In this second episode of two on "How to Guide Your Own Meditation," I illustrate the process by sharing four first-person narratives about meditation experiences. In each story, someone turns their attention toward their meditative experience itself, and finds a way to adjust their effort in order to improve it.
We sometimes get stuck in simplistic meditation instructions and therefore sell our meditation short. It's valuable to learn how to guide your own meditation - being mindful of your experience, arousing determination to do your best, and then being creative and diligent in finding ways to stay alert and focused. In this episode I explain this approach to meditation, and in the next episode I'll offer first-person stories about meditative experiences to illustrate the process.
In this episode we finish up the Genjokoan, focusing first on the rather long passage comparing our path of practice to the way a fish swims in the water, or a bird flies in the sky. Then I’ll talk about the story at the end of the essay, where a monk asks a Zen master why he uses a fan when the nature of wind permeates everywhere, which is really a question about why we practice if reality ultimately lacks nothing.
In this 3rd episode of three on Buddhist prayer, I talk about how prayer for personal transformation and change. I discuss why change is so hard, how both Buddhism and science suggest "executive control" is an illusion, and how prayer can be a skillful "end run" around our internal resistance.
I continue our exploration of Buddhist prayer with a discussion of "aid-seeking" prayer, or prayer for a positive result. In particular, in this episode I cover the long-established traditions of Buddhist prayer for positive physical or external results, such as protection from danger, recovery from illness, or plentiful rain for crops. (In the next episode I'll talk about prayer to affect change in our own practice, experience, or behavior.)
You might be surprised to know many Buddhists pray, given that Buddhism is fundamentally a nontheistic religion. It’s possible to be an avowed atheist and a devout Buddhist at the same time. In fact, such a Buddhist might even pray! I’ll explain more about how this works in this episode, which will be the first of two. I’ll introduce you to three basic reasons Buddhists pray, take you through the first two reasons, and then finish up next week by going into more detail about the third type...
Right speech is an essential part of Shakyamuni Buddha’s very first teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path, his prescription for spiritual liberation and insight. This teaching can be very useful to us in daily life, and recommends we avoid lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, and idle (unmindful) chatter. The Buddha also gave us five things to consider before speaking: Is what we're about to say factual, helpful, kind (spoken with good-will), pleasant ("endearing"), and timely?
In this 4th episode of 5 on Zen master Dogen's Genjokoan (written in 1233), I discuss the image of the moon reflected in a dewdrop (ultimate reality reflected/realized by a limited person), and the metaphor of different experiences of the ocean (the nature of relative and absolute truths).
The Buddhist concept of “upaya,” skillful or expedient means, arose around the dawn of the common era – about 2,000 years ago. It emphasizes that even if we possess wisdom, when we want to share it with other beings and help them, it’s not so easy to do so. We need to be patient, creative, and compassionate so they will be able to hear, accept, and act on what we have to share.
This episode covers the first 200 years or so of Buddhism, beginning with the traditional account of events immediately after the Buddha’s passing. Then I describe how the ordained Sangha met to compile and codify his teachings and their code of discipline, and eventually began dividing into different sects and schools. This is a fascinating story that reflects what really mattered to early Buddhists.
Buddhist practice can be seen as consisting of two sides, and both are essential. The first side is cultivating “samadhi power,” or our ability to perceive – or be awake to – the absolute aspect of reality. The second side is working on “karma relationship,” or learning to live our daily lives in an enlightened way. If we neglect either side, our practice can stagnate or go awry.
In part 3 of my series on the famous Zen text called “Genjokoan,” written in 1233 by Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen, I discuss the sections about seeking the Dharma, riding in a boat (recognizing self-nature is impermanent), and firewood and ash (the Great Matter of Life-and-Death).
In his very first sermon, delivered over 2,500 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path. In this episode I describe this teaching and each of the eight aspects of the path. I also explain why Buddhism resists being summed up even by the simple and elegant formula of the Eightfold Path, because this teaching just one “lens” among many with which to view Buddhist practice.
My second episode focused on the famous Zen text “Genjokoan,” written by Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen in 1233. In this episode I cover "the moon reflected in water" section, and the "to study Buddhism is to study the self" section. (I'm proceeding through the essay verse by verse over the course of a few episodes.)
Part of my Buddhist Texts series, this episode focuses on a famous Zen text called “Genjokoan,” written by Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen in 1233. Genjokoan is one of the most popular and widely studied of Dogen’s essays. In the interest of unlocking it's profound teaching for you, I’ll proceed through the essay verse by verse over the course of a few episodes.
Hello! I didn't produce an episode for you this week because I'm spending time with my parents - they live in Minnesota but are here in Oregon on their annual visit. I'll release a new episode next Thursday, Oct. 19th. Thanks for listening!
This episode finishes up my story of Shakyamuni Buddha's life. It continues with the development of the early Sangha, including the ordination of women and the establishment of a code of discipline for monastics. It also covers teachings given by the Buddha not already mentioned in earlier episodes, and some of the more dramatic and colorful stories about the Buddha and the early Buddhist community.
The Zen practice of "not-knowing" honors the absolute dimension of our lives - even as we engage in "knowing," as necessary, in the relative dimension. It involves centering ourselves in the here-and-now, and recognizing that all "knowing" is ultimately an abstraction and not reality itself. As long as we don't simply attach to not-knowing instead of knowing, the practice can actually help us be more responsible, responsive, compassionate, and effective.
In this third episode of a 3-part series on the Buddhist teaching of the Six Realms of Existence, I describe the Hungry Ghost and Human Realms. I continue offering a traditional, mythological account of the realms, followed by a section about how to practice with each realm as a particular mind state you might experience in the course of your daily life.
In this 2nd episode of a 3-part series, I cover the Asura (fighting demigod), Beast, and Hell Realms. I continue offering a traditional, mythological account of the realms, followed by a section about how to practice with each realm as a particular mind state you might experience in the course of your daily life.