What is the spirit, the transcendent consciousness, that defines our ultimate presence? As we decide what to leave alone and to change within ourselves. Why remaining still yet present becomes essential to our joy.

How do we become the entity, or person, we are to emulate as we arrive at the home of blissful awakening? To be with the bodhisattva – as we aspire to what matters.

It is as if our future is to be adapted to the role we are to play. As we deal with flaws we are here to change. It is this inability, or lack of courage and desire to change, that inhibits our growth and keeps us tied to the present, dharma (our essential selves), and samsara (the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma). As we move to correct conduct, meditation, and discerning wisdom. That emptiness plus compassion equals unconditional love.

It is returning to thoughts of what is known as aspirational bodhicitta, as in having an awakened mind. The wish to overcome our emotional afflictions and delusions to realize our full potential to bring all fellow beings to the enlightened state free from suffering.

I often refer to the teachings of Taoism, and Lao and Chuang Tzu. Even the stories found as a reference point told by Lieh Tzu. Taoism equates to our acknowledging the beginning and ending of things and what role we are here to play. Along with Buddhism, reminding us of the impermanence found in all things found in nature. As we too are teachers when we have found our way. Although in reality we are always the student moving beyond the present to who we are yet to become. There is an ancient saying that says “When we are ready the teacher will arrive at out doorstep. The lesson is that the teacher is us.” 

As if an old tree limb from above falling in a strong wind as a reminder of our own presence. It’s time in the present spent, but nutrients found in the limb ready to play a role in enriching something yet unseen or known. The eternal ebb and flow of nature’s sway. Could our role be any more or less important? Just as re-incarnation has never been simply an Eastern philosophy belief, great philosophers in Western thought have felt the same from the earliest of days as well.

Below even Plato, whose wisdom has helped to guide western civilization for over two thousand years, expresses opinions on innate verses learned reasoning. It is that we are to dedicate our lives to virtue and merit for the sake of enlightenment for both ourselves and others. Reminding us of leaving an outcome that is yet to be determined and only doing what we are here to do.

In the West, we often look to the teachings of Plato and ancient Greece. Historically, we can look to Plato’s Theory of Recollection as a key to how we view ourselves that is often called the Anamnesis Theory that was found in Plato’s Main dialogue. After reading, you will understand this theory of personal development in which the concepts of innate ideas that each human being possesses are found.

What is Plato’s Theory of Recollection? This theory was found in Plato’s epistemology, in his dialogue Main (virtue) and Phaedo (soul) as a principle of knowledge. In the Theory of Recollection, according to Plato, it is the remembrance of the ideas that each human being possesses in an innate way in the soul.

This idea reminds me so much of the writings of Chuang Tzu and his “pivot” that we all take. That knowledge is not simply found in the external world, but is intrinsically located as an institutional memory in our consciousness.

This theory affirms that the soul of the human being is immortal and knows the truth before entering the body. Therefore, man gradually remembers what the soul already knew when it inhabited the world of ideas. But which the soul, already being in the human body, buries in the depths of being as knowledge, which is gradually remembered with the physical realities of the sensible world. For Plato, knowledge is an idea that is divided into two segments: the sensitive world and the intelligible world. The sensitive world is composed of shadows, images, and objects where opinion is triggered as the intermediate between ignorance and knowledge. Mathematics and ideas are what generates knowledge. Intuition and reasoning are the pillars for knowledge. It is also considered that knowledge is reminiscence, remembering what the soul already knew, since the soul is eternal. These thoughts are continued below.

As stated earlier we continue with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, as expressed so well above with the medicine wheel and mandala, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, as well as others including Plato, continues below in Chapter 13A. The final entry 13B will follow representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Chapter 13A Living and upholding the Dharma.

Key thoughts: Dedicate yourself to the practice of the Dharma with enlightenment and virtue.

  1. An important key in adapting to our role: To resist temptation in initiating anything not in keeping with our eternal presence – to only deal with what flows through you from the universe. This is the meaning of following your ultimate bliss. To limit yourself for appearances sake. Going from aspirational to engaged bodhicitta means engaging in the practices and behavior that bring about this goal by taking the bodhisattva vows to restrain from actions detrimental to it.

In taking the bodhisattva vow, a personal commitment is made to abstain from certain negative acts that would keep the bodhisattva from reaching enlightenment and thereby to be of as much benefit to others as is possible. For myself, it is like meditation and being continually present. In practical terms there are four areas for bodhicitta to resolve: 1) Each day and night, recalling the advantages of the bodhicitta motivation. 2) Remembering, re-affirming, and intensifying this motivation by rededicating our hearts to our enlightenment and the enlightenment of others. 3) Striving to build up positive mental states, deep awareness, and wisdom. Benefiting and helping others using all the skills and means at our disposal as effectively as we can, and doing so with as much deep awareness of reality as is possible. 4) Never giving up trying to help anyone, or at least wishing to be able to do so, no matter how difficult he or she may be.

  1. Our faith in the teachings, renunciation, and ordination are key in dedicating our mind to awakening (Chapter 25 of The King of Meditation Sutra). Understanding the intent and purpose of the dharma as the essential quality or character of the cosmos or one’s own nature. The Dharma is often seen as the doctrine or teachings of the Buddha. So that when we are practicing the Dharma, we are in effect living within the meaning and context of those teaching.
  2. We are to be dedicated to the practice of the Dharma and virtue as the path to enlightenment. We are to acknowledge our own merit in the face of the temporary conditions we find ourselves. Dharma is an important Hindu, Buddhist, and yogic concept, referring to a law or principle which governs the universe. For an individual to live out their dharma is for them to act in accordance with this law. Dharma is one of the three jewels of Buddhism, alongside sangha and buddha, together.
  3. In recalling our innate virtue we are to continue our vows, practice, and conduct with a sense of dedication and purpose. Essentially, your dharma means your purpose in life. Your dharma is your true calling – what you were put here to do.

Plato’s conception is that the soul is immortal and that it leads to reincarnation from the ethical realm. He was sure of this because in this way, one can reward just people or punish unjust people when the soul passes to another body. Another conception is reminiscence, the soul remembers what it knew before. This means that the soul exists before the birth of the human being and will not cease to exist after his death. An idea central in Buddhist teachings as well.

This means that the soul exists before the birth of the human being and will not cease to exist after his death. According to Plato, true knowledge must come from the mind/soul.

An example of this is mathematics in which one does not need to feel or experiment to arrive at a true result, but on the other hand sensations cause the person to create individual perceptions subject to subjective opinion that is not necessarily true. The solution to reach freedom according to Plato is to reach the maximum knowledge, if this is not achieved the soul will continue rotating through different bodies until finally returning to the world of ideas.

That is why the human being, despite having hidden or buried knowledge, takes charge little by little of bringing it to light, remembering the ‘knowledge’ by objects that are copies of the world of ideas, called by Plato Anamnesis which is memory or reminiscence. Like a particular act or instance of recalling or the thing remembered. In more practical terms we might call this our memory, ability to recall past events, or what we call our recollection or remembrances.

Eckhart Tole tells us that we “die before we die. Your physical form is dissolving, is no more. Yet you are still there – the divine presence that you are and fully awake. Nothing that was ever real ever dies, only names, forms, and illusions.”

I often see this as a previously learned experience of events that may have happened long ago embedded in our memory that I refer to as remembrances.

This was verified again on my first visit to Qufu in October 1999. It was like eternally coming home again. The triggers were amazing. Walking down streets I had been before.

Then years later living and teaching next to the Confucius Mansion and Temple and the school where Confucius’ descendants had lived, gone to school and taught others more than ten years later. Serving as a reminder that it is what we return to and continue that defines both our journey as well as the path of others.  

