Tag Archives: shin buddhism

july buddhist carnival: the humble edition

in the last few weeks, i have had many an occasion to think about humility. here, then, is a buddhist carnival dedicated entirely to humility.

this time, i will start with a poem of my own:

ha’aha’a: humility.
beyond this and that,
above servitude,
below arrogance,
not higher not lower –
just that:
here i am.
let the winds blow …

(ha’aha’a is hawaiian for humility. when the the spirit of aloha is explained, ha’aha’a has a place: a – akahi (tenderness); l – lokahi (unity, harmony, oneness); o – olu’olu (kindenss, being pleasant and agreeable); h – ha’aha’a (humility); a – ahonui (patience and perseverance)

everything is eye level

humility, very simply, is the absence of arrogance. where there is no arrogance, you relate with your world as an eye-level situation, without one-upmanship. because of that, there can be a genuine interchange. nobody is using their message to put anybody else down, and nobody has to come down or up to the other person’s level. everything is eye-level. humility in the shambhala tradition also involves some kind of playfulness, which is a sense of humor….in most religious traditions, you feel humble because of a fear of punishment, pain, and sin. in the shambhala world you feel full of it. you feel healthy and good. in fact, you feel proud. therefore, you feel humility. that’s one of the shambhala contradictions or, we could say, dichotomies. real humility is genuineness.

this is a quote by chögyam trungpa, at art of dharma. the post is about a comparison between buddhist and christian ideas on humility. i love the idea of playfulness in humility, and the paradox of pride and humility. definitely something to investigate a little further.

humility and moral outrage

staying with the theme of christianity and buddhism for a moment longer, paul knitter from how a christian buddhist sees it starts his post on the limits of moral outrage with these words

in these days of widespread – including my own – moral outrage at sacerdotal pedophilia and episcopal cover-up, this sentence from richard rohr’s the naked now stopped me in my moralistic tracks: “moral outrage at the ideas of others hardly ever serves god’s purposes, only our own.” (p. 132)

and later on asks

so, how can we be “outraged” without become “dualistic,” without making it an either/or between good/bad? how can we declare our opposition to something without cutting off our connection with that something?

he suggests

in declaring what we think is wrong or what we believe needs fixing, we have to feel, and we have to enable others to feel, that we recognize our own limitations. we are conscious that in speaking strongly we can never speak definitively. there’s always more to learn. there are always other perspectives. and yes, we may be wrong. we know that. and we must be aware of that as we voice our outrage

and concludes

if we can be outraged but at the very same time humble and compassionate – then, and maybe only then, can our outrage serve god’s purposes.

i wonder whether it’s possible to be outraged and humble at the same time. is it still outrage when we add considerations of humility and compassion? rage implies singlemindedness, even when used outside of human emotion. “the fire raged through the city”, for example, evokes a force that consumes everything in its path, without looking left or right. humility is everything BUT singleminded – it always considers the other.

humility and “i deserve to be treated with respect”

in buddhism … pride is thought of as one of the obstacles to a happy, peaceful existence. pride gets in the way of compassion, and compassion and cherishing others are what buddhists say lead to a happy and content life (more about compassion tomorrow). when you embrace pride, though, you see yourself as higher than others and you value your happiness over the happiness of others. when you embrace humility”the opposite of pride”you see yourself on the same level as others, and you value their happiness just as much as you value your own.

let me tell you, i struggled with this teaching for a long, long time. there was this one part of me that was all like, “i’ve worked hard to get where i am, and i am special, dang it. just look at all of those bestsellers that i’ve penned. i deserve to be treated with respect. i’ve earned it.”

this from alisa at project happily ever after. i still get a little confused over how humility and the idea of deserving/being special etc. related to each other. maybe the idea of equality helps here, too. e.g. if i’m happy to celebrate someone’s small accomplishments, then why not celebrate mine, too. if i’m special, then others are special, too, and vice versa.

