Oct 11

What is Silent Illumination ( Shikantaza (只管打坐?)


What is Silent Illumination?

By Simon Child

Article commissioned by Medytacja magazine (Poland).

Anyone who has ever tried any meditation will understand what I mean when I say that our minds are often noisy and dull. ‘Noisy’ because we experience the ‘voices’ of our thoughts filling our minds with words and images. ‘Dull’ because we see only a part of our present circumstances and environment, the part which preoccupies us, and we overlook much else that may be present. The Chan (Chinese Zen Buddhist) practice of Silent Illumination points the way to correcting this, by leading us to a mind in which the awareness is wide-open and all-seeing (clear, bright, awake, ‘Illuminated’) and yet the mind does not generate any commentary or other mental chatter (calm, peaceful, ‘Silent’).

The fundamental problem is our innate tendency, which we have each developed and refined during the decades of our lives, to evaluate the world in terms of whether some circumstance or encounter may be beneficial or dangerous to ‘me’, in which case I give it a lot of attention, or whether it seems unimportant or irrelevant, in which case I ignore it. This splitting goes on all the time, sometimes consciously but often unconsciously. It is the process that the Buddha referred to in the second Noble Truth as the origin of ‘Dukkha’, the Sanskrit word for suffering or dissatisfaction – we are preoccupied with concern that we may not get what we want, and may lose what we have, and this leaves us wary and unsettled.

It is natural and useful that we do that to some extent, or else we might fall prey to common dangers such as starvation or car accidents. But we are such complex social creatures with such powerful thinking minds that we overdo it. We can spend many hours thinking anxiously about some past situation and trying to rework it because we didn’t like the outcome, or planning future possibilities fearing an unfavourable result, and all this time our attention has been narrowed and we have overlooked opportunities and delights in the present moment. Practising Silent Illumination leads us to a balanced mind, one which indeed can function safely and effectively in response to common dangers and opportunities but which is not ‘narrow-minded’ and preoccupied with selfish concerns.

The two aspects of the practice, Silence and Illumination, need to be cultivated together. If we over-emphasise one aspect and neglect the other then that is not Silent Illumination. For example, there are many meditation methods which emphasise calming and silencing the mind but often these include an element of suppression of the mind so as to reduce the tendency for the mind to wander. The common method of settling the mind by focusing on the breath (or some other object such as a mantra or an image) may be excellent for a meditator whose mind is very unsettled (and so we often recommend this as preparation for practising Silent Illumination). But by directing the mind to focus solely on the breath one is excluding the possibility of a wide open awareness. Silent Illumination takes a different approach.

One meaning of the term ‘Silent Illumination’ is not a meditation method at all but is a state or a way of being. If you are in a state of wide open awareness with a silent mind then there is no need to apply any method of meditation. Indeed to do so would be inappropriate as you would be adding unnecessary activities and ambitions to a mind which is already bright and clear. This is the state of Silent Illumination, but the question is how might one discover or enter that state.

It is possible that you might fall into that state spontaneously, and it is also possible that you might move to it from some other meditation method. For example, if well-practised at following the breath you may be able to maintain the same concentration and silence of mind whilst opening the awareness wider than just the breath. The traditional way to enter Silent Illumination is by settling the attention on awareness of your body, the experience of sitting, the sense of bodily presence.

It may appear that focusing on body awareness could lead to the same problem as focusing on breath awareness, that you would exclude a wider awareness, but it turns out to be quite different. It is through the sense organs of the body that we hear sounds, we see light and objects, and we feel the touch of a breeze and perhaps smell the scent of incense or flowers. So in focusing on body awareness we are automatically cultivating awareness of our surroundings as well. And similarly we also include full awareness of our inner world, most directly as we experience emotional feelings being felt as part of the physical body sensation but also as we locate thoughts as arising ‘in’ the body or head. We discover that the act of sitting with full experience of our body sensation leads us to cultivate a full three-dimensional 360 degree awareness of physical body together with our inner and outer worlds.

It can be a difficult practice to stabilise, and it is wise to check your practice with a teacher. As the awareness is open wide there is so much more material for the mind to comment about and so the silence may be lost. And in trying to suppress the tendency of the mind to wander the awareness can become reduced. In either case this is not yet Silent Illumination, but with guidance and practice one can taste the freedom and spaciousness and liveliness of this state.