Plato teaches us that knowledge does not come from the external world but from the interior of each person as memories are awakened. This being where the teacher, master or guide can help direct this knowledge in an adequate manner. This idea was central to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings on nature and what was to become the transcendental movement later to be known as New Thought. Although, it was not new, only incarnated or re-packaged in another way for the benefit of a new age and audience. His poem here kind of sums it up:

The rounded world is fair to see,
Nine times folded in mystery:
Though baffled seers cannot impart
The secret of its laboring heart,
Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast,
And all is clear from east to west.
Spirit that lurks each form within
Beckons to spirit of its kin;
Self-kindled every atom glows,
And hints the future which it owes.

The Theory of Recollection comes from philosophy, which is the study of the truth about fundamental problems that embrace knowledge, existence, truth, beauty, love, and language. Philosophy oversees making debates that make the human being reflect and, above all, to ask all kinds of questions to arrive at the truth with rational arguments.

  1. Returning to The King of Meditation Sutra we can better accept, appreciate, and understand our role along with the value of accumulated virtue and merit. With this, we are to move forward on the path that takes us to our highest endeavor.

Upholding our practice in keeping with our ultimate destiny seems to be our greatest challenge. This idea of maintaining accumulated virtue and merit is like keeping our resources (money) in an eternal bank account. How much are we here to spend, countered by how much more we are here to earn that will shape and take us there. We are to continually prepare for what comes next as we outline our lives in pencil not pen and impermanence. All the while knowing and repeating Tolle – “Nothing that was ever real ever dies”.

Numbers 6 through 18 of Chapter 13 of The King of Meditation continues in 13B to follow.

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

The joy found in blissful awakening through mindfulness, meditation, and attuning to and with our mental and physical health and well-being.

The Buddha talks a lot about awakening to our own joy.

Why? Mudita (appreciative joy) gives us a way to dismantle the usual habit loops of negativity and close-mindedness and do something different, something more life-affirming and expansive. Finding joy in acknowledging who we are in eternity.

Responding with joy can activate a host of more wholesome alternatives, such as meeting our own greatest hits of comparing, competitive, and envy-filled mind with the antidote of noticing what is working in our lives and what brings us joy, as well as finding happiness and delight in other people’s good fortune. Choosing joy takes the sting out of hearing or seeing our usual triggers. The Dalai Lama tells us that the seven billion human beings on the planet have seven billion opportunities for joy, and that we can start to allow the heart to vibrate with the quality of joy in other people.

To cultivate appreciative joy, we must first tap into the boundless joy available to us in our own life. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “How can we feel joy for another person when we do not feel joy for ourselves? Joy is for everyone.” Awakening to our own joy can be as simple as taking delight in a blooming flower or noticing the way your favorite song soothes our heart. Waking up to our own joy asks us to investigate our past and present relationships with what brings us happiness and joy.

Matthieu Ricard, the cellular geneticist turned Buddhist monk tells us of three facets of joy: 1) rejoicing in someone else’s happiness; 2) delight or enchantment as a shining kind of contentment; and 3) spiritual radiance—a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence. His thoughts on meditation and aging follow below.

Meditation: What brings me joy? Start to settle in. Take a few natural breaths. Softly close your eyes. Spend these next few moments scanning your body with a gentle warmth and tender care. Lightly guide your attention to the natural inflow and outflow of the breath. Let any thoughts cross through your mind, smiling at them if that feels helpful, and release them one by one.

Center your attention in your heart and start to ask today’s mudita mantra, “What brings me joy?”  Wait for the answer. Recognize it. Relish it. And ask again: “What brings me joy?” Notice the blessing of joy that comes to mind. Recognize it, savor it, then repeat again, “What brings me joy?” Keep repeating the mantra and reflecting on all the ordinary and extraordinary occurrences that bring you joy. Give yourself permission to feel good and see your life through the eyes of joy. Continue this practice until you feel complete. When you are ready, open your eyes. 

My daughters Katie and Emily ages 4 and 7… now 25 and 28.

It is thought that secluded meditation guides our meditation. To maximize the benefits of meditation, one must minimize external distractions by practicing in a secluded place. Once a practitioner advances and has achieved a higher level of meditation, there is no need to practice in a secluded place because the power of external distractions has dissipated. To what I call living as our meditation becomes us. However, until one achieves that level of practice, seclusion is a good support for beginning meditators.

To illustrate, imagine the beginner’s mind as a battlefield disturbed by afflictive emotions and assailed by inner and outer distractions. Practicing in secluded habitats provides great benefit for the meditator because external distractions are minimized. Without these distractions, the meditator can experience the physical serenity of the secluded environment, which assists in calming the mind while bringing about peace and harmony. Finding the state of mind that takes us there.

A dragon cavorting in the clouds found on a vase at the British Museum in London.

This kind of attention is quite simple. It occurs sometimes while you are hearing about something that has happened to a friend, enjoying watching your favorite sports team rather they win or lose, or just going for a walk and hearing trees murmur as they drop their leaves in autumn or observing flowers bloom and die through the season. The listening can be quiet and receptive, yet active and awake at the same time. In my experience, it is just this kind of mindfulness that can be there when hearing or reading a Buddhist text described below. Remember there is no competition of what might be considered religious thought or teachings.  They should all be seen as non-competitive. It is what takes our spirit and others to their highest endeavor that matters.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, as expressed so well above with the medicine wheel and mandala, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Twelve, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 12 Joyful awakening… a continuing commentary. With a final chapter 13 yet to follow.

Key thoughts: Putting ourselves on the threshold of finding our bliss found in conveying our joy to others.

  1. In the Mahayana, we understand how the Buddha is endowed with inconceivable abilities and has the power to benefit us as if placing his foot on the threshold at the gate. (From Chapter 10 of The King of Meditation Sutra) When consciousness is liberated from everything, we see and experience this nature of the mind as wisdom through inner development and meditation.

Matthieu Ricard continues with teaching us how we can we act upon aging of the brain and fight against cognitive decline the same way we can act upon aging on the body itself.  That over the last several decades, scientific studies have investigated the consequences of mind-training practices – meditation – on both body and spirit.

Thanks to several studies, we know that the practice of meditation has an immediate impact on cerebral activity and, in the long term, on the very structure of the brain. We can transform ourselves on our own thanks to neuroplasticity – the mechanisms by which the brain can modify itself. This occurs through neurogenesis processes, from the embryo stage or during training, and manifests itself by the brain’s ability to create, undo or reorganize neural networks and their connections. Neuroplasticity happens throughout our lifetime. But what impact does the practice of meditation have on the brain of the elderly, particularly prone to cognitive decline?

  1. Through our daily lives, Buddhism in addition to bringing freedom to all activities, with samadhi our potential is found to be beyond our perceived imagination and comprehension. The more we reach for this potential through study and our practice, the more we reach the capacity for wisdom.
  2. The Buddha manifests itself through our own compassion in line with nature, the cosmos, and the needs of all beings.

Statute of the Buddha found at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian, China.

It is in this way we gain merit. It is understood that to know the Buddha, one must practice samadhi to gain the qualities of unconditional awakening and conditioning our minds to awareness.

  1. It is in the realization of our own divine nature that we can for ourselves gain all the powers and qualities of the Buddha. It is this awareness that empowers our compassion for all sentient beings.
  2. If we can do this from within our nature, we become like a priceless treasure. When we can rest in authentic samadhi, we gain more merit than in making countless lesser offerings. Chapter seventeen of The King of Meditation Sutra tells us: Whoever upholds this peerless, immaculate samadhi is like the boundless wealth of the buddhas, a vast ocean of wisdom.
  3. The King of Meditation Sutra tells us as we follow the footsteps of the bodhisattvas the four qualities needed for this profound samadhi are 1) they cannot be outshone – like the sun or waxing moon among the stars, 2) they are unshakable – he/she cannot be deterred due to their sublime insight, 3) their wisdom is immeasurable, and 4) their confidence and dignity becomes immovable. This is what is to become of us, as if we have the responsibility to convey and to teach to others… as though planting the seed.
  4. Samadhi is not just a stable mind. It is to understand intensely as if you were going to teach samadhi to others that grants the four treasures of the Buddha, the Dharma, wisdom, and knowing the times (past, present, and future). Why the bodhisattvas vow becomes so important in our daily lives and to our own awakening.

