on practice

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    Crawling Towards Sitting Paid Member

    “Larry-san," says Roshi, "you have cow-shitting posture. Ha! Ha! Look like this." Rounding his back and dropping his chin toward his chest, he imitates an orangutan or someone with intractable neurological disease. His laughter is so contagious that, even as my anger mounts, I find myself echoing it. "Larry-san cowshitting! Ha! Ha! Ha!" More »
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    Five Practices to Change Your Mind Paid Member

    Leave yourself alone!Zen teacher Barry Magid describes the practice of just sitting. More »
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    The Form of Compassion Paid Member

    It is said that the Enlightened Ones possessed of the omniscient eye of wisdom can state with certainty exactly how many drops of water have fallen during an uninterrupted twelve-year rainfall but that they cannot calculate the benefit that comes from a single sincere, perfectly focused, and pure recitation of the six-syllable mantra of Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion: Om mani padme hung. Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The goal of deity practice is to develop qualities that mirror those represented by the deity. Avalokiteshvara (detail) Dorje and Sunlal Talang, 2006 © Robert Beer More »
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    Breathing Paid Member

    When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door. More »
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    Mantra: Tool for Thinking Paid Member

    The Sanskrit word mantra combines the root man (“to think”) with the suffix tra (“instrument” or “tool”). Therefore, mantra means literally “tool for thinking.” Since earliest Buddhist times, the repetition of sacred phrases has been used as an aid for meditation—to purify and focus the mind, to offer devotion or thanks, and to protect and nurture the spiritual activity of a particular person or place. Some authors differentiate between bijas, or “seed syllables” (pure sounds, such as om); “mixed” mantras, which combine bijas with words having translatable meanings; and dharanis (phrases that are similar in function to mantras but can be translated word for word). More »
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    The Snaggletoothed Barbarian Paid Member

    Zen lineages all begin with Bodhidharma, the mythic first ancestor of Zen, who came to China from India, and who, by inaugurating Zen, also transmitted the true teaching beyond words that begins with Shakyamuni Buddha. For years I felt irritated by Bodhidharma; he glares out of innumerable portraits with a thick odor of machismo clinging to his robes. Image after image offers up a pair of round, bulging eyes popping out between beetling eyebrows and a bulbous nose, the face framed by immense pendulous ears and an untrimmed beard. He is a solid, bull-necked figure, muscular running to fat—a dharma linebacker. More »