Continuation

enso-zen-circle

What you think, what you say, and what you do is your continuation – a kind of energy that will continue for a long time. When your body has disintegrated, you continue onward because of the three kinds of energy that you produce everyday. After you leave this active form of being, you acquire other forms of being, because the energy you produce will result in new forms.

It’s like a cloud. When a cloud is no longer a cloud, it is something else, like rain or snow or hail. So when you don’t see a cloud in the sky, you don’t say that it’s no longer there. It is still there in other forms. That is also true with a human being. When you are no longer in this form of body, then your action – your karma, what you produce in terms of thinking and speech and action – is your continuation. That’s why when you practice mindfulness, concentration, and insight, you can assure a good, beautiful continuation in the future.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Interbeing

lotus and koi
Thich Nhat Hanh is well known for coining the term “interbeing,” which refers to the interconnectedness of all things. Over the years, he has frequently used the image of a flower to explain this teaching. Sunflower, orchid, lotus – if you are mindful and concentrated, you can see that a flower is made of infinite non-flower elements. A flower is made up of not just rain but also the cloud that released the rain. It’s made up of not just soil but also the decomposed plants and animals that enrich the soil. If you remove any of the non-flower elements from the flower, the flower ceases to exist. “So the flower cannot exist alone,” Thich Nhat Hanh told me. “It has to inter-be with everything else in the cosmos.” The same is true of people. “A human being is made of non-human elements, and if you remove the non-human elements, the human being is no longer there. So a human cannot be by herself alone. She has to inter-be with everything else in the cosmos.”
“It’s like the lotus and the mud. Without the mud, you cannot grow a lotus. Without the mud of suffering, you cannot create happiness. This is why, if you touch the nature of interbeing, you don’t try to run away from suffering anymore. Instead you try to embrace your suffering. You look deeply into it to understand its nature and to lean how to make good use of suffering to produce happiness.”

– Andrea Miller interviewing Thich Nhat Hanh (from Shambhala Sun issue January 2013)

Chan Khong on Mindfulness


The key…is to practice mindfulness. “When your body and mind are not one, you do not see deeply,” she says. “You are in front of your brother, but your mind is on many other things, so you don’t really see your brother. Maybe he is having some trouble, but you don’t see it, not even when you share the same room. But mindfulness brings you there, to the present, and then you see. Train yourself all day long to bring your mind to your body and to be present with your food, your friends, your work, everything, because the more you concentrate, the deeper you will see.”

– Chan Khong (from Shambhala Sun issue May 2012)

The 59 Slogans of Lojong

Lojong was originally brought to Tibet by an Indian Buddhist teacher named Atisha. It is a mind training practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and is based on a set of aphorisms formulated in Tibet in the 12th century by Geshe Chekhawa. The practice involves refining and purifying one’s motivations and attitudes.

The 59 proverbs that form the root text of the mind training practice are designed as a set of antidotes to undesired mental habits that cause suffering.

Point One: The preliminaries, which are the basis for dharma practice

Slogan 1. First, train in the preliminaries; The Four Reminders or alternatively called The Four Thoughts

1. Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life.
2. Be aware of the reality that life ends; death comes for everyone; Impermanence.
3. Recall that whatever you do, whether virtuous or not, has a result; Karma.
4. Contemplate that as long as you are too focused on self-importance and too caught up in thinking about how you are good or bad, you will experience suffering. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness; Ego.

Point Two: The main practice, which is training in bodhicitta.

Absolute Bodhicitta
Slogan 2. Regard all dharma as dreams; although experiences may seem solid, they are passing memories.
Slogan 3. Examine the nature of unborn awareness.
Slogan 4. Self-liberate even the antidote.
Slogan 5. Rest in the nature of alaya, the essence, the present moment.
Slogan 6. In postmeditation, be a child of illusion.

Relative Bodhicitta
Slogan 7. Sending and taking should be practiced alternately. These two should ride the breath (aka. Practice Tonglen).
Slogan 8. Three objects, Three Poisons, Three Roots of Virtue

The Three Objects are friends, enemies and neutrals. The Three Poisons are craving, aversion and indifference. The Three Roots of Virtue are the remedies.

Slogan 9. In all activities, train with slogans.
Slogan 10. Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself.

