Tag Archives: blog carnival

a buddhist carnival – first 2009 edition!

camelswelcome to the buddhist blog carnival! sometimes, rather than a carnival, i would like to call it a caravan. i’ve always liked camels, what can i say …

poem: man is not our enemy
we always start off with a poem. here is one by thich nhat hanh, presented by change the dream

promise me,
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
promise me:

even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
remember brother, remember:
man is not our enemy.

the only thing worthy of you is compassion –
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.

you can read the rest of this poem here.

emptiness, buddhism and monotheism
ben offers nothing in its essence. i hadn’t met ben before but really enjoyed his careful insights and obvious knowledge of theology. this post draws interesting connections between how buddhism, christianity and the jewish tradition deal with the idea of “nothing” or emptiness.

buddhism is one means of liberation from what william blake called “the mind-forg’d manacles.” within the monotheist tradition one can find echoes of the same refrain, for what else is idolatry but the worship of that which behind appearances is not real?

lazy!
zen habits has a great post, the lazy manifesto: do less.  then, do even less. the post itself is quite inspiring (love the saying, “lazy people never started a war”), and some of the comments are interesting, too. for example, here is one by tara:

in the introduction of the tibetan book of living and dying by sogyal rinpoche, the author (i think) discusses laziness. he describes what he calls the laziness in the east, where people lounge around and smoke hookahs all day (i’m paraphrasing). but in the west, he says that people are lazy by being busy – filling their days with unnecessary movement and busywork. i always thought that was an interesting take on laziness.

boring?
genkaku was the first buddhist online writer i ever followed, even before i started blogging.  what do you think of his take on the proliferation of buddhist sites?

last night, when there was little work to be done … i went snooping the internet for topics on buddhism. there were a lot of sites and i skimmed them as i might pop another potato chip in my mouth while watching a football game — without much attention.there were diatribes against e-sangha and there were descriptions of NKT and there were general outlines of one kind of buddhist approach and another. what caught my attention was how little interest i had in any of it. it was like chewing a piece of gum … the jaws kept moving, but the flavor had disappeared …

too many buddhas. maybe that is more frightening than too few. but it does remind me of a calligraphy a monk friend once gave me: it said, “not one buddha.” and it also reminds me of an ill-remembered ikkyu — cranky as i imagined him — complaining about those who badgered and informed others about “buddha” … “stop being a goddamned pest!” he said more or less.

yoga mind, beginners mind

day after day, month after month, year after year, practice can grow stale and arrogant if i don’t re-invigorate mind and body in what zen master, suzuki roshi refers to as beginner’s mind. in yoga asana practice i need to remind myself to approach the physical aspect of any pose with “beginner’s body.”

this is an excerpt from the laughing yogini’s beginner’s mind and body: one-legged yoga.

“yes we can!” – who can?
praveen points to an article in the latest edition of oneness – the quarterly newsletter of the bright dawn institute for american buddhism.

this article by the rev. koyo kubose, called “yes we can!” started out by commenting on the excitement around the recent historical u.s. presidential election, and how it has rekindled hope and optimism about america.

but then, the article took a very interesting turn, and offered the reader a very profound exercise:

imagine that you are a “nation” and have just been elected “president”. can you translate all your new wishes and hopes into hard work and action? can you stop dwelling on and making excuses for past failures? can you overcome apathy? can you avoid “wars” with others?

buddhism, desire and the law of attraction
abraham-hicks, the guru of the law of attraction, discusses desire at you are truly loved. i think it’s useful  for this type of conversation and cross-reference to take place, especially since buddhism and the law of attraction seem to be very much at cross purposes when it comes to the topic of desire. let’s hear what they have to say.

in buddhism it is taught that the source of all suffering lies in both desire and ignorance. the ignorance stems from not knowing who we are and not perceiving the world as it actually is. by desire, buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied. as a result, desiring them can only bring suffering and so desire is, in a sense, considered a ‘bad’ thing.

