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Archive for December, 2015

 

Look, Look, the year draws to an end!  Calligraphy from, Moon By The Window, The calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada.

In gassho, Shokai

Quote Shodo Harada Look LookLook Look calligraphy Shodo Harada

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This Christmas time I was gifted with this beautiful 3-year-old Schnauzer-Yorkie mix, Annie,  from Jamie’s Rescue.  She was rescued from a puppy mill in Miami by the police when they raided the mill and shut it down.  My dear friend, animal advocate, and former music director at my church, Jeffrey Frank, sent me a link to Jamie’s Facebook page with Annie’s picture on it and he asked me if I could take this dog who was in need of a good and safe home.  She was forced to have 4 liters in her short 3 years of life.

Of course, I said yes and she came to me a few days before my B’day and two weeks before Christmas.  She has lit up my life and given me hundreds of hours of joy over this holiday season.  I am blessed to have her and all of my friends who take care of those less fortunate two legged and four legged sentient and insentient beings. May all your dreams come true.

Thank you all for the light you bring into my life! Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!  Kathy and Annie

Annie Nov. 27.15 (2)

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Sharing the Merit

Showing our gratitude, practicing the way of awareness
Gives rise to benefits without limit.
We vow to share the fruits with all beings.
We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers, friends,
And numerous beings.
Who give guidance and support along the path (page 170-71).[1]

It just happens to be 5 days before Christmas as I am beginning to think about what I will write next for my blog. The theme has been prayer and so I scoured my numerous book shelves with books on prayer both Unity ones and Buddhist ones and low and behold what did I see this wonderful book given to me by my sangha, Chanting from the heart Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village in France. I noticed there was a cloth bookmark and as I lifted it to open to the page there to my surprise was a short chant entitled “Sharing the Merit.”

How perfect is that! “God is good…all the time” as my friends at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale always say. And they are right, even when it doesn’t seem so. When we say and do the right things, right things happen in our lives. So not only is it important to believe the words above in our chant it is imperative that we live our lives as the example of them. And not just at Christmas time but 365 days a year.

Whatever you do don’t turn away your good when someone showers you with gratitude by saying, “Oh, it was nothing.” That demeans their gift of gratitude, and equally as important, you are turning away your good. In Unity we encouraged our students and congregants never to do that as you don’t know what good may be coming your way and if it hears those words of rejection it may decide to bless someone else with that “good.”

And that “good” could have been prosperity, a new job, a visit from a long lost friend or relative, or a healing. So always accept your good with grace and gratitude. Use the above sutra and share that grace with others whenever you get the opportunity. Christmas is the time of giving so instead of giving material possessions try giving kind words, your help, your love, and your gratitude and watch your good manifest in miraculous ways—especially without expectation of receiving.

Give simply for the gift of giving. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1]Hanh, T.N. et.al. (2007) Chanting from the heart Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices. Parallax Press: Berkeley, CA

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Made a few things clearer so I am re-blogging it…

unlockthedoortolearning

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Source: Beyond Prayer Part 16… Kanzeon Sutra of Compassion

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Here is one of the sutras that we chant frequently in our services. We begin by chanting it in Japanese several times and then in English several times it is called Emmei Jukku Kannon Gyo. This is a wonderful sutra about Kuan-yin (Chinese) or Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit). The literal meaning of Avalokiteshvara is sometimes translated as:

He who hears the sounds [outcries] of the World. Avalokiteshvara embodies one of the two fundamental aspects of Buddhahood compassion. Avalokiteshvara is the power of the buddha, Amitabha, manifested as a bodhisattva and appears as his helper. His limitless compassion expresses itself in his wonderful ability to help all beings who turn to him at times of extreme danger. In folk belief, Avalokiteshvara also protects from natural catastrophe and grants blessings to children (page 15).[1]

We talked about Avalokiteshvara when we chanted the meal gatha in Beyond Prayer Part 4. Today we often see him in the feminine form especially when we see statues or pictures of Kuan-yin. Regardless of form this chant will help us during times of need when we wish to seek compassion for ourselves or others. I often call upon Kuan-yin when I see tragedies around the world like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, gun violence, and terrorist attacks.

EMMI JUKKU KANNON GYO (Kanzeon Sutra)
Kanzeon Namu Butsu
Yo Butsu U In
Yo Butsu U En
Bu Po So En
Jo Raku Ga Jo
Cho Nen Kanzeon [compassion]
Bo Nen Kanzeon [compassion]
Nen Nen Ju Shin Ki
Nen Nen Fu Ri Shin

Kanzeon!
Praise to Buddha!
All are one with Buddha
All awake as Buddha
Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
Eternal, joyous, selfless, pure
Through the day, Kanzeon [compassion]
Through the night, Kanzeon [compassion]
This moment arises from Mind
This moment itself is mind

This is an especially powerful chant that when used regularly can help our world become more compassionate and loving. Imagine what could happen if all the people of the world stopped on the same day and time and chanted this sutra. I think we could heal the world and everyone in it.

Even if people wanted to change the word Buddha to Christ or Mohammad, God/Allah, or Gaia we might heal the planet and all sentient beings in one fell swoop!

A world filled with compassion what a thought!

What a dream! Let’s make it so….

