Death is part of life
As Buddha said in the Prajnaparamita Sutra, all phenomena are like a dream and an illusion, even enlightenment is like a dream and an illusion. And if there is anything greater or grander than enlightenment, that, too, is like a dream and an illusion. His disciple, the great Nagarjuna, wrote that the Lord Buddha has not stated that after abandoning samsara there exists nirvana. The nonexistence of samsara is nirvana. A knife becomes sharp as the result of two exhaustions — the exhaustion of the whetstone and the exhaustion of the metal. In the same way, enlightenment is the result of the exhaustion of defilements and the exhaustion of the antidote of the defilements. Ultimately one must abandon the path to enlightenment. If you still define yourself as a Buddhist, you are not a buddha yet.
– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
from the book “What Makes You Not a Buddhist”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~
With thanks to Tao & Zen
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.
Our understanding of Buddhism should not be just gathering many pieces of information, seeking to gain knowledge. Instead of gathering knowledge, you should clear your mind. If your mind is clear, true knowledge is already yours. When you listen to our teaching with a pure, clear mind, you accept it as if you were hearing something which you already knew.
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”
With thanks to
Shikantaza is to practice or actualize emptiness. Although you can have a tentative understanding of it through your thinking, you should understand emptiness through your experience. You have an idea of emptiness and an idea of being, and you think that being and emptiness are opposites. But in Buddhism both of these are ideas of being. The emptiness we mean is not like the idea you may have. You cannot reach a full understanding of emptiness with your thinking mind or with your feeling. That is why we practice zazen.
– Shunryu Suzuki
from the book “Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen”
With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes
Sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you can sit, the wiser you must be. I have seen chickens sit on their nests for days on end! Wisdom comes from being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning. It should continue until you fall asleep. Don’t be concerned about how long you can sit. What is important is only that you keep watchful whether you are working or sitting or going to the bathroom.
The meditation of suffering is
The meditation of:
I am this body
I am this story
I am these thoughts and
I am these emotions.
The meditation of freedom is
The meditation that lacks
Sometimes we speak clumsily and create internal knots in others. Then we say, “I was just telling the truth.” It may be the truth, but if our way of speaking causes unnecessary suffering, it is not Right Speech. The truth must be presented in ways that others can accept. Words that damage or destroy are not Right Speech. Before you speak, understand the person you are speaking to. Consider each word carefully before you say anything, so that your speech is “Right” in both form and content.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
from the book “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation”
With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes