june 2009 buddhist carnival

kuan yin in the grassfor those of you who are not familiar with this blog, every 15th of the month i post a collection of posts about buddhist topics.  it all started as a contribution to blog carnival in november 2007.  over time, i emancipated myself from blog carnival but the name remains.  blog carnivals are themed “readers digests” of the blogosphere.

so – what do we have today?

a poem – wu!

first link, as always, a poem.  this is from an article on philip whalen’s poetry at the poetry foundation.  here’s a little teaser

unless i ask i am not alive
until i find out who is asking
i am only half alive and there is only

(an ingrown toenail?)

growing up buddhist

jaimal, author of saltwater buddha, a book that looks at the spiritual side of surfing, had an interesting article in the buddhist magazine tricycle a while ago about growing up in a hippie family

my rebellion was characterized by a nuanced differentiation strategy of the karl rove variety: i framed my parents as flaky new age hippies with buddhist leanings-the spirit rock type. i sneered at my mom’s angel books and my dad’s yoga guru, who changed his name every few months. meanwhile, i would break free of their fluffiness and be the real deal. i would become a northern california buddhist without a trace of hippiness, an endeavor that i now realize could be compared to living in france and shunning cheese.

the full article is here.

decency is the absence of strategy

william harryman, who has contributed much to this carnival, had an interesting little tidbit on his friendfeed the other day from chögyam trungpa rinpoche:

it is of utmost importance to realize that the warrior’s approach should be simple-minded sometimes, very simple and straightforward. that makes it very beautiful: you having nothing up your sleeve; therefore a sense of genuineness comes through. that is decency.

gay men, straight women, non-duality and kuan yin

here is a reference to some research that points out the similarity between certain functions  in the brains of gay men and straight women.  the author then makes a noteworthy connection between this finding and androgyny in buddhism:

one of the most revered figures in buddhism, avalokiteshvara is often seen as androgynous. in the form of avalokiteshvara this bodhisattva is seen as a man but when referred to as guan yin (kuan yin/kannon) he/she is seen as a woman. this makes total sense to me as avalokiteshvara/guan yin is seen as the bodhisattva of compassion and thus seems perfectly natural as that compassion is spread to all beings equally regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

avalokiteshvara/kuan yin is literally the embodiment of non-duality in regards to sexuality.

the rest of this article is here, on the buddhist blog.

dr. monster and buddhism as a religion

an interesting article at god knows what on the history behind the religious aspects of japanese buddhism today, as describedin this excerpt:

the day-to-day life of buddhist priests of all sects was filled with the performance of exorcisms, funerals, distributing healing charms, and spells for rain. many of these rituals were for intended for apotropiac purposes, banishing monsters, limiting their negative effects, or transforming the curses of ancestors and kami into blessings.

(what might surprise people is that with the removal of certain rituals like ‘spells for rain’ this description still largely applies to the day-to-day life of buddhist priests and monks in most buddhist countries, including japan.)

western, eastern and psychiatric buddhism

buddhism.about.com brings up a number of worthwhile points in response to our own douglas todd, religion writer at the vancouver sun:

douglas todd of the vancouver sun (see also “we’re cool!“) has another interesting commentary, this time on buddhism and psychiatry. he notes that for the past several years all manner of prominent buddhists and prominent psychiatrists and psychologists have been coming up with buddhist-related practices to promote good mental health hygiene.

todd makes two points. one, he says, the psychotherapists don’t acknowledge that “ideals such as compassion, respecting human dignity, overcoming negative emotions and practicing awareness” are also found in judaism, christianity and islam. “practicing loving kindness, for instance, is the central teaching of jesus and the church.”


genkaku is one of my favourite buddhist writers; my husband and i have been following him for years.  his words are always light and full of common sense.  here he talks about generosity:

in buddhism, there is a suggestion that its followers engage in “dana” or giving/generosity. on the face of it, it sounds very much like dropping a buck in the christian plate during sunday services. and there’s nothing wrong with that either — donating to monks or nuns or beggars or institutions that uphold a convincing direction or faith.

but today i wonder if the most profound act of generosity does not lie in this: to offer yourself as best you can.

it’s a little tricky, since in order to offer yourself, you would first have to know who you were.

always maintain a joyful mind

linda lewis offers the lojong slogan: always maintain a joyfulmind and reflects:

when we are sick or in debt or experiencing loss or difficulties, we know from experience that neither complaining nor blaming helps.  we know that despair only solidifies the problem.  that is why sakyong mipham rinpoche advises us “to practice more when we have difficulties, and to practice more when we have life changes.”

then, rather than emoting and over-loading others with our latest greatest drama, we face the music, and are better able to deal with our troubles.  as mipham rinpoche also says, “some problems can be solved by talking…but some things are solved by not talking. that’s called practice.”

meditation practice

c4chaos explains his algorithmic approach to meditation:

step 1: focus out – i focus on the sensations of the breath. i note the sensation of the “rising” and “falling” of the abdomen. when attention wanders i note it and then gently go back to noting the sensation of the rising and falling. sooner or later awareness shifts or deepens.

if i feel a sense of deep relaxation, i proceed to step 2.

if i feel a sense of vibrations or waves, i proceed to step 3.

step 2: focus on rest – i focus on the restful sensations of the body and note it as “relaxed.” i then place some attention on the darkness/brightness in front of my closed eyes and note it as “blank.” i alternate between noting “relaxed” and “blank.” then i let go… sooner or later awareness shifts or deepens.

if concentration is poor and keeps wavering, i go back to step 1.

if i feel a sense of vibrations or waves, i proceed to step 3.

step 3: focus on change – i focus on the vibratory/wave sensations. i note it as “flow”, “expansion”, “contraction”, and “gone.” from here i just let go, ride out and surrender to the vibratory sensations while noting it as best as i can.  sooner or later awareness shifts and the vibratory sensations disappear.

if concentration is poor and keeps wavering, i go back to step 1.

if i feel a sense of deep relaxation, i proceed to step 2.

that’s it. simple as pie

that’s it for this month.  see you back on july 15!

image by mags

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