insights

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    Insights & Outtakes Fall 2005 Paid Member

    I'LL DRINK TO THATBeer connoisseurs may be familiar with Singha, one the most popular beers in Thailand. Less well known is that the singha is a venerable Thai Buddhist symbol: a sort of combination lion and snake frequently seen guarding the entrances to Thai temples. And even more obscure is the way in which Singha beer acts as a sort of guardian for Thai Buddhism: Singha's parents company, Boon Rawd, is a major donor for the restoration of important cultural treasures at Wat Po, one of Thailand's most important royal temples. TEMPLE TARTS More »
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    Surfing the Brain Paid Member

    THAT NIGHT MARKED the beginning of a blizzard of coincidence. There were a few at first and then by the dozen. I would get the notion in my head to call Joe, and the phone would ring and it would be Joe. And then Michael, Micah, Adam, Andrea, Shannon, Sheerly, Terena, Tess, Howard, Kevin, Chad, Jori, and everyone else and over and over. I got very good at thinking of a song and turning on the radio to find it playing; I got better at thinking of someone and running into that person an hour later. These coincidences were the first of a long string of down-the-rabbit-hole experiences too numerous to recount. More »
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    Searching for Self Paid Member

    Holding to an ordinary notion of self, or ego, is the source of all our pain and confusion. The irony is that when we look for this "self" that we're cherishing and protecting, we can't even find it. The self is shifty and ungraspable. When we say "I'm old," we're referring to our body as self. When we say "my body," the self becomes the owner of the body. When we say "I'm tired," the self is equated with physical or emotional feelings. The self is our perceptions when we say "I see," and our thoughts when we say "I think." When we can't find a self within or outside of these parts, we may then conclude that the self is that which is aware of all of these things—the knower or mind. More »
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    The Zen of Confidence Paid Member

    My hope is that all practitioners of the Way completely believe in their true self. You should neither lack confidence nor give rise to pride.Mind is fundamentally equal and the same, and thus there is no real distinction between "ordinary people" and "sages." Nevertheless there are, in reality, those who wander in darkness and those who have been awakened to their true nature, thus distinguishing "ordinary people" from "sages." Following the instruction of a teacher, a practitioner may attain, in an instant, his true self, thereby realizing that he is ultimately no different from the Buddha. Hence it is said, "Originally, there is nothing," which means simply that one must not underestimate oneself, and lack confidence. This is the teaching of "sudden enlightenment." More »
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    Selective Wisdom Paid Member

    For most of us born in the Western world, remote from Buddhism of any institutional kind, knowledge of the dhamma has come entirely from books and, occasionally, spoken words, some quite excellent and informative, certainly. But this kind of learning still retains a somewhat ethereal air in the absence of actions, traditions, and spiritual observances in which we can participate. That the Buddhist religion has survived so long in the world is a result not so much of the durability of manuscripts as of the power of ideas embodied in custom; and custom, for all our abundant sources of information, is what we lack and cannot in the long run do without. Books crumble easily enough; thought crumbles faster, if not made firm by some sort of concrete practice that holds together believers and sees to the transmission of the teaching to the young. More »
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    The Zen of Confidence Paid Member

    For many Korean Zen practitioners, Chinese Zen master So Sahn’s compendium of teachings The Mirror of Zen is second in importance only to the Buddha’s teachings. Here, he comments on importance and risk of self-confidence. More »