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Posts Tagged ‘Shodo Harada’

Emerson: “There is no planet, sun or star could hold you if you but knew what you are.”

Shodo Hashodo-harada-roshi-sanzenrada Roshi in his beautiful book, Moon By The Window, wrote:

“In a dualistic world we will fumble and fall. When we see with the eyes of the Buddha, we know the joy of the Dharma [teachings] in daily life. We become one with the heavens and earth, and there is no longer any division between inside and outside (page 169).”[1]

We are made up of stars and light and when we use the talent, energy, compassion, and love of which we were born all things are possible.  We have sent spaceships to Mars, found cures for diseases that in the past had destroyed civilizations, we have created music, and dance, and poetry, and literature that has moved millions.  It is possible to be one with each of these things as we travel through life on planet Earth. I know because I have done it at a Cherokee Indian Fire Walk with Unity Minister Edwene Gaines on a dark night in an Alabama forest during one of her workshops

That is who we are. That is what we are. Shodo Harada Roshi goes on to write, “We have to throw away our small way of thinking and live in a place where we hold on to nothing whatsoever. It’s here that we discover the Buddha, and there is nothing sturdier than the strength that comes from this discovery.  The Buddha discovered that he was a part of the “all” as he awoke under the Bodai tree and taught us that through our direct experience we could realize that as well (page 169).”

As Louise Howard and Chris Riddell illustrate in their book Buddhism for Sheep: “Train your mind iBuddhism for Sheept is the source of everything.”[2] As we sit in zazen (meditation) we are training our minds to “throw away our small way of thinking and to hold on to nothing.” Then and only then can we know what we are—a piece of the heavens and the earth.

As Emerson said, “know what you are.” Sheep or not sheep…that is the question.

Shokai

[1] Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com (page 25)

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

[3] Riddell C.,  Howard, L. (1996) Buddhism for Sheep. London, England: Ebury Press

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Here we are finally at the last few verses of “The Great Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra,” this incredible adventure is about to come to an end and hopefully it will be one of such wonderful magnitude that your life will be better in every way from studying it and chanting it and contemplating its words and listening to the sounds that it sends through your ears into your head.

The verses are as follows:

This is no other than truth.

Therefore, set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,

Set forth this mantra and proclaim

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha (x3)

The last line is actually sung like a chant three times.

Shohaku Okumura in his book Living By Vow writes this about these verses.

Since this is a mantra, the words themselves are believed by some to have divine power and so are not translated.  Depending on the translator, the meaning is, “Gone, gone, gone beyond” or “Gone altogether beyond. Oh, what an awakening!” Bodhi means “awakening” and svaha means “all hail.” “Gone” points to a reality beyond our system of values, beyond the boundary of our ready-made picture of the world and ourselves.  This mantra enables us to break through our internal limitations and see a deeper reality inside us.  The Buddha taught us to wake up to this deeper meaning in our daily lives. (page 203).[1]

So when we read and chant and think about this sutra we discover our innate ability to go beyond the physical world of modern day living to go where awakening exits and all things are one living in unison and harmony.  Beyond thinking and feeling and beyond the intellect that is always trying to make things of mystery have weight and measure and answers and logic.  Beyond sight, and sound, and touch, and taste–beyond anything the human mind can comprehend.

Gate, Gate Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi SvahaGone, gone, gone beyond!  Gone altogether beyond anything I can know through my intellect.  Gone into a world of possibilities that my human mind may not be able to comprehend.  This is the place that Deepak Chopra calls “pure potentiality.” The place between this thought and the next that exists some place in quantum physics but is not seen by the human eye.  To live in this space is to be all there is to be in this life and any other.  To bath in that place where life has “pure potentiality beyond any place my human mind can take me at this moment…into the “silence” as we say in Unity Church.

This is where Shodo Harada in his beautiful book of poetry, calligraphy, and prose, Moon by the Window, writes, “The old pine is speaking prajna wisdom (page 203).”[2]

Normally we see our body and the rest of the world as separate; we live a life apart. When our world and our body meld, we experience the awakening of the Buddha, becoming a perfect whole.  Our zazen isn’t for playing around with our own thoughts. This world is filled with problems; our bodies are imperfect too. But putting everything aside and becoming one with this world, completely and totally, is what has to be done (page 203).[3]

So let us take time this week to sit and meditate while chanting the last verse of the sutra chanting until you are lost and have gone beyond the words into that perfect place of pure potentiality where the old pine, or the cushion, or the wind in the trees melds you with all things, all sounds, all sights, and all thoughts…melds you into one where you have gone, gone, gone, beyond into awakening.

You can do it…so go for it—go beyond it!

In gassho

Shokai

Things to focus on this week:

  1. I will begin each day with at least 5 minutes of chanting “Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha.”
  2. Before I put my feet on the floor each morning I will remind myself that “I am pure potentiality.”
  3. I will remember that if “The old pine is speaking prajna wisdom.” I can too!
  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

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

[3] Ibid.

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I was listening to a beautiful Andy Williams album this quiet Sunday morning after returning from my walk by the ocean with a friend and the famous song, “Some Enchanted Evening,” by Rogers and Hammerstein came on.  Andy sang, “Fools give you reasons wise men never try.”

Shodo Harada in his wonderful book, Moon by the Window:The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada, wrote:

Those who have realized deep awakening know how to live each day.   But how do we go about it?  What’s the best way to live so that our life has value for all beings?

