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Archive for April, 2016

darwin-falls mitch

 

Praise is the point in the wind
Where the sounds collide,
the trees whisper,
the water ripples,
And the fish swim with ease.
Where Suchness is all things!

 

 

You can hear suchness sung by the birds, barked by the dogs, meowed by the cats, in the laughter of the child, in the eyes of the grandparent, and in the hearts of the teachers.  Suchness does not have to be spoken, or sung, or drawn, or written about.  It is inherent in every tree, flower, and plant.  It is an integral part of every inventor, every poet, every dancer, and every composer. It is the mystery of the moment.

How are you showing praise and suchness today? What are you praising?  Where are you when you feel one with it? When was the last time you praised someone or something and felt that connection of oneness?

Do you think that praise and suchness should only be experienced by and with humans?  I hope not!  My dog, Annie, loves to hear my words of praise.  Her ears perk up, her eyes sparkle, and her tail wags so hard that sometimes she knocks things over that are near her. I feel so good along with her that my eyes begin to sparkle and a grin appears on my face and laughter and clapping begin to appear.  That makes us both jump with joy, in unison, in the moment of suchness.

Shodo Harada says “The hidden bird is playing with true suchness (page 37).”[1] Suchness or thusness in Buddhism means the way things really are.  The Buddha is to have awakened to suchness. When I praise something or someone I am seeing things the way they really are.  As the Buddha did when he awoke from sitting under the Bodhi tree and said, “I and all beings on earth together attain enlightenment at the same time.”  Remember when you experienced the suchness of a glorious sunrise over the ocean, or the mountains, or the desert? Or during the birth of your child?

We are all enlightened beings. But most of us have not recognized our oneness for more than a few seconds in our entire life.  But that does not mean that it does not exit and is not the truth of our being. Harada goes on to write:

If our mind is clear, all conditions are heaven. If we’re not angry and resentful and full of negative energy, wherever we are is always the best season.  But when our mind is full of ego and desires, we aren’t able to know this.  When we hold on to nothing, we awaken to the wisdom of prajna and widely open our original eyes of Truth.  This place, as it is, is the land of lotuses.  When we know this very Truth as it is, everything is wondrous (page 37).[2]

Suchness lives in our lives in the mystery of the moment when we praise and know that I and all things are one!

Let me know how it is!

In gassho,

Shokai

Picture: http://listeningwiththeeye.squarespace.com/galleries/death-valley-lone-pine-2010/

 

[1] Harada, S. (2011) Moon by the Window, The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada, Wisdom Publications: Boston

[2] Ibid.

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In this moment what do you have to be thankful for?  If I asked you to list 10 things in your life that you are thankful for what would they be?  Would they be people, things, possessions, your health, happiness, or your job?  When was the last time you actually gave thanks out loud for a good deed received, or in your mind for something tangible, or in your heart for a person or a pet?

Rumi has a wonderful poem about “Thanksgiving”

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;
the bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you to the heart of the Beloved.
Abundance alone brings heedlessness,
thanksgiving gives birth to alertness…
The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,
and you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.
Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,
and you will be freed from hunger and begging. [1]

In Buddhism we might think of everything being “just this.”  So if we are grateful and give thanks for whatever “that is” we might be able to receive the bounty that is lurking behind the gift.  Sometimes even a difficult event or a cantankerous person can be a blessing and bring us bounty when we least expect it. When I look back on the event I might discover that I learned something very valuable from that experience.  It could be something that may have saved my life, or my job, or a relationship.

Are you open in this moment to fill your life with delicacies, to be freed from hunger and begging?  Energy has movement and weight and measure and it all depends on the energy that you give out in this moment what you will get back in return.  Making it a habit to show thankfulness every day as often as you can will do wonders for your health both mental and physical.

So if someone slams the door in your face as you walk into the store or office you could get mad, nasty, angry, and kick the door or you could think “just this.” Just this could have been a broken nose if I was closer or I wonder what made the person so upset, distracted, or angry. It looks like they could use a little loving kindness and understanding today.

Life is painful if you let it be that way.  So today be thankful for the lesson learned from the slamming of the door, for the lesson learned when you acted with love and compassion instead of anger and hate. In this moment give thanks for the person that you are and the person that you are becoming.  Because “thanksgiving gives birth to alertness” and in that moment it kept you out of harm’s way!