shin buddhism, humility and “inner togetherness”

jeff wilson has a guest post at daily buddhism, where he shares some delightful words about shin buddhism. he points to the great importance of relationships when it comes to humility:

for me, shin practice is about humility, gratitude, and service to others. and also good food and dancing, since shin temples are true communities, with many activities for all ages and lots of yummy japanese cooking. … none of us are deluded about our level of attainment-we are ordinary people, prone to foolishness. but everyone, shin buddhist or otherwise, exists within an inconceivable network of support from all things, an ever-changing matrix that provides us with nourishment, shelter, love, and, if we don’t let our egos get in the way, pushes us on toward final liberation. awakening to this inner togetherness which we all share helps us to get a perspective on our karmic limitations, and this engenders humility, patience, and a sense of humor about our shortcomings and those of others.

humility, bullshit and conceit

i am always interested in buddhism from the point of view of martial arts. at dharma-zen blog: martial arts in the modern age we find the lovely zen story of buddha mind and bullshit mind.

the eight winds cannot move me
one fart blows me across the river

maybe you want to go and find out what that’s all about ..

image by alex de carvalho

there but for the grace of god go i: sunday inspiration

just musing over a few things here, inspired by some of the blogs i read …

at nourish, a bittersweet post about jacqueline du pres, one of the most amazing musicians of the last century. this genius young cellist graced the world of classical music for a short 12 years. then her blazing light was consumed by multiple sclerosis. i spent much of last night hunting down her videos, gobbling up the beauty and fervor of this fierce nordic goddess. “a glenn gould of the cello”, i kept thinking – something about the way she physically throws herself into her work, at the edge of being ridiculously dramatic; and like a true artist, she remains at the edge, drawing us there, into her magic. “her” magic; a magic conjured up by her but compelling because it isn’t just her little thing – it’s the stuff of gods, and thus a piece of everyone’s soul.

this grandness stands now beside the voracious power of multiple sclerosis. i was going to say it was swept away, aside, under the carpet but that’s not true. the grandness of her music remains, but not by itself. the illness claimed a big piece of this amazing woman.

from grand to small. another post i came across was this here, about a mother and her partner killing, slowly killing a beautiful child, baby grace. blond like little jacqueline when she first touched a cello. their demons consumed a child just like MS consumed jacqueline. why small? why do i want to call this small? perhaps when i think of “grand” i think of generosity, of a big heart, perhaps of jacqueline’s heart because only a big heart can hold music like that. only a small, shrivelled up, poisoned heart can do what these people did. “only”? what do i know, what do i know of hearts – but that is what i imagine. a big heart, i envision, opens its arms and says, yes! yes! a small heart closes in on itself, cutting everything short, within and without. after a while the opening and the closing becomes a habit. the arms throw open wide and the span gets larger and larger, grander. it becomes more and more unthinkable, undoable to spend much time with arms crossed and the heart closed. it goes the other way, too, i think. the shrivelling becomes more and more closed in on itself, and even the slightest opening of mind, heart, arms, eyes and soul is a threat that can only be met with armour and weapon.

a little child is always open. a threat extinguished by shrivelled hearts.

there but for the grace of god go i. there are myriad imperfections in my life. one, for example: i used to volunteer at an extended care home. there was a woman with MS, the same age as jacqueline du pres in her last years. i visited her often. one day, things became too busy for me and i stopped visiting. i never even really said good-bye to that woman. a sin for which i am ashamed to this day. there are many transgressions i have committed but i have never killed another human being.

i’m reading an interesting book right now, zen shin talks, by socho koshin ogui, the current bishop of the buddhist churches of america. one of the talks is headed, “are you grateful that you have not killed even one person?” in that talk, he cites shinran, the founder of shin buddhism (also called pure land buddhism) who talks to one of his disciples about why he has never killed anyone:

it is not because you have a good mind or even a good heart or because you are a good person. you are fortunate because present conditions and situations do not allow you to kill even one person. aren’t you grateful that your present conditions and situations are such that you do not have to kill even one person? if the conditions and situations changed, you don’t know what you would do.

self-righteousness does not work: being proud of myself for never having killed anyone does not make my heart bigger. humbleness and gratefulness give my heart a chance to grow.

which brings me to the last blog for today. sojourner is a beacon of humbleness.  it was her post there but for god’s grace go i that prompted me to participate in her sunday inspiration theme with these words here.