The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Practice

The signs of progress

What are the signs of progress in our practice? What can we expect? Should we wait for a signal from the guru — or an award? According to Karma Chagme Rinpoche, we will have no experiences, no special dreams, no pure visions. The “king of all signs,” also known as the “sign of no-sign,” which was highly prized by the Kagyupa masters of the past, is when renunciation mind, sadness and devotion blaze in your mind. The signs to be cherished most include an escalating appetite for dharma practice; noticing the futility of everything you do; ever-increasing conflicts as a result of old habits; and while you may still have the urge to party with your friends, to be plagued by the unwelcome sense that the whole thing is a useless waste of time. Therefore do not constantly aim to finish the practice. Instead, try to accept that your spiritual journey will never end. Your journey began with the wish that you, personally, bring all sentient beings to enlightenment, so until that wish is fulfilled, your activities as a bodhisattva will never cease.

– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

from the book “Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices”

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes

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‘Zen: The Art of Simple Living’: Habits, ideas and hints for living a happy life

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http://www.japantimes.co

BY KRIS KOSAKA

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

APR 13, 2019

For Shunmyo Masuno, chief priest at Kenkoji, a Soto Zen temple in Yokohama, Zen is an action, not a philosophy. As Masuno explains to The Japan Times, “Zen is concerned with gyōjūzaga, four cardinal behaviors: walking, standing, sitting, lying. It’s difficult to discover the essence of Zen by simply reading philosophical books, as is popular in the West. Unless people can apply the basic, active principles of Zen to their daily lives, it’s meaningless.”

Zen: The Art of Simple Living, by Shunmyo Masuno, Translated by Allison Markin Powell.
224 pages
MICHAEL JOSEPH, Nonfiction.
Gärten der Welt - Japanischer Garten | by onnola

Masuno first found a way to share these ideas on an NHK children’s program, where he introduced the ideas of Zen to elementary school children. The series was so popular that NHK published a text of his lessons. The book became a bestseller in Japan and will soon be published in English as “Zen: The Art of Simple Living.”

Illustrated by Zanna and Harry Goldhawk and translated by Allison Markin Powell, the result is a profoundly beautiful work, easy to read, encouraging deep thought and reflection, but most importantly, acting as a practical guide to Zen action.

Divided into four sections, Masuno uses simple language to explain Zen concepts like gasshō (palms pressed together, an action that “fosters a sense of gratitude”) or mitate (striving to see things in a different way), and offers advice for actively transforming these ideas into lifetime habits. His advice is supported by Zen stories and sayings. As Masuno states in the introduction, “Zen is about habits, ideas and hints for living a happy life. A treasure trove, if you will, of deep yet simple life wisdom.” It could just as easily be a description of the book itself.

“Make time for emptiness. First, observe yourself,” writes Masuno in the opening chapter. In a pattern repeated throughout the book, the one-page chapter extols an action and suggests ways and practices for realizing the action in daily life. To make time for emptiness, for example, Masuno advises using 10 minutes a day to empty the mind. As the chapter concludes: “When you are not distracted by other things, your pure and honest self can be revealed.”

“True Zen is about trying to make this short life as meaningful as possible and to search for universal truths or the immutable in this world,” Masuno explains, citing an example of spring’s first warm breeze. “People a thousand years ago felt happy to welcome the spring, and people a thousand years from now will probably feel a similar way. This is an example of a universal truth, things that are unchanging that we must actively notice and value.”d to design and to teach others as a professor at the department of environmental design at Tama Art University. “I work mainly with outdoor spaces, but this also includes interiors since the interior and the garden can’t really be separated in Japan,” he says. “When I design gardens overseas, I feel it’s a chance to explain Japanese beauty to people from other countries. If they notice things — like how the garden is an extension of the interior — and it sparks their interest in Japan, then it becomes a great kind of cultural exchange.”

For Masuno, Zen practice, cultural connections, and gardening are all interconnected, and his book reflects this with numerous points that connect to gardening. Plant a single flower, suggests one chapter. Create a small garden on your balcony or window ledge, advises another: “Within that space, try representing the landscape of your mind.”

Like gardening, another reason Masuno’s work resonates is because it clearly focuses on the process, not on any promised outcome. “In the Western world, the focus is on the result — advocates of mindfulness meditation, for example, emphasize how you’ll have clearer thoughts and less stress,” explains Masuno. “But Zen is always about the practice itself; the results are secondary. Of course Zen is important spiritually in today’s world. Two hundred years ago there was no internet, no fast trains, no jets and no cell phones … but many more people today suffer from mental illnesses and depression. The suicide rate today is at an all time high. So, despite all the modern advances, you can’t really say that our generation is more content.”

Masuno believes there’s an increasing need for Zen practice in today’s world, and he expresses thanks at the book’s success in Japanese, never expecting an English translation to follow. Unsurprisingly, Masuno has a simple goal for his book for English-reading audiences: “I hope the book will have a calming effect to bring people peace of mind, (helping them to find) a way to actively live each day thankfully and meaningfully. Zen must fundamentally carry the philosophy into practice.”

