Sunday, October 2, 2011

Please listen to this, The Recitation of the Valokiteshvaraya Sutra:




Plum Village Monastic Chanting - Namo'valokiteshvaraya from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Are Buddhists Atheistic?

Some people believe that an atheist or agnostic has no reason to want to be a good person or perform charitable acts of compassion towards others. Here is a shocker for those of you who don't understand. Most Buddhists, even though some are quite religious, are atheistic. They don't have to pray to a god or deity. Some, like myself, are monotheistic. If there is something that is labled by some to be God, it is in everything. It is in the world we live in, the plants, animals, water, wind, fire, rocks, and minerals. It is part of the way the Universe works and I think man has only scratched the surface on understanding the true meaning but we are somehow able, if we try, to feel it. In the awsomeness of nature, in the wonders and miraculous visions in the cosmos, in the fact that we, as an animal on this planet have life, but are physically comprised of the same components as the earth, water, minerals, and plants around us. Evolution works like this, what works in nature survives and what doesn't dies. So, when after nature tries to make something happen through evolving creatures, environments, or adaptation to either of those, something survives, it is like the fortune teller that makes predictions and sends hundreds out to everyone. The only ones we hear about are the ones that came true. Because of that it seems that everything is designed by a thinking creature and many have adapted the stories and descriptions of that deity to be many things. Things like the fact that there are millions of herbs and minerals out there for us to use that, once we understand how to use them will keep us alive longer and allow us to survive in this world. Plants we can eat, etc. that we are sure were given for us to try. We choose to forget about the ones that people poisoned themselves with. Besides, dead men don't usually pass around recipes they discovered.
So, when we realize that the plants and trees intake carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen and animals intake oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide it seems too perfect to be an accident. Man decided that the plants and other animals were put here to help him survive. Perhaps we were put here to help them survive. And perhaps since this is the only way that it worked, during the earth's ages before of things developing and trying to sustain life, and so it seems like someone planned it. Man is born with an instinct to know why things happen. Sometimes things just are - so he has to find a reason and if nothing else, supplant one that makes sense to him when he thinks it is necessary. I believe there is a connection, a force, an energy, something that connects us all. I feel my connection with it through me, internally. I don't pray to something out there, what one of my friends calls "the spook in the sky" that so many people create in their own minds to be the cosmic Santa Clause that brings you what you ask for, IF you use the right words to ask.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Capital Punishment

The recent discussions about abortion led me to the fact that most of the Right to Life people were pro-death penalty and have actually tried to decriminalize murdering an abortion doctor. That brought up some questions that I thought you might find interesting. I guess my own personal feelings on the death penalty changed from meeting some people whom I hope never see the light of day again. They seem completely devoid of any feelings, emotions, or restraint about anything that most of us consider valid humanistic traits. One of the things that comes up constantly in my social circle is the Buddhist view and what we call the five precepts, the first of which is "... 1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life." The precepts are not rules, they are vows one takes in order to be more perceptive to meditation and training for enlightenment. Recently I started trying to adopt a more open minded view. I guess it goes back mostly to how I felt about it when I was much younger. Recently, one of the online bloggers, TonyaTKO, added a post on her Facebook page about the public statement made by Judge Mathis of television fame about a recent execution of a Troy Davis in Georgi a. But as I was doing some study on some of the online blogs on what the most popular Buddhist opinion might be, I found one article that discusses mostly the United States compared to the International community. http://www.engaged-zen.org/articles/Damien_P_Horigan-Buddhism_Capital_Punishment.html

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ceremonies

THEE JEWELS AND TWO PROMISES:
RECITATION FOR CHILDREN


INCENSE OFFERING

Head of Ceremony: In gratitude we offer this incense to all Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout space and time. May it be fragrant as Earth herself, reflecting our careful effots, our wholehearted awareness, and the fruit of understanding, slowly ripening in us. May we and all beings be companions of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. May we awaken from forgetfulness and realize our true home.
(bell)

TOUCHING THE EARTH

Teaching and living the way of awareness in the very midst of suffering and confusion, Shakyamuni Buddha, the Enlightened One, to whom we bow in gratitude.
(bell)

Cutting through ingnorance, awakening our heats and minds, Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Great Understanding, to whom we bow in gratitude.
(bell)

Working mindfully and joyfully for the sake of all beings, Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Great Action, to whom we bow in grattitude.
(bell)

Responding to suffering, serving beings in countless ways, Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of great Compassion, to whom we bow in gratitude.
(bell)

Seed of awakening and loving kindness in children and all beings, Maitreya, the Buddha To Be Born, to whom we bow in gratitude.
(bell)

Showing the way fearlessly and compassionately, the stream of ancestral teachers, to whom we bow in gratitude.
(two sounds of the bell)

OPENING CHANT


(Head of the Ceremony chants each line, echoed by whole assembly):
The Dharma is deep and lovely.

We now have a chance to see it

study it, and practice it.

We vow to realize its true meaning.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Defining Compassion



I personally chose this topic during our discussion at the Buddhist Study meeting that I attended this morning between myself and one other study partner who used to be one of my English teachers about nine years ago. We were talking about Right Mindfulness and Right Speech in the book by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled "The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching" and the word compassion came up repeatedly. I had an "Ah Hah!" moment and decided right then that I wanted to write an essay on compassion. So much has been said about the word but compassion is one of those words that one "thinks" that they know the definition of, but when used in a sentence, sometimes you wonder how close your own knowledge of the word truly is. So, I set out to do some research on the word, and I found out every time I read another article just how shallow my actual knowledge about compassion really was.
Dictionary.com describes compassion as "... a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. ..."
For years I have heard many people talk about compassion and love as if the two were synonymous and also, that Christians use the word "love" while Buddhists and other Eastern religions use the word "compassion". The quality of "being sympathetic to someone who is suffering" is not love, although spiritually fit people should try to love all people. We will never be perfect at it but we can make the effort to try. Also, we can love someone without them being in a state of suffering.
Wikipedia has a really long article on the subject that actually connects the dots on the two. The Wikipedia definition defines compassion as so: "... Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy (for the suffering of others) are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.
There is an aspect of compassion which regards a quantitative dimension, such that individual's compassion is often given a property of "depth," "vigour," or "passion." More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism. In ethical terms, the various expressions down the ages of the so-called Golden Rule embody by implication the principle of compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you. ..."

