Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Siddhartha Gautama’

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

This week we finished the Jewish tradition of observing Passover and for the Christians Easter and for the Muslims they support them both in some respects.  Within those religions there are traditions and prayers and ceremonies that are used this time each year.  The Jewish tradition of not eating leavened bread is one most people have heard of and everyone has seen the shelves filled with matzo in your grocery stores.

Thus the Buddha admonishes us not to celebrate our traditions because our parents did or our grandparents did but because there is value in doing so.  The traditions allow us to take time out of our daily chores and focus our thoughts and energy on something that will help us grow and be a better person.  They give us an opportunity to look at our behaviors and examine their purpose and outcomes and how they affect our lives, our families, and our communities.

They give us the opportunity to look at our spiritual lives and how we practice our beliefs on a daily basis.  They help us examine our ethics and morals, and our behaviors. As the Buddha said, they give us the opportunity for “observation and analysis.”  At the Southern Palm Zen Group we celebrate one thing each year Rohatsu “the day on which according to tradition Shakyamuni Buddha sitting in meditation under the Bodhi-tree at the first glimpse of the morning star attained enlightenment.”[1] Our celebration is sitting (meditating) through the night, if you can do it, if not, sitting as long as you are able.

Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”Socrates

Dr. Simon Longstaff, executive director of the St James Ethics Centre in Sydney, Australia, wrote in the New Philosopher (June 2, 2013),

“I would suggest that one can make sense of Socrates’ claim if it is understood to mean something like – those who do not examine their lives (make conscious ethical decisions) fail to live a life that allows them to experience being fully human. Thus the allure of those who offer to provide clear answers, simple directions, precise instructions (whatever) so that you may set aside examination and merely comply, or unthinkingly follow custom and practice – perhaps living a conventionally moral life rather than an examined ethical life. One can easily imagine how pleasant an unexamined life might be. ”[2]

What does “being fully human” mean to you?  When was the last time you sat down and really examined your life?  What did you find? Finally, what did you actually do with what you discovered?

Keep me posted!

Shokai

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

[2] http://www.newphilosopher.com/articles/being-fully-human/

 

Read Full Post »

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything Thich Nhat Hanhmerely on the authority of your elders and teachers.”

Wow!  Now that is coming from a great elder, teacher, and thinker—the Buddha!  As a teacher, trainer, and college professor for most of my adult life I am in complete oneness with this axiom.  Just because the teacher says so does not MAKE it so.  Everyone is born into a family, culture, country, and religion that has the desire to propagate themselves and their culture and beliefs.  Every culture has leaders and teachers who help share those ideas to ensure that they live on.

Whether you are an indigenous group such as the Aborigines in Australia, the Iroquois in North America, or the Mashco-Piro tribe in Peru they have believes that have been handed down by generations of elders and teachers.  Each is unique in its teachings and beliefs as we all are.  So if we move from one culture or religion to another we take on those beliefs and live by them.

As we discover new things through science and research we may look at our teachers and elders and what they taught us and say that some of their ideas might be called “superstitions” today. Thus the Buddha says we need to be curious and if need be do our own research and studies and discover what is “true” and “right” for us in our lives or in a particular situation.

I had a friend many years ago who went into the Catholic priest to ask some questions that were concerning her about her faith and she was told to just belief whatever they told her and when she refused to do so they excommunicated her.  The Buddha was way before his time in this axiom.  He understood that knowledge is fleeting and changing and that thinking too much can get us into trouble.

And thus he said, “Do not go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by rumors, by scriptures, by surmise, conjecture and axioms, by inference and analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by specious reasoning or bias toward a notion because it has been pondered over, by another’s seeming ability, or by the thought, ‘This monk is our teacher.”  But when you yourself knows: ‘Such and such things are unskillful, blameworthy, criticized by the wise, and if adopted and carried out lead to harm and ill and sufferings,’ you need to abandon them.”