Ricard tells us that cognitive decline occurs frequently towards the end of life as a natural process. After the age of 40, our brain starts to slowly lose certain abilities and ages structurally. These changes may be hastened by our living conditions, which may be linked to how others perceive us, our self-image, or by the fact that we become more exposed to the deaths of loved ones and to loneliness. And sleep disorders that increase exponentially, affecting 50% of those above 65, as do neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

These pathological processes causing stress and anxiety have a significant detrimental impact on the quality of life and the health of the elderly, become prone to mental ruminations, and are often victims of depressive syndromes. When we observe the process of rumination (the act of pondering, i.e., thinking or musing on something written or spoken that expresses such pondering or musing) it is easy to see the extent to which it constitutes a factor of disturbance. So, we must free ourselves from these mental chain reactions we maintain through rumination. We need to learn to let thoughts arise and dissipate and let them go as they occur, instead of letting them take over our mind. I would add that this manifestation is often referred to as “monkey mind” in Buddhism.

  1. This priceless treasure of the Buddha includes 1) the power of vision, 2) the power of hearing, 3) and the power to know the minds of others. It is the knowing of past lives and future lives that contributes to our understanding, wisdom, and vision. Most importantly, our acknowledging the path we are here to take and follow.
  2. The treasure of the Dharma is to hear all the Buddha’s teaching in such a way that with this perception, our hearing becomes so transcendent that it is as if we can hear this teaching coming from all directions and are never separate from it. The benefit of knowing this treasure is that one sees the minds and conduct of sentient beings in the past, present, and future.
  3. When holding these treasures, our activities on behalf of others become immeasurable and infinite, as we are seen moving beyond the concept of forgetting. When we hold this wisdom (the meaning of the sutra in our body, speech, and mind) we acknowledge an enlightened dignity that becomes us. By upholding the intent of the sutra our confidence thus becomes assured.

To the right the spinning wheels found in Buddhist temples throughout China and Tibet. It is said that inside each wheel is a sutra (or saying/prayer) of the Buddha. When you spin the wheel, you are releasing the sutra for the benefit of yourself and all sentient beings.  Shown are those found in the Luohan Buddhist Temple located in the Yuzhong District, Chongqing, China.

Ricard continues – Like skills and knowledge, this ability to let thoughts arise and dissipate as they occur, instead of letting them take over our mind can be developed through training. By practicing mindfulness, we can emancipate ourselves from certain chains linked to cognitive aging and help prevent or slow down age-related degenerative illnesses.

Far from preconceived ideas, meditation is a conscious and active practice. Over time, through exercises and perseverance, meditation shapes our mind and develops our capacity for control, discernment, and clear mindedness.

One of 70,000 statutes found in the Longman Grottoes in the cliffs of Shakyamuni Buddha and his disciples. They are located seven miles south of present day Luoyang in Henan Province, China.

We spend a lot of time improving the external conditions of our lives, but in the end, it is always the mind which creates our experience of the world and translates it into well-being or suffering. Being able to act consciously on the way we perceive things is being able to transform our quality of life. It is this type of transformation, which is brought about by mind training, what we call meditation, a practice not limited to attention or what is generally referred to as mindfulness.

Most of our innate abilities lay dormant unless we do something, such as mind training, to bring them to their optimal functioning state. Through an empirical approach and a well-trained mind, the contemplatives have found efficient methods for gradually transforming emotions, moods, and character traits, as well as for eroding deeply rooted tendencies that stand in the way of an optimal mode of being.  Accomplishing this changes the quality of our lives at every moment by reinforcing fundamental human characteristics such as kindness, freedom, peace, and inner strength. I would add… to what Confucius would call benevolence and virtue.

Meditation thus opens a way to work against cellular aging and prevent cognitive deterioration. Just as we maintain our physical abilities through exercise, the mind also must continuously be trained by cultivating an attentive and kind presence to the world. When properly done, the practice of meditation unites body and mind through a discipline that fosters joy… a feeling of plenitude, promotes our health, and ultimate well-being.

For more on Matthieu Ricard the Buddhist Monk, Humanitarian, Author and Photographer refer to http://www.matthieuricard.org.

By 1dandecarlo

When you reach the top of the mountain – you become the mountain. Becoming a respite for others as we follow the Zen tradition in which one seeks to emulate “the true person without rank”, the one who expresses the emptiness of phenomena, even our cherished self.

It seems that the essence of living is forgetting the self. To become what is simply known as “pure perception” free from characteristics that may define us.

As we become less self-conscious, we become more open and more warmly present, and what we discover as this melting down takes place is that what we really are is the pure, clear, lighted mind itself—nothing else. So that the goal is to conduct our lives from this clear, lighted mind, to what the Buddhist refer to as beginning mind. And discovering that sense of non-duality discussed previously through living in moment-to-moment meditation, i.e., being present as we remain eternal through our thoughts and actions.

Resting 9,642 feet atop Medicine Mountain in Wyoming is this Ancient Medicine Wheel (Also known as the Bighorn Medicine Wheel). At an estimated 1,500 years old, it speaks to the knowledge and wisdom of people of long ago. There are 28 spokes of limestone boulders in the wheel, which alludes to the 28 days between lunar cycles. There are also a total of 7 stone formations in and around the wheel, which must surely be tied to the Indigenous teachings of the 7 sacred directions: East, South, West, North, Mother Earth, Father Sky, and the Sacred Center. Places like these illustrate the intimate connection our ancestors had with the universe.

And from that deep grounding has come great wisdom… as we remember who we are and where we came from. That we have a job to do. To pick up our knapsack and know it is time to live up to our responsibility.

The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved. For myself, as you get older, you realize there are no answers, just stories… Stories even remembrances, we then tell ourselves and others.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, as expressed so well above with the Medicine Wheel, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Eleven, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 11 Wisdom and the inconceivable Buddha – learning to live beyond mind.

Key thoughts: Bringing transcendent wisdom to all your energies and efforts.

  1. All phenomena are as pure and infinite as grains of sand. Just as on a single strand of hair could reside all lakes and oceans without touching.
  2. If one has pure perception, every single part of the body resembles the Buddha. Everything we see is the Buddha.
  3.  Realization that everything shares the same nature. As we recognize that all will eventually become pure within our experience allowing us to make fearless aspirations. This assists us in acknowledging our role, place in the scheme of things, and that we are to return to become teachers.
  4. To act as Phakchok Rinpoche tells us what the great Buddhist master Shantideva conveys that “we are to be as bodhisattvas that are to descend like swans landing on a placid lake”. That suffering is the consequence of one’s own actions, not a retribution inflicted by an external power. That we are authors of our own destiny, and as such, are free with appearances in the world as pure.
  5. We are reminded that all phenomena are illusion, practicing this, we become attached to nothing. With this detached wisdom you bring benefit to the world and engage in awakening others.
  6. Reminded again that a bodhisattva sees all as if descending to earthly realms like the swan landing on a placid lake.
  7. We are to be attached to nothing with detached wisdom and engage in enlightened activity.
  8. Some say following the Buddha acknowledges emptiness, selflessness, and pure perception. However, while describing the nature of buddha, to be more accurate would be to say the buddha is the dramata – the essence of reality that is beyond intellectual comprehension and beyond description.
  9. We learn to appreciate that all things arise with a dependence upon all other things. No object exists as a separate entity from anything else.
  10. Because everything is emptiness everything is possible. By this token also awareness that all phenomena are deity. Just as with the saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is the eye that perceives, the object that is perceived, and one’s consciousness. What created a continuity, or fluidity between Buddhism and Taoism in ancient China was best expressed by Ho-shang Kung from third or fourth century AD. A knowing with great influence as follows: “Others seek the ornamental. The sage seeks the simple. Others seek form. The sage seeks virtue. Others seek facts and skills. The sage studies what is natural. Other study how to govern the world. The sage seeks how to govern himself and how to uphold the truth of the Way.
  11. By our accumulating merit and wisdom, we gain flexibility in our thoughts and actions that all things are empty and from their very beginning enlightened. We then visualize a conceivable buddha that moves us to the unconceivable buddha who resides as the nature of all form.