as fellow spiritual blogger tom stine points out, it’s not truly the desire that’s the issue, but rather the attachment to and identification with desire by the separate self. this attachment is sometimes called ‘clinging.’ it is the clinging that is what needs to be let go of, not the literal dropping of desires altogether to become some sort of celibate monk. desires that arise are like anything else that arises within the field of awareness. they’re inherently neutral. just an object of awareness.

good people, bad people
you gotta go to wise curve’s post and look at the image! please! especially if you like to see george bush happy 🙂

and even though wise curve doesn’t talk about buddhism, there are some good ideas here. labelling people “good” or “bad” isn’t very useful.

in our life, there’s a small percentage of “good” people who always support us and a certain percentage of “bad” people who always trouble us. the rest are majority who are relatively “neutral”. this should be our rational expectation toward people around us. it’s too optimistic to expect everyone to be “perfect” and if we really have this expectation, we will live miserably because we will meet “bad” people who break our perfect expectation from time to time. this is the same as meeting “bad” people in life. there will be “good” people coming in to your life so we don’t need to focus too much on the “bad” apples and neglect the positive aspect of social life.

in reality, there’s no such thing as good or bad people. people only make “good” or “bad” decision or action in a specific time. someone may do good deeds 10 minutes ago and commit crime on the next day.

finally, two more submissions: from richard about consciousness and awareness and from jon, containing a poem called nirvana.

that’s it the january buddhist carnival. if you have any submissions for next month’s carnival (february 15, 2009), please send them to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

image by wildxplorer

buddhist carnival – december 2008 edition, part 2

here is part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival. part 1 can be found here.

balance
one of the things that attract me so strongly to buddhism is the idea of moderation and balance. i love the story of the buddha attaining enlightenment not through his years of asceticism but after accepting a modest drink of milk and honey from a young woman. this is walking the middle way.

grace talks about the balance that is such a hallmark of the well-lived buddhist life. i love the story she tells to illustrate it:

i walked along a favourite creek not too long ago. it is in a pristine slot canyon, with high red rock walls on either side. to get to the spring at the end, i must criss-cross the water a dozen times.

each crossing is different. some are easy, with large flat rocks. in some, poles have been placed across the water, and i must balance with one foot on each log, in an awkward, hitch-step fashion to reach the other side.
as i get deeper into the canyon –

read a balanced life to see what happens there …

accessible buddhism
my good friend carol sill has an exciting new site, called opensourcespirit.org. on it, she interviews people from all walks of spiritual life, usually on video. here is an interview with peter fenner from radiant mind, who talks as eloquently about the various strains of buddhism as about his approach to making buddhist ideas accessible to all.

change
william at integral options, where he tirelessly scoures the blogosphere for interesting material, has a thoughtful article on change, inspired by two articles that he discusses at length. one is about changing ourselves:

we can’t change the world, we can’t change our country, we can’t even change our family members, but we can change ourselves. wanting to change others is attachment – a clinging to the way we want things to be rather than working with things as they are.

and the other about leaving the box of safety or, as they say in german, “jumping over your shadow”:

as long as we remain in our comfort zones, change is not very likely to happen. we know we are open to change when we live on the edge of our personal safety. and this does not mean physical safety, but rather those feelings and situations that create anxiety, such as a personal or national crises.

12-step meditation meetings
darren littlejohn presents how to start a 12-step sangha meeting posted at the 12 step buddhist.

the reason i started 12-step sangha was to focus on meditation as part of a recovery program, not as a substitute. i’ve included the format we’ve been using below, but in a simpler version. the idea was to use some buddhist meditation techniques, but to keep the style, topics and sharing oriented to recovery. this is different than a buddhist style group that allows recovering people.