This is the difficult way!  It is so much easier to let others do the research, the writing, and the teaching and follow them like lemmings then it is to think for yourself, read, research, and then practice the teachings and discover the power for yourself.   Yet, I recommend it highly. I hope you’ll try it out and let me know how it worked!

In gassho, Shokai

Read Full Post »

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything imagessimply because you have heard it.”

It is okay to begin your journey by reading the books and watching the videos and once you’ve done that throw it all away and discover it for yourself in your own way and in your own time.  That will enhance your knowledge, give you practical experience in the area that you are working on and make it “real” in mind, body, and spirit.

I can watch all the great ice skaters in the world on TV, and I can go see them perform live in the stadium. I can feel the beautiful music vibrating in my ears and moving down into my body and enjoy its bliss.  But until I put on a pair of skates I don’t know what skating is!

Do not believe what others tell you about skating—experience it for yourself!  When I began studying metaphysics in the 90’s I was book learned, I taught classes, and shared my knowledge from the pulpit.  But until I started to meditate daily, and create my own treasure maps, and write my own affirmations and use them daily and saw the things manifest in my life—I really didn’t know what metaphysics was.

Even though I heard and read about the power of prayer until I prayed with one of my congregants in a hospice setting and saw and heard her in prayer with me I did not really know the power of prayer.  Her belief in that prayer helped her walk out of the center a few days later healed. She moved back to the north east where she continued to live many years in good health.

Once she came back to Florida to visit her family and dropped in on one of my classes and shared this story with us. Her doctor had told her that her healing from prayer changed his belief in God. My purpose is not to try to make you believe in a God or a supreme power or the like, but simply to illustrate the teaching of the Kalama Sutra, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.”  The doctor had seen it with his own eyes in one of his own patients.

Thus we live a life of “free inquiry” not believing in anything simply because we have heard it or read it or seen it on the internet!  Regardless if the ideas are written in any ancient scriptures and in any ancient language. We must discover it for ourselves.  Live a life of free inquiry and watch what happens in your life when you do!

Let me know how that goes.

Shokai

Read Full Post »

If you are seeking to live your life through right vision and incorporating more good into your life you’ll enjoy The Kalama Sutra and its teachings.  This teaching encourages free inquiry. It has been said that it is also “exempt of fanaticism, bigotry, dogmatism, intolerance and more.” In this new workbook and blog series I am going to share with you some ideas on how to live that life through your thoughts and actions each and every day.

The Kalamas were a group of people who lived in a town called Kesaputta during the time Shakyamuni Buddha walked the earth.  Many came to see him teach and asked him questions.  The Sutra shares the questions and the answers.  I hope you enjoy the conversation!

Many wonderful teachers, translators, and authors have divided this sutra into several different topic areas that are listed below.  We will be taking each topic and discovering what it means in our lives, how we can live it, and what will happen for us when we do. If this type of inquiry excites you I hope you’ll join me on this new adventure in Buddhism.

Buddha Do not believe in anything pic and quote

Read Full Post »

Emerson: “The mid-world is best. (page 30)”[1]images

Zen: “It was this balanced ‘middle path’ approach, avoiding the two extremes of stagnation and excessive striving, which had enabled him [Siddhartha Gautama] to gain awakening (page 38).”[2]

The extremes of our life are what causes most of our pain and suffering.  How often have we gone to excess in even the simplest things, too much food at a restaurant or a family dinner or community pot luck supper?  How often have we spoken out of turn and thus hurt our self or another?  How often have we put so much time and energy into our work or a hobby that our family and personal lives suffered?

Many people have gone to the extreme with a way of living, eating, exercising, working, or fasting. I once had a congregant who would only eat dark green leafy things and I had a friend in college who thought that if one glass of carrot juice was good for her six a day would be even better. They both ended up with vitamin K poisoning and almost died.  Too much of a good thing can kill you!

“The Buddha pointed out that by avoiding stagnation and excessive striving he had been able to ‘cross the flood’ which similarly recommend neither going too far nor lagging behind (page 39).”  In his life he had tried every different religion or path to find “enlightenment.”  He even practiced aestheticism to such a degree that he was eating only one grain of rice a day. Needless to say he was visiting death’s door as the story goes.