My thoughts return to Santideva mentioned above that when neither an entity nor a nonentity remain before the mind, we can focus on the six perfections which include generosity, ethical discipline, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom. We can then move to implementing the spirit of awakening that activates and motivates the bodhisattva’s way of life.”

 Dharma means to understand our essential innate nature that always leads to sincerity, to benefitting our own mind, as well as others.

  1. Our point of inquiry should be to gain the confidence to move beyond conceptual elaboration. We need to understand how form and our enlightened nature are inseparable. Our goal should be to see how inseparability that is beyond concepts can be freed from fixation on concepts. What it is that moves us to opposites. To left verses right, or what may appear to be black verses white. To be and emulate what compliments and not simply to see thing opposed to each other. This pull to opposites can be seen or defined as yin verses yang and not everything collectively as one… the complimentary opposites that contribute to the one. As all becomes universal in nature.
  2. Important to the bodhisattva is knowledge that of all phenomena is nameless, is soundless, wordless, without inscription, birthless, and ceaseless. They have no characteristics, they are inconceivable, unthinkable, and beyond mind. (Reference to chapter eleven in The King of Meditation Sutra)
  3. We are to practice suspending judgment, decrease grasping, while our intent for the dualistic mind loses its rigidity. No matter how much we think of nonduality, we will not experience it unless we suspend conceptuality altogether.
  4. It is this transcendent wisdom that helps us to comprehend and to practice the six paramitas essential to our actions and meditative practice. With this we know how to give generously but without attachment in the process.
  5. Meditating on how we capture this idea for ourselves, as expressed by the mandala symbolizing the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life shown to the right. While never deviating from patience without clinging to what may be called a self-centered outcome.
  6. Bringing this transcendent wisdom into the practice of the six paramitas: 1) Giving of ourselves and helping others, teaching the dharma through our actions and deeds, and fearlessness, 2) Taking the precepts we know and transferring them to others through our virtue, 3) Endurance and patience without resentment, 4) To develop vigor and mental strength, persistence, effort, and self-reliance. 5) Meditation/samadhi – To awaken into the state of illumined consciousness, and 6) Wisdom/Prajna – To study the sutras and contemplation of their true meaning and to gain perfect understanding of the true nature of reality.
  7. Through this samadhi, and our meditation and mindfulness that connects us to the cosmos, we bring about the four discerning awarenesses. First, the awareness of correctly discerning the dharma, second – objects, third – language, and fourth – eloquence. With this the cosmos then speaks through and as us.

We often infer deity to thoughts of omniscience, or infinite knowledge. Mindfulness is the act of actualizing and realizing the nature of everything that could possibly arise paying full, nonjudgmental attention to our moment-to-moment experience. We can use mindfulness to free ourselves from unhealthy habits and improve our overall quality of life. With this, our presence becomes self-sustaining. Our minds become content and at ease.

This concept of spiritual growth and mindfulness is universal. Our ancient ancestors lived through and by traditions of what came before them while looking to the stars above and eternity. To what is it that makes us eternal as well. As we in-turn connect to spirit with remembrances and stories defining our own presence going forward. As referenced above, most medicine wheels in North America are found in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan Canada. The oldest is the 5,500-year-old Majorville Cairn in Alberta.

An Eastern Shoshone village near South Pass, 1870. The tipi at front bears an image of what may be the Medicine Wheel. W.H. Jackson photo.

The Medicine Wheel is a circular alignment of limestone boulders about 80 feet in diameter with 28 rock “spokes” radiating from a prominent central cairn. Five smaller stone enclosures are connected to the outer circumference of the wheel. A sixth and westernmost enclosure is located outside the circle of the wheel but is clearly linked to the central cairn by one of the spokes. The enclosures are round, oval, or horseshoe-shaped, and closely resemble northern and northwestern Plain’s vision-quest or fasting structures.

The Bighorn Medicine Wheel located in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming, was first studied in 1902 by the noted ethnologist S. C. Simms on behalf of the Chicago Field Museum.

In the early 1970s, astronomer and solar scientist John Eddy noted several important star alignments involving the central and circumferential cairns. He suggested that the Bighorn Medicine Wheel was probably used by prehistoric Native Americans as an ancient astronomical observatory. Indigenous native Americans over the centuries through vision-quests and meditation have expanded the idea of infinite knowledge and wisdom beyond what could be understood or known. That efforts to connect to our eternal spirit are on-going. It is similar in concept to the Buddhist mandala found at the Sara Monastery in Lhasa Tibet shown earlier. 

In studying Buddhism and infinite knowledge we are referring to the Buddha having realized the nature of everything that could possibly arise or happen, the nature  of every being that has ever come in the past and will ever come. We become buddha-like when we gain correct understanding with the five aggregates of 1) form, 2) feeling or sensations, 3) perception, 4) mental formation (our biases, prejudices, interests, attitudes, and actions), and 5) consciousness – awareness of both physical and mental processes. We all already possess these; however, we fail to reach our potential by not acknowledging or acting on them.

  1. When we can understand our own motivations based of these aggregates, then we can begin to develop the ability to speak with what is called the definitive word having comprehended their meaning correctly. We then develop confidence with the discernment of phenomena, the understanding of meaning, and this definitive word. You are then able to express the dharma.
  2. It is when we are ready to move beyond endless and needless suffering found in samsara, we look to a foundation… or to what is known as formations (see number four above) that can serve as reminders of the way forward. Our impermanence tied to not grasping those things that directly leads to this endless suffering.
  3. When we acknowledge that these mental formations seem above our understanding, we can then see how thoughts and ideas of nirvana are inconceivable and why the concept of awakening seems beyond us.
  4. The ultimate Buddha is called dharmakaya that lies beyond or is free of characteristics. It is immeasurable and unmoving. Whether there is bliss or suffering it does not change. Dharmakaya is still and empty and its wisdom lie beyond language.
  5. In our meditation and as we manifest as presence, we acknowledge that all difficulties have been resolved and appearances are not separate from the Buddha.
  6. Through continual practice the result is confidence, an absence of doubt, and knowing that your nature is complete and assured. With this we know what to do in every situation as trust moves through us. Finally, we are to continue acknowledging the inseparability found in everything without exception.
By 1dandecarlo

Life affirming non-duality / Moving effortlessly as the flow of mindfulness becomes us as we begin to live as our true selves… It’s no secret. We are to live our lives as if we have already arrived.

At first capturing and then becoming one with the universal flow of nature and energy as expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his famous quote that urged on the transformation to transcendental thought.

