Tag Archives: kensho

buddhist carnival, the first in 2010

it’s january 15, and time to serve up this month’s buddhist carnival, a selection of posts from the buddhasphere.  here is this month’s poem:

a first kensho

when things abruptly shift
like part of the body misaligned by a sharp move
when the house goes, or the he or she,
any room at once gets a new look
and old familiar chairs are instantly antique
a trip to the kitchen strewn with the rubble of routine.
what’s left when things get quiet, the certainties leave?
the reality of ‘you’ and what to do with that.

and because i like poems so much, let’s have another one.  here is an excerpt from one of my twitter friend dirk johnson’s creations.

all acts are sweepstakes.

the odds are against you.
there’s nothing to win
or to lose. the ruse of what

you credit with possibility
is zeros and ones on the fed
computer, a tally of your failures

and triumphs, hills and valleys, spills
on your bicycle ride from a pub.
you could enter a precious moment,

watch rain drops gather at the tip
of an oak leaf and tremble
at their certain fall. but this

is no more real than the bare
bulb a silk moth flings itself against
and pings off of again and again.

isn’t it beautiful?    don’t you want to read the rest?

redemption, forgiveness and tiger woods
earlier this month, there was a bit of a flurry in the buddhasphere as a result of a discussion of forgiveness and redemption, inspired by tiger wood’s story.  brit hume of FOX news had made some curious comments on the subject:  “he is said to be a buddhist. i don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the christian faith. my message to tiger would be, ‘tiger, turn to the christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.

those words provoked a letter-writing campaign by buddhists, started by the reformed buddhistthe examiner took this opportunity to examine what is directly related to buddhist philosophy in regards to the terms ‘forgiveness’ and ‘redemption’.

redemption means the settling of a debt, whether of monetary or spiritual value. this concept is indeed meaningless in buddhism. there is no debt, no sin, no accounts to be settled. however, there is the concept of ‘merit’, which is the accumulation of good karma through positive acts. it is sometimes described as if you are swimming in a lake, and there is a current following you with either positive or negative effects- most often, a mix of the two unless you have been consciously and deliberately creating a more positive (or negative) flow. but still, there is no ‘debt’ or balance to be maintained. you can have an effect on future events by acting in the present moment, but there is no way to ‘make up for’ or absolve yourself. the consequences of past events are unavoidable, period, including the consequences of being born human- old age, sickness, and death. it happened to the buddha, it happens to everything- people, religions, nations, planets.

forgiveness is another matter entirely.

more here.

buddhist magazines: racist?
john pappas over at the elephant journal has a great article on popular buddhist magazines.  of tricyle he says that it has

more glossy advertisements for crap then cosmo. “do you need a new zafu? new malas? what does your mala say about your practice? perhaps a brand new meditation timer is what you need? big wallet, then big mind©®â„¢ is for you!”

yup, i have to agree with that one.  then he goes on to shambala sun

one major snag is that shambhala sun tends towards the “self-help” buddhist revolution. this is not a revolution that i have any quams with but i have no interest in reading about how buddhism will help me “overcome shyness” or how to get through a “mindful divorce”. if that is your bag, then great! roll with it. i’m just not that interested. if i want to better myself, i like to go closer to the source.

shambhala sun publication’s strength lies with its blog.

but here’s the interesting part, one that has always made me a bit uncomfortable:

there is one huge glaring problem with these publications though – the lack of inclusion of asian practitioners (as well as any minority) in the ranks of their staff-writers and advisors of these magazines. they all do a horrible job of this. for a detailed description of this go over to the angry asian buddhist. arun has spent plenty of time on these issues and can present it with more passion that i can. just a brief view at any of these magazine will show you that asians are not well presented. arun even did a graph! it is sweet.

this says one thing to readers ~ western buddhism is for whites and is white dominated.

and in a more than superficially obvious connection, the renegade buddha declares i am not a western buddhist.  “sometimes,” he says, “being religious means wearing funny hats.”  or sitting on top-of-the-line zafus.  same thing.

