Saturday, June 20, 2015

All beings tremble

All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?

-The Dhammapada

Suffering arises when we see our selves as separate -- from the initial moment when our consciousness is aware of itself and mistakenly thinks that means it is separate from the ground of being rather than the truth, that it is an expression of the ground. Suffering is intensified when we solidify our selves and see them as separate from other selves, when we see others as a threat, when we think -- not that they love life and fear death, just like us -- that they want to harm us. We become guarded and defensive, maybe aggressive because we think it's better to avoid the threat by eliminating what we think is the source than to wait and see if the perceived threat is real.

Suffering is reduced when we see our interdependence, recognizing that we all have the same nature -- which is the same nature of the ground of being.

When I hear the words of the families of those killed at Emanuel American Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, spoken to Dylann Roof, the man who murdered them, I hear the grace that comes from that recognition. Speaking in court, while Roof was held in jail and listened over a video feed, they offered forgiveness.

"I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you," a daughter of Ethel Lance said. "And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you."

I hear sadness and pain, but not anger and righteous, not defensiveness and isolation. We are all one in God, the families of those murdered at a prayer service said, and God, not us, will judge you.

Not like Dylann Roof judged them. Judgment creates separation, isolation, suffering. It closes us down. Interdependence opens us up, lets us witness the separation and take action to overcome it.

Good and evil exist on the same plane, and operate by the same calculus. Evil is good covered over. Wherever we ourselves, in our confusion and in our unwillingness to look at life as it actually is, with all its pain and difficulty, commit acts of evil, we add to the covering. And whenever we have the courage and the calmness to be with life as it is, and therefore, inevitably, to do good, then we remove the cover. We transform evil into good. This is the human capacity. Evil is not a part of reality that can be excised, cast out and overcome. Evil is a constant part of our world because there is only one world, there is only one life, and all of us share in it.  

Norman FIscher, writing after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Is One Direction all together in a Pure Land?

Buddhism is often seen these days as a supremely rational philosophical system or belief system, depending on your stance. Investigate everything, the Buddha said. Do not believe anything just because I tell you it is so -- look into it for yourselves and see whether it is.

For 2,600 years, people have been doing that and discovering the Middle Way he described does work.

So how do we explain vajrayana Buddhism, with its tantric practices, with its deities and devotion, its study of unmeasured energies?

You can see it as a way of training the subtle mind, using archetypal figures to cultivate certain qualities in ourselves -- compassion from Tara and Avaloketeshvara, wisdom from Prajna Paramita, clarity from Vajrasattva. You can explain its effects by analyzing its symbolism, icons, practices.

There's support for the idea that it's not just folklore from no less than Stephen Hawking.
In a Q&A after a recent lecture -- presented in Australia by a hologram of Hawking, who was physically in England -- he was asked: "What do you think is the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls across the world?"

The legendary physicist replied:

“Finally, a question about something important.

“My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes.

“It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe.

“And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.”

So it's not out of the question that Pure Lands exist and may even be overlays onto our own world, or that Tara in one of her 21 manifestations can help us out, when supplicated.