This is an ancient practice which derives from the teachings of the Buddha, from the Samatha-Vipassana practices of Indian Buddhism, from the early Chan Masters, and especially from Chan Master Hongzhi in 12th Century China. Subsequently it spread to other countries, notably to Japan where it is the basis of the Soto Zen practice of Shikantaza. It is an ancient Oriental practice with monastic origins, but one which is perfectly suited to modern Western lay people who can learn and cultivate the practice and naturally carry it through into their lives as an everyday mindfulness which is present, attentive, and open in all circumstances.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/10/11/what-is-silent-illumination-shikantaza-%e5%8f%aa%e7%ae%a1%e6%89%93%e5%9d%90/

Sep 25



“According to Buddhism, compassion is an aspiration, a state of mind, wanting others to be free from suffering. It’s not passive — it’s not empathy alone — but rather an empathetic altruism that actively strives to free others from suffering. Genuine compassion must have both wisdom and lovingkindness. That is to say, one must understand the nature of the suffering from which we wish to free others (this is wisdom), and one must experience deep intimacy and empathy with other sentient beings (this is lovingkindness).”(1)

“The White Knight Syndrome represents a strong inclination some men have to seek women who are or appear to be in need of help (usually the more help the merrier), and on his own initiative provide that help (often no matter the sacrifice), without requesting anything in return.” (2)

It is not just men that display this syndrome, as a lesbian, I too have suffered from it with the desire to rescue damsels in distress. As a practicing Buddhist, and lay practitioner that has taken the Boddhisatvaa vow; I have both an interest in and obligation to distinguish between the two motivations, and choose appropriate actions and behaviors from a place of clear view and intention.

To outline the difference of these two approaches to “assisting others”, I shall provide more details of what White Night Syndrome entails.

“With this penchant towards saving women comes a whole set of perceptions (many of them unconscious) that model the white knight’s emotions and behavior. Your archetypal white knight:
Sees women as powerless and unable to defend or take care of themselves.
Sees women’s problems as the result of misfortune or the cruelty of this world, never as their own fault. Women are never responsible for their troubles.
Considers it is men’s responsibility to help women solve their problems and sees doing so as a sign of nobility.
Thinks a woman will forever be grateful to a man who helps her. She will praise him, love him and give herself to him.
Sees men in black and white: they are either good or bad, there is no middle ground, and the decisive factor is how they treat women.
There are many clichés and stereotypes in the way a white knight perceives men and women, and this perception is indeed much more descriptive of folktales than of actual reality.
The White Knight Syndrome essentially stems from two erroneous beliefs that all white knights have in common. Deep down, they believe that 1) it is imperative for them to be liked by all women and 2) they are not good enough to be liked by women as they are.
Thus, the White Knight Syndrome ensues, as sort of a coping mechanism.
The white knight craves female approval, attention and companionship, as well as sex, a romantic relationship and perhaps marriage. But he doesn’t believe that he can obtain these things by just being himself, because he thinks he’s not good enough.
He believes he has to do something special to cope with this predicament. And the something special he discovered is trying to save women from their troubles. It’s no wonder he is drawn to women who need saving like a fly to honey.
At some level he thinks that if he can find women who are weak and in dire need of help, and he will swiftly jump in to provide that help, he will get these women to like him and give him all that he craves from them. Without him openly asking for any of it.
Even though the white knight asks for nothing in return for the help he offers and he may seem to offer it out of pure kindness or morality, make no mistake about it: he has a personal agenda, which he keeps hidden (often so well even he’s not truly aware of it). He wants something from the women he helps. Sometimes it’s only something emotional such as their approval, other times it’s something more material.
Unfortunately, to the white knight’s utter surprise, instead of providing him what he wants from women, his behavior mostly generates steep negative consequences.” (3).

To learn more about this Syndrome check out the link in the reference are from which the quoted material comes.

I started the title of this article with the word seasoned to illustrate the point that it takes true self investigation and honesty to truly understand ones inner motivations for taking vows and displaying behaviors. Oftentimes one runs into conflicts with self and others unaware of their origin. This in fact has happened to me over and over, as I truly do have compassion, seriously and wholeheartedly took the Bodhisattva Vow, but was unaware that my behavior towards women was laced with the ” White Knight Syndrome”, until a woman I was flattering responded to my behavior by simply saying White Knight Syndrome. I looked it up, and found myself on every line of the article, minus being a man of course. I merely thought I must have been a man many times in past lives to want to rescue Damsels in Distress and had no idea about the syndrome. I will be forever grateful to her for opening my eyes to a lifetime of erroneous behavior on my part. It is no wonder I sensed an inner conflict between my vow and my penchant for flattering and wooing women.

So whether you are a man or woman, Buddhist or not, I encourage you to look deeper into yourself, it just may free you to engender true compassion for yourself and others, who knows it could lead you and them to true liberation.
In the Dharma, Jinpa.

