This excerpt is an adaptation from Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s new book Into the Heart of Life, which is the Tricycle Book Club selection for July, taken from Snow Lion: The Buddhist Magazine & Catalog, a quarterly effort from Snow Lion Publications. She will also be leading July’s Tricycle Retreat. The Buddha described three kinds of …View full post
Once upon a time there was a world famous teacher and holy man in the city of Takkasila. He had 500 students training under him. One day these 500 young men went into the forest to gather firewood. One of them came upon a tree with no leaves. He thought, “How lucky I am! This …View full post
Upali Sutta MN 56 The location of this sutta is Nalanda, Magadha, near Rajagaha, in Pavarika’s Mango Grove. The Pali name for Mahavira, the Guide of the Jains who lived about the same time as the Buddha, is Nataputta, the Jains themselves being referred to as “naked ascetics” (niganthas). The sutta tells us that Mahavira …View full post
by Wayne Ren-Cheng Buddhism: The Personal Element Sutra of the Eight Realizations Day and night, at all times, Buddha’s disciples should Mindfully recite and contemplate The eight realizations of Great Beings. The First Realization: All the world is impermanent. The earth is fragile and perilous. The four great elements in here, suffering and emptiness. In …View full post
Oh Buddhas and Bodhisattvas abiding in all directions, Endowed with great compassion, Endowed with foreknowledge, Endowed with divine eye, Endowed with love, Affording protection to sentient beings, Please come forth through the power of your great compassion, Please accept these offerings, both actually presented and mentally created.Oh Compassionate Ones, you who possess The wisdom of …View full post
Dear sangha Teak Zenovka has left this physical world last Friday He was a Zen Teacher at the Buddha Center and he helped creating and constructing the buddha center in SL. His love and compassion and teaching will continue in us. Please light a candle for him and his family. This body is not me …View full post
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/11/23/gary-malkin-feat-brother-phat-niem-thich-nhat-hanh-the-end-of-suffering/
This excerpt is an adaptation from Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s new book Into the Heart of Life, which is the Tricycle Book Club selection for July, taken from Snow Lion: The Buddhist Magazine & Catalog, a quarterly effort from Snow Lion Publications. She will also be leading July’s Tricycle Retreat.
The Buddha described three kinds of laziness. First there is the kind of laziness we all know: we don’t want to do anything, and we’d rather stay in bed half an hour later than get up and meditate. Second, there is the laziness of feeling ourselves unworthy, the laziness of thinking, “I can’t do this. Other people can meditate, other people can be mindful, other people can be kind and generous in difficult situations, but I can’t, because I’m too stupid.” Or, alternatively, “I’m always an angry person;” “I’ve never been able to do anything in my life;” “I’ve always failed, and I’m bound to fail.” This is laziness.
The third kind of laziness is being busy with worldly things. We can always fill up the vacuum of our time by keeping ever so busy. Being occupied may even make us feel virtuous. But usually it’s just a way of escape. When I came out of the cave, some people said, “Don’t you think that solitude was an escape?” And I said, “An escape from what?” There I was—no radio, no newspapers, no one to talk to. Where was I going to escape to? When things came up, I couldn’t even telephone a friend. I was face-to-face with who I was and with who I was not. There was no escape.
Our ordinary lives are so busy, our days are so full, but we never have any space even to sit for a minute and just be. That’s escape. One of my aunts always kept the radio on, or the television. She didn’t like silence. Silence worried her. Background noise rang out at all times. And we’re all like that. We’re afraid of silence—outer silence, inner silence. When there’s no noise going on outside we talk to ourselves—opinions and ideas and judgments and rehashes of what happened yesterday or during our childhood; what he said to me; what I said to him. Our fantasies, our daydreams, our hopes, our worries, our fears. There is no silence. Our noisy outer world is but a reflection of the noise inside: our incessant need to be occupied, to be doing something.
Recently I was talking with a very nice Australian monk who was once occupied with doing so many wonderful Dharma activities that he became a workaholic. He would be up until two or three in the morning. Eventually he collapsed totally. His whole system fell apart and now he can’t do anything. He mind is also slightly impaired in that he doesn’t have very good concentration.
