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amish forgiveness

When Horses Cry

  • I wrote the following post the day after the shooting of innocent Amish Children in Paradise, PA.  I have pulled it from my Archives because I believe we need to read it again.

The sound of the horses hooves were heard across the cornfields as they pulled the carriages carrying the Mothers and Fathers, Sisters and Brothers, Aunts and Uncles, and fellow neighbors of the Amish Community of Paradise Pennsylvania making their way to the funeral of the man who, just two days ago, senselessly murdered their daughters. “They had already forgiven him.” the press wrote that morning, and now they were on their way to console the wife and children of this man, and to stand at his gravesite and pray that he would find the peace in death that he could not find in life.

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Meditation

The Last Spiritual Warrior – Living a Zen Inspired Life

“They are an intriguing people.  From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they do.”  – The Last Samurai

A friend of mine asked me the other day, “How can I make my spiritual life more than just wanting a new Mercedes?”  In the East they say, “It is better to know the right question than to know the right answer.”  My friend “knows” the “right question”.
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olympic resolve

Living the Zen Iinspired Life – If there is no resolve, you might as well stay on the sofa.

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” – Buddha

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” So is “resolve” the missing ingredient in most people’s efforts to create real and lasting changes in their lives? Take for example one’s weight loss effort, getting to the gym, trying to stop procrastinating, cleaning that closet, or practicing to be more compassionate, without resolve we might as well stay on the sofa. Now I believe that at all times we already know what we need to do, we just don’t like it. Most people never get pass their habitual behavior of finding “excuses” as to why “they can’t”. My three-year old daughter, who is my teacher on many levels, always says to me whenever I tell her “she can’t”, “But I can try.” I often tell people, “Today a persons word is equal to their excuses.” We talk a great deal about who we can rely on in times of trouble, most of us are never on that list.

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Recent Articles

30
Jul

Notes on Training to Live a Zen-Inspired Life

rigden

Essentials

We face a complexity of issues today: challenges in the workplace; rising individualism and materialism; broken families and communities; an increasing divide between rich and poor, climate change and the list goes on.

Beneath all these challenges lies a most fundamental question and solution for Disciples of The Buddha-Way:

What does it mean to live the Buddha-Dharma? To Live a “Zen-Inspired Life”?

Bullet Points

  • Ordinary people choosing to live extraordinary lives.
  • A “way-of-being” is not the same as a “way-of-living”.
  • “Theravadin teacher Achaan Chah once remarked that the Buddha-Dharma has three aspects: dana or (giving), sila or (precepts), and bbavana or (cultivation or meditation training). But when Westerners come to practice, they are not interested in giving or in precepts.” – “Being Upright” by Reb Anderson Roshi
  • “By a certain sure instinct the ancients regarded Truth (Dharma) less as a gift bestowed than an inherent knowledge (Wisdom) to be realized. For those who have the hunger and the discipline the Truth is as clear as sunlight, and for those who have neither, the Truth would still be foreign even if it was shouted from the highest mountain. Awareness of Truth (Dharma) is dependent upon the wholehearted effort of the individual and his or her willingness to discipline themselves fit to know It. The ancient saying applies here, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Another saying equally applies, “The mind sees only what the heart is looking for.”
    – Seijaku Roshi
  • “Fitness for the Truth (Dharma) cannot be conferred; it must be developed.” 
 – Joseph Fort Newton
  • The teachings whether taught by The Ancients or Modern Spiritual Teachers is less a doctrine than it is a discipline; a method of organized spiritual culture well-honed over centuries and proven to work.
  • “The singular and exclusive objective of Zen-Training and Living a Zen-Inspired Life is the awareness of that Living Truth (Dharma) which pervades the whole Universe and once attained — the fulfillment of every human need. This awareness is realized only when it has becomes a person’s heart; the reigning reality of his or her thought; the inspiration of his or her actions, the very Being-Nature of his or her life.”
    – Seijaku Roshi

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27
Jul

Hope for Humanity

Mother and Child“The single most important task we have in our lifetime is to cultivate the ground of our very being.  That being, our inherent capacity to love seamlessly, unconditionally, with a profound sense of responsibility to end suffering for ourselves and others.  We must be about the business of opening our hearts to become intimate with the suffering we encounter rather than to avoid it or avert it.  When we do we will discover a natural response which in itself is our only path back to each other and the whole of Nature.” 

