A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the tag “Literature”

Daily Prompt: Ripped from the Headlines!

Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

Here is a link to the article: http://o.canada.com/2013/01/11/canada-at-150-suzuki-sees-a-nation-facing-an-apocalyptic-period/

Life seems to take many swings in different directions as we travel through it. To me it’s like a clock pendulum swinging from side to side, only briefly in the middle, as it inexorably swings to the left or right. As a Buddhist I try to walk the middle path, through life, and being an environmentalist I try to leave as light a foot print as I can as I walk along the earth. There are some who denounce the environmental movement by claiming that we would all have to live like cavemen, while others who attack every corporation as pillagers of the planet. Anyone who has experienced a Canadian winter with temperatures of -30 or lower knows we need to use energy to live through these periods. That said, we can design buildings to be energy efficient, and our communities to be net zero, where the community produces the same amount of energy as it consumes. Edmonton Alberta is redeveloping its old downtown airport, and after an international competition which attracted firms from around the world, chose this concept, with the city retaining the developers role, to make sure the standards are met. Take a look at the concept, as it shows what we can carry out with existing technology, and planning. Corporations are accountable to shareholders for profits, they are also accountable to the communities they are is to make sure that the environment does not suffer, from their activities.

What can we as people do, a lot more than most of us think we have the power to do. Speak up, during any debate about development, hearing about new business licenses, speak up demanding the government make sure the community does not suffer an environmental disaster, while the profits flow out of the community.  Some of the North American First Nations, had a seven generation outlook when making a decision, in that will this be good for those who follow in seven generations? Look at your children, and think what type of world do you want to leave for them? In 961 Jane Jacobs wrote her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, where she showed that everything needs to be balanced and connected for people to have healthy places to live and work in safety. It’s time we head the lessons of the past as David Suzuki, pointed out in his look at Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday, and decide where we want to be heading by that milestone, for Canada has the opportunity, and the obligation as a developed nation to be a leader in responsible economic development.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margret Mead

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/daily-prompt-short-story/

Heart Sutra a deeper look (Part 7)

Shariputra, all dharmas are empty of characteristics.  They are not produced. Not destroyed, not defiled, not  pure, and they neither increase nor diminish. Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, feeling, cognition,  formation, or consciousness; no eyes, ears, nose, tongue,  body, or mind; no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of  touch, or dharmas; no field of the eyes, up to and  including no field of mind-consciousness; and no  ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no  old age and death or ending of old age and death. There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, no way, and  no understanding and no attaining.

This is one that is difficult to explain. This is one of those chicken and egg situations. As all Dharmas are empty, even by saying this we add something to the Dharma. The point of this line is that all the five skandhas are empty. In the absolute form of emptiness there is no thought, no speech, so therefore we would not have Dharma to talk about or define, as there would be nothing to define. So have you gotten a headache yet, from trying to comprehend that there is nothing to be studied or understood. There is nothing to be obtained, for you already have it within you, would be the best I can do right now in explaining this line. Understanding this is good, but when you can truly accept this, then you will have reached the truth about existence.

If you can understand there is nothing to be obtained, then you can understand that suffering is obtained. If suffering is obtained then, by understanding the true nature of everything, without adding our filters, we can avoid suffering. In saying there is no birth or death, no good or evil, we are accepting everything as it is. This is the beginning of arriving at Nirvana. For if you can grasp the idea that suffering does not exist, that we create it in our minds, through our actions, thoughts and speech, then you can begin to understand how to avoid creating it in your life, as well as the lives of others.

Here’s an an analogy that might help you understand this. You are starting out on a road trip on the Pan-American Highway system. Your starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and your goal is Ushuaia, Argentina. Due to a solar storm satellite based gps is not available for this trip, so it’s the old fashioned trip. You have found a series of maps (sutras) and as you travel your route will be different than the next person. You might stop to examine the flowers along the way, while the next person hits all the tourist spots. Guess what both are valid ways to get there. How you treat those beings you meet along the way is important regardless of the path, you have chosen. All the knowledge that you are learning from the maps (sutras) are like sign post along the route. You read the information, then leave it behind, holding onto it just long enough to get to the next point along the path. Just as you would not haul every sign post you saw along the real road, nor are you to be attached to the sign posts of the sutras. They are like the Buddha, pointing to your destination, and as he told you not to concentrate on him, you must also not develop an attachment to the signs along the way.

Hopefully one day I can give a better description of this.

Merry Christmas

To all my Christian friends, Merry Christmas. Regardless of your faith the message that Jesus taught about love and forgiveness is one that everyone can lean from. Even if you are an agnostic, the message about how to treat one another is valuable. As a Buddhist, many of his teachings are just a different way of saying the same message as Krishna, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Lao Tsu, or many other wise teachers. For when we exhibit the true spirit of love and compassion without the commercialization everyone is happier.

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