Good morning and welcome to Reno Buddhist center….
The wonderful life of the temple is sustained by your participation and support. This place is here because generous people like yourselves contribute in so many ways. Because of that generosity we can welcome newcomers and old friends. Because of that generosity, we can be of service when people come to the doors of the temple. Sometimes visitors are troubled and need a kind listening ear, sometimes visitors are new in town and looking for a Buddhist temple to call home. Thank you all so much for making it possible for us to receive them all.
If you are new to us - Welcome - please feel free to participate and ask questions. That is why we are here. To share the teachings of the Buddha. There have been many Buddhas. The Buddha of our historical age is Sakyamuni Buddha, who lived and taught 2600 years ago. Today we are considering the Buddha’s first Dharma talk given at the deer park in Isipatana -“Dharma Chakra Pravar tana Sutra”. Setting the Wheel of Dharma in Motion” sutra.
In the sutra the Buddha identified four amazing truths about the life of sentient beings. He wasn't the first to discover these, but we know from him that these truths have been operative in our Universe from many kalpas into the past. When Sakyamuni Buddha reached enlightenment under the bodhi tree he saw clearly these Truths…
The Fourth Noble Truths end with the Eightfold path. Theses Eight habits of the BUDDHIST LIFE are…Right Understanding Right Thought Right Speech Right Action Right Livelihood Right Effort Right Mindfulness Right Concentration
Lets pause here for a moment... Many of you have heard dharma talks about the Eightfold path before. And some of those experiences may not have been satisfying. All the different Right this and Right that sounds awfully close to a bunch of “Shoulds”. You might have the feeling - “oh boy, here we go again with the impossible Eightfold Path”. Or “I tried it last time and it was hard - I didn’t do it”.
This brings me to recognize that sometimes our Dharma Practice is Stressful. That sounds strange at first though, because isn't the Dharma what rescues us from the stress and strain of life?
But it does happen and it makes sense. Until we are enlightened we actually are in the habit of making everything into stress. Go to Disneyland and what happens stress-out about getting a FastPass for the SpaceMountain ride. Go to lake Tahoe and worry about a sunburn.
Get a new car and worry over the first scratch? We do this. It would be funny if it wasn't so painful.
This is what the sutra is about - The Buddha’s basic insight was that we do this. We make life which is inherently wonderful, joyful, and fulfilling, into a source of stress. Really the stress comes from the problem that we fundamentally do not understanding what our life is. What the life of a sentient being really is. We think we are self contained, but we are not. We think we are unchanging, but we are not. We think there is an us and a them, but there is not.
When we are confused like this, we experience stress and strain from everything we do. It is like this with challenges that come up along Eightfold Path. The Buddha’s word for the often unsatisfying nature of life as “Dukkha.” His First Noble Truth describes life in the world of phenomena is Dukkha. Dukkha can be translated as stressful, unsatisfactory, disappointing, disillusioning...suffering. To compound the difficulty of our experience we tend to cling to our misunderstanding of our self. Our craving and wanting becomes clinging, the un-satisfaction becomes our focus and we get preoccupied with finding satisfaction - where satisfaction cannot be found. All of our culture has been built around satisfying our want. This is the difficult place we find ourselves. Wanting things to be other than they are.
Sometimes that is the reason people come to the temple for the first time. Maybe a response to some unsatisfactory part of life. Maybe a difficult event like a death or other loss. Sometimes a subtle feeling that life might be more pleasant on The Path. We start to learn and develop an understanding - really the beginning of Right View. As soon as we set out though, the mind returns to its old wanting tricks. We have to be diligent. Learning about the Dharma really shouldn’t create more stress in your life. But truth be told, it usually does - for a time. We somehow can maneuver every event in our life into a stressor - given the chance. Stress happens whenever we don't want something to happen but it does. And whenever something we don't want what does happen - again this stress arises. If we have aversion or attraction Dhukka arises. When I get an ice cream - I am briefly joyful, then the melting starts...and I don't want it to melt and I get a little shot of dhukka. Every experience includes this process.