His problem was that his identity was connected with doing. As his work was for the Dharma it looked very virtuous. It looked like he was doing really good things. He was benefiting many people and carrying out the instructions of his teacher, but now that he can’t do anything, who is he? And so he is going through a tremendous crisis because he always identified himself with what he did and with being able to succeed. Now he is not able to do anything and is dependent on others. So I said to him, “But this is a wonderful opportunity. Now, you don’t have to do anything, you can just be.” He said he was trying to come to that, but he found it threatening not to do anything, to just sit there and be with who he is, not what he does.
This is the point—we fill our lives with activities. Many of them are really very good activities but if we are not careful, they can just be an escape. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do good and necessary things, but there has to be breathing in as well as breathing out. We need to have both the active and the contemplative. We need time to just be with ourselves, and to become genuinely centered, when the mind can just be quiet.
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Once upon a time there was a world famous teacher and holy man in the city of Takkasila. He had 500 students training under him.
One day these 500 young men went into the forest to gather firewood. One of them came upon a tree with no leaves. He thought, “How lucky I am! This tree must be dead and dry, perfect for firewood. So what’s the hurry? I’ll take a nap while the others are busy searching in the woods. When it’s time to return, it will be easy to climb this tree and break off branches for firewood. So what’s the hurry?” He spread his jacket on the ground, lay down on it, and fell fast asleep – snoring loudly.
After a while all the other students began carrying their bundles of firewood back to Takkasila. On their way they passed the snoring sleeper. They kicked him to wake him up and said, “Wake up! Wake up! It’s time to return to our teacher.”
The lazy student woke up suddenly and rubbed his eyes. Still not fully awake, he climbed up the tree. He began breaking off branches and discovered that they were actually still green, not dry at all. While he was breaking one of them, it snapped back and poked him in the eye. From then on he had to hold his eye with one hand while he finished gathering his bundle of green wood. Then he carried it back to Takkasila, running to catch up. He was the last one back, and threw his bundle on top of the rest.
Meanwhile an invitation arrived to a religious ceremony. It was to be held the next day at a remote village. The holy man told his 500 pupils, “This will be good training for you. You will have to eat an early breakfast tomorrow morning. Then go to the village for the religious service. When you return, bring back my share of the offerings as well as your own.”
The students awoke early the next morning. They awakened the college cook and asked her to prepare their breakfast porridge. She went out in the dark to the woodpile. She picked up the top bundle of the lazy man’s green wood. She brought it inside and tried to start her cooking fire. But even though she blew and blew on it, she couldn’t get the fire going. The wood was too green and damp.
When the sun came up there was still no fire for cooking breakfast. The students said, “It’s getting to be too late to go to the village.” So off they went to their teacher.
The teacher asked them, “Why are you still here? Why haven’t you left yet?” They told him, “A lazy good-for-nothing slept while we all worked. He climbed a tree and poked himself in the eye. He gathered only green wood and threw it on top of the woodpile. This was picked up by the college cook. Because it was green and damp, she couldn’t get the breakfast fire started. And now it’s too late to go to the village.”
The world famous teacher said, “A fool who is lazy causes trouble for everyone. When what should be done early is put off until later, it is soon regretted.”
The moral is: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/11/11/the-green-wood-gatherer-laziness%e2%80%a8/
The location of this sutta is Nalanda, Magadha, near Rajagaha, in Pavarika’s Mango Grove.
The Pali name for Mahavira, the Guide of the Jains who lived about the same time as the Buddha, is Nataputta, the Jains themselves being referred to as “naked ascetics” (niganthas). The sutta tells us that Mahavira – I’ll use the more familiar terms henceforth – is staying at Nalanda with a large gathering of Jains. One of these, Digha Tapassi by name, visits the Buddha after alms round. After exchanging pleasantries, the Buddha invites him to sit. The Buddha proceeds to quiz Digha Tapassi about the teachings of Mahavira.
