torsdag 31 december 2009

Only different in your mind!!


Is there a difference between buddhism and dharma?
At first, this may seem a tough nut to crack.
But it boils down to a few things.

1. Buddhism is an -ism, meaning largely "adherence or following an ideology or philosophical world views", dharma is not bound by such as it is more in the line of "the fundamental truths".

2. Buddhism is something you "follow" or "do" (note the ""), dharma "is" what "is".

If you come this far, tag along a little further, because now it gets interesting.
As a buddhist and not a "wordwrangler" you don't have a difference since what you do is what is.
Meaning, that there is no difference between Buddhism and Dharma.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

- Shakespeare, romeo and juliet

Or as another master would say:

"No! No different! Only different in your mind."



torsdag 26 november 2009

Dogen and teaching/learning


If we value the Teachings we can learn from a post, a lantern, all Buddhas, a fox, a demon, a man or a woman. ... Long ago, Great Master Zhaozhou of the Tang Dynasty aroused the mind that seeks the Way. Setting out on a pilgrimage he vowed,

“If I encounter someone wiser than myself I shall ask for instruction from him or her, even if they are only seven years old. If someone is a hundred years old, if they are inferior to me, I shall teach them."

-Dogen, Rahai Tokuzui

He makes an interesting point about teaching and what/who you can learn about, but has he missed the point or directly found it?


torsdag 12 november 2009

Dalai Lama and teachers...


Some dubious people with little real spiritual training call themselves teachers, but actually take advantage of others in the name of taking care of peace of mind. This is unfortunate. It happens because, when it comes to spirituality, people are still very gullible.

-His holiness the Dalai Lama, imagine all the people

He makes an excellent point, but still misses the target.
What is a teacher?
Something that teaches something to something.

Is it the teachers fault if the student isn't learning?


torsdag 5 november 2009

dogen sailing


... when you sail out in a boat to the middle of an ocean where no land is in sight, and view the four directions, the ocean looks circular, and does not look any other way. But the ocean is neither round or square; its features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is like a jewel. It only look circular as far as you can see at that time. All things are like this.

Though there are many features in the dusty world and the world beyond conditions, you see and understand only what your eye of practice can reach. In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.

Seeing this, that you, the sea, the vessel is not separate, is a good confirmation that you are on the right path.
But don't forget that there is still depths of the sea, land undiscovered.
Or is there?


onsdag 4 november 2009

Bookreview: Wake up to your life


Wake Up To Your Life begins by introducing Buddhism, covering basic topics such as the four noble truths, the three disciplines of morality, meditation, and understanding, and the cultivation of mindfulness. It continues with contemplations on death and impermanence, karma, reactive emotions, and the four immeasurables, and ends with practices for mind training, insight, and direct awareness. All the while he discusses the topics, he gives methods of meditating over the current Topic, giving it yet another base to stand on.

Ken Mcleod is an Buddhist trained in the Tibetan way. Some may say that this is an disadvantage when coming to speak about awareness.
I disagree. When speaking about awareness and “being in midst of life” this is for the better.
He views the matter from another perspective than usual, not from the perspective of mindfulness, awareness, and attention but more on “active attention”.
This leads to en perspective who is wider than usual, although it doesn’t miss the point.
I can’t say I agree with everything he says, like when he speaks about a teacher having to be an person, and that he strikes down on some sort of teacher he apparantly has met, who didn’t do as he thought he would deal with things…

This being said, I think it is important to see that Mcleod is an “Buddhist lighthouse” for beginners and those been on the path a while as he displays and discusses things in a manner suitable for the current generation, Giving everybody something they need/can use.

Is this a book I recommend then?
Even though he sometimes may seem a bit hard to handle. He still cuts through to the point with the skill of an surgeon. And I also do think this will be an important book in the future, who will find it’s home in many people’s bookshelves and hearts.


torsdag 8 oktober 2009

A special request...


An old friend and teacher/zenpriest made an reference to me in his videoblog.
Here it is.

Guess i'm not such an pothead after all...


onsdag 30 september 2009

Article on Jukai


Posting a an article posted on Appropriate response.

Fugen on Jukai experience

What is the meaning of “Jukai”?

According to the Buddhist Dictionary, Jukai literally means “to receive” or “to undertake the Precepts”. It is the ceremony both of one’s formally committing to the Buddhist Sangha and to the practice of Zen Buddhism, and of one’s undertaking the Sixteen Mahayana Bodhisattva Precepts as guidelines for life.

Traditionally for Jukai, one receives from a teacher a rakusu, which represents the robe of the Buddha, a kechimyaku, written lineage chart connecting the recipient to the Buddhas and Ancestors, and a Dharma name selected by the teacher and representing qualities of the recipient’s personality and practice. The Soto Sect’s Shumucho (Religious Affairs Office in Japan) wrote:

Though people approach it with different motivations, all participants must realize that in Jukai-e they inherit the life and quintessence of Buddhism as passed down correctly by generation after generation of Ancestors since the days of ancient India.

When do you take Jukai?

Nishijima Roshi wrote that one should take Jukai at the start of their study of Buddhism:

When a Buddhist seeks to commence upon the study of Buddhism, there is first a ceremony which should be undertaken: It is called ‘Jukai,’ the “Receipt of the Precepts”, the ceremony in which one receives and undertakes the Precepts as a disciple of the Buddha. … Master Dogen specifically left us a chapter entitled ‘Jukai,’ in which it is strongly emphasized that, when the Buddhist believer first sets out to commence Buddhist practice ….. be it monk, be it lay person, no matter ….. the initial needed steps include the holding of the ceremony of Jukai and the undertaking of the Precepts.

I took my first Jukai after being a Buddhist for more than 15 years. For me it was not a really big thing, it just happened to be an option so I took it. But ultimately I believe you can take it anytime and any number of times for that matter.

So how does it work? What do you do?

The Jukai ceremony itself wasn’t so impressive. It was just me, my wife and a computer as we we’re doing the ceremony online. We did some ceremonies , some bowing, some chanting and some zazen. It was more or less like anything you do in life – ordinary.

The thing about Jukai is not the ceremony itself, that’s just the “end of the beginning of the journey”. In my lineage we we’re supposed to sew our own rakusu and study the texts about the meaning of the Precepts. It’s not just to step up and take a ticket, it’s hard work. Sewing the rakusu is a tremendously arduous endeavour, but also a very good practice: the rakasu is made up of a lot of little pieces of cloth which have to be handsewn together in preordered fashion.

The precept study on the other hand was made up as a book club, taking you through the Precepts one at a time, with lots of great discussions on the way. This is a helpful way to approach the Precepts. By not confronting them all at once. Slowly and steadily considering them, putting them up against each other so to speak, you realize they are not that different either in manner or goal.

Precepts are at the core of Jukai. In the chapter on Jukai in his work Shobogenzo Master Dogen pointed out that precepts were central to our practice:

Unless we accept the Precepts, we are not yet a disciple of the Buddhas, nor are we an offspring of our Ancestral Masters, because they have considered one’s departing from error and resisting wrong to be synonymous with practicing meditation and inquiring of the Way. The words, “They have made the Precepts foremost” are already what the Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching is.

What does Jukai stand for?

The representation of Jukaj and the Precepts are about us trying, as much as we can, live in a manner unharmful, healthy and helpful to ourselves and others, knowing that ultimately there is no separation between us and others. It is also equally important to understand that the precepts are not commandments in the Judeo-Christian sense, they are more like guidelines for us along the way. You won’t go to hell if you break them, but you might encounter some hardships.

Secondly, the Jukai ceremony is a commitment to live by the Precepts, “do the Dharma” and be “Buddhists” in a sense. It represents a vow to seek to remain within the Precepts although our human nature might push us sideways. The ceremony does not make you into a Buddhist, you already are. You might say that it celebrates the fact.

Thirdly, the Jukai ceremony stands for a commitment to continue the practice, to the sangha and to the teacher, knowing that ultimately there is no separation.

Fourthly, it is a statement to yourself and others that you are trying to “draw your straw to the anthill”, “do your part”, and try to do “good things”.

As I see it the Jukai puts an emphasis on a number of things, the precepts, a sort of confession/commitment, a statement.

