Temple Chronicle: 19th February

wave

Embodying love, being the universal energy of love, cannot be limited to your thoughts, or added to your tomorrow to-do list.

Once we have put our visual accessories ‘time’ and ‘space aside,’ then reality consists only of ‘now’ – this moment not the next or the one before, and ‘here’ – without borders or differences, regardless of weather or religion. Our conditioned mind may think this notion ’embodying love’ is interesting, intriguing even, but it will immediately disappear as thoughts always do the moment you have thought them. By thinking about it, you immediately make it indirect, a mere interpretation. So, create a mindful gap around this seed that has been dropped into your being, and stay in that gap. In other words, resist thinking about it or even giving it a name. Mark it as that ‘thingy,’ or your favourite song – music is concrete so cannot be erased as abstracts can.

Then in this gap, this opening, use your borrowed muscles and limbs to flow or swim into your day ahead. Staying in this fluid state you enter a crowded space, a train carriage, a shopping centre, a classroom. With every square inch of your body and your energy aura you can live that divine love that you have eternally embodied if the conditioned mind is quiet, held back outside the gap, prevented from its usual destructive, interfering activities. Then the love can flow freely, indiscriminately, for all of the people around you: A mountain stream cascading across everything in its path.

You make eye contact only to love. You spread your lips in a smile only to love. You extend your arms and stride forward with your legs only to love. It is absolutely the only ‘agenda’ your spirit has. Then, staying for as long as you can in that identity-less gap, radiate into ‘now’ and ‘here,’ and others will radiate in answer.

This human form your spirit is using has absolute power to touch the other spirits around you. The exterminator ‘thought’ with its negative entourage, is utterly powerless.

In this ‘gap’ is where we truly belong, our true nature. There are no labels or identity. It is the flow and flux of our energy origins, of our love and light.

changes 2

Temple Chronicle: 15th February

imprints 3

Hindu deities are fashioned out of mud exactly so that there is no danger of them or the spirits behind them becoming permanent. Tibetan Buddhists make the most exquisite mandalas out of coloured sand outdoors and then walk away abandoning their delicacy to the weather. Japanese Buddhists copy sutras and prayers on to parchment and hang them from trees or bury them to welcome future Buddhas millions of years in the future. Indigenous people place their dead on high platforms or in the upper limbs of trees so that the weather and creatures can clean the flesh from their bones. There is no clinging in these acts. There is nothing to be saved and stored away.

If we can live in this way, avoiding sticking to anything, avoiding the heat of static, then we can find happiness in everything, every moment. Our emotions may flare up – anger, hatred, envy – but we can just walk away from the hot flames. Turn away our faces from such violent heat, and walk away from the site realizing that nothing can be accomplished by projecting these distortions on to other targets. Emotions spark a fire in the mind which burns others. We must ask ourselves if we truly want to be responsible for burning and mutilating other humans.

Everything except our loving kindness and our unique energy is impermanent. This human life as tenants flows on towards the great ocean of Nirvana. Our best contribution is to join the flow and shower our loving kindness on all our fellow bathers.

bones

Temple Chronicle: 11th February

self-honest

The master’s voice is unconditional. Only one tiny part of it is used to convey information, practical inspiration, instructions for those who can only follow. The greatest portion is from inside the torrential river, fizzing energy of spray and turbulence, which is silenced and stilled.

A white voice with no function, no advice, no expectations. It allows. It is empty of anything but the vibrations of pure unconditional love. It has no end. It opens locks and chains and brings us into the bright sunlight.

Can we also speak in light waves of lovingkindness to everyone we encounter with no trace of discrimination? It is better to be silent than speak from a stone of logic, from the hard drive of boundaries and imperialism, from prescribed patterns and reaction-seeking. Better not to speak if we are blind and deaf.

Can we possibly realize that all the sounds in the world are permanent once expressed? We cannot change them. They are stored in vast banks in the emptiness of the invisible world with the wind, the water, comet beds and moon streams. They are the only permanence. Our beings are composed from sheer sound.

The master asks what the quality of our light will be for the year ahead? And what kind of voice will we have? We need to be certain that it is coming from the field of full awareness, not from the conditioned mind with its devices and tubes, its trumpets and clauses. We are capable of irreparable damage if we speak from the material world: if we speak with the eyes for other eyes to hear. Sounds are jewels, fragments of our diamond which we vibrate through the air, so we must use them so carefully.