“That law of nature whereby everything climbs to higher platforms, and bodily vigor becomes mental and moral vigor. The bread he eats is first strength and animal spirits; it becomes, in higher laboratories, imagery and thought, and in still higher results, courage and endurance. This is the right compound interest; this is capital doubled, quadrupled, centupled; man raised to his highest power. The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation and not in augmenting animal existence.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life

One of the interesting similarities and differences between Emerson, Zen and Advaita Vedanta is how we look at mindfulness. While mindfulness, a Zen practice, is seen as simply the practice to witness our thoughts, feelings & emotions during life situations, this can be limited based on the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. It’s like seeing different sides to the same coin with the destinations now the same. In zen enlightenment it’s about coming to see reality just as it is, with perfect clarity. For myself, that  clarity comes with a sense of flowing with what the outcome will be.

Advaita Vedanta, literally, “non-duality” is a school of Hindu philosophy and “spiritual experience.” The term Advaita refers to the idea that Brahman alone, pure consciousness, is ultimately real, the phenomenal transient world is an illusory appearance (maya) of Brahman, and the true self, atman, which is self-luminous pure awareness, is identical with Brahman. In this view, our individual self, is a mere reflection of singular Atman in a multitude of apparent individual bodies.

And in Advaita Vedanta it’s about knowing who you are in the absolute sense, self-realization or knowing yourself as the supreme identity. The reason that self-realization and zen enlightenment are one is because the very moment you know who you are, is the exact moment you see reality just as it is with perfect clarity… as non-duality. With consciousness, or the way the  human mind is constructed, you will see that it’s made up of grasping, analyzing, interpreting, and doing. How to move past this to assurances of the outcome moves us to thoughts of being “beyond the beyond”.  To places we cannot see or intrinsically know.

Not making waves as we enter the universal flow of things content to simply add to the waves already present. To be content in/or as the flow we are creating. Satisfied in a world with no contention present.  To simply “do by being”. Looking to mindfulness, our mind will naturally wonder as we ask, “What can I get from enlightenment or self-realization?” If you look throughout history a common mind-set has been the law of cause and effect. If I just ‘do’ mindfulness enough, I will receive on the other end. This self-actualizing paradigm of analyzing how life will look if I just do A B C long enough. Of course, it’s not that simple.

With practice, the most natural, most effortless watching of our thoughts will arise. It will almost feel to some degree that you as a person with a history, a past or sense of separate self will no longer exist. Will no longer be aware of having a body, or a mind, or any reference point of existing. All that will be aware to you, is awareness itself. There are things that we do that feel effortless, but until we have grounded in true effortlessness will we have a real reference point for what that even means. As if we are “following in our own footsteps”.

You will see without looking at a peripheral view of your immediate surroundings. This is also known as the screen of consciousness. It is arising formlessness, which is without borders, without division, without grasping, analyzing, interpreting, thinking, or reference point of anything learned. And on a human level the brain will enter its most effortless state. A release throughout the body will be a relaxed cellular aliveness beyond your wildest imagination. The deepest relaxed intensity of this cellular aliveness, because of knowing who you are, seeing reality just as it is with perfect clarity is Nirvana. Understanding that there is no place to go because you are already present.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Ten, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 10 Victorious Meditation… a continuing commentary.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Chapter 10 Victorious Meditation

Key thoughts: Letting go and living with victorious/virtuous behavior – or following in the footsteps of our own highest selves.

  1. Letting go and living through virtuous behavior as you cast away conceptions, as you let go of definitions and characteristics of objects you learn freedom. To what Confucius would refer to as living as intent with  benevolence and virtue.

Offerings at the Confucius Temple in Qingdao.

  1. Your conduct and virtuous nature always come first in dealings with others and serves as what defines you. Just as you emulate and mirror the conduct, cultivation, and effort of the bodhisattvas with both internal and external conditions that support a meditative practice.
  2. The three pillars of practice are 1) emptiness, 2) absence of characteristics, and 3) wishlessness that serve to move us beyond mere inconsequential life or existence to what may be referred to as calm abiding.
  3. Emptiness takes us past the four extremes of: 1) existence, 2) nonexistence, 3) both, and 4) emptiness transcends conceptual grasping altogether. It is the first step that takes us to fulfillment, enlightenment, and transcendence. 
  4. The Buddha tells us that to sustain the view of emptiness is to become free of the effort of maintaining samadhi (the highest form of meditation and mindfulness), yet to remain in samadhi. To what is known as effortless sustaining by freeing our mind of the confusion of the mundane world. Thus, finding contentment as we let anger and confusion pass us by.
  5. We do this by focusing on the teachings of the Buddha and for myself Lao Tzu. Buddhist meditation is naturally centered on the Buddha, and for many that begins with the image of the Buddha. That he radiates love and wisdom and that he directs his gaze at you. He is free of judgment, compassionate, and omniscient (having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding, perceiving all things). His wisdom and light radiate out to you and all beings. In all your activities visualize that the Buddha is looking down on you.
  6. Those who are compassionate and inquire about things with wisdom know all past and present phenomenon to be empty and that we are to abide with things as they are without clinging.
  7. Visualizing that the blissful nature of the Buddha is not separate from ourselves, is unconditional and causeless, and the same as our own. With this we dissolve into nothing important outside of own innate nature as all that remains is emptiness. This allows us to simply live within what we already know as virtue.
  8. We are to abide in contentment letting any perceived anger not get a foothold on our thoughts letting them pass through us. Practice seeing your mind as an observer with the absence of characteristics. With this wishlessness naturally comes forward, seeing this, you have no desire, no anger, and no ignorance. We learn not to cling to an inconsequential lifestyle and existence.

In The Way of Complete Perfection, the Taoist Anthology, a commentary on the Qingjing jing, discusses finding the flow of the universe and staying within its realm as follows: Heaven attains unified clarity; earth attains unified serenity; and humans attain unified numinosity. (What I would refer to as superior power of discernment; even enlightened intelligence). All of this is unified spirit. The source of numinosity is then completely penetrated as what is known as the sacred Tao that circulates through us and becomes pervasive. Even to referencing Chapter Ten in my own version of the Tao Te Ching leading the way to stillness as the knowing sage.

  1. We live as if a reflection of the moon on a clear lake as the mirror of our own reality. The reflection we see nothing but an illusion of our real selves. (Reference to chapter 9 King of Meditation Sutra.) There is a story about a famous poet of ancient China named Li Bai, who was drunk after drinking too much plum wine who fell out of a boat in the middle of a lake. He saw the moon’s reflection in the lake and tried to reach out and touch the illusion. He drowns.
  2. Desiring to attain samadhi, one observes how the three poisons of attachment, aversion, and ignorance are dependent on the six objects of the senses. When you encounter these objects: form, sound, smell, taste, feeling, and phenomenal experience, you engage in the continuity of karma. If you understand they are but an illusion, you will not become attached to them, and most importantly you will not continue the cycle of samsara.
  3. How is it that the aspiring bodhisattva masters the essential wisdom of the insubstantiality of all phenomena?

We need to fully understand and know that all phenomena are substanceless, essenceless, uncharacterized, undefined, unborn, unceasing, unwritten, empty, primordially peaceful, and naturally pure. (From Chapter 8 King of Meditation Sutra.)

  1. We begin by residing in our innate nature by letting go of extremes, recalling that our true nature is empty, and that a buddha has let go of all extremes.
  2. It is insight meditation that maintains our conduct and wisdom, with this we follow the Dharma and tame our mind in the correct way. The true nature is empty, it is peaceful, and is stainless. In the realization of emptiness, there is no conceptual thought as there are no concepts to cling to. If appearances cannot be established, then there can only be illusion. Those who attain the realization and essence of this understanding are considered a buddha.