I learned more from the journey towards Jukai than I have leaned during the rest of my “life as a Buddhist”. The question is if it will change anything.

Now, I may anger some people by saying that taking Jukai isn’t such a big thing. It was not for me. It doesn’t involve earthchanging moments, no strikes of lighting to the head or anything dramatic like that. It just confirms what you already know and do. For me it’s not a big thing, but for some it might. Ultimately, the real significance of Jukai will be that which every recipient finds for him/herself.

tisdag 29 september 2009

illuminating reality


In the face of realitys illumination There is neither self nor other, No duality, no division-void of identity And yet neither void Nor not void, Theres no perceiver at all. Eh Ma! Until a mountain yogi Has realized well the meaning of this, He should not disparage cause and result!

- Drinking the Mountain Stream: Songs of Tibets Beloved Saint, Milarepa

A very important point, though not many has realized it.
One of the greatest illusions is that of the separate self, and one though one at that.
But without it we wouldn't be able to feel lonely...


Bookreview: No self no problem


Author Anam Thubten, who was born in Eastern Tibet, undertook Buddhist training in the Nyingma tradition at an early age and has been teaching in the West since the 1990s.
The book is simply written, straightforward, and remind you of the work of Thich Nhat Hanh.
No Self No Problem tackles one of the great challenges of being a Buddhist: eliminating the sense of the separate self (the ego) as a means to reach enlightenment.
In the book he tries to encourage the reader to come to the understanding that anyone and everyone can lose their attachment to the ego.
Simultaneously, Thubten points out that the way to enlightenment is far easier than we think it is: it simply comes down to losing attachments.
Thubten acknowledges that failure can, does, and will happen along the way; accepting that truth will make things easier, although failure does not give excuse for not trying.
He takes up such different subjects as Meditation, Mindfulness, Acceptance, enlightenment and nonattachment.
Or my favourite chapterheadline : “truth’s eternal mantra:”hey, it’s your fantasy!
He has some special moments in his book, including that where he’s explaining his definition of "Buddha Nature":
"There are many words we can use to describe what our true nature is. The simplest word in Buddhism for that is Buddha Nature. The definition of Buddha Nature is that we are already enlightened.
We are perfect as we are.
When we realize this, we are perfect. When we do not realize this, we are also perfect."

Although he is an tibetan schooled Buddhist, his style and writing strikes me more of that of an “western buddhist” or someone like that.
And the things he puts forth as well as the manner they are presented in seem more westernized.
Maybe this is just what the “Buddhist society” needs, an other vew of the perspectives of tibetan Buddhism.
An buddhism that is not all about love, brotherhood and compassion, but one that strikes at the heart of the matter.

I think this is one of those “keepsakebooks” that you keep just to be able to read them again and again.
And it is something to read for all people interested in buddhism, both those that are new and more experienced in the dharma of buddhism.
And yes, I’d love to see more from this author.


måndag 28 september 2009

Bookreview: "What Makes You Not a Buddhist"


Have you ever wondered what makes a buddhist a buddhist?
In the book “What makes you a Buddhist” Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche talks about the fundamentals of buddhism and what makes a Buddhist a Buddhist.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is Tibetan Lama.
He is also the film director of critically acclaimed movies The Cup and Travellers and Magicians.

The way in which he expresses himself is both funny and provocative, as he moves from one conception/misconception challenging many of the beliefs about Buddhists and Buddhism ocurring today.
This straight forward books takes you from the basic principles of Buddhism and encourages you to analyze its roots, cut right through to the heart of Buddhism and share the view that far from the shaved heads, robes, meditation and peaceful smiles, Buddhism has a more practical approach to our everyday existence.
In chapters as “everything is emptiness” and “Nirvana is beyond concepts” he nails down his case both with stories from the buddha and the Kanon, and from everyday life, and in doing so presenting his view of the fundamentals of buddhism.

For me this is a very good book.
Finally an Tibetan Buddhist stepping out and giving everybody an very much needed kick in the behind.
A fair warning, this is not a book for those that want Buddhism to be about love, compassion and brotherhood.
But is an essential book, in that it puts forth the fundamentals of buddhism in a very concise way.

The essence of Buddhism is beyond culture, but it is practiced by many different cultures, which use their traditions as the cup that holds the teachings. If the elementsof these cultural trappings help other beings without causing harm, and if they don’t contradict the four truths, then Siddharta would encourage such practices.


söndag 20 september 2009

"throw away one thing every month"


They are happy indeed who own nothing at all; Those with highest knowledge own nothing at all. See how people who own things are afflicted, Bound to others by their obligations.

- Udana 2.6

Some People have an interesting view of things.

They almost "accuse me" of not being interested in them, in that i have a saying "throw away one thing every month".
And funnily enough i met an old friend, who, the first thing she commented on was me saying this to her a long time ago.
Well, i did say that, but she completely missed the point, instead of liberating herself from things, she clinged even more to hem, even my saying so.

In my perspective, things are just as they are.
Nothing more, nothing less. Just as they are.

From my perspective i am not interested in them and in the same time i am.
They are there and i am conscious of them, but nothing more.
I do not cling to them and go hunting for more.
Sure, i use my computer to write this down, but what would i be with my computer?

Just as i am.

People of this day and age are more and more conscious of things.
Whether it is in the collecting or the abstinence of things, they are more conscious of them.
But my view is somewhat different, instead of clinging to them, just see them as they are.
Now, you might think that i, in view of my saying "throw away one thing every month", is also clinging to things.
And in a matter i am, but only so that you can experience for yourself, the thing about not clinging to things. So i say "throw away one thing every month", but what does it mean?



onsdag 2 september 2009

Verse of 5 Contemplations


Verse of 5 Contemplations (Gokan no ge)

First, we reflect on the labours that brought us this food and consider how it comes to us.
Second, as we receive this offering, we should consider whether our virtue and practice deserve it.
Third, we regard greed as an obstacle to freedom of mind.
Fourth, we regard this meal as medicine to sustain our life.
Fifth, to attain our Way, we now receive this food.

This is an chant to recite before eating a meal.
The meaning of this mealchant is to remember where it all comes from and whether we deserve it.


Meal verse


This food comes from the efforts
of all sentient beings past and present,
and is medicine for nourishment of our Practice.
We offer this meal of many virtues and tastes
to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
and to all life in every realm of existence.
May all sentient beings in the universe
be sufficiently nourished.

Den här maten kommer från alla dåtida och nutida varelsers insatser,
och är den närande medicinen för vår utövning.
Vi erbjuder denna måltid av dygder och smaker
till Buddhan, Dharman och Sanghan,
Och till allt liv i varje värld av existens.
Må alla varelser i universum bli mätta.

This is an chant to recite before eating a meal.
The meaning of this mealchant is to remember where it all comes from and to where it goes.


lördag 29 augusti 2009

The dancers dance


... [We] should realize that living-and-dying is just nirvana; [Buddhists] have never discussed nirvana outside of living-and-dying. ... Further, if we think that life and death are something to get rid of [or be free of], we will [be guilty of hating] the Buddha-Dharma. How could we not guard against this? Remember, the lineage of the Dharma which [asserts that] "in the Buddha-Dharma the essential state of mind universally includes all forms," describes the whole great world of Dharma inclusively, without dividing essence and form, and without discussing appearance and disappearance. There is no [state] - not even [life and death and] bodhi or nirvana- that is different from the essential state of mind. All dharmas, myriad phenomena and accumulated things [all the myriad phenomena in the who universe], are totally just the one mind, without exclusion or disunion [everything included and interconnected]. [The myriad things and phenomena] are the even and balanced undivided mind, other than which there is nothing; and this is just how Buddhists have understood the essence of mind. That being so, how could we divide this one reality into body and mind, or into life-and-death and nirvana?

The point is that we're not just the dancers, we are also the dance.
Both at the same time, without separation, because how do you get a dance without dancers and dancers without an dance?


onsdag 19 augusti 2009

on mindfulness article


This is an article i wrote for appropriateresponse.