(1) http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/compassion.htm
(2) http://iameduard.com/whiteknight/
(3) http://iameduard.com/whiteknight/


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/09/25/seasoned-compassion-v-s-white-knight-syndrome/

Sep 13

Teaching by Chang Xiang Fashi at the Dharma Drum Retreat Center


You Want to Get Liberated, But You Don’t Want to Change

By Chang Xiang Fashi

Dharma Talk given on March 26, 2015 at DDRC’s Thursday Evening Meditation Group

audio version

So on Thursday evenings, apart from the meditation, we also hold a Dharma Talk, so that we can talk about theories and methods – about how to really practice, and some problems you may be having.

Today, I want to talk about a certain concept. Have any of you seen the movie trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron?

It’s a new movie – you can see it in theatres in May – but now you can only see the trailer. Actually, before I became a monk, I loved watching movies. Now, I couldn’t really see the full movie, but I can at least see the trailer – and it’s legal, because you can find it on YouTube.

And in that trailer, there’s a line that’s very interesting – it says:

“You want to protect the world, but you don’t want to change.”

Anyone have any impressions?

This phrase reminds me of when we practice, because usually, we don’t really want to change ourselves. In Chinese, the word for practice, xiū xíng, consists of two characters:

  1. The first character means ‘to adjust or modify’
  2. The second means ‘behavior’

So xiū xíng means ‘to adjust your behavior,’ or ‘to modify your behavior.’

This is why, during our retreats, we usually teach people to do Five Harmonizations, which are to:

  1. Harmonize the Diet
  2. Harmonize the Sleep
  3. Harmonize the Body
  4. Harmonize the Breath
  5. Harmonize the Mind

The purpose of these Five Harmonizations is to make our body and mind suitable for practice, suitable for meditation.

And you have to understand these Five Harmonizations sequentially, and as being interconnected:

If you couldn’t harmonize your diet and sleep,
you couldn’t harmonize your body.If you couldn’t harmonize your body,
you couldn’t harmonize your breath.If you couldn’t harmonize your breath,
you couldn’t harmonize your mind.

So we have to adjust ourselves step-by-step, and today, I first want to talk about harmonizing our diet.

What It Means to Harmonize Your Diet

To harmonize your diet is to know how to eat properly.

I come from Taiwan, and I think many people know that in Taiwan, there are lots of delicious foods. So Taiwanese people love to eat, and they know how to make good food.

I like delicious food too, but when I came here as a monk, I was put in charge of the kitchen; so it’s my duty to serve people healthy food, and to harmonize their diet, because the food we serve here at the monastery is what the practitioners have to eat – they don’t have much choice.

There are certain principles we have to follow in the kitchen. We couldn’t serve hamburgers and French fries every meal – that would make practitioners sick. So we have to serve a healthy diet, and we have to make the nutrition balanced, because that’s very important during a retreat: if you can’t eat good food, or enough food, that would generate many problems.

The four principles we have to follow in the kitchen are clear – the food must be:

  1. Nutritious
  2. Healthy
  3. Hygienic
  4. Reasonably Priced

Those are the four principles we have to follow when we serve food.

You can notice there’s no ‘Delicious’ principle there. Making the food delicious is not our first priority. That’s not even in the four principles, even though most people like delicious food, and most of the time that’s the first reason why they eat a particular meal.

When you go out to eat, the first concern is: “Does this restaurant’s food taste good?” For the majority of people, taste is what matters most.

But people come here to the monastery to practice – we don’t want them to expect too much from the food; although, our chefs are very good at cooking food, so most of the time our food is delicious.

But that’s not what is most important.



This is an amazing retreat center started by the Late Master Sheng Yen in the USA.  His legacy is carried on.

The Dharma Drum Retreat Center is located off of Rt. 52 in Pine Bush, NY at 184 Quannacut Road. If you or your group would like to visit our retreat center, please call (845) 744-8114 or email us at [email protected] to request an appointment.

Please note that visits are not allowed when a retreat is in session.



Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/09/13/teaching-by-chang-xiang-fashi-at-the-dharma-drum-retreat-center/

Jul 01

All Phenomena is Causally Conditioned . . . Even You

All Phenomena is Causally Conditioned . . . Even You

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

Causality, co-dependent arising, the causal chain, the arising and falling away of phenomena, causal conditioning, these are all labels for the causes and effects brought about by the reality of impermanence. Due to the dynamism of the Universe we inhabit there is always change, always room for change, always the potential for change. The reality of the arising and falling away of phenomena adds vitality to the Noble Path, the path of positive transformation. Impermanence is a dharma ideal. Causal conditioning is the reality that arises from that ideal.

