Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful For This Wonderful Life

My practice has enabled me to see my life more directly and to be involved in it more fully. I'm far from enlightened but there is a measurable difference in the way I react and respond to things today as opposed to how I did just one or two years ago.

I am so grateful to at least begin to understand that joy and contentment can only be experienced when they aren't continually being pushed into the future. And when I'm mindful and present and embrace what is happening completely (regardless of how pleasurable, painful or boring it is) I get these small glimpses of the sacredness that is built into every aspect of this life and it's awesome.

Happiness is constantly staring us in the face but we often move through our days as if we're walking through a beautiful forest with a sack over our heads. We get so wrapped up in what we think are big problems and the moment we "solve" one we're already on to the next and in the process we miss a huge chunk of our lives.

Whenever I leave the hospice I am thankful that I can walk around freely and not be confined to a bed. I am thankful that I can exist without the aid of an oxygen machine or the loneliness or the constant pain and fear that many of the residents feel every single day.

I am so lucky to live in New York City and have a terrific apartment and an incredibly loving and supportive boyfriend and my health and fresh strawberries every night and the ability to sit and be still once a day.

May we all be free from suffering and its causes, and may all of us wake up to the happiness that constantly surrounds us.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buddhism and Gay Marriage

From the Level 8 Buddhist Blog:

With the recent controversy in California over gay marriage, I thought I would explore the subject. I usually stay out of politics because I don’t want to get my head chopped off, but the comic above really expresses my sentiment (and I am a huge fan of Sinfest anyways). I can’t quite understand why we make a bold and progressive decision to elect Obama as President (and I am thankful we did), but many in California who voted for him voted against gay marriage citing “religious reasons”. This post is to explore the subject of gay marriage from the Buddhist perspective.

Read the entire article HERE

Also the Buddhist Churches of America newsletter has an article about Rev. Briones, a Jodo Shinshu Mexican American Minister who wrote about his experience officiating the wedding of George Takei (Mr. Sulu from Star Trek).

See it the article entitled EQUALITY FOR ALL HERE

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Basics of Zen Teaching Past and Present

Zen Buddhism is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism, and the basis is of the Mahayana sutras, written in India and China. The most important among them include lankavatara sutra, diamond sutra, heart sutra and a chapter in Lotus sutra. Also notable are the following points about Zen:

1) The basics of Zen teachings also include the fundamental elements of Buddhist philosophy. The eightfold path, four noble truths, five skandhas and three dharma seals are included in Zen teachings. However, the teachings in Zen tradition are restricted only to Mahayana Buddhism.

Read more HERE

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Zen Death Poems

A death poem (辞世の句 jisei no ku?) is a poem written near the time of one's own death. It is a tradition for literate people to write one in a number of different cultures, especially in Japan. Writing death poems is done by both Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Zen monks (writing either Chinese style poetry kanshi, waka or haiku), and by many haiku poets, as well as those who wish to write one.

Minamoto Yorimasa2

Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground -
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.

Shiaku Nyûdo5

Holding forth this sword
I cut vacuity in twain;
In the midst of the great fire,
a stream of refreshing breeze!

Hôjô Ujimasa1

Autumn wind of eve,
blow away the clouds that mass
over the moon's pure light
and the mists that cloud our mind,
do thou sweep away as well.
Now we disappear,
well, what must we think of it?
From the sky we came.
Now we may go back again.
That's at least one point of view.