Be

22 Jul

okiebuddhist:

May these words benefit all and free them from suffering.

Originally posted on grevilleacorner:

Be understanding to your perceived enemies.
Be loyal to all your good friends.
Be strong enough to face the changing world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those, who need your help.
Be frugal with that you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know, that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in the unknown miracle.
Be willing to share your joys, resources, and riches.
Be willing to share and bear the sorrows of others.
Be a leader, when you see the path others may have missed.
Be a follower, when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be the first to congratulate an opponent, who succeeds.
Be the last to criticize a colleague, who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.
Be sure of your final destination, in…

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Crush the Buddha! Jesus is Alive!

22 Jul

(Based on a true event from my childhood.)

The mother attends Bible study
Learns about evil spirits in the world
Recalls the small buddha statue
Sitting peacefully in her home

Jesus is alive, she thinks
Buddha is dead, she thinks

At home, she finds the hammer
Faces the statue alone
Prays to Jesus to conquer evil

With full force, she extends the hammer
Its head falls hard upon the statue
The laughing Buddha laughs
The laughing Buddha shatters

The mom says, Amen.
The mom says, I crushed the Buddha.

She sweeps the statue pieces into the trash
Her little child crawls on the carpet
He hears his mother’s voice
He hears the hammer crash.

He crawls near the table to find
A shattered piece of clay
He places it in his mouth and tastes
He tosses it aside, laughs, and crawls away.

–okiebuddhist

The Great Mother

21 Jul

I don’t exactly remember now the childhood nightmare. Instead, I recall the gift I received.

My mother, the gift, entered my room to comfort me. I curled next to her warm body and hands while explaining the monsters in my dreams.

She held me. She stroked my hair.

She is the Great Mother.

She taught me my first lesson of the remedy to suffering: the use of the imagination.

As she calmed me with her touch, she told me to think of the beautiful trees swaying in the night. Look to the gorgeous stars above the trees. Imagine the wind holding me in its gentle breeze.

My life these days sometimes resembles the great nightmare, but I turn instead to the gift of the Great Mother.

She prays continuously for me…for peace…for happiness…for a productive day. Everything! No bond is greater between a child and the mother.

May we aspire to imagine love when affliction arises. May delusions and deceptions from others or ourselves turn into a swaying tree of forgiveness. May we all aspire to be the great mother!

–Okiebuddhist

Myths are Real!

16 Jul

In high school or college, I did not have today’s Internet nor any close links to skeptical thinkers. When I first read the fantastic Epic of Gilgamesh, I was struck with the similarities with the flood story from the Bible. Now, I google flood myth, and Wikipedia spells out an entire mythological relationship between these stories across every nation. Noah wasn’t real; he is a literary character used as a trope to explain the Jewish view of reality.

Now, we have a growing history of thinkers who love to attack all myths as stories, which they are. But, in this sometimes vitriolic attack, we are also losing how we interact with symbols. If, for example, the Noah flood is fiction, then what use is the Bible or any sacred text across history? We move toward a kind of cynicism of emptiness and spend our lives debunking all the falsities history has once taught us to believe.

That’s the conundrum of scientific materialism and atheism.

I’m not attacking neither. After all, I am a humanist.

As a humanist, these symbolic stories—true or not—have cultural meaning that goes to the very root of emotion. When I watch an entire congregation move to tears over the resurrection of Christ (a person who may not have resurrected or existed), I see the point of religion not as a falsity but an emotional connection to some meaning beyond history. Redemption and salvation are human qualities some people like myself need to carry forth in this human form.

Unfortunately, many Christians or other religious people are forced to prove God or bodhisattvas (Mahayana Buddhism) exist. Again, something is lost when the argument of truth (what exists or does not exist) becomes the driving force of religion. If a minister focuses his or her entire career on the existence of Christ, then they have forgotten the better argument: “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6.31 English Standard Version).

