Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Digital Addiction...


Much of American society has become completely connected, significantly distracted, largely self absorbed, and increasingly greedy.  With this it has also become increasingly unaware of as well as unconcerned with living each moment as it arises and dissolves. Thus Americans are, in very large numbers, not accessing the happiness and contentment that is always available to them. If they know how to access it through practices that lead to enlightenment and awakening. 

Below is a video and link to  the transcript of an interview focusing on part of  this rapidly growing problem. Current trends do not bode well for society. Unless a shift in national focus, beginning with its values and beliefs.

Does anyone see change happening? If so how and when? And in your view what will it take?

Americans are increasingly dependent on their digital devices, and while these provide undeniable benefits, some say their negative consequences must also be addressed. Correspondent Kim Lawton talks with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle, who says there must be times and places where conversations and human relationships are more important than technology. “Empathy is at stake,” she says, “and we need empathy to raise children who are able to be ethical and moral people.” Also interviewed are Tanya Schevitz of the Jewish cultural organization Reboot and the National Day of Unplugging, and Zen master Jane Dobisz, who leads device-free meditation retreats.

LINK - When the link opens click on READ TRANSCRIPT.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Does God Exist?

A very wonderful incident occurred in Gautama the Buddha's life. On a certain morning, he was sitting in a congregation of his disciples and one person came. He was a devotee of Rama. He has been doing only “Rama, Rama, Rama” all his life and he has not only been to the temple, he has built many temples himself. He was a great devotee. Age was passing away now and a little doubt came. “All my life I have been doing only 'Rama, Rama, Rama.' There are so many people here who do not believe in God and they are still enjoying themselves in the world. I have missed everything just to utter the name of God. Suppose there is no God as others are saying, I will miss my whole life.” He knows that there is God, but he had just a little doubt.

What is Gautama playing at? What is the game anyway? Is he just trying to create confusion?

Anyway, there is an enlightened being here, he is supposed to know.” He went to Gautama. Early morning, before the Sun came up, he stood in the shadows and asked, “Is there God?” Gautama looked at the man and said “No.” For the first time, he said a clear “No.” For all the disciples there, this was a struggle within them all the time – whether there is God or no God. This is a tremendous struggle, which has been on for thousands of years. Ever since man started existing on this planet, this struggle has been on within him. The struggle is on for both believers and non-believers. For the first time, Gautama said an emphatic “No” and there was a big sigh of relief. You do not have to struggle any more. There is no God. No one is snooping on you, you can do whatever you want with your life. The joy of it! There was a big relief.

In the evening, another man came. This man was a Charvaka. These are out and out materialists who do not believe in anything other than what they see. Those times in the country, there used to be professional Charvakas. They would come to your town and throw a challenge, “I will prove to you that there is no God. If you prove to me that there is God, I will give you so much money, but if I prove to you that there is no God, you must give me so much money.” This is their profession. He was an expert Charvaka. You may have been believing in God for fifty years, but if you speak to him for fifteen minutes, he will prove to you that there is no God. He has proven that there is no God to thousands of people. His age was passing away and a little doubt came. “Suppose there is God. After proving 'No God' for so long, when I go there, will he leave me alone? Already these believers say that God is very vengeful – will he leave me alone?” A little fear came. He knew that definitely there is no God but just a little doubt came.

He came to Gautama in the evening after the Sun had set, and standing in the shadows, he asked the same question, “Is there God?” Gautama looked at the man and said, “Yes.” There was turmoil in the disciples again. In the morning, they were very happy that there is no God. In the evening, he says that there is God. What is Gautama playing at? What is the game anyway? Is he just trying to create confusion? Now the whole game is to take off all the belief so that you really search. With belief you have only destroyed the search.


Human Potential...


Lies Reinforce Obscurations and Delusions...



Thursday, February 10, 2022

A Poem by Thich Nhat Hahn...


Armfuls of Poetry, Drops of Sunshine

Sunshine rides on space and poetry on sunshine.
Poetry gives birth to sunshine, and sunshine to poetry.

Sun treasured in the heart of the bitter melon,
poetry made of steam rising from a bowl of soup in Winter.
The wind is lurking outside, swirling.
Poetry is back to haunt the old hills and prairies.
Yet the poor thatched hut remains on the river shore, waiting.

Spring carries poetry in its drizzle.
The fire sparkles poetry in its orange flame.