In the same way stress arises in our Dharma practice, we can always trace it back to wanting the practice to be different than it is. For example - If I come to chanting for the first time and the sounds are difficult or the chant too complicated - I feel a little stress. Often we generate harsh judgements of ourself “you can't do it - you’re not good enough”. We hear that - the voice of Mara - in our head. And this is exactly what the Buddha was talking about in the sutra. Being a Buddhist does not mean these thoughts stop happening, it means we begin to see openly and with mindfulness that this is going on. We cultivate the ability to see the nature of our own mind.
When this happens, the teachings of the Buddha provide a sense of direction and clarity. They offer a path to understanding an unsatisfying experience and a clue to living in sustained joy. When we pursue The Dharma it’s not a way to change our experience of the phenomenal world - really it's a way of acceptance. Accepting the reality of life as life occurs - without big reactive swings. Mindfulness is holding in mind the true nature of experience in this world of phenomenon. The Buddha described life as having three defining characteristics:
Anicca – Impermanence
Dukkha – Stress, dissatisfaction, disappointment, dis-illusion
Anatta – non-self - there is no permanent self experiencing anicca and dukkha.
The Dharma helps us see that we artificially personalize life’s experience. When something pleasant or unpleasant happens - we say it happened “to me” and we feel it should be different than what happened. This leads to more and more monkey mind chatter and generates the unfounded stories the buddha called - delusional mind states that we bonbunin experience most of the time. The practice of awakening through mindfulness of The Four Noble Truths is a practice of deeper and deeper insight into the true nature of self. Only by experiencing this world with an open mind - a mind of equanimity - a non-reacting mind - is the Buddha’s awakening is realized. Following the Eightfold Path helps us get in the habit of open mindedness. Dharma practice can be stressful - but the intention of living a life mindful of the Buddha is to accept the impermanence of everything and live in gratitude. The best path forward - what the Buddha taught - is to abide in mindfulness. How do we get in the habit of doing that? We follow the Eightfold Path...
I listed the limbs of the path before -
Right Understanding Right Thought Right Speech Right Action
Right Livelihood Right Effort Right Mindfulness Right Concentration
We can look at the first three limbs of the path today -
The first of the eight is ‘right understanding’. Anything you do is more effective if you start with a clear view. That is why we start with Right Understanding. It is the foundation. In Right Understanding we see clearly the four noble truths...
Right Understanding is an understanding of karma, and knowing that all our actions of Body, Speech, and Mind have results. This is an immutable law of nature. Some actions bring us to the Dharma, some actions lead away.
Right Understanding is also understanding non-self - how we are not self-existent objects, but rather we are really events in the flow of everything. We are interdependently co-arising with the entire universe.
We trust in the Wisdom and Compassion of the Universe. And we see our place as one tiny piece in a vastness beyond comprehension. The Nenbutsu - here - is right understanding. Mindfulness of the Buddha. Recognizing that I am taking refuge in the Buddha all the time. I take refuge in the wisdom and compassion of the universe.
Right Understanding is having these wise beliefs. Beliefs that reduce suffering, and avoid increasing stresses in life. These beliefs are the foundations of our understanding of the Dharma. A clear view. You have to develop Right Understanding and then you can build a World-View on it: The Four Noble Truths, The law of Karma, the Non-Self nature of all things, and the Enlightenment of the Buddha are the logical premises of Buddhist life. They make sense, but do require deep and abiding faith. Confident Faith that builds as we learn more and experience the Buddha's way.
How do we get to this Right Understanding? Through experience, and mindfulness, and some study of the Dharma. Reading and participation at the temple’s classes and seminars from time to time builds Right Understanding. Most of all asking questions fosters Right Understanding.
The second habit we cultivate on The Path is right thought - thoughts have a pattern of letting go. This is thinking in a more self-less rather than self-ish way. Most of the time we are motivated by one kind of personal greed or another - that wanting we talked about earlier. Wanting things to be other than they are. When we foster thoughts of letting go we are - in fact - letting go of our selfishness - practicing more self-less behavior helps us toward a true view of life. By curbing our thoughts that come from the thirsts for more stuff - we are making a habit of selfing - less. If we put $5-10 dollar in the donation box at the temple - instead of that Super-Atomic-Double-Unicorn-Frappuccino, we are positively affected by that generosity. We are making the self less alone.