And further in Wikipedia under Religious and Spiritual Views it says:
"... Christianity - Compassion in action: an 18th-century Italian depiction of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The Christian Bible's Second Epistle to the Corinthians is but one place where God is spoken of as the "Father of compassion" and the "God of all comfort" (1.3). Jesus embodies for Christians, the very essence of compassion and relational care. Christ challenges Christians to forsake their own desires and to act compassionately towards others, particularly those in need or distress. Jesus assures his listeners in the Sermon on the Mount that, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." In the Parable of the Good Samaritan he holds up to his followers the ideal of compassionate conduct. True Christian compassion, say the Gospels, should extend to all, even to the extent of loving one's enemies. ...",
"... Hinduism -
In the various Hindu traditions, compassion is called daya, and, along with charity and self-control, is one of the three central virtues. The importance of compassion in the Hindu traditions reaches as far back as the Vedas, sacred texts composed over a period prior to 1500 B.C. While the early Vedas sometimes glorify war and the worship of the war god, Indra, Indra too is compassionate towards humans & humanity, though he is war god, he is discompassionate towards Asuras - The evil people who cause sufferings to human race, the later Vedas demonstrate a greater sensitivity to the values of compassion. The central concept particularly relevant to compassion in Hindu spirituality is that of ahimsa. The exact definition of ahimsa varies from one tradition to another. Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word which can be translated most directly as "refraining from harmfulness." It is a derivation of himsa which means harmful, or having the intent to cause harm.
The prayers of Vasudeva Datta, for example, a 16th century Vaishnava holy man or sadhu, exemplify compassion within Gaudiya Vaishnavism. He prayed to the Lord Krishna asking him to "deliver all conditioned souls" because his "heart breaks to see the sufferings of all conditioned souls". ...",
"... Buddhism - Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed. - The Buddha.
Compassion or karuna is at the transcendental and experiential heart of the Buddha's teachings. He was reputedly asked by his personal attendant, Ananda, "Would it be true to say that the cultivation of loving kindness and compassion is a part of our practice?" To which the Buddha replied, "No. It would not be true to say that the cultivation of loving kindness and compassion is part of our practice. It would be true to say that the cultivation of loving kindness and compassion is all of our practice."
The first of what in English are called the Four Noble Truths is the truth of suffering or dukkha (unsatisfactoriness or stress). Dukkha is identified as one of the three distinguishing characteristics of all conditioned existence. It arises as a consequence of the failure to adapt to change or anicca (the second characteristic) and the insubstantiality, lack of fixed identity, the horrendous lack of certainty of anatta (the third characteristic) to which all this constant change in turn gives rise. Compassion made possible by observation and accurate perception is the appropriate practical response. The ultimate and earnest wish, manifest in the Buddha, both as archetype and as historical entity, is to relieve the suffering of all living beings everywhere.
The Dalai Lama has said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." The American monk Bhikkhu Bodhi states that compassion "supplies the complement to loving-kindness: whereas loving-kindness has the characteristic of wishing for the happiness and welfare of others, compassion has the characteristic of wishing that others be free from suffering, a wish to be extended without limits to all living beings. Like metta, compassion arises by entering into the subjectivity of others, by sharing their interiority in a deep and total way. It springs up by considering that all beings, like ourselves, wish to be free from suffering, yet despite their wishes continue to be harassed by pain, fear, sorrow, and other forms of dukkha."
At the same time, it is emphasised that in order to manifest effective compassion for others it is first of all necessary to be able to experience and fully appreciate one's own suffering and to have, as a consequence, compassion for oneself. The Buddha is reported to have said, "It is possible to travel the whole world in search of one who is more worthy of compassion than oneself. No such person can be found."
Compassion is the antidote to the self-chosen poison of anger. ...",
"... Jainism -
Compassion for all life, human and non-human, is central to the Jain tradition. Though all life is considered sacred, human life is deemed the highest form of earthly existence. To kill any person, no matter their crime, is considered unimaginably abhorrent. It is the only substantial religious tradition that requires both monks and laity to be vegetarian. It is suggested that certain strains of the Hindu tradition became vegetarian due to strong Jain influences. The Jain tradition's stance on nonviolence, however, goes far beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many practice veganism. Jains run animal shelters all over India: Delhi has a bird hospital run by Jains; every city and town in Bundelkhand has animal shelters run by Jains. Jain monks go to lengths to avoid killing any living creature, sweeping the ground in front of them in order to avoid killing insects, and even wearing a face mask to avoid inhaling the smallest fly. ..."
"... Judaism -
In the Jewish tradition, God is the Compassionate and is invoked as the Father of Compassion: hence Rahmana or Compassionate becomes the usual designation for His revealed word. (Compare, below, the frequent use of rahman in the Quran).  Sorrow and pity for one in distress, creating a desire to relieve, is a feeling ascribed alike to man and God: in Biblical Hebrew, ("riham," from "rehem," the mother, womb), "to pity" or "to show mercy" in view of the sufferer's helplessness, hence also "to forgive" (Hab. iii. 2); , "to forbear" (Ex. ii. 6; I Sam. xv. 3; Jer. xv. 15, xxi. 7.) The Rabbis speak of the "thirteen attributes of compassion." The Biblical conception of compassion is the feeling of the parent for the child. Hence the prophet's appeal in confirmation of his trust in God invokes the feeling of a mother for her offspring (Isa. xlix. 15).
Lack of compassion, by contrast, marks a people as cruel (Jer. vi. 23). The repeated injunctions of the Law and the Prophets that the widow, the orphan and the stranger should be protected show how deeply, it is argued, the feeling of compassion was rooted in the hearts of the righteous in ancient Israel. Compassion, empathy, altruism, kindness and love are frequently used interchangeably in common usage. When the concept is examined in depth it becomes clear that compassion is more than simply a human emotion. Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, is particularly clear about this. One rabbi has put it this way:
Kindness gives to another. Compassion knows no other.
This idea is greatly expanded by Michael Laitman who says, "Thus if we thoroughly examine Nature's elements, we will see that altruism is the basis of life." Here altruism is the word used but the concept is consistent with an understanding of compassion.
A classic articulation of the Golden Rule (see above) came from the first century Rabbi Hillel the Elder. Renowned in the Jewish tradition as a sage and a scholar, he is associated with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud and, as such, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. Asked for a summary of the Jewish religion in the "while standing on one leg" meaning in the most concise terms, Hillel stated: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah. The rest is the explanation; go and learn." Post 9/11, the words of Rabbi Hillel are frequently quoted in public lectures and interviews around the world by the prominent writer on comparative religion Karen Armstrong.
Islam -
A 1930s photograph of a desert traveler seeking the assistance of God the Merciful, the Compassionate
In the Muslim tradition, foremost among God's attributes are mercy and compassion or, in the canonical language of Arabic, Rahman and Rahim. Each of the 114 chapters of the Quran, with one exception, begins with the verse, "In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful,". The Arabic word for compassion is rahmah. As a cultural influence, its roots abound in the Quran. A good Muslim is to commence each day, each prayer and each significant action by invoking God the Merciful and Compassionate, i.e. by reciting Bism-i-llah a-Rahman-i-Rahim. The womb and family ties are characterized by compassion and named after the exalted attribute of God "Al-Rahim" (The Compassionate).
The Muslim scriptures urge compassion towards captives as well as to widows, orphans and the poor.Zakat, a toll tax to help the poor and needy, is obligatory upon all Muslims (9:60). One of the practical purposes of fasting or sawm during the month of Ramadan is to help one empathize with the hunger pangs of those less fortunate, to enhance sensitivity to the suffering of others and develop compassion for the poor and destitute. The Prophet is referred to by the Quran as the Mercy of the World (21:107); and one of the sayings of the Prophet informs the faithful that, "God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child."
Neuroscience -
In a recent small fMRI experiment, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and colleagues at the Brain and Creativity Institute studied strong feelings of compassion for both social pain in others, and physical pain in others. Both feelings involved an expected change in activity in the anterior insula, anterior cingulate, hypothalamus, and midbrain, but they also found a previously undescribed pattern of cortical[disambiguation needed] activity on the posterior medial surface of each brain hemisphere, a region involved in the default mode of brain function, and implicated in self-related processes. Compassion for social pain in others was associated with strong activation in the interoceptive, inferior/posterior portion of this region, while compassion for physical pain in others involved heightened activity in the exteroceptive, superior/anterior portion. (Compassion for social pain also activated this superior/anterior section, but to a lesser extent.)
Activity in the anterior insula related to compassion for social pain peaked later and endured longer than that associated with compassion for physical pain.