I call myself these days a nontheistic thinker. I used to be in the following categories (in this order): polytheistic; pantheistic; monotheistic; agnostic; pantheistic again; pantheistic/ethical monotheist; and now nontheistic.

I do not worry about salvation in the next life but redemption now. Redemption occurs in a conversation with a friend who smiles and encourages. Redemption occurs in giving a teenager enough money to buy lunch. Redemption happens by humbling oneself before the entire world. Pride dissolves. Ego disappears for a moment.

In all the arguments, we need mythology and symbols integrated into our lives. The cell phone is not enough! What symbols do we have now?

Most symbols are ancient but steadily modern. Dirt. Grass. Wind. Energy. Crosses. Flags. And so on. My symbols come from my childhood because they are images that still feel real to me.

Water. Not fresh water. But muddy water from lakes and streams.
Sticks and pine cones. Still, I pick them up and place them on my shrine at work or home.
Fire and incense. The burning of wood. The fragrance of transformation.
Rocks. Boulders. Mountain ranges both large and small.

Think of the flood myths. Water. Sticks to build the boat. The same symbols remain with me today but are transformed to modernity, though quite old. I am restless without touching a rock or without holding a crystal quartz in my hand. Science might say that holding such quartz does not transform any healing energy to the body, but science has never recognized the entire sensation of memory from childhood and current sources of pain. Touching anything symbolic may be more powerful than some scientific inquiry. Touching heals!

Scientific materialism and atheism are perfectly fine systems of logic. I have benefitted from modern medicines that ancient medicine could not heal. However, at the mental, emotional, or spiritual level (you pick your own term), I need the rock as part of the antidote for redemption. Without the rock, I am an empty vessel of confusion and madness.

—okiebuddhist

No Easy Answers

15 Jul

Life tears me apart.
When I think I’ve progressed mentally, I recognize my limitations.
The answer?
No matter how depressed and anxious I become about life, I practice.
I meditate, even when it doesn’t help.
When I can’t feel anything, I watch videos of my guru.
When thoughts go in thousands of places, I go swimming and sky gaze.
I used to wonder why people felt stuck in their lives while I always moved forward optimistically.
Now I know.
I’ve lost much.
But I line up 1000 people before my eyes; they have sad stories also.
I sometimes scream in terror with these other suffering beings.
Our cries fill a stadium of madness.
The voices, though, are sounds of healing.
When the tears flow and the body trembles, there is an emptiness left for growth.
In that space, we can walk again.
Slowly. Openly. Harmed but awake.
We are not running any race; we’re walking toward the open sky…scars and all.

–okiebuddhist

The Alligator

7 Jul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muddy water bends
the solar waves.
I hold my stance
On nature’s logs and roots.
Thick skin absorbs
the sparks of the blue
and yellow sky.

The small waves dance
a calm and windy rhythm
before my immovable eyes.
My ears tune to melodious calls.
Birds, hiding behind the thick
branches and clasping wood,
chirp warning signs of  hawks
hunting through a cloudless sky.

I watch heaven and earth
absorb the heat of life
as every sound and soar
swishes a little of its push
toward my mellow calm.
At night, I look beyond sky
at dimensions of distant stars.
When I slowly turn my eyes
the inner light of spinal flares
shoot through me like a controlled jolt.

I am sunlight and moon
the radiant light in vibrant hues
waiting for my caloric flight.
I am everything alive
like silver seagulls
dipping down to hunt,
yet I am also stillness–
the alligator near the bayou
holding steady like a rock

ready to plot and strike
the crawfish, the hawk, or you.

–okiebuddhist

Heaven or the Pure Realms Are Right Now!

27 Jun

…Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave.  It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation.  Jack Kornfield

When I call myself a nontheistic thinker, I mark the term in a broader definition than most people. First, nontheism does not take a stand on whether or not higher power(s) created the world. When the debates on science and religion arrive, I tend to think in terms of the individual mind…one thought at a time.

Who am I? What am I thinking? Do my thoughts cause harm to myself and others? Do my actions or deeds create the likelihood of a positive or negative outcome?