tibetan philosophy
loden jinpa is a buddhist scholar, and opens for us doors into buddhist philosophy that we may sometimes not even know exist. one of the great teachers he discusses on his blog is tsong khapa. here is a little introduction:

tsong khapa’s overall enterprise and in particular his insight into the illusory-like nature of persons and phenomena is about solving the problem of existential suffering. the solution to this problem is found in the extirpation of ignorance – the ignorance that reifies essence in things and functions as the root cause of suffering. it is the root of suffering, as it pervades the cognitive process for ordinary unenlightened beings propelling them into dysfunctional actions.

read on here

the dalai lama’s successor
on now public:

the dalai lama opened his much anticipated meeting with the international media here on sunday with a terse “i have nothing to say”, but went on to indicate that he was ready to pass on his political role to tibetans in exile and choose his successor, probably a young girl, in his lifetime. in his 90-minute interaction with the media, the nobel laureate made many remarks that are sure to irk china and cause some anxiety in new delhi. he said tibet’s cause was linked up with the question of democracy in china and that india’s approach to the tibetan issue was “too cautious”.

therion, a fellow canadian, sends us the story of a different successor: ram bahadur bomjon : buddha boy back from the jungle

and finally, two more contributions. axel presents zen-like living, and igor talks about what his rabbits taught him about buddhism.

that’s it for this year! 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.

thanks!

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

november buddhist carnival, part 2

here’s part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival.

thoughts … thank you!
gigablonde offers making peace with meditation, something i can relate to very well. she opens up space for a whole new relationship with meditation through principles of jack kornfield’s buddhist meditation for beginners.

meet whatever arises with kindness and balance and wisdom … and whatever comes to you can be a part of your meditation.
“oh, here’s remembering. thank you for your contribution.”
“worry, thank you.”
“aah, planning.”

buddhism in thailand: ordaining as a monk
we have two posts relating to thai buddhism this month. here is an interesting description of a thai tradition:

in thailand it’s a tradition to ordain as a monk at least once in your lifetime. some ordain for just a few hours while others do it for a whole year. traditionally, it was done for a period of three months known as the rains retreat. ordaining gives you a chance to study and practice lord buddha’s teachings and it gives your parents the opportunity to offer you the monk robes, alms bowl and other necessities.
for someone who isn’t the least familiar with buddhist culture, it would be only natural to view monks as beggars and therefore a burden to society but according to buddhist teachings giving and generosity are meritorious deeds.

read more at monk in thailand.

thai charms and amulets
dr. callaway’s blog has only been around for a short while – talk about a niche blog. it concentrates exclusively on lucky charms and mystical amulets from thailand, made and blessed by buddhist monks. i think there’s quite some potential there – i liked the stories callaway tells, and i hope he keeps up with this blog. good luck charms are a way of life in thailand and southeast asia. it is believed that when chants and prayers are spoken to these charms, the spirits invoked will reciprocate to the owner of the charm or amulet, good luck and protection from harm.

of course this is very different from the more cerebral, less mystical buddhism that we hear about in the west – but i think it’s useful to remember that buddhism, a religion practiced by millions and millions of people (300 million is a number i’ve often seen). with so many adherents, there is a wide variety of practices, and i find it quite fascinating to look at all the different varieties. at any rate, here is dr. callaway’s post, lucky charms.

timeless lessons
reading this post, i am reminded of a twitter remark by merlin mann today, “90% of all self-help is buddhism with comfortable chairs and a service mark“. flippancy aside, i agree with him, although i’d probably refer to buddhist “techniques” rather than buddhism. buddhism as a whole is a rich historical, cultural, spiritual and theological stew, and part of that stew are these techniques – the things practiced by many buddhists: mindfulness, meditation, compassion, etc. of those techniques, many are totally straightforward, and that’s what this last post is about: peaceful simplicity: 10 refreshing ways to live in the here and now. this excerpt is about the practice of smiling:

the foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet. feeling joyful is not paramount for presence, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to induce it. joy creates an almost immediate sense of expansion ” an inner smile that’s like a warm bath. some call this warm bath “flow” or “spirit.” experiencing it connects us to ourselves and to everyone and everything around us.

think about someone or something that you love. this could be a child, a corner in nature, or a cherished memory. whatever you choose, make sure that just contemplating upon it creates an automatic inner smile. then surrender to that inner smile. let it light you up. feel it spread through your body and even beyond it, uniting you joyously with your surroundings.


