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Posts Tagged ‘relieve suffering’

Thich Nhat HanhBhikkhu Nyanasobhano begins this section with a question, “What is the special meaning or value of renunciation (page 77)?”[1]  We are living in a society where more is better, more possessions will make me happy, and where life is a time and a place to see how many “things” I can collect.  My time in the prison ministry has been an eye opener for me.  Frequently, I have offered a book or something to one of our Zen members “behind the fence” and they’ve thanked me and refused the gift saying they only have a very small locker and it is filled to the brim already with no place for anything more.

Is your life filled to the brim already with things, ideas, emotions, problems, objects, likes, and dislikes so that there is no more room for anything more?  Or are you still trying to stuff more “stuff” into it?  And then one day you notice that you’re tired of dusting, cleaning, and taking care of all of your stuff!  Your relationships have fallen by the way side with significant others, family, and friends because of your “stuff.”  This stuff can be suffocating you and keeping you from the real important “stuff” like peace, love, and happiness.

Renunciation is a fancy word for giving something up.  How about making a list of the things you are willing to give up!  You might put some people and thoughts that are hindering you from living a life of peace, tranquility, and love on that list? Are you willing to give those people or thoughts up? I’m not saying it’s easy but it is imperative if you want to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit. What can we replace them with? How about some inner peace, tranquility, and self-love?

He goes on to say, “Buddhism certainly does not require anyone to renounce the world entirely; rather, those who follow Buddhism with the aim of reducing present suffering may find that they are led naturally and gradually to more and more simplicity and renunciation in their everyday affairs (page 81).”[2]

Renouncing them means taking away their power. They get their power from your thoughts and those thoughts are often verbalized.  Just because I “think” something does not mean that I have to “say” something!  My mom used to tell me to “bite my tongue” when I wanted to say something mean or hurtful.  She knew it would only ruin my relationship with the person to whom they were directed. Mom was a very wise woman!

So, for today I am going to “renounce” negativity, fear, anger, and judgment. I am going to act and speak words of peace, tranquility, and love for myself and for everyone who crosses my path today. How about you?  What will you renounce today?

[1]

Nyanasobhano, B. (1998) Landscapes of wonder Discovering Buddhist Dhamma in the world around us. Somerville Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications

[2] Ibid.

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We are winding down our thoughts on the verses from the “Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra” and only have one verse and the mantra left to go after this.  All of the verses we have looked at are distinct in their wisdom and bring light to the principles by which Buddhists live.

All past, present and future buddhas live this Prajna Paramita

And attain supreme, perfect enlightenment.

Therefore, know that Prajna Paramita is the holy mantra,

The luminous mantra, the supreme mantra,

The incomparable mantra

By which all suffering is cleared.

Lucky for us these are some of the easiest verses to understand and when the Sutra is chanted and the ideas are used regularly they can help bring peace, love, joy, and light into our lives. The verse tells us that throughout the ages people have lived by these principles and through the ideas, techniques, and practices have lived a life where suffering was limited and for some maybe even eliminated.

So if you are looking for a way to alleviate or at least minimize the suffering in your lives make it a habit to sit each day and before the sitting chant “The Great Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra.”

Shohaku Okumura in his book Living By Vow A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts writes this about these verses:

Although the sutra has the phrase ‘relieves all suffering.’ I don’t believe it works as a kind of pain killer.  Instead it enables us to change the way we view our lives and ourselves.  It allows us to see the deeper meaning and broader reality of our life.  Our way of thinking is limited by our experience, education, culture, and values.  Our picture of the world is narrow.  This wisdom of prajna-paramita enables us to break through these fixed systems of value and see reality from a wider perspective (p. 202). [1]

Just as Okumura says, “Look at life from a different point of view.”  I remember sometime back reading a story about a woman who had lived in a very remote area of her country and suddenly fell ill.  She traveled far and long to get to a hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  During the surgery the physicians realized that they could not get it all.  They did not say anything to her about that and when she was able they sent her home to die.  Several years later she appeared in the ER with another, but different, problem.  When the nurse looked up her chart she asked to see a picture ID and without thinking said, “It can’t be you—we sent you home to die.”  The patient replied, “Well no one told me that!”   She had evidently “changed the way she had viewed her life” from one of illness to one of wellness!

Charles Fillmore the co-founder of Unity was often quoted as saying, “Pain is inevitable—suffering is optional.”

Yet, we keep suffering and some even talk themselves into dying and others talk themselves into living.  Sitting regularly and practicing the principles of Buddhism is a great way to help us remember that suffering is optional!

Things to focus on this week:

  1. I will begin each day by sitting in quiet meditation while remembering that “suffering is optional.”
  2. I will remind myself to simply return my focus to my breath no matter how many times I have to do so—without frustration or anger.
  3. I will look for the rainbow behind the cloud and focus my attention there.
  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] Okumura, S. (2012) Living By Vow A practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts, Wisdom Publications, Boston: MA

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