Sound is concrete, beyond interpretation. Close your eyes to the world of ephemera and open the ears of your soul. Feel the body shell naturally vibrating in unison with the vibrations of goodness and pure light.

The waves of the high soprano touch unceasingly.

The singing bell awakens every cell.

The energy of the land is a bass hum on and on.

But the sound of the great silence is the most sublime of all.

Listen beyond and beyond!

divine link

Temple Chronicle: February 3rd

interfering

Those who follow.  Those who are followed.  Followers or leaders, there need be no division.  What prevents us from taking the first step to being different from the conformists surrounding us?  Fear?  Prohibitive karma?  Ignorance of the millions of opportunities staring us in the face each moment?

Followers are by their very existence separated from the followed one.  They are the victims of a small act of violence which places them at a disadvantage, rendering them passive to superior instruction.  This is not the Buddha’s way, not the middle way. In adulating even a Buddha, we are being excessive, servile, insincere, because we turn away from our own Buddhahood.   By maintaining an even breath and softening our gaze on what is not real, we become one again, in one heart.  We become one with the master because we are the master.

Such purity is hobbled by a complex system of filters and refineries designed to keep us back, keep us quiet in our sprawling communities, to make way for so-called leaders. This is all enacted in the blind tyranny of the visual world.  Close your eyes and mute your memories and conditioning by embodying your breath, and you will quickly realize that such differences, such separations, are imaginary.

In each tiny interaction with others – a smile, a murmur, a passing fragrance on skin, a positive thought, a word – we leave our traces behind. We cannot see them, count them, or erase them. But our influence endures and we echo it.  Each entity of goodness sparkles and  remains, eternal, but we are blind to them because of our deluded view.

Only when each unique moon of goodness is glowing in its place will the chaos of the sighted be dispelled, and the ocean its original calm.    

Gaia

Good Messages: Disintegration

cropped-uchu-a.jpg
We have to let go of the fragile ‘self,’ to throw away all the masks, to turf out ‘wanting’ and ‘needing,’ in order to reach our higher consciousness and step into the bright light of the expanded field of awareness.

We must realize that the images we have of ourselves are dictated by the media and other forms of propaganda designed to keep down our true nature. We cling on to every word of praise or denigration from others, desperate to be accepted and approved, as if it were the last drop of water we will ever drink, the last crumb! But while we are putting all our animal effort into clinging, like a dog does to a bone, we can no longer hear our higher minds calling to us. ‘Let the bone go! Let someone else have it!’

There is no trust left in the world! If we give our precious bone to another dog, why do we doubt there will be another. Why are we so afraid of loss and scarcity when fear and craving do not exist in the expanded field of consciousness. We have to take risks which means the disintegration of the permanence we have cobbled together out of dreams. Now is the time to make way for the new integrated world. Let the papier-mache reality we have thrown together be rained on incessantly until it becomes pulp once more and flows away down the drains. Let our greed evaporate: in the integrated world, there more than enough for everyone because we are all One with the planet and Mother Nature.

Not until we listen and follow our higher consciousness will the new world be created because we the divine are the only way. The world was made of materials doting on form, and forms were preserved at all cost because we had ceased to trust in what we could not see or prove or collect. We always need evidence and perpetual witnesses to make us memorable in our massive communities and societies, and in the face of death and disappearance.

But in losing trust in the universe, we have lost our integrity. We have become weak and dependent, devoid of spiritual confidence. Integrity of mind does not signify that we have to go to live in the wilderness: we are too weak to survive that. It means that we live happily in this world we have created, loving and supporting each other, and always aspiring to higher states of awareness. Our environment may not change quickly to reflect this integrity because it is matter, but our attitude to it, our view of it, will change totally. There will be different priorities. Without greed there is enough to go around for everyone, and with that sharing mass anxiety will be decimated.

Our energy can flow where it wishes if only we stop throwing up countless obstacles in its way. But the real key to disintegrating and dismantling our complex, immovable ‘selves,’ is having sincerity inside our hearts. Then, once we are certain of our integrity, our wholeness, we must generate the confidence and courage to be always honest and honourable with others. This is the embodiment of pure unconditional love, which is our divine essence.