NaNoWriMo

oh, and before i go, i need to say something about NaNoWriMo, right? here’s a hello then to enlighten up’s buddhist blogger lans in texas, who’s not blogging this month because he, too, is working on completing a 50,000 word novel in november.

that’s it then for this month, folks. if you want to read part 1 of the november buddhist carnival, here it is. as for next month’s – it’s on december 15, and will be hosted by loden jinpa.

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.

1 year of buddhist carnival!

thai buddhist templewelcome, welcome, welcome! this is the 12th edition of the buddhist carnival – one year of a monthly celebration of bloggers who write about buddhism. as usual, i’ll post it in two parts. it occurred to me a while ago that there is something decidedly un-buddhist or at least un-zen in a buddhist post that’s completely overloaded with information.

i’ll post part 2 on monday, november 17.

the peace of wild things
as usual, we start with a poem, a beautiful one by wendell berry

the peace of wild things

when despair for the world grows in me
and i wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
i go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
i come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. i come into the presence of still water.
and i feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. for a time
i rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

this comes to us from bodhileaf.

a NaNoWriMo-er walks her talk
dharmashanti “dharma” kelleher writes fiction and non-fiction, focusing on the effects of addiction, depression and discrimination on the LGBT community. glad to find her here in the blogosphere; it looks like we have a lot of interests in common. her work is shown here because of my promise to talk about NaNoWriMo in every post this month; she’s participating in it, too. i really enjoyed this post, what it takes to get what you want. here’s an excerpt:

if you want a world based on respect, peace and compassion, then that’s what you have to put into the world. and you can only put it into the world if you allow it to exist unhindered within you. in other words, you have to let go of hate and practice the way of peace. as within, so without.

look at the presidential election. in a contest between hope and fear, the people chose hope. in a contest between unity and division, we chose unity.

“i can’t do what they did,” we say. people think that revolutionaries like gandhi and dr. king were saints. they weren’t.

i’d say she’s walking her talk – a concept that’s very important to me. in fact, some time ago, in a discussion about motivation, i realized that that’s one of my biggest motivators. if you want to get me to do something, make a convincing case that that would mean i’d be walking my talk, and i’ll show up.

a concise definition of buddhism
in his post the meaning and purpose behind buddhist chanting and prayer, loden jinpa gives a great concise definition of buddhism:

the buddhist path could be summarized as having two main aspects. the removal of dysfunctional states of mind, such as anger, attachment and ignorance and the development of functional minds such as compassion and wisdom – the wisdom knowing the nature of reality.

loden jinpa will also be hosting next month’s buddhist carnival – please bookmark his blog and visit on december 15!

emptiness
the last contribution for today comes from ambud, who talks, among other things about one of biggest myths about buddhism. i am always surprised how even some people who have investigated buddhism a little bit tend to think that buddhism is about complete detachment and disinterest – the nihilism that ambud mentions. this misconception often arises in the context of “emptiness”.

whenever we work with emptiness we must be on guard to the extremes of nihilism and absolutism. our path is the ‘middle way’, between nihilism and absolutism, and as such rejects both nothingness and ‘me-ness’. nihilism refutes the existence of things, which contradicts reality; we can plainly see that objects do exist. the buddhist argument is with how things exist, not that things are non-existent.

absolutism is the opposite extreme which avows predefined characteristics both in the substratum of the universe and in individual objects themselves. absolutism is the assertion that objects exist intrinsically, without dependence on other factors.

read here for the rest.

see you on monday for part 2!  and 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.

the image from a thai buddhist temple comes from aimforawesome

october 2008 buddhist carnival, part 2

here is part 2 of the october 2008 buddhist carnival. you can find the first part here, where we focused exclusively on posts that discuss poverty in a buddhist context.