In the Paccaya Sutta the Buddha says:

When this is present, that comes to be:

from the arising of this, that arises.

When this is absent, that does not come to be:

on the cessation of this, that ceases.

In causal conditioning there can be no ONE cause or ONE effect. All phenomena arise from a variety of causes and effects. No matter whether it is a thought, action, philosophy, material, food, theories, emotions, or ideas they are all subject to the actions of other phenomena though every causal event that contributed may be beyond our ability to comprehend or discover. This does not negate the reality of causal conditions, just our ability as human beings to recognize all the nuances of the causal Universe.

There is an aphorism that says you are the author of your own story. That is true given that you choose how you respond to each situation, still you are responding to causes and effects you are mindful and aware of . . . and not to those causes you have no awareness of. Your intent must be to engage with causal factors more likely to cause the arising of wholesome consequences, and to allow the falling away of those causal factors likely to cause unwholesome consequences. You must seek to take control of the causal conditions you can so that those you can’t control will have a lesser impact on your wholesome personal transformation.

In the Majjhima Nikayas, the Maha-hatthipadopama-sutta (36) the Buddha teaches that “He who sees causality (dependent origination, co-dependent arising) sees the dharma, and he who sees the dharma sees causality.” Without an understanding and recognition of dependent origination following the Eightfold Path or engaging in any other Buddhist practice can be an empty exercise. The potential is there but the realization of possibilities will not be. In another teaching (Itivuttaka, from the Kuddhaka Nikaya) the Buddha said, “A disciple sees the dharma, and seeing the dharma sees me.” The Buddha was speaking directly to a gathering of monks but the same holds true for anyone. Causality is the core of understanding the dharma, and of realizing how Buddhist practice can be effective in transforming our personal character and the world around us. Realizing the ideal of causality empowers us with the knowledge that we can make a difference through our engaged actions, whether they be within ourselves, or with others, or with the world around us. This is a powerful and liberating realization.

The Buddha talked about four characteristics of causal relationships:

Objectivity: Dependent origination or causal conditioning is a fact no matter what angle it is viewed from. Metaphysics or science, human or animal, seen or not seen, there are causal results of actions taken, or not taken, recognized or not.
Necessity: Nothing happens from “thin air”. The cause may not be discernible but there is a cause, and often a chain, or web of causes.
Invariability: Even events that appear to have no cause, have a cause. While an action/result may have been unintentional, it wasn’t accidental, there was a cause. One may not have intended a particular outcome of their actions, yet they bear at least some responsibility for that outcome. This is why intent is critical in how we interact with the world around us. Whether we recognize it or not our actions are going to have consequences so we engage the world in such a way as to engender positive outcomes, positive karmic consequences.
Conditionality: Events are situational due to the conditions under which they happen. Unconditional would imply determinism, that an event was pre-destined or was an arbitrary occurrence. All phenomena are causally conditioned; they arise, fall, change and interact as a result of being influenced by some other action or thought. In RL when the ching bell is struck the sound follows. That is its causally conditioned action. In SL that is not always so. I can ring the ching bell here by aligning the hand symbol on it and tapping the keyboard but it doesn’t always lead to the sound. In SL the ching bell might not ring due to a glitch in programming or in the transmission of my physical action to the virtual action. This is virtual causal conditioning.
All causal relationships are dependent on all four of the factors above. It is one of the Three Characteristics of Existence, along with not-self and impermanence, that the Buddha awakened to.

In the Paccaya Sutta (Discourse on Causal Relations – SN), the Buddha tells his disciples that the dharma is subject to causality and so would undergo changes in accordance with causal factors like environment, culture, context and level of need; the reality of causally conditioned phenomena. He offered that a realization of causal conditioning explains the existence of all phenomena and the complex interactions between them. A realization of causality empowers one with the knowledge that you can make a difference through your intentional actions, but also you make a difference through unintentional ones. It brings with the knowledge that internal and external phenomena mold HOW you are so effort and commitment made to be more mindful of those influences is valuable on the Noble Path or any other positively oriented path. It is a liberating realization.

Viewing how you interact with the Universe through a causal lens can change your perceptions, intent and actions. When you realize that every move, thought and word WILL become part of the web of causal conditioning the need and value of mindfulness and awareness becomes crystal clear.

