I have often been asked by students when I was going to teach them something. They are seeking something new, fresh and original. When I explain that no such thing exists they become confused and sometime even defensive.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I have often been asked by students when I was going to teach them something. They are seeking something new, fresh and original. When I explain that no such thing exists they become confused and sometime even defensive.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
In Buddhism one does not become enlightened by doing good works as in Christianity one is not saved by doing good works. Salvation and Enlightenment are free to all those who seek. We are already Buddha's and salvation is a free gift from God.
Spiritual Practice and love and compassion do not earn us liberation nor salvation. Rather they are the fruits of our liberation and salvation.
This doesn't mean that human effort is irrelevant to the spiritual life. Even though our efforts cannot help us earn or achieve salvation or enlightenment, they might help us open to the realization of our inherent enlightenment or acceptance of God's free offer of salvation.
Final thought. Embrace one another. Before we were Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Taoist or anything else, we were human and still are.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Fathers Day for me has always been a day of reflection. Am I doing all I can for my children? Do they have all they need? Are they learning well? Are they happy? Then I hear the laughter echoing throughout the house, what a beautiful sound. The years are passing by and soon they will be on their own. Will they be ok? Is there something that I'm not doing? Then I hear a little arguement break out and in a couple minutes they are all playing again like nothing ever happened. We could all learn something from them.
Being a dad has always been difficult, I can only imagine what my dad went through raising me, but in today's world it is even more so. How do I protect them from this world and still allow them to a part of it? What will their world be like? Will they be ok after I am gone? The questions never seem to end. If only there where a book that would give us all the answers. Well there are many teaching that has helped me to understand my roll as a dad.
In the Bible in Luke 18: 16-17 "But Jesus called them unto him, saying, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for to such belongeth the kingdom of God. 17. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not reveive the kingdom of God as a litttle child, he shall in no wise enter therein.
To me this is saying,don't forbid them to go but also don't force anything on your children whether it be Jesus, Buddha or anything. The kingdom already belongs to them. If they are allowed they will find what is theirs, when they do, forbid them not to go and if we pay attention we ourselves will find the Heaven we lost so long ago. We raise our children, in return they teach us.
Many people, when they think of the Buddha they think of a man who abandoned his family on the day of his only child's birth—what kind of father would do such a thing? How can so many people follow the teaching of such a man? The Buddha renounced fatherhood but this represented his profound conviction that a lasting, unconditioned happiness could be found—and in leaving behind his family, the fetters on his emotional and spiritual life, he could ultimately give back to them the possibility of the same deathless happiness he would find for himself.
"When Rahula (his son) was seven years old, he became his father's disciple and began his training as a monk. In a discourse that has come to be known as the "Rahula Sutta" (Majjhima Nikaya 61), the Buddha instructed his young son with the seeds of some of his most important teachings. He started out by stressing the magnitude of being truthful—implying that if Rahula wanted to find the truth, he would first have to be truthful to himself. He then talked about using one's actions as a mirror. Before you do anything, he told Rahula, ask yourself: Is what I intend to do here skillful or unskillful? Will it lead to well-being or harm?If it looks harmful, don't do it. If it looks okay, go ahead and give it a try. While doing it, though, ask the same questions. If it turns out that it's causing harm, stop. If not, continue with it. Then after you've done it, ask the same questions—Did it bring about well-being or harm? If you see that what originally looked okay actually ended up being harmful, talk it over with someone else on the path and resolve never to make that mistake again. But if, as the Buddha put it, "on reflection [of a bodily, verbal, or mental action], you know that it did not lead to affliction...it was a skillful action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed and joyful, training day and night in skillful mental qualities." (form an article by: Mary Talbot)
What I have learned from Buddhism and the teachings of Jesus is not to look at these children as mine, they are not my possessions but rather they are the children that live in the same house as I. They have been put in my care for a very short time. In that time it is my responsibility to give them what they need to go into the world, find happiness and peace. I can only give them the tools I can't force it upon them, I can only help them along their "own path" and their path will not be exactly the same as my path because I'm teaching them to think for themselves. My daughter studies the teaching of Buddha and meditates with me, she also loves going to Church and the teachings of Jesus. My oldest son studies only Buddhism but is also coming to a deeper understanding of the true teachings of Jesus as he hears me talking with my daughter. My youngest son has found a profound truth in catching bugs, watching them and turning them lose. And I forbid them not to go.