Words have become small explosives we react to as if our life depended on it. They can easily undermine the fragile selves we live by. Let those plaster statues crack and collapse as those of Stalin and Lenin did after the Soviets were deposed. Let the crumbling heads and hands roll and smash, until we are in a thousand pieces. Then, and only then, will we be free like desert winds and ocean currents. Then rapidly we will integrate ourselves into the fabric of the universe once more, standing deep inside a rock, living with the sun and moon, and walking among the gods.

So, make a start with the dismantling. Listen to yourself honestly, remaining untouched by external views and pressures. At least once in every day, be pure and honest with yourself and with others. This will coax to the surface your true nature, which is indestructible and eternal, and ‘good.’ Please know this well.

True nature needs no fabric, no stone shelters, no secrets, no paraphernalia. It belongs to the Earth and the Universe. So, stand naked and free like the wind and the sky.

This is INTEGRATION!

rebirth 2

spirit marriage

Is Heaven or Nirvana dimension in its own right?

imageInspired by ‘Heaven is for Real’ (2014): director Randall Wallace: starring Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church

Visions of the realms of Heaven and Hell pervade Christian, Islamic and Buddhist eschatology. But can we be persuaded to believe that Heaven is this idyllic dimension, full of extraordinary light and angels, where goodness and purity pervade everything and evil cannot thrive?

A young boy is taken seriously and suddenly ill, and undergoes emergency surgery. His mother desperately rings friends and begs for prayers to be said, while his pastor father finds the hospital chapel and shouts at God in a blaming way. Later, when the boy fully recovers, he mentions his visit to Heaven to his father, where he met Jesus and various deceased relatives. This sends the pastor into circumspection and confusion. He refuses to preach and when he speaks to his flock he is filled with doubts and questions, unable to alleviate their doubts and give them the answers to the mysteries of Christian life which is his role. His living and thus his family’s future hangs in the balance, and yet he is unable to come to terms with his son’s experience of Heaven.

The propaganda of Christianity as expressed in large organised religious groups since the Middle Ages, has been at pains to make all things that are invisible visible.  There has been wholesale indoctrination via beautiful images, architecture and music, of the story of a good man named Jesus Christ, but it has been romanticised and hyped.  Images have been bought into, thrust into the spotlight like all commodities and things popular, and so in a material world lacking in the pursuit of the sacred, people develop pride in and become attached to such things.

But we are told by the mystics of all religions that we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven if we have even the tiniest grain of pride in our hearts. Clearly the pastor’s son has no pride at all.  He therefore makes no separation between the visible and the invisible, and so is able to have such experiences, away from the hot fires of the self-will, anxiety, and benefit-seeking consuming the adults who look on.

After being drawn closer to such scorching fires, making the choice to believe or not to believe in ‘Heaven,’ finally the pastor steps away from the heat. He tells his congregation, foundering without his leadership, that they must cast away their pride and open their eyes so that they can all see Heaven in their daily life, in the eyes and actions of loving people, and in the simple things around them: in fact, here and now in this life. Without this realisation, we live in a burning Hell, scorched by our emotions and desires. The states of ‘Heaven’ or ‘Nirvana’ are accessed by complete submission while we are in the world of form, or the ‘visible’ world. This is so that we can bring unconditional love and divine light to adorn the living Hell that some of us choose to live. If we submit in this way, there are actually no choices.

Goodness and light are the opposite of Evil and darkness. In the dark world of “getting and spending,” we are blind, blocked, excluded and separate, in the dark alone.  It is only when we let go and stand in the fast-flowing stream of reality, when we surrender, that the fires of attachment are extinguished and we are integrated into the seamless loop of reality which is our origin.  George Taylor, one of the astronauts who crash-lands on Earth in an earlier film about similar subjects, Planet of the Apes (1968,) says scornfully, ‘I can’t help hoping there is something more than man!’ He also obviously has some insights into the invisible world beyond matter and form.