Barbara O'Brien, the Buddhism guide at About.com, wrote, "...There are two Sanskrit words frequently used by Buddhists that are translated as "compassion." One is karuna, which means compassion, active sympathy, gentle affection and a willingness to bear the pain of others. The other word, metta, means loving kindness; a benevolence toward all beings free of selfish attachment. ..." and "... The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion. Wisdom and compassion are sometimes compared to two wings that work together to enable flying, or two eyes that work together to see deeply.
In the West, we're taught to think of "wisdom" as something that is primarily intellectual and "compassion" as something that is primarily emotional, and that these two things are separate and even incompatible. We're led to believe that fuzzy, sappy emotion gets in the way of clear, logical wisdom. But this is not a Buddhist understanding.  ...", "...The practice of compassion is essential to Buddhism, and the practice of compassion begins with the cultivation of compassion within. The Buddha taught his monks to arouse four states of mind, called the "Brahma-vihara" or "four divine states of dwelling." These four states are sometimes called the "Four Immeasurables" or the "Four Perfect Virtues."
The four states are metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy) and upekkha (equanimity), and in many Buddhist traditions they are cultivated through meditation. These four states inter-relate and support each other. ... "


So, as is written in everything I read about the subject, there are many components to compassion. The two primary qualities of compassion are A) that the person who demonstrates compassion does so by caring about helping someone other that themself and B) that the person who is being helped is suffering in some way that they cannot relieve on their own. The basis of Buddhist practice, dating back to the four noble truths and the eightfold path are based on relief of or cessation of suffering. That was Gautama Buddha's main impetus in creating Buddhist practice.


Citation:  < http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/compassion >
Citation: < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion  >
Citation: <http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhismglossaryk/ 
g/karunadef.htm >
Citation:   < http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/
a/brahmavihara.htm >

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Buddhism, Viewing It From A Christian Perspective