The Buddha asks him, “How many kinds of action does the Nigantha Nataputta describe for the performance of evil action, for the perpetration of evil action.” A vexed question to be sure! Nataputta’s reply is even more obscure: “Friend Gotama, the Nigantha Nataputta is not accustomed to use the description ‘action, action’; the Nigantha Nataputta is accustomed to use the description ‘rod, rod.’” Bodhi opines that “the Jains regarded bodily, verbal, and mental activity as instruments by which the individual torments himself by prolonging his bondage in samsara and torments others by causing them harm,” the rod being an instrument of punishment (as in the English idiom, “spare the rod, spoil the child”). The Buddha reformulates what appears to be a semantic distinction to how many kinds of rod does Mahavira “describe.” Tapassi’s answer is that Mahavira teaches three kinds of “rod”: body, speech, and mind (in Vajrayana these are called the Three Vajras – “mysteries” in Tendai and Shingon – but, perhaps not surprising in view of other talks, are found explicitly formulated in the Pali Canon as the three primary karmic factors). The point is that Mahavira recognizes body and speech as independent karmic causal factors in addition to mind. This of course contradicts the Buddhist view that intention alone causes karma, and leads to a completely different view of the path that leads to inaction and self-mortification.
This sutta is another demonstration of the Buddha’s dialectical method.
The Buddha asks Tapassi which of the three Mahavira considers the “most reprehensible for the performance of evil action,” to which Tapassi replies that Mahavira considers the bodily road to be most reprehensible. Tapassi then asks the Buddha which “rod” he considers most reprehensible. The Buddha replies that he does not use the description “rod” but rather ruses the description of “action,” thus inverting the original conversation. He replies that he also considers each of the three kinds of action to be independent of each other, but with mental action as the most reprehensible. Thus, the Buddha distinguishes his teaching from that of Mahavira in two respects:
1. The use of the term “action” instead of “rod.”
2. That mental instead of physical action is the most reprehensible.
Bodhi suggests that “mental action” may refer to volition or intention as the root of karma, but (he says) the commentary identifies “mental action” with wrong view.
Tapassi then goes to visit Mahavira, possibly in or near Balaka, thus dating this sutta prior to the death of Mahavira about 425 BCE, somewhat before the death of the Buddha himself between 411 BCE and 383 BCE (cf. DN 29). Just as the Buddha was interested in what Mahavira thought, so Mahavira is interested in the teachings of the Buddha.
Mahavira praises Tapassi’s explanation of Mahavira’s teachings and declares that the mental “rod” is insignificant compared with the bodily rod – the precise opposite view to that of the Buddha.
Upali, Mahavira’s foremost disciple, declares that he will go to the Buddha and defeat him in argument on this point, but Tapassi warns him that “the recluse Gotama is a magician and knows a converting magic by which he converts disciples of other sectarians.” One is reminded of the Buddha’s reason for rejecting the cultivation or demonstration of psychic powers. Mahavira dismisses this objection, however, and encourages Upali to go and refute the Buddha’s doctrine. He even suggests that the Buddha might be converted to Jainism!
Upali goes to see the Buddha. The Buddha declares that “if you will debate on the basis of truth, we might have some conversation about this,” thus establishing the proper basis for any discussion of Buddhist doctrines. Upali agrees. Elsewhere the Buddha emphasizes “common ground” in constructive dialogue.
The Buddha presents Upali with a scenario. Suppose (the Buddha says) a Jain were sick and needed cold water to survive. However, Jainism prohibits the use of cold water because it might contain living organisms (a distinction that we now know to be false, both hot and cold water containing living organisms). Nevertheless, he longs for the cold water that would save his life. Thus, he keeps his vows physically and verbally but violates them mentally. In what state (the Buddha asks) would he be reborn?
Upali replies that he would be reborn among the “mind-bound devas as he is still attached in mind, but not in body or speech. The Buddha replies that Upali has contradicted himself, presumably because the Jain’s rebirth is determined exclusively by his mental attachment. Thus, his mental attachment is more important than his (lack of) physical attachment. Nevertheless, Upali reasserts his original statement that physical action is the most reprehensible.
Next, the Buddha forces Upali to admit that Mahavira teaches that non-volitional infractions of moral law are not demeritorious (as in Buddhism). The Buddha then asks Upali which rod “willing” appertains to. Upali is forced to admit that it appertains to the mental rod, once again proving the Buddha’s point. Nevertheless, Upali reasserts his original statement that physical action is the most reprehensible.