vipassana no. 1: this, too

i’ve been “enjoying my breath” on the regular four times a week for almost a year. i say hello to my in-breath, and say good-bye to the out. when thoughts arise in my big brain, i note them, label them and release; as is the practice in vipassana or “insight” style meditation. and when a pesky thought appears, there is no need to push it away. following the advice of my imaginary best friends tara brach and jack kornfield i simply bow to that thought saying, “this too.” please, my apartment is not huge, but my heart is! tara and jack told me so! so it goes a little something like this…

in, out, in, out, chocolate cake-thought!, in, out, in, chocolate cake-thought, out, in, out, in, there’s a murderer in my apartment-ahhh fear, out, in, out, in, out, i want to go to australia -planning, in, out, in, out, in, out, ohhh, this is nice-pleasure, in, out, in, out, paula abdul-weird, in, out, in, out….

more of this at sarah jackson’s end of summer metta sale.

vipassana no.2: clear perception
if insight or vipassana meditation is something you’ve been thinking about trying, and if you’d also like to explore its more serious angle, you might find this article useful. it goes into some detail, for example here, where it explains where the word comes from:

insight meditation or vipassana comes directly from the sitipatthana sutra, a discourse attributed to the buddha himself. the pali term for insight meditation is vipassana bhavana. bhavana stems from the root ‘bhu’ meaning to grow or become. therefore bhavana means to cultivate and when used in reference to the mind it means mental cultivation. vipassana is derived from ‘passana’ meaning perceiving and ‘vi’ which means ‘in a special way’ and possesses connotations of both ‘into’ and ‘through’. thus the whole meaning of vipassana is: looking into a thing with clarity and precision, seeing each component as distinct and separate and piercing all the way through so as to perceive the most fundamental reality of that thing.

read more at meditation – method, effects and purpose within buddhism.

past, future, present
the buddha said

do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

phil picks this saying apart and makes it work for him. i heartily applaud him for doing so – we need to make these sacred texts our own, get our own individual learning from them. (i wrote a whole post about that tailored type of study a while ago over at alex’s blog). i don’t quite agree with phil’s interpretation – but in a way, that’s the point. it needs to work for phil, not for me.

read here what phil has to say about past, present and future.

goddess in my heart
ybonesy has a lovely long post describing her visit to vietnam, and particularly the buddhist temple at cai be, where she found the image of a goddess – a buddha mother – that made a lasting and loving impression on her heart.

people who love others, truly love, will give up anything if it means their loved ones will survive. there are people all across this world and in my country and my life who know that kind of love. they are greater than all the bad, and though i lose this truth when i most need it, it lives even when i forget or stop believing.

i was very touched by this: there are truths that live on, regardless of whether we remember or believe. the buddha did not teach many certainties but the truth of love and compassion – elusive, yes, slippery and fluid and at the same time rock solid – that truth is unquestionable.

please visit ybonesy at her blog, red ravine, and accompany her on her journey. the image for this blog is also her art work.  (mother mudra, doodle © 2008 by ybonesy. all rights reserved.)


comfort zone

finally, a little something at the tao of simplicity. i’m always intrigued by these short little posts. this one, stretch out of your comfort zone, relates to buddhist concepts in the sense that the buddha certainly encourages us not to cling to comfort. too much comfort lulls, and the more we have of it, the more we tend to crave it.

you need to stretch just enough to be uncomfortable. then, rest and let your comfort zone expand naturally. then, stretch again.

hm, interesting. that sounds a bit like yoga.

this, people, is all we have for the october buddhist carnival. if you know of any posts that should appear in next month’s carnival (november 15), please send them to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

september buddhist carnival part 2

woman meditating in japanhello friends, i’m back with part 2 of the buddhist carnival. part 1 is here. the last one had a pretty clear theme – delusions and illusions. this one is a bit more all over the place except for the first two pieces, they have something in common. they’re a bit crude.

meditation rant

new age bitch, one of my newest blog discoveries, throws around a few four-letter-words as she rants against self-proclaimed gurus and praises meditation. or does she? the title of the post is meditation is for masochist.