From a Christian perspective, I imagine that Buddhism could be seen as a collection of mythology and superstitious ceremonies that are taught by someone who lives in a monastery and wears a robe. Our concept in the United States about any religions other than Christianity are jaded by the indoctrination that has been forced on our society by Christians in an attempt to dominate politics, family, and most of our society as depicted by Christian mythology as the only one truly spiritual and righteously moral religion in the world. By Buddhist standards most Christians wouldn't know good morality from fear of being sent to hell for not conforming. Please remember who we are dealing with in any religion.
All religions were early man's attempt at an explanation of science and nature. All religions contain mythology. By Christian standards, Buddhism is a heathen society of monks and nuns who teach lay people Asian exotic customs and esoteric beliefs based on a mythological book of some kind, along with meditation. Actually the Pali Cannon is the only true written historical record of Buddhist scripture. We must look at the fact that when we have been practicing or being indoctrinated by one belief system, it is hard to view another through open minded eyes. I liken it to considering buying a sports car after spending most of your life driving a fire truck. The cup holders and the radio are nice but where are the ladders and hose compartments? Doesn't this thing have a siren? We can't be objective once we get used to doing something a certain way and most of mainstream media in America was hijacked by Christianity years ago. Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" comes to mind. The humorous thing to me is that most of the owners of mainstream media were and are mostly Jewish producers of television and they used to produce Christmas Specials on television to advertise their sponsor's products on.
Today, prayer in schools and the celebration of religious holidays is not permitted because of the unfairness of trying to force one religion down everyone else's throat. I used to think all holidays were religious. Thanksgiving is a national holiday. I remember the annual Christmas pageant that was, "Oh So Full", of the indoctrination by the church into and onto our children that even the people who were Jewish and Islamic were forced to participate unless their parents strongly objected. I realize I am dating myself here but I remember in the third grade being told to bow our heads and pray in school. Over the years I have heard so many misnomers and propaganda against Buddhist practice that I feel the need to debunk myths here.
First, Buddhism doesn't contain any heathen practices and isn't considered to be a faith of deities. There is no Buddhist God. Their idea of what a God is in Buddhist teachings can be basically described as an analogy for aspects of our own personalities. Karma is basically what most of us consider the phrase "What goes around comes around." Anyone who has studied the science of astronomy now knows that we are all part of cosmic dust and Siddhartha Gautama originally said in what we now know to be around 500 BCE that everything, including every particle of dust is all part of the same thing, including people. It took scientists thousands of years, a Hubble telescope and an electron microscope to understand how right he was. That is why one aspect of modern physics is now known as "Buddhist Cosmology". He said we are all connected. So, if I hurt you or anything else, I am hurting a part of me. Buddhists don't need a deity to answer to for morality, they have a set of ethics which consist of what most people call "the golden rule" which is not in the bible, as so many people told me through the years.
I have heard many comments over the years about Buddhism that I wish to expound on. Some women I know have said things that made me wonder what planet they grew up on. One friend of mine said once, "I am not going to pray to some old fat Buddha!" This is wrong on so many levels that I can hardly contain myself when someone is that ignorant. The "old fat Buddha" she was referring to is the artistic rendering of the honorific figure named "Cloth Sack", a nickname given for the large sack that he is depicted carrying most times. He is seen as a huge fat round man with long drooping earlobes. His actual name is Hotei to the Japanese and Budai to the Chinese. He could be thought of as the Buddhist version of Saint Nicholas. In legend he carried gifts of candy for the children, tobacco for the men, and sewing implements for the women of the villages he visited. He is no more real than Santa Clause but he is used to illustrate parabolic stories in several artistic renderings, mostly statues and paintings in Asia. Sometimes he is said to be the "Maitreya Buddha" of the future by people who have not studied and learned that he was supposed to be a. Buddhist practice is not used to beg forgiveness or curry favor with deities as what some of my fellows call "the spook in the sky". Buddhists do not practice in order for things to change but to have the strength, wisdom, and insight to change them properly instead of expecting someone to come fix the world based on the wishes of humans, who spiritual deities are usually seen as being intolerant of. Buddhist prayer and practice is designed to reach what might be called the spiritual part of a person, which some call our Buddha nature, which we all have. This is something born into us so we don't learn it, we learn to bring it out.
There are as many sects of Buddhism as there are of protestant Christianity. Christians use the word love as much as we do the word compassion. We believe that we are responsible for what we do and what we allow to happen to us and don't believe "the devil made me do it" is a viable excuse. Buddhists do believe in evil but from within not as something that invades our bodies or lives like a ghost. Everything is within. When people ask me if I believe in a higher power, I always say yes. I feel that through something in me, not out somewhere in space. The key is the direction of the Universe and it moves on it's own without my intelligence. I have no control over it so I must control myself. Happiness is a state of mind. It is like a train traveling down a track in it's own direction and speed. I could hang off the back of the caboose, trying to swerve from side to side along the tracks to change it's direction or run and push to speed it up or drag my feet to slow it down. But, what I eventually want to do is learn to go inside, find my seat, and learn to enjoy the ride.
Meditation can be as simple as concentrating on my breathing instead of thinking about everything else. I can't stop all conscious thought but I can slow it down enough to where I am not thinking too much, creating stress. The key word for me is mindfulness. Being mindful of who I am, how I treat the world, and how I perceive what is given to me. We don't have ten commandments, we have five precepts that go like this:
1. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.
2. I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking what is not given.
3. I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct.
4. I undertake the training rule to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.
The original Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama started the entire journey over trying to relieve suffering in the world. The original teaching was the four noble truths and the eightfold path.
The Four Noble Truths:
  1. Suffering does exist
  2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
  3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
  4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path
  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration
There are many sites on the internet and places one can go in most all major cities to find Dharma teachings and meditation groups that practice Buddhist meditation. About.com and Wikipedia both have immense resources of Buddhism definitions and many other religious explanations. If you are interested then I would suggest studying and finding a center to practice in with others. One can be of any religion as Buddhism is made to adapt. Buddhism was said to be the journey, not the spiritual destination. What the end result you find is internal. The path of Buddhist practice was described in the simile of the raft. If you couldn't cross a river and built a raft, after crossing the river, would you say, "Oh, what a great raft," and then carry it around on your head from now on? Or would you set it adrift or leave it for someone else to use? Which would be the proper use of the raft? Buddhism teaches us not to become attached to any views. Quote: ""...Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for..." End Quote by Thich Nhat Hanh from *The Order of Interbeing. The first mindfulness training. It is simple and it's common sense philosophy makes it easy for anyone to adapt to.
Buddhism, looking at it from a Christian perspective.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6496242

Saturday, July 30, 2011

From The Plum Village Website

Today I want to talk about what it takes to actually go beyond the part about just reading and understanding these practices intellectually and actually practicing them. I sit in the morning with my Tibetan singing bowl, practicing the chants and recitations of the Plum Village / Deer Park Sahgha (Community) and Vow to Take Refuge in The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha. The Buddha in me is the awareness of the true potential for my life. The Dharma in me is the understanding of the true nature of life in compassion and a peaceful behavior and that it is the correct way to live. The Sangha is the community that we all are part of so, the Sangha in me is my willingness to be part of the community and do for the community what will eventually help build a four fold community.
I wish to thank Thich Nhat Hanh and his teacings of the Dharma that has brought me and my community to believe that he found the proper path through trial and error searching to find what works for us. I fully respect the Dharma teachings of the past and every thing that has brought me to where I am now. I hope that by my sharing this with you that you can find a way to your understanding of OUR future in the Sangha , through practicing and study of the Dharma, and belief in the Buddha in ourselves.

The Chants and Recitations of Plum Village in English: I read all I can from the PRACTICE SECTION their website and put these things into practice daily. I also read and practice from "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is my finest guide to meditation explained more simply than I have ever heard it. His book on the basics of Buddhism is entitled "The Heart of The Buddha's Teachings". I find it more insightful than all of everything else I have read over the past thirty five years. Also, those of you who read and have trouble understanding "The Lotus Sutra" should get a copy of "Peaceful Action, Open Heart".

Incense Offering



(Incense Offering)


The fragrance of this incense
invites the awakened mind
to be truly present
with us now.
The fragrance of this incense
fills our practice center,
protects and guards our mind
from all wrong thinking.
The fragrance of this incense
collects us and unites us.
Precepts, concentration, insight
we offer for all that is:
Namo Bodhisattvebhyah
Namo Mahasattvebyah (Bell)

(Praising the Buddha)


The one who bows and the one who is bowed
to are both, by nature, empty.
Therefore, the communication between them
is inexpressibly perfect.
Our practice center is the Net of Indra
reflecting all Buddhas everywhere.
And my own person reflects in all Buddhas,
to whom with my whole life I go for refuge.
(B)

(Touching The Earth Before The Three Jewels)


(chanted together)
I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who
shows me the way in this life. (B)
I take refuge in the Dharma, the way of
understanding and of love. (B)
I take refuge in the Sangha, the community
that lives in harmony and awareness. (BB)

Chanting




(Praising The Bodhisattva of Great
Compassion)


