|16/12/2017 18:41 (GMT+7)|
One of the greatest Zen Masters of all time, who spoke powerfully to awaken without compromise, was Ch'an Master Lin-chi I-hsuan Hui-chao (Japanese, "Rinzai Gigen"). His recorded sayings, encounters and travels are preserved in the Lin-chi lu (Japanese, Rinzai-roku). The translation I'm using here is by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, working with a team of Japanese and American scholars, published in 1975 by the Institute for Zen Studies in Kyoto. It is a scholarly, rigorous work, yet preserves the color and vitality of the original language and dialogue.
|16/12/2017 15:26 (GMT+7)|
Bhutan, a remote Vajrayana Buddhist kingdom perched in the rarified air of the eastern Himalayas, is regularly ranked among the happiest countries in the world. With a population of fewer than 800,000 people, it is also one of the world’s smallest and least industrialized countries, yet it has significant experience in maintaining the delicate balance of managing economic growth in a sustainable manner, famously encapsulated in its conservative “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) approach to economic development.
|10/12/2017 17:55 (GMT+7)|
Over the past 48 years, conservator and consultant Ann Shaftel has posed a difficult question during interviews she had with many a great master, and with monks and nuns, thangka artists, and scholars: “Take a thangka that has been used in a monastery for many years and was featured in transmissions, empowerments, and has been blessed by many teachers. Say it ended up in Paris in a collector’s home, and the collector put it in their office space or living room, would it still maintain its sacred nature? Or, would it keep its sacred nature if it were collected by a museum and displayed in a sterile gallery without a contextual description?”
|01/12/2017 15:54 (GMT+7)|
Within the last few decades, mindfulness has become a trend that is sweeping the world. Today, people from different walks of life and various institutions are embracing the practice—mainly due to the fact that its undeniable benefits have been proven by modern science. Those who practice mindfulness have found that it can help them to achieve mental wellbeing, which includes reducing stress and finding inner peace. You would think that everyone would praise its popularity, but this is not the case. There are those who criticize the global popularity of mindfulness for various reasons: it is not the true Dharma that has the potential to bring about things like satori (awakening), or it’s a watered down version of the Dharma that is lacking in ethical principles. At the same time, there are also respected Buddhist teachers who feel that even some popularized versions of mindfulness have the power to bring us to a higher state of consciousness. Believe it or not, some might criticize it because they themselves don’t know so much about meditation.
|28/11/2017 14:47 (GMT+7)|
Ms. Mallika Kripalani, founder and director of The Conscious Zone— a company, based in Singapore, that specializes in bringing mindfulness, acceptance and commitment training, and stress-management solutions into schools, homes, and businesses— is introducing mindfulness to children and adolescents to help them cope with stressful situations both at school and beyond.
|21/11/2017 10:03 (GMT+7)|
One consistent challenge for me as a monastic of the Chinese tradition has been to adjust my eating habits. I am not a gourmand, but like many I do make conscious choices about what I eat and drink. For example, I like noodles and bread more than rice, and I prefer red beans to mung beans, and I don’t eat bananas. In a Chinese monastery, mealtimes are formally framed as receiving food offerings. This gives us a very limited range of choices to pick and choose what we really want. Talking and eye contact is not allowed during mealtimes; we mindfully eat what we are given and have permission to return food only if it’s too much, although we can ask for more if we don’t have enough. On top of that, we only have milk powder, brown sugar, and saltine crackers for snacks.
|15/11/2017 11:02 (GMT+7)|
In the first instalment of this trilogy, I introduced the Tiantai school of Chinese Buddhism (天台宗佛教) and explained why and how I personally find it more compelling than the more “devotional” Pure Land Buddhism (淨土宗佛教) and the “cerebral” Chan (Zen) Buddhism (禪宗佛教). The reason for my preference lies in the school’s emphasis on the Lotus Sutra (Saddharmapuṇḍarika Sūtra 妙法蓮花經), which influenced their meditation practices and philosophy. This philosophy—which explains Shakyamuni Buddha’s statement that only bodhisattvas are students of the Buddha, that everyone has the potential to be a Buddha in their present form, that Buddhas are eternal entities, and that there is, in fact, only one Vehicle—emphasizes skillful means (方便, उपायकौशल्य ). In this article, I will unpack what it means to emphasize skillful means in a Chinese Buddhist tradition.
|15/11/2017 10:57 (GMT+7)|
I have always been fascinated by the radical message of Tiantai (see below), its versatility in Chinese thought, and its potential for intellectual cross-pollination with non-Buddhist philosophy. Tiantai is the subject of my doctoral studies and in one of my previous articles I introduced the sixth (or ninth, depending on how you calculate it) patriarch of Tiantai Buddhism, Miaole Zhanran. In this article, I will give a proper introduction of Tiantai Buddhism and an explanation of just why I find it so intriguing.
|14/11/2017 14:50 (GMT+7)|
Dharamshala’s Government Degree College, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a talk on the need for moral principles to guide both science and religion. The speech built on secular morality, which he has been advocating in recent years as a form of global ethics.
