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Posts Tagged ‘giving and receiving’

I have been invited once again by Rev. Barbara Lunde to be a part of the interfaith Christmas Eve Service at the Center for Spiritual Living in Boca Raton, Florida.  Each year I am privileged to read the Metta Sutra The Loving Kindness of  Shakyamuni Buddha.  I use our beautiful bells and make it a time of meditation for the people in attendance.  They leave the service feeling as though they have experienced a great calmness and peace as Jesus had asked his followers to do when he walked this earthly plain.

As a retired Unity minister I can see these words being written or even recited by Jesus himself.  Some say that his lost years were spent studying in the Far East and thus he would have been exposed to Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama the historical Buddha was born in 566 or 563 B.C.E.[1]  Jesus of Nazareth was born  2,013 years ago. So it is clear by his age that he could well have been exposed to these teachings as he too preached love and compassion, and opened his heart to all people, rich or poor, sick or well, gay or straight, and sinners of all kinds just as the historical Buddha had taught.

You can see this clearly written in many of the verses in the Bible, start with Luke Chapter 7:

  • But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!
  • Do good to those who hate you.
  • Bless those who curse you.
  • Pray for those who hurt you.
  • Give to anyone who asks
  • Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
  • If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even Sinners love those who love them.
  • You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

And I could go on and on, but I won’t.  To illustrate the Christmas Spirit in the words of the Buddha pay attention to the words below with an open heart and an open mind and see that all Wisdom is from the same source which had no beginning and has no end.

Blessings from my house to yours for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

In gassho, Shokai

 Metta Sutra: The Loving-Kindness of Shakyamuni Buddha

May all beings be happy.  May they be joyous and live in safety. All living beings, whether weak or strong, in high or middle, or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born, may they all be happy.  Let none deceive another nor despise any being in any state; let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.

Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child, so with boundless mind should one cherish all living things, suffusing love over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit.

Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all one’s waking hours, may one remain mindful of this heart and this way of living that is the best in the world.

Unattached to speculations, views and sense desires, with clear vision, such a person will never be reborn in the cycles of suffering.


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

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Wow!  This is a really big subject and I have to write something brilliant in 900 words or less…Yikes.  I am possessive of everything from my purse to my relationships, to my clothes, and my car.  How about the furniture I spent so much time picking out and waiting for that sale to buy it?  What about my friend if I see him or her enjoying the company of someone else without being included?  Goodness, don’t forget the place that you sit in the Zendo each time?  Feels like I could go on and on for at least 500 words on this list alone–but I won’t!

The thing about my possessions is that they end up possessing me—it is not the other way around.  I had to move in with my mother a few months back due to her Alzheimer’s disease and then I had to give up some of my “stuff” because it would not fit in her two bedroom apartment, which was already filled with her stuff, I was in a quandary.  So I left a lot of the things in the apartment that I had been sharing with a friend.  Then my friend had to move!  Now what?! So I really had to decide what possessions I was willing to give up, which ones I “could” give up, and which ones I just “had” to hold on to…not sure for what reason but the urge was there.

Believe me when I tell you that I have been a corporate trainer, teacher, and college professor for over 25 years and I filled up two giant recycle bins with files, papers, tests, handouts, and more!  It took me 2 days to go through them all and to dwindle the “to keep” pile down to one small box from the moving section at Home Depot.  Did I possess them or did they possess me? So now I think I’ve got it…I’ve mastered this possession “thing” and I am able to throw things out, release them, and let them go.

Oh yeah! Then I opened Reb Anderson’s book and Robert Aitkin’s book and I read from Reb, “Even if you do not hold onto ordinary things of the world, the merit of that is insignificant compared with the merit of not avariciously holding onto dharma treasure (page 168).”[1]  So, when I finally make a breakthrough in my sitting, or in my demonstration of compassion, or showing unconditional love and patience and am feeling great about my successes in my practice I have to give that up too!  So what can I keep?

Robert writes about Hui-hai. He says, “When Hui-hai was asked about entering the Tao, he said we enter by the danaparamita, the perfection of relinquishment, the perfection of giving over (page 83).”[2]  He goes on to say, “When the Buddha held forth a flower before his assembly, that was a full and complete presentation of the entire universe and of all the teachings of all the Buddhas and Ancestral Teachers (page 85).”  And what did the Buddha do with that flower, he immediately gave it away!