Have you ever watched a kid playing?
There is something special about the way they can pick up a stick, shout “STICK!!” and run into the world causing havoc. There is nothing more in this moment than the kid, the stick and the world. I would like to call this special something ‘mindfulness’ or ‘presence’ if you will.

Master Dogen wrote on Time (in Being-Time, Uji):

See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another. …
Each moment is all being, is the entire world.
Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.

Master Dogen wished to convey that each moment of time and being is not anything apart from you. It is your existential time-and-being. So, he wrote in Uji:

Because real existence is only this exact moment, all moments of Being-Time are the whole of Time, and all existent things and all existent phenomena are moments of Time …
If Time does not take the form of leaving and coming, [a task done in the past] is the present as Being-Time.

If Time does take the form of leaving and coming, you yet have this present moment of Being-Time, which is just Being-Time itself.

Mindfulness is a new catchphrase, a phenomenon not much older than 10 years or so, you might think. But this is not the case. There has been something like it in every culture, be it modern western culture, Hawaiian native culture or, in this case, Buddhist culture.

There are several words in Pali and Sanskrit which are often translated into the English word mindfulness. However, these terms mean different things which is why confusion may often arise in discussions of mindfulness.

The Sanskrit word that is most often translated into mindfulness is Sati/Smriti, which means to remember (non-forgetfulness). It simply means that if we decide for ourselves to attach the mind to our present experience, we will remember to hold it there, instead of letting it slip away.

Another word which also is commonly translated into mindfulness is Manisikara, which is the moment of pure perception just before the mind starts to separate, judge and value. In the western interpretation of mindfulness (within psychology) a large amount of emphasis is put on this particular aspect.
The Sanskrit term Appamada/Apramada means being thorough and calculated in your actions and not to act unskillfully or rashly. This is also an aspect of mindfulness.
A final term also taken to mean mindfulness is Sampajanna/Samprajana which means to see clearly, to separate (skillful from unskillful action).

The ability to stay with your experience, to see it clearly, to separate skillful and unskillful actions, and to act in a favourable way are all aspects of mindfulness. Maybe the most important of all the Buddhist scriptures concerning mindfulness is the Satipatthanasutta. Satipatthana is the practice of sati, the maintaining a constant attention on the here and now and is a part of the eightfold path. Patthana can be translatated as placement or attaching point. Satipatthana can therefore be translated as to put the attention or the attaching point of attention.

You may well be asking yourself why am I writing this? Well, for one, you have to have an solid foundation to stand on, and it is always good to have some knowledge of the definition of terms.

Mindfulness isn’t just this moment, it is all-permeating, it is everything, just as Dogen says. You can’t just try doing it either. I often quote another spiritual master, Yoda : “Do or do not… there is no try.” This is a vital part of mindfulness practice to understand; if you are only trying you are not doing.

This brings us back to the child with the stick. He is not trying anything. He knows exactly what he is doing. He’s got a stick, and it’s him against the world.

A further point I would like to make about mindfulness and being mindful is that the way things are is just the way things are. You know what, it’s ok. It’s all OK!! Shit happens, deal with it. It is all about being at the razor’s edge, not falling to one side or the other, not being cut, not missing the point.

If this happens, do this. If that happens, do that. When life’s roller coaster goes up, go up. When heading down, head down. Just ride the ride. Sometimes it can be very hard. Then let it be hard. Your sympathy for me might feel great, but will it help?

I have to take me, and pick myself up, to get on with it, even when there is no me to pick myself up. I am not saying it will be easy, just saying it is so. And it’s ok! It’s all OK!!

Maybe that is enlightenment, to see that everything is ok! It is just what it is.

Is that ok with you?

May the force be with you

måndag 10 augusti 2009

The concept of "right concentration"


The eighth factor of the path is right concentration, in Pali samma samadhi.

And what is right concentration? There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This is called right concentration.

- Magga-vibhanga Sutta

It's not so much WHAT you do as HOW you do it.
In general terms, Right Concentration means establishing the "Right mind".
But what is "left mind"?


lördag 8 augusti 2009

What's love got to do with it?


I've been thinking about words lately.
Take for instance "LOVE", as i "i love tomatoes" or "i love you".

The meaning behind is somewhat different and because of one the other is distorted.
Saying "i love you" to some tomatoes is not the same as saying "i love you" to a person, or is it?


How to be happy?


Today it's an statement from the Dalai Lama

In this world, all qualities spring from preferring the wellbeing of others to our own, whereas frustrations, confusion, and pain result from selfish attitudes. By adopting an altruistic outlook and by treating others in the way they deserve, our own happiness is assured as a byproduct. We should realize that self-centeredness is the source of all suffering, and that thinking of others is the source of all happiness.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV, The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace

Notice that he says "treating others in the way they deserve" not "treating others in the way you want to be treated"
which put's the empasis on them not you...


fredag 7 augusti 2009

Words have power.


In the last days i had some difficulties concerning written words, and i came to think of this.

It’s telling that in English “disenchanted,” “disillusioned,” and dispassionate” often have a negative connotation. But looking more closely at their meaning reveals their connection to freedom. Becoming disenchanted means breaking the spell of enchantment, waking up into a greater and fuller reality. This is the happy ending of so many great myths and fairy tales. Being disillusioned is not the same as being disappointed or discouraged. It is a reconnection with what is true, free of illusion. And “dispassionate” does not mean indifference or lack of vital energy for living. Rather, it is the mind of great openness and equanimity, free of grasping.

- Joseph Goldstein, one dharma

Words have power and doesn't always mean what you think they do.


måndag 3 augusti 2009

Kids and mindfulness


Have you ever watched a kid playing?
There’s something special about the way they can pick up a stick, shout “STICK!!” and run into the world causing havoc. There’s nothing more in this moment than the kid, the stick and the world…
I would like to call this special something “mindfulness” or “presence” if you will.

Master Dogen wrote on Time (in Being-Time, Uji)
See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another. ...
Each moment is all being, is the entire world.
Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.

Master Dogen wished to convey that each moment of time and being is not anything apart from you,it is your existential time-and-being. So, he wrote in Uji, Being-Time ...
Because real existence is only this exact moment, all moments of Being-Time are the whole of Time, and all existent things and all existent phenomena are moments of Time …
If Time does not take the form of leaving and coming, [a task done in the past] is the present as Being-Time.
If Time does take the form of leaving and coming, you yet have this present moment of Being-Time, which is just Being-Time itself.

Mindfulness is an “new catchphrase”, an phenomenon not much older than 10-years or so, you might think. But that’s not the case. There’s been something like it in every culture, be it an modern western culture, an Hawaiian native culture or in this case an Buddhist culture.

Now, what does this give you, why am i writing this?
Well, for one, you have to have an solid foundation to stand on, and it’s always good to have some knowledge of things.
Mindfulness isn’t just this moment, it’s all-permeating, it’s everything, just as Dogen says. You can’t just try doing it either. I often quote another master, yoda :
“Do or do not... there is no try.”
And this is a vital part of mindfulnesspractice to, if you’re only trying you’re not doing…

Which brings us back to the child with the stick. He’s not trying anything. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s got a stick, and it’s him against the world.
And that leaves me the third part of this essay, the way things are is just the way things are.
You know what, it's ok. It's all OK!!
Shit happens, deal with it. It's all about "being the razor's edge", not falling to one side or the other, not being cut, not "missing the point".
If this happens, do this. If that happens, do that. When life's roller coaster goes up, go up. When heading down, head down. Just ride the ride. Sometimes it can be very hard. Then let it be hard.
Your sympathy for me might feel great, but will it help?
I have to take me, and pick myself up, to get on with it, even when there is no me to pick myself up. I’m not saying it will be easy. just saying it is so, And it's ok! It's all OK!!

Maybe that's enlightenment, to see that "everything is Ok"!...
It's just what it is...
Is that ok with you?


Dogen on time


Master Dogen wrote on Time (in Being-Time, Uji) ...

See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another. ...
Each moment is all being, is the entire world.
Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.

This is an important piece in the whole puzzle.
What he is talking about is the concept of "all is one".
But if there'a a "one", don't there have to be a "zero"?
That's where nothing comes in...


tisdag 28 juli 2009

"De Fem hågkomsterna"


This is for all the swedish readers out there, the "five remebrances" in swedish...