Point Three: Transformation of Bad Circumstances into the Way of Enlightenment

Slogan 11. When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.
Slogan 12. Drive all blames into one.
Slogan 13. Be grateful to everyone.
Slogan 14. Seeing confusion as The Four Kayas is unsurpassable shunyata protection.

The Four Kayas are Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya, Svabhavikakaya. Thoughts have no birthplace, thoughts are unceasing, thoughts are not solid, and these three characteristics are interconnected. Shunyata can be described as “complete openness.”

Slogan 15. The Four practices are the best of methods.
The Four Practices are: accumulating merit, laying down evil deeds, offering to the dons, and offering to the dharmapalas.

Slogan 16. Whatever you meet unexpectedly, join with meditation.

Point Four: Showing the Utilization of Practice in One’s Whole Life

Slogan 17. Practice The Five Strengths, the condensed heart instructions.
The Five Strengths are: strong determination, familiarization, the positive seed, reproach, and aspiration

Slogan 18. The Mahayana instruction for ejection of consciousness at death is The Five Strengths: how you conduct yourself is important. When you are dying practice The Five Strengths.

Point Five: Evaluation of Mind Training

Slogan 19. All dharma agrees at one point — All Buddhist teachings are about lessening the ego, lessening one’s self-absorption.
Slogan 20. Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one — You know yourself better than anyone else knows you
Slogan 21. Always maintain only a joyful mind.
Slogan 22. If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.

Point Six: Disciplines of Mind Training

Slogan 23. Always abide by The Three Basic Principles — Dedication to your practice, refraining from outrageous conduct, developing patience.
Slogan 24. Change your attitude, but remain natural.– Reduce ego clinging, but be yourself.
Slogan 25. Don’t talk about injured limbs — Don’t take pleasure contemplating others defects.
Slogan 26. Don’t ponder others — Don’t take pleasure contemplating others weaknesses.
Slogan 27. Work with the greatest defilements first — Work with your greatest obstacles first.
Slogan 28. Abandon any hope of fruition — Don’t get caught up in how you will be in the future, stay in the present moment.
Slogan 29. Abandon poisonous food.
Slogan 30. Don’t be so predictable — Don’t hold grudges.
Slogan 31. Don’t malign others.
Slogan 32. Don’t wait in ambush — Don’t wait for others weaknesses to show to attack them.
Slogan 33. Don’t bring things to a painful point — Don’t humiliate others.
Slogan 34. Don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow — Take responsibility for yourself.
Slogan 35. Don’t try to be the fastest — Don’t compete with others.
Slogan 36. Don’t act with a twist — Do good deeds without scheming about benefiting yourself.
Slogan 37. Don’t turn gods into demons — Don’t use these slogans or your spirituality to increase your self-absorption
Slogan 38. Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.

Point Seven: Guidelines of Mind Training

Slogan 39. All activities should be done with one intention.
Slogan 40. Correct all wrongs with one intention.
Slogan 41. Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.
Slogan 42. Whichever of the two occurs, be patient.
Slogan 43. Observe these two, even at the risk of your life.
Slogan 44. Train in The Three Difficulties.
Slogan 45. Take on The Three Principal Causes: the teacher, the dharma, the sangha.
Slogan 46. Pay heed that The Three Never Wane: gratitude towards one’s teacher, appreciation of the dharma (teachings) and correct conduct.
Slogan 47. Keep the three inseparable: body, speech, and mind.
Slogan 48. Train without bias in all areas. It is crucial always to do this pervasively and wholeheartedly.
Slogan 49. Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.
Slogan 50. Don’t be swayed by external circumstances.
Slogan 51. This time, practice the main points: others before self, dharma, and awakening compassion.
Slogan 52. Don’t misinterpret.

The 6 thing you may misinterpret are patience, yearning, excitement, compassion, priorities and joy. Your patient when you’ll get your way, but not when its difficult. You yearn for worldly things, instead of an open heart and mind. You get excited about wealth and entertainment, instead of your potential for enlightenment. You have compassion for those you like, but none for those you don’t. Worldly gain is your priority rather than cultivating loving-kindness and compassion. You feel joy when you enemies suffer, and do not rejoice in others’ good fortune.

