Sacred West

Buddhism and Modern Life

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Four Ways of Letting Go

May 28th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Filed under: Modern Life · Practice

We know that letting go is the answer to everything, but this is not always easy. As with everything, we need tools to practice with. The Buddha taught four ways to let go, and Ajahn Brahm presents this teaching in a wonderfully engaging manner.

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Beyond Hope and Despair Lies Duty

August 28th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Filed under: Ngondro · Practice

Living and acting beyond hope and despair – this is a state we aim for on our practice path, knowing that both emotions are two sides of the same attachment.

The full thought that makes up my title to this post came out of a planning meeting I took part in a few days ago. We are developing sustainable practices to fight the effects of climate change, and I mentioned that personally I have no hope that the human race can change its habits in time to save itself from massive catastrophe.

How then, some wondered, could I remain motivated?

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The Path Is Long

April 1st, 2010 · 1 Comment · Filed under: Practice

The path is long and yet the distance is not far.

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Tibetan Yogis On Film

March 3rd, 2010 · 2 Comments · Filed under: Practice

Here are three film clips of Tibetan Bhuddist masters and students on the practice path of the yogi.

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Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Pema Siddhi Hung

January 12th, 2010 · 9 Comments · Filed under: Guru Rinpoche

Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Pema Siddhi Hung.

This is a nice clip, obviously made with devotion. It’s a softer sound than you normally hear the mantra recited. Beautiful images.

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Death Shows Memory, Shows Dream

December 8th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Filed under: Death

A sangha member died last week, a revered elder teacher. As is the Shambhala practice, we sat with the body for three and a half days, around the clock in the shrine room, taking shifts.

On Sunday afternoon I was there for a couple of hours, contemplating the cold body on ceremonial display, marveling as always at the nature of appearances, the mysterious essence of life that animates matter – the difference between the alive and the not alive. I was thinking, even if Lord Yama takes the body, he can’t take the regard we hold this person in, that endures forever.

And yet – where is there that anything endures? There is only interdependent arising.

Funny how soon the presence of a person disappears, how rapidly the context of a person recedes into memory, how memory shows itself as thought, all thoughts fading as they will, and all the business of knowing someone having had the nature of dream all along.

It’s as if, whatever was left after dying, that was all there ever was, in the reality of this person to me. Everything else was elaboration out of the endless river of thoughts.

There’s only ever the essential presence of a moment, and everything else is empty thought, curling upwards and away like smoke.

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Story Told Backwards

October 9th, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Dharmic · Practice

I wonder indeed what it must feel like to have one’s actions be as fine as a sesame seed and one’s mind be as vast as the sky.

I contemplated this very thing last Sunday, but the comparison came to me accidentally, backwards from experience so to speak. I was trying to experience a certain freedom of mind, and yet at the same time to be very physically present in the shrine room, with floors and people and light through the windows – in other words, not just caught in a concept of freedom, not just lost in focus, if I can say it that way.

This was what showed me how Guru Rinpoche’s revered statement applies. One is more here than ever before, and one’s mind is empty. And the practice of this is possible.

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Weary From the Cushion

October 7th, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Practice

For a long time I’ve been asking myself, if all the teachings talk in terms of resting in natural mind, why is it so wearying to meditate? Where does the resting part come into the picture?

I had a bit of an answer recently during a Sunday morning sit at Shambhala. After working really hard for three hours and making some headway, as it were, I perceived that my ordinary self was struggling to catch up to the tastes of liberation experienced, and was very tired.

So it’s really perhaps just as simple as one has always perceived since starting to meditate: it’s not the being in the moment that takes energy, it’s having to start over again an instant later. It’s the firing up of the motor again. It’s the sadness at seeing ourselves cover the moment over with glue. The stickiness of our grasping. Seeing this again and again.

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Notice How We Allow Ourselves Happiness

October 3rd, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Practice

During the summer while I had steady work and income I felt a level of security that I haven’t felt for some years. I was able to observe elation as it arises, and bring it into my practice. I jotted down the following notes.

When something makes us happy we forget, or don’t notice, that all that’s happened is we’ve allowed ourselves to lift the pressure off our happiness button a little bit. The happiness that arises is a function inside ourselves, or we could better say, a quality of ourselves that exists always.

We can flash on memories, dreams, little instances of joy and exuberance and happiness – call it freedom perhaps? – and we can actually see that this feeling, this function of feeling, has been a faculty that we’ve possessed all along. It just needed a reason to come awake.

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Was Gone, Am Back

October 3rd, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: News

Welcome me back, I’ve been absent from these pages. I’ve had a very busy summer, writing for the health care industry – a regional hospital network in my area. I neglected to post anything here, but I didn’t neglect my practice, in fact I strengthened it during the rigor of working in the corporate world. It was very supportive – how does anyone get by without the Dharma?

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We Are All Born to Help Each Other

July 3rd, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Dharmic

Lama Surya Das during this busy summer of mine sent another gem that I want to share.

This great encouragement is from His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa:

On this small planet, in the daily dreams of our life, beneficial deeds are always recommended, simply because we are all born to help each other.

By sharing our love with different expressions and through the practice of generosity, morality and understanding, we will then be fulfilling our purpose of being members of the human race.

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The End Of Struggle

April 6th, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Dharmic

Lama Surya Das, in a recent Words of Wisdom email that he sends out weekly, told of the following teaching given by Venerable Ajahn Chah:

“Try to do everything with a mind that lets go.
If you let go a little you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom.
Your struggles with the world will have come to an end.”

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Enkyo Roshi on the Genjo Koan

March 3rd, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Zen

Catching ourselves gone, and thus experiencing ourselves being back, is experiencing realization of delusion. Delusion must be present for us to realize it. Delusion is what’s going on, and our awakening in the midst of this is our buddha nature. But the delusion continues, what’s going on continues.

Enkyo Roshi explains this in a way that brings me face to face with what she is saying, face to face with my mind’s awakening in delusion. How simple it is to see, how difficult to put into words, how well she transmits this teaching, in her explanation of these lines from a portion of the Genjo Koan, written in the autumn of 1233 by Eihei Dogen, founder of the Soto Zen tradition:

To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening.

Those who have great realization of delusion are buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about realization are sentient beings. Further, there are those who continue realizing beyond realization, and those who are in delusion throughout delusion.

When buddhas are truly buddhas they do not necessarily notice that they are buddhas. However, they are actualized buddhas, who go on actualizing buddha.

And there are those who continue realizing beyond realization…Spend 37 minutes with the video clip, and see for yourself.

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One Mind Only: Huang Po

February 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Filed under: Dharmic

Many people are afraid to empty their minds lest they may plunge into the Void. They do not know that their own Mind is the void.

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Shambhala Training – The Generosity of Level Five

January 2nd, 2009 · No Comments · Filed under: Shambhala Training

Last year in August I wrote about my experiences with Shambhala Training Level Five.

I wrote the piece for the Austin Shambhala blog, which I manage, but I didn’t publish it because I wasn’t sure how much I can reveal about the training programs. There’s a legacy culture of secrecy that has grown up around the training path of Shambhala. This is changing – wants to change, is approved to change – and I play my small part in its changing here in Austin.

I will write increasingly more about Shambhala. As I progress along its training path I become more qualified to speak of my own experience in it, and I understand more of the whole path. And I trust my own wisdom more to say only the right things and not the wrong.

Meanwhile, here’s the piece on Level Five.

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