Think before you speak or act is an age-old aphorism. What about think before you think? How you think leads to a causal chain of how you’ll continue to think unless you become the cause of your own transformation. How we think naturally leads to how we act. Through practice and study we may come to realize that some patterns of thought are negative and they are leading us to make even more bad decisions. Causality allows the opportunity to make positive changes along with the knowledge that intentional thought leads to good decisions and positively directed actions.

Viewing issues and problems through a causal lens improves your ability to enact lasting positive solutions. We are less likely to place blame on one individual or one vent as a cause by looking for weak strands in the causal web that connects cause to effect to cause to effect . . . Fixing or adjusting more than one strand of the web will enable you to spin more corrective and encompassing solutions to the unique situations you experience each moment.

Picture a spider’s web, yourself at the center. Whatever happens to, or on that web affects you. When the web “vibrates” then something caused it, and that vibration will effect something else. A strand of web doesn’t just snap . . . like your friend doesn’t get angry for nothing. Dew doesn’t just appear on the web . . . like that twenty dollar bill didn’t just appear on the sidewalk. It might have been the wind, an unusually strong moth, it hadn’t been properly attached, or a cause that can’t be clearly viewed that snapped the strand. No matter how you view a phenomena it has undergone its own unique set of circumstances; nothing arises “out of thin air”. You are responsible for developing mindfulness of self-caused effects, as well awareness of possible of outside causes. You are responsible for your intent and your actions because the center of your web is interlinked with all other webs.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/07/01/all-phenomena-is-causally-conditioned-even-you/

Jun 29



12 – Yourself

Love yourself and watch —

Today, Tomorrow, always.


First establish yourself in the way,

Then teach,

And so defeat sorrow.


To straighten the crooked

You must first do a harder thing —

Straighten yourself.


You are your only master.

Who else?

Subdue yourself,

And discover your master.


Willfully you have fed

Your own mischief.

Soon it will crush you

As the diamond crushes stone.


By your own folly

You will be brought as low

As your worst enemy wishes.

So the creeper chokes the tree.


How hard it is to serve yourself,

How easy to lose yourself

In mischief and folly.


The kashta reed dies when it bears


So the fool,

Scorning the teachings of the


Spurning those who follow the law,

Perishes when his folly flowers.


Mischief is yours.

Sorrow is yours.

But virtue is also yours,

And purity.


You are the source

Of all purity and impurity.


No one purifies another.


Never neglect your work

For another’s,

However great his need.


Your work is to discover your work

And then with all your heart

To give yourself to it.


I have been dealing with a situation in Second Life for three months. In a nutshell, a painful personal relationship developed in Second Life. On this night, after much soul searching, I decided to end this relationship, and in great pain randomly chose one of the chapters of this book. It of course was right on the money as they say. There is not much else I can share about this, except I wandered away from the Buddha Center, ran into my reflection, and now I have returned. I share this because I think it is a common occurrence and this piece in the DHAMMAPADA could save you the detour if you take it as a meditation now, and if you have already lost your way, then again, NOW. I thank the Sangha for their support and all the true friends I have made there and elsewhere in-world. Namaste Jinpa Karu.



Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/06/29/dhammapada-yourself/

Jun 27

Thich Nhat Hanh – Through The Insight Of Interbeing


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/06/27/thich-nhat-hanh-through-the-insight-of-interbeing/

Jun 23


In an ancient Buddhist story, the Buddha’s faithful attendant, Ananda, asked about the importance of having wholesome companions. Ananda asked the Buddha whether having noble friends and companions wasn’t half of the holy life. The Buddha replied: “Do not say so, Ananda. Noble friends and companions are the whole of the holy life.” (SN 45.2, Bhikkhu Bodhi)

Whatever kind of life you have, your friends are both a part of it and a reflection of it. Work or school associates, sports teammates, companions in religious community – in all of these there is some degree of choice. You accept a job, join a team, or become a member of a social group; and you choose how closely to associate with the people in each group. Even in your family, you choose how close or distant to be with individual members.
Within each of these affiliation groups, there may be people you’d like to know better and those you’d like to avoid spending time with. How do you choose which people fall into which category? Do you like the ones who seem to like you? Or the people you consider the most physically attractive? Are you drawn to people you consider thoughtful, or wise and helpful? Do you passively wait to be contacted, by anyone at all? Somehow, by some sorting method, you end up with friends and acquaintances that influence you and whom you influence.

Are your friends wholesome companions?
One definition of a good friend is someone who brings out what is best in you. She might do this by following your lead when you do something worth emulating, and by telling you directly what she admires about you. A good friend discourages what is worst in you, perhaps by declining to follow an unwise lead, and sometimes by telling you directly when she thinks something is off. By her actions and words, a good friend gives you helpful feedback. Out of genuine concern for your well-being, a good friend will support your wholesome actions and discourage your unwholesome actions.

