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Posts Tagged ‘laughter’

Teaching students about simplicity is very difficult in a world where there is no example of it in their lives.  We live in a society that is complex, busy, noisy, and filled with to-do lists and projects and school, studying, and working toward promotions and more.  And this is all happening today!

But to live a life of peace, joy, and contentment we will need to slow down, increase our ability to focus on one thing at a time, and find time to meditate and be mindful about each word, thought, and step we take.  When we accomplish this we will be living in a world that is full and complete and filled with peace, love, and compassion.  Fears and frustrations will diminish and laughter will appear in their place.

dad, grandad, boy playingWhen was the last time you heard yourself or your children or students or co-workers actually laugh with a loud squeal, saw them roll on the floor, and hold their tummy because it hurt so much from laughing?  When was the last time you laughed so hard tears rolled down your face like the picture you see here?

Below is an exercise for you to share with them to help them think about simplicity and how it appears in their lives. You may not be able to use it with very young students so you may have to revise it a little bit to show them how to work on one thing at a time and finish it before they go on to the next thing. You might illustrate that idea with two pictures, one that is a very simple picture of something i.e. a glass of milk, and the other that is a very busy and complex picture such as a table full of dishes and food with a glass of milk among the items on the table.

Script for Exercise:

Pretend that you have a magic wand and that magic wand allows you to recreate your life and yourself– to invent a new you.  I am going to give you a few minutes to meditate on a word and think about what it means to you and how it appears in your life, or doesn’t appear in your life.  The word is simplicity.  (short pause)

When I ring the bell I am going to give you several minutes to create something with the art supplies that you have gathered that will illustrate what you discovered about yourself during the meditation.  Be as creative as possible in expressing what you discovered and even what the new you, both internally and externally, can look like. Feel free to draw, write, color, express yourself in your own unique way.

Keep track of the time. Give the students 3-5 minutes, longer if they have experience meditating, before ringing the bell. After ringing the bell remind them what they are to be doing for the next 10-15 minutes.  Keep track of the time because you will want to save time for debriefing the activity.

You might even try this exercise yourself.  Reflecting on simplicity might lighten up your day and brighten up your life!  Try it I think you’ll like it…

In gassho,

Shokai

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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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I received the Upaya newsletter today and they are having a Seminar on the Heart Sutra with Sensei Kaz Tanahashi, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Joshin Brian Byrnes February 17-19, 2015. The list below was included in the announcement.  I thought you would all like to have it and to be able to focus on these tenets throughout the upcoming Holiday Season when stress and tempers can get quickly out of hand.  Blessings from my home to yours.  In gassho, Shokai

. Sensei Kaz Tanahashi

10 Laws on the Art of Joyful Living: Sensei Kaz Tanahashi

1. Your happiness is more important than anything else.

2. The happier you are, the more you can help others.

3. Smiling makes you happy.

4. The more relaxed you are, the happier you are.

5. A moment of meditation can help you refresh yourself.

6. The lower your expectations are, the happier you are.

7. Happiness attracts happiness.

8. The ultimate healing is to live joyfully at each moment.

9. The more fully you face your own death, the more joyous you become.

10. You can always improve your art of joyful living.

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On December 7, 1975 a short piece was published in the Family Weekly Magazine about Peace Pilgrim. In it she talked about the idea of peace that Americans held:

Peace is much more than the temporary absence of war; it is the absence of the causes of war. I believe it will take another 10 years for an outer peace to develop and sustain itself, but even after that time I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace (page 180).[1]

Sadly 42 years have gone by since she made this statement and wars on the common people by their governments and the fundamentalist religious groups around the world are raging harder, longer, and in more places than ever…from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the mountains of Iraq, to the sovereign state of Ukraine, and still fermenting are wars between the Israels and the Palestinians that live in the Gaza Strip. Just to name a few!

So what would you suggest to the Peace Pilgrim if she were still amongst us as to the “causes of war”? The absence of war for me will come when we all develop a constant and consistent attitude of peace, love, and compassion for self, and then allow that to flow freely and fully to all beings at all times, and in all places. Next, move that peace, love, and compassion to the trees, lakes, mountains, and rivers, to the grass beneath your feet and the sun and stars above—to see everything through the eyes of love. Finally, to teach these principles in every town and village on the planet to the young ones who will be the future caretakers of it. This is what’s missing and is the cause of war everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom to the city and to the countryside.