From the depths of understanding, the flower
of great eloquence blooms:
The bodhisattva stands majestically upon
the waves of birth and death, free from all
afflictions.
Her great compassion eliminates all sickness,
even that once thought of as incurable.
Her wondrous light sweeps away all obstacles
and dangers.
Her willow branch, once waved, reveals
countless Buddha lands.
Her lotus flower blossoms a multitude of
practice centers.
We bow to her. We see her true presence in
the here and now.
We offer her the incense of our heart.
May the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening
embrace us all with great compassion:
Namo ’valokiteshvaraya (3x) (B)

(Sutra Opening Verse)


Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma
Sambuddhassa (3x) (B)

The Dharma is deep and lovely.
We now have a chance to see, study, and to practice it.
We vow to realize its true meaning. (B)

(The Refuge Chant)


Incense perfumes the atmosphere.
A lotus blooms, and the Buddha appears.
The world of suffering and discrimination is filled with the light of the Rising Sun.
As the dust of fear and anxiety settles, with open heart, one-pointed mind, I turn to the Three Jewels. (B)
The Fully Enlightened One, beautifully seated, peaceful and smiling, a living source of understanding and compassion,
to the Buddha I go for refuge. (B)
The path of mindful living, leading to healing, joy, and enlightenment, the way of peace,
to the Dharma I go for refuge. (B)
The loving and supportive community of practice, realizing harmony, awareness, and liberation, to the Sangha I go for refuge. (B)
I am aware that the Three Gems are within my heart.
I vow to realize them, practicing mindful breathing and smiling, looking deeply into things.
I vow to understand living beings and their suffering,
to cultivate compassion and loving kindness, to practice joy and equanimity. (B)
I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning, to help relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon,
living simply and sanely with few possessions, keeping my body healthy.
I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free. (B)
I am aware that I owe so much to my parents, teachers, friends, and all beings.
I vow to be worthy of their trust, to practice wholeheartedly so that understanding and compassion will flower,
helping living beings to be free from their suffering.
May the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha support my efforts. (BB)

(We Are Truly Present)


With hearts established in mindfulness, we are truly present
for sitting and walking meditation, and for reciting the sutras.
May this practice center with its four-fold Sangha be supported by the Three Jewels and Holy Beings,
well-protected from the eight misfortunes and the three paths of suffering.
May parents, teachers, friends, and all beings within the Three Realms be filled with the most divine grace,
and may it be found that in the world there is no place at war.
May the winds be favorable, the rains seasonable, and the people’s hearts at peace.
May the practice of the Noble Community, diligent and steady, ascend the Ten Bodhisattva Stages with ease and energy.
May the Sangha body live peacefully, fresh and full of joy, a refuge for all, offering happiness and insight. (B)
The wisdom of the Awakened Mind shines out like the full moon. (B)
The body of the Awakened One is pure and clear as crystal. (B)
In the world, the Awakened One relieves bitterness and suffering. (B)
In every place, the Awakened Mind reveals love and compassion:
Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (3x) (BB)

Sutra Reading


(Discourse on Knowing The Better Way To
Live Alone)

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was staying at the monastery in the Jeta Grove, in the town of Savatthi. He called all the monks to him and instructed them, “Bhikkhus!”

And the bhikkhus replied, “We are here.”

The Blessed One taught, “I will teach you what is meant by ‘knowing the better way to live alone.’ I will begin with an outline of the teaching, and then I will give a detailed explanation. Bhikkhus, please listen carefully.”

“Blessed One, we are listening.”

The Buddha taught:

“Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait till tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who
dwells in mindfulness
night and day ‘the one who knows
the better way to live alone."

“Bhikkhus, what do we mean by ‘pursuing the past’? When someone considers the way her body was in the past, the way her feelings were in the past, the way her perceptions were in the past, the way her mental formations were in the past, the way her consciousness was in the past; when she considers these things and her mind is burdened by and attached to these things which belong to the past, then that person is pursuing the past.

“Bhikkhus, what is meant by ‘not pursuing the past’? When someone considers the way her body was in the past, the way her feelings were in the past, the way her perceptions were in the past, the way her mental formations were in the past, the way her consciousness was in the past; when she considers these things but her mind is neither enslaved by nor attached to these things which belong to the past, then that person is not pursuing the past.

“Bhikkhus, what is meant by ‘losing yourself in the future’? When someone considers the way his body will be in the future, the way his feelings will be in the future, the way his perceptions will be in the future, the way his mental formations will be in the future, the way his consciousness will be in the future; when he considers these things and his mind is burdened by and daydreaming about these things which belong to the future, then that person is losing himself in the future.

“Bhikkhus, what is meant by ‘not losing yourself in the future’? When someone considers the way his body will be in the future, the way his feelings will be in the future, the way his perceptions will be in the future, the way his mental formations will be in the future, the way his consciousness will be in the future; when he considers these things but his mind is not burdened by or daydreaming about these things which belong to the future, then he is not losing himself in the future.

“Bhikkhus, what is meant by ‘being swept away by the present’? When someone does not study or learn anything about the Awakened One, or the teachings of love and understanding, or the community that lives in harmony and awareness; when that person knows nothing about the noble teachers and their teachings, and does not practice these teachings, and thinks, ‘This body is myself; I am this body. These feelings are myself; I am these feelings. This perception is myself; I am this perception. This mental formation is myself; I am this mental formation. This consciousness is myself; I am this consciousness,’ then that person is being swept away by the present.

“Bhikkhus, what is meant by ‘not being swept away by the present’? When someone studies and learns about the Awakened One, the teachings of love and understanding, and the community that lives in harmony and awareness; when that person knows about noble teachers and their teachings, practices these teachings, and does not think, ‘This body is myself; I am this body. These feelings are myself; I am these feelings. This perception is myself; I am this perception. This mental formation is myself; I am this mental formation. This consciousness is myself; I am this consciousness,’ then that person is not being swept away by the present.

“Bhikkhus, I have presented the outline and the detailed explanation of knowing the better way to live alone.” Thus the Buddha taught, and the bhikkhus were delighted to put his teachings into practice.

