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…”

Toxic Inputs

We continue our series of posts with questions and answers. In this fifth post, we hear two questions.

The session takes place on August 16, 2007 during the Stonehill College retreat during the U.S. Tour. The retreat theme is Mindfulness, Fearlessness, and Togetherness.

1. How can we influence other members of our family, especially other adults, who want to avoid toxic inputs such as television shows, alcohol, etc. often they are not interested in changing their lifestyle or the practice. How can handle this in our home.

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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Karmapas Work Together to Identify Reincarnated Lama

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

Karmapas announce plans to work together to recognize Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation

The two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa, one of the most influential Tibetan Buddhist positions and leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage, are working together to identify the the reincarnation of the 14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro, Phayul reported. In 1992, the 14th Shamarpa recognized 9-year-old Trinley Thaye Dorjee as the 17th Karmapa, while the Dalai Lama recognized 7-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Other Buddhist leaders were split, and sectarian sentiments festered. But in recent years, the two Karmapas have been working to repair those divisions, and met for the first time in October 2018 to discuss the future of their lineage. 

In agreeing to make a joint decision on the identification of the 15th Shamarpa, they are demonstrating a greater commitment to their assertions that unity is more important than past controversies. At the Kagyu Monlam, a major international prayer festival, Ogyen Trinley Dorjee said, “It is extremely important that Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation be recognized without any mistake or confusion, without any ‘our side’ or ‘their side.’ Having a unanimous recognition is absolutely crucial,” according to Phayul. He added, “If the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche is disputed, in the future, all the Kamtsang [another name for Karma Kagyu] high lamas will be disputed and the Kamtsang will be completely split. The attachment and hatred will be the same as in a feud that lasts for generations. If we fall under its power, all the majesty and power of over 900 years of history will be destroyed.”

Losar festivities in Lhasa canceled over coronavirus risks

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Aware of Suffering Surrounding Death

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Questions and Answers Retreats

We continue our series of posts with questions and answers. In this fourth post, we hear one question.

The session takes place on August 16, 2007 during the Stonehill College retreat during the U.S. Tour. The retreat theme is Mindfulness, Fearlessness, and Togetherness.

Aware of the suffering surrounding death. Are we forced to see our friends and loved ones as impersonal parts that will manifest in other ways or are we able to take comfort in the idea or notion that their energy will live on and are we attaching to them as a notion to much?
Original author: Chan Niem Hy
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Meditation Barbie Wants to Be Your Dolly Lama

Growing up, I played with Barbies. 

Barbies who were mermaids, horseback riders, hairdressers, flight attendants, beach fiends. Barbies who brought home gold in the 1998 Winter Olympics. In college I had to confront the dolls’ more controversial reputation. I found out that the Barbies—with their Pollyannaish dispositions, their hard tan plastic mounds for breasts, their legs that squeaked and moved like children’s chopsticks, and their crimped, poofy hair that dwarfed their bodies like Mylar blankets––were crude and problematic symbols that had caused me, without my knowing it, a fair amount of psychic harm. In the following years, new ideas about Barbie flooded out the old ones, and her chirpy, emancipatory claims—“We girls can do anything,” “You can be anything,” “Girls rule”—became specious, and then offensive. 

Barbie and I parted ways, but she tip-toed back into my life recently when I saw a tweet from her official account: Barbie has taken up meditation, she announced, to help her cope with an “increasingly busy, over-connected world.” That’s funny, I thought. I mean, she’s always been really busy—balancing multiple careers, playing housewife to a loyal Ken, and paying off the balance for her pink Corvette, dream home, boat, jet, and rocket ship. But now she has decided to take a break from all that, and just sit. 

Well, not entirely. Breathe with Me Barbie, as she’s called, is part of Mattel’s new “Wellness Collection,” which features Barbies who partake in cucumber face masks, fizzy baths, and mani-pedis and value fitness and sleep. But Breathe with Me Barbie demands the spotlight here, because while Barbie has been pampered before, this is the first time she has ever meditated.  

I immediately wanted to understand what this cross-legged Barbie was all about. Critics were already complaining about how our culture of “wellness” has gone “too far,” and I didn’t want this Barbie to become just another flash point for a sloppy critique of capitalism—perhaps the only aggression she has had to endure more often than having her head twisted off by a younger sibling. 

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Hungry Ghosting, or the Hell Realm of the Dating World

When it comes to dating apps, I suspect that most users tend to swipe through potential friends and lovers in a mostly mindless trance, swelling with hopefulness that can sink into hopelessness, often at the first instance of ghosting. As we dodge the aggressive come-ons of asuras [wrathful demigods] and cultivate the six perfections of profile pictures, we rarely pause to rest our thumbs and check in with what’s going on for us mentally.

I wanted to find out if there was a better way to use dating apps, so I reached out to Devon and Craig Hase, a Buddhist couple and co-authors of the upcoming book How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Survival Guide for Modern Life (Shambhala; April 21, 2020). They are both meditation teachers who have trained extensively with teachers like Joseph Goldstein, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, and Tara Brach. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Craig and Devon devised some guidelines for falling and staying in love that stem from their ecumenical approach to the dharma, their commitment to each other, and their vow to be good people in a sometimes hell realm-y world. 

How can we use dating apps mindfully or skillfully when it seems like these apps naturally lead to patterns of clinging and avoidance that can undermine our wisest intentions?

Craig Hase (CH): Well, with this exact question in mind, we came up with three approaches to dating based on Buddhist teachings: stay cool, know what you’re about, and know what you want. The first one is basically shorthand for using the breath and body to stay anchored to whatever is going on relationally and in your own mind and heart—because it gets crazy in there. It’s a reminder that you can always come back to the breath again, and again, no matter what’s going on. 

Devon Hase (DH): The next one, know what you’re about, like a lot of what’s in our book, is an idea from the Buddhist precepts disguised in cool language [laughs]. These apps can really mess with our best intentions, so it’s essential to know who you are and what your values are. Know what you care about. When we put ourselves out there, especially in the app world, it might be really enticing to try to be somebody you’re not. Creating a facade around your true self tends to throw off center both you and the person you’re interested in, because it’s not honest. Knowing the ethical foundation you stand on is important, too. 

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