De fem hågkomsterna

1. Min natur är att åldras.
Det går inte att undfly åldrandet
2. Min natur är att bli sjuk.
Det går inte att undfly åldrandet.
3. Min natur är att dö.
Det går inte att undfly döden
4. Allt som jag håller kärt och alla som jag älskar undergår förändring.
Det går inte att undfly att skiljas från dem.
5. Det enda jag äger är mina handlingar.
Jag kan inte undfly konsekvenserna av mina handlingar.
Mina handlingar är den grund jag står på.

De fem hågkomsterna hjälper oss att bli vän med rädslan för ålderdom, sjukdom, övergivenhet och död.
De är också en påminnelse om att uppskatta de livets underverk som finns här och nu.

May the force be with you

måndag 27 juli 2009

One self?


To learn the Buddhist way is to learn about oneself.
To learn about oneself is to forget oneself.
To forget oneself is to perceive oneself as all things.
To realize this is to cast off the body and mind of self and others.
When you have reached this stage you will be detached even from enlightenment but will practice it continually without thinking about it.
When people seek the Dharma [outside themselves] they are immediately far removed from its true location.
When the Dharma has been received through the right transmission, one's real self immediately appears.

- Dogen, Genjokoan

The keypoint here, is what is "oneself"...

May the force be with you

An enlightenend being?


It is an illusion to try to carry out our practice and enlightenment through ourselves, but to have practice and enlightenment through phenomena, that is enlightenment.
To have great enlightenment about illusion is to be a Buddha.
To have great illusion about enlightenment is to be a sentient being.
Further, some are continually enlightened beyond enlightenment but some add more and more illusion.

- Dogen, Genjokoan

The keypoint here, is what is "a being"...

May the force be with you

lördag 25 juli 2009

Choose your words carefully...


In Master Linji [Rinzai]'s time, some Buddhist terms were used so often they became meaningless. People chewed on terms like "liberation" and "enlightenment" until they lost their power. It's no different today. People use words that tire our ears. We heat the words "freedom" and "security" on talk radio, telelvision, and in the newspaper so often that they've lost their effectiveness or their meaning has been distorted. When words are overused, even the most beautiful words can lose their true meaning. For example, the word "love" is a wonderful word. When we like to eat hamburger, we say, "I love hamburger." So what's left for the meaning of the word "love"?

- Thich nhat hanh, Tricycle issue 65

Venerate the words, or they'll loose their meaning...


torsdag 23 juli 2009

Meeting life...


You can face anything properly, elegantly, when you meet life where it is, in the moment. When conditions are fresh and joyous, we can delight in that changing image. When the karma and goodness sustaining life is exhausted, we can look death right in its face. We live life wisely and compassionately in the beginning, middle, and end.

–Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu, Meeting the Monkey Halfway

The important point is that life is not over there.

May the force be with you

onsdag 22 juli 2009

Picking up your coat


A contemporary Zen master has said that "Zen is picking up your coat from the floor and hanging it up." Nothing could be simpler. Yet how difficult! There is no fun in "picking up your coat." Tasks like this do not seem at all self-fulfilling and enriching. Even worse, "picking up your coat" doesn't seem to be a very "spiritual" kind of practice—unlike, we imagine, prayer, meditation, fasting, or developing a meaningful relationship. There is nothing more ordinary or unspecial than "picking up your coat." Yet, it is really the essence of practice, for "picking up your coat" is exactly what Dogen means by meditation.
-Francis Dojun Cook, How to Raise an Ox

The simple is not always as hard as it seems...

May the force be with you

tisdag 21 juli 2009

Five remembrances and transition...


This short Dharma talk is an discussion on what to recite upon an funeral/ remebrance ceremony. Mostly (or commonly) in the ZenBuddhist society you read the Heart sutra (se Below). But i would also reccomend the "the five remembraces" from the Upajjhatthana Sutta.

The Five Remembrances (from the Upajjhatthana Sutra)
I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My deeds are my closest companions.
I am the beneficiary of my deeds. My deeds are the ground on which I stand.

Birth will end in death.
Youth will end in old age.
Meetings will end in separation.
All things in cyclic existence are transient, are impermanent.

The Buddhas cannot wash our sins with water.
They cannot remove our suffering with their hands.
They cannot transfer their insights to us.
All they can do is teach the Dharma.
I am my own protector.

Actually as Thich Nhat Hanh put them forth in his book The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching it's only the first section that is "the five remebrances", but recommend the whole section.

As for the heart sutra it goes a little like this (the backslashes is for showing how to say it...):

The Heart of the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra
(Maka Hannya Haramita Shin Gyo)

A/vo/lo/ki/tes/va/ra/ Bo/dhi/satt/va/, A/wa/kened/ One/ of/ Com/pas/sion/,
In/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/, the/Deep/ Prac/tice/ of/ Per/fect/ Wis/dom/
Per/ceived/ the/ emp/ti/ness/ of /all /five /con/di/tions/,
And/ was/ free/ of/ suf/fer/ing/.
O/ Sha/ri/pu/tra/, form/ is/ no/ o/ther/ than/ emp/ti/ness/,
Emp/ti/ness/ no/ o/ther/ than/ form/;
Form/ is/ pre/cise/ly/ emp/ti/ness/, emp/ti/ness/ pre/cise/ly/ form/.
Sen/sa/tions/, per/cep/tions/, for/ma/tions/ and/ con/scious/ness/ are/ al/so/ like/ this/.
O/ Sha/ri/pu/tra/, all/ things/ are/ ex/pres/sions/ of/ emp/ti/ness/,
Not/ born/, not/ des/troyed/, not/ stained/, not/ pure/;
Nei/ther/ wax/ing/ nor/ wan/ing/.
Thus/ emp/ti/ness/ is/ not/ form/; not/ sen/sa/tion/ nor/ per/cep/tion/,
not/ for/ma/tion/ nor/ con/scious/ness/.
No/ eye/, ear/, nose/, tongue/, bo/dy/, mind/;
No/ sight/, sound/, smell/, taste/, touch/, nor/ ob/ject/ of/ mind/;
No/ realm/ of/ sight/, no/ realm/ of/ con/scious/ness/;
No/ ig/no/rance/, no/ end/ to/ ig/no/rance/;
No/ old/ age/ and/ death/,
No/ ces/sa/tion/ of/ old/ age/ and/ death/;
No/ suf/fer/ing/, nor/ cause/ or/ end/ to/ suf/fer/ing/;
No/ path/, no/ wis/dom/ and/ no/ gain/.
No/ gain/ - thus/ Bod/dhi/satt/vas/ live/ this/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/
With/ no/ hin/drance/ of/ mind/ -
No/ hin/drance/ there/fore/ no/ fear/.
Far/ be/yond/ all/ de/lu/sion/, Nir/va/na/ is/ al/rea/dy/ here/.
All/ past/, pre/sent/ and/ fu/ture/ Budd/has/
Live/ this/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/
And/ re/al/ize/ su/preme/ and/ com/plete/ en/light/en/ment/.
There/fore/ know/ that/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/
Is/ the/ sac/red/ man/tra/, the/ lu/min/ous/ man/tra/,
the/ sup/reme/ man/tra/, the/ in/com/pa/ra/ble/ man/tra/
by/ which/ all/ suf/fe/ring/ is/ clear/.
This/ is/ no/ o/ther/ than/ Truth/.
There/fore/ set/ forth/ the/ Praj/na/ Pa/ra/mi/ta/ man/tra/.
Set/ forth/ this/ man/tra/ and/ pro/claim/:

Gate! Gate! (Already Gone, Gone)
Paragate! (Already Gone Beyond)
Parasamgate! (Already Fully Beyond)
Bodhi! Svaha! * (Awakening, Rejoice)

But what the both texts really say is everything change, or do they?

May the force be with you

måndag 20 juli 2009

Bookreview: The mind of clover


Robert Aitken has practiced Buddhism for more than half a century. He is an American Zenmaster (now “retired”), a writer and teacher of vast reputation.
His beginning as a Buddhist resulted from being a prisoner of the Japanese in the Second World War, where he met R. R. Blythe and D. T. Suzuki as fellow inmates.
When he came back to america after the war he met Nyogen Senzaki, with whom he continued to study Buddhism. Aitken has returned to Japan on several occasions to study for a number of masters including Haku'un Yasutani.
He has written more than than 10 books on Buddhism, and resides on Hawaii.