“About this time a young girl came by and offered the emaciated Siddhartha a bowl of milk and rice.  At this point, Siddhartha had realized the path to awakening was a ‘middle’ way between extremes of self-denial and self-indulgence.”[3]

As Emerson says, “The mid-world is best.”  Take some time today and find your extremes and ask yourself are they helping or hindering you.  If they are hindering you decide today to begin living the “middle way.”  Whether your extreme behavior is too little or too much find the middle way and a wonderful balance will appear in your life.

Soon you will live a life where you feel fulfilled. The fruits of the middle world will appear. You will discover that life can actually be fun!

Try it I think you’ll like living in the middle world!  Let me know how it goes.

In gassho,   Shokai

[1] Dillaway, N. (1949) The Gospel of Emerson. Wakefield, Mass: The Montrose Press

[2] Analayo (2003) Satipatthana the Direct Path to Realization. Cambridge, England: Windhorse Publications

[3] http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddha/fl/The-Enlightenment-of-the-Buddha.htm

 

Read Full Post »

Emerson The Gospel of Emerson:

“No truth so sublime but it may be trivial tomorrow in the light of new thoughbuddhist-boot-camp-book-coverts (page 9).”[1]

Timber Hawkeye The Buddhist Boot Camp:

I knew what they meant: focus on the teachings, not the teacher (page 51).[2]

I know you are reading and listening and googling your favorite teachers and guru’s every day.  You spend time reading their books, listening to their pod casts, reading their blogs, newsletters, and more.  Many of you are running to the current most famous guru or teacher that you’ve seen on TV or the internet.  You hope to find the answer to all of your pains, sufferings, and questions about life.  And when they don’t give you the answer you move on to the next “teacher” and the next to no avail.  Why? Because the greatest teacher is right within you!

 There is no greater teacher then one that lies within you.  One fad teacher seems to have the “sublime answer” and then the next new face or name has the newest “sublime answer or new thought.”  From the horse and buggy to the car.  From the airplane to the moon and mars.  What next? Who next?  And yet the answer is always within you.  Within your divine wisdom—if you just go within and listen.

Be open during your meditation to sit quietly, focus on your breath, and wait upon nothing.  That is when miracles arrive.  That is when you open your mind to the great mind of the universe.  In those silent moments you tap into infinity.

Then you can be open to receive the answer to all of your questions.  The answer may come later in the day while washing the dishes or mowing the lawn.  It may come to you while swimming or riding your bike.  But come it will.  It probably won’t come from focusing on the wisdom of the “teacher” but on the wisdom of your intuitive creative mind.

All great inventors and scientists learned the basics from teachers and books and then they let the rest appear.  Albert Einstein is said to have had a dream/vision of himself flying through space and came up with E=mc squared. And Thomas Edison when he could not find the answer to a difficult problem would lay down on a bench in his laboratory and hold a coin in his hand and when it dropped on the floor it would wake him from his lucid dream state and the answer to the problem was there!

This short list includes some of the great founders of the world’s religions and philosophies: Yahwists, Zoroaster, Laozi, Siddhartha Gautama, Confucius, Ezra, Jesus, Muhammad, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, and Helen Blavatsky. These are just a few of the original minds that were the impetus of a religion or belief system that we have in the world today.  Each brought their own flavor and ideas to the mix. Each brought a “new thought” to the world to help them cope with the challenges of their time.

You too can use their thoughts and ideas to propel you to expand your consciousness and create your own path of wisdom, meaning, and knowledge to help you live a life of peace, love, and compassion. Be open to new ideas, focus on the teachings not the personalities.  Allow your mind to open to expand to new ideas that will challenge your beliefs and move you forward into “new frontiers.” Remember it is not the teacher that is important it is the teaching!

Let me know how that goes!  Our world really needs your new ideas!