Are you a wholesome friend to your companions?
On the other side of the question, how much of the time are you a wise and beneficial friend? Do you encourage people to do what’s best, even if there’s nothing in it for you? Are you willing to bring up awkward topics if you think it will help another person? Do you appreciate your relationships? Do you attend to them regularly, showing that you are grateful for them?

What did the Buddha say about friends?

In a lesson directed to a person not connected with the Buddha (DN31, tr. Kelly, Sawyer, Yareham), the Buddha outlines what to look out for in a false friend, and what actions would make you a false friend.

Young man, be aware of these four enemies disguised as friends: the taker, the talker, the flatterer, and the reckless companion.

The taker can be identified by four things: by only taking, asking for a lot while giving little, performing duty out of fear, and offering service in order to gain something.

The talker can be identified by four things: by reminding of past generosity, promising future generosity, mouthing empty words of kindness, and protesting personal misfortune when called on to help.

The flatterer can be identified by four things: by supporting both bad and good behavior indiscriminately, praising you to your face, and putting you down behind your back.

The reckless companion can be identified by four things: by accompanying you in drinking, roaming around at night, partying, and gambling.

In the same lesson, the Buddha continues by outlining what to look for in a good friend and how to be that valuable friend.

Young man, be aware of these four good-hearted friends:

the helper, the friend who endures in good times and bad, the mentor, and the compassionate friend.
The helper can be identified by four things: by protecting you when you are vulnerable, and likewise your wealth, being a refuge when you are afraid, and in various tasks providing double what is requested.

The enduring friend can be identified by four things: by telling you secrets, guarding your own secrets closely, not abandoning you in misfortune, and even dying for you.

The mentor can be identified by four things: by restraining you from wrongdoing, guiding you towards good actions, telling you what you ought to know, and showing you the path to heaven [lasting happiness].

The compassionate friend can be identified by four things: by not rejoicing in your misfortune, delighting in your good fortune, preventing others from speaking ill of you, and encouraging others who praise your good qualities.

That is what the Buddha said.

Monks, a friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven?

He gives what is beautiful, hard to give,
does what is hard to do,
endures painful, ill-spoken words.
His secrets he tells you,
your secrets he keeps.
When misfortunes strike,
he doesn’t abandon you;
when you’re down & out,
doesn’t look down on you.
A person in whom these traits are found,
is a friend to be cultivated
by anyone wanting a friend.

Remember what the Buddha said. There is no condition of life that more powerfully influences your development than cultivating wholesome friends and companions. Start with yourself, as you are today, and build on your strengths to become a better friend and companion to others. And choose who you spend time with carefully.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/06/23/friendships/

Jun 20


Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 5.20.52 AM

I am Posting this article I found on today and tonight’s event because I feel Summer Solstice is a most auspicious time of the year, the longest day. For me the longest day of the year means a day when I can choose to live as virtuously as possible and then dedicate that action to all beings with the intention that they may have an auspicious year full of virtuous actions. So here I give you Bob Bermans article from “The Old Farmers Almanac”  Also here is a link for the article and viewing the full moon in action.http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-summer-2016-summer-solstice


On June  20, 2016, the Full Moon appears on the same night as the summer solstice! It’s rare, all right.


A full Moon hasn’t landed smack on the solstice since 1948.  But that’s what’s actually happening on Monday, June 20.

This has visible in-your-face consequences.

First, there’s the solstice …

  • The solstice is, of course, the day with the most minutes of sunshine.
  • It’s when the midday Sun is the year’s highest.
  • The sun rises at its leftmost spot on the horizon and sets at its rightmost position.
  • The setting sun sprays into windows at a strange angle, and touches bits of furniture that are not illuminated at any other time.
  • The Sun’s path across the sky makes its longest and most curvy arc.
  • Check out your shadow at 1:00 PM, like Puxtatawney Phil.  This Monday that’s your shortest shadow of the year.

Then you have the full Moon.  By landing exactly on the solstice, this Full Moon doesn’t just rise as the Sun sets but is opposite the Sun in all other ways too.

The Sun gets super high so this Moon must be super-low. Even at its loftiest at 1 AM, it’s downright wimpy-low. This forces its light through thicker air, which also tends to be humid this time of year, and the combination typically makes it amber colored.

This is the true Honey Moon.

The moment of full Moon is early Monday morning.  So it will look equally full on Sunday night and Monday night.  You get two chances to enjoy the Solstice honeymoon.