We can embody Heaven in every moment, not just occasionally, or in adverse situations, or even vicariously as the pastor tries to do through the experience of his son, and the congregation does by refuting his visions but secretly hoping they are true.  Every tiny thought which adheres to a negative emotion such as fear or greed, stokes up the fires of Hell and clouds our true mission in this life.  It keeps us partitioned away from Oneness or ‘Heaven,’ marooned in the dry dock of the visible world.

way of the gods

Revenge and the Heart

Dorje Shugden mandala

Dorje Shugden mandala

 

dalailama I have been following the flare up of human rights contravention of Dorje Shugden practitioners recently. There is great outrage and emotional discontent aimed at the Dalai Lama as a result of his ‘ban’ on the practice of Dorje Shugden (an ancient Tibetan Dharma Protector) prayers, which is detrimental for many Tibetan devotees, and also in the world Tibetan Buddhist community. In summary, these devotees are being persecuted by their communities through the denial of basic human rights such as medical care, education for their children, exclusion from employment opportunities, monks excluded from their monasteries, etc. The Dalai Lama as spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people is being blamed for this removal of human rights, and Buddhist communities everywhere are protesting on their behalf.

There is a great deal of concern for this situation and especially from those who continue to practise Dorje Shugden in spite of the so-called ban. Of course, sympathy is overwhelming, especially for the victims of persecution and vicious physical attacks from the Dalai Lama’s cohorts, and for those gurus who lead the determined Dorje Shugden communities who have seemingly been threatened by the Dalai Lama faction.

angerFor the purposes of this reflective article, I would like to offer my thoughts on the anger and potential for revenge, which this situation is stimulating. I too was once a Dorje Shugden practitioner and consider myself to be a cousin of the New Kadampa Tradition, and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso as one of my esteemed teachers. Though nowadays I am serving as a Nirvana Buddhist practicing in Japan with the MahaParinirvana Sutra, the last teachings of the Buddha Shyakyamuni, as my main pillar.

Nirvana Buddha by H.H. Master Shinjo ito

Nirvana Buddha
by H.H. Master Shinjo ito

These Nirvana teachings are heart teachings with little analysis and scant instruction or explication, unlike teachings designed for western practitioners, which necessarily offer a way into the heart through the head or intellectual mind. Our practice here relies on the three practices- Generosity, Service, Sharing the Dharma- (a condensing of the 6 paramitas or perfections), and we are mostly encouraged not to think or analyse but to act, putting the principles of the Nirvana teachings into actual practice. Therefore, I know many who have come to this teaching out of a kind of blind faith, or through family connections, who ask few questions, but instead actually steadily practice, an approach very common in Asia in general.

scars

I would like to put the ongoing struggles between the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden devotees into my current framework, and examine the anger and the scars it leaves, along with possible motives for revenge which I observe welling up amongst those courageous enough to go against the Dalai Lama’s ‘ban.’ I realize that they are sticking their necks out for Dorje Shugden practitioners in India and Tibet itself, who seem to have little or no voice, or no desire to protest.

The Name of the Father -brutal interrogation by the Police

The Name of the Father
-brutal interrogation by the Police

I was deeply moved recently by re-watching the film, ‘In the Name of the Father,’ (1993, director Jim Sheridan) an account of the wrongful long-term imprisonment of the ‘Guildford 4’ for their supposed part, as provisional members of the IRA, in the Guildford Bombings (1974) in which 6 died and many were seriously injured.

To sumarise the plot, in a rapid reaction to this unprecedented and random bombing of innocent people enjoying an evening in their local public house, the British government enacted a new law (Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1974), which conferred emergency powers on the British police when they suspected terrorism. Gerard Conlon and Paul Hill, two young northern Irish emigres to England known as activists in Belfast against British rule there, were searching for work in London at the time of the bombing. They were immediately arrested two days after the law was enacted, brutally interrogated and tormented until they confessed to instigating the bombing, and so were tried and sent down for sentences varying from 25-30 years. They were innocent, and there was evidence to prove their whereabouts at the time of the bombing, but it was suppressed out of an eagerness to rid society of these villains.

fire of anger

So, the kind of anger that mutates into the desire for revenge is highly dangerous for karmic reasons, and in terms of the arising of mindless reactive behavior. At base, anger is a projection because it cannot remain inside the person who is manifesting this delusional state, exactly because it is so destructive. The Buddha said,