Shokai

 

 

[1] Dillaway, N. (1949) The Gospel of Emerson. Wakefield, Mass: The Montrose Press

[2] Hawkeye, T. (2013) Buddhist Boot Camp. NY, NY: Harper Collins Publishers

Read Full Post »

bodhi leaf from Michael's 106 bows ceremony of passingThe Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa) is known for its prominent place in Buddhism as the place where Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni Buddha) meditated for 49 days after which he attained complete enlightenment. The leaf shown here was collected by me at the Brevard Zen Center on a silent retreat. This beautiful tree is located on the front of the property and stands as a symbol of the opportunity given to all the retreatants to experience the mystery of the moment for themselves. To discover the oneness that is everywhere present in this eternal now moment in which we live.

We stood beneath the tree in memory of our dear friend Michael who had passed quietly in his sleep the day before our scheduled retreat. It is tradition to do 106 bows in memory and to honor those who have studied with us and brought the dharma to life in the here and now.

What moment are you living in? Are your thoughts and feelings taking you into the past or projecting you into the future? How many minutes of now have you missed, forgotten, or never discovered.

As a Unity minister I found that often my congregants would come to me with their problems and say how they were unable to sleep for days because of the wandering of the mind into projections of the future. I would ask them this question: What could you do about the unpaid bill, or the job interview, or that argument with your teenager at three in the morning? Of course, there response was: absolutely nothing.

It is not easy, but it is also not impossible, to quiet the mind–it simply takes practice. Living in this moment is focusing on each breath with peace and quiet and joy knowing that you still have life within you, it is being one with all that exists with peace, love, and compassion.

In order to be there for others I have to be there for myself first. I have to keep my mind, body, and spirit healthy and loved. And then I will have the ability and the energy to be there for others.

It is amazing how much energy, love, and compassion I have when I stay in the eternal now moment! What can I do right NOW? Begin by taking three slow deep breaths to center yourself. Feel the life force energy flowing through you as the oxygen feeds your body and brain. Feel the peace that passes all understanding melt into every cell of your body as you continue to count your in-breaths and your out-breaths.

Be one with your breath in this eternal now moment and you just may awaken as Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni Buddha) did underneath the Bodhi Tree! Let me know how it goes!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

For those of you who have been following my blog on the 10 Paramitas I hope you will enjoy the next series of blog posts on the 16 Buddhist Precepts: Three Refuges, the Three Pure Precepts, and eventually the Ten Grave Precepts.  Each post will give you the opportunity to learn about the precept and then I hope you will take some time to focus, sit, and practice each one.  It may take you many months, but the adventure will be worthwhile.  It can help you get through the daily challenges and misfortunes of life with some ease and peace and it can help you help others to make this a better more compassionate place in which to live.

For those who have not studied Buddhism and may come from a different spiritual or religious background just knowing that someone is asking you to take refuge in the Buddha may be a little “off putting” as some might say.  But if we understand what students and followers of Buddhism think about the man Siddhartha Gautama you will see how you too can use this refuge in a positive life affirming way.

The Buddha is not someone like Jesus Christ who is worshiped and venerated as though he was the one and only son of God at the top of the hierarchy or in a trinity with God.  Siddhartha was a man who spent the early part of his life searching for the meaning of life and the causes of its inherent suffering. In the process he walked down many different paths looking for the answer.  Exactly like many of you are doing today.  Then one day he decided he was just going to sit in silence as long as it took and it worked.  Some say he sat under the Bodhi tree for 49 days where he finally attained enlightenment.  He was then given the name Buddha which means an “awakened one.”

How odd that all he got was the title “awakened one” yet how wonderful indeed!  Because guess what that means—I can be a Buddha and you can be a Buddha if we take our pursuit seriously.  From that time forward his followers began looking to have the same experience he did and they practiced sitting (Zazen) in the hopes of becoming enlightened. But they did more than just sit—they walked through life using the principles he taught and they soon discovered that when they did this they found their lives filled with peace, love, joy, and compassion and some even found enlightenment.