Trying to prepare our children for a world that we know nothing about is an impossible task. I often think of this quote by Osho."You have to be grateful to existence that it has chosen you to be a passage for a few beautiful children. But you are not to interfere in their growth, in their potential. You are not to impose yourself upon them. They are not going to live in the same times, they are not going to face the same problems. They will be part of another world. Don´t prepare them for this world, this society, this time, because then you will be creating troubles for them. They will find themselves unfit, unqualified."
I am grateful to existence for the opportunity to share my life with these three beautiful children and I am grateful to be a part of so many other children's lives because of my work. To me the celebration of Fathers Day is a celebration of children. Its easy to cling to our children. It's hard to let go. For them to find their own path we must let go, as with everything we must let go. For their peac and for our own.
May all children find true happiness and peace in this life time. May they become teachers of unity and unconditional love to a world torn apart by the delusions of division. May they be the candles that light the way for many. May we each find the courage to let them go and the strength to always be here when they need us.
Happy Fathers Day
Saturday, June 11, 2011
When I was growing up in Southern CA, my dad would always go to a little Italian store called Carniello's Market. I remember that store, the squiky screen door, the smells of fresh bread, Italian sasuage and cheese, the old wood floor and the hollow sound it made as you walked across it, the counter top so tall that I could hardly reach to top, the very big cash register but most of all I remember Mr.Carniello. He was an older gentleman who spoke broken English which for me was sometimes hard to understand but every time I visited the store Mr. Carniello would asked me, have you been a good boy, are you minding your mama and papa, are you being good to your vicino's (neighbors). I would always answer yes, I'm trying, he would smile real big, rub my head and give me a piece of candy and I would thank him.
Mr. Carniello pasted away when I was 8 or 9 and I remember how empty the store felt without him there. His sons took over and they left a bowl of candy on the counter for the kids of the neighborhood that would still come in. I remember standing in front of that bowl of candy looking up at it and asking myself, have I been a good boy, am I minding my mom and dad, am I being good to my neighbor's, and if I could answer yes I would take a piece of candy.
Today I am 51 and I often think of Mr. Carniello and those three questions. But the hole point to this is, He gave me candy. Such a seemingly little thing but for almost a half century after his passing, I still think of him often. I wonder if he knew the impact he would have on the lives he touched or if he just loved everyone for the sake of love.
For most of us its hard to imagine that a warm smile, a pat on the head, a piece of candy and three simple questions could have such an impact on a life but it did mine. Even in the darkest part of my life I would think back and hear those words. They would take me back to a more innocent time in my life were I was field with peace and happiness. It took a while for me climb out of the pit I had dug for myself, to realize I didn't have to suffer or cause pain. I just had to answer three questions. Am I being a good man, Am I taking care of my mom and dad, Am I doing good for my neighbors. When I could answer yes to all, I found the peace and happiness that I had lost so many year before.
It doesn't take much to touch a life as long as it comes from your heart. A warm smile, a little conversation, a pat on the head and maybe a piece of candy here and there. It wont fix all the worlds problems, but it will change lives, it changed mine. And who among us isn't capable of such a simple act?
"Have you been a good boy? Are you minding your mama and papa? Are you being good to your vicino's?"
Yes Mr. Carniello, I'm still trying. Thank you.
Blessings to all
Monday, May 2, 2011
I hesitate to post this as I am sure that many will find it to be offensive because they misunderstand what I am trying to say . But here it goes anyway.