– Seijaku Roshi

Throughout time the greatest changes in human history have come when mankind listened to and responded to the voice of suffering.  When we are willing to drop all pretense and every effort to impress ourselves and others as to how tough we are, we are left with the only truth that can set us free, and that Truth is that, just like the planets and the stars each of us without exception are made of the stuff of creation and that stuff is Love. 

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28
May

Faith, Hope, Love

“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds…Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.  It demands greater heroism than war.  It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.”   ― Thomas Merton


I recall watching a documentary on Japan, one of the scenes a fisherman was being interviewed.  The fisherman happened to be a Buddhist.  The interviewer asked if he believed in God.  He replied, “When you are in the deepest parts of the ocean where the waves are 40 feet tall crashing against your boat, and you fear being throne off the boat while pulling in your nets, you can be sure I believe in God.”  Life is difficult these days for all of us, myself included.  There seems to be so much uncertainty about the future, our trusts violated, our beliefs challenged, and our very existence increasingly threatened by failure to be good stewards of this beautiful planet we all live on.  So many families threatened daily by mental diseases stealing precious time away from them and money they don’t have.  War continues and seems like it will never end.  Extreme poverty continues to visit so many people here at home and around the world.  But worst of all, polarization continues to push so many of us away from each other when we should be moving towards each other.

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26
Apr

Spirituality, Patriotism, and Memorial Day

89f642d7f2aacf33c13d1719d2838c85I have always cared deeply about things and have always found myself attracted to others who do as well.  I have no patience for complacency or indifference.  I feel deeply about things, especially individual and personal freedoms and inherent rights of all sentient beings to live authentically without fear of government or religious institutions interference or retribution; I revere Beauty and Creativity; the Mystery I first discovered at the age of seven and continue to  about the Nature of the Universe, Life, and Love.  I made a choice at the young age of seven, rather than seek to understand any of It as if I or anyone could actually possess such understanding, to remain blissfully ignorant of any explanation just to sit in Its company. 

I feel deeply about the personal responsibility we all share to ourselves, our families, friends, neighbors, our ancestors who made supreme sacrifices for all of us to live and enjoy this life, and most of all our children.  I believe that the only legacy worth having in the end will be to have lived my lifetime doing whatever I can, wherever I can, however I can, to insure that the same rights, freedoms, beauty, and opportunities afforded me by the Mystery some call God and the brave citizens of our World yesterday and today who “Prepare the Supreme Meal” and make the “Supreme Sacrifice”, living my life as a Benefit for others and a responsible Caretaker of these gifts including the Whole of Nature.

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22
Feb
"Community is the Spirit, the Guiding Light."

The Hearts Intention

“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.” 

You and I are designed for relationship, we are born to be “in relationship” with everyone and everything else.  The purpose of life, and if we are ever going to find any meaning, is found in relationship, living my life as a benefit for others.  “Community is the Spirit, the Guiding Light…” which when lived functions as a compass, a means of navigating through a reality marked by impermanence and uncertainty.  Thomas Merton wrote, “It is therefore of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others.  When we do this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations.  As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement.  But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no one expects us to be ‘as gods’.  We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives.  It is because of them that we need others and others need us.  We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.” 

Community is not just some nice sentimental idea or romantic notion but a force for fulfillment and sustainability.  It is a context which naturally creates confidence, courage, true self-esteem, contentment, and love as the content of our lives.  Community is the only conducive environment for personal and global fulfillment and spiritual practice.