Aitken's approach is clear and sure as he shows how our minds can be as nurturing as clover, which enriches the soil and benefits the environment as it grows.

The presentation written on the back of the book couldn't be more true.
Aitken states his aims regarding the book to beas "being to clarify the precepts for use by the Western students of Buddhism", “as a way to help make Buddhism a daily practice.” and prevent Zen from becoming a hobby, which is “made to fit the needs of the ego.” The mind of clover is a compilation of essays, some of which have been previously published.

The first chapter is an “overview” of the nature of the precepts, followed by 10 chapters on the the grave precepts, One precept per chapter. Aitken further points out, that the precepts are "not commandments etched in stone but expressions of inspiration written in something more fluid than water."
Aitken approaches these precepts, the core of Buddhist ethics, from several perspectives, offering many layers of interpretation.

The dharma is the law of the universe, a law that may be expressed simply: "one thing depends upon another".

His interpretations and explanations grows and widens, and his focus expands to include a wide variety of topics and views concerning the precepts.
After the chapters on the Ten Grave Precepts, we have ten further chapters, which are taken from Dharma talks or teishos given by Aitken Roshi. In these chapters he writes about everything from Ecology to religious activism, the self, and who to blame...

This is the great joke of Zen. It is the great joke of the universe. There is no absolute at all, and that is the absolute. Enlightenment is practice, as Dogen Zenji said.
And what is practice?
Getting on with it.

It is hard to find any good books on the ten grave precepts, this makes Aitkens book even more special. Not only does it take up the ten precepts, it also puts them under focus and puts new perspectives on them. And as a extra bonus you get some extra chapters all wonderfully narrated in that special style that Aitken uses about an variety of things.
All in all, a book to keep.

May the force be with you

tisdag 14 juli 2009

Bookreview: suffering is optional (att lida är valfritt)


The author of suffering is optional, Cheri Huber has been studying Buddhism for over 30 years, written 19 books, started two zen centers, has an weekly radioshow and holds regular reterats and talks.

It takes courage to look deeply into oneself

What Cheri Huber writes in the Introduction to this book, can not be more true. If you are willing to take the step, this is the book for you.
This is a wise, practical and useful book without any esoteric influences, for all who are interested in Buddhist philosophy.
It is based on a Buddhist course, which the author held on the web with over 500 participants and it centers around three basic aspects of Buddhist practice: awareness, to abandon prejudices and not take things personally.
The book urges readers to be willing to be quiet and pay attention to the process of suffering in effort to see each moment as an opportunity to step beyond illusion into freedom.

We suffer when we resist life. We suffer when we believe life should be different. We suffer when we think there is something wrong with life that needs to be changed or fixed

Instead of taking up a subject in each chapter, it contains an assignment for the reader to do and investigate. It can be a simple task like taking a deep breath. She then goes on to add some comments made by the participants and by her self, neatly wrapping it all together, within a few pages for each assignment.
One of the many things that got me attracted to the book was that there was short "assigments" you could do and experience one by one in no particular order, almost anywhere, anytime. Another thing is that it seems written for "the ordinary people", without any prerequisites required. But don't be fooled, as the author points out:

I remind people with annoying regularity that if this practice were easy it would be more popular. Consider that, please. Look around and see what has thousands or even millions of 'adherents.' What do those things have in common? I would suggest that they all share the quality of people being exactly as they are while having something hopeful to believe. Very popular. Compare that with a practice that encourages people moment by moment to go up against, see through, and embrace the worst stuff in life.

All in all it is an good introduction and practical gateway to the buddhist world, and to see for yourself what needs to be done with your life.

May the force be with you

måndag 13 juli 2009

The dharma is not something separate from ourselves


We perceive Zen, the Dharma, and the Way to be outside of ourselves. But it is a serious error to create a distance between yourself and these things in this manner. If you make a separation between yourself and what you are looking for, no matter how much effort you make to lessen that distance, that effort will be in vain.

- The Essence of Zen, Sekkei Harada

Do not separate between hot and cold.
Nor between this and that.

May the force be with you

lördag 11 juli 2009

Buddhism, Western Psychology and knowing


One important question always seems to come up when Western psychologists begin to study Buddhism. Does one have to become a Buddhist in order to learn about Buddhism?
The answer is that of course one does not, but it must be asked in return, what does one want to learn?
What Buddhism really has to teach the Western psychologist is how to relate more closely with his own experience, in its freshness, its fullness, and its immediacy. To do this, one does not have to become a Buddhist, but one does have to practice meditation.
It is certainly possible to study only the theory of Buddhist psychology. But in doing so, one would miss the point. Without experience to rely on, one would end up simply interpreting Buddhist notions through Western concepts. A good taste of meditation is actually necessary in working with oneself and others.

-Chögyam Trungpa, The Sanity We Are Born With

This is a question also asked in Bärmarks "Jag vet inte" ("i dont know"), what do you need to do something?
In this case do you need to be a buddhist to study buddhism?
It's the same as asking "do you need to be sick to be an doctor and heal people" is it not?
You might know things "in theory", but can you really "KNOW"?

May the force be with you

You're It !


We have the habit of always looking outside ourselves, thinking we can get wisdom and compassion from another person or the Buddha or his teachings (Dharma) or our community (Sangha).
But you are the Buddha, you are the Dharma, you are the Sangha.

–Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers from the Heart

Its the same as hakuins poem:

All beings are Buddha by nature,
just as water and ice are the same.
Without water there’s no ice,
outside of beings, no Buddha.

The important point is to start with you.
Don't go looking elsewhere for it.
You're it.


onsdag 8 juli 2009

The Actualization of Enlightenment


Today we have a little bit on enlightenment, actually it's from the Dogen's Genjokoan...

When all things are the Buddha-dharma, there is enlightenment, illusion, practice, life, death, Buddhas, and sentient beings.
When all things are seen not to have any substance, there is no illusion or enlightenment, no Buddhas or sentient beings, no birth, or destruction.
Originally the Buddhist Way transcends itself and any idea of abundance or lack--still there is birth and destruction, illusion and enlightenment, sentient beings and Buddhas.
Yet people hate to see flowers fall and do not like weeds to grow.

Everything is as it is.
But what is it?

May the force be with you

Moon reflected on the water


Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. T
he whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.
Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water.
You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky.
The depth of the drop is the height of the moon.
Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.

- Dogen, "The Moon in a Dewdrop; writings of Zen Master Dogen", Translated by Dan Welch and Kazuaki Tanahashi

In this text Dogen not only puts in enlightenment, but also the net of indra.
It's quite controversial in saying "you cannot hinder enlightenment", but what does it mean?

May the force be with you

Sound of nothing going on


Watermelons and Zen students
grow pretty much the same way.
Long periods of sitting
till they ripen and grow
all juicy inside, but
when you knock them on the head·
to see if they're ready—
sounds like nothing's going on.

- Peter Levitt, from Essential Zen

One of my favourite quotations, and a very importand point.
But what is the sound of nothing going on?

May the force be with you

Cultivating mindfulness


We can practice developing mindfulness—and other skillful qualities—at any moment in our lives, but setting aside specific time to cultivate it is extremely effective. Many people have found that unless they reserve such time, it is difficult—especially in the beginning—to develop this quality.

Cultivating mindfulness through meditation is like cultivating physical fitness. You go to the gym, where you exercise in order to strengthen and train your body, so that you will be strong no matter where you are. In the same way, you can create particular spaces and times in your life to train in mindfulness. At the gym, when you are training your body, that is the only thing you are doing—you are not driving a car or reading or eating. The same is true for awakening and strengthening mindfulness meditation.

–Arinna Weisman and Jean Smith, The Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness Meditation

May the force be with you

måndag 6 juli 2009

Bookreview: When Things Fall Apart (när allt faller samman)


This review is about the book "when things fall apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by pema chodron (the swedish version).

