Saturday, December 31, 2011
Mahayana Buddha, San Francisco, California (Pineapple.Koolaid)
Theravada Buddha, Saffron Revolution, Burma (BuddhistChannel.TV)
Join in the annual event. Each New Year's Eve a large group gathers to set intentions for the coming year and to re-commit to our spiritual practices. There will be an opportunity to go to the three Buddhist guides (Tri-Sarana), often mistakenly called "refuges," and to undertake Buddhism's Five Precepts anew.
This year is special because the ceremony will be offered at both Los Angeles centers. ALL are welcome regardless of spiritual or religious beliefs. Suggested donation of $20 is requested but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
- Against the Stream
- 4300 Melrose Ave., LA 90029
- 1001a Colorado Ave., Santa Monica 90401
- (323) 665-4300
Silence and Celebration: A New Years Eve Retreat (and Party)
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011: 4:00 pm - 12:00 amPrice: $15 (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Eagle Rock SMCLA, Main Shrine Room
963 Colorado Blvd., L.A. 90041
(323) 255-5472 (email@example.com)
Been meaning to meditate more or to learn to meditate this year? This is the chance! Everyone is welcome to join in a mini-retreat as we transition from the old to the new year. Come for the entire evening or any part of it. Meditate and celebrate with new friends and fellow readers of Pema Chodron.
- Free meditation instruction available all night.
A newly released DVD of a talk given by Shambhala leader Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (son of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche), "The Awesome Mind: Meditation and the Shambhala Path." He discusses how meditation practice can give the practitioner a handle on the mind and help us orient it the way we want:
"Our mind is our house. How do we want to arrange it? Do we want more compassion, more focus? Mind is as trainable as body. It has inherent power, clarity, and insight. Mind needs to be related to and respected."
Register to help the coordinators -- especially for those wishing to attend the celebration dinner portion of the evening.
SCHEDULE (come any time)
- 4:00-5:00 pm – Meditation Session*
- 5:00-6:00 pm - DVD "The Awesome Mind" (Part 1)
- 6:00-7:00 pm - Meditation Session*
- 7:00-9:00 pm – Celebratory Community Dinner
- 9:00-10:00 pm - "The Awesome Mind" (Part 2)
- 10:00 pm - 12:00 am – Meditation Session*
*Includes walking meditation. It is not necessary to stay for the entire session; feel free to come and go at any time.
Nirarbuda – the "burst blister" purgatory. This realm is even colder, and here the blisters burst open, leaving the beings' bodies covered with freezing blood and pus.
Aṭaṭa – the purgatory of shivering. Here the beings shiver in the cold, making an aṭ-aṭ-aṭ sound with their mouths.
Hahava – the realm of lamentation. Here the beings lament in the cold, going ha, ho in pain.
Huhuva – the realm of chattering teeth. Here beings shiver as their teeth chatter, making the sound hu, hu.
Utpala – the "blue lotus" unfortunate realm. Here the intense cold makes skin turn blue like the color of an utpala waterlily.
Padma – the "lotus" realm. In this place the blizzard cracks open the frozen skin leaving one raw and bloody.
Mahāpadma – the "great lotus" realm. Here the whole body cracks into pieces and the internal organs are exposed to the cold and they also crack.
The Fire Sermon
"Visible forms are burning. Consciousness born at the eye [ear, nose, tongue, body, mind] is burning. Contact born at the eye is burning.
"And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye -- whether experienced as pleasure, pain, or neither-pleasure-nor-pain -- that too is burning.
"Burning with what? It is burning with the fire of passion (greed, lust, craving), the fire of aversion (hate, fear, revulsion), the fire of delusion (wrong view, ignorance, confusion).
"It is burning, I tell you, with birth, aging, and death, with sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, distress, and despair!" (SN 35.28)
Friday, December 30, 2011
The Buddha's Advice
"O meditators! What is the Noble Truth of suffering (dukkha)? Rebirth is disappointing, aging is disappointing, death is disappointing; sorrow, crying (lamenting), physical pain, grief, and despair are disappointing; associating with the unloved is disappointing; being separated from the loved is disappointing; not getting what one wants is disappointing. In brief, the Five Aggregates of Clinging are disappointing" (SN 56.11).