The next argument of the Buddha refers to the notion of psychic powers. He asks Upali whether a man with a sword could kill off the inhabitants of Nalanda (the town where they were at the time) singlehandedly. Upali agrees that such a notion is absurd. But, said the Buddha, could a recluse or brahman with “supernormal power and attained to mastery of mind” do so by an “act of hate”? This is of course the situation of the great Tibetan saint Milarepa, who started his quest as a sorcerer. Upali agreed that he could. The Buddha points out that therefore the mental rod is greater and more powerful than the physical rod, once again contradicting Upali’s original position. Nevertheless, Upali reasserts his original statement that physical action is the most reprehensible.
Next, similar to the previous point, the Buddha reminds Upali that, according to tradition the Dandaka, Kalinga, Mejjha, and Matanga forests, became forests by means of a mental act of hate on the part of the seers.
The foregoing establishes quite clearly that the Pali Canon clearly asserts the reality of psychic, supernormal, or magical powers.
The Buddha reminds Upali that he agreed to debate on the basis of truth, yet every answer he gives contradicts his original position. Upali admits that he agreed with the Buddha from the very first example, yet he continued to oppose him in order to “hear the Blessed One’s varied solutions to the problem,” whereupon he takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha for life as a lay follower. The Buddha exhorts Upali to “investigate thoroughly, householder. It is good for such well-known people like you to investigate thoroughly.” Upali contrasts the Buddha’s commitment to inquiry with the attitude of other sectarians, thus clearly distinguishing Buddhism from sectarianism. The Buddha even advises Upali to continue to give alms to the Jains based on his long association with them! Once again, Upali praises the Buddha for recommending that Upali give gifts to others and not only to the Buddha and his followers.
The Buddha gives Upali “progressive instruction” on giving, virtue, the heavens (i.e., higher dimensions of reality), the danger of sensual pleasures, and the blessing of renunciation, i.e., a general religious talk as we have seen elsewhere, followed by a “special” teaching on the Four Noble Truths. “The spotless immaculate vision of the Dhamma arose in” Upali, and he realized the universality of arising and cessation. Immediately he became a stream entrant.
Returning home, Upali advise his “doorkeeper” to no longer admit Jains to his home because he has become a follower of the Buddha. If they need alms, however, they should wait and alms will be brought to them at the door.
Digha Tapassi heard that Upali has converted to the Buddhadharma, which he reports to Mahavira. Mahavira doesn’t believe it, and asks Tapassi to go to Upali’s home to verify that this is true, which he does. Mahavira still does not believe it, and goes to Upali’s home himself, together with a large number of his followers, and asks to see Upali, who meets with them in his home “in the hall of the central door,” perhaps some sort of antechamber. Whereas before Upali would give Mahavira the best seat, today Upali himself takes the best seat, to Mahavira’s chagrin.
Mahavira becomes abusive, and accuses Upali of insanity, having been caught up in the Buddha’s “net of doctrine” and converted by his “converting magic.” Upali does not deny this, but rather praises the Buddha’s “converting magic.” Bodhi notes that Upali is referring specifically to his attainment of stream entry.
Upali replies by means of a parable that “the doctrine of the foolish [Jains] will give delight to fools but not to the wise, and it will not withstand testing or being smoothened out,” comparing Mahavira’s teachings to a monkey! On the other hand, Upali says that “the doctrine of that Blessed One, accomplished and fully enlightened, will give delight to the wise but not to fools, and it will withstand testing and being smoothened out,” comparing the teachings of the Buddha to a pair of new garments.
Mahavira points out that Upali is known to the king and the Jain congregation as a follower of Mahavira, and asks him whose follower he should now be considered to be? Upali’s response is curious, in that it implies that he is wearing robes (perhaps the white robes of a lay follower of the Buddha). It also seems to imply the presence of the Buddha, since the text says that he “extended his hands in reverential salutation in the direction of the Blessed One” (perhaps the direction where the Blessed One is staying?), and recites a poem in praise of the Buddha in response to Mahavira’s question, which he compares to a heap of flowers.
Upali praises the Buddha using many epithets, including: the Wise One, the Blessed One, the Illuminator, the Hero, the Best of Seers, the Noble One, the Tathagata, the Sublime One, and the Enlightened One.
The poem compares the task of the arhant to that of a soldier, in keeping with the Buddha’s caste. He is the victor in battle, the excellent leader, the leader of the herd, elephant-like.