The eyes of love for self disappeared in Robin Williams as his depression and life’s challenges grew harder and harder to accept and manage until he took his own life. His peace and compassion for himself began to dwindle and finally to disappear. That is just what the Peace Pilgrim was speaking about when she said, “I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace.”

We are a union of minds melding together through the energy that moves around this planet. We feel the energy of others in our presence all the time. Sometimes we can feel the energy of joy, laughter, and love and sometimes we feel the energy of fear, hatred, and sadness. But feel the energy we do, sometimes it is so palpable there is a saying that “you could cut it with a knife.”

While sitting in the Zendo this morning one of our teachers, Mushin Sensei, put on a beautiful piece of music for us to focus on after the talk given by our teacher Doshin Mitch Cantor. The music was a piano piece that was so fabulous it brought the energy of a recently departed friend into the room. I saw his light, I could feel his love, I could see how his spirit/energy was everywhere present as far as the mind could imagine from cosmos to cosmos from heart to heart and from mind to mind. I felt both tears of joy and sorrow begin to roll down my cheeks as our energy merged with the music and I was once again reminded that “all is one” that there is no separation in time and space when agape love is concerned.

Wouldn’t it be great if the love energy of the Peace Pilgrim and my dear friend Kevin Dulling could be flowing in and through all that is to help end this madness on planet Earth? I know they both would approve!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

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Life is ever changing filled with to-do lists, projects, family, children, work, play, birth, death, life, sickness, happiness, love, leisure, health, and hopefully some lollipops and kisses…

Which pieces are you missing? Which pieces have taken over your life? Which pieces have left you without peace, contentment, or joy? Today is the perfect day to sit down and take a truthful look at your life. There is an old saying that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” I may not agree with that quote; however, I do think it is a good thing to examine one’s life on occasion. Today might be just such a day.

Many people believe that they are great muti-taskers and that it helps them get done much more than the next guy or gal. However, multi-tasking has been described in the recent research as “a road map to disaster” and leads to: confusion, tension, mistakes, madness, melancholy, missed steps, forgetfulness and much more. Some days when I try to multi-task I feel like all of these things are happening to me simultaneously! How about you?

There is the most wonderful book on the planet written by a brilliant woman, Christian McEwen, entitled World Enough & Time on Creativity and Slowing Down (2011). She writes about this subject beautifully in her book and she calls it “Hurry Sickness.”

Such “hurry sickness” (the phrase originates with Dr. Larry Dossey) speeds up our heart and breathing rates, leading to ulcers, hypertension and high blood pressure, along with a growing dependence on alcohol and cigarettes. The Chinese ideogram “busy” is made up of two characters, “heart” and “killing,” and this is accurate: the new emphasis on speed and efficiency is quite literally, damaging our hearts. Computers operate in nanoseconds, and we try, vainly, to keep up, like an old dog panting along behind his master’s sports car. But a nanosecond is only a billionth of a second, and humanly cannot be experienced, so our effort to synchronize ourselves is doomed to failure. Are we happy nonetheless? Are we enjoying ourselves? We are moving too fast to come up with an answer (page 21).[1]

She is right you know. When was the last time you can actually say you were “happy”? When was the last time you laughed so hard tears rolled down your cheeks? When was the last time you laughed so long that the muscles in your face actually hurt? Is it so long ago that you can’t even remember?

McEwen goes on to write:

Consider a world without sidewalks, a world where loitering is forbidden and musing is seen as a synonym for befuddlement or confusion. It’s a world stuck in fifth gear, a world where there is no time to look forward or backwards, only the bleating nanosecond of the present. It is becoming, alas, the world in which we live (page 21).[2]

In our Buddhist and mindfulness training we learn to live in the now moment where wellness exits, where we make time for the simple things, where we do one simple thing at a time! “Oh, what a relieve it is” as they say in the Alka-Seltzer commercial. And why do we remember that line so easily and quickly? Because our lives are so frenetic and busy we always have a packet of it in our purse, or desk drawer, or medicine chest!

