The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vernal Equinox 2015

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.


The first day of Spring has come and gone.  Here, the chill and dampness still linger.  When I took this photograph, we were having a bit of a blizzard to welcome Spring, and the birds were singing a symphony, taking care of the business of bird love. 
Did they mind that it still felt like mid-winter?  Not at all!  The natural flow of all things remains despite our dreams and wishes, projections and continuous reach for a perfection that doesn't exist.  

Last Saturday, 9 members of the Sangha met to celebrate the Spring Equinox with gentle yoga, opening the Butsudan with liturgy, chanting and offering incense, and plenty of sitting meditation.  Though it was only 24 hours after our blizzard, the snow only remained in the most shaded areas, and the sun shone brilliantly in its lovely Spring way, a light that promises so much support for all those local fruits and vegetables we will begin to enjoy in a matter of a month or two.  I can already taste the first strawberry!

Our Spring retreat centered on the foundational home practice of creating a personal Butsudan, and the significance of the elements one presents on the Butsudan.
We had a good laugh when I replaced our seated Buddha statue for my bag lunch, and asked, "What is not Buddha?"  Later the lunch was replaced by a cell phone.
Off to the side, Buddha just smiled enigmatically.

What we understand is that the Universe is distinctly present in every aspect of the Butsudan, the objects literally and metaphorically symbolic of Gautama Buddha's journey into enlightenment, his teachings of the 3 marks of existence, suffering, impermanence and emptiness, and the Sangha itself, as we gather to recite the liturgy and chant the Nembutsu while offering incense.
Here is the Triratna, the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, so subtly represented.
We are "Buddha-ing" as we bow at the Butsudan, then turn to bow to the Sangha.  In Gassho, all the Universe practices with us, and we take our place beside our ancestors, our teachers, our lineage holders, beginning with the Buddha himself.

We feel the flakes of driven snow sting our faces, hear the love songs of the Red Wing Black Bird, smell the pungent odor of incense, watch the smoke spiral upward and disappear, evanescent. We taste the sweetness of mint tea, and share cup after cup.

Where do we go from here?  Nowhere.
What do we do?  Nothing
Who am I?  No one

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day Earth Prayer

We're only 2 days away from Interfaith Power & Light's Valentine's Day NOON Climate Prayer when we hope 100,000 people will pause for a moment, wherever they are, whatever they're doing, to say a prayer for the climate and climate action.

We Hold The Earth

We hold brothers and sisters who suffer from storms and droughts intensified by climate change.

We hold all species that suffer.

We hold world leaders delegated to make decisions for life.

We pray the the web of life may be mended through courageous actions to limit carbon emissions.

We pray for Right Action for adaptation and mitigation to help our already suffering Earth community.

We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions, and our actions as communities….

So that we may, with integrity, look into the eyes of my brothers and sisters and all beings and 

truthfully say, we are doing our part to care for them and the future of our children.

May love transform us and our world with new steps toward life.

How will you tell the Earth how much you love her?  And how will your actions reflect your love?  


Sparks come from time to time--
and bring to cats a chance to rest
from looking at the fire.

--after Matsu Basho

Sunday, February 8, 2015

During this season of frozen days and contemplation, with Valentines Day looming large on the commercial horizon, I ask myself if I can find a way to keep love simple and fresh.  A homemade card for a loved one, a pot of soup on the stove, or a telephone call, just to hear a grandchild's voice--these are easy ways to express our affection.

But how about for ourselves?
How do we declare our love for ourselves?
How do we express our appreciation to those who offer us the greatest challenges?

Every challenge, every interaction with a difficult person (is that difficult person yourself?), is an opportunity to create, to stretch out in a new direction, to grow.  
Without this stretch, we only half live, smugly closing our hearts around the Three Poisons of delusion, anger and greed.
Perhaps in simplicity, the heart just wanders and plays, knowing there are no gates and no boundaries.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Night

self portrait with neko-chan

Big mind is something to express, not something to figure out.  Big mind is something you have, not something to seek for.

--Shunryu Suzuki