, once again, inside us but we need to find the way to reach the inner awakening. And as Krishna and others pointed out, happiness is a level along the path to enlightenment.
So, in the Soka Gakkai dictionary of Buddhism, the definition of enlightenment is defined in twenty six manners, stating each stage of enlightenment. Being the picky kind of guy I am, I searched through all of them until I found "unsurpassed enlightenment" to go right to the most desired form and it says:
"...unsurpassed enlightenment
[無上菩提] (Skt anuttara-sambodhi; Jpn mujo-bodai )
Also, supreme enlightenment or supreme perfect enlightenment. The enlightenment of a Buddha. The Sanskrit anuttara means "unsurpassed." A Buddha's enlightenment is so called because it is the highest and supreme among all levels of awakening gained through Buddhist practice. Bodhisattvas make four vows when they first resolve to embark upon the Buddhist practice. These four vows are known as the four universal vows, one of which is to attain unsurpassed enlightenment. ..."
So, in all these definitions there is only one path, do you get the feeling sometimes that Buddha had a weird sense of humor or that people just didn't write everything down? The four Bodhisattva vows as stated on WikiPedia about the Zen Tradition are: "...
I vow to liberate all beings, without number 眾生無邊誓願度
I vow to uproot endless blind passions 煩惱無盡誓願斷
I vow to penetrate dharma gates beyond measure 法門無量誓願學
I vow to attain the way of the Buddha 佛道無上誓願成

And iin the Brahman tradition it says that Bodhisattvas are not to do these things:
"... Not to kill any living creature
Not to steal anything
Not to engage in any form of sexual misconduct
Not to lie or use false speech
Not to consume or distribute intoxicants
Not to discuss the faults and misdeeds that occur by any Buddhist
Not to praise oneself or disparage others
Not to be stingy or abusive towards those in need
Not to harbor anger or resentment or encourage others to be angry
Not to criticise or slander the Three Jewels

And if anyoone doesn't remember the three jewels, they are the spiritual entities that we "take refuge in".
1) The Buddha
2) The Dharma
3) The Sangha (the community)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Realms of My Own Reality

I was awakened in the middle of the night (1:20 AM) to find myself wanting from some compulsion to write something that meant so much to me at the time. I don't know why but this is it. I need to understand that everyone has the potential for the Buddha nature. I can respect that but that doesn't mean I want to live next door to someone who can't show the slightest compassion towards other people. I lived a portion of my life as a selfish, self centered person and would like to change but no one will care since I did some things wrong at one time and it doesn't seem to matter, even to those who say that they believe in forgiveness, since they can turn me into the bottom class and that means more to them than anything else.
It occurs to me that I was smarter than most people and experienced in some ways but was always critical of myself. But doing the right thing is simpler than anything else. My game plan dates back before Christianity. It has to do with four realities and and eight step plan. Now, I wish to mention here that I have followed the Twelve Step program and it is really good to fix you if you are broken but the eight step plan is something that one can do to keep from needing to be fixed. Within it are the secrets of how to get along in life even better than Dale Carnegie could have designed. First I must digress here a moment to explain my point of view that has to do with humanistic values.
First we must look at society as we know it, as Professor Srikumar S. Rao explains, "We work really hard our whole life at being unhappy..." in that we put expectations on everything. First we must look at society as being dissatisfied. So, here is the problem and the four realities.
Most people in our society are unsatisfied. Most dissatisfaction comes from selfish desire, desiring to have what we don't have, even if it doesn't do anything but make us want more. There is an option that will cause us to stop feeling disatisfied. That option is the eight step program.

Step one is Right View: mostly right view has to do with the acceptance that you understand and accept the four realities. Simple, wasn't it?

Step Two is Right Thinking: Right thinking is one’s intent or resolve to develop a mind free of wickedness and cruelty.

Step Three is Right Speech: Right speech is to speak in ways to create positive value instead of causing harm through lying or slander.

