Along the Way to the Zendo

Copied from Rev. Shundo Aoyama’s “Zen Seeds”

Pg 153
Yet it is impossible to sleep for five days. Your eyes open even though you may not want them to, and you must come face to face with yourself. For the first time, I came to know real zazen, in which people must be led with true kindness.After all, living is neither something that other people can help you do nor something that you can have them do in your place.You are completely on your own. You sit in a state of awareness, straightening your back and confronting that fact. Zazen as practiced at Antai-ji is the true way human beings should live. It is ideal zazen.


Pg 152
Before meals we did not chant the sutras as usual, nor did we perform the ritual of removing the cloth covers around our bowls as is customary at other temples. Still, every part of the day was strictly regulated. The foreigners and other beginners were not yet familiar with the temple routine and were apt to forget that silence was to be observed. Sometimes they were noisy. Had I been in charge, I would have told them to be quiet, but Zen Master Uchiyama and the trainee monks pretended not to notice. Later, Zen Master Uchiyama explained, “Not saying anything at such times is also part of one’s spiritual practice.You are tempted to say ‘Be quiet!” but should you do so, that would be the end of it. People would merely be  obsessed with being quiet. If zazen is truly practiced, it naturally happens that no sounds are made. Until this comes about, you must guide people kindly in their zazen.”


Well worth giving a second read !

“Many aspects of the Buddha’s quest will appeal to the modern ethos …..

But the Buddha is also a challenge, because he is more radical than most of us. There is a creeping new orthodoxy in modern society that is sometimes called “positive thinking.” At its worst, this habit of optimism allows us to bury our heads in the sand, deny the ubiquity of pain in ourselves and others, and to immure ourselves in a state of deliberate heartlessness to ensure our emotional survival. The Buddha would have had little time for this. In his view, the spiritual life cannot begin until people allow themselves to be invaded by the reality of suffering, realize how fully it permeates our whole experience and feel the pain of all other beings, even those whom we do not find congenial. It is also true that most of us are not prepared for the degree of the Buddha’s self-abandonment. We know that egotism is a bad thing; we know that all the great world traditions - not just Buddhism - urge us to transcend our selfishness. But when we seek liberation - in either a religious or secular way - we really want to enhance our own sense of self. A good deal of what passes for religion is often designed to prop up and endorse the ego that the founders of the faith told us to abandon. We assume that a person like the Buddha, who has, apparently, and after a great deal of struggle, vanquished  all selfishness, will become inhuman, humorless and grim.

Yet that does not seem to have been true of the Buddha. He may have been impersonal, but the state he achieved inspired an extraordinary emotion in all who met him. The constant, even relentless degree of gentleness, fairness, equanimity, impartiality and serenity acquired by the Buddha touch a chord and resonate with some of our deepest yearnings. People were not repelled by his dispassionate calm, not daunted by his lack of preference for one thing, one person over another. Instead, they were drawn to the Buddha and flocked to him.”

                                                           - Karen Armstrong’s “Buddha”, pg xxvii


English Translation of Sariraimon

With wholehearted reverence we bow: 
- to the relics of the true body of the Tathagata Shakyamuni,who is fully endowed with myriad virtues;
- to the dharma body, which is the fundamental ground;and
- to his stupa, which is the whole universe.
With deep respect we venerate the one who manifested a body for our sake. Through the sustaining power of the Buddha, which enters us even as we enter it, we verify awakening. By means of the Buddha’s spiritual power, we benefit living beings, arouse the thought of awakening,
cultivate Bodhisattva practice, and together enter perfect peace, the knowledge of the equality of all things.
Now let us reverently bow.


Shariraimon - Verse of Homage to Buddha’s Relics


舎利礼文 (Shariraimon)

一心頂禮                   萬德圓滿
いっしんちょうらい         まんとくえんまん
IS-SHIN CHŌ RAI      MAN DOKU EN MAN
With one heart we honor,        [that which is] perfect with all merits:

釋迦如來                  眞身舍利
しゃかにょらい             しんじんしゃり
SHA KA NYO RAI      SHIN JIN SHA RI
the relics of the true body of    Shakyamuni Buddha.

本地法身                 法界塔婆
ほんぢほっしん            ほうかいとうば
HON JI HŌS-SHIN     HŌ KAI TŌ BA
[And to] the Dharmakāya Shakyamuni original source,
[revealed as] the Dharmadhātsu Stūpa,

我等禮敬                 爲我現身
がとうらいきょう            いがげんしん
GA TŌ RAI KYŌ        I GA GEN SHIN
we give reverence.   For our sake manifesting a form,

入我我入                 佛加持故
にゅうががにゅう          ぶつがじこう
NYŪ GA GA NYŪ        BUTSU GA JI KO
[always] interpenetrating equally with all,
[and so providing] the empowerment of the Buddha

我證菩提                 以佛神力
がしょうぼだい            いぶつしんりき
GA SHŌ BO DAI        I BUTSU JIN RIKI
that we may attain awakening.    Through the Buddha’s marvelous power

利益衆生                 發菩提心
りやくしゅうじょう          ほつぼだいしん
RI YAKU SHU JŌ       HOTSU BO DAI SHIN
all beings receive benefit.        By our giving rise to the desire for full awakening

修菩薩行                 同入圓寂
しゅうぼさつぎょう         どうにゅうえんじゃく
SHU BO SATSU GYŌ   DŌ NYŪ EN JAKU
and training in the bodhisattva practice
may all beings attain perfect peace (nirvana)

平等大智                 今將頂禮
びょうどうだいち           こんじょうちょうらい 
BYŌ DŌ DAI CHI       KON JŌ CHŌ RAI
and realize the great wisdom of universal equality.
Now let us reverently bow.