Slogan 53. Don’t vacillate (in your practice of Lojong).
Slogan 54. Train wholeheartedly.
Slogan 55. Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing: Know your own mind with honesty and fearlessness.
Slogan 56. Don’t wallow in self-pity.
Slogan 57. Don’t be jealous.
Slogan 58. Don’t be frivolous.
Slogan 59. Don’t expect applause.

A Mirror Mind

One moon shows in every pool, in every pool one moon. – Zen Proverb

Your mind should be like a mirror, reflecting everything but holding on to nothing. – Unknown

Mindfulness is mirror thought. It reflects only what is presently happening and in exactly the way it is happening. There are no biases. – Bhante Gunaratara

My mind is like a clear mirror reflecting everything just as it is. Red comes and the mirror becomes red, white comes and the mirror becomes white. This is how a Bodhisattva lives. I have no desires for myself. My actions are only for all beings. This is a complete life. – Seung Sahn

When Mind Appears

From Seung Sahn’s The Compass of Zen

According to the Avatamsaka-sutra, your mind makes everything. It is very simple. We already talked about how our mind makes time and space. We talked about how your mind makes the same length of time either longer or shorter. Your thinking makes here and there, up and down, good and bad. Originally these things do not exist. They come from thinking. When mind appears, everything appears. When mind disappears, everything disappears. Our mind makes this whole universe. There is a famous story that explains this point.

A long time ago in Korea, there was a great Zen master named Won Hyo. When he was a young man, he had to fight in a terrible civil war. He saw many, many men killed. He watched helplessly while innocent women and children were also ruthlessly slain in the pointless give and take of battle. Lands were overrun and livestock slaughtered. This hit his mind. “Human beings have no meaning in this life,” he thought. “Why must we make so much suffering for ourselves and all beings?” so he decided that society was no good. In disgust, and yearning to find some answer to his deep question about the nature of existence, he shaved his head, became a monk, and headed for the mountains, vowing never to return until he had understood the absolute truth about the nature of existence. In a very short time, he fathomed the teachings of the great sutras. But this did not satisfy him. Even the Buddha’s own speech could not lift the heavy burden that lay on his heart like a boulder as he looked at the misery of everyday life. Seeing his condition, several of his friends told Won Hyo about a great Zen master in China who, it was reputed, had been completely enlightened as to the matter of life and death. Perhaps this master could help him. Together with another monk, Won Hyo packed away his sutras and, with backpack and straw hat, headed north across the mountains for China.

Won Hyo traveled on foot for many, many months. Although he was very tired and weak, his determination to find a teacher was unbending. One day, he ran out of water, and as night came he collapsed on the ground, very exhausted. He awoke in the middle of the night, gripped with thirst. As he groped around for something to drink, his fingers felt the edge of a cup, filled to the brim with water. Taking it with both hands, he gratefully drank the water, which Buddha himself must have sent to help him! The water felt cool and refreshing as it ran down his throat. Because he was so thirsty, it seemed like the most delicious water he ever tasted. Happy with his great fortune, Won Hyo settled back into sleep.

In the morning, Won Hyo woke and found beside him what he had taken for a cup the night before. It was a human skullcap in which some rainwater had collected. There were maggots and larvae moving around the sides. The skull wasn’t so old, too, so there were still bits of flesh clinging here and there. When he saw that, his stomach convulsed in nausea. Falling on all fours, Won Hyo’s mouth opened wide, and as the vomit poured out, his mind suddenly opened and he attained enlightenment. In that moment, he completely attained the true nature of his mind: Last night, since he hadn’t seen or thought anything of the water, it was delicious. But now, seeing the skull and thinking about it, the water suddenly became very bad and made him sick to his stomach. “Ah ha,” he realized. “Everything is created by mind alone!”  

Won Hyo realized that his thinking made the water good or bad, delicious or disgusting. Thinking makes things pleasant or unpleasant. Thinking makes the whole universe! Won Hyo attained this point and realized that finding a teacher in China was no longer necessary. He returned to Korea and eventually became the National Teacher. He is known as one of the greatest Zen masters in the history of Korean Buddhism.

Empty Your Mind

In the early 20th century, Zen master Nan-in received a university professor who came to ask about Zen. But instead he only talked on and on about his own ideas. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then, while the man continued to speak, Nan-in kept on pouring the tea. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “You fool! It is overfull. No more will go in!” Nan-in replied, “Like this cup, you are also too full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your mind?”

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