Acharya Ani Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun and one of Chögyam Trungpas främsta eleverstudents. She is the leader and teacher at Gampo Abbey, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the first tibetan monastery in North amerika, which is established for westerners.
Although she keeps up an intense monastic life, she also has an high rate of books and audiotalks published.

In this book she tackles the "hardship of life" or as she says in the Postscript: We live in difficult times. One senses a possibility they may get worse."
Chödrön's book is full of useful advice regarding how to cope with the grim realities of modern life, with the help of Buddhist thought and the teachings of mindfulness.
Although it might seem so, this is not the average "selfhelpbook" that you might see out there, Chödröns writing has something uncompromising about it that might shock you in a good way and send you on a journey.

As i said earlier, her writing is somewhat uncomprimising, but i like it and i think it might help the message get through easier...
The key to it all is accepting that life is groundless. By "letting go", we make ourselves free to face fear and obstacles and gain tools to overcome them.

This is a book that i keep getting back to.
And each time i see something new, or keep getting reminded about something...


fredag 3 juli 2009

How to Start on the Path


Don't be overwhelmed by the number of teachers and teachings. Just start by doing a little bit of something, even five minutes of meditation, but do it every day.... Once you put one foot in front of another, the dharma path has a way of leading you where you need to go.

- Dean Sluyter, cinema nirvana

Very important point.
But how do you put one foot in front of the other?

May the force be with you

Things As They Are


Dharma, the truth of things-as-they-are, acts upon us to help us awaken to liberation. Dharma isn't a person; it isn't a being to be supplicated to. It's just the way things work, the reality of the universe unfolding as a process in time.

-Jeff Wilson, Buddhism of the Heart

What Wilson is says is somewhat true.
The problem is that he is separating and applying oneself to itself.
Sometimes you can do that, and maybe should do that, but not here.
Saying that one thing is doing something as a process to itself, means separation.
No separation, that misses the point.
all is "one".

May the force be with you

Bookreview: everyday zen


Everyday Zen is a collection of Charlotte Joko Becks, founder and resident Zen teacher of the Zen Center of San Diego, Dharma talks.
Joko speaks about Zen in an ordinary, conversational, down-to-earth way-Not like the paradoxical, poetic, non-logical style often found in Zen and doing so she explicitly relates Zen to everyday life.

This book is not an instruction book on meditation or anything like that, it's more about life itself. that being said, it is not a book for anyone, she doesn't give you the answers and holds you to get a hold of yourself.
Which is not the "answer" some wants to hear.
But it is a good one.


söndag 28 juni 2009

The concept of Dukkha or "Curing pain"...


I don't think we cure our pain by any kind of speculation.

We cure our pain by feeling it as it is, not adding to it and not trying to make it stop. The pain of loss is just what it is. We feel it and then we move on.

This is where i write about dukkha, the "dissatisfaction of things".
I sometimes explain dukkha something like this.

Samsara is when you put the knuckles of your hands together.
Nirvana is when you put the palms of your hands together.
Dukkha is when you move your hands.

What Brad Warner says in the quote is one of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism, although in his own "special" manner.
He often puts things in a perspective and is enjoyable to read, although some may find him somewhat "disturbing"...
Which very neatly points out the emphasis of the texts written above...

May the force be with you

lördag 27 juni 2009

Burning the Buddha


Americans like to refer to one of the old Zen stories about how a master took a wooden Buddha image, chopped it up, and made a fire, warming himself by its flames. Seeing this, a monk asked, "What are you doing, setting fire to the Buddha?"

The master replied, "Where is Buddha?"

The opposite goes on in America. In America we want to burn the Buddha images to begin with. You see, that monk was stuck on the form. In America, we are antiform, so the pointing goes in another direction. If you're attached to neither existence nor nonexistence, you manifest a sixteen-foot golden Buddha in a pile of rubbish, appearing and disappearing.
-–John Daido Loori in Essential Zen

A very thoughtful text.
Dont separate hot and cold, no extremes.

May the force be with you

fredag 26 juni 2009

Bookreview: Jag vet inte


Jan Bärmark is an University lecturer in scientific theory at the university of Gothenburg. He is also an practising Tibetan Buddhist and has published many articles and books in a variety of subjects.
This review is on his latest publishment, the book "jag vet inte" (I don't know). Sadly to say it is at the moment only available in swedish (and not even that as it isn't really published yet...)

It contains a lot of short essays on the a variety of things, from rhetoric and feelings to the differences between the theoretical and practising Buddhist.
Although he, in the introduction of the book, claims that "the central theme of the book is the dialogues central role in the exploration of reality and in the understanding of ourselves" almost all the texts touches something contained within the Buddhist sphere,and contains a sort of buddhist message.
The main emphasis in the buddhist section is on the western buddhism and on the tibetan buddhism. He explores it from a somewhat different angle than that of the ordinary buddhist writer, he is exploring it with the eyes of a researcher.
It also sontains an personal exposee of the author on many levels, a sort of "how it all fits together" according to the author.
Altogether this is not to say that he is advocating a certain viewpoint. It's more in the character of "i'm giving you my two cents, now think for yourself".

Although some of the texts may be a bit arduous for the novice in the subject at hand, it is an book that is easy to read, and will put a smile on your face on more than one occasion. "Humour is", as Bärmark puts it, "a medicine for a thinking that is idling", and he makes good use of it.

May the force be with you

Buddhism and secterianism


Today we have an text on sects and secterianism.

The historical question of how sects and sectarianism arose in Buddhism is fascinating.
One of the best authors on the subject that I have read so far is Sukumar Dutt- "Buddhist monks and monasteries: their history and contribution to indian culture".

Of course in the beginning there was no sectarianism.
There was just the "sangha of the four quarters" that included all those who took refuge.

Buddha left home and became a member of the wandering home-leavers, the mendicants or spiritual almsmen (bhikku), whose social position was itself an institution without walls in the Indian culture.
By polite reference the wanderers and mendicants (bhikkus) were called samanas (or sramanas). The samanas would congregate around well known teachers (sattha). Siddhartha Gotama studied under two such satthas of reknown. Dutt explains,

When two wanderers meet casually on the wayside, the customary questions asked of one another for mutual recognition are : 'Who , sir, is your Master (Sattha)? Whose Dhamma (system of spiritual culture) do you find most agreeable to you (rocesi)? What is the Dhamma you have adopted? (From Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India, p. 46)

Thus there were no sects per se, but there were networks of followers of one Master (Sattha) or Dhamma or another. The wandering almsmen (bhikkus) and women (bhikkunis) would follow a teacher as long as their dhamma was agreeable and if they found it lacking they could find another teacher whose Dhamma was more agreeable.
This was the same pattern that Siddhatha followed.

When Gotama Buddha became a teacher himself, he became known as a Great Master (Mahasattha) and more and more wanderers found his Dharma to be agreeable to them forming a network of samanas around him.

To outsiders this group was known as he 'Ordained Followers of the Sakyaputta' (Sakyaputtiya Samanas), but the group called itself by the simple name, the 'Union of Bhikkus' (Bhikkhu-sangha).(Id at p. 36)

During the lifetime of Gotama Buddha, the Bikkhu sangha was not sectarian by design. Buddha was not in the business of collecting followers and there are famous instances where he told someone not to leave his own teacher even if the person found Buddha's dharma agreeable.
To Buddha, true to his samana roots, it was the Dharma that was important, not belonging to one group of wanderers or another, even those who were the followers of his dharma.

In the tradition of wandering samanas, they would take off from their homeless wandering lifestyle during the monsoon rainy season. At this time Buddha and his followers, ie. the Union of Bhikkus, also would find shelter for the three months of the rainy season.
During the rain retreat period (vassa) the Bhikku sangha would shelter together and share discussions about the Buddha's Dharma. After Buddha's decease, of course the tradition continued. Bhikkus from all over would congregate annually each at a different retreat location (either the monk-built avasa dwellings or the donated arama dwellings) and share stories and report the sayings of the Buddha that were known to them.
But at the end of the rain retreat they would again scatter and regroup the next year but there would be no continuity between the members of the collective during the rain retreat.