Norman Fisher in his book Training in Compassion Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong (2013) writes this in his introduction.

Compassion and resilience are not, as we might imagine, rarified human qualities available only to the saintly. Nor are they adventitious experiences that arise in us only in extraordinary circumstances.  In fact, these essential and universally prized human qualities can be solidly cultivated by anyone willing to take the time to do it.  They can become the way we are and live on a daily basis.  We can train our minds.  We are not stuck with our fearful, habitual, self-centered ways of seeing and feeling (page x).

Therefore, if you would like to see your life emptied of fear, negative habits, and self-centeredness I hope you will take some time to focus on becoming the Buddha.  You may not make it in this life, but there is no harm in trying—in fact, only good can come from it.  So let’s begin today!

Start by taking refuge in the Buddha, the “awakened one” and watch what happens.  It just could be the transformation you have been seeking.

Things to focus on this week:

  1.  I will begin each day with the intention of finding an opportunity to share compassion with at least one person: self, stranger, family member, or friend.
  2. When I feel a negative emotion I will ask myself, “What would the Buddha do?”
  3. Next, I will express compassion and caring for myself and for all others involved.

Read Full Post »

In The Dhammapada as translated by Irving Babbitt (1936) he writes, “Difficult is it to obtain birth as a human being, difficult is the life of mortals, difficult is the hearing of the true Law, difficult is the rise of the Buddhas (page 30).”  When I read that a little light went on in my brain and I just sat quietly for a few minutes reading and reading over and over again this small yet powerful phrase.

It has been many years since I thought about this concept.  We used to say that in another way in Unity.  We would let our students know how hard it was for that one tiny sperm out of the huge number (20 to 100 million of them) that went swimming up the fallopian tubes to meet with the egg and create you.  What were those chances—one in a hundred million?!  That surely makes everyone on this planet extra special and as hard as it was for the sperm to fight gravity and rush up that tube toward the egg—it is just as hard a life for many of you.

Each of us has had to swim upstream against the current at times whether it was as a child who may have been bullied or did not do well in school, or had to move from place to place because of the parent ‘s jobs or financial difficulties.  As adults we often find ourselves in many of those same predicaments, but now as the adult we are supposed to solve the problems and create a safe, healthy, and prosperous life for ourselves and our families.

These words by Zeami may be a little solace for you.

Ten thousand fold are the roads on which we pass through life

Our eyes are caught by many things

Darkness and light come and go

Far over the mountains we walked

Clouds are hiding our traces

The path that we traveled we no longer know.

Zeami (1363-1443)

It is not the difficulties in life I’m worried about, but how I handle those difficulties as I travel the ten thousand roads.  How I handle them is what has created my life and my character. Those thoughts, actions, and desires empower, help, or hinder me and affect those who are in my life, from family, to friends, to co-workers.  They even affect total strangers who may encounter me on this road of life. Those thoughts cause me to suffer greatly or to be filled with joy and peace.

Babbitt continues to translate The Dhammapada and offers us a path to relieve our suffering, “Suffering, the origin of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the eightfold noble path that leads to the release from suffering. That is the safe refuge, that is the best refuge; having gone to that refuge, a man is delivered from all suffering (page 31).”  As I have written before the Buddha did say that there would always be suffering in the world.  So that being true, how can we deal with it so that it does not take us over and destroy our lives?

Practice the eight fold path as it says in the Dhammapada.  Try taking one of the things each week and working on it until you see some relief and lightening up in your life.  Even if the light only appears for a minute it is better to spend that minute in the light than in the darkness and sorrow.

The Eightfold Path: Teaching of Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha

  1. Know the truth.
  2. Say nothing to hurt others.
  3. Practice meditation.
  4. Control your thoughts.
  5. Resist evil.
  6. Free your mind of evil.
  7. Work for the good of others.
  8. Respect life.

With this simple weekly practice soon you will no longer know that old path that you had traveled, but a new one will have taken its place and you will be born anew.

Read Full Post »