29 March 2011

Contemplation: The Obvious Shadow

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take this as your object of contemplation:

As birds glide high above the ground,
Even though their shadow is not seen for a while,
Since, unavoidably, a body cannot separate from its shadow,
Whenever circumstances ripen and the bird lands, its shadow becomes obviously apparent.

Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa, quoted in White Sail by Thinley Norbu, p. 100

22 March 2011

Contemplation: Producing and Extinguishing

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take this gatha as the object of your contemplation:

Thereupon, the Lord recited the gatha:
"Objects that are produced by causes and conditions,
Those objects are extinguished and unproduced.
Extinguish all objects subject to production and extinction,
And those objects will be produced and unextinguished."

from the Vajrasamadhi Sutra, quoted in Cultivating Original Enlightenment by Robert Buswell, p. 241

18 March 2011

If you want to help Japan now...

...a good way to do it would be to donate to an organization called JEN, which comes recommended to us by friends in the know in Japan.

Now is a time for practice.

15 March 2011

Contemplation: The Mirror is Just the Mirror

Please review the guidelines for practice, and then take this as your object of contemplation:

You should try to quiet your mind. If you separate your original mind from arising and passing away, coming and going, and clearly realize what is intransient, the images reflected in your mind will also be intransient and unperishing. The reason for this is that the distinctions between all the things in the universe, the arising and passing away of past and present, coming and going, are fundamentally false and illusory. Nothing comes, nothing goes. Nothing arises and nothing passes away. Of course, if nothing arises and passes away, or comes and goes, there is nothing that possesses all the distinctions. You should understand this from the [example] of reflections in the mirror.

When you first see something reflected in a mirror, it's not a matter of the image entering into the mirror. From the beginning, the image has not entered [the mirror], so there is nothing to get rid of. Since originally the object does not enter and leave, or come and go, the mirror is just the mirror, and does not eventually become the image. Since the mirror does not become the image, but reflects it, there is nothing in the universe that ceases to be distinct. It is difficult to say what is reflected and what is not. Various shapes made out of gold are not demons or Buddhas, but the take on the shapes of demons and Buddhas.

Tetsugen Doko, quoted in Iron Eyes: The Life and Teachings of Tetsugen Doko by Helen J. Baroni, p. 106

08 March 2011

Contemplation: The Spark of Energy

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, please take this as your object of contemplation:

Q: In normal life, not caring is associated with boredom. If, as with the bodhisattva, one doesn't care, then will one be a vegetable?

A: Not caring does not mean becoming a stone or jelly-fish; there is still energy. But from the point of view of a person who cares, if we experience desire or anger but do not act them out and instead try to keep ourselves cool, if we do not put our energy into action, we feel let down, cheated, stifled. This is a one-sided view of energy.

Energy does not at all manifest itself purely in terms of being destructive or possessive. There are further energies which are not at all connected with love or hate. These are the energies of precision, of clarity, of seeing through situations. There are energies of intelligence which arise continuously and which we do not allow ourselves to experience properly. We always regard energy in terms of being destructive or possessive. There is something more than that. There is never a dull moment if you are actually in touch with reality as it is. The spark of energy arises all the time which transcends ignorance and the simple-minded one-directional way.

Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, p. 181.

06 March 2011

Ekayana Working Group: Everyone Welcome

I am interested in creating a space in which anyone who is interested in discussing and learning more about the one-vehicle teaching of Ekayana can do so in a democratic, nonsectarian, and informed way. To that end, I have started a discussion forum called the Ekayana Working Group.

The Ekayana teachings arise in a variety of contexts and expressed in different kinds of terminology. I think our understanding of the teachings can only grow if we talk to each other, and learn each other's language. Consequently, everyone is invited: Nichiren Buddhists of all orientations, Soka Gakkai members, Tendai people, Zen and Ch'an and Soen people, students of Madhyamika and Mahamudra and Dzogchen too.

It is true that there are 84,000 Dharma gates, one for everyone out there, to meet people where they are and draw them in. It is also true that once you are drawn into the stream, there is a way in which the whole stream and all its tributaries is of one taste. Dharmakaya is Dharmakaya, skillful means are skillful means. So: let us learn from each other and eat at the one table together.

Jikan's Office Hour: Sunday 13 March

I will be holding office hours on Sunday, 13 March, at Caffe Amouri in Vienna, Virginia, starting around 8am.

The idea is to give a venue for Dharma discussion beyond what we have time or space for during our Wednesday night sangha meetings. Here is the format:

I will meet with whomever shows up and has an earnest question about Buddhism, and offer whatever help I can, on a first-come, first-served basis. Students, if you are interested in this, please come prepared with at least one good question. It might help to review this thing.

Practically speaking, if only one person is around, then I will work with that person until time is up or I am out of coffee. But I would really prefer to make sure everyone with a question gets heard. The format should be dialogic. If you feel you need to speak with me privately, that can be arranged at another time and in another venue. If you need help understanding something you are reading, please email me in advance what you would like to ask me about, so I can come prepared.

Caffe Amouri is located at 107 Church St NE, Vienna, VA. I look forward to seeing you there.

01 March 2011

Contemplation: In All Places

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take this as your object of contemplation:

I, in all places,
Constantly see all the Tathagatas.
I wish only that all the Tathagatas
Will explain the perpetual Dharma to me.

from the Vajrasamadhi Sutra, published as Cultivating Original Enlightenment, p. 261.

Retreat: Varieties of Practice in Tendai Buddhism

Here is the flier for our upcoming retreat.

Please distribute it. Thanks!