The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Death

Coronavirus Guidance

Guidance #6 by SHODO HARADA ROSHI

Dear All,
How are you doing? We have already April, there are so many different types of news around. It is a fact that the virus is still spreading. More than 47000 people have died with this disease. Soon there will be 1 million people who have been infected by the virus. There are these facts, and then there are all the emotional talks about the situation. Thus we need to make more efforts to stay quiet within.

The breathing method has a 4000-year long history. If there is only mental understanding without a deep breath, we cannot sustain ourselves. Someone who experienced this for himself is Hakuin Zenji.

Hakuin is teaching the method of introspection. He himself was in a mental unstable place when he receive the guidance by Hakuyu Sennin. Using this name Hakuyu to teach the breathing method which he developed himself. We breathe with our lungs, bringing oxygen and nutrition to all 6 trillion cells of our body. Human beings have become used to sitting a lot and not moving our body enough thus our breathing becomes shallow. This is the reason that the disasters nowadays have become much more intense because our breathing is too weak.

Actually there is no need to learn how to breathe, we do this naturally, but we get too involved in the information from the outside and our inside becomes empty. That is where we get stuck, and only a master of zazen will be able to breathe strongly. Our usual breathing cannot withstand the pressure put on us from the outside.
Hakuin Zenji was a great zen student, yet became sick because of too much pressure during training. From this experience, Hakuin developed the tanden breathing. When practicing introspection, we look within and exhale strongly to invigorate the ki energy. You can read about these in detail in the Yasenkana and Orategama. Yet it depends on our own efforts whether we can actually feel the change.

Now we need this practice in order to respond well to the virus disaster. And that is not all. At the same time we are being faced with many other challenges and a lot of emotional talk all around. The many political and economic regulations become pressure upon us, and our freedom is limited. Living in these circumstances, our condition becomes worse. Thus we need to actually practice. There is no mental understanding needed.

Gathering the energy within, exhaling strongly. The energy in the tanden again strengthens the exhalation and supports the flow of the energy. If we are involved in outside data, this energy rises upwards in the body and we lose our balance. So we need to return to the practice of introspection and settle our energy. This needs to be developed and it needs to ripen. Mental understanding does not help us the slightest bit.

In our life we face many challenges, not only the coronavirus but cancer, heart attack, stroke – there are many sicknesses and we need strong inner energy to face these. Please look at this carefully and keep working creatively. I am not saying that you should do zazen but you need to raise your level of energy.

Please each and everyone of you, strengthen your exhalation. Use your willpower to create physical power. Please see this as most important.

Hidden Valley Zen Center, Yuukoku-ji


The Bardo State

The Bardo doesn’t come after our next death, we’re actually in the Bardo now and as a result the Bardo that we are manifesting, we think is “like a physical world” that we leave when the body dies, but in fact the Bardo is “this” world and it’s always the world of your current experience as your projection.

You are manifesting your Bardo in this moment and in every moment,while thinking it is some pre-bardo, “objectively real”, physical dimension.

Experience is always subjectively real… not objectively real. The “death of the body” is just another Bardo event occurring in the same Bardo.

Otherwise, there would be a dualism between objective “physical reality” and the subjective Bardo state.

Jackson Peterson 


The big taboo is death

Our culture finds this question of losing very difficult. It’s very good about getting. Our consumer culture, especially nowadays, is all about getting, getting, getting. We throw away those things which were fashionable yesterday but are no longer fashionable today to get something new. We don’t have that attitude, though, toward our own bodies or the bodies of others. We don’t think that we too need to be recycled from time to time, but we do. It’s ironical that in our society everybody talks very openly about sex, which in other societies is a big taboo. But in our society, the big taboo is death.

– Tenzin Palmo

from the book “Into The Heart Of Life”

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes


Contemplation of Death

It is crucial to be mindful of death – to contemplate that you will not remain long in this life. If you are not aware of death, you will fail to take advantage of this special human life that you have already attained. It is meaningful since, based on it, important effects can be accomplished.

Analysis of death is not for the sake of becoming fearful but to appreciate this precious lifetime during which you can perform many important practices. Rather than being frightened, you need to reflect that when death comes, you will lose this good opportunity for practice. In this way contemplation of death will bring more energy to your practice.

– 14th Dalai Lama

from the book “Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life”

https://justdharma.com/s/mtwod


Don’t depend on death to liberate you

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says '"Don't depend death to liberate you from your imperfections. are exactly same after death as you were before. Nothing changes; you only give the body. you thief a or cheater before death, don't become an merely by dying. If such were possible, then us all go jump the ocean now become angels at once! Whatever you have made of yourself thus far, so be hereafter. And when you reincarnate, you will bring that same nature with you. To change, you have to make the effort. This is the place do it." ~PARAMAHANSA YOGANANDA'

Ancient Philosophy


Song of Samsara

Image may contain: 1 person

 When you are young and vigorous

You never think of old age coming,
But it approaches slow and sure
Like a seed growing underground.
When you are strong and healthy
You never think of sickness coming,
But it descends with sudden force
Like a stroke of lightning.
When involved in worldly things
You never think of death’s approach.
Quick it comes like thunder
Crashing round your head.
Sickness, old age and death
Ever meet each other
As do hands and mouth.
Waiting for his prey in ambush,
Yama is ready for his victim,
When disaster catches him.
Sparrows fly in single file. Like them,
Life, Death and Bardo follow one another.
Never apart from you
Are these three ‘visitors’.
Thus thinking, fear you not
Your sinful deeds?
Like strong arrows in ambush waiting,
Rebirth in Hell, as Hungry Ghost, or Beast
Is (the destiny) waiting to catch you.
If once into their traps you fall,
Hard will you find it to escape.
Do you not fear the miseries
You experienced in the past?
Surely you will feel much pain
If misfortunes attack you?
The woes of life succeed one another
Like the sea’s incessant waves
One has barely passed, before
The next one takes its place.
Until you are liberated, pain
and pleasure come and go at random
Like passers-by encountered in the street.
Pleasures are precarious,
Like bathing in the sun;
Transient, too, as snowstorms
Which come without warning.
Remembering these things,
Why not practice the Dharma?

