May 23, 2016

Zen is said to be a method for overcoming the five hindrances: Sensation desire, hatred, sloth, anxiety, and doubt. These are described as the mental factors that hinder our progress, not only in the spiritual path but in daily life as well. That’s really what we’re training to do when we engage in zen practice. Sensation desire refers to the type of wanting that tries to get our desires fulfilled through the five senses. Hatred refers to all kinds of… Read more

May 2, 2016

I tell two different stories about how I discovered Buddhism. One of them is that I started meditating to relieve anxiety and came to Buddhism just from learning more about meditation. The other is that I learned about Buddhism when I took a class in college and something about it inspired me to become a Buddhist. I’ll tell them both here. If I’m honest, I have to tell you that I don’t remember which one is true. As a kid… Read more

April 18, 2016

The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama said he didn’t teach religion. Maybe he wasn’t trying to start a religion at all. He said he only taught suffering and the way out of suffering. You see, his childhood, as the story goes, was different from most. He was born in a very wealthy family. His father was told by a fortune teller that his son would either grow up to be a great king or a great spiritual teacher. His father wanted him… Read more

April 11, 2016

Zen Master Dogen called it, “The dropping away of body and mind.” It’s an experience in which suddenly all things stop. We drop our identity and just sit there BEING. The endless chatter in our minds stops and we experience what we really are, our true nature. They call it Kensho. It’s an experience of Enlightenment. It’s dwelling in our true nature, where the boundaries of self and other dissolve and we realize that we are one with everything. But… Read more

April 4, 2016

The Four Brahmaviharas, or Divine Abodes, are often translated as ‘the immeasurables’ or ‘the ‘immeasurable minds’. When these four qualities are cultivated they are said be a powerful antidote to negative mind states. These teachings are found in several different Buddhist texts, including the Metta Sutra. A very similar list is found in the non-Buddhist spiritual text “The Yoga Sutras” by Patanjali, which was written a few centuries after the rise of Buddhism. The Brahmaviharas represent a method for engaging… Read more

March 28, 2016

The most important teaching for walking the bodhisattva path is the six perfections. The six perfections free us from delusion and lead us to Awakening. This is, above all else, the path to awakening that I really connect with. If we practice the six perfections in our lives, then we can dwell in Enlightenment. This is, to me, the central point of Buddhism. The six paramitas (usually translated as perfections) are a teaching of Mahayana Buddhism. They are said to… Read more

March 23, 2016

I’ve noticed that some people seem to think that compassion should be conditional. They think that if someone got themselves in trouble, we shouldn’t feel compassion for them. Or, even worse, we shouldn’t be kind. I disagree with that position. I think compassion is the highest virtue and I strive to feel it toward everyone, regardless of circumstances. This is the Bodhisattva view. I’ll share some examples. I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t feel sorry for drug users who… Read more

March 20, 2016

Facebook just informed me that today, March 20th, is the first day of spring. I had no idea. I don’t really follow such things. I’m sure my pagan friends knew. Some of their practices involve celebrating the seasons. I’d like to make the case for Buddhists celebrating the seasons too. It doesn’t feel like Spring. The last few days I’ve had to fight the urge to turn on the heater. The kids and I have been sleeping under two blankets… Read more

March 14, 2016

  I’ve learned something important since I started leading the Zen group at the Rime Center. I’ve been reading about Zen philosophy and history for a long time. Studying this subject dominates my free time. I don’t know why, but I am one to get really excited about reading a Zen text, even reading the same ones over and over. And I spend a lot of time writing about Zen philosophy too. What I’ve learned though, in leading a Zen… Read more

March 7, 2016

The first time I heard someone refer to himself as a Bodhisattva I thought it was weird. Okay, I still think it’s weird. But I thought of it as inappropriate or wrong. I thought it was like a Christian referring to themselves as a Saint, or a pagan referring to themselves as a Goddess. When I thought of Bodhisattvas I thought of figures like Manjushri and Kuan Yin, cosmic sort of beings. Examples for us to follow, unrealistic ideals for… Read more

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