Q: o guru healer-person in whom i am blindly and unthinkingly placing all my trust and faith, how can we mere ignorant mortals apply this revolutionary new amazing healing method in our own lives please oh please?
A: that’s going to be in my second book.

meditation. it’s billed as a panacea, something that will cure every ill and imbalance. you. must. meditate.

but … what is meditation, exactly?

most people view meditation as a sort of struggle. calming the monkey mind. cultivating stillness, inside and out, so as to eradicate every thought. KILL THE THOUGHTS!! BANISH THOUGHTS FROM YOUR MIND! MAKE YOUR MIND EMPTY!!

you want more of this, right? well, read the rest.

zen in the outhouse

while we’re on the topic of hearty language, let’s talk about shit:

one day sosan was sent into town to buy brushes and ink. upon returning to the temple he had to respond to a call from nature. the temple had an old-style outhouse which was built very high off the ground. it was said that the outhouse was so high that if shit dropped when a traveler left taejon, it wouldn’t land until the traveler reached seoul! that’s how high this toilet was! so, as sosan taesa was squatting over the hole he happened to look down below-way below!-and saw many small animals.

as soon as his fresh shit hit the bottom, worms, rats, many kinds of animals would rush and dive into it, eating ravenously. after contemplating this scene for a while it struck him that the people in the market place were no different. they are always looking for something, always seeking something, always going for something new, always trying to make a profit off something. ahh… his mind opened.

this reminds me of my father. no, not the outhouse. but there was nothing that wasn’t capable of inspiring him when he was open to it. he would have loved this story.

buddhism and the japanese language

let’s move from the korean outhouse into more lofty intellectual realms in japan. glowing face man is studying japanese and mandarin and has noticed some features of these languages which lend themselves to buddhism in a way that english does not.  in his post connections between japanese and buddhism he gives a few examples; and believe it or not, once again there is one about illusion – the illusion of duality:

if a japanese monk is meditating, and she opens her eyes and sees a mountain, she might say “yama da” – “is mountain.” by context, we assume the sentence means “that’s a mountain,” but strictly speaking it could just as well mean “i am a mountain.” except japanese doesn’t have articles (“a”, “an”, or “the”), so it would actually be “i am mountain.” japanese doesn’t have plurals either, so we may as well make it “i am mountains.”

the weird way that japanese subjects work (or, don’t work, when they’re omitted) makes the idea of oneness just a little easier to grasp.

EXERCISE: experiment with removing some subjects from your mental dialogue. easier than it sounds, actually. if nothing else, a fun alternative way of thinking.

a companion post to this would be axel g’s post about meditating in japan.

planetary bodhisattva

for my last feature article, i’m happy to share with you the thoughts of christine the bliss chick, writing, in her own way, about the illusion of duality – the illusion that we are “other” from our environment.

when we get up the morning and don’t feel like being inconvenienced by a bike ride to work and consider driving our cars two miles instead, we can decide on that morning that we are not riding for ourselves but that we are riding for everyone and everything — for the entirety of the planet.

how could you possibly get in your car then?

please also read

… tejvan’s recounting of an old zen story, is that so? and anmol mehta’s thoughts on the role of urgency in motivating us to meditate.

thank you all for participating in this carnival – writers, readers, and all the techies behind the scene we never meet. the MySQL soldier at 1&1, the support fairy at shaw, the good person who took the photograph above, and the #8 bus driver taking home the nice lady who looks after my hydro bill. thank you all!

the next buddhist carnival will take place on october 15. please submit your articles here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

september buddhist carnival – the delusion edition

buddhism, impermanence and natureone of the first pieces of information i came across this morning, before breakfast yet, was the the stock market disaster today. a bit of nervousness wanted to creep in. how good to remember that the fears that can be aroused by such events are made of illusion, and that the stability that we all so yearn for can and will never exist. all we have is the moment. and the moment right here and now is glorious: breathtaking late-summer weather, a handful of local plums in my belly, a house filled with peace and quiet.

welcome, then, friends, to the monthly buddhist carnival. let’s make it a day to celebrate serenity and simplicity.