– Milarepa

from the book “The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, Vol. 2”


Don’t depend on death to liberate you from your imperfections

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Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk who introduced mindfulness to the West, prepares to die

Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. AP Photo/Richard Vogel 

Thich Nhat Hanh, the monk who popularized mindfulness in the West, has returned home to Vietnam to enjoy the rest of his life. Devotees from many parts of the world are visiting the ailing 92-year-old, who has retired to a Buddhist temple outside Hue.

This thoughtful and accepting approach to his own failing health seems fitting for the popular Buddhist teacher, whose followers include a thousand Buddhist communities around the world and millions more who have read his books. For everyone, his teachings encourage being present in the moment.

As a scholar of the contemporary practices of Buddhist meditation, I have studied his simple yet profound teachings, which combine mindfulness along with social change.

Peace activist

In the 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh played an active role promoting peace during the years of war in Vietnam. Hanh was in his mid-20s when he became active in efforts to revitalize Vietnamese Buddhism for peace efforts.

Over the next few years, Thich Nhat Hanh set up a number of organizations based on Buddhist principles of nonviolence and compassion. His School of Youth and Social Service, a grassroots relief organization, consisted of 10,000 volunteers and social workers offering aid to war-torn villages, rebuilding schools and establishing medical centers.

He also established the Order of Interbeing, a community of monastics and lay Buddhists who made a commitment to compassionate action and supported war victims. In addition, he founded a Buddhist university, a publishing house, and a peace activist magazine as a way to spread the message of compassion.

In 1966, Thich Nhat Hanh traveled to the United States and Europe to appeal for peace in Vietnam.

In lectures delivered across many cities, he compellingly described the war’s devastation, spoke of the Vietnamese people’s wish for peace and appealed to the U.S. to cease its air offensive against Vietnam.

During his years in the U.S., he met Martin Luther King Jr., who nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

However, because of his peace work and refusal to choose sides in his country’s civil war, both the communist and noncommunist governments banned him, forcing Thich Nhat Hanh to live in exile for over 40 years.

During these years, the emphasis of his message shifted from the immediacy of the Vietnam War to being present in the moment – an idea that has come to be called “mindfulness.”

Being aware of the moment

Thich Nhat Hanh first started teaching mindfulness in the mid-1970s. The main vehicle for his early teachings was his books. In “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” for example, Thich Nhat Hanh gave simple instructions on how to apply mindfulness to daily life. This book was translated into English for a global audience.

In his book, “You Are Here,” he urged people to pay attention to what they were experiencing in their body and mind at any given moment, and not dwell in the past or think of the future. His emphasis was on the awareness of the breath. As you follow the breath, he taught his readers to say internally, “I’m breathing in; this is an in-breath. I’m breathing out: this is an out-breath.”

Thich Nhat Hanh emphasized that mindfulness could be practiced anywhere. Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock.com

People interested in practicing meditation didn’t need to spend days at a meditation retreat or find a teacher. His teachings emphasized that mindfulness could be practiced anytime, even when doing routine chores.

Even when doing the dishes, people could simply focus on the activity and be fully present. Peace, happiness, joy and true love, he said, could be found only in the moment.

Mindfulness in America

Hanh’s mindfulness practices don’t advocate disengagement with the world. Rather, in his view, the practice of mindfulness could lead one toward “compassionate action,” like practicing openness to other’s viewpoints and sharing material resources with those in need.

Jeff Wilson, a scholar of American Buddhism, argues in his book, “Mindful America,” that it was Hanh’s combination of daily mindfulness practices with action in the world that contributed to the earliest strands of the mindfulness movement. This movement eventually became what Time Magazine in 2014 called the “mindful revolution.” The article argues that the power of mindfulness lies in its universality, as the practice has entered into corporate headquarters, political offices, parenting guides and diet plans.

For Thich Nhat Hanh, however, mindfulness is not a means to a more productive day but a way of understanding “interbeing,” the connection and codependence of everyone and everything. In a documentary “Walk With Me,” he illustrates interbeing in the following way:

A young girl asks him how to deal with the grief of her recently deceased dog. He instructs her to look into the sky and watch a cloud disappear. The cloud has not died but has become the rain and the tea in the teacup. Just as the cloud is alive in a new form, so is the dog. Being aware and mindful of the tea offers a reflection on the nature of reality.

He believes this understanding could lead to more peace in the world.

In 2014, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a stroke. Since then, he has been unable to speak or continue his teaching. In October of 2018 he expressed his wish, using gestures, to return to the temple in Vietnam where he was ordained as a young monk.


What is Powa? (6 min)


Powa

Source: Powa | Great Middle Way

by

March 14, 2019

2016_NYR_12175_1232_000(a_painting_of_amitabha_in_the_sukhavati_heaven_qianlong_period)If you study powa (Skt. saṃkrānti, the yoga of mindstream transference to the Pure Land), then at the time when death is approaching you will know no despair. If beforehand you have become accustomed to the path of powa, then at the time of death you will be full of cheerful confidence. —Marpa

By the time we are about to enter the bardo, the intermediate state between death and birth, it will be far too late to begin our Dharma practice. But if we have already prepared ourselves, if we feel confident in our practice and know how to go to a Buddha-field, there will be no suffering in death. 

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche