Racing is what I did for a living. I raced to get to the swimming pool. I raced in the water. I raced to get my homework finished. I raced against my classmates for the best grade. When I sat down to rest, my thoughts raced. I watched fast paced movies, gorging on violence, sex, bodies crashing into each other, and the noise of gunfire. None of this was real, but it was a reflection of the reality of some parts of our world, certainly parts of my own mind, and so it felt real, and I felt connected to others through that “tele – vision.” Yet like Prince Siddhartha prior to seeing the four sights (a sick man, a senile man, a corpse and a sage), I knew there was something missing.
Carrots are extraordinarily versatile root vegetables. They can be used raw in salads, cooked into soups and stews, mashed into pancakes, and entwined into a host of other dishes. Recipes that involve carrots will describe the amounts needed and the size or shape to make with them. Some books are adorned with colorful arrangements ofContinue reading “Zen Cooking Lesson: Candescent Carrots”
Not every teaching the Buddha gave had universal application. Some of it was meant only for certain people, and in certain times. The Buddha was primarily concerned with helping others to wake up to the reality of suffering and in providing practitioners with the means to liberate themselves from suffering. All of the stories in the Pali Cannon were offered on specific occasions and at specific times and were in response to the needs of individuals or the community at that time.
The Bodhisattva vow, which many have taken when they received the 16 precepts, includes the vow to return again and again to this world until all beings attain Enlightenment. The underlying assumption is that Enlightenment, Nirvana and no rebirth is an aim of Buddhism. Zen Master Dogen’s phrase, “practice and Enlightenment are one” (修証一如), is a later development in Buddhism which merges the means with the ends. So, in one sense, concerning our self with rebirth is not necessary. However, even Zen Master Dogen talks about rebirth: “In ten thousand kalpas and thousands of lives, how many times are we born and how many times do we die? This cycle of lives is samsara [suffering], caused only by blind clinging to worldly affairs.”
“How did you feel about transferring from one religion to another? Have you found any conflicts between the two religions? What have you learned from Zen Buddhism in contrast to Catholicism?” These were questions asked of me by a student in my World Religions class at the Des Moines Area Community College. I hope thatContinue reading ““Conversion” to Buddhism”
My nephew is in the R.O.T.C. program at University of California, San Diego. He is planning to enter the Navy afterwards and possibly be a fighter pilot. Like his grandfather, his time in the service gives him a full ride, an option that makes total sense when money appears to be scarce. My nephew sharedContinue reading “Can a Buddhist Become a Marine?”
We think we exist as some kind of solid independent reality. Funeral ceremonies of loved ones have always served to remind me of the dream-like quality of life. Recently, a beloved aunt of mine passed away. Her husband, children, and grandchildren all eulogized her in a profound way. Her grandchildren played music, sang, and offeredContinue reading “The Web of Life”
“Beyond Mountains are more mountains” is a Haitian saying. This proverb does not only accurately depict the Haitian landscape, but also the inner landscape of our lives. We all have ups and downs, just like the mountains’ slopes. There is no end to the highs and lows of our lives. Haitians know this all tooContinue reading “Haiti is a Great Teacher”
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them. Children have been by far my best teachers. Jesus said that if we can learn to have the mind of a child, then we will enter the kingdom of heaven. The child’s mind is open, receptive, and sincerely curious about life. When sitting zazen, Dai-En Roshi wouldContinue reading “A Dharma Doorway”
In our culture there is a major split between mind and body. Generally speaking, the body gets treated one way and the mind another. We go to a gym to develop our body. We go to a classroom to develop our mind. The body is considered physical: muscle, bones, ligaments, organs. The mind is generallyContinue reading “Where is my mind?”