There is great wisdom in the eternal idea of giving things away—any and all things.  Meister Eckhart said, “To give a thousand marks of gold to build a church or a cloister would be a great thing, but to give a thousand marks for nothing at all would be a far greater gift (page 83)”[3]

Looks like I’m stuck with giving it all up, giving up the good of giving, giving up the pride of giving, giving up the self-righteousness of giving, and giving up the giving up.  Now does that mean that I can’t collect things, ideas, or good deeds?  Not at all simply get them and at the same time release them and let them go.  In Unity we had an affirmation that said, “I release it and let it go to find its highest good elsewhere.”  Or you could say him or her in place of the pronoun it.  So yes you can give and receive!  So give away—just don’t give with the idea of attachment—of getting something in return.  And if you can’t figure all of this out—you may want to give up  trying! That may be the best “give away” of all…

To this “flower” I bow, three full bows…for no reason at all.

Things to focus on this week:

  •  Step one: Begin simply by giving up whatever needs to be released each and every moment of the day: ideas, thoughts, things, people, emotions etc.
  • Step two: Set your intention to release and let go of your attachment to either “having it” or “releasing it.”
  • Step three: Accept the Buddha’s help throughout this process.
  • Step four: Finally, keep a journal on the precept and make note of how learning to embody truth in all its aspects thoughts, words, and actions is affecting your life. Good luck with that!

[1] Anderson, R. 2001, Being Upright Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Rodmell Press: Berkeley, CA.

[2] Aitken, R. 1984, The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY

[3] Ibid.

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Shunryu Suzuki in his famous book wrote, “Every existence in nature, every existence in the human world, every cultural work that we create, is something which was given, or is being given to us, relatively speaking.  But as everything is originally one, we are, in actuality giving out everything.  Moment after moment we are creating something, and this is the joy of our life (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, 1970, page 65).  At Thanksgiving time we are especially busy giving and creating things from a sumptuous dinner for family and friends, to decorations for the table, to food for the local food bank for the Thanksgiving Dinner baskets for the needy, and this year to the victims of the Super Storm Sandy.  We are creating and giving from the material to the ephemeral in our prayers and well-wishes for all those on planet earth, planet earth herself, and beyond.

How do we do this?  Suzuki goes on to say, “But this “I” which is creating and always giving out something is not the “small i”; it is the “big I.”  Even though you do not realize the oneness of this “big I” with everything when you give something you feel good, because at that time you feel at one with what you are giving.  This why it feels better to give than to take. (page 65)”  This month in church we have been collecting money to purchase enough celery for 250 families that are receiving Thanksgiving Baskets from the food bank.  We do this every year!  We give the celery.  Sounds silly maybe but what would Thanksgiving be without celery in your stuffing, or on the table filled with something like cream cheese or peanut butter, and what would the leftover turkey salad be without the celery.

Those in need of food baskets often do not get fresh vegetables and fresh food because the food pantry cannot take perishables.  So even a bunch of celery can be an exciting thing for children to experience and green is good for everyone.  In fact, many children in urban areas today do not even know where the food comes from.  When a classroom of children were taken to the grocery store one day and the teacher asked them where the meat came from in the packages they could not tell her that it was from a cow or a pig.  They could only identify that the chicken was at one time a living bird.

Suzuki goes on to say “Actually, to create with the “big I” is to give; we cannot create and own what we create for ourselves since everything was created by God.  This point should not be forgotten. But because we do forget who is doing the creating and the reason for the creation, we become attached to the material or exchange value.  Everything you do should be based on such an awareness, and not on material or self-centered ideas of value. Then whatever you do is true giving, is dana prajna paramita. (pages 66-67)”

This is why we enjoy this time of year so much because it gives us that opportunity to have a reason to give whether it is gifts for our family and friends, time at the food bank or soup kitchen, help to provide food for the turkey baskets for families in need, or just to give a smile to the clerk in the store.  Rich or not so rich—we can give with abandonment.  And most of the giving can be free of any monetary value, so how about giving some of your time and yourself this year along with your cash.  When we do this type of giving from the “big I” Suzuki believes “we will not be attached to it, and we will not create problems for ourselves or for others.”

Today is the perfect day to view each thing that you give as coming from the “big I” and seeing yourself as the conduit of the teachings of the great masters of the world from Jesus to the Buddha to Mohammad, to Krishna, and many more whose names I have not mentioned, down to you.  Selfless giving is selfless living at its best.

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