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27
Jan
IMG_0599

The Art of Being

Enlightenment, is to live one’s life at the level of full self-expression.  The work of “being spiritual” is to discover who I am and realize my true self.  The first step toward Enlightenment begins with the realization that, “Who I think I am is not” that the self I call “myself” is conditional or what Buddhist call “the conditioned self” and is not my “true self”.  This self is who I have come to identify with after years of cultural, social, religious and political conditioning, including the most unyielding of all false identifications, identification with my parents.  My happiness as well as my emotional and psychological maturity and well-being is dependent on distinguishing between this self I call myself which is conditional, and who I truly am.  Our hearts will remain restless until we do.

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28
Dec
Makha Bucha Day Buddhist holy day

When the Student is Ready

In his book, “The Book of Awakening” Mark Nepo quotes Parker J. Palmer who writes, “The spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin.”  Nepo says, “The aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, is to help us live more fully in the lives we are given.”  This is contrary to most contemporary spiritual approaches which are too often rooted in emotional greed, resentment, or what Chogyam Trungpa called, “Spiritual Materialism”.

There is another saying older than Palmers, “When the student is ready the teacher appears.”  Here the reference to the “teacher” may or may not necessarily be a person.  We are to understand that, “Life” as it is showing up in our lives and in the world is “the teacher”.  As a young Catholic I remember the Sisters and Priests often saying, “God never gives us more than we can handle.”  If both sayings are true, and I believe they are, then the only matter left is whether or not the student is going to attend class.

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29
Nov
IMG_0951

Pervading the Entire Universe

“We say Buddha Nature pervades the entire Universe or God is Omniscient, Everywhere.  Therefore we cannot say, “Not now” or “Not here.” For wherever we are there is Buddha or God.  In Zen we do not look for Buddha or God outside ourselves, they are within us.  We are the gateway.  Everywhere we are is The Pure Land, the Kingdom of God.  What are you waiting for?  If not now, when?” 

– Seijaku Roshi

I often say that in our modern world, “A persons word is equal to their excuses.”  It would also follow that, “A persons potential is equal to their excuses.”  This would include our potential for real changes in our lives which would result in ending our pursuit of and search for what is and always has been with us, and finally enjoying our birthright — joy, contentment, and love.  The only thing that prevents us from “here and now” is our deluded perceptions of “when and where”.

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30
Oct
Shine One Corner of the World

Community Matters

“Quintessential for any resolution to the global suffering we are witnessing in our world today is clearly communion with others.  We cannot expect any change, any relief, any sustainable resolve until we learn the lessons of sharing our life, our gifts, our blessings with others.  Until we break the containment of our very small points-of-views, our egocentric approaches to spirituality, and become part of a larger vision for ourselves and the world, nothing will change and suffering will continue to compound.”  – Seijaku Roshi

A students asked his master, “What follows Enlightenment?’, the master replied, “A lifetime of benefiting others, and oh yes, ten thousand more hours of meditation.”  In his book “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”, Chogyam Trungpa wrote, “We have come here to learn about spirituality.  I trust the genuine quality of this search but we must always question its nature.  The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use.  Ego is constantly attempting to acquire and apply the teachings of spirituality for its own benefit.”

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25
Sep
Mother and Child

Getting to What Matters – Do Not Squander Your Life!

“Prosperity cannot be measured by possessions. It can be measured only by who you are in the process of attaining them. Most people ignore what they do to themselves because they are driven exclusively by what they think, they want from the world and from others. Their focus is object bound, purely external. This false prosperity, created by the ego mind, is unconscious prosperity. Otherwise known as success…”

Synonymous with the word “squander” is “to scatter”, which means, “to throw loosely about, distribute at irregular intervals.” Squandering ones life is to live ones life “unconsciously” without “awareness”, and certainly not “on purpose”. Nothing robs us more of any opportunity for authenticity and meaning.

The reason so many people who have so much still pursue more, better, or different, is a function of what happens to us when our focus shifts from “what really matters” and becomes “object bound”. When we forget that the solutions to our lives as well as the worlds are never going to be found “in the world”, they are “within us”, suffering (stress and anxiety) compounds.

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