With these thoughts - we can realize that everyone is in the same boat as us, they want happiness and avoid pain - we can live in a way that helps us all get there. Instead of trying to secure happiness of just one being, this precious separate self of mine, we can think about a greater good. The Buddha taught that we are all interconnected, so discarding selfish pursuits and working toward everyone’s happiness is in line with reality. At first we don’t realize or appreciate what this kind of thinking means - living a life more focused toward peace and letting go, mostly means giving up our greed, our anger, our jealousy, and other harmful thoughts and emotions.
Happiness comes through finding that true light within and without. Our true nature is Eternal, Joyous, Selfless, and Pure. Having this Right Thought of letting go means we slowly loosen the grasp of our craving and attachment to external things. We can start to find the peace and happiness that lies within -- the great Ocean of mind -- we can hear the light that is all around us.
Cultivating Right Thoughts of goodwill and Non-harm is quite easy. When unwholesome thoughts arise we can simply let them go. They are only thoughts. Actions are much more difficult to undo. Thoughts of anger affect us all at times. As an anidote for anger or ill will, the Buddha prescribed the meditation on loving kindness. [As we end every service.] If you are feeling really angry with someone say in your mind ….
May you be happy;
May you be free from harm:
May you receive boundless compassion;
And may peace and harmony fill your heart
This helps us eradicate the habit of ill will or anger. We are not angry beings - our true nature, is “Eternal, Joyous, Selfless and Pure” - we are beings of love, compassion, and peace, wishing others happiness. It is this state of being that the Buddha wants us to tap into.
The third piece of the eightfold path is Right Speech. If we choose our words carefully, we can make other people happy. To use words mindfully, with loving kindness, is a practice of generosity. We can make people happy simply by practicing just right speech. This does require some Right Thought to precede it. All the parts of the eightfold path are interrelated. In the Abhya Sutra, The Buddha gave us his framework for what is and is not worth saying.
I’ll read the whole section of the sutra....
"In the case of words that the Buddha knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
"In the case of words that the Buddha knows to be factual, true, but unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
"In the case of words that the Buddha knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing and disagreeable to others, he awaits the proper time for saying them.
"In the case of words that the Buddha knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
"In the case of words that the Buddha knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
"In the case of words that the Buddha knows to be factual, true, beneficial, , endearing and agreeable to others, he awaits the proper time for saying them.
Why is that? Because the Buddha has sympathy for living beings."
This is a clear and complete framework. The Buddha taught us to be more care full in what we say. If we think before we speak, many difficult situations will not arise. So much trouble and stress in life comes from things we or others say. Above all avoid lying, and any false speech. Avoid any kind of divisive words that separate or divide people from each other. Harming with words can be avoided. Lastly, when we realize we are indulging in idle and empty gossip, we just stop. Think before we speak.
Lets practice these three parts of the Eightfold path together. We can do an exercise. Simply… Stand as you are able - Turn to each person near you - take their hand - look into their eyes and say “Thank you“. OK please be seated.
That feels good because you are following the Eightfold path. Founded in a realistic view of an interconnected world, it is a generous and grateful thought expressed in clear speech. “Thank you”. When we express any gratitude we express our faith in Amida Buddha. The Wisdom and Compassion of the Universe that is our refuge.
This is the first of two parts talking about the Eightfold path and our daily dharma practice. A clear view is Right Understanding that we base everything on. Right Thought is generous and grateful thinking - putting others before self. Right Speech is care filled speech. And quite frankly, less is more in this aspect. Next time we will consider Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.
To finish we can share the Metta prayer… [say after me]
May you be happy;
May you be free from harm:
May you receive boundless compassion;
And may peace and harmony fill your heart
- Namu Amida Butsu Namu Amida Butsu Namu Amida Butsu -
Dharma Chakra Pravar tanna Sutra Reading - 28may17
“Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion” Sutra
[Please bow our your way to the lectern]
Thus I have heard, on one occasion the Buddha - the Blessed One - was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks:
There are two extremes we should avoid.On the one side, the constant following after pleasurable things. And, on the other side, the constant following after punishment. There is a middle path that avoids these two extremes; a path that brings restfulness of mind, supreme wisdom, joy, full enlightenment, Nirvana.