Click on the Zen kanji to answer the question, “What is Zen?”

Click on the Zen kanji to answer the question, “What is Zen?”


Three Refuges Prayer / SANKIRAIMON

三帰 礼文/
[ Japanese Version ]


自ら仏に帰依し奉る
みずからほとけにきえしたてまつる
Mizukara Hotoke ni kie shi tatematsuru,

当に願わくわ衆生と共に
まさにねがわくわしゅじょうとともに
Masa ni negawaku wa, shujō to tomo ni,

大道を体解して無上意を発さん
だいどうをたいげしてむじょういをおこさん
Daidō o taigeshite, mujōi o okosan.


自ら法に帰依し奉る
みずからほにきえしたてまつる
Mizukara Hō ni kie shi tatematsuru,

当に願わくわ衆生と共に
まさにねがわくわしゅじょうとともに
Masa ni negawaku wa, shujō to tomo ni,

深く経蔵に入りて 智慧海の如くならん
ふかくきょぞうにいりて ちえうみのごとくならん
Fukaku kyōzō ni irite, chie umi no gotokunaran

自ら僧に帰依し奉る
みずからそうにきえしたてまつる
Mizukara Sō ni kie shi tatematsuru,

当に願わくわ衆生と共に
まさにねがわくわしゅじょうとともに
Masa ni negawaku wa, shuj ō to tomo ni

大衆を統理して一切無礙ならん
だいしゅうをとうりして いっさいむげならん
Daishū o tōrishite, is-sai mugenaran.

Translation

We take refuge in the Buddha
Together with all beings; May we understand through our bodies
The cosmic life leading
To the incommensurate awakened mind.

We take refuge in the Dharma
Together with all beings;
May we embody the scriptures,
The great compassionate wisdom,
Vast as the ocean

We take refuge in the Sangha
Together with all beings;
May we live with the Sangha
The life of harmony,
Which is without attachment.
 


View of the Tsukubai in the dry garden at Shoukoji in Hiroshima, Japan. This view is from the side of Hiroshima Mountain facing the epi-canter of the Atomic blast which took place on August 6, 1945; approx. 3km away. At that time and for a short while thereafter, this area was completely desecrated and barren. And now, as can be seen, it enjoys a totally vibrant and spiritual atmosphere. In years to come, I trust we will be able to look upon the areas around Fukushima that were devastated by the Tsunami of 2011 with much the same feeling. View Larger

View of the Tsukubai in the dry garden at Shoukoji in Hiroshima, Japan. This view is from the side of Hiroshima Mountain facing the epi-canter of the Atomic blast which took place on August 6, 1945; approx. 3km away. At that time and for a short while thereafter, this area was completely desecrated and barren. And now, as can be seen, it enjoys a totally vibrant and spiritual atmosphere. In years to come, I trust we will be able to look upon the areas around Fukushima that were devastated by the Tsunami of 2011 with much the same feeling.


Last Lines by Tai Sheridan

The following are the opening verse used by Tai Sheridan in each of his modern poetic presentations of the Sutras; found in the ‘Buddha’s Golden Light.’ And, the last lines of the stanzas in his ‘The Light of the Ancient Buddhas; Ballads of Emptiness and Awakenings’  based on Keizan’s ‘Transmission of the Light.’  -:

In this brief life                                          .
May I treasure and liberate                                            .
All beings with wisdom, and loving kindness                                               .

may all selfish ways be atoned

may the light of your life appear

may bliss awaken within your heart

may you not waste your life in vain

may you liberate body and mind

may liberation to all be spread

may the uncreated rest within your breast

may the invisible become clarified

may you treasure silence with speech restrained

may you enter gently the true family I transmit

may you diligently neither reject nor keep

may you illuminate the inner golden dynamism

may the treasure of the dharma eye clarify

may alertness to arisings unknown commence

may you realize the wish fulfilling jewel

may you accord with heart mind sincere

may you give up your body for dharma gold

may the stable selfless self be yours

(Source: bit.ly)


Designing the Kesa

And when Ananda asked the World Honoured One, “What should our robes look like?” Buddha gestured toward the natural countryside. Ananda thought he meant the kesa should look like the paddy fields. Shakyamuni Buddha had a complete free mind, an open mind. He could embrace the whole view with a single glance, he did not choose, did not fix any boundaries, a consciousness without a single choice, no judgement, just the recognition of things as they are. It is said that when Shakyamuni saw the first robe, he was filled with joy and asked every single monk to wear it.


Terraced Rice Fields
I was looking to find street scenes of rice paddys and could not resist this satellite view of Hatakacho near Hiroshima; very reminiscent of a VanGogh painting. View Larger

Terraced Rice Fields

I was looking to find street scenes of rice paddys and could not resist this satellite view of Hatakacho near Hiroshima; very reminiscent of a VanGogh painting.


A Short Primer on Buddhism



1) 諸行無常
      ( しょぎょむじょう)
         Shogyo mujo - All things are impermanent

2) 諸法無我
      (しょほうむが)
      Shoho muga - All existing things are selfless

3) 涅槃寂静
   (ねはんジャクじょう)   
      Nehan jakujo - Tranquil and extinguished

In short;   “all things are impermanent. It is therefore, absurd to have attachment to them. When you understand that phenominal things in this world exist interdependently, you spontaneously feel gratitude and repentence for evil deeds. When desires such  as attachment subside, you can gain peace of mind.”
The direct participation in this very mind by way of Shikantaza (zen meditation) is ultimately the Zen method of training and the path to equanimity through compassion.