- Dukkha: disappointment, misery, woe, ill, suffering, distress, pain, unhappiness.
But most of the time it is about becoming unconscious, careless, negligent, and uninhibited. The Buddha drew out five fundamental actions to abstain from just to be human -- to be reborn in this world or higher.
One would not think so given the lax attitude towards nearly all of them today. It is important to note that the Buddha did not invent these, nor was he the only one to advocate them. They have a long history he acknowledged.
But he personally verified that holding these precepts led to long term happiness -- freedom from worry and a good rebirth when the karma of holding them comes to fruition. There is a famous saying: "One who upholds the Dharma (the truth) is upheld by the Dharma."
- The Five Precepts are almost universally agreed on. They are what we would like "done unto us" even if it is hard not to do them unto others:
- refrain from taking life
- refrain from taking what is not given
- refrain from taking sexual liberties (misconduct)
- refrain from talking falsely (perjury, slander, divisiveness, useless chat)
- refrain from intoxicants (sura and meraya) that lead to heedlessness.
- Fermented from...
- flour (ale),
- sweets (toddy),
- rice (saki),
- yeast (beer),
- a combination of ingredients (Jagermeister or Leberkleister, “liver glue”).
- flowers (flavored wine),
- fruit (wine),
- honey (mead),
- sugar-cane (spirits),
- a combination of ingredients (liqueur).
- In the fifth precept specific mention is not made of all intoxicants. But the same is true of all the precepts: not every permutation is listed.
- What is intended? Intoxicants. What is one to infer? If it tends to lead one to heedlessness, it is best avoided.
- Heedlessness means paying no heed to the Dharma, good for oneself and others, and the other four precepts. This happens when one is incapacitated by intoxication. Drugs such as opium and cannabis can have the same effect, as can heroin, cocaine, and to a lesser degree addictive caffeine.
- Tobacco, strangely, is NOT very addictive. Cigarettes are! But that is not due to the nicotine, as we are told. Grow it, roll it, and see. Corporate manufacturing, additives, hybridization, and delivery make "tobacco" highly addictive (probably due to the sugar used to cure the leaves), cancerous, and debilitating.
- The same might be true of coffee beans and coca leaves and possibly medical cannabis (low on THC, high on medicinal cannabinoids). In their natural state, they are mild. As manufactured chemicals, they are intensely harmful and difficult to give up.
- Dr. Gabor Mate has demonstrated with thousands of addicts that, in fact, addiction is not about the substance itself. If it were, every experimenter would become addicted. It is about the interaction between early trauma that predisposes one to addictions.
- If one is observing the Five Precepts as a permanent ongoing practice (nicca sila, or as a lunar observance, Uposatha) and indulges in intoxicating substances, is it breaking the fifth precept?
- The precept is broken with the use of intoxicants that have the tendency to lead to heedlessness. So intention plays into it. We can fool ourselves all we want and say, "It's medicinal." That does not change the fact. Even medicines can be abuse. In fact, most drug abuse today is the purposeful misuse of pharmaceuticals.
- Tiny amounts of brandy, celebratory champagne, or other spirits are alcohol and occasion heedlessness. If used in small amounts (not enough to get high on) for medicinal purposes, then they will not cause one to become inebriated or addicted, and the precept is not broken.
Wisdom Quarterly translation (Udana 5.5)
At that time the Blessed One, having called all the monastics together, addressed them: "Meditators!"
They responded, "Venerable sir!" (They then prepared themselves to hear the following discourse). The Buddha then gave the following instruction on the lunar eight-precept observance (Uposatha).
"Meditators, the lunar observance is comprised of eight factors observed by the noble disciple. Such observation brings glorious and radiant fruit and benefit. "What is it?"
- "Meditators, noble disciples in this Dharma and Discipline reflect in this way:
- 'All enlightened beings, for as long as life lasts, have given up the taking of liquors and intoxicants, of that which intoxicates, causing carelessness. They stay far from intoxicants.'
"All of you have given up the taking of liquors and intoxicants. You abstain from drink that causes carelessness. For all of this day and night, in this manner, you will be known as having followed the enlightened ones, and the lunar [sabbath] observance will have been kept by you."
