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…”

We Contain the Whole Cosmos

Posted on October 13, 2019 by Chan Niem Hy

This is a 78-minute dharma talk from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Hanoi during the “Engaged Buddhism in the 21st Century” retreat. This is the sixth and final talk on May 11, 2008 and the talk is offered in English.

Photo by Paul Davis

The Dharma is something you need to come and see for yourself. It is experiential. Meditation holds the keys. We can unlock the door of reality. Among them are the Three Doors of Liberation. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. These are the keys.

What are these Three Doors of Liberation?

Along with this, we take a deeper look at several pairs of opposites (in the context of signlessness).

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Indigenous Dharma

Once a month, Tricycle features an article from Inquiring Mind, a Buddhist journal that was in print from 1984–2015 and now has a growing number of back issues archived at inquiringmind.com. This month’s selection is a series of essays and interviews on the interaction between dharma and indigenous traditions, including perspectives from John Travis, Eduardo Duran, Fred Wahpepah, Lorain Fox Davis, Tsultrim Allione, Susan Murphy. The article first appeared as “Indigenous Dharma: Native American and Buddhist Voices” in the Fall 2005 issue of Inquiring Mind. Be sure to check out related articles in the archive, like “Dharma Roots” by Wendy Johnson and “Make Your Body a Sundial” by Susan Moon. If you feel so inclined, consider making a donation to help Inquiring Mind continue adding articles to its archive!

Susan Murphy

Susan Murphy is an Australian Zen teacher in the lineages of Robert Aitken and John Tarrant. She teaches in Zen Open Circle in Sydney, the Melbourne Zen Group and at her rural retreat center, Cloud Mountain. Inquiring Mind asked her to write the introduction to this series of essays and interviews on Indigenous Dharma.

“When you know the place where you are, practice begins,” says Zen master Dogen. One could say that every stage of Buddhist practice, including realization itself, forms and deepens a covenant with the Earth. We bear witness to the Earth by learning to really be here, and when reality breaks through and shakes us to the core, it is the Earth reciprocating that intimate gesture of custodianship. It is one elemental act of kindness being met by another. The testimonies that follow from Native American and Buddhist teachers bring to light some of the affinities of Buddhist practice with native traditions and their protocols for creating and maintaining good relations with the Earth, the source of life.

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Buddhist Aliens

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

Mindful of Melting Glaciers, Ladakh Launches Climate Change Project

A special report recently issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that 64 percent of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, which includes parts of northern India and the Tibetan Plateau, may be lost by the year 2100. Days after the report was released, the Himalayan region of Ladakh launched a plan aimed at curbing the glacial melt and other devastating effects of global warming. According to The Times of India, a group of NGOs backed by Chetsang Rinpoche, head of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism, has launched the Green Himalayas project with the goal to create a green cover in the foothills of the Himalayas and a model site of sustainable development in the area of Phobrang in Ladakh. Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, who was present at the launch of the project, praised the NGOs’ initiative. 

“All 257 villages in Ladakh depend on glacier-fed water resources unlike rain-fed water resources in other parts of the country. The glaciers are, however, melting rapidly. So there is a big question before us as [to] whether Ladakh will survive in 20-30 years in such a situation,” Namgyal said. “I think such initiatives will provide a solution to preserve the fragile ecosystem of the region and increase means of sustainable livelihood for the people.” Following the injunctions of Buddhist leaders, the group behind Green Himalayas had already planted 25,000 trees in Phobrang before the launch of the project. 

Related: Ladakh Brings Old Love to New Stupas

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Unionizing Yoga

At the start of a yoga class, the teacher often shares a common definition of the word yoga: union. Union of the body and the mind, union of the individual self with a larger consciousness.  But over the past several months, teachers from YogaWorks’ studios in New York have been working to establish a more literal union—with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. 

On September 9, the group of 100 yoga teachers asked management to recognize their union, and shortly after, filed a petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. On October 17, YogaWorks teachers will begin voting to form a union, and a winning vote will legally allow the group to begin the process of bargaining.

“Yoga happens on two levels: the individual and collective,” said YogaWorks teacher Nora Heilmann. “Our effort to unionize stemmed from our individual needs as teachers to make the profession more sustainable, and also from our collective belief that yoga needs to stay the complex and beautiful practice that it is.”

It’s no secret that, over the past several decades, yoga has exploded into a multibillion dollar industry. As of 2016, over 36 million people practice yoga in the United States. With students filling up classes, many studios have expanded. But while profits are up for owners and managements, the unionizing teachers say that unclear hiring and business practices are a serious problem within the industry.

“In the yoga community, there is a total lack of transparency, and there are no standards in terms of how yoga teachers are hired, evaluated, or paid,” said Jodie Rufty, a YogaWorks teacher and teacher trainer. “There’s also no way of regulating how a teacher gets a raise. It has long been unclear and frustrating for many teachers. Yoga has grown in popularity, but a lot of integrity has been lost.”

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Songs from the Bardo Guides Us to the Next Rebirth

What happens to us when we die? Where do we go? What do we do? And what does this tell us about who we are right now—and if we’re even really here at all? 

Laurie Anderson, the renowned American visual and performing artist, may just have the answer.

Although Buddha himself was often reluctant to address such grandiose questions, his later disciples took up the challenge. One of history’s most famous explorations of this matter comes from The Bardo Thodol, or The Tibetan Book of the Dead, as it has been known in English since the earliest translation appeared in 1927. This sacred Tibetan Buddhist text lays out detailed descriptions of the forty-nine-day journey of our consciousness from the moment of death to our next rebirth.

Now Anderson has helped recreate much of this journey in the hauntingly beautiful audio odyssey Songs from the Bardo, which pairs key sections of The Bardo Thodol with gongs, flutes, strings, and percussion.

Songs from the Bardo is a collaboration between Anderson and the Tibetan artist and composer Tenzin Choegyal, along with the composer and producer Jesse Paris Smith. Choegyal provides the occasional Tibetan chanting and traditional instruments, while the calm, clear voice of Anderson is heard reciting the English translations throughout. 

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