However, most of all the Buddha is described by his psychological qualities. He is undeluded, unperplexed, confident, sorrowless, content, aware, insightful, skilful and able (punning on the Shakyan family name from which the Buddha comes), conversant, balanced, honest, humble, unworldly, ethical, wise, free, quiet, restrained, happy, beyond any possibility of temptation or vice, independent, fearless, completely self-possessed, retired, and dispassionate. Above all, he is the Tathagata who has liberated and freed himself from the inveiglements of rebirth.
The Buddha is explicitly affirmed to have gained the Triple Knowledge, i.e., the knowledge of the Vedas that underlies Brahmanism.
One can discern a broad development in the stanzas of the poem, beginning with the Wise One whose knowledge is perfect. As such, he is the leader, the bull elephant, especially in the realm of religion, wherein he has achieved the apex of realization, characterized as dispassionate wisdom and freedom from involuntary rebirth.
Most worthy of gifts, most mighty of spirits,
Most perfect of persons, beyond estimation,
The greatest in grandeur, attained the peak of glory:
The Blessed One is he, and I am his disciple.
This poem causes Mahavira to vomit hot blood, and be carried away to Pava on a litter, where he dies, thus dating the sutta to about 425 BCE as stated at the start.
Copyright © 2015 by Alexander Duncan. All rights reserved. The author asserts his moral right. This work may not be copied or distributed without written permission except for short quotations incorporated in a critical review. This and other writings of Alexander Duncan AKA Tseten Thokmey may be found at palisuttas.com and chronikerpress.com.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/11/01/tseten-thokmeys-teaching-for-november-1-2015/
by Wayne Ren-Cheng
Buddhism: The Personal Element
Sutra of the Eight Realizations
Day and night, at all times,
Buddha’s disciples should
Mindfully recite and contemplate
The eight realizations of Great Beings.
The First Realization:
All the world is impermanent.
The earth is fragile and perilous.
The four great elements in here, suffering and emptiness.
In the five skandhas there is no self.
All that arise, change, and perish,
Are illusive, unreal, and without a master.
Mind is the root of evil;
Body a reservoir of sin.
Thus observing and contemplating,
One gradually breaks free from birth and death.
The Second Realization:
Excessive desire is suffering.
Birth, death, and weariness in life
All originate from greed and desires.
Desiring less, being wu-wei,
Bodymind are at ease and free.
The Third Realization:
The mind is insatiable,
Always seeking, thirsty for more,
Thus increasing our cravings.
Bodhisattvas, and all others should renounce such conduct.
Always remember to follow the way,
Be content and at peace with poverty,
With wisdom as the sole vocation.
The Fourth Realization:
Indolence leads to degradation.
Always practice with diligence,
Vanquish all vexations,
Subdue the four maras,
And escape the prison of the skandhas.
The Fifth Realization:
Ignorance leads to birth and death.
Bodhisattvas, and all others should always be mindful
To study and learn extensively,
To increase their wisdom
And perfect their eloquence,
So they can teach and enlighten all beings,
And impart great joy to all.
The Sixth Realization:
Poverty and hardship breed resentment,
Creating harm and discord.
Bodhisattvas, and all others should practice dana,
Beholding the friendly and hostile equally;
They neither harbor grudges
Nor despise malicious people.
The Seventh Realization:
The five desires are perilous.
Even as laity, be not sullied by worldly pleasures;
Think frequently of the three robes,
The tiled bowl, and instruments of Dharma;
Aspire to the noble life
And cultivate the Way with purity;
Let your actions be noble and sublime,
Showering compassion on all.
The Eighth Realization:
Birth and death are like a blazing fire
Plagued with endless afflictions and suffering.
Vow to cultivate the serene mind,
To bring relief to all;
To take on infinite sufferings for sentient beings,
And lead all to supreme joy.
Translated from Chinese by the Chung Tai Translation Committee with pragmatic cultural changes made by Wayne Ren-Cheng
It is important when reading and studying the sutras and other Buddhist texts that we do not always take the language and ideas literally. From Siddhartha’s language and concepts being tied so closely with the pre-Buddhism Hindi culture and faith, to the early Buddhist Councils where the sutras were first written down, all the way to contemporary translations there are the cultural dynamics and use of language at each stage that need close examination.