Step Four is Right Action: Right action means abstaining from all wrong deeds such as harming other lives, stealing or debauchery.

Step Five is Right Livelihood: Right livelihood is generally understood as the purification of one’s thoughts, words and deeds while living with compassion and avoiding the harming of others. (Right livelihood is also interpreted as avoiding professions that cause harm to others such as slave trading or arms dealing.)

Step Six is Right Endeavor: Right endeavor is one’s conscious, diligent effort to stem evil and promote goodness toward the establishment of a wholesome state of life.

Step Seven is Right Mindfulness: Right mindfulness generally means being at all times mindful and aware of what one is doing, thinking, and feeling.

Step Eight is Right Concentration: Right concentration means training the mind to achieve the state of concentrated attention necessary to enter a deep meditative absorption characterized by lucid awareness and achieved by focusing the mind on a single object.

Even though these are called steps, they need to be achieved in accord with each other, not in a sequence. As you can see, if you elect your life to change, then you can follow the eight steps together in the understanding that they are the answer to the four realities and all are part of a happier life.
Now, can I tell you a secret? I just taught you the basis of Buddhism. The four realities are what we call the four noble truths, and the eight steps are called the eightfold path. It is that simple. Were you waiting for a divine deity or mythological paradises? There are things like that in Buddhist scripture but they are now understood to be analogies for parts of your own mind. I hope this makes it easier for you to accept that you just learned the basis of Buddhism and your butt didn't fall off and the spawn of Satan didn't appear. How about that? I hope now you can continue reading to find out the whole story. It doesn't matter to us what else you believe as long as you follow along with the basic philosophy which is designed to do nothing more than make you happy. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Srikumar Rao: Plug into your hard-wired happiness | Video on TED.com

I am trying real hard to make mention of the fact that I have to be patient with other people. My ability to render things sensible instead of senseless takes time. I today, realised that I am going to be a Buddha / Bodhisattva who remains on the earth and teaches from NOW ON. That only means that I WANT ENLIGHTENMENT IN IT'S RAWEST FORM. Let me explain. To reach the type of enlightenment that Shakyamuni Buddha, as the Japanese call Siddhartha Gautama (Gotama Buddha roughly around 500 years before our present A.D. calendar), one must reach a state of Nirvana, which allows us to understand the things that he taught automatically. HE SAID, if you understand these things, and we should since they are inherently INSIDE YOU ALREADY, then you will be in the state of enlightenment. My problem is that I can't help from being selfish, but I do have an answer for myself finally. I have to be patient with ME, also. It will take time.
I can't expect myself to find overnight what it took Siddhartha Gautama 50 years to attain, naturally, I will have to set my path now and look for answers along the way. As long as I keep chanting to praise and polish my mirror (Nichiren Buddhist analogy)and keep teaching what I learn then, I will be in line with what I think I know. I love people. Not all the time, and some people do things which really make me want to slap them real hard but I love people in general. Once I was in a car accident and in that moment before I died, there was no conscious thought and I felt the blood go out of my body and all I knew was consciousness. Professor Rao is the guy who explains it better than I can that, people are "hardwired" to be happy.
I was in a traffic accident in this lady's truck once. She took me to the lake that day. We had an argument as she was kind of what I realise now, was, a cougar. She was 32 and I was 18 but I was in love with her. She thought the only thing I cared about was sex. That was all she cared about concerning me, as it turned out. The truck flipped end over end five times coming down a mountain road. Some guy at a service station saw the wreck as it was happening and called 911 immediately, thank goodness. He told her later what he saw. I, for some reason, just before the impact, threw myself around her and when we were thrown through the back truck window and the front camper shell window, I took out all the glass. I was cut from the top of my head to the back of my ankles. I came to in the ambulance and for a little while was told that they had already lost me repeatedly. I do remember that once I lay still and realised that I thought I was already dying that nothing mattered anymore. I believed I was virtually dead already so that NOTHING MATTERED concerning me. Nothing mattered concerning my past, my future, nothing at all and the weird sensation was that I suddenly was stricken with happiness. I reached for her hand to tell her, "Everything is going to be alright." I meant that from the bottom of my being. I was going to be fine, she was going to be fine because I for that moment had accepted life in the universe for what it was instead of trying to alter my reality and strive to consciously make it better. I forgot about that feeling and didn't until recently understand completely that THAT was what happened.
Now listen to this and Professor Rao will describe what I mean: Srikumar Rao: Plug into your hard-wired happiness | Video on TED.com