For comparison’s sake, I like the reference to the Advaita Vedanta, “non-duality”, and a school of Hindu philosophy and “spiritual experience.” What can or does this mean to us? For those following this… God is the one who creates the universe when he wishes, maintains the universe till he wishes, and the universe dies only with his wish only. Everything in the universe, even the non-living things and mass celestial bodies like the planets, galaxies, solar systems are created by the god and are in existence through him and his permission only. The supreme god is the source of all beings, they are born through him and his desire. God is also their destiny and ultimate resting point as they will be returning to God himself. Dharma is the duty and the right that one needs to do for their own betterment as well as the betterment of other people. It is the right act not from the individual – but from the universal point of view.

  1. It is while in meditation with the absence of clinging we realize this nature for the benefit of all beings as any conceit of the meditator falls away. This is samadhi, where our fearlessness resides, where conceit and grasping ends in truth with ultimate freedom found to rest in meditation without believing in anything beyond the teachings of the Buddha, and for myself, Taoism and Lao Tzu.
  2. It is in abandoning conceit that we understand that realization depends on first thinking that my view is better than your view and becoming inflated by the purity of our own conduct is not appropriate to the path we are choosing to follow. Selflessness resides in emulating and following our innate empty nature.
  3. The key to moving beyond conceit and ego is the Dharma where our essential nature is tied to the stars, the universe, and the cosmos. We are everywhere because we have been everywhere. We are to become and speak for the Dharma. While the words of the Buddha are sacred, even more sacred are the words of enlightened beings as they move through the world with words and actions that are perfectly suited to fit our environment and current situation. By connecting with the radiance and realization of the Buddha – you become the Buddha. Ultimately with training, your role is to speak for the universe, to abide in what is known as dharmakaya.
  4. Training in our buddha-nature means coming to rest as if returning to the stars in the sky like dharmakaya. To return to our natural self, as if returning to what is known as nonmeditation, to where right and wrong do not exist, good and bad – the whole approach to dualism does not exist. As simple as sitting in emptiness as our essential nature. Here we can abandon samsara as our mind becomes luminous.
  5. When we realize the empty nature of the mind, this is when wisdom comes forth as an awakened state indivisible from Shakyamuni Buddha that is the essence of all phenomena. When our persona precedes us, we can then eliminate attachment, liberate aversion, and move beyond ignorance.
  6. Unfolding our innate wisdom we have always known, but seemingly forgotten remains the key to our eternal presence we are here to acknowledge and return to. To practice nonmeditation means we accede to our highest self. Placing our mind on the form of the Buddha. To rest in calm abiding and knowing that we are never separate from the Buddha’s nature. It is here that great understanding becomes us as we live as if we have already arrived at our final destination.

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

Living in Zen – Reflecting thoughts of the cosmos and eternity with a joyful spiritual presence and mindfulness as we gain an appreciation of samadhi. While taking others to places they might not otherwise go…

The key is remembrance. Whether it’s remembering to come back to the present moment, recalling the truth of impermanence, or who we have always been and are still yet to become. We are reminded of images of our past as our continuing presence and what is yet to be determined.

Picture of Dan in Qufu standing next to place known as “Confucius Hill” along the Xiaoyi River where Confucius is said to have taught his students more that 2500 years ago. Confucius romanticized name is Kong. Because I was a teacher in Qufu and my respect for Confucius, in China I became known as Kongdan. Hence… the Kongdan Foundation.

Our practice (the Buddhist word for how we live moment to moment) is living in transparency. Having a mindful presence. Becoming fearless in both life and death. We all know that we’re going to die, but we don’t know it in our guts. If we did, we would practice, i.e., live as if our hair were on fire. One way to swallow the bitter truth of mortality and impermanence—and get it into our guts—is to consider the four reminders. That we are not here under the auspicious of legitimizing our path, while de-legitimizing the path of another. The ultimate meaning of becoming transparent. The four reminders, joined with mindfulness meditation, instill a strength of mind that benefits both self and others.

The four reminders, or the four thoughts that turn the mind, are an important preparation for death because they turn the mind from constantly looking outward to finally looking within.

These reminders, also called the four reversals, were composed by Padmasambhava, the master who brought Buddhism from India to Tibet. They can be viewed as representing the trips Siddhartha took outside his palace that eventually transformed him into the Buddha. During these trips, Siddhartha encountered old age, sickness and death, and developed the renunciation that turned his mind away from the distractions and deceptions of the outer world and in toward silence and truth. They help us keep moving more and more in line with what’s real and true, as opposed to getting continually sidetracked and distracted by what’s easy, convenient, or what we think we want based on external influences.

As with mindfulness itself, the four reminders provide another way to work with distraction. They bring the key instruction from The Tibetan Book of the Dead to not be distracted to a more comprehensive level. The four reminders show us that it’s not just momentary distraction that’s problematic but distraction at the level of an entire life. If we’re not reminded, we can waste our whole life. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche presented them this way:

FIRST Contemplate the preciousness of being so free and well favored. This is difficult to gain and easy to lose. Now I must do something meaningful.

SECOND The whole world and its inhabitants are impermanent. In particular, the life of beings is like a bubble. Death comes without warning; this body will be a corpse. At that time, the dharma will be my only help. I must practice it with exertion.

THIRD When death comes, I will be helpless. Because I create karma, I must abandon evil deeds and  always devote myself to virtuous actions. Thinking this, every day I will examine myself.

FOURTH The homes, friends, wealth, and comforts of samsara are the constant torment of the three sufferings, just like a feast before the executioner leads you to your death. I must cut desire and attachment and attain enlightenment through exertion.

How long should we contemplate these reminders? Until our mind turns. Until we give up hope for samsara (the worldly cycle of birth and death) and realize the folly of finding happiness outside of ourselves. Most of us spend our lives looking out at the world, chasing after thoughts and things. We’re distracted by all kinds of objects and rarely investigate the mind that is the ultimate source of these objects. If we turn our mind and look in the right direction, however, we will find our way to a good life… and a good death. Instead of being carried along with the external constructs of mind, we finally examine the internal blueprints of mind itself. How is it we are to live – as we become fearless.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Nine, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 9 Finding joy in samadhi… a continuing commentary.

Key thought: To cultivate awakening with a joyful presence.

  1. The King of Meditation Sutra stresses our focus should be on joyful effort with an emphasis on awakening within the context of samadhi. The bodhisattvas are to cultivate this samadhi to see and act beyond themselves.
  2. How do we define samadhi for our own growth and change? (The term ‘samādhi’ derives from the roots ‘sam-ā-dhā’, which means ‘to collect’ or ‘bring together’, and thus it is often translated as ‘concentration’ or ‘unification of mind’.)  How do we create the perfect union of the individualized soul with infinite spirit, a state of oneness, complete absorption? Samadhi means many things to many people.

It is an experience of divine ecstasy as well as of superconscious perception where the soul perceives the entire universe. In other words, human consciousness becomes one with cosmic consciousness. The soul realizes that it is much more than the conditioned body. Christian saints have previously described this experience as “mystical marriage,” in which the soul merges into God, soul, and spirit and becomes one with Him. Mystical marriage or spiritual marriage (also espousal to Christ) is a figure used to denote the state of a human soul living intimately united to God through grace and love.

