Sunday 30 December 2012

It may seem strange that at New Year, a time of celebration, this dharma is about death.

It may seem strange that at New Year, a time of celebration, this dharma is about death.

Actually this dharma is about life and death and the delusion that surrounds both life and death

We are celebrating New Year's Eve in Japan at the ski lodge in Ishiuchi just north of the birthplace of Eihei Dogen the founder of Soto school of Zen Buddhism.

We decided to visit a very old temple, that was a school for the children of samurai.
We took a wrong turn and found Kikoji Temple.
We were made most welcome by Hidenobu Noguchi the Soto Priest in charge.
The first thing I discussed with this loverly man was
Eihei Dogen the founder of his order who lived eight hundred years ago.
He then told me the great man travelled in this area to teach.

This dharma pays respect to this great man's writings.

Dogen argued that we possess everything we need in life when we are born including being enlightened.

Dogen said
"As I study both the exoteric and the esoteric schools of Buddhism, they maintain that human beings are endowed with Dharma-nature by birth.
If this is the case, why did the Buddhas of all ages — undoubtedly in possession of enlightenment — find it necessary to seek enlightenment and engage in spiritual practice?"

When he studied in China under Rujing, Dōgen realized liberation of body and mind upon hearing the master say, "Cast off body and mind"
This phrase would continue to have great importance to Dōgen throughout his life, and can be found scattered throughout his writings, as—for example—in a famous section of his "GenjoKoan"

"To study the Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe.
To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever."

The following section of his GenjoKoen shows us Dogen's profound thinking regarding life and death;

"Firewood turns into ash and does not turn into firewood again.
Do not suppose that ash is after and firewood before.
We must realize that firewood is in a state of being firewood and it has its before and its after...
Just as firewood does not become firewood again after it is ash, so after one's death one does not become alive again.
So life does not become death in an unqualified fact of the Buddha dharma....
Life is a period of itself.
Death is a period of itself.
They are like winter and spring.
We do not think winter becomes spring or that spring becomes winter. Nor do we say that spring becomes summer."
"The Genjo Koan"

This Dogen Koan is most profound as it deals with one of the most emotional sufferings of humanity.

What happens after death?
How is life formed, and is it reincarnated life?
In other words;
Do we come back!

Please comment......

May you all be guarded and guided this new year and,

May the Buddha bless you.

With Metta

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With love

Eihei Dogen

The founder of Soto school of Zen Buddhism
Eihei Dogen is the subject of my New Years Dharma
Look out for it!!!

Friday 21 December 2012

New year

New year

We have a chance to make a difference in our own and others lives at the start of this coming new year.
Our new years resolutions usually reflect these wishes.

Most make promises regarding finances and family.

For some, it is a religious matter and so promises are made to increase devotion.

Most don't understand that it is not the religion, or the liturgy or the statues that are important, but the spirituality of the person that earns merit.

Only a spiritual person can earn merit and make themselves available to the divine spark within themselves.

Only a spiritual person acts moment to moment and day to day as a human being,
making right life decisions thereby gaining merit.

All the promises and wishes will not change a thing.

And now it is new year that is almost upon us.
Do we do the same as we did last year?
Rather do we have a plan to revitalize and make ourselves and our lives new for the coming year?

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start with their old habits.

Old habits that won't go away.

This new year, are we able to do something different and spend a few moments in contemplation and reflection.

Ask the questions;

Am I doing enough?
Am I compassionate ?
Is my love unconditional ?

When I go to bed tonight can I truly say,
Today I did the best that I could.
With Divine Grace,
tomorrow, I shall do better.

This past year has been my personal year for spiritual renewal.
I took Samanera Theravedan Monks vows in a Wat in far northern Thailand.
For two weeks at this Wat I remained mostly silent and the one meal a day was supplied by alms given by the local people.
We walked for kilometers daily with our bowls and the mostly poor people unconditionally shared their food as we passed each day on our rounds.

I decided to lose my ego.

I decided to seek refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

This does not diminish my love for you, nor my love for my partner, for friends, family or business, but strengthens
my unconditional commitment to the community with compassion.

This is my seventieth year and I am at peace with myself and the world.

This peace strengthens my love for you.

Let us all make this coming year one of renewal and may you all be guarded and guided.

With Metta

Sent from my iPhone and
With love

Monday 10 December 2012

Do we listen?

Do we listen?

