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Archive for July, 2015

Zen Can

Zach Zen CanAnd How to Make an Emblem

  1. This can contains 100% pure unadulterated emptiness. We must first understand emptiness in order to come to understand and appreciate the fullness of existence. Affirmation: May we all become open receptive vessels.
  2. The can hangs in the position of being poured. This represents the eternal outpouring of the dharma. Affirmation: May it’s blessings be poured upon all.
  3. The can’s surface is smooth, solid, and polished to a mirror finish. This is so that everything which comes into contact with it is reflected upon it. We must endeavor to make our minds a semblance of this. Only with an undisturbed steady and strong mind are we able to correctly meditate upon the things that come to us in life physically or mentally. Affirmation: May we all gain wisdom and understanding through our meditations and reflections.
  4. The rope that the can hangs from has 3 knots. The first represents Shakyamuni Buddha. He is holding all that which he has awakened to. Affirmation: Let us honor the memory of the awakened one “Shakyamuni Gautama Buddha. The second knot represents the dharma. It has begun to be undone. This is the unbounded and expanded comprehension that the Buddha gave to us all. Affirmation: May we study the teachings of Buddha Tathagata diligently and urgently. The third represents the sangha. It is the community of followers of the teachings and practice which the Buddha brought forth, and has passed on now for almost 90 generations. Affirmation: May each of us meditate upon them daily in good health and good spirit.
  5. The rope is symbolic of the consciousness. It passes through and around all of the rest of the symbols given above. It is a circle and also represents a never ending stream of consciousness in an eternal existence. By putting this over our head we are symbolically putting our minds, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat into all that we have accepted as a new way of life. No longer shall we view life the same, see life the same, hear life the same, smell, taste, touch, or think of life the same as we did prior to coming to the understanding and practice of the Buddha’s teachings. Affirmation: May each of us be strong in our resolve and efforts.

In gassho,

Kakushin

July 29, 2015

This can was made from an inhaler that someone had thrown away and Kakushin turned it into  this incredible piece of Buddhist jewelry which he calls a “Zen Can.”  Kakushin is a member of our prison sangha.  He gave this to me as a gift on my last visit as a volunteer with our prison ministry team.  Magnificent work! It took him over 8 hours to sand the paint off by hand. And even more hours of meditation to write the descriptions and affirmations that go along with the “Zen Can.”

I am blessed to be a part of this incredible volunteer project that helps over 400 inmates be able to sit and practice the Buddhist principles in the Florida prison system.

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One thing, all things:
Move among and intermingle,
Without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!
The way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday,
no tomorrow,
no today (page 4).[1]

I fell asleep in the chair the other day while watching Sunday morning TV. When I awoke I thought “What day is it?” I glanced up at the TV that was turned to the TV guide channel and the first thing that caught my eye in the top left hand corner of the screen was the word “Today.”

I burst out laughing as I thought what a great Zen lesson! Of course, what other day could it be but today. It is always just “today.” Is there really any other day. As the ending verses of Faith in Mind say, “One thing, all things: Move among and intermingle, without distinction.”

Each day moves without distinction even when we try to make them different. And yet as the day goes by I do basically the same things. I get up, get my cup of coffee, and then meditate. Next, I brush my teeth, get dressed, go to the gym, come home and shower. Finally, I move on with more of the same old stuff: work, household chores, running errands, and more, regardless of the day of the week.

If you made a movie of my life it would be quite a boring thing. One thing, all things intermingling until there seems to be no distinction between Monday and Friday, work and play, obligations and fun. They all blend together until there is only the blur of a life flashing before my eyes in wonder. Each year goes by more quickly, and each relationship seems to have the same conversations, reactions, and counter actions. Really nothing new—Just This.

The “Words!” that I speak are just as Seng-ts’an describes: beyond language, for in it there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.” So why do I get so upset, bored, angry, happy, sad, elated, and the like. Each of those feelings is attached simply to a word. What if I decided that my meaning for sadness would be something different like: “sadness the moment when memories and tears flood me with gems of wisdom that uplift my spirit”?

