28 July 2014

Contemplation: A Star at Dawn

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take the following as your contemplation
Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
Buddha Shakyamuni, The Diamond Sutra (trans. Price & Wong), p. 53

14 July 2014

Contemplation: Beginningless Purity

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take the following as your contemplation:
Because our nature is beginningless purity [...], we don't need to do anything to it or take anything from it, enhance it or reduce it, to make it manifest.  Rather, using the methods that are the path, we simply reveal it as it is.  Then our lack of understanding of this nature, our mind's ordinary habits and delusions, which are reflected in the impure samsaric experience we call reality, are completely resolved into the absolute nature.
Chagdud Tulku, Gates to Buddhist Practice, p. 147

07 July 2014

Contemplation: Two Wings of a Bird

After reviewing the guidelines for practice, take the following as your contemplation:

In daily meditation practice, we work with two aspects of the mind:  its capacity to reason and conceptualize--the intellect--and the quality that is beyond thought--the pervasive, nonconceptual nature of mind.  Using the rational faculty, contemplate.  Then let the mind rest.  Think and then relax; contemplate and then relax.  Don't use one or the other exclusively, but both together, like the two wings of a bird. 

This isn't something you do only sitting on a cushion.  You can meditate in this way anywhere--while driving your car, while working.  It doesn't require special props or a special environment.  It can be practiced in all walks of life. 

Some people think that if they meditate for fifteen minutes a day, they ought to become enlightened in a week and a half.  But it doesn't work like that.  Even if you meditate and pray and contemplate for an hour of the day, that's one hour you're meditating and twenty-three you're not.  What are the chances of one person against twenty-three in a tug-of-war?  One pulls one way, twenty-three the other--who's going to win?

Chagdud Tulku, Gates to Buddhist Practice, p. 38

03 July 2014

Ennin's Diary: Full Text Available Online

Ennin, also known as Jikaku Daishi, is an important historical figure and a great bodhisattva.  He was a direct disciple of the founder of Tendai Buddhism in Japan, Saicho, and also spent a significant amount of time in China mastering the esoteric teachings known as Vajrayana in Tibet and as mikkyo in Japan.  He made great sacrifices along the way; his commitment to the teachings and to the benefit of all beings is exemplary. 

A translation of Ennin's diary has been made available free online.  I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in Buddhism, and especially those who are sangha members, to give it a read.  It is a record of one person's travels in a very turbulent time in Chinese history, and also of his spiritual training.  Find it here:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

(the scanning work was done by committee, which is why we have six files instead of one).

May all beings benefit!