In gassho,

ingassho
Shokai

[1] The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) Shambhala: Boston, MA

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Today is my birthday and I am so grateful for all of my followers, friends, students, and readers who take time out of their busy day to read what I’ve written.  It is something that I never thought would ever happen to me in my life, that people from all over the world would be with me on my spiritual journey.

I am blessed by all of your comments, the blogs that you write that I follow, by my Twitter followers and those I follow on Twitter, and by my students from around the world at Kaplan University, and Zen friends at the Southern Palm Zen Group and beyond.  You give me a reason for living and learning and loving. You help me practice what I teach and preach and give me ever more opportunities to live a life of love for all sentient and insentient beings on planet earth.

You are in my prayers daily as I say these words before I sit.

I sit to save the planet and all sentient beings, I sit in honor of my mother and father who gave me life and taught me to do good.  I ask the Buddhas of all directions to light the lamp of dharma for all those on my prayer list named and unnamed. And for all of those who are groping in the darkness of suffering.

And I give thanks for all of you. I found this great picture and quote on the internet and loved it so much that  I posted this on my front door today for everyone who enters to see the life the Buddha inspires me to live.

In gassho,

ingasshoShokai

Buddha quote anger, goodness truth generosity

Buddhist quote on anger, goodness, generosity and truth

 

 

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This week in Paris, France, over 150 countries have come together at the World Climate Summit 2015 to make plans to save the planet from destruction by the humans who habitat it. One of my favorite writers and teachers is John Daido Loori and in his book Teachings of the Earth: Zen and the Environment he writes:

In engaging Zen training with an eye on its relationship to ecological concerns, we ask the question, “Where does the earth end and where do I begin (page 3)?”[1]

He goes on to ask us to follow the teachings of the Buddha and to “not kill life” and admonishes us to “not steal” which means not to rape the earth by deforestation. He writes, “The mountain suffers when you clear cut it. Clear cutting is stealing the habitat of the animals that live on the mountain (page 91).”[2]

Our voices need to be heard in our Zen centers, our churches, our mosques, our synagogues, our schools, and our town halls. We need to pray for the earth and the people in it who wish to take what it has for profits and personal greed. It is our job to be a voice for the voiceless through prayers, and petitions, and rallies and sitting, and rescuing, and supporting environmental organizations with our time, talents and treasures. There is only one Earth and we need to leave it habitable for our children and grandchildren and theirs.

Unity has an entire pamphlet “Earth Blessings Prayers for Our Planet.” I hope you will take the time to go to this link and check it out. I’ve shared the section on “Stewardship” with you below.

We are good to Earth, our home, and Earth blesses us with good. [Affirmation]

We are caregivers of this wondrous planet. In awe of the sapphires of the sky, the emeralds and sienna’s of the ground, the sunlit horizons at dawn and dusk, we know God is present within our radiant world. With reverence, we are committed to its stewardship. As residents of Earth, we care for its components—the air, the soil, the water. We respect our plant life—the rooted, the floating, the climbing. We wisely use abundant gifts—yields of crops and vegetation, products of minerals. We give thanks for present and future resources of Earth as they are discovered, maintained, and utilized with care. We bless this precious place, for it is also the home of generations to come. We are good to Earth, our home, and Earth blesses us with good (page 6).[3]

Ask yourself these questions: Where does the earth end and where do I begin? What can I do to help? When will I start?

Let me know how you are doing with your answers!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

 

[1] John Daido Loori (2007) Teachings of the Earth: Zen and the Environment. Shambala: Boston & London

[2] Ibid.

[3] Earth Blessings Prayers for Our Planet, Unity: Unity Village, MO http://www.unity.org

 

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The way we recite this verse/gatha at our zendo and with our prison ministry groups in Florida is as follows:

All harmful karma ever created by me of old,
on account of my beginningless, greed, anger, and ignorance,
born of my conduct, speech and thought,
I repent of it now.

This is a very powerful gatha. As I’m reciting it things come into my mind very quickly where I violated the gatha. Sometimes I feel like I’ve violated it many times during that day or week. I might have done something that may have been harmful to myself or another. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I robbed a bank or anything like that, but it can be something as simple as speaking in a demeaning tone of voice, or gossiping about someone, or even thinking a not so nice thought about him or her. How about this one, “Oh my god, doesn’t she look in the mirror when she gets dressed in the morning?”

How about you? Do these types of thoughts and behaviors keep you from practicing the principles of love and compassion for all beings?

So why is it “harmful karma?” Because as my friends Armand and Angelina sing in their song “Love is a Boomerang” the verse goes:

“Love is a boomerang, give it away and it comes right back, so is anger so is judgment, give it away and it comes right back. Love is a boomerang. When you wake up in the morning try a different attitude instead of drinking coffee fill yourself with gratitude. Try loving everything you see it will change the way you live. Love is a boomerang, give it away because it comes right back!”[1]

If you follow Armand and Angelina’s advice you’ll see that what you give out comes back at you each day so make the giving peace, kindness, love, and compassion. Now that’s the perfect boomerang for me!

Remember that boomerang runs both ways and can come back at you pretty fast! So say this gatha as often as you need to it will help remind you of the power of your conduct, speech, and thought. Good luck with that!

Let me know how that boomerang works!

In gassho

ingassho

Shokai

My dear friends Armand and Angelina

armond and angelina

[1]You can find Armand and Angelina at their website: http://www.armandandangelina.com/

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