Zen Cooking Lesson: Candescent Carrots

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”

Yoga of the Mind: A Key to unlocking the grip of prejudice

A prejudice mind is one that is experiencing fluctuations. It is the opposite of steady. When our mind is not steady, we know we are not seeing reality as it is. But this insight into our fluctuating mind only comes if we have a practice well established. Otherwise, we filter what we perceive through our confused senses as reality. We think what we are seeing is real, when in fact we are mistaking a distortion for reality.

The Courage to Change

I was struggling with the fact that altars in my mind always had crosses on them, not Buddhas. When I approached altars in church, it was a sacred event, and it was almost always to receive the Eucharist from a priest, and to say a prayer to Jesus. Would God punish me for getting this close to a Buddha statue and a Buddhist priest? When I look back on this event today, it’s a totally ridiculous question to me now, but at that moment my fears were real and stemmed from teachings about not worshiping idols.

Reincarnation

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.”[5]

“Conversion” to Buddhism

 “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”

Haiti is a Great Teacher

“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”