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.