Sunshine stored in the heart of the fragrant wood,
warm smoke leading poetry back to the pages
of an unofficial history book.
Sunshine, though absent from space,
fills the now rose-colored stove.

Sunshine reaching out takes the color of smoke;
poetry in its stillness, the color of the misty air.

Spring rain holds poetry in its drops
which bend down to kiss the soil,
so that the seeds may sprout.
Following the rain, poetry comes to dwell on each leaf.
Sunshine has a green color, and poetry a pink one.
Bees deliver warmth to the flowers from the sunshine
they carry on their wings.
On sunshine footsteps to the deep forest,
poetry drinks the nectar with joy.
With the excitement of celebration,
butterflies and bees crowd the Earth.
Sunshine makes up the dance, and poetry the song.

Drops of sweat fall on the hard ground.
Poems fly along the furrows.
The hoe handily on my shoulder,
poetry flows from the breath.
Sunshine wanes away down the river,
and the silhouette of the late afternoon lingers reluctantly.
Poetry is leaving for the horizon
where the King of Light is blanketing himself in clouds.

A green sun found in a basketful of fresh vegetables,
a tasty and well-cooked sun smells delicious in a bowl of rice.
Poetry looks with a child’s eyes.
Poetry feels with a weather-beaten face.
Poetry stays within each attentive look.
Poetry—the hands that work the poor and arid land somewhere
far away.

The smiling sun brightening up the sunflower;
the ripe and full sun hiding itself in an August peach;
poetry follows each meditative step,
poetry lines up the pages.

within closed food packages,
poetry nurtures love.

Click HERE for a dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hahn on this poem. It was given in May 2002 in Plum Village 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A Poem by Milarepa...


Upon this earth

Upon this earth, the land of the Victorious Ones,
Once lived a Saint, known as the second Buddha;
His fame was heard in all the Ten Directions.
To Him, the Jewel a’top the eternal Banner of Dharma
I pay homage and give offerings.
Is He not the holy Master, the great Midripa?

Upon the Lotus-seat of Midripa
My Father Guru places his reliance;
He drinks heavenly nectar
With the supreme view of Mahamudra;
He has realized the innate Truth in utter freedom.
He is the supreme one, Jetsun Marpa.
Undefiled by faults or vices,
He is the Transformation Body of Buddha.

He says: “Before Enlightenment,
All things in the outer world
Are deceptive and confusing;
Clinging to outer forms,
One is ever thus entangled.
After Enlightenment, one sees all things and objects
As but magic shadow-plays,
And all objective things
Become his helpful friends.
In the uncreated Dharmakaya all are pure;
Nothing has ever manifested
In the Realm of Ultimate Truth.”

He says: “Before Enlightenment,
The ever-running Mind-consciousness within
Is shut in a confusing blindness
Which is the source of passions, actions, and desires.
After Enlightenment, it becomes the
     Self-illuminating Wisdom —
All merits and virtues spring from it.
In Ultimate Truth there is not even Wisdom;
Here one enters the Realm where Dharma is exhausted.”

The coproreal form
Is built of the Four Elements;
Before one attains Enlightenment,
All illness and all suffering come from it.
After Enlightenment, it becomes the two-in-one Body
Of Buddha clear as the cloudless firmament!
Thus rooted out are the base Samsaric clingings.
In Absolute Truth there is no body.

The malignant male and femal demons
Who create myriad troubles and obstructions,
Seem real before one has Enlightenment;
But when one realizes their nature truly,
They become Protectors of the Dharma,
And by their help and freely-given assistance
One attains to numerous accomplishments.

In Ultimate Truth there are no Buddhas and no demons;
One enters here the Realm where Dharma is exhausted.
Among all Vehicles, this ultimate teaching
Is found only in the Tantras.
It says in the Highest Division of the Tantra:
“When the various elements gather in the Nadis,
One sees the demon-forms appear.
If one knows not that they are but mind-created
Visions, and deems them to be real,
One is indeed most foolish and most stupid.”

In time past, wrapped up in clinging blindness,
I lingered in the den of confusion,
Deeming benevolent deities and malignant
Demons to be real and subsistent.
Now, through the Holy One’s grace and blessing
I realize that both Samsara and Nirvana
Are neither existent nor non-existent;
And I see all forms as Mahamudra.

Realizing the groundless nature of ignorance,
My former awareness, clouded and unstable
Like reflections of the moon in rippling water,
Becomes transparent, clear as shining crystal.
Its sun-like brilliance is free from obscuring clouds,
Its light transcends all forms of blindness,
Ignorance and confusion thus vanish without trace.
This is the truth I have experienced within.

