Thursday, November 30, 2006

Compassion for tigers

Compassion for tigers

I am concerned for a tiger. I hope he understands the sincerity of my question.
It was not intended as a trap. But he seems to have made it into one and fallen deeply into it.

The background is as follows.

A teacher (an Elephant) and student (a Tiger) have had a difference of opinion on different subjects and their relation to Buddhism. This has created strife for a long time in an online community that I have been enjoying for quite some time.

For the sake of context I will place the conversations here:

It has been said by a tiger that an elephant holds on to views that are not the teaching of the World Honored One. It has been stated by an elephant that a tiger holds on to views that are not the teaching of the World Honored One. The result to this is great suffering being caused by an elephant to a tiger and to the elephants herd by the tiger.

Can elephants and tigers free themselves from their attachment to views and end the cycle of suffering?


The Tiger responded:

I think that people who haven’t got enlightenment need not ask or discuss or worry about lesser problems but should ask about enlightenment.

Elephants and tigers who have got it already should make their effort to clarify to others what the method might be.

Wanting to get enlightenment by practicing Zazen, over 25 years I have come up with thousands and thousands of new ideas, competitively one after another, about how I might get my paws on enlightenment.

-End conversation-

I will not respond to this on the Masters blog because this is the exact type of thing that disrupts the community.

To the tiger I say I am sorry that you have fallen into this trap. My intention was only to free you.

I have yet to here from the elephant.

For clarification relating to what the tiger has said to me:

I am not seeking enlightenment.

I am concerned about constructing an enjoyable and valuable dialogue about Buddhism.

Great apologies to suffering tigers every ware.


Monday, November 27, 2006

“Kind Speech”

“Kind Speech” means, when meeting with living beings, first of all to feel compassion for them and to offer caring and loving words.
Broadly, it is there being no rude or bad words. In secular societies there are polite words “take good care of yourself!” and there is the disciple’s greeting”how are you?” Speaking with the feeling of “compassion for living beings as if they were babies” is kind speech. We should praise those who have virtue and should pity those who lack virtue. Through love of kind speech, kind speech is gradually nurtured. Thus, kind speech which is ordinarily neither recognized nor experienced manifests itself before us. While the present body and life exists we should enjoy kind speech, and we should not regress or deviate through many ages and many lives. Weather in defeating adversaries or in promoting harmony among gentlefolk, kind speech is fundamental. To hear kind speech indirectly etched an impression in the heart and in the soul. Remember, kind speech arises from a loving mind, and the seed of a loving mind is compassion. We should learn that kind speech has the power to turn around the heavens; it is not merely the praise of ability.

-excerpt from: Shobogenzo, Bodisatta-shishobo- Master Dogen-
Translated by Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima and Chodo Cross

This may look a lot like the previous offering by Master Dogen but it brings up a slightly different reaction in me. In 2000-2003 I was a recruiter in Milwaukee Wisconsin and was putting in many hours just trying to get the “goals” set by higher headquarters. I had little experience in dealing with rejection and the long hours we put in as recruiters. There was one Recruiter who excelled at his job and seemed to be out of the office enjoying quite a bit of time off while still getting his “goals.” He had made it. He was a “successful” recruiter. At that time someone passed a little gem of wisdom on to me. “Fake it till you make it.” Of course you are not really faking anything. You are doing quite a bit of hard work honestly trying to show young people how they can benefit from serving. But you are “Faking” being successful at it. And in that faking being successful soon I started to believe I was successful. Shortly there after I became successful.

Tying these together: Life for most of us in the secular world is all about achieving goals and unfortunately in our busy lives we often seem to have little time for compassion. I am not endorsing you to “Fake” compassion, but if we just try and take little steps toward it and we can begin to soften our hearts. Using kind words and not using bad words is a start towards the direction of having compassion for all living beings. Try using kind words, even if it is a struggle, perhaps you will make them a part of you.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Love words

Love words
-From the Eiheiroku-

Love Words should always be used when we keep company with others. We should not utter violent words. With the people in general it is an important etiquette to greet them with the polite and sincere wishes for their good health.
Among the Buddhist priests, there prevails a custom to inquire after their health feeling grateful for one another. And again they are to love their parents telling nothing of it to others.
When we speak to others in genuine love-expressions such as we use to our babies, we are practicing love words. Let us praise the virtuous; let us show pity to the virtueless. When we are anxious to give the love words, their enlivening power will gradually expand. Then will come forth such precious love words as are usually hidden from us so long as we remain indifferent strangers to them.
When we use love words while we live in this world of ours, we shall be adamantine to any change of destiny. Even a deadly foe will be made to yield to the power of love words; still more, perfect harmony will come to be realized with the virtuous people.
When we hear people speak the love words, we feel calm and peaceful both within and without.
When we hear them spoken for the people having no chance to speak face to face, they will take root in the deeper part of our inner life.
Indeed the love words come straight out of the love mind, which is no less than that the reflection of benevolent pity. We should learn that the love words sincerely given have the power to transfer a big mountain to the sea. But only to appreciate a person’s ability does not have this much effect.

-Master Dogen-

This piece is what inspired me to find more of Master Dogen’s work. I had started with Moon in a dewdrop and then Bendowa until I finally was able to acquire the Shobogenzo.
I still have not found the Eiheiroku which I hope to find a good translation of some day.
In military culture there is a propensity to become callous that is even engrained into indoctrination. To quote Full Metal Jacket “it is the hard hart that kills.” The military is not the only source of this hardening. Daily life in our fast paced world commonly strips us away from living mindfully. We do not use love words and become poorer for it.
The first time I read this passage I cried. I had recently returned from a deployment and was drowning in emotions and delusion. Love Words helped break me out of that shock of returning to the “real world” my wife my daughters, one of which I had never even met.
I hope by my posting Love words here it will be read and help others along the way.


EDIT: Thanks to the efforts of Revrend Master Meiko and Ted for pointing me to Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku by Taigen Dan Leighton and Shohaku Okumura.

Amazon dose not pick this up as the Eiheiroku
I actualy put this on my wsh list back in April without even being mindfull of what it really was.


Thursday, November 16, 2006


There are a lot of people practicing?

What is correct practice?

I read to many Buddhist blogs and find that there are a lot of emotional beings out there posting without having the most important parts of being a Buddhist in mind. Maybe I am guilty of this too. Buddhism is Buddhism. We all have our own practice, be it at a temple or a monastery or someone’s basement or your own bedroom. Be a Buddhist! Look at the precepts, I think they are about the same for everyone or at least have the same intent.

Practice living as a Buddhist..


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Getting cold

The weather is turning cold here in the North West and so am I.
My previous buzz of happiness appears to have come to an end.
That is not to say I am sad, not at all. The constant grinning I had has ebbed and I am afraid that I was a bit attached to it and hope it comes back soon. Now I recognize that it could be I am just reflecting my ego, but what reason do I have to not be happy? Ok everyone can look at their lives and say this and that are not going my way but I don’t really care about the things I don’t have or did not get or even the material things I want and are out of reach. I have a lot of things that I am thankful for like the Sangha I practice with and a great family. So why did the happy buzz go away and why am I even attached to it? It is just a feeling. If you are cold, warm your self if you are hot cool off.

I think I just an animal and want to be warm again, I think I am thinking of "I" too much.