What then is this middle path? It is the Noble Eightfold Path; it is this:
right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
This is the first noble truth - we are not joyful.
Birth, decay, sickness and death is not joyful. Contact with the pleasant is not joyful, separation from the unpleasant is not joyful, unsatisfied longing is not joyful. This is the first noble truth - we are not joyful.
And this is the Second noble truth of why we are not joyful.
The longing causes us to not be joyful. We thirst after individuality, enjoyment, gratification - now here - now there - it is the wanting for the gratification of desire, the longing for outward existence, the thirst for present existence. This is the Second noble truth of why we are not joyful.
And this is the noble truth about becoming joyful: It is letting go that same wanting; the putting away of, the getting rid of,the blowing out of, the being free from, letting go this longing.
This is the noble truth about becoming joyful.
And this is the Fourth noble truth - the path that leads to joy.
It is the Noble Eightfold Path; right Understanding, right Thought, right speech, right Action, right Livelihood, right Effort, right Concentration, right Mindfulness.
I wasn’t taught this; within me arose this light. The first noble truth - we are not joyful. The Second noble truth of why we are not joyful. The Third Noble truth about becoming joyful. The Fourth noble truth - the path that leads to joy. Within me arose this understanding of These Four Noble Truths.
I realized that I should rid myself of the cause of my suffering and become joyful. As soon as my knowledge and insight became quite clear about each of these four noble truths, then I became certain that I had gained full insight; this knowledge and insight have arisen within me; the freedom of my heart is unshakeable; this is the end of birth and death for me.
Thus the Buddha spoke. In the company of the five seekers, rejoicing, praised the Buddha’s words. And when the teaching was done, Kondanya had deep insight of truth, spotless and stainless, that whatever has a beginning in that also lies the necessity of having an end. And when wheel of the Dharma was set forward by the Buddha, the bright ones of the universe cried out and said:“ the supreme wheel of the Dharma has been set forward by the Buddha - the wheel that can never be turned back.
Thus, in an instant, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the cry went up. The great system of myriad worlds shook and trembled and was violently moved, and a bright, measureless light appeared in the world, stronger even than the power of the gods.
Interdependence of All Things
Good Morning everyone. And Happy Mother's day to mothers and grandmothers here today - your special day.
It is great to see all you’all this morning. I still feel the wonderful energy of our celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday last time. Just a few of the flowers are still here. Most of them have been moved to the temple’s compost bin. Now a tasty treat for the mouse family that lives there...
The busy life of the temple has been rolling along. Cleanup day, a New member seminar on the Shoshinge [that we just chanted] and many weekly activities enrich our spiritual lives. Seeing all your friendly faces is very good. In all the temples we visited in Japan I had this sense - a home feeling. You are all very welcome here in this home.
This week we’ve been working on a new entrance to the Shasta apartment. Concrete. Removing the old concrete steps and pouring new ones. Lots of very physical labor. We busted up several thousand pounds of debris and carted it off. One of the day-laborers we hired asked "What Buddhism is about". I paused…thought about saying it's about compassion, or ending suffering...instead I said it's about the Interdependence of all things.
What makes everything Interdependent is really Impermanence. We heard that in the sutra today. It is important to see. If we can see that, life is easier to live. The joy and humor in everything is more accessible. The Wisdom and Compassion in the universe is more visible to us. It was strange to be talking about impermanence, when I’d just spent a couple days pounding on 60 yr old concrete with a jack hammer. It did seem pretty permanent. Very tenaciously clinging to its form. But in the end the concrete’s rigidity is its downfall. Its inability to bend and change makes it break. If we understand and accept Interdependence and Impermanence in our lives, we will break less and bend more. That is a joyful life.
The Dalai Lama once answered the question “What is Buddhism about?” with, “It's about Compassion”. This is simple, the Buddha’s compassion is immense and helping each of us to see Interdependence and Impermanence in everything is the most compassionate action.
