Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kwan Um School of Zen Newsletter

DaeThe latest newsletter from the Kwan Um School of Zen (the school in which I practice and train and make many mistakes, no problem) has just come out. It contains news from many Zen centers around the world. It also contains a sort of travelogue I wrote of this Summer's trip with Zen Master Bon Haeng, along with several photos I took along the way (they look pretty nice, actually). 

You can check out the newsletter in large PDF format here.  There is also a smaller PDF here. If you would like to see the blog that I wrote during the trip, it still lives here.

Here's a little video clip from the trip, an excerpt from a Dharma talk ZMBH gave in Vienna. It's a classic story about Dae Soen Sa Nim.

Maha Ghosananda: Temple of Human Experience

I have this little book, Step By Step: Meditations on Wisdom & Compassion, by Maha Ghosananda. (The book seems to be out of print. Maybe if enough people ask for it, Parallax Press will reissue it.) If you don't know who Ghosananda was, check him out here. He is sometimes called the Gandhi of Cambodia. 

This morning I read this short excerpt from a chapter titled, "We Are Our Temple." This is the kind of teaching that occasionally hits me right between the eyes:

We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to the Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will then become our temples. We have so much work to do.  
This will be a slow transformation, for many people throughout Asia have been trained to rely on the traditional monkhood. Many Cambodians tell me, "Venerable, monks belong in the temple." It is difficult for them to adjust to this new role., but we monks must answer the increasingly loud cries of suffering. We only need to remember that our temple is always with us. We are our temple.

May all beings be free.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why Do You Do It?

Are you involved in some sort of service activity, a volunteer group of some kind, something meant to help others? I keep running into people who seem to be doing these kinds of activities more for reasons of personal fulfillment (or even just personal convenience) than for the benefit of others. Here's Fleet Maul, founder of the Prison Dharma Network, talking about this issue. Scrub forward to 5:29 for the relevant comment.

Ask yourself honestly, why do you do your particular service? Are you really trying to help others who are suffering? Or is there some self-aggrandizing element that you have not addressed? Too many of us do volunteer work out of a misplaced sense of "I." The irony is that service that arises from a misplaced sense of self ultimately causes suffering. It is only when that sense of self disappears that real transformation begins.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

ZM Dae Bong on Food

Barry Briggs (who can always be relied upon to post interesting Dharma stuff) shared this clip (in his blog Ox Herding) of Zen Master Dae Bong talking about food and hunger. As I get geared up to resume working on my little movie about the Zen formal meal, this clip provides new insights about practicing with food issues. I'm not certain anything he says here will actually make it into my movie, but it will surely make it into my personal practice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Is "Your" Practice Mostly About You?

I came across this on the IDP blog, and I just had to repost it:

Right Speech Loudmouth

Looking through Thich Nhat Hanh’s  The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, I found this section at the back that I had not previously read.
“Of course, you have the right to suffer, but as practitioners, you do not have the right not to practice. We all need to be understood and loved, but the practice is not merely to expect understanding and love. It is to practice understanding and love. Please don’t complain when no one seems to love or understand you. Make the effort to understand and love them better.”