9/11/2001 is a day that none of us will ever forget. I remember exactly where I was standing and what I was doing in that moment I heard what was happening to our country. My heart ached for those that lost their lives that day and still today I pray for those who suffered the lose of family and friends on that horrific day. It seems that from that moment everyday has been filed with scenes of death. From New York to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya. The scenes of destruction and death envelope the news and are engraved upon my mind.
Yesterday the news that so many had been waiting for (me included) finally came. Osama Bin Laden was dead. On the news it showed America in celebration, basking in revenge and ecstatic over our victory. The tears that came to my eyes wasn't for a man that caused so much suffering, it was for a man that will never know true peace, it was for our country believing that somehow we had won a victory and for a world that even in this day and age hasn't figured out how to live together in peace. It was for the thousands that have died because of this war. Sir Chinmoy wrote "The body's victory Is often The soul's tremendous loss. The soul's victory Is always The body's amazing progress". I fear that while today we celebrate victory tomorrow we will grieve in defeat because Victory and defeat are interwoven and cannot be separated. We have to learn to go beyond them. Sir Chinmoy also wrote "The victory of human love is confusing. The victory of divine love is illumining. The victory of supreme love is fulfilling. It is this supreme love that leads us from hate and war to compassion and love, it is this supreme love that leads us to grieve the death of our enemy not because they were our enemy but because we failed to make them our brothers.
William Shakespeare wrote "This miserable age. What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly, Erroneous, mutinous, and unnatural, This deadly quarrel daily doth beget ! There is no sure foundation set on blood, No certain life achieved by other's death". When I heard the news of Osama's death I thought of the movie where the sorcerer cut of the dragons head and the dragon grew 7 more and another movie where the young sorcerer made friends with the dragon and together they defeated evil. If only it were so easy.
I know that some men cannot be reasoned with and some men are motivated by things we cannot begin to understand. And I know that their death may result in the safety of many and that by their own actions and our lack of understanding we can somehow justify killing them. I also know there can be no true victory when it come at the price of war nor at taking another's life.
May peace find its way into the hearts of all sentient beings.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Frustration arises when we feel that we are not making progress. We try to measure the unmeasurable. Left unchecked or allowed to grow this frustration can lead us to abanden our practice. And just become another one of the flock. we may think by giving up there would be no more ties to the force that drive us to seek for truth. But this force is something deep inside us that will not just be turned off, so stay the path and leave your yardstick behind, for our path is not to anything but rather away from. We are not going anywhere there is no destination and no matter how far we travel we can only be right here where we are.
Holding a flashlight out in front of us in the dark may shine a light on the near future but no matter how fast we walk we will never be where that light shines. We travel in this moment, we breath in this moment, it is impossible to live outside of this moment. So let go of frustration, judgement and thoughts of achievement. In this moment there is no progress to be made.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
So how do we escape this condition, this suffering. We must first learn how to journey into now.Today it seems "at least to me" that many, especially our youth, have lost faith in our ancient storybook versions of the world. Science, with all its new discoveries, has many of us looking at the universe as a strange, vast, complex, impersonal, and a meaningless realm of mind and matter.
So how do we deal with this loss of faith? We go to extremes, some of us will blind ourselves to our situation and attempt to escape via drugs or alcohol or our jobs or one of the innumerable belief systems out there. Or we face the prospect that we are intelligent beings living in a meaningless world. How many times have you thought, if I only had this or if I had a different job, or if I can change this and get rid of that, then I would be happy. We are always looking for happiness, somewhere out there.
As a Chinese philosopher put it. "We move through the world in a narrow groove, preoccupied with the petty things we see and hear, brooding over our prejudices, passing by the joys of our life without even knowing that we have missed anything". Never for a moment do we taste the heady wine of freedom. We are as truly imprisoned as if we lay at the bottom of a dungeon, heaped with chains. What would it take for us to be free, to move beyond this ignorance, discontent and confusion, chained hopelessly to uncertainty and fear?
We have to journey into now. We have to comprehend Reality as a whole, not based on any concept of belief, it's perception itself. Its seeing before signs appear, before ideas sprout, before falling into thought. Its called awakening or enlightenment, and its nothing more than just seeing things and accepting them as they are rather than the way we wish are believe them to be.
