Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

How to Forgive: A Meditation

When we are held prisoner by our own past actions, or the actions of others, our present life cannot be fully lived. The resentment, the partially experienced pain, the unwelcome inheritance we carry from the past, all function to close our hearts and thereby narrow our worlds. 

The intention of forgiveness meditation is not to force anything, or to pretend to anything, or to forget about ourselves in utter deference to the needs of others. In fact, it is out of the greatest compassion for ourselves that we create the conditions for an unobstructed love, which can dissolve separation and relieve us of the twin burdens of lacerating guilt and perpetually unresolved outrage.

It is not so easy to access that place inside of us which can forgive, which can love. To be able to forgive is so deep a letting go that it is a type of dying. We must be able to say, “I am not that person anymore, and you are not that person anymore.”

Forgiveness does not mean condoning a harmful action, or denying injustice or suffering. It should never be confused with being passive toward violation or abuse. Forgiveness is an inner relinquishment of guilt or resentment, both of which are devastating to us in the end. As forgiveness grows within us, it may take any outward form: we may seek to make amends, demand justice, resolve to be treated better, or simply leave a situation behind us.

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Eight Slogans to Transform Your Mind

American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön outlines a daily practice to help you work through difficult moments and put you on the path to awakening.

By Pema ChödrönMar 28, 2020

Pema Chödrön Foundation | Facebook

Not knowing how to act during a difficult moment can be frustrating— but there’s a way to get better at it. The following excerpt is from Pema Chödrön’s The Compassion Book: Teachings for Awakening the Heart, which features the 59 Tibetan Buddhist lojong, or “mind-training,” slogans, as well as concise commentaries to guide you toward a compassionate way of living.

Pema Chödrön advises picking a slogan at random each morning and then applying its message to experiences that arise as you go about your day. Over time, this practice will equip you with quick, skillful pointers for how to act (and react) in any given situation.

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Thai Monks Recycle Plastic into Face Masks

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

Thai Monks Who Recycle Plastic into Robes Now Producing Face Masks

Thai monks at the Wat Chak Daeng temple south of Bangkok, who have been recycling plastic into saffron-colored robes for over two years, have begun producing face masks, reported Channel News Asia. On March 23, the confirmed number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Thailand rose to 721, making it one of the most highly affected countries in Southeast Asia. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), face masks can help protect surrounding air and surfaces when a person coughs or sneezes, which could, in turn, prevent the spread of infection. 

Wat Chak Daeng temple receives over 15 tons of used plastic bottles from nearby villages every month. To turn them into fabric, machines crush the bottles into bales, which are then transformed into polyester fibers. On some masks, which include an extra filter layer sewn into the inner lining, monks have been writing a Buddhist prayer that translates to “to know the problem is to find a way to end the suffering.”

Buddhist Nuns in Australia Took Early Action Against Coronavirus

The Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in Perth, Australia—which usually has hundreds of visitors each week—took measures against the spread of the coronavirus weeks before the Australian government mandated precautions, reported Australia’s SBS News. These early interventions may have been particularly influential, as religious activities have been hotspots of contagion. Temple leaders said they knew what preventive measures to take and to take them early because of experiences they had with the 2003 SARS epidemic.

In February, over a month before a government-mandated ban on large gatherings, the temple shut down its regular services, removed prayer cushions from their halls, began disinfecting surfaces daily, put hand sanitizer by the doors, asked elderly people not to attend in-person teachings, and asked people returning from overseas not to visit the temple for 14 days. Now, the temple has canceled all in-person events and services, but their doors remain open. (About 20 people visit the temple each day; everyone has their temperature checked at the door.) 

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Being Present With August at Akiko’s

At Akiko Masuda’s Zen Buddhist bed and breakfast on the Big Island of Hawaii, the host offers a few words of guidance for guests: “Leave no trace… leave only a ‘presence,’ a feeling that for a moment you loved a place so deeply that both you and the place were transformed, and both became more beautiful.” 

The transformative power of place is the theme of August at Akiko’s, one of the New Yorker’s best films of 2019, which follows Alex Zhang Hungtai playing a fictionalized version of himself as a jazz musician searching for his late grandparents’ home in Hawaii. Alex’s search for his ancestral roots coincides with a personal transformation brought to fruition through his friendship with Akiko. 

Tricycle spoke with Akiko Masuda and director Christopher Makoto Yogi about the significance of ancestral callings, their contemplative approach to filmmaking, and how a place can embody its history.

August at Akiko’s is Tricycle’s Film Club selection for the month of March. Watch the film here before April 3.

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How You Can Help Others by Practicing Mindfulness

A great meditation teacher once described the frightening scene in the refugee boats floating adrift after the end of the Vietnam war. Overcrowded with children and elderly people, rich and poor, and everyone in between, it soon became clear that if one person in the boat began to panic, everyone would sink. But if one person remained calm, the whole group could remain calm, and everyone could survive.

So many cultures, spiritual traditions, and even social and neuroscience tell us that our emotions, positive or negative, are contagious. Sometimes, we are called to be the calm one in the storm buffeting humanity, as COVID-19 has done in this lifeboat we call planet earth.

For me that call first came a few years ago, in the midst of practicing a loving-kindness meditation at a very challenging job, where I worked alongside many difficult people. I realized that perhaps I would be the “benefactor” in someone else’s life. This became even more clear to me when I read up on the research about resilience and discovered that one of the best predictors of resilience and thriving in young people who have grown up with multiple traumatic events known as ACEs or Adverse Childhood Events, is the presence of one caring, compassionate and consistent adult in their lives. Adults can provide this for each other, too, of course, and so can kids with their peers.

The old saying goes that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. These days consider that not just who you’re with physically as you shelter in place, but who you’re hanging out with on social media as well.

Within families, we find that when one person practices mindfulness, it impacts others. Parents who practice mindfulness, even if their partners or their kids roll their eyes, make the whole family happier, with better communication and fewer accidents in the home. Parents of special needs kids who practice seem to have kids whose worrisome behavior decreased, and social skills and mood seemed to get better, helping siblings too. When one spouse practices, both appear to be happier with the relationship, which itself is often less reactive and conflict driven.

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