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Q: How do we retain passion in life and still follow the teaching that we should accept all of life with equanimity?

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Friday
Dec012006

Profile: Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship

UU Buddhists, who combine Unitarian Universalism and Buddhism, “may be the largest convert Buddhist grouping in the country right now,” says James Ford, a Zen priest and Unitarian Universalist minister. As senior minister of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts, and a leading teacher at Boundless Way Zen, a regional consortium of Zen groups, Ford exemplifies the not-one, not-two spirit of UU Buddhism. Buddhism can offer Unitarian Universalists profound contemplative experience, and Unitarian Universalism can offer American Buddhists a traditional American-style congregation.

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Friday
Sep012006

The Phenomenal Universe of the Flower Ornament Sutra

Chinese Huayan Buddhism is considered by many Buddhist scholars to be one of the highpoints of Mahayana thought, even of world philosophy.

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Friday
Sep012006

Caught in Indra’s Net

I once attended a memorial service for an old grandmother in Mishima, Japan. She had been a Zen student, and members of her family had connections with Shingon and Nichiren sects as well. A priest from each of these three denominations took part in the service, and they joined in reciting the Heart Sutra together.

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Friday
Sep012006

Crucial Instructions

Son, there are four instructions for using things as the path.

As it is said in the Six Prerequisites for Concentration:

    On account of material possessions one suffers.
    To own nothing is supreme bliss.
    By abandoning all its food,
    The pelican becomes ever happier.

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Friday
Sep012006

Degrees of Seeing

Meditation is the way of letting go. First you let go of all perceptions of time to enter the timeless present moment. Then you let go of inner speech to rest peacefully in silent awareness. Next, you let go of most of your five senses’ activity, just keeping awareness of your breath. Then you let go of your breath and watch it disappear.

At this stage, you can no longer see, hear, smell, taste, or feel touch. It appears that your body has vanished, and in its place you are mindful of a beautiful light, the nimitta. The nimitta is a reflection of the citta (the mind), seen through the sixth sense. Then you let go of all controlling to merge into the light and enter the bliss of the jhana world. Thus, jhanas are what happen automatically when you really let go; they are described as the deep stages of letting go. The Buddha clearly and repeatedly stated that full enlightenment could not be attained without the experience of a jhana. Yet today, some teachers claim that such a degree of letting go is unnecessary. They often cite the Buddha’s well-known brief teaching to Bahiya, as recorded in the Udana (Ud 1.10).

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Friday
Sep012006

Forum: Practicing the Great Perfection

Introduction by Barry Boyce

Sometimes the Buddhadharma forum asks people from different traditions to discuss a common Buddhist principle, like karma or the kleshas, or to explore issues that challenge the Buddhist community as a whole, such as how we can extend a helping hand to the world. At other times, we take a fly-on-the-wall approach, and listen in as members of one particular tradition discuss the nature of their path and practice. In this forum, we’ve brought together several noted practitioners of the Vajrayana tradition of Dzogchen to discuss this profound path of simplicity, which seems both utterly accessible and inaccessible all at once.

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Friday
Sep012006

In Translation: Nothing to be Discarded or Kept

Mirror to Reflect the Most Essential: The Final Instruction on the Ultimate Meaning

By Longchen Rabjam

Single embodiment of compassionate power and activities
Of infinite mandalas of all-encompassing conquerors,
Glorious guru, supreme lord of a hundred families,
Forever I pay homage at your feet.

Ema! Listen here, you fortunate yogis.

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Friday
Sep012006

Pointing Beyond Words

Introduction by Gary Gach

Glancing at these pages, you might get the impression that someone picked up a brush without knowing whether to write a poem or draw a drawing. A perpetual freshness permeates the atmosphere.

Hand in hand with such immediacy and spontaneity, you can freely glide through these poems like a fish unaware of the water—and suddenly be surprised by the taste of the entire ocean in just one drop: That shock of recognition. Words can point beyond words. To silence (which makes words possible). To the whole cosmos. To the luminosity of being. To the heart within the heart.

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Friday
Sep012006

Buddhism and the American Character

By Bodhin Kjolhede

The American tradition is to use all traditions freely, and for several decades now American Buddhists have been doing just that. Here on American soil, we’re cultivating a mixture of dharma seeds sown by our various Asian forebears, and while the yield from this effort is only beginning to be seen, it surely embodies the native soil—us Americans—at least as much as the seeds. We might pause, then, to consider the American character as it relates to practice, focusing on those traits most likely to challenge us as practitioners.

Individual Self-Identity

The subject-object split is part of the human condition, but nowhere is the concept of a fixed, discrete self so entrenched—and so celebrated—as in this country. This obsession with “I,” “me,” and “my” creates a world of trouble in practice as we keep getting in our own way, tripping over all those opinions and preferences and comparisons with others that we count on to secure our selfhood.

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Friday
Sep012006

Ask the Teachers

Q: Buddhism stresses having compassion for others, trying to reach the “soft spot” in their hearts in order to communicate with them. However, recently, in my own life, I have come to realize that there are people who do not wish me well and, in fact, actively pursue harming me in some way. Devious and manipulative people do exist and being in their presence can feel truly toxic. In fact, I’ve experienced real physical symptoms of illness and weakness when I am in the presence of such people for too long a time. Is it ever permissible to stop trying to connect with this type of person and just remove oneself as much as possible from their negative influence?

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