Our Original Mind is like that of a newborn baby.  When we live in that naturally clear Mind, just as it is, that’s everyday mind; that’s the Path. But when our mind is filled with ideas and prejudices, perceptions about economics, politics, and social issues, how can we see clearly?  If we could all live from a place of ordinary, everyday mind, we would have no need for religion and education and laws.  When we are not concerned with anything at all, this moment is always the best time and season. If we encounter a crisis or catastrophe, that’s fine; when we die, that’s okay too.  Instead of seeing this as good or bad, we know that that’s how it is.  When we reach the end of our life, we can’t keep on living just because we aren’t ready to die. We must realize this deepest source, not to prevent physical death, but that we might live a life in which dying is only one of many things that come along (page 201).”[1]

What a beautiful way to live—recognizing it is just “how it is.”  When I live this way many of my fears and anxieties will diminish or disappear.  I can react to the situation at hand with speed and agility instead of jumping into my memories from the past—I remember when this happened to me before and I felt hurt for months.  Or jumping into the future—what will happen tomorrow if I say or do this today?  Unless I have a crystal ball that question is truly unanswerable.

So Shodo Harada is inviting me to live in the Original Mind like a “newborn baby.”  I need to live in the moment as if this moment is the only one that means anything…and he’s right–it is.

Where have you been going as you’ve read this blog?  Have you been jumping from the past to the future with thoughts and emotions or intellect and knowledge?  Now try reading it again while staying in your Original Mind in THIS moment. Good luck with that!

Let’s begin to live our lives from a “place of ordinary, everyday mind. Like that of a newborn baby.” Remember that “fools give you reasons, wise men never try.”

Things to focus on this week:

1.  I will use my ordinary, everyday mind as often as I can today.

2.  I will remind myself that “fools give you reasons, wise men never try.”

3.  I will remember to bring myself back to THIS moment when I catch my mind wandering into the past or the future.

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] Harada, S (2011) Moon By the Window: Zen Insights of Shodo Harada. Wisdom Pub: Sommerville, MA

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In spring colors there is no high nor low
Some flowering branches are by nature long, some short (Harada, page 5).

 When I read this in Shodo Harada’s beautiful book Moon by the Window (2011) it reminded me of the patience of spring waiting to appear after a long and difficult winter of snow and ice and cold.  It did not push itself in before its time, but waited patiently for the earth to get in just the right position when all the elements were perfect for new birth and growth.

When was the last time we waited with patience for anything?  Our society is so filled with hurry- up and rushes and to-do lists and must-do lists we find it difficult to take even a few moments each day to sit quietly and simply observe our breath.  Or to watch a flower bloom or to see a bird as it patiently follows the wind and the sun moving north and south with the seasons, instinctively knowing what the right time is.

Daily we are given the opportunity to show patience in our lives.  Some of us lose our patience while driving down the road when the car in front of us does not move fast enough, or is moving too fast and may cut us off to get ahead of us because he or she thinks we are driving to slowly.  How many times have you rushed through a meal only to get indigestion?  How many times have you finished a meal and you don’t even remember what you ate?

Are you someone who starts out each week wishing your life away?  How many times have you said, “Boy, I can’t wait until the weekend”?  Or how about, “Will this meeting ever get over I have so many things to do”?

For some of us it is a personality type, they used to call it Type “A” behavior.  But I call it Type “P” behavior!  We are missing the “Patience” gene!  The one that allows us to simply enjoy the moment in which we are living.  The sad thing is that this moment will never appear again and we may have missed a wonderful, beautiful, or mind awakening thing in the process.

During the time I have been writing this blog post my mother has entered the room several times impatiently needing my attention and so I stopped, thought about the topic and with “patience” helped her.  Living with a family member with special needs, be it Alzheimer’s or other mental or physical disability gives us plenty of time to practice patience.  It is not easy at times and I do lose my temper or get upset, but each day as I practice the 10 Paramitas it just gets a little easier and easier.  My “P” gene is showing up more and more!  How about yours?

Many years ago I had the privilege to work in Spain doing training for a multinational firm and I was shocked about the schedule with which we did our training. It was nothing like what we do in America.  In the U.S. we start between 8 and 9 a.m. and end between 4 and 5 p.m. with two short breaks and a lunch.  In Spain they started at 10, took a coffee break at 11 and went for a two hour lunch between 2 and 4 and ended at 6 p.m.  Wow!  What a difference.  They all think American’s are crazy with the number of hours we put in at work and how few vacation days we take each year.  The Spaniards know how to have patience, relax, and enjoy life!

This week let us practice being more like them and growing the “P” Gene!  Find some time each day to practice patience with yourself and with others.  Find some time to simply sit, simply watch the grass grow, or the snow fall, or play with your kids, your dogs or your cats.  Each time that monkey mind interrupts with your to-do list just let it go by and simply keep on sitting or playing or watching the grass grow or the snow fall.  Then ask yourself how you felt in mind, body, and spirit when you gave the “P” Gene a little chance to grow.

This is just like the plant you tried to grow in the paper cup in grade school.  If you pulled out the seed everyday it would not grow, once you saw it sprouting if you pulled out the small growth you would have killed it.  You probably can hear your teacher asking you to have patience and soon enough you’d see results.  And guess what —you did!

What results would you like to see in your life today?  With patience they just might appear!

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