buddhist carnival – december 2008 edition, part 1

zen calligraphy of the rinzai school; kyoto, japanmerry christmas!

you know what’s funny? by 1992, i had pretty much foresworn elaborate christmas celebrations, and was quite happy with it. that’s the year i met my husband. now he grew up in a buddhist household. “yay, a bonus!” i thought. and yes, definitely, i’m very lucky to have married into that family. but – they go crazy around christmas! it’s one celebration after the other. it’s one of the amusing ironies of life that this old chick, who grew up surrounded by lutheran theologians, would marry into a buddhist family to experience in-your-face christmas. my in-laws celebrating christmas with such abandon is also a sign of their generous religious tolerance, fostered, for sure, by their buddhist background.

so once again – merry christmas to all my buddhist friends!

it’s the 15th of the month and buddhist carnival time again. loden jinpa was going to host it but something came up, so it’s here again. enjoy a smorgasbord of buddhist posts, completely free of eggnog, shortbread and yule logs!

“who prattles of illusion or nirvana?”
you know i always like to start with a poem. this one is from a post at buddhist torrents, about a book of zen poems by lucien stryk.

this anthology, jointly translated by a japanese scholar and an american poet, is the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind to appear in english. their collaboration has rendered translations both precise and sublime, and their selection, which span 1,500 years, from the early t’ang dynasty to the present day, includes many poems that have never before been translated into english. stryk and ikemoto offer us zen poetry in all its diversity: chinese poems of enlightenment and death, poems of the japanese masters, many haiku ” the quintessential zen art ” and an impressive selection of poems by shinkichi takahashi, japan’s greatest contemporary zen poet.

here is an example, by ryokan

without a jot of ambition left
i let my nature flow where it will.
there are ten days of rice in my bag
and by the hearth, a bundle of firewood.
who prattles of “illusion” or “nirvana?”
forgetting the equal dusts of fame and fortune,
listening to the night rain on the roof of my hut,
i sit at ease, both legs stretched out.

biography of a ch’an master
while we’re talking about books: brian schell, one of my buddhist twitter friends who patiently withstood my pestering to get him to submit something here, rewarded us well with a book review of footprints in the snow, by chan master sheng yen. one of his books, zen wisdom, is one of my buddhist book mainstays. brian makes my mouth water with his review; i think i’ll go and order it and the zen poetry book after i’m done writing this post. here’s what brian has to say:

i found this book hard to put down …his easygoing writing style and obvious love of what he does makes every page enjoyable. along with the story, the author explains a bit of buddhist philosophy in a comfortable, jargon-free style ….

my favorite parts of the book, however, are his interactions with the monks and abbots of the various monasteries. far from being the altruistic teachers and devoted worshippers we usually envision, he shows us the real picture. many of the chinese monks sell their services for money, they get into trouble with alcohol and women, there is “office politics” in the hierarchies, and so forth …

he goes from poor farm boy to a monk, to a soldier, to an abbott, to a monk again, eventually becoming homeless and rising back to the top. all the way, he refines his teaching style and is attached to nothing. it’s a dramatic story, and there are some good educational bits on buddhism scattered throughout. if you ever wanted to know about monastery life, this is a must-read.

the law of attraction – all about stuff? more prattling?
wayne c allen presents 6 ideas for zen mind, where he talks about the power of attraction (“POA”), which is also known as the law of attraction (LOA), saying

the irony here is that POA and karma pretty much say the same thing. in other words, karma is all about reaping what you sow”if you “put out” fear and insecurity, you’ll get more of it from others, and the world. if you act as zorba the buddha, (an osho idea-that one could be both fully engaged in the world, and fully spiritual) then the world is both a playground and a classroom.

the problem i see with people getting hooked on poa is that it tends to use “stuff” as a marker-get your thinking straight, and you’ll make money, attract houses and cars, and you’ll “be happy.”

as we endlessly say, having such markers is actually the problem. as soon as i measure my “success” by the height of the pile of crap i surround myself with, i get caught in the addiction to stuff.

and this post here is on the other end of “stuff” – axel talks about simplicity.

***

this is it for part 1 of the last buddhist carnival for december.  i’ll post part 2 some time within the week.

in the meantime, if you have a buddhist blog post you’d like to contribute, please send it to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

image by jpellgen

6 thoughts on “buddhist carnival – december 2008 edition, part 1

  1. isabella mori

    hey, robert, good to have you here!

    somehow i’m not surprised to hear that. although it’s interesting – we were just talking about the book “zen and japanese culture” over on another buddhist carnival. perhaps suzuki roshi is much bigger in the west than in japan, too.

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