PHOTOS: Five Precept plaque, Lumbini monument (tripadvisor.com); generic alcohol (NPR.org); Buddha as psychedelic hipster on the Eightfold Path (elephantjournal.com); Buddha in copper (Robert Kendall); Hotei, Happy fat Zen Buddha (Ericmichel_def/Flickr.com); traditional depiction of monastics in ancient India with the Buddha; Buddha mind of a psychedelic meditator (Sergiy Kindzerskiy, myspace.com)
Another Friday night at this tiny neighborhood watering hole in Tokyo: By 7:30 pm, the bar stools and tables in this cozy joint are filling up; office workers settle in with their cocktails and Kirin beers. And by a little after 8:00 pm, it's time for the main act.
Vow's Bar in the Yotsuya neighborhood has no house band, no widescreen TV, no jukebox. But it does have a chanting Buddhist monk. So tipplers can get a side of sutras with their Singapore Slings or something even more exotic.
For a non-Buddhist American like me, they shake up an order of the house specialty, shakunetsu jigoku, or "Burning Hell," and boy, they're not kidding!
This city is said to be honeycombed with 10,000 nightspots, most no bigger than an American living room. So to Japanese, it makes perfect sense that Buddhist monks would run their own themed bars, complete with incense, mandala sacred posters, and religious altars.
At the temple, folks are always well-behaved and attentive, no matter how long or boring the sermon is. Here at the bar, [if] they don't like my sermons -- they walk out.
- Gugan Taguchi, head monk [abbot?] at Vow's Bar
"In the old days, temples were the center of community life," says head monk Gugan Taguchi. "But then the temples grew powerful. Monks started getting rich, running funerals. They started to feel superior to their followers. That's not what the job is about." More
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There is no release from disappointment.*
Be reached by walking. However,
Without having reached the world’s end,
There will be no release from suffering.
I declare that it is in this fathom-
long body, with its perceptions
and thoughts [and other aggregates],
that there is the world,
the origin of the world,
the cessation of the world, and
the path leading to the cessation
of the world [the Four Noble Truths].
-Numerical Discourses (AN 4:45)
[These are the Three Poisons of the heart/mind.] Whether gross suffering, or the underlying tendency to dissatisfaction, to never having quite enough, to never being fully and completely satisfied and content.
At the end of the day, we reflect on what passed and put it in order so that there is nothing left scattered about. Then with love and blessings, we let it go and move into full mindfulness of the body, breath, and mind before sleeping. In this way sleep is good, clearing because the night secretary does not need to come out and work under cover of darkness. All is in order.
Beings of endless variety are born here, born there, as this and that. Our identity and the timeframe is not small but greatly expanded.
In the discourse called "Expanding Aeons" he speaks about cycles of this planet and of humanity over the ages and epochs. There are upheavels, many natural disasters, times of famine, drought, fire, and flood, times of great destruction. There are times when humans treat one another well and poorly, coming and going in a great cyclical rhythm that is mind-expanding, almost beyond comprehension.
It all comes to an end, the Buddha pointed out, here and now, in this very life, in this very body, in this "world."
It is an amazing thing: We actually only live, and will only ever live, in this moment. This breath is all we have, and it is slipping away. We do not know what the next will bring, so all we can do is live this one fully, freely, and right NOW. Living well means living with a clear and balanced mind/heart filled with loving-kindness, compassion, empathic appreciation, and equanimity -- fully, to everyone as to oneself.
the origin of the world,
the end of the world,
and the path leading to the end of the world
[the ennobling truths that lead to final liberation].
The temple treasures
The present-day complex dates back to 1788, having been founded in response to the plundering of the former Thai capital of Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767. A similar complex was destroyed at that time and recreated here.
Massage and funny foreigners
Wat Pho is a famous place of learning. And instruction is not limited to monastic training. It has a renowned school of Thai massage, which combines Indian Ayurvedic, traditional Chinese medicine, and Southeast Asian innovations.
One enters the complex through gateways guarded by huge Chinese statues, believed to have been imported as ballast aboard ships trading with China. The outer gates have fierce warrior figures, whereas the inner courtyards have the bizarre figures of farang (Western "foreigners") with their peculiar top hats, believed to represent the first European visitors to the East.
