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#1853 -Friday, July 9, 2004 - Editor: Gloria
Our self-natured Bodhi
Is fundamentally pure
Use only this mind
Of yours for direct
- Altar Sutra
If you wish to cast aside the false
And return to true,
Concentrate and settle your
Mind in wall gazing.
Self and other,
And the saintly,
Are all as one.
True happiness cannot be found in things
that change and pass away. Pleasure and
pain alternate inexorably. Happiness comes
from the self and can be found in the self
only. Find your real self (swarupa) and all
else will come with it.
- Nisargadatta Maharaj
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
"I Am That"
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Acorn Press, 1973
Along the Way
"It is I who must love
myself. No one else can make me feel whole. Only
I can provide that love. Now I know that wholeness is always accessible
to me and all beings everywhere. This knowing allows me to live with a
new peacefulness and kindness to myself and others. In the simplest
way, it has changed my whole life." ~a healer and psychologist
Again, the lesson of spiritual practice is not about gaining knowledge,
but about how we love. Were we able to love what is given to us, to love
in the midst of all things, to love ourselves and others? Are we able to
see the illumination offered by the sun every morning? If we cannot,
what must we do in the body, heart, and mind to allow us to open
ourselves, to let go, to rest in our natural perfection? The gate is
open, what we seek is just in front of us. It is so today and every
From the book, "After The Ecstasy, The Laundry," published by Bantam.
on Daily Dharma
"Horse" by Al Larus, http://www.ferryfee.com/bluesky/horse%20&%20cruise.htm
How to Fall in Love with Meditation
I think many of our arguments about
laissez-faire meditation comes from a misunderstanding of shamatha
versus vipashana aspects of Zen meditation, and which aspect a person
is speaking of. (The spelling of these tems in English varies, so I
will just spell them the way they sound.)
Generally speaking, shamatha is concentration and vipashana is
discovery. Both aspects are present in various meditations, but one
or the other is emphasized in a particular form, and this can also
alternate right within doing a particular method.
Shamatha is a narrowing of focus, concentration, contraction,
effortful steering of the ox.
Vipashana is an opening to discovery, a letting be, expansion,
watching where the ox goes.
Preliminary practices are usually more oriented to shamatha, since
some calmness and concentration is a prerequisite for vipashana.
Breath-counting is a good example of this.
The main Zen practices of koan-study and shikan-taza are more
vipashana, especially the latter. You empty yourself of expectation,
develop deep acceptance, and inquire deeply of the koan, or of
nothing more or less than the experience of the present moment.
Although both aspects are necessary, there is a danger to primarily
shamatha practices, in that space for discovery may not be
sufficiently developed to truly allow reality to realize itself, and
one may take the states achieved as inherently valuable. Subtle
attachments can thus be fostered. Further, in terms of human
interaction, practitioners of shamatha-intense methods may
misapprehend practitioners who advocate allowing, letting be,
"resting," "relaxing," opening, effortlessness, or whatever words are
chosen for the description of the method of shikan-taza, insight
meditation, dzogchen, or other vipashana-intense meditations, as
practitioners who are lazy, stagnant, and not really "practitioners."
On the other hand, such vipashana practitioners may not realize, in
their conversations with shamatha people, that there is a problem in
communication, and see such people as stubborn, dense, and perhaps
damaged by their practice.
Actually, it takes concentrated effort to practice effortlessness.
Speaking of our practice makes many verbal paradoxes arise, and if we
are not carefully listening to each other, we are liable to
misunderstand and further multiply confusion. Sanghas, centers,
sitting groups, respected peers, and teachers are almost absolutely
necessary to refine one's approach to practice and avoid settling
I hope that my views clarify more than confuse, and that whoever
knows better correct any mistakes in my understanding.
The stop sign reminds us to slow our pace, take a moment's rest, and look around. Therein lies a whole philosophy of life.
- Philip Toshio Sudo in "Zen 24/7"
Every little bit helps. Here's a practice
from the Buddhist teacher Tenzin Palmo:
"When the traffic lights are red in New Delhi, they display the word 'relax.' Every time you come to a red light, instead of grinding your teeth, try seeing as an opportunity for practice. Connect with the in-going and out-going breath. Be one with the breathing."
~ ~ ~
"(A friend) wrote me a beautiful
letter: 'Thay, practicing in Paris was
very easy. Not only did I practice (mindfulness: smiling and breathing,
returning to the present moment) with red lights and stop signs, but
every time a car stopped in front of me, I saw the eyes of the Buddha
blinking at me. I had to smile at those blinking eyes.'
"The next time you are caught in traffic, don't fight. It is useless to
fight. If you sit back and smile to yourself, you will enjoy the present
moment and make everyone in the car happy. The Buddha is there, because
the Buddha can always be found in the present moment. Practicing
meditation is to return to the present moment in order to encounter the
flower, the blue sky, the child, the brilliant red light."
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Whenever you sit behind the wheel, put the sticker "Drive In Peace" on
the bumper of your mind.
Thay quote from the book, "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness
Practices For Daily Living," published by Parallax Press. Found on website: http://www.angelsinc.com/dgsangha/dgsMindful.shtml
"Cruise" by Al Larus,
"I like to use the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam.
