Just Sitting by Barry Magrid

February 23, 2012

“Just sitting means just that. That ‘just’ endlessly goes against the grain of our need to fix, transform, and improve ourselves. The paradox of our practice is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let evrything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another.”
Quote from the book “Leave Yourself Alone by Barry Magrid.
This quote is shared by Doreen Domb.
More discussion can be found at Tricyle through this link.

Mind Watching at Segaki by Roger Groghan

February 20, 2012

A week of quiet intimacy,
We respond to gongs, bells
and knocks on wood.

Speak only sutras
and necessities.

Move in meditation
amongst  ghosts and hells

surrounded by power realms
and heavens with no eternity

We look for forms
of wisdom and compassion
on some middle path.

What am I
other than

Whilst chopping vegetables I’m  distracted by the unborn, the undying, the unknown.
or sex.

View of the wall,
the weight of — body
my seat and feet.

What am I
other than impermanence?

Avoiding the void
with stillness.

We feed and clean
ourselves in silence.

All ending with a bow
in gratitude
in gassho.

Buddhist Virtues by Atiśa Dipankara Shrijnana (980–1054 CE)

February 20, 2012

The greatest achievement is selflessness.

The greatest worth is self-mastery.

The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.

The greatest precept is continual awareness.

The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.

The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.

The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.

The greatest generosity is non-attachment.

The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.

The greatest patience is humility.

The greatest effort is not concerned with results.

The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.

The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.

(This quote has been shared with us by one of the lay sangha from the Portland Buddhist Priory.)

The Tea Ceremony by Thich Nhat Hanh

February 20, 2012

You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.

Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.

Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.

If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea.

You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.

Life is like that.

If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.

You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.

It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished.

Learn from it and let it go.

The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it.

Worrying is worthless.

When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment.

Then you will begin to experience joy in life.

The source:
Incidentally, the “PF” stands for “PRO FELICITE” – from Latin language, meaning “for successful.” It is widely used in Europe.
I wish everyone a peaceful and happy year 2012.
*** Milan

Freeway Dana by Kim Woodward

February 20, 2012

I was driving home from an appointment in Sacramento. It was late afternoon and traffic was fairly heavy… not stop and go but pretty dense. I was conscious of how I was driving. Trying not to tailgate and also keeping pace with the traffic in my lane. I was feeling pretty Zen about it all, pretty self congratulatory.

A car came up on my right and pulled a little ahead. I knew he was going to pull into my lane and he did. I shook my head and eased back. Too bad everyone wasn’t as Zen and cool as me. Another car came alongside. She pulled in front and into my lane. Enough! I started gauging my distance from the car in front of me carefully. I wanted to be the perfect distance so I wasn’t following too closely and so there wouldn’t be room for others to continuously pull in front of me.

And it suddenly struck me what an ungenerous place that was to be. How miserly I was being with “my” space on the freeway. As if there was some shortage of space on the freeway and I had to grasp and hold my little portion. How different it would be if I instead practiced dana, if I was generous with the space, if when someone appeared to wish to change lanes I eased back to give them room.

I tried it and immediately noticed the change in myself. Instead of the tension of carefully calculating and holding distance to keep my space, I felt the relaxation of making the space needed available, not grudgingly but openly and freely and in the spirit of dana.

Car Karma by Kim Woodward

February 18, 2012

I was driving to town on the freeway a couple of weeks ago and got chopped by another driver. As chops go it wasn’t a really bad one… maybe a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10… but I noticed that little tightening I get in my diaphragm when irritation arises. And I noticed that the other driver was obviously impatient and in a hurry and was lane changing to move ahead more quickly than the flow of traffic.

A few moments later I was coming up on a freeway entrance and a car was entering to merge. There was that little moment of decision. Should I slow down and let them enter in front of me or should I speed up to get ahead of them. That little tightening in the gut wanted me to speed up, to get in front, to win in some subtle way.

It was such a clear example of the law of karma playing out on the road. The actions of the impatient driver creating irritation and impatience in other drivers, and continuing to move outward until one could see the entire flow of traffic being affected. The level of tension and anxiety on the road increased and amplified. There was a consequence for the view (it’s all about me), thoughts (I’m in a hurry) and actions (weaving in and out of traffic) of one driver.

Equally, there is consequence when one driver is calm and courteous. The acts of allowing someone to enter ahead, of making space for another driver to change lanes, of being aware of one’s own speed and selecting a slower lane to avoid impeding faster moving traffic, each reduce the level of tension on the road. Courtesy begets courtesy.

And with mindfulness, karma can be converted. If I can be aware of the tightening in my gut when I judge another’s actions to be wrong, when anger begins to arise in the form of irritation, then I can make the choice to not follow that irritation, to step away from the view that it’s all about me, to see the thought of “she chopped me so I’ll chop you” and to instead make the conscious choice of courtesy.

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