the good man william harryman at integral options has a series of talks by the dalai lama here http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2009/12/all-in-mind-dialogue-with-dalai-lama_19.html.  this is part 3, where the dalai lama joins the founder of positive psychology, martin seligman, and buddhist scholar alan wallace to consider what it takes to flourish “…really flourish… individually and collectively.”

irreverence is next to godliness
finally, a few days ago, i discovered jack zen.  on his blog with clean, open lines, he writes a short post here, a few words there.  like seeing things as they are:

i had a conversation recently with gabriella gupta who suggests that irreverence is next to godliness. it’s certainly in line with the buddhist admonition that “when you meet the buddha on the road, kill him.” as severe as it sounds, it’s simply a reminder that we hold no idolatrous images of reality, instead simply seeing it as it is. when we simply see things as they are, we don’t need reverence to see the beauty of the infinite. we don’t need to pitch tents to preserve the eternal.

image by boeke

talking about spiritual experiences

a while ago evan asked the question how do we talk about our spiritual experience? we had a little discussion about that here.

what still remains to be done, however, is for me to actually tell you about my spiritual experiences. let me offer up two stories, and then perhaps you will contribute one of yours, too. let me also, once again, repeat my now almost broken record: spirituality is what you define it to be (maybe this post helps clarify that a bit)

whenever i try to remember my first intense spiritual experience, there is one glimpse that i come up with. “glimpse”, come to think of it, may not be such a bad word to describe certain types of spiritual experiences generally; it’s a little blip that quickly passes through the retina of our consciousness and then it’s gone – but it leaves a lasting impression, a sort of afterimage that never really goes away.

i don’t even know what the occasion was, all i remember is walking on the dirt road that led from my grandparents’ house to the dairy farmer, maybe to pick up our daily can of milk, and all of a sudden the thought struck me how much i wanted my best friend, who was jewish, to convert to my lutheran faith. knowing me, you might find that strange; i espouse quite a radical multifaith view here, as you know. even at the age nine that this happened, i was already well aware of ecumenic ideas because they were important to my grandparents (my grandfather was a lutheran minister). what was going on, i think, was not so much that i felt that her (unpracticed) faith was wrong and mine right; the force of this experience had more to do with the love for my friend and the great spiritual nourishment i received; i wanted to share this with her, i wanted to “break bread”. even now as i write this, i have tears streaming down my face. i am very grateful that my friend and i, after nearly 50 years of knowing each other, are still close. (and no, she hasn’t converted, and that’s just fine with me.)

fast forward to now, a few weeks ago. once again, i was out for a walk. either at the outset or some time during the beginning of the walk, i intentionally wanted to move into a keen awareness of the sacred. i let myself drift this way and that, letting my feet follow whatever path seemed the right one. i decided to walk down the block where years ago i had had a glimpse of reality, a minute or two of kensho. it was very different now: the street was not as everyday-familiar as it had been when i had lived at the end of that block; it was night in late fall, not a sunny summer afternoon.

i consciously pulled myself away from wanting to experience kensho again, just wanted to expose myself to – i don’t know what. there was just a sense of wanting to open up to something “there”, and wanting to be as open as possible to whatever, maybe nothing. this desire in itself was strong and expansive. then i remembered one of my favourite city magick exercises: to walk along a street, trying to connect with the life of everything you encounter along the way. this here is not just a bunch of walls with windows cut into it, it’s a living, breathing house with real people in it who fight and read newspapers and laugh and put on pajamas. and this here is not just a green something but a plant with a history from seed to tree, a living being that craves sunlight and rain, good soil and clean air. somehow, from this it was natural to turn to the energy of everything around me. i walked along the block, saying to myself, with ever increasing delight, “house energy, wet leaf energy, loud car energy, rain drop energy, rock energy, maple tree energy, sidewalk energy, siren energy …” i felt – full.

…. hard to come up with anything else to say after this …