“you do not need many things”

we always start this carnival with a poem. today, let’s hear zen master ryokan taigu, courtesy of the zen frog:

my house is buried in the deepest recess of the forest
every year, ivy vines grow longer than the year before.
undisturbed by the affairs of the world i live at ease,
woodmen’s singing rarely reaching me through the trees.
while the sun stays in the sky, i mend my torn clothes
and facing the moon, i read holy texts aloud to myself.
let me drop a word of advice for believers of my faith.
to enjoy life’s immensity, you do not need many things.

buddhist economics

echoing these sentiments, anatman relates today’s events to the thoughts of p.a. payutto, thailand’s foremost buddhist scholar:

“every time an economic decision is made, karma is made, and the process of fruition is immediately set in motion, for better or for worse, for the individual, for society and the environment.”

anatman then goes on:

so said the ven p a payutto in his book, buddhist economics: a middle way for the market place.

it may have taken the process decades to come to fruition, but the collapse of lehman brothers appears to indicate that the greed and excess once celebrated by michael douglas’s character in the 1987 film wall street are finally bringing the world’s financial markets to their knees. (…)

through all the years of excess, consumption was the mantra, until we are confronted with not only ecological but also economic collapse. tellingly, ven payutto observed in his book: “…non-production can be a useful economic activity. a person who produces very little in materialistic terms may, at the same time, consume much less of the world’s resources and lead a life that is beneficial to the world around him.

the inner way

a time, then, to turn to – diamonds. the diamond sutra is about “wisdom that cuts through illusion”, sharp like a diamond. i have always liked the image of a diamond, a metaphor that can reflect many ideas, and perhaps like wisdom, can encompass just as vast a multitude. i also imagine a diamond as something deep, hidden, innermost. perhaps you will enjoy as much as i did my good friend carol’s little quiz post on the diamond sutra. and perhaps you will not be as silly as i was when i first “failed” the quiz but rather do what carol encourages in the little video that follows: study the sutra in the inner way.

study and delusion

what does it mean to study a text in the inner way? there is much to contemplate on this topic – the christian practice of lectio divina comes to mind – and i’d also like to present what jim mooney has to offer in his post, resistance is fertile:

i tend to read at a cognitive level. i focus on understanding what is being taught and how it fits in with other teachings. i don’t always then go on to the next step of asking myself, “how do i feel about what i am reading?” tapping into my feelings like this is very difficult for me personally.yet, we can get a lot out of watching our feelings as we read dharma. in particular, uncomfortable feelings are the beginnings of delusions arising in our mind. delusions are distorted ways of looking at ourself, other people, and the world around us.

… our delusions are completely worthless with one exception – they make great “fertilizer.” to grow our minds of patience, love, compassion, and the like, we need fertilizer – situations that challenge our minds of patience, love and compassion.

… and …

other articles submitted to this carnival were by balanced existence who talks about the fundamentals of suffering in buddhism, the three poisons (or doshas): greed (raga), hatred (dvesa) and delusion. or moha (hmm – delusion and illusion really seems to be the topic today).

then there are grace from face to the sun, who discusses why and how to meditate (and who has some really nice images on her blog); someone with the interesting name of fetish self who explores – guess what – illusion and evolution (with frequent references to ken wilber); and nicholas powiull. he, too, writes on illusion – the illusion of individuality.

as usual, i’m presenting this buddhist carnival in two parts. this entry is already way longer than i wanted it to be. oh well. you’ll find part 2 some time in the next week, by september 22 at the latest. in the meantime, if you have or know of a good post on buddhism, please submit it here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival (it’s been a bit wonky lately), just drop me a line.

thank you for the image, giant ginkgo