Tag Archives: illusion

buddhist carnival – december 2008 edition, part 2

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

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.

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.


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