Again, the foolish concept “demons” iself
Is groundless, void, and yet illuminating!
Oh, this indeed is marvelous and wonderful!

– Milarepa

  •  Translated by Garma C. C. Chang

Buddhist Wheel of Life...


The Buddhist Wheel of Life

Buddhist Wheel of Life Paintings adorn monastery porches throughout the Himalayan region. We may also know the Sanskrit name, the Bhavacakra, or “Wheel of Existence”. In the Tibetan Vinaya or monastic rules, the Buddha instructs monks to paint the wheel on monastery gates. He also taught that a monk or nun should be available there to explain its meaning to visitors. Artists frequently depicted the core concepts of Buddhist teaching. Visual learning is not something new!

This colorful and graphic wheel of life image contains many important teachings. First, we contemplate the impermanence of existence, regardless of our current situation. Then, we remember that all classes of existence are equally fragile. Additionally, we reflect on the stress, pain, and suffering of worldly existence. And we contemplate how causes and conditions combine to trap us within unpleasant states.

We present an excerpt from Khenpo Gyaltsen’s A Lamp Illuminating the Path to Liberation: An Explanation of Essential Topics for Dharma Students. Here, Khenpo offers the following commentary:

The entirety of the six classes of sentient beings circle and wander within either the lower realms of affliction or the higher realms of comfort. The Wheel of Life is an illustration showing the reasons for this cycling or wandering. It is said that the Wheel of Life was initially made according to Buddha Śākyamuni’s instructions as a reciprocating gift given to the ancient Indian king of Rashasa from the king Bimbisara.

Khenpo Gyaltsen, A Lamp Illuminating the Path to Liberation
Buddhist Wheel of Life
King Bimbisara of Magadha welcomes the Buddha


In the center the images of a chicken, snake, and pig represent the three poisons that are the principle causes for the six realms of beings to wander endlessly in samsara. First, the chicken represents desire and attachment; second, the snake represents anger and aversion; and third, the pig represents delusion and ignorance. Both the chicken and snake are portrayed as emerging from the mouth of the pig. This signifies that the principle cause of desire and anger is ignorance itself.

Khenpo Gyaltsen, A Lamp Illuminating the Path to Liberation
Buddhist Wheel of Life
Close-up of central motif

The drawing of the black and white edges illustrates the virtuous ‘white’ karma and negative ‘black’ karma, distinguishing the pleasant and unpleasant realms of existence. Through the ripening of negative actions, one will certainly fall into the lower realms. Within the intermediate state, one will experience being led with your head slumped downwards, pulled by the ropes of the Lord of Death’s henchmen. However, through the power of merit, one is born in the higher realms. In that case, similar to when moonlight spreads over the night sky, or when the sun’s rays first touch the white snowy mountains, beings experience traversing along an ascending path, or experience a direct transcendence upwards, where there is no suffering or terror of the Lord of Death’s henchmen.

Khenpo Gyaltsen, A Lamp Illuminating the Path to Liberation

Yama Lord of Death holds the wheel


Then, in the middle of the wheel, artists paint six sections showing six possible existence situations.

The realms of gods, humans, and asuras (demigods) are the three higher realms. And the realms of hell, hungry-ghosts (pretas), and animals are the three lower realms. Each one is depicted between one of the six spokes of the wheel in order.

The principle teaching portrayed in the Wheel of Life is the suffering of the six classes of beings. For as long as our mother sentient beings do not attain liberation, they continue to transmigrate from life to life undergoing the sufferings of saṃsāra.

Khenpo Gyaltsen, A Lamp Illuminating the Path to Liberation

Finally, the outer rim of the wheel features twelve sections. These sections correspond to the twelve links of dependent origination. And if we visualize the wheel rolling, we can understand the causal process of entering into existence. Therefore artists depict the twelve causal links with memorable illustrations.

Here we list the most frequently featured scenes, although you may find other variations.