I take this moment to give thanks for all of my readers, and followers, and friends, and family for each of you have given me much too be thankful for!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] https://darvish.wordpress.com/tag/rumis-thanksgiving-poem/

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I thought about what to write for my next blog on “The Mystery of the Moment”  as Merle Haggard sang: “I’ve got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score, every day you loved me less each day I loved you more.”

You can listen all day on the radio or on your iPhone or computer about the loss of love, the finding of love, the happiness of love, and the pain of love.  Endless poems, movies, songs, and books have been written about it.

Eventually the word loses its passion and meaning when we begin to say “I love my new car, new house, this food I just cooked, or the way my hair looks in the mirror.” With the presidential race going on in America I can hear more words of animosity, hatred, and vitreal than about love.  I hear hate words projected on all races, people, religions, political opponents, and more.

It’s amazing how the universe works!  I turned around to my very large bookcase behind my desk looking for something on “love” to add to my blog post and I was drawn to pull down a book by one of my favorite Zen teachers Robert Kennedy, Zen Gifts to Christians (2004).  I open the book up at the back looking for an index to see if he had anything about love in it and sure enough the page was not an index but a page with a quote on it about love!  What are the chances that in this moment I would find the perfect quote on love?!

Kennedy shares a quote by …Etty Hillesum, a Jewish woman, who was swept up by the Germans in Holland in 1941 and sent to her death in Auschwitz in 1943. Though she knew nothing of Zen, her Interrupted Life parallels the final poem of our ox herder poet and puts a modern face on Zen teaching. In it she writes (page 121):

And a camp needs a poet, one who experiences life there, even there, as a bard and is able to sing about it.

At night, as I lay in the camp on my plank bed, surrounded by women and girls gently snoring, dreaming aloud, quietly sobbing and tossing, and turning, women and girls who often told me during the day, ‘We don’t want to think, we don’t want to feel, otherwise we are sure to go out of our minds,’ I was sometimes filled with an infinite tenderness, and lay awake for hours. . . and I prayed, ‘Let me be the thinking heart of these barracks.’  And that is what I want to be again. The thinking heart of a whole concentration camp.

I know that those who hate have good reasons to do so.  But why should we always have to choose the cheapest and easiest way? It has been brought home forcibly to me here how every atom of hatred added to the world makes it an even more inhospitable place (pages 121-22).[1]

How many atoms of hatred have you added to the world today, how many of love, peace, and compassion?

What will you do in each and every moment today to make your life and surroundings “a more hospitable place?”  Keep me posted on that!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Kennedy, R. (2004) Zen Gifts to Christians, Continuum: NY, NY

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Saturday three of my dear friends will be celebrating Jukai and I am so excited for them.  The word Jukai is translated as: “receiving [ju] the precepts [kai]. It is a time for them to receive and acknowledge the Buddhist precepts and officially become a Buddhist. In that moment they will be acknowledging the Buddha within them and in all things.

To live every moment as a Buddhist is not easy.  The ceremony gives them the time to focus on the choice that they are making and the ramifications of that choice in their lives.  In each moment we realize that we are one with all things and that our goal is to live the Buddhist principles regardless of the circumstances.  To live a life of peace, love, and compassion in the eternal now moment is our life’s goal.

In this ceremony one commits oneself to be devoted to The Three Pure Precepts:

  • A disciple of the Buddha vows to cease all evil deeds.
  • A disciple of the Buddha vows to cultivate goodness.
  • A disciple of the Buddha vows to act for the benefit of others.

And The Ten Grave Precepts:

  • A disciple of the Buddha does not kill
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not steal
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not misuse sexuality
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not lie
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not cloud the mind
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not speak of the faults of others
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not elevate the self and blame others
  • A disciple of the Buddha is not possessive of anything
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not harbor ill will
  • A disciple of the Buddha does not disparage the three treasures [Buddha, dharma, sangha]

Marge, Robin, and Steve your presence in our sangha has brought to us three beautiful lights of wonder and joy.  Your work on the tenzo team and the service team have brought such love, laughter, and life to our group–we all have been blessed by your presence. I am so glad you found us. Congratulations!

I leave you with these beautiful words from Issa…Dew drops on a lotus leaf(1)

Buddha Law,

   Shining

In a leaf dew.

 

~Kobayashi Issa

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Photo: Dew-Drops on a Lotus Leaf, Margo Richter, digital album cover

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