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…”

Has Mindfulness Made Me a Bitch?

Recently, on a Buddhist-based news feed I follow, where people diss each other to an alarming degree, someone complained about the “I’m better than you because I’m so spiritual” vibe prevalent in some circles. Then the complaint came closer to home: A friend told me she found me to be “too Buddhist and aloof.” The proximity of these two events gave me food for thought: Has mindfulness made me a bitch?

“Bitch” is a very popular word in our colloquial lexicon these days. I’ve seen it applied both positively and negatively to men, women, ideas, events, and even motorbikes. In this case I’m using it in two ways. First, to get your attention—did it work?—and second, to describe what I consider a gender-neutral manifestation of the ego: the know-it-all.

Before I started practicing meditation, I didn’t know if I was coming or going. Multiple answers came and went, but the question of what life was all about kept rolling around like a loose marble on my hamster wheel of a mind. I actively sought guidance.

My quest for wisdom began with an audience with a famous Hindu teacher. The room was packed and people were chanting. I was told that when the swami touched my head with a peacock feather, I would receive clarity. It was difficult not to admire his followers. They were all smiling brightly and looked like they had “the answer.” I stood in line, offered some fruit, got bopped with the feather, and it was immediately crystal clear: I was, indeed, confused.

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Meditation Month 2021: Let Go and Break Through

Week 4 of Guo Gu’s guided meditation videos

With Guo GuMar 22, 2021

This week, Guo Gu explains the term “silent illumination,” a principle we can use to guide us in meditation both when we are scattered and when in perfect concentration. Silent illumination is actually one way to express a Chan (Jp., Zen) concept of awakening. Silence is in the intrinsic freedom within us and our inherent selflessness. Illumination is the function of this wisdom of our lack of a core self. Guo Gu suggests that our “no-self”—and the Buddhist truth of emptiness—is actually our connections with others. 

Sometimes people start to have a pessimistic, nihilistic understanding of [no-self and emptiness]. Actually, emptiness and no-self just mean relationships. We exist because of everyone else. Everything about us, our thoughts, feelings, our knowledge, our intellect, our ability to think, comes together because of our connection with others. 

Silent illumination can also be understood as a simultaneous practice of shamatha and vipassana: stillness and awareness, or wakefulness and insight. Summing up the teachings of these last four weeks, Guo Gu invites us to reflect on what we’ve learned about progressive relaxation, working with the breath, direct contemplation, and learning to bracket our words, language, and discrimination to experience things as they are as much as possible, and move toward the clarity that comes from embodying silent illumination. 

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The Nature of the Mind

Understanding the qualities of the mind is essential to mahamudra practice, a kind of meditation that points to the emptiness of all phenomena.

By H.E. 12th Zurmang Gharwang RinpocheMar 21, 2021

Photo by Alfred Schrock | http://tricy.cl/3cTRlLb

When we meditate, we wonder: what is the mind? What is consciousness, or awareness? In some ways the mind may seem unreal. It is not something tangible. The mind is not composed of the physical elements of earth, water, fire, or wind. But if the mind is not tangibly real, how is it that we are able to think and feel and do all the things that we do each day? 

In Buddhist texts, the reflection of the moon on a lake is used as a metaphor to explain how things do not exist in the way that they appear to us. While they appear to be fully real, substantially existent, and to possess some intrinsic nature of their own, they do not in fact exist in that way. This analogy can help us begin to understand the way that the mind exists. 

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Sri Lanka Targets Muslim Minority with Proposed Burqa Ban

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

Proposed Burqa Ban in Sri Lanka Raises Concerns 

On March 13, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Public Security Sarath Weerasekera announced that he signed a paper for cabinet approval to close over 1,000 Islamic schools and ban the burqa, an outer garment that covers the body and face and is worn by some Muslim women. At a ceremony held at a Buddhist temple, Weerasekera stated that he signed the proposal on national security grounds: “[The burqa] is a sign of religious extremism that came about recently. We will definitely ban it.” According to Al Jazeera, Sri Lankans expressed disapproval of the government’s latest actions targeting the country’s minority Muslim population, with many viewing the proposal as an attempt to cause divisions and appease the Buddhist majority. Muslims make up about 9 percent of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people, while Sinhalese Buddhists account for about 75 percent of the population. 

The proposed ban was announced a few weeks before the second anniversary of the 2019 Easter bombings, a terrorist attack by the Islamic State against the country’s Christian minority. Following the bombings, the country saw a surge of anti-Muslim sentiments culminating in episodes of violence and a temporary burqa ban. The current attempt to outlaw the burqa requires approval of the Cabinet and Parliament, where the government has a two-thirds majority. 

“I don’t think anyone making decisions on the burqa are doing it with the intention of national security or keeping the rights of women in mind. I think the burqa has become a symbol of a power struggle that the state wants to control,” Vraie Cally Balthazaar, a Sri Lankan gender activist, told Al Jazeera. 

Buddhist Monks in South Korea March for Democracy in Myanmar

Buddhist monks in Seoul, South Korea, led a protest march on March 12 against the military coup in Myanmar, the Korea Bizwire reports. Joined by Myanmar activists, four monks from the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism marched from the Myanmar Embassy to the office of the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Throughout the five-hour-long protest, the monks prayed for the recovery of democracy in Myanmar and conducted ochetuji, an act to venerate the Buddha by lying prostrate with elbows, knees, and forehead touching the ground. Upon arrival at the UNHRC, the monks delivered a statement criticizing the acts of violence committed by the Myanmar military and police forces. “There cannot be any dictatorship over people,” said Ven. Hyemun of the Jogye Order. “We will stand with the Myanmar people until they achieve full democracy.”

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Addressing Violence Against Asian Americans

To mourn those who have been lost, we honor the myriad contributions of Buddhists of Asian descent.

By TricycleMar 19, 2021

A memorial at an Atlanta massage parlor where a white gunman is accused of killing eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent. | Robin Rayne/ZUMA Wire

The violence and xenophobic rhetoric against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders didn’t start with COVID-19. 

From recent incidents of hate-fueled vandalism at Asian American Buddhist temples across North America, to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Asian American Buddhists have weathered many storms born out of jingoism and racism.

As a Buddhist organization, we strive to engage with the legacies of Asian and Asian American stewards of the dharma, while recognizing the often painful histories, continued influence of Orientalism, and geopolitical struggles that led to the migration of many Buddhists to the West.

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