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.