Siddhartha, with his central focus on teaching the Four Ennobling Truths, and the dharma of impermanence and dependent origination spoke with the language and worldview of the Hindu culture. Siddhartha understood that only through the skillful means using ideas that already resonated with the people could he reach them with his radically different message.
In the initial Buddhist Council, when Ananda and others recited what they had heard the Buddha had say there were others writing it down using words and concepts they were comfortable with. Later councils, some hundreds of years later interpreted the Buddha’s words within different cultural and religious contexts. The arising Buddhists of the Southeast Asian, East Asian, and Tibetan cultures did the same. Jumping ahead to Westerner’s first encounters with Buddhist philosophy and writings, the language they knew was that of Christianity so the language revealed that. It is fairly certain that the Buddha didn’t use the words “thee” and “thou” or talk about “sin” and “forgiveness”.
Pragmatically, in contemporary culture the language of Buddhism in the West is changing again. In Engaged Dharma we try to approach the sutras with what Richard Rorty (whose Neo-pragmatist philosophy plays a determining role in many arising American Buddhist traditions) would term pre-linguistic (before attaching words) awareness. Teachers and scholars who work to offer the traditional dharma to a contemporary audience work diligently to get beyond the words to the intent of any teaching so that its value can be realized. Siddhartha himself must have had a pre-linguistic awareness of the Dharma before it was necessary to put it into words. While the words are important, it is the INTENT that is critical.
The Origin of the Sutra
This sutra was translated from Pali to Chinese by the Parthian monk, An Shih Kao during the later Han Dynasty, 140-171 CE. The original Pali document has since been lost. Like the Sutra on the Six Paramitas it is thought to be combination of smaller works. The sutra is chanted and studied in both the Mahayana and Theravadan traditions, making it a text that broadly influences Buddhist practices.
Each of the eight realizations are meant to be subjects of meditation and moment-to-moment practice. Within each one there are levels of practice that lead to gradual realization of the paths to positive personal development. The sutra is lyrical, its simple words meant to be chanted and memorized. And, each of these subjects can be further divided to reveal the depth of ideals contained in Buddhist philosophy. The concepts of causality (dependent origination), not-self, karma, attachment, potential (emptiness), selflessness, impermanence, mindfulness and more are found in the Sutra of Eight Realizations.
Although the form of the sutra is simple, its content is extremely profound and marvelous. The Sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings is not an analysis of anything. It is a realistic and effective approach to meditation.
We’ll be experiencing the Eight Realizations through a contemporary, pragmatic lens, one meant to reveal that even 2500 years later this work has relevance in practicing Buddhism in the West.
These Eight Realizations empower humans to make positive changes to alleviate suffering, and enable them to realize their potential as positive agents of change in the Universe. We can choose to be more aware of our carbon footprint and other environmental factors of living. Through that awareness followed by action we can make positive changes, or at least mitigate the negative. Personally we improve the matter (health) of our bodies. We can come to recognize that emotions and sensations are transitory phenomena and that we can choose how we react to them. Mental formations, our dispositions such as selfishness and attachment can be discarded and replaced with selflessness and generosity.
We will be creatively re-describing “evil and sin”, offering a more useful view for a contemporary practice. We develop mindfulness so we can recognize our dispositions and habits, we practice meditation to develop awareness so that we come to realize that each experience causes the “death” of what we were then and the “birth” of what we come to be. It is not a matter of WHO we are, it is a matter of HOW we are.
The First Realization clarifies the four basic subjects of Buddhist meditation: impermanence, suffering, not-self, and dispositions. Our meditation practice should develop deeper levels of mindfulness of these realities.
All things are impermanent. Moment-to-moment everything goes through changes dependent on their experiences and intent. Impermanence is a direct result of the core Buddhist concept of casuality or dependent origination. The Universe is a causal process where everything changes dependent on its experiences. We must always be aware and mindful that our actions have consequences.
The four great elements (earth, water, fire, air) that make up the world, and the five skandhas or aggregates (Matter, Feelings/Sensations, Perception, Mental Formations, Thought Processes, Consciousness) that make up the self are all impermanent.
There must be awareness of psychophysical suffering or unsatisfactoriness. Being aware of suffering leads us to our responsibility to work toward its alleviation in ourselves and the surrounding Universe.