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.(The Buddha)

aversionThe human mind, unable to contain such a force, off-loads it and projects it on to something or someone else. Exaggerated anger is a kind of aversion and this is where revenge appears. ‘Aversion’ means that it is impossible to bear the object of anger, so it should be destroyed or removed. Of course, we can see such willful removal of objects or people in the behavior of young children, who are not yet in control of their minds. If a child decides to dislike someone or something, it effectively ceases to exist for them because they have not yet developed object permanence. As Shantideva (8th Century Buddhist monk) says:

It is natural for the immature to harm others. Getting angry with them is like resenting a fire for burning.

poisonous rootBut as we learn to process emotions, both positive and negative, and become mature, we can usually learn tolerance and calm our aversions. The British government projected its anger and frustration on to innocent victims in a hasty action to remove the objects of their anger, ie. the entire Irish warring nation, by incarcerating them for 30 years, and suppressing evidence so that they could take action immediately. Such hatred combined with high pride had developed inside state leaders of that time, that they resorted to satisfying their aversion.

Full blow anger or irritation are dangerous negative emotional states of mind which all seekers in every religion and spiritual way of life train to truly eradicate, like the root of a poisonous plant. Any tiny root fibre left behind could start to grow anew. Anger leaves karmic scars, which will never disappear, and pushed on to the next stage of revenge, it inflicts pain, punishment and perhaps death (Gerry Conlon’s father, Guiseppe Conlon, died while in wrongfully imprisoned). As we Buddhist seekers know, anger is immature and completely lacking in objectivity and wisdom.

Chinese in Tibet

I have recently felt the anger among those ostracized by the Dorje Shugden embargo, both on the internet and in person, and I am concerned about the scarring it will inevitably leave. This reaction has seemed mostly to be lacking in compassion and mindfulness, and has crossed the line that such practitioners are often drawing, which we are advised not to cross, ie. that samsara is a crazed dream, and reality is awakening from such a dream.

This does not mean that we should never act when it is needed, but we train to be able to act from a place of calm and compassion, so that our actions will be dignified and dynamic in a positive way.

 patiencePatience is often sited as a way of dealing with anger. I detected a strong presence of impatience billowing up from reactions to the recent bout of the Dalai Lama affair. Impatience comes from hot negative emotions devoid of clarity, while patience emanates from objectivity and wisdom. Allan Wallace (Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up, 1993) says:

…….there are three ways to get rid of anger: kill the opponent; kill yourself; or kill the anger.

 

In my current practice and in Shingon Buddhism in general, great emphasis is placed on the spiritual background of every situation and every person in a situation. This refers to both their present karmic condition, and the state of their ancestors and related spirits in the spiritual world. For us, the invisible and visible worlds are one because all beings are connected in a matrix, so we work with special prayers and requests for spiritual consolation and purification of our ancestors. This combination of all worlds, all dimensions, many of which we cannot see or hear due to our limited human minds, gives ‘big picture’ perspective. We can divine that the DL’s strange irrational behavior during the last 18 years or so must be part of a huge spiritual picture, which we cannot yet decipher.

matrix

Perhaps he is deliberately committing karmic suicide to provide a spiritual test for us all – will we give in to anger and over-protective tendencies, and resort to hatred and what some Tibetans have cited as disrespectful attitudes to their revered Dalai Lama, their patriarch? Perhaps he has taken the wrong pathway in his spiritual progress due to political pressure from the occupying Chinese forces.? I believe that if we practice patience and unconditional love, the bigger picture will be revealed to our wisdom mind. But if we act strongly with aversion, wanting to remove the source of our anger and outrage, we will be blinded by the hot fire of negative emotions.

As I read various accounts and protests on the internet, and heard first-hand from Tibetan practitioners who have been ostracized, I wanted to stand up and ring the sweet bell of mindfulness to call everyone back to their true home. I wanted to become that bell radiating bodhicitta to lift everyone into the realm of wisdom and calm so that their hooded eyes could open wide. As engaged seekers, our greatest asset is the mystical power locked into the Buddhist teachings, the Dharmakaya, so to change this unacceptable situation we need to practice even harder within the heart; to strive to open the heart wide and to keep it open with unwavering compassion; to deepen our bodily peace so that all our thoughts, words and deeds will also be peaceful. Such anger, call it ‘wrath’ if you will, occludes our native joy and enduring happiness known as Buddha Nature; the seeds of revenge produced by anger may sprout outside our control.

singing bowl

It is for each of us to go inside and examine our anger, for as Sylvanus, an early Christian Saint (2nd  century) advises,

Knock upon yourself as upon a door, and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. For if you walk on that path, you cannot go astray; and when you knock on that door, what you open for yourself will open.