Beyond meditation and positive action, my nontheistic view also worries little about past or future lives. Many buddhists speak about negative or positive karma as the reason for everything, but I don’t care to focus on what cannot change the current circumstance. Karma means “to do.” That’s enough for me.

There is a practice in Tibetan Buddhism called Ngondro. Within this practice, I pray to Vajrasattva to remove obscurations from infinite lifetimes before this one. I obviously have an issue concentrating on lifetimes I do not realize, particularly as a person who focuses on the moment instead of past lives.

It is not that I don’t have a view that past lives occur; there seems to be personal evidence I have experienced, albeit subjective. Nevertheless, I practice Vajrasattva for the current moment. I and others have done the worst deeds in this lifetime that, if other previous lifetimes exist, it would not really matter. Horrible things have happened: the holocaust; decimation of Indigenous populations across the globe; other genocides in Rwanda and African countries; U.S. infiltration on foreign countries with a high population of oil; murders in the United States; rapes across the earth; female genital mutilation; the mistreatment of women; destruction of the environment; and poverty we have done nothing to alleviate.

I am not part of all these crimes against humanity and the earth, but I pay taxes that produce many crimes. Also, I know people personally who have experienced the worst suffering in the world. Do I look to the past or look to the present moment of suffering? Either way, there is ultimate suffering and frustration in this world. Therefore, I pray that all beings experiencing the ill effects of present karma or bad situations be free from suffering, but my Buddhist path goes one step further. I not only pray for the victim but also for the perpetrator. Many people prefer the enemy to die, while I ask for a second, third, or fourth chance to provide the enemy with an opportunity to forgive themselves, ask forgiveness from others, and change. (I do not mean the enemy should be walking the streets continuing his or her actions but be placed in prison or rehabilitation programs.)

Beyond mediation, this recent paragraph of ultimate forgiveness aligns with the Jesus movement.  How many times does Jesus forgive the sick and oppressed? How many times does he provide an opportunity for even a thief—the guilty man on the cross or even the tax collector Zacchaeus—to change? Forgiveness means we continue to walk toward the progress of human nature instead of condemn it at every turn. We may never enter a better world like a Kingdom of Heaven or a Pure Land in Buddhism, but we have the finest moments NOW to turn this world around one human being at a time.

I am not a murderer. I do not do much of anything except sit in a Starbucks drinking my upper middle class iced coffee, while people in other countries work a small wage to make my seat a happy place. I sit on a leather seat; yes, an animal or two was butchered for my safety and pleasure inside the nice walls of a coffee shop. What is happening NOW around me? When I think from this situation, past regrets dissolve and I have an open world to unravel for the betterment of human kind. I can touch the leather seat here and feel its smoothness. I can think about the cattle industry and connect emotionally not only to the ranchers but also the animals. Suddenly, my heart opens to every condition before me. We never were independent human beings. Interdependence surpasses ego.

I rarely think, “Thank, Zeus, I am human!” This precious human birth or rebirth passes by us quickly before we recognize the limitations.

I recently watched a video by Sam Berns, a 17-year old student suffering from Progeria, a disease causing a person to age quickly. At seventeen, he looks like he is seventy. He is already dead, but the video captures his place in the world. He focuses on his friends and family. He plays in the band and finds the best solutions to play a drum that weighs the same as he. He even views comic books as meaningful time to spend on this rare earth. In other words, he makes joy in many moments of his life without living by the wounds of his disease.

We are all diseased in one form, but why are we waiting for heaven or a pure land to take away the pain? Isn’t there a pure reason why we have this moment even if it means sitting down on the grass and watching the ants build their hill of protection?

Let’s wake up to this present moment and make the world a better place. Let’s not wait until the so-called afterlife or rebirth to channel the kingdom of heaven.

Is the kingdom of heaven near us? Yes, but we must manifest its myth or relevance right now in this lifetime!

–okiebuddhist

 

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