Physical pain is a small part of the suffering that the Four Ennobling Truths reveal. More important is the psychophysical suffering; the suffering/unsatisfactoriness/discontent/anguish that comes from unnatural attachments and desires. The suffering that comes from not realizing the transitory/impermanent nature of phenomena, even pain.
There is no permanent self, there is the not-self that is subject to impermanence and the causal process of the Universe. This empowers us by making us mindful that our actions and thoughts can be changed for the better.
All of us have heard someone say, “I can’t change. This is who I am.” The Buddha would say, “Bull!” Stephen Batchelor, one of the most respected Buddhist teachers of our time has a suggestion for anyone who believes they “can never change”. Get your family photo albums and find every possible photo of yourself. Now, put them in chronological order. Begin with yourself as a baby and continue through to the present. Think about who you were at each stage, think about the experiences of each stage, and then try to convince yourself that you’ve never changed.
The skandhas, the five aggregates of material form, feelings, perception, mental formations, and the six senses arise and fall within moment-to-moment experience but they have no inherent existence, nor are they a permanent aspect of HOW we are. They are causal factors of our dispositions and habits but they are not us. Whether positive, negative or neutral they are transitory phenomena and can, and will change. Some change happens as a result of universal circumstances beyond our control, while other changes must be achieved through our own effort and commitment.
Anger can be changed to calm. Anxiety can be changed to action. Grasping can be changed to generosity. And, in this causal Universe good dispositions like contentment can be changed to depression. Buddhist practice, beginning with meditation can help one develop their positive dispositions and weaken the negative ones. Dispositions are as affected by impermanence as any other thing.
In Buddhist philosophy the mind is not a root of evil any more than it is the root of good. The mind, or consciousness is the root of choices, choices that are influenced by HOW we are. Ignorance is more likely to lead to negative choices, while a mind trained in the ways of equanimity and wisdom is likely to make positive choices. The body is not a reservoir of sin. The actions of the body are directly caused by the state of the mind which is why I prefer the term ‘bodymind’ as a reminder of that link. The body doesn’t store up the positive and negative experiences, it only responds to them.
As we observe and contemplate the Sutra of Eight Realizations the realizations of impermanence, of dependent causality, of not-self, and of the bodymind will arise, and the knowledge of our ability to transform from a state of ignorance, to one of equanimity and wisdom will follow.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/10/21/sutra-of-eight-realizations-part-one-the-personal-element/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/10/18/maha-mangala-sutta/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/10/18/guided-metta-meditation/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/10/05/thich-nhat-hanh-on-birth-and-death/
|Oh Buddhas and Bodhisattvas abiding in all directions,
Endowed with great compassion,
Endowed with foreknowledge,
Endowed with divine eye,
Endowed with love,
Affording protection to sentient beings,
Please come forth through the power of your great compassion,
Please accept these offerings, both actually presented and mentally created.Oh Compassionate Ones, you who possess
The wisdom of understanding,
The love of compassion,
The power of doing divine deeds,
And of protecting in incomprehensible measure,
Teak has passed from this world to the next,
He is taking a great leap,
The light of this world has faded for him
He has entered solitude with their karmic forces,
He has gone into a vast silence,
He is borne away by the great ocean of birth and death..…
Oh Compassionate Ones, protect Teak who is defenceless. Be to him like a mother and father.
Oh Compassionate Ones, let not the force of your compassion be weak, but aid him.
Let Teak not go into the miserable states of existence.
Forget not your ancient vows.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/08/31/a-buddhist-prayer-for-teak-zenovka/
Teak Zenovka has left this physical world last Friday He was a Zen Teacher at the Buddha Center and he helped creating and constructing the buddha center in SL. His love and compassion and teaching will continue in us. Please light a candle for him and his family.
This body is not me
I am not limited by this body
I am life without boundaries
I have never been born
and I have never died
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars
manifestations from my wondrous true mind
Since before time, I have been free
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass
sacred thresholds on our journey
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek
So laugh with me
Let us say good-bye,
Say good-bye, to meet again soon
We meet today
We will meet again tomorrow
We will meet at the source every moment
We meet each other in all forms of life
Thich Nhat Hanh
Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2015/08/31/teak-zenovka-zen-teacher-at-the-buddha-center/