In April of 2006 I was sitting outside playing with our children. Around 6 pm my wife called us in to eat. Off to the west I noticed some nasty looking storm clouds so I turned on the weather, and as soon as I did I heard you still have time to take cover. No sooner did I get us all to a safe place and covered with a mattress it hit. An F4 tornado. It was over in a flash although at the time it seemed that it would never end. Just like that, everything changed. The little town we lived in was virtually gone, and the house that we had just rented a month earlier destroyed. Our supper was still sitting on the table never to eaten. We where homeless. Everyone we knew would console us, saying what a terrible thing.It wasn't long before we found a nice house (I mean real nice) to rent for dirt cheep. And everyone said wow that's fantastic. Then we found out that I was going to be off work for 6 month while they rebuilt the factory that I worked at. (Which was also hit by the tornado) everyone again consoled us saying "that's terrible what will you ever do. Then the company that I worked for called us and said that their insurance was going to continue to pay us a 40 hour check until the factory reopened. Then everyone said man that's great. Since I was off for 6 months my son, from a previous marriage came to live with us for the summer.
Shortly after that the man that owned the house that we were renting, came and said we would have to move, because he had sold the house. Everyone said what will you ever do. There was a house that we had been looking at, an old farm house built around 1886 that had been for sale for a very long time, it was beautiful. So we contacted the woman that owned it to see if she would be interested in renting to us. She said no why don't you buy it. Well we had no chance of getting a loan at that time and we explained our situation to her. Two days later she called and offered to carry the note. So we bought we bought our first home. And everyone said wow that's great.To make an already long story short. Today we are the founders of the Zen Sukoyaka Youth Academy and the Empty Mind Zen Center for holistic Zen Buddhist studies. Oh and my son that came to live with us for the summer, is still with us. So who knows whats good or bad. Good or bad is never our choice, or even really the issue.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
“Learn from your teachers for as long as they do not contradict what you have already learned. But when they begin contradicting what you know to be true, thank them for their teaching then seek others. If they insist that they are somehow authorities, invite them to go with you.”
I think Master Rinzai said it best: “There are Zen students who are in chains and they go to a teacher who simply adds more chains. Unable to discern one chain from another they are delighted!”
(From talks given at the Open Gate Zendo)
It is important: not think that we have to always do something about the sensations we feel. Not to think that we have to give them names and plan immediate action. Instead, to look at sorrow "without the word," to look at hunger "without the word," to feel what we feel without forcing connections with the past or projecting future consequences.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I will seek for the pearl in the oyster shell
I will accept life like an oyster, where there are bound to be rough edges, sharp points and jagged moments, although temporary compared to the beauty evolving within.
I want the pearl in the oyster shell.
The enjoyment of relationships with others, sharing wisdom and knowledge with those who would take time to listen, sharing Tea Ceremony, appreciating my wife's flower arrangements, watering the flower bed and tending my garden, Practicing calligraphy and Japanese.
I continue to find the treasure hidden in the oyster shell
I will not step up on a soap box, lecture your ear off, or desire to be the center of attention.
I will not need a plaque with my name engraved on it, nor do I care if my name is honorably mentioned,
all I will gain will be the pearl in the oyster.
We have to stop seeing ourselves as trapped inside a limited body that has two arms and two legs and which our ability can be plotted on a chart. We have to come to the realization that our true nature lives, as a perfect unwritten number, everywhere across time and space.
Over coming our "self" is the first step after we will see space is nothing but illusion. When we over come space we will see all we have left is "Here". then we over come time and see that all we have left is "Now". And in the middle of here and now we find Liberation, Enlightenment, Heaven.