Gradually over time, two traditions developed that led to sectarianism in the general sence among the Union of Bhikkus. First, Bhikkus began returning to the same rain retreat location year after year, and second the rain retreats became extended to year0round locations.
In other words, the temporary abode (vihara) as any rain retreat location (avasa or arama) of the wandering Bhikku became the continuous abode of the settled Bhikku. The wandering Union of Bhikkus became a settled Order of Bhikkus.

During this multi-century process of change the familiarity of continuous congregation led to the shared collective of stories and interpretation of the Dharma and the familiarity of associations that became Buddhist sects. After a time, only the familiar Bhikkus of one rain retreat location became the recognized members of that location and would be welcomed unconditionally at the next rain retreat by those who stayed at the location throughout the year.
The group of Bhikkus sharing the same retreat location came to be known as "co-dwellers" and the Bhikkus who were strangers to that location were called "separate-dwellers" and were allowed to stay conditionally during the rain retreat but they were given the lesser allotments and accommodations and only allowed to stay during the rain retreat. If they came to a location outside of the rain retreat they could often stay for only three or so days.

This is the source of the early Buddhist division of the "18 Schools" of which the Theravada school is the only remaining and continuing heir. As the Bhikkus ceased their wandering lifestyle and divorced themselves from the wider community and institution of the wandering samamns they also became more insulated from each other and the influence of other views generated by the influx of new faces each rainy season retreat.
The new faces of unknown Bhikkus became seen as "separate-dwellers" and their specific code of conduct became something unknown and a little suspect as well. Thus the primary allegiance to the Dharma as the central cement of the wandering Bhikkus became the allegiance to the rules of the Dharma-vinaya of the settled Bhikkus.

According to Dutt, the original declaration of faith of the Pattimokkha was a declaration of faith in the Dharma as stated in the Dhammapada verses 183 and 184 in reverse order.

This original Patimokkha of the Bhikkus is described in the Mahapadna Suttanta (Digha Nikaya 13). It is not the recital of a code of offences against the rule and regimen of monastic life, but a congregational chanting by assembled Bhikkus of a confession of faith; it is not a regularized fortnightly function, but a rite held only in six years. The confession of faith itself is a summing-up of the fundamental Sasana (Injunctions) of the religion. In this formulated form it must have been current among the Bhikkus since the early days of the Sangha, for it occurs among the verses of the Dhammapada:

Khanti paramam tapo titikahha
Nibbanam paramam vadanti Buddha;
Na hi pabbajitoparupaghati,
No samano hoti param vihethyanto (v. 184).
Sabba-papassa akaranam, kusalassa upasampada,
Sacitta-pariyodapanam, etam Buddhana sasanam (v. 183).

(Tr.-- Forbearance of Patience is the highest kind of penance--and Nibbana is declared to be he highest (object) by the Buddhas--for he is never a mendicant who hurts others and he is not a Samana who molests others.
Abstinence from all evils, accumulation of all that is good, and purification of one's own mind--this is the injunction of the Buddhas.) (p. 66-67)

Thus the original and archaic Patimokkha established the cohesion of the Bhikku sangha in the "Dhamma of the Sakyaputtiyas" (as the Bhikkus came to be called) not in the elaborate enunciation of rules. Each of the "18 Schools" (there were in fact more schools than 18, but for some reason this was an historical label for the various Buddhist schools of the pre-Mahayana period) not only developed its similar but distinct formulation of the rules, they also adopted their similar but distinct cannon collections of texts, first orally and then in writing (none of which was originally written in Pali or Sanskrit).

It was over the hundreds of years in the process of the Bhikku sangha becoming a settled order that the cohesion of the Dhamma became supplanted by the cohesion of rules, that the wandering life was given up for the life of settled monasteries, and that the sharing of stories of the Buddha's teaching became an adopted canon.
Once this process was more or less complete, the sectarianism of the 18 schools was clear.
Each school found the members of another school to be "separate-dwellers" and not part of their own familiar group of Bhikkus and the canon that it adopted and revered. As a shool's particular canon and its particular set of disciplinary rules (vinaya) became the standards of measuring one's orthodoxy, the sectarian rivalry became more and more pronounced.

It was in this context of sectarianism that the Mahayana movement developed in large part as a non-sectarian reaction to what was perceived as a narrow doctrinairian orthodoxy.

Today, we can observe how our all too human propensity toward sectarian views has entered the Mahayana and attempted to establish sects within the Mahayana movement.
There is a thread of continuity within the Mahayana that holds firmly to the non-sectarian context and that is One Vehicle (Ekayana) movement which was developed in India in the Ekayana sutras of the Lankavatara, the Avatamsaka, The Saddharma Pundarika, and the Mahayana Parinirvana and was outlined and systemitaized in the treatise Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.

- "Gregory wonderwheel"- moderator "zen forum international"

But to quote the Lankavatara Sutra:
“The recognition of the one vehicle is obtained when there is no rising of discrimination by doing away with the notion of grasped and grasping and by abiding in the reality of suchness.”

And Yoda (Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back):

"No! No different! Only different in your mind. "

Although it may seem like the different sects teach different things, the goal is the same, and the way is the same, because the goal is the way. So there really is no difference, there is only one dharma...

May the force be with you

torsdag 25 juni 2009

Bookreview: Zen master Raven


Robert Aitken has practiced Buddhism for more than half a century. He is an American Zenmaster (now “retired”), a writer and teacher of vast reputation.
His beginning as a Buddhist resulted from being a prisoner of the Japanese in the Second World War, where he met R. R. Blythe and D. T. Suzuki as fellow inmates.
When he came back to america after the war he met Nyogen Senzaki, with whom he continued to study Buddhism. Aitken has returned to Japan on several occasions to study for a number of masters including Haku'un Yasutani.
He has written more than than 10 books on Buddhism, and resides on Hawaii.

In the book Zen master Raven he takes up the koan tradition in a different setting, through the stories of animals.
We have the beginners, Mallard and Mole, teachers-in-training, Porcupine, and masters, Master Brown Bear and Zen Master Raven. But also animals such as Stag sensei, teaches karate, Reverend Crane, preaches Christianity, and Owl who complains about the difficulties of balancing the pursuit of enlightenment with the demands of a career.
He uses the animals in an own accord, each animal portraying a special kind of "character".

Relaxing with the others after zazen one evening, Owl asked,"What is the spirit of the practice?"
Raven said,"Inquiry".
Owl cocked his head and asked, "What do I inquire about?"
Raven said, "Good start."

The usage of animal imagery in the Buddhist literary tradition is widespread. Animal imagery plays a central role in some of the earliest Indian sources. Examples include the Khaggavisana Sutta, advocating world-renunciation by portraying the itinerant lifestyle of the early bhikku as the lonely wandering of the rhinoceros. Likewise in the jataka tales, animals often appear, but here not only as fables, but as episodes in the previous lives of the Buddha himself.

In Zen Master Raven, through a series of brief Koanstyle conversations/talks between masters and students, we are taken through the career of Master Raven, beginning with his studies under Master Brown Bear, and his foundation of a small but vital Zen community.
As leader of this community, he provides guidance to an array of different creatures in a variety of topics.
In the final episodes, Raven retires from his role as teacher, leaving the community in the capable hands of his disciple, Master Porcupine.

If you have ever read any animalfables, you will love this book.
If you enjoy koans, so much better.
It draws admirable upon both the traditions, making it an book for all to enjoy.

May the force be with you

Bookreview: shinji shobogenzo


Product Description
When the thirteenth century master Eihei Dogen, one of the most influential thinkers in Zen Buddhism and founder of the Japanese Soto school, returned to Japan after four years of study in China, the fruit of his pilgrimage was recorded in a collection of koans called the Chinese Shobogenzo, also known as Shinji or Mana Shobogenzo. This collection of three hundred main cases was first published in 1766 under the title Shobogenzo Sambyakusoku (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Three Hundred Cases), and was known to have provided the raw material for much of Dogen's better known Japanese-language Kana Shobogenzo. Dogen's collection of koans may come as a surprise to students of Zen as Dogen and the Soto school are generally known for the practice of shikantaza, or "just sitting," rather than for koan practice. Nevertheless, a careful study of Dogen's work reveals that he did use koans extensively in his writing and teaching, not only in the Kana Shobogenzo, but most of his other works as well.