So here are a few suggestions to help you live a piece of your life in peace and tranquility:

Make time for the simple things:

Simply listen

Simply see

Simply hear

Simply feel

Simply love

Simply laugh

Simply sing

Simply be

Doing these things will create simple wellness in your life!

Do one simple thing at a time:

When walking simply walk

When eating simply eat

When listening simply listen

When looking simply see

When feeling simply feel

When cooking simply cook

When living simply live!

 

Peace of Mind: The wealth without which you cannot really be wealthy.

This I wish for all of you! Namaste, Shokai

 

[1] McEdwen, C. (2011). World Enough & Time on Creativity and Slowing Down. Bauhan Publishing: Petersborough, NH

[2] Ibid.

 

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Enlightenment is an elusive idea spread by many religious and spiritual teachings around the world. Questions abound:  What is it?  How do I attain it?  What will happen if I do get it?  Does that mean I have to leave my family and friends and go live on the top of a mountain somewhere?

Dogen said, “Great enlightenment right at this moment is not self, not other. Great enlightenment is the tea and rice of daily activity.  Enlightenment is ungraspable (page 55).”[1]

Tanahashi and Levitt say, “Awakening to the ultimate reality of human existence is called ‘realization’ or ‘enlightenment.’ It is the actualization of our innate capacity to experience wisdom beyond wisdom (page 50).”[2]  Wisdom abounds everywhere, are you looking?

Enlightenment is knowing that you are in the present moment, doing all that you can to demonstrate your oneness with the world and the people around you.  It is living in the moment and not being drawn into future events or challenges or pushed back to the worries and woes of the past minutes, hours, days, or years.  It is being one with all in this very moment.

As Dogen said it is the “tea and the rice of daily activity.”  So if you are sitting or meditating so you can be sent to another plane of existence, or to light up like the pictures we see of Jesus, or to be relieved of your daily chores and sorrows you may or may not grasp it.  You just may be looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing.

Enlightenment to me is when you are living your life fully with peace, love, joy, and compassion.  When without thinking you act as the Good Samaritan, or Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or the Buddha just doing and being the embodiment of those things. It is washing the dishes with care, driving the car with mindfulness for the safety of others on the road and the passengers in your car.  It is saying a prayer before you eat to bless the food and those who have made it possible for you to eat: the farmer, the truck driver, the clerk in the grocery store and hundreds more.

We have a beautiful prayer that we say before each meal at our Zendo if you are not already using it I hope you’ll try it out.   It seems to have extra added benefits like no indigestion after the meal for some reason or other!

Earth, water, fire, air, and space combine to make this food. Numberless beings gave their lives and labors so that I may eat. May I be nourished so that I may nourish life.

This prayer can be used throughout the day for everything.  Bless the clothes you wear and the people who made them for you.  Bless the car you drive and the home where you live, and the furniture that you sit and sleep on. See the “light” in everyone and everything.  That is why we call it “enlightenment.”  It is not a place to go but a place to be!

Be light about everything, look for the humor and laughter around you and bring humor and laughter wherever you go.  Life is short—too short to be living “enheavyment” every day all day long!  Be good to yourself and lighten up. When you do you see enlightenment everywhere in everyone and in everything.  Think what a miracle that would be! If this day was your last day on earth what a wonderful day it would have been.

Dogen said, “You should remember that how much you study and how fast you progress are secondary matters.  The joyfully seeking mind is primary (page 51)”[3]  So trade in your heaviness for joyfulness today!  When you do you will be face-to-face with the master’s I have named above and many more—you will be walking with them in the light.

So travel lightly, Shokai

Things to focus on this week:

1.  I will begin each day with joyfulness and lightness.

2.  I will remind myself that life is short—and not to spend time in “heaviness” but in “lightness”!

3.  I will remember to keep my eyes and ears open because wisdom and enlightenment are everywhere present.

4.  Lastly, I will keep a journal of the opportunities that have been presented to me so I can keep track of my progress and my opportunities for growth.


[1] Tanahashi, K. Levitt, P. (2013) The Essential Dogen, Writings of the Great Zen Master. Shambhala: Boston, MA

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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