Friday, December 26, 2008

A Buddhist New Year's Resolution

Buddhas and sentient beings grow out of the One Mind and there are no differences between them. It is like space where there are no complexities, and is not subject to destruction. It is like the great sun which illumines the four worlds: when it rises, its light pervades all over the world, but space itself gains thereby no illumination. When the sun sets, darkness reigns everywhere, but space itself does not share this darkness. Light and darkness drive each other out and alternatively prevail, but space itself is vast emptiness and suffers no vicissitudes.
(Zen Master Huang Po)

All the thoughts, feelings, and events of the past year are gone; now they are fleeting memories in the present moment. Reflecting on exactly where they arise, in the clear void of the Buddha Mind, they resemble sunlight disappearing into the darkness. Look into this Mind, and see its shining clarity at the heart of one’s being. Remaining as this spacious awareness, know the ephemeral nature of all things, including those memories; let them disappear into the void. Now, turn to face the New Year with this facelessness. What better resolution could there be than to rest in this knowing?
The e- book quoted in this article is available for free download at the following location: ‘Manual of Zen Buddhism’ by D.T. Suzuki

Monday, December 22, 2008

Opening the Eye of Dharma

We need to remove the blinkers and look...

The cognition of an external object already presupposes the distinction of outside and inside, subject and object, the perceiving and the perceived. When this separation takes place, and is recognized as such, and clung to, the primary nature of the experience is forgotten, and from this endless series of entanglements, intellectual and emotional, takes its rise.

(From the book ‘The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind’ by D.T. Suzuki)

What Daisetz Suzuki points to above, is the cause of our suffering, our living of a life of conflict between here and there. It is the rise of ego that denies the inherent unity of existence. We can experience this unity if we find a way to see things as they truly are, rather than from the viewpoint of ego. How is this done? Well, one method is to just look and see that right now there is no observable separation between this and that, here and there. On a certain fundamental level, you are me and I am you; being open to accepting the facts of the present moment will lead us to actually see this. This is opening the eye of Dharma.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Eternal Law

When we hold fast to such thoughts as,

“They abused me, mistreated me,

molested me, robbed me,”

we keep hatred alive.

If we thoroughly release ourselves

From such thoughts as,

“They abused me, mistreated me,

molested me, robbed me,”

hatred is vanquished.

Never by hatred is hatred conquered,

but by readiness to love alone.

This is eternal law.

(Verses 3, 4, & 5 from the Dhammapada)

To return hostility to another is a common human response, but it is also indicative of extreme ignorance and suffering. Who is the other but a suffering being, caught in delusion? To fight hate with hate is to be lost amongst the lost. Slowing the mind through meditation practice, so that even when not sitting we can still catch hateful thoughts as they arise, is to begin to release ourselves from their grip. Then, we can return hostility with the love of a peaceful heart, transforming the moment into something much more beautiful. May all beings be happy!

(The above extracts are from a translation of the Dhammapada by Ajahn Munindo, and can be downloaded from the following link:

A Dhammapada for Contemplation))

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Wisdom of Master Yoda

Luke Skywalker: How am I to know the good side from the bad?

Master Yoda: You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence, never for attack.

(From the movie ‘The Empire Strikes Back’)

The wisdom of Master Yoda from the Star Wars series of films is full of Zen. Indeed, the way of the Jedi is not dissimilar in many ways to the Way of the Buddha. A serene and focused mind is vital to the training of both the Buddhist monk and the Jedi knight; in the still heart we can know what is right and what is not. Then, when questions arise regarding the practice of the Way, the answer will come up from the depths of the void within, and, like Yoda, truly wise will we be.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Mindful Way

To practice the mindful way, like the forest monks in the lineage of Ajahn Chah, is to cultivate the wisdom of the Buddha. The forest monasteries are havens to establish and develop a mindfulness that permeates every moment and every aspect of life, revealing the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and selfless nature of existence. What exists beyond these conditioned phenomena is what the Buddha called ‘the unconditioned’, and this is the ineffable truth that the mindful way leads us to. Sadhu, Ajahn Chah. Sadhu!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stepping Out of Time

Step outside of time just once, and all the years you spent in ignorance and suffering recede into vagueness. They’re only something you seem to remember. Your old small self is gone and all his old enemies and friends and relatives and all his old experiences, bitter or sweet, have lost their power over him. They were like a cinema show…believable while he was in the theater, but not when he came out into the daylight. Reality destroyed the illusion.

In Nirvana you’re neither young nor old. You just are. And who are you? That’s easy. he Buddha.

(Master Xu Yun, ‘Empty Cloud’, p.78)

Time is an integral part of the problem of the suffering of our lives, isn’t it? Time ticks inexorably on, each second bringing Yama, the embodiment of death, ever closer. But, if as Master Yun says, we can step out of time into the eternity of our Buddha-nature, surely we should make the effort to do so before it’s too late. Look at a clock or a watch. Notice time’s relentless march. Now look back at the observer: is it any particular time here, or are you in fact already residing in the timeless zone that is awareness itself?

For a review and a link to download the e-book quoted above, please see E-book Reviews & Downloads to the right of this page.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Link: The Middle Way

Wade, my friend over at The Middle Way, asked me to write a piece for his blog on the theme of its title, describing what 'The Middle Way' actually is. My efforts can be read at the following location:

Wade himself writes eloquently about the Buddhadharma on the site, which was one of the first to be put on the blogroll feature to the right of this blog. At some point in the near future, Wade will contribute a post for Buddha Space. In the meantime, please pay The Middle Way a visit.

Khun Por

Khun Por (1948-2008)

Recently, my father-in-law died after a long struggle with both severe diabetes and renal failure, the latter requiring regular dialysis treatment. He was a great man that had a big influence on me, as well as on many, many other people who sought him out for advice on all sorts of things from how to fix their car to how to bring up their children. Khun Por ('Father' in Thai) was the perfect example of how a Buddhist should behave; he was honest in all his dealings, kind and generous, modest, calm and considerate, and didn't use intoxicants. Thank you, Khun Por!