This small but powerful book shows that way.

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“Zen: The Art of Simple Living” will be published on April 18 through Penguin Books’ Michael Joseph imprint.


Masterpieces are irrelevant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panoramic awareness in everyday life 

In addition to the sitting form of meditation, there is the meditation practice in everyday life of panoramic awareness. This particular kind of practice is connected with identifying with the activities one is involved in. This awareness practice could apply to artwork or any other activity. It requires confidence. Any kind of activity that requires discipline also requires confidence. You cannot have discipline without confidence; otherwise it becomes a sort of torturing process. If you have confidence in what you are doing, then you have real communication with the things you are using, with the material you are using. Working that way, a person is not concerned with producing masterpieces. He is just involved with the things that he is doing. Somehow the idea of a masterpiece is irrelevant.

– Chögyam Trungpa

from the book “Ocean of Dharma: The Everyday Wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa”

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes


The noble disciples cultivate the mind

The mind is luminous, but it is stained by defilements that come from without. Ordinary folk do not realize this, so they do not cultivate the mind. The mind is luminous, but it can be cleansed of defilements that come from without. This the noble disciples understand, so they do cultivate the mind.


– Buddha

Anguttara Nikaya I. 10


The Zen Experience of Life

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'THE ZEN EXPERIENCE OF LIFE Our usual understanding of life is dualistic: you I, this and that, good and bad. But actually these discriminations are themselves the awareness of the universal existence. "You" means to be aware of the universe in the form of you, and "I" means to be aware of in the form of I. You and I are just swinging doors. This kind of understanding is necessary. This should not even be called understanding; it is actually the true experience of life through Zen practice. -Shunryu Suzuki'

“When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into our inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless.

We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door.If you think “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.

So when we practice zazen, all that exists is the movement of the breathing, but we are aware of this movement. You should not be absent-minded. But to be aware of the movement does not mean to be aware of your small self, but rather of your universal nature, or Buddha nature. This kind of awareness is very important because we are usually so one-sided.

Our usual understanding of life is dualistic: you and I, this and that, good and bad. But actually, these discriminations are themselves the awareness of the universal existence.

“You” means to be aware of the universe in the form of you, and “I” means to be aware of it in the form of I. You and I are just swinging doors. This kind of understanding is necessary. This should not even be called understanding; it is actually the true experience of life through Zen practice.

When we become truly ourselves, we just become a swinging door, and we are purely independent of, and at the same time, dependent on everything. Without air, we cannot breathe.

Each of us is in the midst of myriads of worlds. We are in the center of the world always, moment after moment. So we are completely dependent and independent. If you have this kind of experience, this kind of existence, you have absolute independence; you will not be bothered by anything.

So when you practice zazen, your mind should be concentrated on your breathing. This kind of activity is the fundamental activity of the universal being. Without this experience, this practice, it is impossible to attain absolute freedom.”

~Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind


Trusting ourselves completely

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In short, we can say that we trust ourselves completely, without thinking, without feeling, without discriminating between good and bad, right and wrong. Because we respect ourselves, because we put faith in our life, we sit.

Shunryu Suzuki

With thanks to Gems of Wisdom – Zen Tradition


Learning to accept the present moment

We might also ask, Given my present situation, how long should I stay with uncomfortable feelings? This is a good question, yet there is no right answer. We simply get accustomed to coming back to the present just as it is for a second, for a minute, for an hour — whatever is currently natural — without its becoming an endurance trial. Just pausing for two to three breaths is a perfect way to stay present. This is a good use of our life. Indeed, it is an excellent, joyful use of our life. Instead of getting better and better at avoiding, we can learn to accept the present moment as if we had invited it, and work with it instead of against it, making it our ally rather than our enemy.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears”

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes


The knack of refraining

Many of our escapes are involuntary: addiction and dissociating from painful feelings are two examples. Anyone who has worked with a strong addiction—compulsive eating, compulsive sex, abuse of substances, explosive anger, or any other behavior that’s out of control—knows that when the urge comes on it’s irresistible. The seduction is too strong. So we train again and again in less highly charged situations in which the urge is present but not so overwhelming. By training with everyday irritations, we develop the knack of refraining when the going gets rough. It takes patience and an understanding of how we’re hurting ourselves not to continue taking the same old escape route of speaking or acting out.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change”

With thanks to  Just Dharma Quotes

Antidotes

Source: Antidotes | Great Middle Way

Feb 13, 2019

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Contemplation of the impurity of the body overcomes lust;

loving-kindness overcomes malice;

mindfulness of breath cuts off discursive thinking;

the perception of impermanence removes the conceit “I am.”

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Udana


Daily Practice

Throughout the day, put the teachings into practice. In the evening examine what you have done, said, and thought during the day. Whatever was positive, dedicate the merit to all beings and vow to improve on it the next day. Whatever was negative, confess and promise to repair it. In this way, the best practitioners progress from day to day, the middling practitioners from month to month, and the least capable from year to year.

– Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

from the book “The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most”

Just Dharma Quotes