What if I decided that I would not distinguish between feelings and words and thoughts and anxieties? Or, between perfection and non-perfection and duality and non-duality. What if I simply decided to observe my life without judgment or naming and simply live it? What if…

I sure wish I could talk to Helen Keller to discover what it was like to live without sight or sound and yet be a person who inspired the world. “To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.” What if….

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The end. The last of the blogs on Faith in Mind. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

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Survey Says

Fantastic must read if you need a laugh, and who couldn’t use one right now!

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I am reposting this in the memory of my mother for what would have been her 98th Birthday on October 8th. Her sister will soon be 90 and her brother is 102 both healthy and happy in Colorado. Let’s honor all of our parents today who sacrificed so much to give us what they could when they could. Love goes around the world to all of them!

In gassho, Shokai (Kathy)

The Sadness of Clothes
Emily Fragos

When someone dies, the clothes are so sad. They have outlived
their usefulness and cannot get warm and full.
You talk to the clothes and explain that he is not coming back

as when he showed up immaculately dressed in slacks and plaid
jacket
and had that beautiful smile on and you’d talk.
You’d go to get something and come back and he’d be gone.

You explain death to the clothes like that dream.
You tell them how much you miss the spouse
and how much you miss the pet with its little winter sweater.

You tell the worn raincoat that if you talk about it,
you will finally let grief out. The ancients etched the words
for battle and victory onto their shields and then they went out

and fought to the last breath. Words have that kind of power
you remind the clothes that remain in the drawer, arms
stubbornly
folded across the chest, or slung across the backs of chairs,

or hanging inside the dark closet. Do with us what you will,
they faintly sigh, as you close the door on them.
He is gone and no one can tell us where.

Copyright © 2015 by Emily Fragos. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

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Emptiness here, emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with being and non-being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this (page 4).[1]

In the Manual of Zen Buddhism (1960) D.T. Suzuki talks about emptiness when he is sharing his thoughts “On believing in Mind” by Shinjin-no-Mei:

In one Emptiness the two are not distinguished,
And each contains in itself all the ten thousand things;
When no discrimination is made between this and that.
How can a one-sided and prejudiced view arise (pages 78-9).[2]

In the footnote on page 79 he writes: “The Mind=the Way=the One=Emptiness.” He also explains emptiness this way:

This means: When the absolute oneness of things is not properly understood, negation as well as affirmation tends to be a one-sided view of reality. When Buddhists deny the reality of an objective world, they do not mean that they believe in the unconditioned emptiness of things; they know that there is something real which cannot be done away with. When they uphold the doctrine of emptiness this does not mean that all is nothing but an empty hollow, which leads to a self-contradiction. The philosophy of Zen avoids the error of one-sidedness involved in realism as well as in nihilism [i] (page 77).[3]

So if you are under the illusion that studying Buddhism means that you are to make your mind blank and believe in nothing and stop all thoughts completely when sitting you are mistaken. When your mind becomes “blank” you probably will soon be carried out of your house on a gurney by the EMS or the mortician!

Faith in Mind is asking us to stop trying to categorize, alphabetize, and list everything. Get rid of those boundaries, stop wasting time in the doubting and the arguing with self and others. Maybe this–maybe that? Maybe good–maybe bad. Just this! Whatever appears handle it the best you can with peace, love, and compassion. If you cannot hold it in your hand is it real?

Each and everything contains the 10,000 things. That’s just way too many things for me to judge, or compare, or juggle if you ask me! Just this apple, nothing less, nothing more…simply chop wood, carry water…nothing less, nothing more.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation
[2] Suzuki, D.T. (1960) Manual of Zen Buddhism. Grove Press: NY, NY
[3] Ibid.

[i] Nihilism An extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth; nothingness or nonexistence

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Why can’t we all just get along?

A FEW GOOD MEN
HIGH ON A HILL IN SOUTH VIETNAM,
A HANDFUL OF MEN ARE GROUPED AS ONE,
JUST A LONELY PLACE THAT WILL BRING NO FAME,
THEY HOLD A POSITION WITHOUT ANY NAME,
KNOWING VC ARE ALL AROUND,
THEY WATCH AND WAIT WITHOUT A SOUND,
HE MUST KNOW HIS JOB AND KNOW IT WELL,
EXPERIENCE IS HIS TEACHER, AND THIS WILL TELL,
EACH HAS A THOUGHT OF HIS HOME FAR AWAY,
HOPING AND PRAYING HE’LL RETURN SOMEDAY,
WHAT SLEEP HE GETS IS ON THE LAND,
A HELMET HIS PILLOW, ALWAYS AT HAND,
HIS WORK GOES ON NIGHT AND DAY,
HE DOES A MIGHTY BIG JOB FOR SO LITTLE PAY,
I THINK BY NOW YOU KNOW WHO I MEAN,
THIS COULD ONLY BE A U.S. MARINE.
Corporal, Timothy J. Ives
07/11/1946-04/30/1967

Written by a high school buddy of my cousin Art Bird a few days before he lost his life in Viet Nam in 1967.

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Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
and both the state of movement and the state of rest disappear.

In this world of suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self

To come directly into harmony with this reality
Just simply say when doubts arise, “Not two.”
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
Nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
Enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or
Diminution in time or space;
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.[1]

As a college professor and corporate trainer I have learned that the meaning of the word educate comes from the Latin “educare” which means to lead forth or bring forth from within. It does not mean to find “knowledge” someplace outside of us like a book or a lecture or a video. These words in these verses are a great example of that. We are being told that everything we need comes directly from this “world of suchness” which is neither self nor other-than-self nor separate from self.

Our challenge is to educate ourselves on this principle and when we need to discover something to simply go within to find the “oneself” that knows all and is all. When the universe and all it entails are one and not two all of everything is available to us right here and right now in “just this moment.” Such was discovered by Albert Einstein at the age of 16 when he imagined himself rocketing through space chasing after a beam of light. This is said to have played a role in his “thought experiment” which among other things brought us the famous equation of Mass-energy equivalence E=mc2. What is your challenge?

Once again I turn to my favorite Unity author H. Emily Cady for some words of wisdom on this subject from her book Lessons in Truth: . . .no circumstance, no person or set of persons—can by any possibility interpose between you and the Source of your life, wisdom, or power (page 63)”[2]  Why? Because as the Third Patriarch Seng-ts’an wrote, “To come directly into harmony with this [or any] reality just simply say when doubts arise, ‘not two.’ In this ‘not two’ nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where.”

Thus perfect knowledge and answers and health and healing are already here simply waiting for my acknowledgement, understanding, awakening and faith—Faith in Mind! Faith in “not one” “not two” “neither self, nor other than self.” Just a silent ride through outer space with Einstein on a beam of light! How wonderful is that?!

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

[1]Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

[1] Cady, H. E. (2003) Lessons in Truth. Unity House, Unity Village: MO

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Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
and both the state of movement and the state of rest disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
No law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feelings, knowledge, and imagination
are of no value. [1]

Faith in Mind is filled with opportunities for us to read and contemplate on the Buddhist principle of the dangers of picking and choosing. These verses help us look at the dualities in our lives and thoughts and the bondage that is created by them.