In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the
country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or
storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink. But if even one person
aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he
or she can help the boat survive. His or her expressions - face, voice -
communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that
person.They will listen to what he or she says. One such person can save
many lives. "Our world is something like a small boat. Compared with the cosmos, our
planet is a very small boat. We are about to panic because our
situation is no better than the situation of the small boat at sea...
Humankind has become a very dangerous species. we need people who can
sit still and be able to smile, who can walk peacefully. We need people
like that in order to save us. Buddhism says that you are that person,
that each of you is that person."
~Thich Nhat Hanh From the book, "Being Peace," published by Beacon Press.
on Daily Dharma
DHARMA TRANSMISSION BY E-MAIL:
by Brad Warner
A little while ago a review of my book appeared on Amazon saying this:
"Perhaps my biggest concern is that if someone -- anyone -- like this can
receive Dharma Transmission stretching through the Masters all the way back
to the Buddha himself, can that individual then open up his own dojo --
offering, say, e-mail Dharma Transmission at $49.95 a pop? "
It's a telling question. I'm not sure the writer really understands what
he's asking. But the fact that he asked such a question really made me
happy. Even though he didn't like the book (the one star review begins "this
book is not totally without merit, but almost"), the writer understood
something very important which I'm not sure a lot of people who did like the
book picked up on.
The answer to his question is a resounding, yes. While I don't know of
anyone offering Dharma Transmission by e-mail (yet!), it could happen. The
person who did this would certainly be taken to task by his (or her, but
let's pretend only a man would be this slimy) teacher or the other members
of his group. He'd certainly be shunned by the entire worldwide Buddhist
community and denounced by whatever sect he'd been ordained in. The
transmissions he granted wouldn't hold much weight with anyone who was
serious about Buddhism. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. Or even
that he couldn't be extremely successful. I've seen more obvious scams than
this before. A few of them have been going on for hundreds of years...
However, that's not the part of the question that really interests me. It's
the "someone -- anyone" bit that's truly important. That's where the real
meat of his question lies.
The reviewer is just like most of us. We want Buddhist Masters to be
something special, something apart from the rest of humanity. The idea that
"someone -- anyone" could become a Master is appalling to us. We want to
believe that there are Great Enlightened Beings out there who can guide and
protect us along the Path of Awakening, who can confirm or deny our own
understanding for us, who know us better than we know ourselves. We want Big
Masters who can give us the Big Answers. It's scary as Hell to think that
maybe, just maybe, there is no one at all like that anywhere. If "someone --
anyone" can become a Buddhist Master we're left with no one to look up to.
There's no one who's more qualified than little old us to judge good and
bad. There's no one onto whom we can defer responsibility for our own
actions, no one who can take responsibility for our mistakes.
If "someone -- anyone" can become a Buddhist Master we're completely on our
own. Kicked out of the nest and forced to fly solo with no other option than
to go splat on the hard cold ground. But the fact is that every single
"Buddhist Master" out there is "someone - anyone" just like this poor excuse
for a monk sitting in an office at a company that makes bad monster movies
writing this silly little webpage. And just like all you poor unfortunate
people out there who have nothing better to do than read it.
One of the major reasons I wrote Hardcore Zen came out of the shock of
discovering that even a butthead like me could get Dharma Transmission. The
moment my teacher offered to recognize me -- of all people -- as having
attained the same realization as the Buddha his-self was terrifying. I did
not want that kind of responsibility. I did not deserve it. What made it
even worse was my teacher's insistence that I already had his transmission
whether I wanted it or not. There was no escape, no hope of ever going back
I was forced to re-examine all my attitudes towards the Great Masters both
contemporary and ancient. Even my attitude towards my own teacher. What
if -- oh, dear Lord -- what if all of them all the way back to the Buddha
his very self were just schmucks like me? Not Supermen, not Saviors, not
even Great Enlightened Masters. Just regular people who'd accepted what
being a regular person really was (it ain't what you think it is, by the
way). Accepting Dharma Transmission was one of the hardest decisions I ever
made. Accepting such a thing meant that I would forever be left with no one
at all to turn to, no refuge in which to hide. I would no longer have anyone
to believe in, no authority figure who could tell me what was right and what
was wrong. I would be totally on my own.
Think about all the nonsense we see in America these days. Like people suing
fast food restaurants because they were too stupid to leave the lid on the
paper coffee cup in their laps when they skidded away from the drive-thru.
Look at the way we constantly look for someone else to blame for everything
we don't like about our lives -- our parents, our teachers, society, the
NRA, the KKK, the CIA. This isn't restricted to Americans by any means. The
Japanese have refined the blame game to a science. The only reason they
don't sue each other like we do is they have even more sinister methods at
their disposal to do the same thing (if you want to know how sinister look
at their suicide rate). Every culture does it.
Can you accept responsibility for every God damned thing in this whole wide
world? If you can manage this one little trick you'll become the King or
Queen of All Creation and the Master of All You Survey. When you blame no
one else for the situation in which you find yourself, you find that no one
else can ever blame you for theirs either. You're invincible. There's a kind
of power there which is so astounding it almost seems supernatural. But it's
not at all. It's simply your own natural state uncovered and allowed to
shine as it always should have.
To qualify for Dharma Transmission you simply have to demonstrate that you
are ready to take full and complete responsibility for the whole Universe
all the time -- every single second of every single day.
Go ahead. Try it sometime.
Then maybe I'll send you a certificate by e-mail...
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