Archive for December, 2011

The Four Global Truths – Book Notes

December 14, 2011
by Milan Vodicka
Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and the spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.
This quote is “questionably attributed to Albert Einstein” (the book’s Preface, page xvii). The key phrase is “a meaningful unity.” We cannot, individually and collectively, escape the consequences of the interdependence of all existence – including, yet not limited to, of our own relationship to the Earth.
The author of The Four Global Truths, Darrin Drda, masterfully applies and explores the structure of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths – the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path to the end of suffering – to global problems that affect lives of each one of us. He does it in context of contemporary knowledge and thinking. This invokes the notion of “integrality,” all-inclusiveness. I see this approach as the most viable for addressing global problems and their potential remedies. I also see it as being in accordance with the buddhist worldview.
The big question emanating from the book is: “What does it mean for me? How does it affect my thinking, talking, actions, or my practice? In order to lessen global suffering, what should I do?”
Buddha laid out the Noble Eight-Fold Path, a guide on how to eradicate suffering. The eight tenets of his prescription include, among others, right intention, right speech, right action, and right livelihood. The book applies this framework to the current global situation.
In the words of the book: “The obvious implication of the Eight-fold Path is that some action must be taken, some effort must be expended in order to achieve enlightenment. It is not enough to adopt a certain set of beliefs, don a special garment or amulet, memorize a few prayers, or receive a magical blessing from a powerful saint. If one seeks full liberation, she must undergo a profound change in consciousness, a radical realignment of her heart-mind that leads to an entirely new outlook” (page 204).
The book recommends the path and practice of wise relations, “which can be interpreted as balanced, healthy, or beneficial to life” (page 209). Those include relations with self, with others, with other species, with the Earth, the feminine, space, time, and the divine. For me, the awareness and – most importantly – the attention to those relationships truly illuminates the difference between ego, “me first,” based existence and the buddhist bodhisattva’s ideal “to work for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.” The enlightenment, in the context of global awakening, means happiness.
Stated more humbly, our work for the ideal will bring about less suffering and more happiness, for more sentient beings, including ourselves. This is something we all wish for, or should wish for. And, not only wish for in our right thinking, but also rightly speak for it, and rightly act for it. Yes, we should work, with compassion and wisdom, for the meaningful unity. This is the message of the book.
© Milan Vodicka 2011

“It is not enough…”

December 7, 2011

Rev. Master Daishin Morgan; Journal of the OBC, Spring 1988, pg. 24

“It is not enough to hear and practice the teaching; we must, at the same time, know that our true nature and the Buddha are one. We must be willing to become Buddha with all the implications for our personal life that this implies. We already have the heart of a Buddha; we must commit ourselves utterly to living from that heart.”

Right View; the Journey, Not the Destination

December 7, 2011

by Kim Woodward

I often drive to Sacramento to see my son and daughter-in-law. They live about 45 miles away, mostly freeway driving, and the last half in urban traffic. So there are a lot of cars surrounding me, a lot of different drivers and vehicles.

Sometimes I am able to make the journey peacefully. Other times, I find myself getting tense, irritable, angry that other drivers are somehow not doing things right (my way). I have been noticing this for a long time, and I am mostly pretty careful with my actions, but even there I can behave aggressively and with subtle discourtesy if the tide of irritation rises enough.

So what is the difference between a peaceful drive and a decidedly unpeaceful one? Partly it is due to external circumstances of course. There is certainly a tendency to anxiety and anger when traffic is heavy, or when I encounter other drivers who are aggressive. Time is also a factor. When I feel I have plenty of time, I drive with a lot less anxiety. But why, then are there times with heavy traffic, crazy drivers and time constraints when I am calm and at peace in my body and mind? What is different?

I think the major difference has to do with right view. If I begin the trip with a view that the important thing is attaining a certain destination by a certain time, then other drivers, vehicles, traffic situations all become obstacles to overcome in order to reach my intended goal. If I begin a trip with the view that what is important is that I and others I encounter have a safe and peaceful journey, then there is true peace. I don’t feel my stomach knotting or my hands getting tense on the steering wheel, and of course don’t feel any need to behave discourteously to self or other.

And, I have to view myself into right action. I am never long term successful in acting myself into right view.

Sometimes I’m the Fast Car, Sometimes I’m the Slow Car

December 7, 2011

by Kim Woodward

Living in rural California and driving a lot, I continue to do a lot of my training on the road. This past month I was driving daily from our home to the barn where we keep our horses about 15 miles away. The route is a quiet two lane country road with very little traffic.

I noticed when driving out in the morning that I didn’t even identify myself as “car”. I was just driving. Then, when a car would appear in front of me or turn onto the road from a side road or driveway I would judge the driver in front of me. “He’s driving too slowly! Come on, come on, don’t take all day.” Or, if the car pulled away from me, “She’s driving too fast! Where does she think she’s going so fast! It occurred to me that I never met drivers that really drive “right”, i.e. the same speed as I do. (Of course, if there are such drivers, I never would meet them because I wouldn’t overtake them or they overtake me.) So, having noticed this judging in my mind, I started trying to eliminate it. Very difficult! As long as I saw them as “other car” I judged, no matter how much I tried not to. I was able to modify my actions. I didn’t tailgate, or race to catch up, but the judgement was still there.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was just driving… not fast, not slow… just driving. A car turned out in front of me that was going more slowly and I began to overtake it. And, another car appeared in my rear view mirror overtaking me. Suddenly I saw myself from the other drivers’ point of view. Sometimes I am the fast car. Sometimes I am the slow car. When I could see their judgements of me I found myself able to genuinely let go of judgements. I could go back to just driving.

Kim Woodward

Life Practice Prayer Wish

December 7, 2011

by Doreen Domb

One breath at a time
our working progress
individual and collective holding vigil
holding the center up — from mind’s hijack
peacefully abiding the terrain of body
its mindfulness not ever fooled,
whilst occupant mind is oft reigning fool’s errand

Steady a relinquishing grasp
upon the stalking of hope…
rather than merely shadowing Intention,
solidify its grounding thought
grant it Motion
Heart will carry out what present conditions beckon

Exert one’s self endlessly
towards a greater good serving
all kingdoms of nature serving
right alongside one’s journeying spirit
support ability to exude Kindness
practice best knowledge that launches readily
from the dwelling of self-empathy

The backdrop to surrounding topography
both relative and boundless,
SO matters
in the instant shift takes root
from within and without,
forever practice indifference
to the differences between and among
allow the sound of such words
to care for deeply the ongoing thread soul (sutratma),
this working progress
one breath at a time