  1. Throughout history people have tried to realize the ultimate meaning of samadhi and live within the trajectory of what nourishes our highest aspirations. Understanding that whatever can be the truth can be our teacher. The ancient shaman taught our connection to the stars, nature, and our surroundings would be what defined our own history as we live within the constraints of this wisdom.
  2. It begins with our merit for all fear to melt away and the realization of our commitment to dawn from within. Therefore, wisdom from the teachings of the Buddha and others we have studied and gained insight from is critical. The Buddhist always recognizes that what is left undone in this life will/can be done in the next life. This assurance allows us to work on merit that moves us to a higher realm of consciousness and to become emblematic of transcendence. To rest assured with who we have always been and will always be.
  3. It is walking the path without doubt that enables us to know what we need to do and live in the world with this understanding. It is this that guides our meditation practice with clarity and sincerity towards our own life and the lives of others. With this we learn the impermanence of all phenomena in nature, the laws of cause and effect, and reasons why staying in samsara is not for us.
  4. It is as if we are trading what we think we know, for the comfort found in what we do not but would if we could. We inspire ourselves through a practice that takes us beyond anything we can imagine. It is here we consider the Tibetan word for diligence as joyful effort that results in pure insight as the ultimate expression of our own divinity.
  1. Ultimately, the question becomes “what is our mindset and where are we doing it from, who are we and where do we go from here?” There is a transformation of consciousness that we look to at some point with exertion becoming necessary if we are to be transformed. The King of Meditation Sutra tells us that if we are to stabilize samadhi, we must remain committed to the process. What we then find is joy by integrating instructions we receive into a meditative and mindful practice.
  2. Is it as Ram Dass says, that if you are happily ignorant in the present perhaps enlightenment is not something you are interested in pursuing knowing you are embraced by the buddhas. Since this is about Buddhism, Taoism, and Zen, the diligence needed or spoken here may not for everyone. In “following the bodhisattva path where we gain their blessings and qualities”, we not only help others along the way, but also help ourselves develop towards attaining enlightenment. If this is not fitting with our life choices and they lead elsewhere, then we should look elsewhere.
  3. Taking the path of meditation and mindfulness is not one for the fainthearted. It requires work. For many it is referred to as a practice. It is not something we do… it becomes who we are. It is how we live with structure and compassion encompassing all those that have been discussed in the chapters preceding this one. It is about persistence, training, and learning about ourselves.
  4. We look to the benefits of following the King of Meditation Sutras and other teachings over the centuries that show us the way. What are the values of the sutras? They provide a description of advantages of practice gained over thousands of years, along with accounts of those who have made the Dharmic journey. I have been to numerous Buddhist Temples and Monasteries, museums with artifacts dating thousands of years, the Longman grottoes, Giant Leshan Buddha, throughout China, plus Lhasa, Tibet, and more, as inspired and illustrated throughout this endeavor. Telling the story that was a purpose in my travels.
  5. Traveling with Lieh, Chuang, and Lao Tzu and writing books about the I Ching, Taoism, and the role of the sage, has given me a perspective to become re-acquainted with my peers as if becoming a sage is simply not enough. Studying the ways of bodhisattvas is essential as well… knowing our place and what we do when we arrive.
  6. What is important is being guided by both aspiration and inspiration. I am reminding of how over the centuries Buddhism and Taoism came together in China. In a famous commentary of Chapter 16 of the Tao Te Ching by Te Ch’ing, a Buddhist monk, who lived in the 15th that century reads:

“To know what truly endures is to know that Heaven and Earth share the same root, that the ten thousand things share the same body, and there is no difference between self and others. Those who cultivate this within themselves become sages, while those who practice this in the world become rulers. Rules become rulers by following the Way of Heaven. And Heaven becomes Heaven by following the Tao. And the Tao becomes the Tao by lasting forever.”  

Te Ch’ing established a monastery in the 1500’s at Mount Lao, or Laoshan, on the coast of the Shandong Peninsula where I visited in 2017. (Pictured here) Laoshan is known as one of the birthplaces of Taoism. It is the place where the Complete Perfection School of Taoism developed that is often referred to in these pages.

  1. Chapter 38 of the King of Meditation Sutra says that the bodhisattvas should focus on three areas. First, the exhaustion of afflictive emotions; second, becoming a field of merit; and third, generating roots of virtue with the wish to obtain the wisdom of the buddhas. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching became the benchmark, with Buddhism’s teachings the fulcrum, and Confucius the overriding structure that made it work over the centuries.

This idea of virtue was the connection between the three competing philosophies in China (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism). Over the centuries, they merged into a workable framework that allowed each to flourish. A famous picture of Lao Tzu, the Buddha, and Confucius over a vat of vinegar from the Song Dynasty in 1000 BC tells the story.  

  1. It is becoming a field of merit as we rise above negative thoughts and emotions in the mundane world with the teachings of the Buddha that remains the key through virtue and wisdom. In doing so it is important that we accept our own greatness through our power of awareness.
  2. Observing our actions is a central focus of self-awareness, how we control our emotions, how much our thought creates new thoughts, and how much attachment you have considering your own merit. It is from here that we continually focus of the attainment of wisdom. With this we vanquish the negative and ascend the positive through diligence.
  3. To go beyond is to embody both wisdom and virtue. That the teachings of the Buddha, samadhi, and Lao Tzu form the underpinnings of our journey with both our heart and soul fully entrusted to the outcome. When you see yourself on the path rejoice in the power of your vision and ultimate destination.
  4. We are to be active for others sake and our actions reflecting a higher good as we engage in positive activity. Focusing and setting our mind to the thoughts of our mentors. In addition to the Buddha, others come to mind including Lao and Chuang Tzu from Eastern thought and philosophy, as well as Emerson, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the West. Emulating the thoughts of our mentors should be reflected by our actions. Garnering or gathering merit as we re-discover the flow of the cosmos we have always known.
  5. Set your mind on awakening and loving-kindness through diligence as you gain the quality of your mentors through merit. It is here that we come to know unrelenting joy as we refine diligence by 1) continuously recalling impermanence, 2) tame negative emotions, 3) become a field of merit, and 4) by attaining wisdom.

Living in Zen – Reflecting thoughts of the cosmos and eternity with the essence of joyful spiritual presence, mindfulness, and gaining an appreciation of samadhi while taking others to places they might not otherwise go… as we live and follow in the footsteps of Bodhisattvas.

 

 

By 1dandecarlo

We should only see life as it should be with memories and actions that help to shape our identity. Reminded of that old fable about how virtue and patience and the underappreciated tortoise wins the race in the end.  

With trusting in our eternal growth as the key to transformation and transcendence we come to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty our deeper knowing, even when it has not emerged to the top level of our consciousness. It is in knowing who we have always been and are yet to become that defines our eternal presence with goals we may as yet be unaware. As we refrain from anger and self-absorption that can cloud both our virtue and vision.

Moving to places that inner chi and breath can take us with mindfulness defining our presence.

 As we are reminded of impermanence and illusion found in the mundane world. We are to be viewed as engaging in truth with meditation expanding that truth and our conduct as expressing that truth. 

The principles of growth and change found in the Tao providing satisfying conditions that remind us of the journey we are here to resume and continue. For myself, it becomes the ultimate strength of the marriage between Buddhism and Taoism. With sustaining merit found bringing Confucius along for the ride reminding us of what’s found with the eternal underpinnings that steadies and keeps us grounded in the present.

Simply finding the vehicle that propels, or takes us there, as we strive to bring others into liberation as well. While coming to know the principles of merit the essence of how and why we continue. Only our lack of forbearance – patient self-control; restraint and tolerance seeming to keep us from advancing. Moving forward we become one with conditions the prevail rather than resisting against them, while not resigning ourselves to conditions that are not satisfying. It is as if we are here to find solace that gives comfort or consolation and the right starting point with ambitions that match our continuing journey. Endeavoring to find contentment in what makes us content.

To like Paul from the Bible who tells us, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.”

Our lives appearing as stages that meld and yield wisdom from the past upon which the next  stage is built and the foundation we each build upon. The visible symbol of our realization that who we are represents living in mindfulness; instead of merely a life lived. To see into the divine heart of others and their true nature. Regardless of what people say is right and wrong. Understanding the contradictions keeping us from reality and exploring the meaning of there being more to our purpose than experiencing freedom. Just as our spirit craves longevity, diversity, and nature that supports beneficial growth that takes us and others there as well.