It’s about - Interdependence and Impermanence of all things -
Everything in the world is the result of causes and conditions. Nothing exists without the many causes and the conditions necessary for it to be. There are so very many causes and interconnected conditions in the universe. As we make our way through life, obstacles hold us back. The Other Power of Amida Buddha carries us onward in spite of obstacles. It gives rise to our realizing that the Wisdom and Compassion of the universe is here for us - We need to see that. We are the receivers of Great compassion.
What is this Interdependence and Impermanence I speak of?
Let’s start by talking about Interdependence. About 2600 years ago Gotama Buddha said -
When this is, that is.
This arising, that arises.
When this is not, that is not.
This ceasing, that ceases.
Our tradition describes the world as a changeful web of causes and results. We are each a chain of causes and effects. This is the Dharma view, not the usual view of the world and ourselves, but a glimpse of Reality as it is. We say that these causes and conditions interdependently co-arise. The old Buddhist word for this is patiiccasamuppāda. And everything is simultaneously interdependently co-arising.
It is important to note that the Buddhist view does see the world as explainable. The world does make sense. And it can be penetrated or understood on deeper levels.
An example of the interdependent co-arising is the concrete block next to shasta house, in the Alley. What is the nature of its existence? Is it real, is it permanent, is it an illusion, is it eternal?
If you say it doesn’t exist, then I direct you to the alley. Because itis gone now. In its place is a big hole.
If you say it does exist. Why would you say that?...but if you did. We can agree that we are talking about it so it has some element of existence even now. The ideas or memories, or in the form of the little chunks that are at the concrete plant getting ground up into new concrete.
You can see - Existence and nonexistence doesn't really accurately say what the nature of the block is. It has some qualities of both. It depends on causes and conditions coming together.
[Describe how to make concrete. ]
Water, cement powder, gravel, mixing. Thoughts. Reason. Constant attention and a whole lot of lifting of heavy things. - I thought the 80 lb bags were heavy until we added the water - sheesh - Take any of these away and the concrete is gone. Never having existed.
The Block had so many causes and conditions required for it to “happen”. The point is that all things have necessary interdependent causes and conditions and all things are born when these are present and die when these change. Existence and Nonexistence doesn't really accurately describe the nature of things. The Birth and death we agonize over - This duality is not useful. We live in this dual thinking all the time and it is very un-healthy. Because it's not true. It's not an accurate way to see the world. If we look deeply we see that all things are impermanent. If we cling to things that are impermanent - we suffer. If you clung to the block of concrete you’d be in pieces now.
Another way to look at this interdependence is in the parts that make it up. Things don't have their own self existence - they can’t. As Sakyamuni described the Phema Sutra - The River Foam Sutra - all things - even people are really made up of five components aspects: The Five Skandas.
5. Conscious thinking
How can what is made up of many different changeful aspects be permanent? It can’t. At the end of the sutra he teaches that by realizing this - what makes us up - we are liberated from our false understanding of our own permanence. And the permanence of other things or ideas or people. Seeing this clearly can takes us out of the clinging that causes our suffering. Clinging to all these impermanent and interdependent things doesn't make sense. Can we grab the water in a stream? No. Sometimes realizing how reality really is - is a scary - Nothing is as it seems nor is it otherwise - But is it essential to our accepting the the Other Power of Amida Buddha and the Nembutsu as our path to end suffering.
Sakyamuni Buddha saw that all things are really made up of these Interdependent co-arisings. All things are not really things at all. They are events. They are Happenings. Inter-mixes of these Five Heaps.
As I quoted at the start - The Buddha explained paticcasamuppada as,
When I am, that is.
I arise, that arises.
When I am not, that is not.
If I cease, that ceases.
All things change and pass away into new things. If you just take this way from the talk today, it will give you great benefit - Interdependence is Impermanence. If we cling to things that change, we suffer.
In the Tanisho Shinran Shonin left these words for us...
‘As for me, Shinran, I have never said the Nembutsu even
once for the repose of my departed father and mother. For
all sentient beings, without exception, have been our parents
and brothers and sisters in the course of countless lives in
many states of existence. On attaining Buddhahood after this
present life, we can save every one of them.’