Bhaddekaratta Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 131*

(The Three Refuges)


I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life.
I take refuge in the Dharma, the way of understanding and of love.
I take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness. (B)
Dwelling in the refuge of Buddha, I clearly see the path of light and beauty in the world.
Dwelling in the refuge of Dharma, I learn to open many doors on the path of transformation.
Dwelling in the refuge of Sangha, shining light that supports me, keeping my practice free of obstruction. (B)
Taking refuge in the Buddha in myself, I aspire to help all people recognize their own awakened nature, realizing the Mind of Love.
Taking refuge in the Dharma in myself, I aspire to help all people fully master the ways of practice, and walk together on the path of liberation.
Taking refuge in the Sangha in myself, I aspire to help all people build four-fold communities, to embrace all beings and support their transformation. (BB)

(Sutra Closing Verse)


Reciting the sutras, practicing the way of awareness,
gives rise to benefits without limit.
We vow to share the fruit with all beings.
We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers,
friends, numerous beings who give guidance and support along the path.
(BBB)

Citation: http://www.plumvillage.org/practice/ceremonies/135-daily-chanting-practice.html

Ceremony to Recite the Three Refuges, Two Promises, and Five Mindfulness Trainings

1. Opening the Ceremony

Sitting Meditation [10 - 15 MINUTES]

2. Opening Verse

[BELL, BELL, BELL]

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa
[BELL]

The Dharma is deep and lovely.
We now have a chance to see, study, and practice it.
We vow to realize its true meaning.
[BELL]

3. The Heart of Perfect Understanding

The Bodhisattva Avalokita,
while moving in the deep course of Perfect Understanding,
shed light on the Five Skandhas and found them equally empty.
After this penetration, he overcame ill-being.
[BELL]

Listen, Shariputra,
form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.
Form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than form.
The same is true with feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.
[BELL]

Listen, Shariputra,
all dharmas are marked with emptiness.
They are neither produced nor destroyed,
neither defiled nor immaculate,
neither increasing nor decreasing.
Therefore in emptiness there is neither form, nor feelings, nor perceptions,
nor mental formations, nor consciousness.
No eye, or ear, or nose, or tongue, or body, or mind.
No form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind.
No realms of elements (from eyes to mind consciousness),
no interdependent origins and no extinction of them
(from ignorance to death and decay).
No ill-being, no cause of ill-being, no end of ill-being, and no path.
No understanding and no attainment.
[BELL]

Because there is no attainment,
the Bodhisattvas, grounded in Perfect Understanding,
find no obstacles for their minds.
Having no obstacles, they overcome fear,
liberating themselves forever from illusion, realizing perfect nirvana.
All Buddhas in the past, present, and future,
thanks to this Perfect Understanding,
arrive at full, right, and universal enlightenment.
[BELL]

Therefore one should know
that Perfect Understanding is the highest mantra, the unequaled mantra,
the destroyer of ill-being, the incorruptible truth.
A mantra of Praj├▒aparamita should therefore be proclaimed:

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
[BELL, BELL]

4. Introductory Words

Today the community has gathered to recite the Three Refuges, the Two Promises, and the Five Mindfulness Trainings. First we will recite the Three Refuges and the Two Promises. Young members of the community, please come forward. Upon hearing the sound of the bell, please touch the Earth three times to show your gratitude to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
[BELL, BELL, BELL]

[YOUNG PEOPLE TOUCH THE EARTH THREE TIMES ]

5. The Three Refuges

Young students of the Buddha, you have taken refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows you the way in this life; in the Dharma, the way of understanding and love; and in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness. It is beneficial to recite the Three Refuges regularly. Will the entire community please join the young people in reciting after me:

I take refuge in the Buddha,
the one who shows me the way in this life.
[BELL]

I take refuge in the Dharma,
the way of understanding and of love.
[BELL]

I take refuge in the Sangha,
the community that lives in harmony and awareness.
[BELL, BELL]

6. The Two Promises

[FOR CHILDREN]

Young students of the Buddha, we have completed the recitation of the Three Refuges. Now we will recite the Two Promises that you have made with the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Will the entire community please join the young people in reciting after me:

I vow to develop understanding, in order to live peacefully with people, animals, plants, and minerals.

This is the first promise you have made with the Buddha, our teacher. Have you tried to learn more about it and to keep your promise during the past two weeks?
[BELL]

I vow to develop my compassion, in order to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.

This is the second promise you have made with the Buddha, our teacher. Have you tried to learn more about it and to keep your promise during the past two weeks?
[BELL]

Young students of the Enlightened One, understanding and love are the two most important teachings of the Buddha. If we do not make the effort to be open, to understand the suffering of other people, we will not be able to love them and to live in harmony with them. We should also try to understand and protect the lives of animals, plants, and minerals and live in harmony with them. If we cannot understand, we cannot love. The Buddha teaches us to look at living beings with the eyes of love and understanding. Please learn to practice this teaching.
Young people, upon hearing the sound of the bell, please stand up and touch the Earth three times to the Three Jewels.
[BELL, BELL, BELL]

[THE YOUNG PEOPLE TOUCH THE EARTH]
[THE YOUNG PEOPLE MAY NOW LEAVE THE HALL OR THEY MAY STAY TO LISTEN TO THE OTHER TRAININGS. ]

7. Sanghakarman Procedure

Sanghakarman Master: Has the entire community assembled?
Sangha Convener: The entire community has assembled.
Sanghakarman Master: Is there harmony in the community?
Sangha Convener: Yes, there is harmony.
Sanghakarman Master: Is there anyone not able to be present who has asked to be represented, and have they declared themselves to have done their best to study and practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings?
Sangha Convener: No, there is not.
or
Sangha Convener: Yes, [NAME], for health reasons, cannot be at the recitation today. She has asked [NAME] to represent her and she declares that she has done her best to study and practice the mindfulness trainings.
Sanghakarman Master: What is the reason for the community gathering today?
Sangha Convener: The community has gathered to practice the recitation of the Five Mindfulness Trainings.
Sanghakarman Master: Noble community, please listen. Today, [DATE], has been declared to be the Mindfulness Training Recitation Day. We have gathered at the appointed time. The noble community is ready to hear and recite the mindfulness trainings in an atmosphere of harmony, and the recitation can proceed. Is this statement clear and complete?
Everyone: Clear and complete.
[BELL]

8. Introductory Words

Brothers and Sisters, it is now time to recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings.
[OPTIONAL: Please, those who have been ordained as Upasaka and Upasika kneel with joined palms in the direction of the Buddha, our teacher.]
Brothers and Sisters, please listen. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are the basis for a happy life. They have the capacity to protect life and to make it beautiful and worth living. They are also the door that opens to enlightenment and liberation. Please listen to each mindfulness training, and answer “yes” silently every time you see that you have made an effort to study, practice, and observe the mindfulness training read.