Did you know that shingles were roof tiles?
Did you also know that shingles is a viral, very painful blistering skin and nerve rash?

A man went to the doctor.

The nurse asked him what he had.

Shingles, he said.

She asked him to sit and wait for the doctor.

After twenty minutes another nurse put him in the examination room, took his blood pressure and a sample of blood.

After another twenty minutes another nurse told him to take his clothes off, put on a gown and wait for the doctor.

Shingles is serious, she said.

After a short wait the doctor came in, lifted the mans gown and asked where are the shingles?

In the truck outside and where do you want them, he said.

Maybe we just don't listen!
Maybe we don't care!
Of course it's the way we express ourselves that others understand, or not, what we meant or want.

When it comes to our family, our children, our friends,
we mostly don't listen.
We are only interested in what we are going to say next.
We don't hear the suffering,
the real cause of the suffering.

The Buddha was very specific when he wanted to be heard and understood.
The Buddha said "what comes from the mouth is what it is."
The Buddha's teaching was about suffering and how to get rid of suffering.
We know we cause our own suffering and pass this on to all in our circle.

This Xmas let us give our family, our children, our friends a special present.
The present of listening.
Listening to their suffering and maybe, just maybe, we can help them to choose not to suffer.

With Metta

Sent from my iPhone and
With love

Sunday 2 December 2012

Can we escape Karma?

Can we escape Karma?

"A wealthy and arrogant young merchant came to visit a famous Monk.

People who came to the Monk usually came to ask for guidance in their service to Buddha, or for advice and blessing in their material affairs.

But this visitor lost no time in telling the Monk that he had no special needs or problems that needed Divine intervention or blessing.

In fact a large lucrative deal had bought him to the area and he had heard so many stories about this famous Monk that his curiosity led him to see for himself.

The Monk replied, "If there is nothing I can help you with at least stay a while and listen to a story."  The man agreed and the Monk began the story.

"Once upon a time there were two childhood friends who were inseparable as they grew up, however, as they became adults their ways parted.  One became wealthy and the other was very poor.
In order to save his family from hunger the poor man sought out his childhood friend and asked the rich man to help.
The wealthy man did not hesitate, "Didn't we always promise each other that we would remain friends forever and share everything we have?"  He then offered his friend half his fortune.

As so often happens with the passing of time, the wheels of fortune reversed and the one who was wealthy now became poor and the one who he helped became even more wealthy.  Confident that he would receive the same help he gave, he asked his now wealthy friend for help.  His friend however refused to part with anything, not even food.

Time again witnessed a reversal of fortunes so that the poor man became rich and the rich man became poor, as each returned to their original situations.

It happened again of course that the poor man felt the hopelessness of despair and went to his friend for help and to beg his forgiveness.  He was readily forgiven, but this time he was asked to sign an agreement that if he were in need of help again, the friend would share his blessings with him."

The Monk continued, "ln the passage of time the two men experienced reversals of fortune. True to form the man who had signed the agreement refused to honor it and his friend and his friends family found themselves homeless and penniless.

Years passed and the two men died. When they came before the heavenly court to account for their lives, the mean spirit of the selfish mans life weighed heavily against him and he was condemned to eternal punishment.

The good kind and forgiving friend was sent to his eternal reward in paradise.

However the good friend could not accept the destiny of his friend's soul and asked the Heavenly court to reconsider as he still loved him and didn't wish to see him suffer on his account.

The heavenly court was in an uproar, this was an unusual case and the only way to solve it was to return both men back to earth so the sinful one could have one last chance to atone for his egotistical behavior.  So the sinful man was returned as a wealthy prideful merchant and the other as a common beggar.

And so it came to pass that one day, the righteous beggar knocked on the door of the rich man begging for food.  He had not eaten for days and he was close to starving but was rudely and callously turned away.
And so the beggar died."

At this point of the story the rich man asked the Monk to stop, "No more", he cried with a lump in his throat,
"Yesterday I turned away a beggar from my door and later I heard he was found dead in the street.
Was he the beggar on your story?"

No answer was necessary.

By now the tears were flowing freely and the man was overcome with remorse and repentance.  He was desperate to know what to do to make amends for his shame.

The Monk explained that his former friend, the beggar, had a widow and orphaned children and that he was to go and give three quarters of his fortune to the family in order to atone for his sins.

The Universe and Karma does work in mysterious ways.........


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With love