There is two different versions available of the Shinji shobogenzo. One translation made by John Daido Loori and Kazuaki Tanahashi and a translation made by Master Gudo Nishijima. Both are translations of the same anthology, that of Dogen's 301 koan stories. Master Nishijima adds a brief comentary to each koan and points out what he consideres the heart of the koan, Master Loori adds a comment, verses and notes to each koan.
Master Loori's book uses an "easier/more free" language than Master Nishijima, but Master Nishijima is perhaps more accurate in his translation of the text.

Those things considered I find them very good on their own accord, but even better in tandem. What Master Nishijima misses, Master loori brings to the surface and vice versa.

Master Loori version

Master Nishijima version

May the force be with you

In the middle


Life is endless. We are all in the very middle of it. We alone are responsible. There is no way out except through it.

–Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu with Emily Popp, from Meeting the Monkey Halfway

As a very good friend of mine always says,The goal is "here".
But is there an "there"?
And can there be a middle without anything surrounding it?
There is a famous koan which states "please hand that one to me"...

Yaoshan's "this Buddha, That Buddha"

Monastic Zun was at the assembly of yaoshan and was the head altar attendant.
While he was bathing Buddha images, Yaoshan asked him, "have you bathed this one or have you bathed that one?"
Zun said, "please hand that one to me."
Yaoshan stopped.

- Case 86, Dogen's true dharma eye

And it is a very important point.

May the force be with you

tisdag 23 juni 2009

The concept of "our nature"


After you wake up you probably open the curtains and look outside. You may even like to open the window and feel the cool morning air with the dew still on the grass. But is what you see really "outside"? In fact, it is your own mind. As the sun sends its rays through the window, you are not just yourself. You are also the beautiful view from your window. You are the Dharmakaya.
Dharmakaya literally means the "body" (kaya) of the Buddha's teachings (Dharma), the way of understanding and love. Before passing away, the Buddha told his disciples, "Only my physical body will pass away. My Dharma body will remain with you forever." In Mahayana Buddhism, the word has come to mean "the essence of all that exists." All phenomena--the song of a bird, the warm rays of the sun, a cup of hot tea--are manifestations of the Dharmakaya. We, too, are of the same nature as these wonders of the universe.

--Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
From Everyday Mind

This raises an important question, Who are "you"?

Well, his holiness the dalai lama has an interesting answer...

I don’t know the exact position of these Jain schools, but in Buddhism there are two assertions. One assertion is that when you attain nirvana [liberation], then for the rest of that lifetime, the body continues [as do the mind and the self labeled on the continuum of both.] This is known as “nirvana with residue.” But once those appropriated aggregates [of body and mind] that have been obtained from previous karma cease at the time of death, then [with the end of the body] the continuum of consciousness and the self also cease. This is “nirvana without residue.” So at that point there really is no self any more. [The self has come to an end.]

The other assertion, namely that of general Mahayana Buddhism, however, is that there is no reason for there to be a ceasing of the main consciousness. Thoughts that are based on deceptive and distorted cognition come to an end, since there is the opposing understanding that gets rid of their basis. [Correct understanding and distorted cognition are mutually exclusive and so cannot exist simultaneously in one moment of mind.] But there is nothing similar to this that can oppose the clear light mind. Because of that, [individual] clear light minds have no end, and so a self that is labeled dependently on a clear light mind also has no end. Even though the habits of deceptive cognition can come to an end, there’s no reason why a clear light mind should end. Thus, Buddhism has two positions: one that a self has an end and one that it has no end.

The important question to start with isn't whether "a self" has an end or not.
Its whether there is an beginning and what/where that is...

May the force be with you.

The eneryprinciple


"When you look at a cloud, you think of the cloud as being. Later on when the cloud becomes the rain, you don´t see the cloud anymore and you say that the cloud is not there, and you describe the cloud as non-being. But if you look deeply you can see the cloud in the rain, and that is why it is impossible for a cloud to die. A cloud can become rain, snow or ice, but a cloud cannot become nothing, and that is why the notion of death cannot be applied to reality."

- Thich Nhat Hanh

This one of many principles where Buddhism and modern science coincide, the eneryprinciple.
Nothing disapppears, only transforms.

May the force be with you

The concept of "Living Right "


There are two criteria for right livelihood. First, it should not be necessary to break the five precepts in one's work, since doing so obviously causes harm to others. But further, one should not do anything that encourages other people to break the precepts, since this will also cause harm. Neither directly nor indirectly should our means of livelihood involve injury to other beings. Thus any livelihood that requires killing, whether of human beings or of animals, is clearly not right livelihood.... Selling liquor or other drugs may be very profitable, but even if one abstains from them oneself, the act of selling encourages others to use intoxicants and thereby to harm themselves. Operating a gambling casino may be very lucrative, but all who come there to gamble cause themselves harm. Selling poisons or weapons--arms, ammunition, bombs, missiles--is good business, but it injures the peace and harmony of multitudes. None of these is right livelihood.
Even though a type of work may not actually harm others, if it is performed with the intention that others should be harmed, it is not right livelihood. The doctor who hopes for an epidemic and the trader who hopes for a famine are not practicing right livelihood.
- S. N. Goenka, The Art of Living
From Everyday Mind

(my emphasising)

So to live right it is not enough just to live right by yourself, it is equally important to live life so that others can live right. But who are these "others"?

May the force be with you

The concept of "Right Thought"


"And what, monks, is Right Thought? The thought of renunciation, the thought of non-ill-will, the thought of harmlessness. This, monks is called Right Thought."

--Mahasatipatthana Sutta

If there's a "right thought", what is left thought?

May the force be with you

The concept of "Right action"


"And what, monks, is Right Action? Refraining from taking life, refraining from what is not given, refraining from sexual misconduct. This is called Right Action."

--Mahasatipatthana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness

So in a sense "Right action is more than just "not doing wrong"...

May the force be with you

The concept of "right speech"


"And what, monks, is Right Speech? Refraining from lying, refraining from slander, refraining from harsh speech, refraining from frivolous speech. This is called Right Speech."

--Mahasatipatthana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness

So in a sense "Right speech" is more than just "no lying"...

May the force be with you

The concept of Satipatthana


Satipatthana is the practice of “Sati”, the maintaining a constant attention on the here and now and is a part of the the “eightfold path”.
Patthana can be translatated as ”placement” or “attachingpoint”.
So Satipatthana can be translated as “to put the attention “ or “attachingpoint of attention.

Found some comments on how you can approach this text or Sati.

In support of a single-method practice, Analāyo (2006), p. 22, comments:

Several [Pali Canon] discourses relate the practice of a single satipaṭṭhāna directly to realization. Similarly, the commentaries assign to each single satipaṭṭhāna meditation the capacity to lead to full awakening. This may well be why a high percentage of present-day meditation teachers focus on the use of a single meditation technique, on the ground that a single-minded and thorough perfection of one meditation technique can cover all aspects of satipaṭṭhāna, and thus be sufficient to gain realization.

Among those teachers who Analāyo uses to exemplify this teaching method are S. N. Goenka and Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo. While justifying such a practice, Analāyo (2006), p. 23, nonetheless adds this caveat:

Thus any single meditation practice from the satipaṭṭhāna scheme is capable of leading to deep insight.... Nonetheless, an attempt to cover all four satipaṭṭhānas in one's practice ... ensures speedy progress and a balanced and comprehensive development.

Thanissaro (2000) writes:

At first glance, the four frames of reference for satipatthana practice sound like four different meditation exercises, but MN 118 (anapanasati sutta) makes clear that they can all center on a single practice: keeping the breath in mind. When the mind is with the breath, all four frames of reference are right there. The difference lies simply in the subtlety of one's focus. It's like learning to play the piano. As you get more proficient at playing, you also become sensitive in listening to ever more subtle levels in the music. This allows you to play even more skillfully. In the same way, as a meditator get more skilled in staying with the breath, the practice of satipatthana gives greater sensitivity in peeling away ever more subtle layers of participation in the present moment until nothing is left standing in the way of total release.

May the force be with you