In the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) it says this about Seng-ts’an the author of Faith in Mind:

Hardly any details are known of the life of the third patriarch [Seng-ts’an]. There are however, many legends about him and his meeting with Hui-k’o. According to one of these legends Seng-ts’an was suffering from leprosy when he met the second patriarch. Hui-k’o is supposed to have encountered him with these words “You’re suffering from leprosy; what could you want from me?” Seng-ts’an is supposed to have replied, “Even if my body is sick, the heart-mind of a sick person is no different from your heart-mind (page191).” [2]

Which brings us right back to the importance of remembering the difficulties that accumulate in our lives when we are picking and choosing. “For the unified mind in accord with the way all self-centered striving ceases and doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage…”

Unity minister and teacher H. Emilie Cady in her wonderful book, Lessons in Truth, named her very first chapter “Bondage or Liberty, Which?” She writes:

Every man must take time daily for quiet and meditation. In daily meditation lies the secret of power. Watch carefully, and you will find that there are some things, even in the active unselfish doing, that would better be left undone than that you should neglect regular meditation.

No person, unless he has practiced it, can know how it quiets all physical nervousness, all fear, all oversensitiveness, all the little raspings of everyday life—just this hour of calm, quiet waiting alone with God. Never let it be an hour of bondage, but always one of restfulness (pages 23-25). [3]

As you can see meditation is practiced in some form in all religions around the world. Use of a meditation practice to help us quiet the mind is a healthy self-loving process. In the quiet mind we stop the picking and choosing and are free of its bondage. Those musings have no value at all when we are sitting in the silence. As Seng-ts’an says, “Here thought, feelings, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.”

And so our lives become easier and more fulfilling. Self-love and neighborly love can be found without picking and choosing in our time of quiet meditation. As Seng-ts’an said, “Even if my body is sick, the heart-mind of a sick person is no different from your heart-mind.”

Shambhala Dictionary defines the “heart-mind thus:”

In Zen it means, depending on the context, either the mind of a person in the sense of all his powers of consciousness, mind, heart, and spirit, or else absolute reality—the mind beyond the distinction between mind and matter, self-nature, or true nature (page 118).” [4]

The heart-mind melds together in meditation without picking and choosing, simply sit and watch what happens as your “true nature” quietly appears and disappears.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

[2] Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, 1991. Boston: MA

[3] Cady, H. E. (1995) Complete Works of H. Emilie Cady. Unity Books. Unity Village: MO

[4] Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, 1991. Boston: MA

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Rest and unrest derive from illusions;
With enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams of flowers in air:
Foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong;
Such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this one-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally,
the timeless self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.[1]

Yet illusions are all around us, they come in the night when the room gets dark and we see shadows and sometimes think there might even be a person in the room. But if we quickly turn the light on we will see there is no one there. Yet our heart may be pounding and we may even believe we heard sounds.

Jamgon Mipham in his commentary of Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara makes many remarks about illusion. He writes:

Some believe that appearance proves existence: if a thing appears, it must exist. Phenomena appear, but they do not exist; the hallucinatory objects [i.e. hallucinations of a drug addict] do not exist, yet they appear.

Being nonexistent, they are beyond assessment as being good or bad (page 373).[2]

Or as our sutra says, “They are like dreams of flowers in air: Foolish to try to grasp them.”

Still we spend our day creating a life filled with illusions of life and death, relationships, good jobs and bad, and on and on we go choosing and not choosing. We even spend time wishing those illusions were other than they are, hoping to see the “illusion” of the perfect mate, job, home, or child appear before us and enter magically into our lives. We create illusions of gaining something and illusions of losing something and neither are something we can grasp with our hands—yet they are so real in our minds and sometimes even in our hearts that we convince ourselves that they can and will exist.

These illusions thus bring rest and unrest, liking and disliking—dualities. Choosing and not choosing. And so we are back to the Buddhist principle of not choosing…“to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless self-essence is reached.”

Jamgon Mipham goes on to write:

Ordinary people already put themselves to so much trouble, imprisoned as they are in the cocoon of their own thoughts. Why entangle them even more in webs of philosophical speculation. This is something that one should rather avoid (page 309).[3]

And yet we do engage in “philosophical speculation.”

And yet we dream…

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

[2] Chandrakirti, (2002) Introduction to the Middle Way: Candrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara; with Commentary by Jamgon Miphan—1st ed. Shambhala Publications, Boston: MA

[3] Ibid.

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