Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Even More from Holy Isle

From Relative Truth… p. 55
On our spiritual journey, we need to move from conceptual knowledge to direct experience [he means "prove", not self-reflection] of the subjects we are studying. The mechanics of how we accomplish this are the key points of the Sautrantika presentation: what conceptual and perceptural consciousnesses are, how they operate, and how we move from conceptualization to direct perception.

p. 72 Please don’t think that this school [Sautrantika] is saying that concepts are essentially bad; it is saying, however, that concepts by their very nature obscure the truth. We couldn’t make sense of the world without concepts…although maybe, because we would only have direct perceptions, we would already be there! [spiritual attainment]…[but] we need to see the uses and traps of the conceptual mind—something few of us do.

p. 94 The Compendium of Ascertainments states that ultimate truth has five characteristics: 1. inexpressible, 2 nondual, 3. beyond apprehension by the conceptual mind, 4 beyond diversity, 5 all of one taste. [Chittamatra school]

Inexpressible, as the name implies, means that it is impossible to verbally describe ultimate truth precisely. Nondual means that within [95] that realization of an arya being in meditative equipoise who is realizing ultimate truth directly, there is no differentiation—no duality—of subject and object. The third characteristic, beyond apprehension by the conceptual mind, shows that ultimate truth cannot be realized by ordinary people’s cognition but only by the direct perception of an arya being. Beyond diversity means that the ultimate truth of an object is not one with its dependent nature, which has many ‘diversities’—different factors such as production, result, causes, conditions, and so on. For example, when we establish the final mode of existence of form, that final mode of existence is the nonduality of subject and object, so all diversities cease.

The final characteristic is that ultimate truths are all of one taste. The ultimate truth of a book is the absence of duality of subject and object. Tables, chairs, and so on are different objects, but their ultimate truth is the same. Their final mode of existence is also the mere absence of duality of subject and object. Thus, the ultimate truths of all phenomena are all of one taste.

The Ngöndro by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

p 33 [karma] It is not that somebody else tells you tat you should do this or that, or that things are prohibited by religion, or by some commandment. Sometimes, everywhere, but especially in the West, people take religion that way, like the Ten Commandments in the Bible, and they react by thinking that it’s a commandment, and you usually react against it. On the other hand, if you understand karma, you will just do it for your own sake. If I understand that it is for my own good, I will do it. Thus we naturally try to work with our negativities and refrain from doing negative things, because we know they would have painful results for us or for others.

p. 34

If we know what it wrong and what is right, and if we are a little mindful or watchful, we will refrain from the negative. We shouldn’t be too watchful though because we could not sustain the effort for too long before becoming tired. When we intend to walk a long way, we walk slowly and don’t run, knowing there is a long journey ahead. If we started running, we wouldn’t get very far. Therefore it is better to be watchful and mindful in a lighter way.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Yet More from My Reading on Holy Isle

p. 83 If while we practice we are not aware that the world is suffering, that children are dying of hunger, that social injustice is going on everywhere, we are not practicing mindfulness. We are just trying to escape. But anger is not enough. Jesus told us to love our enemy. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This teaching helps us know how to look at the person we consider to be the cause of our suffering. If we practice looking deeply into his situation and the causes of how he came to be the way he is now, and if we visualize ourselves as being born in his condition, we may see that we could have become exactly like him. When we do that, compassion arises in us naturally, and we see that the other person is to e helped and not punished. In that moment, our anger transforms itself into the energy of compassion. Suddenly, the one we have been calling our enemy becomes our brother or sister.

p. 84 Buddhist meditation—stopping, calming, and looking deeply—is to help us understand better. In each of us is a seed of understanding. That seed is God. It is also the Buddha. If you doubt the existence of that seed of understanding, you doubt God and you doubt the Buddha.

p. 85 To “love our enemy” is impossible, because the moment we love him, he is no longer our enemy.

p. 88 Many of our young people are uprooted. They no longer believe in the traditions of their parents and grandparents, and they have not found anything else to replace them. Spiritual healers need to address this very real issue, but most simply do not know what to do. They have not been able to transmit the deepest values of their traditions, perhaps because they themselves have not fully understood or experienced them. When a priest does not embody the living values of a tradition, he or see cannot transmit them to the next generation. He can only wear the outer garments and pass along the superficial forms. When the living values are absent, rituals and dogmas are lifeless, rigid, and even oppressive. Combined with a lack of understanding of people’s real needs and a general lack of tolerance, it is little wonder that the young feel alienated within these institutions.

p.89  When young people come to Plum Village, I always encourage them to practice in a way that will help them go back to their own tradition and get rerooted. If they succeed at becoming reintegrated, they will be an important instrument in transforming and renewing their tradition.


From Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche translated by the Padmakara Translation Group with a foreword by the Dalai Lama, Yale 2011 p. 105  In particular, lamas and monks these days see no harm or wrong in doing business; indeed they spend their whole lives at it, and feel rather proud of their prowess. However, nothing debilitates a lama or monk’s mind more than business. Engrossed in his transactions, he feels little inclination to pursue his studies or tow work at purifying his obscurations—and anyway there is no time left for such things. All his waking hours until he lies down to sleep at night are spent poring over hi accounts. Any idea of devotion, renunciation or compassion is eradicated and constant delusion overpowers him. [plus ça change…]

p. 107 Phoney lama’s lies. These are all untrue claims to possess such qualities and abilities as, for example, to have attained the Bodhidattva levels, or to have powers of clairvoyance. Imposters nowadays have more success than true masters, and everyone’s thoughts and actions are easy to influence. So some people declare themselves masters or siddhas in an effort to deceive others. They have had a vision of a certain deity and made thanksgiving offerings to him, they claim, or they have seen a spirit and chastised it. For the most part these are just phoney lamas lies, so be [108] careful not to believe such cheats and charlatans blindly. Affecting as it does both this life and the next, it is important to place your trust in a Dharma practitioner whom you know well, who is humble and whose inner nature and outer behavior correspond.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More From Living Buddha, Living Christ

p. 43-44 All beings in the animal, plant, and mineral worlds are potential Buddhas. We all contain these ten qualities of a Buddha in the core of our being. If we can realize these qualities in ourselves, we will be respected and honored by all people.

I see the rite of Baptism as a way of recognizing that every human being, when opened to the Holy Spirit, is capable of manifesting these qualities, which are also the qualities of being a son or daughter of God. We do not speak about Original Sin in Buddhism, but we do talk about negative seeds that exist in every person—seeds of hatred, anger, ignorance, intolerance, and so on—and we say that these seeds can be transformed when we touch the qualities of a Buddha, which are also seeds within us. Original sin can be transformed when one is in touch with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man. We are all, at the same time, the sons and daughters of God and the children of our parents. This means we are of the same reality as Jesus. This may sound heretical to many Christians, but I believe that theologians who say we are not have to reconsider this. Jesus is not only our Lord, but He is also our Father, our Teacher, our Brother, and our Self. The only place we can touch Jesus and the kingdom of God is within us.

p. 57  …but even if Shakyamuni, Manjusri, and Maitreya are not there, it is still possible to touch mindfulness, understanding, and love. Students of the Buddha are themselves a continuation of the Buddha. It is possible to manifest mindfulness, understanding, and love through people of our own time, even ourselves. We do not need to believe in the resurrection of Buddhas and bodhisattvas as much as in producing mindfulness, understanding, and love in ourselves.

The living Christ is the Christ of love who is always generating love, moment after moment. When the church manifests understanding, tolerance, and loving-kindness, Jesus is there. Christians have to help Jesus Christ be manifested by their way of life, showing those around them that love, understanding, and tolerance are possible. This will not be accomplished just by books and sermons. It has to be realized by the way we live. In Buddhism we also say the living Buddha, the one who teaches love and compassion, must be manifested by the way we live.

p. 58 …the energy of the Buddha and the energy of Jesus Christ have come to us. We can touch the living Buddha and we can touch the living Christ. We know that our body is the continuation of the Buddha’s body and is a member of the mystical body of Christ. We have a wonderful opportunity to help the Buddha and Jesus Christ continue. Thanks to our bodies and our lives, the practice if possible. If you hate your body and think that it is only a source of affliction, that it contains only the roots of anger, hatred, and craving, you do not understand that your body is the body of the Buddha, your body is a member of the body of Christ….[59] Enjoy being alive and you will help the living Christ and the living Buddha for a long, long time