  1. Ignorance (Literally “not seeing”) – a blind person walking with a stick
  2. Formation or volitional activity – a potter shaping a pot
  3. Consciousness – a man or a monkey picking a fruit
  4. Name and form – two people seated in a boat
  5. Six senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind) – six windows in a house 
  6. Contact – a pair of lovers
  7. Feeling  – an arrow to the eye
  8. Thirst or craving – a drinker receiving a drink
  9. Grasping – a man or a monkey picking fruit
  10. Becoming – a couple engaged in sexual intercourse
  11. Birth – a woman giving birth
  12. Aging and death – a sick person and a corpse


We remember best when we apply these teachings to our own situations. Contemplate the wheel and the twelve links, and then spend some time in the next week reflecting on your personal experience. You may want to start by considering these questions:

  1. Not seeing, or ignorance, is at the heart of the wheel and at the beginning of the twelve links. Can you think of examples from your own life when your habit of “not seeing” caused suffering—for yourself or others?
  2. Can you describe how this situation unfolded and see how the twelve causal links may have been triggered?

The West's Version:

    Thursday, February 3, 2022

    Reflection, Contemplation, and Realization...


    Continued from yesterday.

    Youthful idealism was pushed aside for the generally accepted self-centered view. A view focused on personal self-interest, consumerism, and the grasping for as much stuff as one could acquire. Of course, this was welcomed, as well as driven by all the wealthy capitalists as their fortunes grew. And, this writer, along with most of America, continued to become more and more addicted to stuff. Whether or not the stuff was really needed for our happiness.

    It's often said that greed, and or ignorance, can be found at the bottom of most of society's and the planet's troubles. This is true. When one digs deep enough, after shedding attachments to special interest groups (including political and business), as well as the so-called individual self, we begin to develop a much deeper understanding. We start to realize that our collective actions, over many years, are directly responsible for the present plight we find our nation and the planet in. Thia includes the deteriorating social order in our own nation.

    Realizing that we all carry universal responsibility opens the door to the possibility of a brighter future. A future that must be about the collective good of all sentient beings, as well as treating Mother Earth with the love and reverence she deserves. Taking focus off the self, turning to concern for nature and the so-called others, are the neccessary steps that must be taken if the planet and humanity is to survive.

    Back to the beginning. Parental conditioning, academic conditioning, societal/cultural conditioning, conditioning by employers, conditioning by your government, are all partly responsible for conditioning you to think and act in ways your society/culture expect you to. Combined with the stories one tells themselves it's understandable the confusion and delusion running wild today. 

     Often, as this short article points out, it changes a person. Sometimes so much so they end up being far removed from the idealism of their young adult years. It happened to me. But thankfully the Dharma was working in me and through meditation and spiritual contemplation I found the way back. To the right path, the right view, the right intention, the right motivation, and the right actions. In other words, I rediscovered my innate nature. The Buddha Nature that has always been in me. Just as it is in everyone. Whether they know it or not. 

    Wednesday, February 2, 2022

    Reflection, Contemplation, and Realization...


    Today was day of contemplation. There have many, too many to remember actually. Probably a common thread in many, if not most folks' lives. Especially as they enter the final chapter of their blessed time here on Mother Earth.

    Today's meditation was spent reflecting back. Back over 50 years. To recall that time of youthful idealism. When possibilities seemed manifest, and the promise of a better tomorrow filled the air. WE of the baby boom generation were going to change the world.

    Those were the days! But life is a constant flow of energies, thoughts, and actions. Like the seasons, life is ever changing. Leaving us to navigate uncertain waters throughout the course our lives. Life has a way of changing us. Sometime in ways that, years later, causes a sense of loss.

    What exactly is meant by a sense of loss? In context of today's contemplation/reflection it means; a change in one's philosophy or beliefs so as to conform to that which is expected if one is to succeed. Or, put another way: responding to cultural conditioning in ways that please those with the power to positively affect one's security and wellbeing. Some have called it selling your soul to the devil.

    For this simple man, realizing the place he is at today is not the place he thought he would be in his idealistic twenties is unsettling. Western values that hold individualism, individual liberty, dualism, and distrust in the "other" are the diving energies that were working to slowly overpower the energies of my 1960's idealism.

    Continued tomorrow.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2022

    Saving Mother Earth...

    Our cosmic mother is dying a slow unnecessary death.
    for her and all sentint beings the tears flow.

    We are stewards of our cosmic home and the blessings she offers. 
    Yet, entrusted wih her care, we've chosen to be parasites.

    Our oceans are dumping grounds for waste galore,
    our forests ablaze in flames with global warming run rampant.

    Deforestation and desertification on the march towards famine,
    untold sufferig and death awaits, somewhere just around the coner.

    Busy with blind self interest, power, and greed,
    there seems to be no time to do the right things.

    Saving Mother Earth will be work, heavy sacrifices to be made,
    benefits of actions taken determined by effort applied.