How many times have you heard a conversation about something bad happening to someone and one of the people talking will say……”it’s Karma”. Next to the misconception that Buddha taught Reincarnation this has to be the most misunderstood teachings in Buddhism. For years I tried to understand Karma as it is generally taught and I … Continue reading Karma, maybe it doesn’t mean what we thought it did….?
"Abstain from all unwholesome deeds, perform wholesome ones, purify your mind" This is the teaching of enlightened persons. The Buddha Everyone is familiar with the 1956 Charlton Heston movie the Ten Commandments. Moses, played by Heston, is given the 10 commandments written by God in the stone tablets on Mt. Sinai. In Buddhism the Buddha … Continue reading Whats a Precept???? (Buddhist Precepts)
When starting our investigation into the Buddha Dhamma (the Buddha’s teaching, Universal Law, Dharma in Sanskrit) we have to cut through all of the cultural and indigenous baggage that it has acquired as it has traveled though Asia and beyond. So as I mentioned in my last blog we need to first get to the … Continue reading The Buddhist unit of measure…..
I have mentioned the Ti-lakkhana or the “Three marks of existence” in a past blogs on impermanence (Anicca in Pali) and Suffering or un-satisfactoriness (Dukkha in Pali). The last of the three is probably one of the most important, and one of the hardest to get your mind around, of the Buddha’s teachings. Not-self (Anatta … Continue reading Anatta (Not-Self), If it isn’t me than who is it????
In 1974 Cat Stevens released an album titled “The Buddha and the Chocolate Box”. The story behind the title was that as he was getting on a plane some fans gave him a couple of presents. One of the presents was a Buddha statue and the other was a box of chocolate. While sitting on … Continue reading The Swastika and the chocolate box…(Anicca/Impermanence)
When I was practicing Zazen at Chou-ji (ji is temple in Japanese) in Sapporo Japan many years ago I was surprised at the difficulty of just simply sitting, focusing, and quieting my mind. When you sit Zazen you suddenly realize how much internal dialog we have going on in our minds throughout the day. You … Continue reading The Monkey in the moment….
Most people that have any interest in Buddhism have come across the Zen story about the finger pointing at the moon. If you are into martial arts movies you would have heard this story at the beginning of “Enter the Dragon” when Bruce lee recounts it. This story originated in the Surangama sutra, an important … Continue reading Don’t point that finger at me!….
One thing for certain when people begin their interest in Buddhism their mind is full of all manner of misconceptions about what Buddhism is and what it teaches. This is natural and there isn’t anything wrong with it. We all enter into this thing called Buddhism with our own life experiences, which are unique to … Continue reading Your Evil Ways….
The “Ten Paramita’s” play a big part in Buddhist practice. One of the ten is Dana (generosity) or giving freely. This can be giving alms to the monks, monetary support of the monastics, giving of the teachings of the Dhamma, or charitable giving. The point behind Dana is that it is supposed to be where … Continue reading The dark side of Charity….
Morality is a funny thing. What is right for one person is wrong for another. What is wrong for one can be perfectly acceptable by another. This especially comes into play when you move from culture to culture. In one culture it can be perfectly acceptable for a man to have multiple wives, for example, … Continue reading Morality, Why is it such a difficult word to define?….
This is a popular Thai song called "Or Jao Oei" (Oh my dear in English) played by my beautiful and talented wife Malida McPherson on the traditional Thai instrument called a "Kim" (similar to a hammered dulcimer). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWfMd8o5z6k&feature=youtu.be
I have been a musician for some 40 odd years now. I have always had a love for music so if I am not playing it I am usually listening to it. I have always been amazed by how if you are listening to the music that happens to match your mood that it can … Continue reading Death and the day the music died….
For a number of years I had sort of a love/hate relationship with the Zen tradition. At times the Zen teachings seemed whimsical, humorous, direct and to the point. At other times they seemed so vague and frustrating that I sometimes felt that some of the various Zen teachers were just making stuff up just … Continue reading Jiriki or Tariki, who’s really in charge? Part III….
Most early forms of Buddhism were in the category of Jiriki. The earliest forms in a catagory called the Hinayana focused entirely on reaching enlightenment for the ”individual” by only the efforts of that same “individual”. There was no external force or power. The Buddha’s first disciples such as Ananda, Sariputra or Mahakasyapa understood that … Continue reading Jiriki or Tariki, who’s really in charge? Part II….