Our practice must be continuous, without interruption. If I can maintain this adamantine state I have everything inside me to deal with any conflict, even one depriving people of their human rights. If we interrupt this sacred process with negative emotions, we will be breaking off from what we must do today in the unbroken line towards enlightenment, towards Nirvana.

In the last teachings of the Buddha, he instructs his disciples on various ways to cultivate their Buddhahood:

  • They should be like candles, burning away with each passing moment to dispel darkness for others.
  •  When reading aloud, perhaps the meaning of the text cannot be understood completely at first; understanding is a gradual process, which proceeds from basic stages to intermediate, and then advanced. With time, we can grasp all aspects of a piece and be transformed by it.
  • A goldsmith needs devotion in order to accumulate practice of his art, which takes time.
  • Chanting the sutras and conducting rituals and rites requires great effort and practice, which takes time.

Such spiritual practice constantly puts us at a distance to negative emotions arising in the ordinary mind, and we must devote ourselves to this ardently if e are to go beyond enlightenment or Nirvana and take all sentient beings with us.

‘If we find a viper in our room, we should drive it away immediately.’ (the Buddha, Mahaparinirvana Sutra)

universal peaceFinally, the intrinsic laws of Dharma observed in Nature demonstrate that seeds sprout, grow, flower and then fruit without any intervention from humans. The Buddha recommended that mastering the middle way is the same as this. No-one teaches a newborn calf how to suckle milk. In the same way, consistent practice over a long period of time can destroy all delusions. It is unnatural to become angry when we are basically beings of compassion and light, wisdom which can overcome any negative emotion and bring universal peace and harmony into the world.

 

There is a meaningful story of anonymous origin about anger, which touches my unconscious mind deeply.

Once there was a young boy with a bad temper. One day his father gave him a bag of nails and told him to hammer a nail into the fence every time he became angry. The first day the boy hammered 37 nails into the fence, but as the days went on, the number reduced. He quickly learned that it was easier to hold his anger back than hammer nails into the fence. Finally, one day he hammered no nails into the fence, which delighted his father. However, now the father asked him to pull out one nail for each of the days he was able to control his anger completely. Quite quickly, he was able to report that all the nails had been removed. Then, the father looked at the fence with his son and told him that the fence would never be the same again because of all the holes in it.

nails in a fence

‘When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, but no matter how many times you do that, the wounds will still be there.’

Angry thoughts lead to angry words (whether written or spoken), and then on to angry actions. Anger is a public or private projection away from mindfulness. The British government acted rashly when trying to destroy representatives of the Irish nation because it had attacked the English nation. This is surely a samsaric nightmare par excellence. Wrongful imprisonment and even execution is common here in Japan because of the hatred of the police who intimidate suspects into confession, and this is supposedly a Buddhist country!

The only way we seekers can make real changes in distressing and unjust situations is at the unconscious level though mindfulness and meditation, repentance and devotion, and patience will enhance our wisdom so we can see with our spiritual eyes. This is surely the most effective and meaningful way to reach the Dalai Lama. I also feel, having read opinions of Tibetan nationals, that the way non-Tibetan Buddhists are behaving towards H.H. the Dalai Lama is disrespectful and unacceptable. Perhaps it is not up to us to interfere in Tibetan cultural national matters, especially at the cost of our own merit and positive karma.

tibet

 

Any comments or questions on this humble article will be most welcome.  I apologise in advance for any terminological clashes which may occur as a result of my ignorance or misunderstanding, or simply a difference in spiritual level. I write from my position as an ordained Nirvana Buddhist and in an attempt to make interfaith connections and spread the Dharma in a clear unprejudiced way.

Wisdom has the muscles to raise us above taking sides I believe.