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wrong Concepts and Impure Teachings

First of all, I am not happy with the descriptions of the many supposed experts who are supposed to be scholars of Religion. When describing Buddhism, they make the mistake of saying the words, "Buddhism, like Christianity...", and then begin some parallel between the two and one of the things as an American who grew up in this society which is thought of as primarily Christian, trying to look at Buddhism through the eyes of a Christian and compare the two is like trying to look at a compact sedan and compare it to a firetruck as seen through the eyes of a fireman. They aren't similar. NOTHING about them is remotely close except that people come to a place and learn something from a religious leader. That is where the similarity stops. I read an article today in which the author decided to expand on his knowledge by totally making up some pretext, when he looked at a picture of the Buddha and decided since topknot is like a crown and to wear the topknot of the hair as if adorned with a flower garland. this is from his actual description:
"...topknot is as if crowned with flower garland (You have to distinguish with a Buddha image what you are looking at -- whether it is the physical body of the Buddha which has a topknot like a garland or whether it is the Body of Enlightenment [dhammakaaya] of the Buddha which also has lotus bud on the topknot."
Okay, let me clear that up for you, sir. Here is the facts as they are presented to someone who ACTUALLY READS about Siddhartha Gautama. He was, unlike the statue of Buddai that most people see and think is supposed to be the historical Buddha as he got older, was quite slim. He barely ate, almost starved himself to death, at least once. Here is the situation, in those days there was a social code amongst the males in India, known as "The 32 Signs of The Great Man". They include him to be flat footed, have the mark of a thousand spoke wheel on the soles of his feet, and further down the list there is, "14 His body hair is blue-black, and curls clockwise in rings." and "His head is like a royal turban (Pali: u nahisiso). Note that this denotes his cranial protrusion, visible on Buddhist iconography." His head, therefor is shown to have a protrusion on top, usually pictured to have a flower garland that he even names one sutra after, and in some iconography he even has a halo or aura type image behind his head with something that looks like curved braids, almost like dreadlocks. Why would they keep showing him like that if that wasn't what they wanted him to look like?

Juzu Beads have over 150 beads and so when someone tries to tell you, "HEY, I have a set of Juzu beads with 108 beads, a buddha bead, a head bead, separator beads in between the 108 beads, and five tassles", then tell them that 108 beads would be a mala with five tassles and you have never heard of one of those. the beads that SGI sells in the book store have over 150 beads and if you don't believe me, count them like I did. I am trying to say here is that there are too many opinions, too many experiences that don't really amount to anything, and too many people on the internet who are trying to say SOMETHING. But I will continue to try to bring you the truth, no matter what. To complain to that person that they are misinformed and that they should quit making impure teachings to newcomers is not the Buddhist way in SGI. I was crippled and was looking for something I might be able to do to sell that I could do from my wheelchair and I went and studied beads from the bead store and the bead stringers who made and sold malas. The problem is that changes. I am going to be satisfied to be a real enlightened person and make my little prayer cabinets (Butsudans) and use my prayer beads in the manner that you and I know is the right way. I hope you decide to take this journey with me as I promise it will be full of twists and turns as the unfortunate part about any religion is that PEOPLE, not the principles, sometimes stand in our way like the log jam in the work flow. I promise not to dwell on that as the best way for me to learn Buddhism is to help in teaching others. Let's Get Started!