|06/11/2017 18:29 (GMT+7)|
In the year of 1602, a father in China completed a text for his 16-year-old son. The father, Yuan Liaofan (袁了凡) (1533–1606), was a successful man. At a time when civil service examinations were the main means for commoners to be elevated to social elites, Yuan was one of the few who obtained jingshi, the highest degree in the examinations, among the candidates from all over the country, and at the end of his career he had risen to a position at the Ministry of War of the Ming court (1368–1644). However, his writings to his son were not about career advancement, marital happiness, or wealth procurement. Rather, they are about an ultimate question he had been pondering; whether one can create their own destiny.
|01/11/2017 11:15 (GMT+7)|
Many Buddhists spend at least part of their time practicing in a retreat setting, cultivating the qualities so needed to survive and thrive in today’s world by building capacity for themselves and others. Vajrayana teachings speak of two levels of experience: the relative and the ultimate. In this human form, we are always engaged on the relative level, which is interconnected with the ultimate. Whether approaching formal deity visualization practice or enacting formless meditation, we engage the process of awakening.
|22/10/2017 09:32 (GMT+7)|
India is the motherland of Buddhism and a great source of knowledge and wisdom. In August, I had the honor of teaching a series of lectures on Buddhism in India. I was invited by the Centre for Indology at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan—an internationally reputed institution dedicated to the promotion of education and culture, founded in 1938 by the Indian politician, writer, and educationist Dr. Kanhaiyalal Maniklal Munshi (1887–1971). My lecture series on Buddhism in Tibet, Mongolia, Russia, and Bulgaria was organized by the dean of the Center of Indology, Prof. Dr. Shashi Bala, with the support of the director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Ashok Pradhan.
|16/10/2017 18:26 (GMT+7)|
As citizens of Earth, we have layers of identity that make us unique from those around us as well as affiliating us with certain groups. Religion usually plays an important role in forging our personal identity. In developed countries, you don’t necessarily have to subscribe to a particular organized religion, although the same is not true in countries where theocratic governments demand that their citizens pledge allegiance to a particular faith. Moreover, the law in these societies doesn’t permit people to convert from one religion to another—such governments often have a declared state religion that allows adherents from other traditions to join, but not the other way around.
|09/10/2017 16:34 (GMT+7)|
The Five Mental Hindrances are:1. Sensual desire2. Ill will3. Sloth and torpor4. Restlessness and remorse5. Skeptical doubt
|27/09/2017 17:56 (GMT+7)|
The previous articles in this series on my seven years of lily padding—a combination of location-independence and letting the Dhamma take the lead—described how the practice of tonglen, metta, and shoshin can help dissolve various fears encountered along the way. This month, I look at how lily padding has taught me to travel light, both physically and metaphorically; or, in other words, how it taught me to embrace the fear of emptiness.
|23/09/2017 12:04 (GMT+7)|
In our monastery, there is a practice for those who are really upset with someone else. They’re told to give the other person a gift. It’s usually the last thing that anyone in this situation wants to do, yet it can bring about great transformation. I haven’t had to do this—I don't know if it’s that I’m able to keep good relationships for the most part, or if I’m simply conflict-avoidant—but there are plenty of times that I’ve felt irritation, anger, or ill will mount up in great piles until I feel lost in it. The version of gift giving that I've taken on in these circumstances is to offer the gift of loving-kindness, called metta in the earliest recorded discourses of the Buddha. It may take me a while, but once I notice that I’m stuck in ill will I make a point, during either our sitting or walking meditation periods, to send that person the energy of loving-kindness.
|19/09/2017 12:01 (GMT+7)|
People believe that everything they see and conceive of, including their so-called bodily selves, is fixed and permanently there to be used for fulfillment and enjoyment, yet this is not true and is based on delusional wrong view.
|13/09/2017 09:25 (GMT+7)|
While many people have expressed concerns about fighting addiction with medication and counseling, Noah Levine, “a tattooed, gold-toothed, punk-loving Buddhist from Santa Cruz” and counterculture Buddhist teacher, has introduced an alternative approach to combating addiction that draws on the Buddhist practices of mindfulness and meditation. His approach, called Refuge Recovery, is gaining ground in the United States (and in other countries), with centers across the nation, albeit in a strictly non-theistic form. (Valley News)
|18/08/2017 11:54 (GMT+7)|
I was introduced to the Chan Meditation Center in New York in 1997, when I came to work as a volunteer for almost a month. I arrived in the late afternoon just before the evening service had ended. When the door opened, I saw Master Sheng Yen (later, I called him shifu) walk into the reception area. We met each other face to face and he seemed to know that I was coming. I put down my luggage and stood before him. Without knowing any Buddhist etiquette, I simply nodded my head with smile, no prostration or bow, nor even joined palms. He looked at me kindly and told me in an encouraging tone, “You need to develop a good affinity with more people.” He then invited me to join them for supper.
|14/08/2017 11:36 (GMT+7)|
It’s often interesting to watch one’s own ego in action. I recently had a discussion with a couple of friends on life’s purpose and the value we place on the things we hope to accomplish.