And then the real learning begins. Nothing is impossible to the enlightened mind. The enlightened mind understands Heaven is not a place or a time. Heaven is perfection, its being perfect. We touch heaven in the moment we touch perfection in our lives. This perfection isn't how well we do something or how many time we do it, its not movement without flaws. Any goal or number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfection is being here"
Many of us today feel that modern science needs a renewed commitment to human values. While the main purpose of science is to learn about reality, another of it's goals is to improve the quality of life. But without altruistic motivation, scientists cannot distinguish between beneficial technologies and the merely expedient. All we have to do is look at the environmental damage surrounding us today to see the result of this confusion, but proper motivation may be even more relevant in governing how we handle the extraordinary new array of biological techniques with which we can now manipulate the subtle structure of life itself. If we do not base our every action on an ethical foundation, we run the risk of inflicting terrible harm on the delicate matrix of life. Which we can see this harm has already begun.
The regilions of the world are not exempt from this responsibility, as the purpose of religion is not to build beautiful churches and temples, (or at least it shouldn't be) but it is to cultivate positive human qualities such as tolerance, generosity, and love. Every world religion, no matter what its philosophical view, is founded first and foremost on the precept that we must reduce our selfishness and serve others. Unfortunately, sometimes religion itself causes more quarrels than it solves. Practitioners of different faiths should realize that each religious tradition has immense intrinsic value and the means for providing mental and spiritual health.
One religion, like a single type of food, cannot satisfy everybody. According to their varying mantal dispositions, some people benefit from one kind of teaching, others from another. Each faith has the ability to produce fine, warmhearted people; and despite their esposal of often-contradictory philosophies, all religions have succeeded in doing so. Thus, there is no reason to engage in divisive religious bigotry and intolerance, and every reason to cherish and respect all forms of spiritual practice. Often I am asked how I feel about other religions, as a Buddhist I cherish all religions that promote peace and love.
Today we find ourselves in the most painful period in human history. A time when, because of vast increase in the destructive power of weapons, more people have suffered from and died by violence than ever before. Furthermore, we have also witnessed an almost terminal competition between fundamental ideologies that have always torn the human community: force and raw power on the one hand; and freedom, pluralism, individual rights, and democracy on the other.
I believe that the result of this great competition are now clear. Although the good human spirit of peace, freedom, and democracy still faces many forms of tyranny and evil, it is nevertheless an unmistakable fact that the vast majority of people everywhere want it to triumph. Thus, the tragedies of our time have not been entirely without benefit and have in many cases been the very means by which the human mind has been opened. The collapse of Communism is just one thing that demonstrates this.
If there is ever to be peace in the world I believe that we have to allow religion to achieve its ultimate goal. I believe religions ultimate goal is to do away with religion. Many believe that world peace will never be realized. However I prefer to believe what is said at 2Peter 3:13 " There are new heavens and a new earth that are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell. Also at Rev 21:4 He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore, the former things have passed away. And Buddha said that the world in a result of what we have thought and done, therefore if we are not happy with the way the world is we have the ability to change it with our own minds and actions.
Ther is no better time than now to start living in peace. We can start here, at our churches and temples. We can start in our communities by putting aside what we think is our differences and love one another. As it is said in John 13:35 "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves. And Buddha said "Of all the ways you can think of, none has a sixteenth part of the value of loving kindness. Loving kindness is a freedom of the heart which takes in all the ways. It is luminous, shing, blazing forth. Such love reaches across racial, social, and national boundries, drawing people together in genuine brotherhood.
Everything we do matters, even the smallest thought. Lets make this a new year of hope and peace, make all we do count.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I have not heard of a single Buddha, past or present, who has been enlightened by sacred prayers and scriptures.
~Bassui, The Wisdom of the Zen Masters~
And the Buddha said "Cut off five" (The lower five fretters of self delusion, doubt, attachment to rites and ceremonies, sensuality, and ill will)
The landscape of our lives paints us as individuals,
Each of us shaped by the rain, wind and sun of our life's path.
If you stand back and look you will see,
Each landscape gently blend into the next
With no definitive lines between Mountain and Desert.
Through the quite morning mist of our meditation, We will see the Rivers that cut through the landscapes of our lives.
The Rivers that teach us the Dharma.