That we are to cease resisting and struggling that define our needless suffering and accept our innate divinity and abundance of resources the universe provides and envelop them as our own presence. What the sage, saint, and shaman have long relayed as our eventual path, or way. Acknowledging our mentors as we go and that there can be no separation because we are all one.

As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence?

Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Eight, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together. The chapter is divided as with previous chapters into 8A and 8B. Chapter 8B that follows includes numbers 16 through 30. Numbers 1 through 15 preceding this here on my website.

In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation. Chapter 8 continued: Sixteen through thirty / Bringing others to liberation.

  1. This understanding is what defines the ultimate bodhisattvas vow and that which is useful for bringing others to liberation. To teach only what takes others beyond affliction in accordance with their own unique karma and capacity. As you teach what brought you to your own realization.
  2. One normally begins with looking back at the Four Noble Truths and contemplating what it is that brings us here. They explain the basic orientation of Buddhism. They are the truths understood by those who have attained enlightenment or nirvana. The four truths are dukkha(the truth of suffering); the arising of dukkha (the causes of suffering); the stopping of dukkha (the end of suffering); and the path leading to the stopping of dukkha (the path to freedom from suffering). Dukka is an innate characteristic of existence in the realm of samsara. The final truth, (the path to freedom from suffering), is often associated to what is called the Noble Eightfold Path and is the path leading to renouncement and cessation of dukkha.
  3. Those who know of this refinement and practice, know that it involves cultivating innate nature and life-destiny so that one may fully penetrate principle and pervade the mysterious, what is the unknown, with the Three Teachings referred to as the awakening to the Tao. The Three Teachings refer to Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. (page 196 of The Way of Complete Perfection).

As we acknowledge that what we are trained in is the realization of what we teach. My classroom at Jining University in Qufu.

  1. It is moving beyond the source of affliction that defines if we are truly ready to follow the Buddha. When we can declare victory over doubt, afflictions, incorrect views, and concepts so that we can understand the true meaning of patience.
  2. Meditation is not only how we sit, but continuous, and how we bring samadhi to our lives. Chapter 7 of the King of Meditation Sutra conveys the importance of being free of doubt and having confidence in the Dharma as being the first type of patience. Chapter 7 of the Sutra also relays that with continuous meditation any agitation vanishes and cannot disturb us as the second level of patience.
  3. This leads us to what is known as “calm-abiding” practice helping us to become more stable aiding in watching the weaknesses of others who could use the strength of samadhi in their own lives. Helping us to visualize seeing beyond the mind, to the place where all hope has almost vanished and all expectation ceases. Living in this freedom liberation becomes us as we become the benchmark for others to follow. With this our essence our virtue and the Tao becomes us and all things.

I like to think of the symbol of the ancient dragon that serves to connect all things under and with heaven. Man, simply one of the ten thousand things. To a consciousness connected with all things in the cosmos, or universe, with none more important than the other – nature always having the final say. Our own divine nature having responsibility to and for it all as the ultimate protector. All living and dying in nature’s sway. The ancient shaman and sage following a course of events through eternity that we continue to this day.

  1. It becomes how we move as a mediator for the benefit of others. This highlights for many the difficulty in embracing Buddhism. How is it we are to define moving ourselves to the point where hope vanishes and expectations cease? Where whatever we see appears to be transparent. Ultimately it is like being in the boat or raft crossing the river. Do we continue to the unknown shore unsure of what lies ahead, or return to the shore of what we know and take for granted? Even with observing The Parable of the Raft that is probably one of the most famous parables taught by the Buddha. He compared his own teachings to a raft that could be used to cross the river but should be discarded when one made it safely to the other shore. We are to proceed with what we have learned through our own insight and study.
  2. This is what following in the bodhisattva’s footsteps means. We are to gain wisdom as we cross over so that we land safely on the new shore prepared to take the next step with the goal of furthering our own enlightenment as we guide others as well. We take steps learning the terrain, showing others how to get to a certain point that they can then continue themselves as we give them what they need at the moment. Then move forward again in a continuous cycle. This calm biding practice, often referred to as shamatha, is used to keep us focused.
  3. Attainment of shamatha gives us confidence and strength granting us the ability to bring other sentient beings onto the path. It brings insight to our path, steadiness, and most important, it moves us to understand that the mind is no longer a thing to be influenced – as we move to wisdom and to ultimate transparency. To the place of having the clarity of a mountain-like mind.
  4. Abiding with transparency with others present, it is often difficult to move a person beyond their comprehension with only words. Our focus becomes how our actions move them with what they need at that moment. It is through our patience we learn to act and speak with clarity, intention, and insight. The same Chapter 7 of the Sutra mentioned above says that we must always act with “a mountainlike mind”. These are the qualities of the third level of patience.
  5. Speaking with a “mountainlike mind” one need looks no further than the sage. The sage acts to benefit all under heaven and with virtue found on earth. In Taoism, when we refer to the above it is often as the Tao in the Tao Te Ching. Verse 64 is relayed in the teachings of the sage as Ho Shang Kung who lived in 100AD provides what is called the “first evidence for Taoist meditation” and “proposed concentrative focus on the breath for harmonization with the Tao.”

Continuing… we are to contemplate the context adding from Kung, “Others seek the ornamental. The sage seeks the simple. Others seek form. The sage seeks virtue. Others seek facts and skills. The sage studies what is natural. Others study how to govern the world. The sage studies how to govern himself and how to uphold the truth of the Way.”  (page 129 of Lao Tzu’s Taoteching translated by Red Pine with selected commentaries of the past 2000 years) 

  1. Over time the direction of our lives takes on a life of its own. Doors open and close that move us to our highest endeavor when we stop pushing things in the mundane world letting the flow of the universe just take us there. Finding and following the attributes we already possess is the key to our awakening.

Living in meditation and our essential mindfulness or capturing this flow and attuning our nature with this – is our life’s ultimate endeavor. What we consider as wealth has no meaning until we find our purpose. When we do so, the universe is here to help guide our way. The great vehicle identified in the King of Meditation Sutra outlined here is simply a guide to help open the door.

  1. It is how we act with the coming and going of creative resources that reflects our mind. Buddhism is not against comfort but is against anything other than Dharma (the universal sustenance of all things) that can create lasting satisfaction. It is impermanence and patience that propel us away from delusion to the clarity of wisdom that follows and the essence of reality.
  2. Chapter 7 of the Sutra conveys that what is good for the Buddha is good for the bodhisattvas as well. Their methods and conduct are all practiced by them. This equates as the third level of patience. What is important is the sincerity of our efforts. As if following the ultimate strand of our DNA that connects our essence and ultimate nature to universal law of cause and effect and our own eternal knowing… that which we have always known.

It is here that research, study, and learning of the path and the travails of those over the centuries contributes to both our practice and especially the fullness of our lives. Not only the narrative of the life of the Buddha, and Lao and Chuang Tzu, but the history of those who have followed in Tibet, China, and elsewhere. It is our story too. At their heart, they were storytellers. We should endeavor to recall and learn from them again. Their stories are the key to our learning patience in finding comfort on the path we are here continue and to follow.

  1. As we are known by our presence, it is our sincerity that opens the door and asks us to stay. The key to sincerity being do we possess the ability to be a witness to our own behavior. Over time it is the fruit of our patience that allow us to see and go beyond the beyond. What do we carry with us? It is that our view is engaging in truth. That meditation is expanding truth that exists from within, and our conduct is expressing that truth as we travel in eternity throughout the cosmos. As we learn for ourselves the true meaning of Zen.

Chapter 9 is next following… The way of living in Zen, mindfulness and joyful purpose as we awaken.

By 1dandecarlo