9. Reciting the Five Mindfulness Trainings

The First Mindfulness Training

Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

This is the first of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study, practice and observe it during the past two weeks?
[THREE BREATHS]
[BELL]

The Second Mindfulness Training

True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

This is the second of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study, practice and observe it during the past two weeks?
[THREE BREATHS]
[BELL]

The Third Mindfulness Training

True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

This is the third of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study, practice and observe it during the past two weeks?
[THREE BREATHS]
[BELL]

The Fourth Mindfulness Training

Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

This is the fourth of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Have you made an effort to study, practice and observe it during the past two weeks?
[THREE BREATHS]
[BELL]

The Fifth Mindfulness Training

Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.
[THREE BREATHS]
[BELL]

10. Concluding Words

Brothers and Sisters, we have recited the Five Mindfulness Trainings, the foundation of happiness for the individual, the family, and society. We should recite them regularly so that our study and practice of the mindfulness trainings can deepen day by day.
Upon hearing the sound of the bell, please stand up and touch the Earth three times to show your gratitude to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
[BELL, BELL, BELL]

11. The Three Refuges

I take refuge in the Buddha,
the one who shows me the way in this life.
I take refuge in the Dharma,
the way of understanding and of love.
I take refuge in the Sangha,
the community that lives in harmony and awareness.
[BELL]

Dwelling in the refuge of Buddha,
I clearly see the path of light and beauty in the world.
Dwelling in the refuge of Dharma,
I learn to open many doors on the path of transformation.
Dwelling in the refuge of Sangha,
shining light that supports me, keeping my practice free of obstruction.
[BELL]

Taking refuge in the Buddha in myself,
I aspire to help all people recognize their own awakened nature,
realizing the Mind of Love.
Taking refuge in the Dharma in myself,
I aspire to help all people fully master the ways of practice
and walk together on the path of liberation.
Taking refuge in the Sangha in myself,
I aspire to help all people build Fourfold Communities,
to embrace all beings and support their transformation.
[BELL, BELL]

12. Sharing the Merit

Reciting the trainings, practicing the way of awareness
gives rise to benefits without limit.
We vow to share the fruits with all beings.
We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers, friends, and numerous beings
who give guidance and support along the path.
[BELL, BELL, BELL]

Citation: http://www.plumvillage.org/practice/ceremonies/136-ceremony-to-recite-the-three-refuges-two-promises-and-five-mindfulness-trainings-.html

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Please Listen To Senator Sanders

WE All Know The Problem

In an attempt to touch the empathy that seems to be either non-existent or buried beneath corruption in the hearts and minds of the president and congress, I can see what we have here is a politician being honest and trying a last ditch attempt to arouse some form of decency while stating some hard truths that so many people are already acknowledging. We can only hope and pray and write to our congressmen (and women) who sit in attendence during the biggest financial downturn during the last Hurrah for the United States, business wise and every other wise. In a time when we need all the help we can get, we certainly need to limit unlimited greed and reunite the U.S. Economy to the global network as a source for growth instead of merely sending our factories and investments overseas.

From the Order of Interbeing, established my Thich Nhat Hahn, The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings: The Fifth Mindfulness Training : "...5. Simple, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those in need. We will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Doctrinal Dispute

I became a member of Soka Gakkai International, better known as just S.G.I., and there have been difficulties for me along the way. At first, I clung to whatever they told me, although I was told to be skeptical. I took that serious and when I questioned something, they looked at me like I had a penis growing from my forehead. Some members got angry and but most just looked at me as if I was brain damaged and acted rather condescending and arrogant. All I asked was about how this worked, how come meditation was not only not endorsed, but seemed to be frowned upon. One friend of mine kept trying to tell me that chanting IS active meditation, but they believe chanting is practicing Buddhism. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is practicing Buddhism. Some members told me that Nichiren Daishonin is the Buddha of the latter day and that Daisaku Ikeda is the modern day Buddha. These are the opinions of S.G.I. district leaders that I really take issue with:
1) S.G.I. is the "correct" or "true" Buddhism.
2) Everything other than the Lotus Sutra is merely a "provisional teaching" and not worth studying.
3) Everything Daisaku Ikeda writes is more important than the Lotus Sutra.
4) If you have a problem you can "Take it to the Gohonzon" to get the solution.
5) Japanese language and customs are Buddhism, not Shintoism.
6) Even though Nichiren called Shakumuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) the "Lord of teachings" the things that the historical Buddha taught are not worthwhile today since we are in the fifth 500 year period.
This is MY TAKE on the Lotus Sutra: It said that all other vehicles lead to the same thing. It is all inclusive of other forms of Buddhism and not EXCLUDING ANYONE, since the middle way was made to adapt to anyting as an addition, not a "One Thing Only" type of thinking. My analogy is that even though today we have street traffic signals at major intersections in large cities that have a red "Stop" light, a yellow "Caution" light, a green "Go" light, a camera in them, photo radar attached, a left turn only arrow and/or a right turn only arrow attached, and is the most modern signal, there are still places in the world where the closest thing they have to a traffic control signal is a two or four way stop at intersections. This works just fine for the people who live in those places and no one would start ignoring them just because they are the "Older" form of traffic control. Just because they came before and are considered somewhat antiquated, they still do their job and merely require slightly more thinking, knowledge of how they work, and courtesy/responsibility towards other drivers.
I have started reading and practicing the mindfulness trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh and going to the Order of Interbeing type Buddhist meetings. I really enjoy the meditation and the first five mindfulness training are, "...1. The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

2. The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views
Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

3. The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought
Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate dialogue.

4. The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering
Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images, and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

5. The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those in need. We will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness. ..."