—Tannisho - A Record in Lament of Divergences, (CWS), P. 664
In other words, we have all been bonded to one another as father or mother or sister or brother. We cherish all of life as the life of our parents or sisters and brothers. We are all part of each other. And he shows to us that, wherever they may be, once we become a buddha, we will be able to help them. This is the Great Vow of Amida Buddha.
Even the enlightenment of Amida Buddha was interdependent. He vowed to become a Buddha only if he created a Pure Land where Dharma understanding was easy. The Vows of Amida Buddha are interdependent causes in our lives. About 12 Kalpas ago Amida Buddha made the 48 Vows. About 5 Kaplas ago he created his Pure Land.
In the Larger Sūtra of Immeasurable Life, Sakyamuni Buddha tells us the story of Amida Buddha, in very ancient times and possibly in another realm, there was a monk named Dharmakāra. Dharmakāra was a former king who, having come into contact with the Buddhist teachings through the Buddha Loke-svara-raja, renounced his throne.
He then resolved to become a buddha and manifest a Buddha-Ksetra ("buddha-field") of many perfections. This aspiration is expressed in his 48 vows. They describe the type of buddha-field Dharmakāra Bhodisattva would create, the conditions for being born into that world, and what kind of beings would be reborn there.
Amida actualized the Vow by giving us a way to access his Pure Land through The Nembutsu. He created our interdependence with the wisdom and compassion of the universe. By cultivating True Entrusting in the Vow. By truly trusting that Amida Buddha is here for us - Being Truly grateful for that Other Power we feel in our daily life, we are able to live a joyful life. I am grateful for this interdependence. It is our interdependence with each other and with our world and ultimately with everything. If we weren't interdependent with everything nothing would be possible.
His Vows to construct a Pure Land where all beings can attain Enlightenment deeply express the principle of interdependence. Each Vow links the Bodhisattava's Enlightenment to the Enlightenment by all beings. He cannot gain it unless we all gain it together with him. We are all interconnected in The Vow.
When Amida's great vow touches our hearts, we don’t think, “Well, as long as I am happy, that’s all that matters, who cares about the rest?” - This is the thinking of someone who thinks in separateness. The thinking of someone who has lost sight of paticcasamuppada. This is ignorance. When we have faith in Amida Buddha we think expansively of our interdependence to all life and all that is. One Shin Buddhist teacher put it like this...
"All things, the water and the air included, are linked together, one thing encircling and being encircled by the other. The mountain and the river bestow me with so many blessings. When Amida Buddha shines upon me and all of the rest of life, we are linked together as lives saved by that light. All things on earth, all things in the universe, are in the realm of this great life-force linking us all together."
[“Buddha’s Wish For The World” by Monshu Koshin Ohtani]
From the recent past of Shinran Shonin to the distant past of Amida Buddha, these causes are still active now. These recent and distant labels are not even real. It is all happening right now. Timeless time is the word Shinran Shonin used for this.
Shinran Shonin gave us these teachings as an agent of Great Compassion. He studied the Pure Land masters and determined that an end of suffering was possible thru - taking refuge in Amida Buddha by the Nembutsu. Having deep and abiding faith in interdependence and impermanence is the way to happiness. That is exactly what the Phema Sutra shows us. Shinran focused on unburdening us of the arduous path of self-effort as taught in other schools of Buddhism and instead showed that the interdependence with the Other Power of Amida Buddha is the primary cause of our enlightenment. We change as it changes, we become as it becomes. When I am, that is. I arise, that arises. When I am not, that is not. If I cease, that ceases. We are impermanent and interdependent.
- Conclusion -
We can go back to the question - What is Buddhism About ?
Its about Impermanence and Interdependence and If we cling to things that are impermanent? - we suffer. If we don’t cling we are joyful.
This interdependence means that Everything is really an event in a chain of causes and results. This is the Dharma view, not the usual view of the world and ourselves, but here we glimpse Reality as it is. We can see everything as a changeful flux. Everything is without its own inherent existence. Everything is Impermanent and Interdependent. Why would we ever consider clinging to such a world - what is there to cling to? We live in a wonderful changing matrix = Form - Sensation - Perception - Mental formation and Conscious thoughts. We are just part of this. Intimately connected to all that is.