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Notes from Holy Island Journal

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. London, Random House, 1995. There is some very good stuff in it. “When you are a truly happy Christian, your are also a Buddhist. And Vice versa.”

p. 10-11 In the Psalms it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” “Be still” means to become peaceful and concentrated. The Buddhist term is samatha (stopping, calming, concentrating). “Know” means to acquire wisdom, insight, or understanding. The Buddhist term is vipasyana (insight, or looking deeply). “Looking deeply” means observing something or someone with so much concentration that the distinction between observer and observed disappears. The result is insight into the true nature of the object [MR: not an object if you are truly concentrated!] When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it. Without clouds, there could be no rain and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made entirely of non-flwer elements; it has no independent, individual existence. It “inter-is” with everything else in the universe. Inter-being is a new term…When we seethe nature of inter-being, barriers between ourselves and others are dissolved, and peace, love, and understanding are possible. Whenever there is understanding, compassion is born.

Just as a flower is made only of non-flower elements [one of the aspects of emptiness MR], Buddhism is made only of non-Buddhist elements, including Christian ones, and Christianity is made of non-Christian elements, including Buddhist ones. We have different roots, traditions, and ways of seeing, but we share the common qualities of love, understanding , and acceptance. For our dialogue to be open, we need to open our hearts, set aside our prejudices, listen deeply, and represent  [12] truthfully what we know and understand. To do this, we need a certain amount of faith. In Buddhism, faith means confidence in our and others’ abilities to wake up to our deepest capacity of loving and understanding. In Christianity, faith means trust in God, the one who represents love, understanding, dignity, and truth. When we are still, looking deeply, and touching the source of our true wisdom, we touch the living Buddha and the living Christ in ourselves and in each person we meet.

p. 30-31: …When a priest performs the Eucharistic rite, his role is to bring life to the community. The miracle happens not because he says the words correctly, but because we eat and drink in mindfulness. Holy Communion is a strong bell of mindfulness, We drink and eat all the time, but we usually ingest only our ideas, projects, worries and anxiety. We do not really eat our bread or drink our beverage. If we allow ourselves to touch our bread deeply, we become reborn, because our bread is life itself. Eating it deeply, we touch the sun, the clouds, the earth, and everything in the cosmos. We touch life, and we touch the Kingdom of God. When I asked Cardinal Jean Daniélou if the Eucharist can be described in this way, he said yes.

p. 32 When Buddhists and Christians come together, we should share a meal in mindfulness as a deep practice of Communion. When we pick up a piece of bread, we can do it with mindfulness, with Spirit. The bread, the Host, becomes the object [!] of our deep love and concentration. If our concentration is not strong enough, we can try saying its name silently, “Bread,” in the way we would call the name of our beloved. When we do this, the bread will reveal itself to us in its totality, and we can put it in our mouth and chew with real awareness, not hewing anything else, such as our thoughts, our fears, or even our aspirations. This is Holy Communion, to live in faith. When we practice this way, every meal is the Last Supper. In fact, we could call it the First Supper, because everything will be fresh and new.

When we eat together in this way, the food and the community of co-practitioners and the objects of our mindfulness. It is through the food and one another [33] that the ultimate becomes present. To eat a piece of bread or a bowl of rice mindfully and see that every morsel is a gift of the whole universe is to live deeply. We do not need to distract ourselves from the food, even by listening to scriptures or the lives of bodhisattvas or saints. When mindfulness is present, the Buddha and the Holy Spirit are already there.

pp. 37-38 When we are in touch with the highest spirit in ourselves, we too are a Buddha, filled with the Holy Spirit, as we become very tolerant, very open, very deep, and very understanding.

p. 39 In fact, we have to open doors for future generations. We should not be afraid of more Dharma doors—if anything, we should  be afraid that no more will be opened…Each of us, by our practice and our loving-kindness, is capable of opening new Dharma doors. Society is changing…conditions are not the same as they were in the time of the Buddha or Jesus. The Buddha relies on us for the Dharma to continue to develop as a living organism—not a stale Dharma, but a real Dharmakaya, a real “body of teaching”.