Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Note - New Talk

There is a new talk, Mindfulness, Metta, Mystery by Rev. Myo Denis Lahey, posted in our Audio Section.

Although I have put this talk under the "Thursday Talks" heading it was in fact used as the talk for the Newport Soto Zen group's monthly Retreat Day last Friday.

The talk was originally given at the Spirit Rock Meditation Centre in Woodacre, west Marin, California.

Friday, 25 November 2011

NEW MOON - Friday 25th November 2011

Strength of patience
is the might of noble beings;
they can be shackled,
endure verbal abuse and beatings,
without resorting to anger.

Dhammapada v. 399

The force of self-righteousness within us needs taming. The more
clever we are, the more careful we need to be. The more eloquent our
speech, the more restraint is required. It is only when we know we can
say no to ourselves - when we know we don't have to always be the
winner - that we can appreciate the transformative power of patient

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Also, on the same theme, this from the Samyutta Nikāya, I, 162

Knowing that the other person is angry,
The one who remains just aware and calm
acts in and for his own best interest,
and for the others' interest, too!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Buddhism and Dreams; A Poem That I Like

The Dream Called Life
Pedro Calderon de la Barca

A dream it was in which I found myself.
And you that hail me now, then hailed me king,
In a brave palace that was all my own,
Within, and all without it, mine; until,
Drunk with excess of majesty and pride,
Methought I towered so big and swelled so wide
That of myself I burst the glittering bubble
Which my ambition had about me blown,
And all again was darkness. Such a dream
As this, in which I may be walking now,
Dispensing solemn justice to you shadows,
Who make believe to listen; but anon
Kings, princes, captains, warriors, plume and steel,
Aye, even with all your airy theatre,
May flit into the air you seem to rend
With acclamations, leaving me to wake
In the dark tower; or dreaming that I wake
From this that waking is; or this and that,
Both waking and both dreaming; such a doubt
Confounds and clouds our moral life about.
But whether wake or dreaming, this I know,
How dreamwise human glories come and go;
Whose momentary tenure not to break,
Walking as one who knows he soon may wake,
So fairly carry the full cup, so well
Disordered insolence and passion quell,
That there be nothing after to upbraid
Dreamer or doer in the part he played;
Whether tomorrow's dawn shall break the spell,
Or the last trumpet of the Eternal Day,
When dreaming, with the night, shall pass away.

The fundamental aim of Buddhism is an untangling of our fundamental self image from the many influences it is usually enmeshed in. Part of this is the illusory view we have of the world. Buddhism does not see the world itself as an illusion, but the emotions and concepts we hold which provoke our responses to the world are seen as the illusion. Therefore dreams are not thought of as being illusions, but depict the illusions of our everyday experience of life. The very nature of dreams are expressive of the complicated realm of fears, longings and mental concepts we are deeply enmeshed in. Nightmares especially show how deeply involved our waking self is with the internal world of passionate feelings and imagery.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Buddhism and the Evolution Petition

There is currently an e-petition on the direct.gov website which calls for "the Government to make the teaching of evolution mandatory in all publicly-funded schools, at both primary and secondary level."

As a Buddhist, I totally support this motion. The Buddha's teaching was that absolutely everything is impermanent and thus is in a constant process of changing or evolving.

"When Charles Darwin outlined his theory of evolution through natural selection 150 years ago, virtually everyone — scientists and preachers alike — believed that species were fixed and immutable. What would the Buddha have said about the fact that species do in fact change and evolve over time? He’d have said, “Of course. All conditioned things are subject to change.” There simply is no problem in Buddhism with accepting that species evolve." Wildmind.org

Sign this petition

The petition reads....
Teach evolution, not creationism

Responsible department: Department for Education

Creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories, but they are portrayed as scientific theories by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly-funded schools. At the same time, an understanding of evolution is central to understanding all aspects of biology. Currently, the study of evolution does not feature explicitly in the National Curriculum until year 10 (ages 14-15). Free Schools and Academies are not obliged to teach the National Curriculum and so are under no obligation to teach about evolution at all. We petition the Government to make clear that creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories and to prevent them from being taught as such in publicly-funded schools, including in ‘faith’ schools, religious Academies and religious Free Schools. At the same time, we want the Government to make the teaching of evolution mandatory in all publicly-funded schools, at both primary and secondary level.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

7 Billion and Reincarnation

We have posted numberous items on population growth and the consequent perils of over-population. However, there is also the perceived "problem" for Buddhists of how can reincarnation work if there are constantly "new" people being born? Ed Halliwell addressed this problem in a recent article for the Guardian.................

There are now 7 billion people on earth, a billion more than 12 years ago, and 6 billion more than two centuries ago. How does this fact fit with the Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation?

The idea of reincarnation is commonly thought of as "one-out-one-in"– you die and then you get reborn somewhere else. That's not at all how it's perceived in Buddhism: one of the hallmarks of the Buddhist teaching is a refutation that there's any permanent self or soul that could endure from lifetime to lifetime.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

St Paul's and Occupy Wall Street

With all the controversy over the protesters outside St. Paul's it's important to realise that these demonstrations are going on around the world. Here is a Buddhist commentary on the main rally in America, "Occupy Wall Street" from the Shambhala Sun blog.

Remaining Human: A Buddhist Perspective on Occupy Wall Street

by Buddhist teacher, Michael Stone

A man stands on a bench in Zuccotti Park on Wall Street and chants a phrase from a meeting last night: “We don’t want a higher standard of living, we want a better standard of living.” He’s wearing a crisp navy blue suit and typing tweets into his iPhone. Next to him, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, wearing a red t-shirt, is surrounded by at least a hundred people as he makes his way onto a makeshift platform. Since the protesters aren’t allowed to use megaphones or amplifiers, they have to listen carefully to the speaker’s every sentence, after which the speaker pauses, and those close enough to have heard repeat the sentence in unison for those farther away. When Naomi Klein spoke three nights ago, some sentences were repeated four or five times as they echoed through Liberty Park and down Wall Street, passed along like something to be celebrated and shared, something newborn.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Note: Latest Audio Talk

Our latest audio talk to be shared with the Newport Soto Zen group is "Understanding Sankhara" by Tempel Smith.

Tempel Smith teaches Mindfulness, Insight and Metta meditation with an emphasis on Buddhist psychology and mind-body awareness. He spent a year as a monk in Burma with Sayadaw U Pandita and Pa Auk Sayadaw, and he has completed the four year teacher-training program run by Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society.