First of all I have to apologize for not actively posting over the past few weeks. All I can say is sometimes life gets in the way. If from time to time you do not see anything new I urge you to read some of my past postings. Often the concepts that they contain will … Continue reading Jiriki or Tariki, who’s really in charge? Part I….
One aspect of Buddhism that is little understood is the metaphysical or what may seem by some to be on the verge of magical. Although throughout my life I have for some reason always been drawn to this sort of thing I have always been fairly skeptical. None the less cases of knowing past lives, … Continue reading Is there something in the water?….
The last time you sat down and lit some incense or performed some other Buddhist ritual did you ask yourself why you are doing this? Have you ever asked yourself why? Most likely if you are from the west after you had your initial interest in Buddhism you visited a local temple (if your one … Continue reading Truth or Consequences….
When you hear the term suffering what do you think of? The first thing that comes to my mind is some sort of physical pain. People suffer when they don’t have enough to eat, are physically beaten, tortured, or have some severe or terminal illness. These things all have a relationship to the physical body … Continue reading Suffering or not Suffering, that is the question?….
If you are old (and that is pretty old) enough to remember playing your favorite song on a record player you can surly relate to this happening. For those of you that don’t know, back then you could buy just your favorite song, which was on a 45 rpm (revolutions per minute) record, and it … Continue reading Mindfulness, A 45 on 33 1/3…
One of the few places that I actually practiced Buddhism in a formal setting was at the Soto Zen temple Chuo-ji in Sapporo, Japan. Before this I had heard about Zen but had no idea that there were different flavors of Zen or what the differences were. Being relatively new to Buddhist practice the simplicity … Continue reading The Zen of Master Bassui
If you read my previous post “Karma, maybe it doesn't mean what we thought it did” you know my view of Karma differs somewhat from the way Karma is traditionally taught. This is not just based on an opinion that I created myself but one that I developed by correlating the Buddha’s core teachings of … Continue reading Milo, Money, and Cat Karma
“Each deity is possessed of the Three Mysteries (as innumerable as) the dust motes of (countless) lands, and they mutually empower each other and encompass one another. The three mysteries of sentient beings are also like this. Therefore, it is called empowerment by the three mysteries. If a Mantra practitioner should examine the meaning of … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part VIII
I have noticed that some readers are reading one part of this series or another. While of course you are free to do what you like I would suggest that you will get more out of this series if you read them from start to finish as references are made back to earlier posts. Also … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part VII, Visualization
In the past few posts in this series we have looked at many symbols (signs). The diversity of these symbols is vast but the purpose of all these visual systems is to convey truths beyond language. This is to help prevent misconceptions or false understandings like terms, “self”, “universe” “empty” and false notions of duality … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part VI, The Mantra
“In Buddhism, knowledge in any form is subservient to transcendental wisdom. Values, which arise from knowledge, are similarly subservient to wisdom. If we could overcome the tendency to confer fixed values upon things the separateness between them would disappear. We could begin to regard things as they actually are.” Nagaboshi Tomio, The Bodhisattva warriors … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part V,The Mandala
The historical Buddha was a man, the Prince Siddhartha, Shakyamuni, Gautama. The Buddha Maha Vairocana (Dainichi in Japanese) represents both the historical Buddha’s Enlightenment and the universe that it contains. The Great Six Elements represents not only us but all phenomena in the whole universe. It represents how through interdependence (Dependent Origination) all phenomena through … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part IV, Maha Vairocana
A central part of Buddhism that is often over looked is the symbolism. If you thought the Free Masons used a lot of symbolism they are certainly rivaled by the Buddhist. Before the Buddha died he expressed his wishes that his followers did not make images of him. So the first Buddhist tried to honor … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part III, The Symbols
“The Mahayana schools that acknowledge a distinctive mental relationship to body senses also described it in other terms, differentiating between mental activity that receives and organizes sense impressions (the Mano) and that which is cognized (the Manas)- in other words” the mind which “spoke” to the body and the mind which spoke to itself. The … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….Part II, The “self”
Early on my Buddhist path I came across the teaching of Anatta (Not-self). I have to say that I didn’t (or couldn’t) understand the concept at all at first. If there was one thing I was sure of it was “me”! 🙂 If the Buddha was teaching that I didn’t really exist then who or … Continue reading Buddhism, Its Elemental my dear Watson….