These are what I feel Buddhism, as I read it, is meant to be. This may only be MY OPINION, but since I have one and this is my blog, there it is. This is NOT the exclusive, narrow minded, leader deifying, sensai worhipping, tunnel visioned, NON-Activist doing but activism talking, mind numbingly boring incessant chanting of a perverted sutra title that I experienced at S.G.I.
If I was trying to learn how to speak English, I would have to practice by using the English language over and over. If I sat all day saying, "Devotion to The Dictionary through using my own voice.", then, I wouldn't be practicing the English language, I would be merely saying an affirmation that was personal to me, but not practicing the principals behind the book I was chanting the affirmation about.
If, like I did at first, one uses the method of practice to learn what there is inside you, determination to move along, and then finding the principles contained in the sutra to go out and use as a guide to learn more, do more, be actively involved in something besides sitting at an altar and chanting, then I would say, it is working for you. The positive things I learned from S.G.I. is that one must never give up, despite what things may come up as a deterrent, we must persevere to have faith in our own Buddha nature. Like most religions, the members, not the book or the religion, are more flawed and cause grief than one should have to respect.
I do want to say one thing about faith. One can have faith in anything, but as I learn to have faith in my own natural connection to the earth, other people, and even every speck of dust in the universe, then, I feel more enlightened.
Namaste,
Arizona Mildman

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do Not Cling To Views - The Simile of The Raft to Get to The Other Side

The Raft


"I shall show you, monks, the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to. Listen, monks, and heed well what I shall say" — "Yes, Lord," replied the monks. and the Blessed One spoke thus:

"Suppose, monks, there is a man journeying on a road and he sees a vast expanse of water of which this shore is perilous and fearful, while the other shore is safe and free from danger. But there is no boat for crossing nor is there a bridge for going over from this side to the other. So the man thinks: 'This is a vast expanse of water; and this shore is perilous and fearful, but the other shore is safe and free from danger. There is, however, no boat here for crossing, nor a bridge for going over from this side to the other. Suppose I gather reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and bind them into a raft.' Now that man collects reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and binds them into a raft. Carried by that raft, laboring with hands and feet, he safely crosses over to the other shore. Having crossed and arrived at the other shore, he thinks: 'This raft, indeed, has been very helpful to me. Carried by it, laboring with hands and feet, I got safely across to the other shore. Should I not lift this raft on my head or put it on my shoulders, and go where I like?' "

"What do you think about it, O monks? Will this man by acting thus, do what should be done with a raft?" — "No, Lord" — "How then, monks, would he be doing what ought to be done with a raft? Here, monks, having got across and arrived at the other shore, the man thinks: 'This raft, indeed, has been very helpful to me. Carried by it, and laboring with hands and feet, I got safely across to the other shore. Should I not pull it up now to the dry land or let it float in the water, and then go as I please?' By acting thus, monks, would that man do what should be done with a raft?"

"In the same way, monks, have I shown to you the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to."

"You, O monks, who understand the Teaching's similitude to a raft, you should let go even (good) teachings, how much more false ones!"

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Take a Minute and Think

If I assumed the role of a disabled person living within the confines of the Judeo-Christian thinking, I would be upset with myself most of the time. To live life saddled with the idea that I deserve to be crippled, that I deserve whatever some spook in the sky wants to grant me as a life condition and no more, then I would be in a wheel chair and on morphine for the rest of my life. That isn't me. The idea that because someone ate an apple in a garden when the first people were created, then, I am born into sin and misery for the rest of my life, as a punishment for being human, doesn't sit well with me. For me to say merely that I am a sinner is a great way of casting off responsibility for my own actions, but that doesn't seem like I am trying to learn or develop and actually speaks highly for those who are dying of alcoholism and addiction since they are poor sinners who can't help themselves. This doesn't deal with the fact that some people have a moral code and stick with it without being given a book full or guilt ridden ideas that "kind of" similate a parable of right and wrong in parts. If people could decide on which part of the parables that are parables and not try to act like all the stories are a history of ancient times, then, we could all agree.
Religion was early man's way of describing what science and nature were doing all around him, devoid of education or verification of any facts. He made things up that he was comfortable with and that was how it went. ALL RELIGIONS CONTAIN MYTHOLOGY. These have been taken to the point of being treated as empirical (provable or verifiable by experience or experiment) views. That has created wars and arguments. The fact that any statement that isn't qualified is enough to start an argument over ambiguity should lead us to understand that a parable that isn't qualified should also be considered capable of creating an ambiguitous argument. I am not saying that anyone is wrong for having faith in something that makes you feel good, I am just saying that if you take it to the point that you would kill or die over something you have no evidence of, then, you have started a war in the same manner some of our own governing officials seem to constantly do. When we asked after the nine eleven attack, "WHY would someone want to attack us on our own soil like that?", we were asking two things. 1) "Who would want to attack the land of the free, home of the brave, and the greatest ideology seeking nation in the world?" and 2)"Who, after all these years after Pearl Harbor, would be insane enough to attack us in our own country where our innocent citizens live?".
The immediate reaction from the then Bush White House was the statement that,"They hate us because we (Remember we are talking about a politician who lives not only in the United States, but in it's capital, Washington, D.C.) are Christian and we are White." I wanted to scream at that person, "Do you ever look outside your window?" Not only is Washington, D.C. more populated with African Americans than most any other state in the United States, the Bin Laden Group is right across the street from the White House. BUT, that sort of short thinking and ignorant bliss is exactly why we found ourselves in three wars over whose mythology we choose to believe. No one in the United States government wants you to know this but Bin Laden had put out a video tape, while in exile, of himself making a statement in Arabic, that said when our Seventh Fleet shelled Beruit, he had been there and saw the two sky scrapers in downtown Beruit burning and falling and said to himself, "I know another twin towers that needs to be destroyed." Our foreign policies of backing the Israelis over and over has cost us a few problems. All of
these, once again, are over religious differences. One can try to put a different light on it, but under it all, the ideology of Capitalism and Christianity rules all and is considered the "ONLY" kind of civilization that is considered "REALLY CIVILIZED" has got to either stop or we should expect more retalliation, as we try to change the rest of the world to suit us.
I am today a Buddhist by choice, not by the religion thrust upon me as a child, as I can see that they don't thrust their religion on anyone. They lead by example and are quite outspoken and activist, but don't force you to believe their doctrine, because part of their doctrine is to allow for and adapt to, change. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen monk, author, and peace activist developed the Order of Interbeing and I am now seeking this way to look at my life. It includes meditation and fourteen mindfulness trainings. The first three are significant here:

"...1. The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

2. The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be
open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

3. The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate dialogue."


Cite: < http://iamhome.org/14trainings.php > The mindfulness bell, The fourteen mindfulness trainings by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Buddhist Question: The River

This is an analogical question, kind of a riddle:
Question: When a Nichiren Buddhist comes to a river that is deep and wide with no bridge, no boat, and he doesn't know how to swim, he is left with a decision. What am I to do? First, we know that we must chant daimoku (Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo) and ask our reflection in the Gohonzon (our inner Buddha Nature) what our true path should be, we all should know that. But, What should we ask the Gohonzon? To make the river disappear?

Answer: We should ask our selves how do I A) build a bridge?, B) build a boat?, or C) learn to swim? .

Lesson Learned: I must always A) look to myself in the Gohonzon in order to find an answer and B) expect the answer in a form that makes sense.