brief teachings

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    The Beginner Paid Member

    Because he’s read about it in a book on Zen and there were lilies-of-the-valley on the table in a thin white vase, he took the morning to look at them and only them, to concentrate all his attention on the lilies-of-the-valley. Sick of politics, society, and war, he wanted only Zen answers to the universe. Where but a kitchen table could be a better place to start? Where but a morning splashed with paradoxes and absurdities? Concentrate. There’s nothing in the world but lilies-of-the-valley. Each bell-blossom on the stem is Zen, he thought, and the three that fell upon the table, also Zen—as is this entire morning, the way the seconds and the minutes concentrate and separate, like lilies-of-the-valley. More »
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    Right Action Paid Member

    For Buddhism to grow in our modern world, we need to do more than teach meditation, preach inspiring sermons, and make the sutras available over the Internet. We are good at studying, publishing, and spreading the word of Buddhism. What we have not been very successful at is showcasing the compassion and selflessness of the dharma by our actions. We have written many more words in our books than what few kind words we have spoken to the poor, lonely, and desperate. We have built so many more temples than orphanages.From “Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Theravada Buddhism,” by Ajahn Brahm. Read the paper in full on the Tricycle blog. Ajahn Brahm is a British Theravada Buddhist monk. Illustration By Roberto La Forgia More »
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    The Seal of Sila Paid Member

    The Pali word sila (“discipline, restraint”) recalls the word “sealant” in English. When you want to close a crack, you use a sealant and seal it off. You lay the foundation for a house and cover all the cracks, so no water will seep in, no insects will enter, and the foundation won’t collapse. As a result, the foundation for your house remains firm and is sturdy enough to build upon. Sila is like that when it comes to meditation. It’s the foundation. Through restraint, through wholesome actions and decisions made in our daily lives, we lay this foundation. More »
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    Understanding Understanding Paid Member

    Consider, for a moment, the word understand and its synonyms. To stand under. Something is “there” above us and we are below, underneath, looking up. We reach “up” and try to “grasp” it, “catch” it, “capture” it. The origin of the synonym comprehend is “to seize or lay hold of, to hang on to.” And similarly, the word apprehend carries this sense. Elusive criminals, like subtle meanings, can be quite difficult to apprehend. In each of these synonyms, the idea of understanding is linked to capture and containment, to a break in an ongoing flow of movement. As if understanding were a great tiger that we must take into custody and keep enclosed and tightly controlled. But what if it weren’t so? More »
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    The True Self Paid Member

    What is the true self? It's brilliantly transparent like the deep blue sky, and there's no gap between it and all living beings.From The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., www.wisdompubs.org. [See interview with Shohaku Okumura, the student of Kodo Sawaki Roshi's student Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. —Ed.] More »
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    Being No One Paid Member

    When you wake in the morning, you may notice a brief period when you’re between sleep and waking, when you’ve left the dreams of the night but haven’t yet entered into the identities and plans of the day. The gap may be extremely small, but if you pay attention you can catch it and prolong it. This gap has an unknown quality, perhaps a sense of openness and nakedness; it’s a kind of liminal zone where you still don’t know exactly who or what you are. You may feel afraid of this openness and tend to rush back into the known, to check your smartphone or open your computer to remind yourself who you are. Instead, just lie still and be open to the unknown. More »