On the evening of June 20, join me. We’ll be looking through a giant telescope at the Moon, courtesy of Slooh, and you can see it, too, through our live feed right to this Web site. Pretty amazing, right?

~ By  Bob Berman


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/06/20/summer-solstice-full-moon-in-june/

Jun 13

Dharma of the Individual

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

Buddhism in the West must find a way to skillfully harness the power of the individualistic view and action of those who choose the Noble Path. In each person is a reservoir of imagination, skills, gifts, compassion and the Buddha-element. These are reservoirs that can be tapped for the benefit of all. Their attitude might begin with the ideal of what’s in it for me. What does Buddhist philosophy and practice offer that will improve my situation? Each practitioner must be guided to the gradual realization that while expression is unique, suffering in some form is not. Awareness of the effects of the practitioners intent and action beyond themselves must be developed and nurtured so the realization that whatever the thought or action there are causal consequences.

There are practitioners who view Judeo/Christian beliefs as the cultural aspect of the West that Buddhism must come to terms with. In the West it is the dominant religious and social framework, especially in America. However, there is a prevailing psychological phenomena endemic to the majority of Americans regardless of religious or secular identity. Individualism. Finding skillful means of transforming perceptions of “what’s in it for me” to “what’s in it for all beings” is a major challenge for Western Buddhists.

We must first come to an understanding of individualism as a moral view and a social view common in the West. People who hold this worldview believe that the interests, wants and needs of the individual should come before that of any government or group. They resist all attempts by society or groups to interfere with their individual goals. The results of their individual actions might have some benefit to others but it is not their intention. Means of transforming individualism to an individual aware of the discontent, unsatisfactoriness and anguish of others and themselves equally, transforming individualism to an individual mindful of their own discontent, unsatisfactoriness and anguish.

In the Raga-vinaya Sutta: The Subduing of Passion (Anguttara Nikaya), the Buddha describes four types of individuals. There is one who practices only for their own benefit, one who practices only for the benefit of others, one who practices neither for their own benefit or the benefit of others, and one who practice for both their own benefit and that of others. The individualist tendency in the West is the first one described. That tendency is often what brings a Westerner to the practice of Buddhism, some want or need they hope that Buddhism can provide for them. The Buddha was clear that a Buddhist practice begins with development of the individual. He was equally clear that it must not end there. Skillful means must be found to lead the practitioner along a path to the fourth type of individual, one who practices for the benefit of self and others.

The lesson in the Lekha Sutta: Inscriptions (Anguttara Nikaya) offers a glimpse of that path. It describes three types of individuals based on their perceptions of their ability to transform. There is the individual that is like an inscription on rock, one that is like an inscription in soil, and one like an inscription in water. Each can be viewed as metaphor for the stages of bodymind in Buddhist practice.

An individualistic worldview combines the first type of person in each sutta. They will practice for only for their own benefit believing that like an inscription in rock their worldview is permanent. They hold to the ‘what’s in it for me’ mode of thinking and acting. Initially Buddhist practice can seem to verify this view. Emphasis is on personal transformation that begins with how that practice can improve the state of the individual bodymind. One learns to sit in meditation among a sangha, yet the bulk of that practice is done at home, alone, individually. One learns that emotions and habitual reactivities that plague the bodymind are transient phenomena, a view that the individual must come to realize. For a ‘what’s in it for me’ state of bodymind the serenity, the equanimity and the sense of personal accomplishment are enough, just what they were looking for. It is written in stone.

Siddhartha began his journey of personal spiritual transformation with the goal of understanding the forms of suffering he witnessed but never experienced. Prior to his achieving awareness of the plight of some human beings he was like an inscription in stone. In accordance with Hindu beliefs his personal and social actions were taken that would positively affect his rebirth. When he chose to leave his wife and child behind, to seek answers, he did so for his own benefit.

The next two types of individual present a danger to the bodymind and the view of an inscription in soil is a skillful way of getting beyond that danger. The view and action of one who practices only for the benefit of others misses entirely a critical aspect of Buddhism. The Buddha teaches that only with equanimity of focus on self and others can the value of the dharma be experienced. The person who practices neither for their own benefit or the benefit of others is going through the motions of being a Buddhist without any intent to engage the dharma in themselves or the world around them.

My nephew is an example of an individual who practices neither for himself or for others. He labels himself a Buddhist on forms for the United States Military because it allows him avoid particular requirements put on people of other faiths.