Even the concrete is changeful. It is Interconnected and Impermanent. Nothing is more impermanent than water. But concrete is made from water. Always changing form. Always becoming. We are always changing and becoming.
We can see things that may be holding us back in our spiritual growth. As we move along - it is always our clinging and selfishness holds us back. Wanting to be like concrete seems great - but it's not. If we let go - If we have faith that the changes will be beneficial; if we ride along with the flow of life - we are OK just as we are. We say the Nembutsu in gratefulness for the Wisdom and compassion of the universe. We can accept ourselves and others - as they are. We all have stuff, some of it severe, even so, Amida Buddha created a way for us to access freedom from endless cycles of suffering. Even in our busy lives, faith in Amida can bring us to understanding. Shinran Shonin has shown us that. Through the Great Compassion of Amida Buddha wisdom is available to us all, right now.
The Metta prayer says it well… [say after me]
May you be happy;
May you be free from harm:
May you receive boundless compassion;
And may peace and harmony fill your heart
- Namu Amida Butsu Namu Amida Butsu Namu Amida Butsu -
*In great gratitude to all the dharma teachers who .made this talk possible.
THE PENA SUTRA - Shakayamuni Buddha's Discourse on River Foam
Reading 14 May 2017
The Buddha was staying with the Avojans, on the banks of the Ganges River. He addressed those assembled “friends, suppose that a large glob of foam were floating down the river, and a person with good eyesight saw it and clearly examined it. To them it would appear empty, void, without any substance.
For what substance could there be in glob of foam?
“In the same way, a practicer well-versed in the Dharma observes and examines any Physical form that is past, future, or present, internal or external, obvious or subtle, common or extraordinary, near or far. To those well-versed in the Dharma it appears empty, without any substance.
For what substance could there be in form that is constantly changing?
“Now suppose that in the rainy season it is raining fat heavy drops and a water bubble appears and disappears on the water. A person with good eyesight sees this and clearly examines it. The water bubble would appear empty, void, and without substance. For what substance could there be in a water bubble?
“In the same way a practicer of the Dharma observes and examines feelings - past, future, or present - a feeling that is internal or external, obvious or subtle. To those well-versed in the Dharma it appears empty, without lasting substance.
For what substance can there be in feelings that are constantly changing?
“Now suppose during the hot season a mirage was shimmering. A person sees it and clearly examines it. The mirage would appear empty.
For what substance could there be in a mirage that is constantly changing?
“In the same way a practicer of the Dharma examines any perception that is past, future, or present, internal or external, common or extraordinary. Well-versed in the Dharma, it appears empty, void, without substance.
For what substance can there be in perceptions that are constantly changing?
“Now suppose that a person is seeking wood for carving? They go to a forest with a sharp ax. There they find a large banana tree. They cut it at the root and remove the top. They peel away the outer skin and don’t find any wood at all. They clearly examine the banana tree and it appears empty, without heartwood substance for what substance could there be in a banana tree?
“In the same way a practicer of the Dharma observes mental formations that are past, future, or present, internal or external, obvious or subtle. To those well-versed in the Dharma mental formations appear void and without substance. What substance is there in mental formations that are constantly changing?
“Now suppose a magician does a magic trick and a person with good eyesight clearly sees the trick. The trick appears without substance.
For what substance could there be in a magic trick?
“In the same way a practicer of the Dharma observes any conscious thinking - past, future, or present, internal or external, obvious or subtle. To them consciousness appears without substance. For what substance could there be in consciousness that is impermanent and rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths?
“Seeing these Five Aggregates clearly, a follower of the Dharma grows less deluded by form, feelings, perceptions, less deluded by mental formations, and by conscious thinking. They grow less deluded by The Five Clinging-Aggregates.
“Less deluded they grow dispassionate. Through dispassion they are released. With release there is the knowledge that they are released from clinging. They know that the cycle of birth is ended, the fully integrated life has been lived, and the path complete. They know here will be no more moments rooted in ignorance.”