Many of the inner courtyards are surrounded by a cloister containing over 400 sculptures of the seated Buddha. The main bot, the spiritual nucleus of the temple, is beautifully decorated with frescoes of rich landscapes in red and gold.
The biggest and most spectacular attraction of the complex however is the Hall of the Reclining Buddha, housing an enormous gilded figure of the Buddha entering final nirvana. It is over 160 feet long, filling the entire center of the chamber.Feet, Why Feet?
Wisdom Quarterly (ANALYSIS)
The Buddha had special feet. Not only were they soft, proportional, and beautiful, they bore many of the Marks of a Great Person (Sanskrit mahāpuruṣa lakṣaṇa, Pali lakkhana) he was famous for: He had "level feet" which were "pliant," with thousand-spoked wheel signs on them. His toes were finely webbed with full-sized heels, arched insteps, golden-hued, with soft and smooth skin, well-rounded soles, holding him erect and upright.
In addition to these major marks, there are 80 minors marks that include: beautiful, well-proportioned, tube-shaped toes, with rosy tinted toenails that are slightly upturned at the tips, smooth and rounded without ridges, with ankles that are rounded and undented, each foot of equal length giving him a beautiful and stately gait, like that of a king-elephant or king-lion or swan, a majestic gait, like that of a royal ox, led by the right foot when walking with skin that is unwrinkled, spotless and without lumps, unblemished, free of impurities, radiant, exquisitely sensitive to touch, with the scent of sandalwood.
These features are not exaggerations or additions. They are documented characteristics that defined one as a World Monarch (chakravartin ruler) or Buddha. What they looked like or how important they are, that indeed is subject to exaggeration.
But the signs themselves are spoken of in the ancient Vedas (Books of Knowledge) and the lore was familiar to brahmin priests who asserted their supremacy.
Warrior-caste (kshatriyas) Nobles vied with brahmins for supremacy when Siddhartha was born. Brahmin priests read these signs for the Buddha's father, warrior-caste King Suddhodana, to foretell the prince's great future.
Throughout India and in many Theravada countries (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Khmer-Empire era Cambodia, etc.), the Buddha's feet are venerated. In Sri Lanka, for example, there is an imprint of the Buddha's foot at the top of Adam's Peak. (It is actually a very large carving). These depictions are embroidered with stories and signs, symbols of fortune and royalty.
The tradition of sacred feet extended to Jesus Christ (St. Issa, a.k.a. Yus Assaf, of formerly Buddhist Kashmir), whose burial site is marked by feet, a tradition unknown to Judaism and Islam. (Yes, good St. Issa, not having died on the cross, returned to India and is buried in a tomb now co-occupied by a Muslim figure and off-limits to Westerners).
Watch a depiction of karma as the camera tracks an act of kindness as it passes from one individual to another and manages to boomerang back to the person who set it in motion. Of course, a single deed (karma) done with the intention to benefit or harm a living being has many mental resultants (vipaka) and physical consequences (phala, fruit) when it finally comes to fruition. Acts grow exponentially before their results ripen into our circumstances in this and lives to come. Support lifevestinside.com.
...It's no wonder Christian fundamentalists are anti-Hollywood (as this actual handout shows). It's not the sex and violence that really bothers them and gets unbearably under their skin; it's the competition.
In the Middle Ages, church was where one went to escape. There one heard fascinating music and legends and saw great, luminous depictions of super -heroes and -heroines from pre-Christian [Sumerian, Egyptian, Jewish, Persian (Zoroastrian/Mithraic), Indian (Vedic/Buddhist), and Nordic] mythology.
Motion pictures dealt such a blow to the Church's exclusive franchise on the popular imagination that they would leave Charles Darwin envious. Each cinematic innovation -- sound, color, 3D, CGI, and evolving special effects -- were other nails in the franchise's coffin.
David Icke explains connecting with "spirituality" (spiritus)
Nevertheless, the Force is elegant in its simplicity. And it is extremely plausible. One need not buy into an onscreen sci-fi reality to understand it. Was it the Force that sold Star Wars to the world? Whatever it was, the sale was a one-two punch -- dazzling visuals and action supported by an intuitive philosophy of powerful practical magic. More
Real secrets deleted from the first version of the movie "The Secret"