These views can seem to written in stone. In time and with effort any stone can be turned into soil. Buddhists are farmers and soil is where the unwholesome views and actions are weeded out and wholesome seeds planted and nurtured. Unwholesome views that are inscribed in a bodymind of soil can be transformed as the wind and water of the dharma wear them away allowing the planted seeds of appropriate view and intent to grow.

The fourth type of individual offered in the Raga-vinaya Sutta is the bodhisattva-in-training ideal, one who practices for the benefit of self and others. An individual that is like an inscription on water is most capable of reaching this view and intent, and taking the actions that arise as a result. They experience the current of the dharma from individualistic intent, to social intent, flow around the obstruction of neither self or social intent, to the realization that the dharma, when applied equally to self and other has its greatest value in the promotion of human flourishing.

Siddhartha transformed from one who practiced for their own benefit to one who practiced for the benefit of self and other. He awakened and stood up under the branches of the bodhi tree it is said he doubted his ability to teach others what he had come to realize as a Middle Path that could relieve the suffering of human beings. Siddhartha hesitated, and for that moment he was still practicing for himself. In the next moment he made the decision to try and transformed into one who would practice for self and others.

It takes skillful means to guide an individualistic Westerner along a path that not only accepts the benefit of the dharma to the individual but encourages it . . . in the beginning of practice, to the realization that practice of dharma is most valuable when equally engaged in service of the individual and society as that practice matures. This skillful means cannot just be the efforts and mentoring of a teacher. It must also arise in the thoughts and actions of the practitioner. To develop a mature Buddhist practice it takes both external and internal skillful means or one may find themselves inscribed in rock and fail to engaged the opportunities of soil and water to grow wholesome dispositions and habits.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/06/13/dharma-of-the-individual/

Jun 13

Schedule Update BC


08:30 AM SLT – 30 minutes of silent meditation with Tashi Aura in the Main Temple.

01:00 PM SLT – 1st and 3rd of the month teaching with Venerable Wayne Slacker in Deer Park (in voice).

03:00 PM SLT – Session with Mani in Deer Park (in voice).

05:30 PM SLT -30 minutes of silent meditation with Cysix Sage in the Main Temple.

06:30 PM SLT – 2nd and 4th of the month teaching with Venerable Wayne Slacker in Deer Park (in voice).

06:30 PM SLT – 1st and 3rd of each month teaching with Samanera Jayantha in Deer Park (in voice).

7:30 PM SLT – Teaching with Rev. Douglas Sanyo (Douglas Tragonach) in the Main Temple (in voice).


08:30 AM SLT – 30 minutes of silent meditation with Jinpa Karu in the Main Temple.

05:00 PM SLT – Teaching with Douglas Tragonach in the Main Temple (in voice).

07:00 PM SLT – Pure Land Ceremony with Prosper Telling in Deer Park.

08:00 PM SLT – 30 minutes of silent meditation with Asendeson Svenson in Deer Park.


08:30 AM SLT – Short Lecture and Zazen in the Main Temple with Delani (in voice).

09:30 AM SLT – Metta Mediation with Jenn in Deer Park.

01:00 PM SLT – Jataka Tales and Meditation with Zino March in the main temple (in voice).

05:30 PM SLT – 30 minutes of silent meditation with Cysix Sage in the Main Temple.


08:30 AM SLT – 30 minutes of silent meditation with Tashi Aura in the Main Temple.

07:00 AM SLT –Pure Land Ceremony with Prosper Telling in Deer Park

12 PM SLT – Meditation Teaching Session with Mani in Deer Park (in voice).


10:00 AM SLT – Reading with Jinpa Karu in Deer Park (in voice).

11:00 AM SLT – Discussion and Q&A on Tibetan Sitting Meditation Technique –Jinpa Karu in Deer Park (in voice)

02:00 PM SLT – Teaching with Venerable Wayne Slacker in the main temple (in voice).


10:00 AM SLT –Lecture with Rollo in Deer Park (in voice).


10:00 AM SLT – 30 minutes of meditation with Quinn Sepupta in Deer Park.

10:30 AM SLT – The First Sunday of the Month. – Puja Ceremony for the release of compassionate energy. In the Main Temple, Venerable Wayne (in voice).

03:00 PM SLT – Teaching with Lama Tsewang in the Main Temple (in voice).

There will be spontaneous sessions and/or chanting with Mani in Deer Park. Watch for Notices.

Venerable Wayne will be doing “pop up” sessions over the next few months and may not be doing his regular sessions Watch for Notices.

Douglas Tragonach will conduct “pop-up”sessions during the Summer. Watch for Notices.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.thebuddhacenter.org/2016/06/13/schedule-update-bc/

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