A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Halloween Apples

This evening in many parts of the world, children will be racing from door to door saying silly sayings. You might even see adults at work places dressed up as aliens, zombies, devils, vampires also seem to be common this year. If you are new to this here’s a brief explanation. It’s Halloween, which is a contraction of All Hallow’s Eve, or All Hallows Evening, the eve of the feast of All Saints Feast in western Christian cultures. This explains the name we use today, however there is a much longer tradition of celebrating on this date, from European harvest festivals, to days of the dead, and the Celtic Samhain celebration. The exact start isn’t known, and different people claim different roots, however lets look at the modern celebration.

First of all lets look at the children’s part in this. Many will dress up and be escorted around their neighborhood, going from house to house. They will be shouting sayings such as: Trick or Treat, gimmee something good to eat, or Halloween Apples, and many other creative ways of asking for  small candy or fruit gift. This is known as trick or treating, and something that results in more than a few upset stomachs from over indulgence, sometimes even in the parents who are just sampling. One note of caution, in these modern times, it has become necessary to inspect the treats your children get for signs of tampering. Because of this many shopping malls or districts will hold a supervised trick or treat event. Other families will get together and celebrate as a group, giving the children treats, and organizing some games or other entertainment. Regardless of your belief system, watching the smiles on a young child’s face, or the shock of their being surprised by a ghoul or goblin, will bring warmth to you.

Teenagers, will still want to celebrate, most likely at a school event, and perhaps some will be escorting younger siblings on their trick or treating. Some teenagers will resort to pranks, such as soaping house windows, wrapping trees with toilet paper streamers, and other generally annoying but overall harmless pranks. Apple bobbing, starts by getting a large barrel or wash tub, filling it with water, then allowing apples to float within. People take turns trying to grab an apple without using their hands, the only body part allowed for grabbing the apple is your teeth. I can vouch from experience as a youngster, you can’t avoid getting your face and hair wet.

These days even the adults get into the celebration with costumes. Frankenstein, vampires, mermaids, devils, fictional characters, aliens, pirates and many more. Some of these can be a bit risque. Many pubs will have held a adults Halloween party last Friday or Saturday. You may see couples where one is dressed as an angel, the other as the devil, or you may see a nurse with a zombie, and a police officer with a criminal.

For those that would like more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween



Daily Prompt: Goldilocks Moment

“Write about a time you had a Goldilocks experience, exploring different choices and finally arriving at “just right.”

For today’s daily prompt I am going to discuss a 50 year long Goldilocks event. I grew up with a mixture of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and modern science influences. My parents never pushed my to make a definitive choice, rather they exposed me to what they grew up with, as well as other influences to give me a broad basis to build a belief system on. Growing up in a predominately Christian culture, I leaned that way and more than once asked those questions that raised eyebrows. Asking about evolution in the 60s and 70s outside of science class, got you labeled as one of those kids, not a troublemaker, rather you were seen by many as one who’s faith was weak. Let me make it clear this wasn’t the attitude of my parents, they encouraged me to think, question and adopt only when I accepted. However for the purpose of having morals, they ensured I went to Sunday school. As an adult, getting into the working world, starting a family, those questions ended up on the back burner, barely simmering, but somehow it didn’t burn up or evaporate. About five years ago I started to reexamine my believes, and was doing a lot of searching for answers. I tried the self-help book routine, however they didn’t work for me. Then one day I found a little booklet at a garage sale, titled: “A scientist’s report on study of Buddhist scriptures”. This book was one that with a plain cover, no artwork caught my eye. I started to read it that night, and over the next week I read and reread it several times. I pondered what it said, and the more I pondered the more the book, challenged me to make a choice. It lead me to committing to follow the Middle Path. So my Goldilocks moment happened at a garage sale, which doesn’t have the panache of having traveled around the world to sit at the feet of a master in some mountain range. However that was it, so thanks for sharing the memory with me.


Heart Sutra a deeper look (Part 8)

First of all my apology about the delay in getting this posted. Trying to clearly define some of these concepts deserves years of study, and I have a deeper appreciation of the meditation monks and nuns practice on a daily basis. Once again please use this as an entry sign to the path, there are more experienced guides, such as those found at a local Temple or Wat.

“Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva, through  reliance on prajna paramita, is unimpeded in his mind.  Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind. Ultimately Nirvana!”

This is a restatement of what was covered in part 7, except from the starting point of the journey. In away I am going to have to borrow from the realm of science fiction, and temporal travel to help explain this.

We are being told that we should make the journey that will lead to Nirvana, but in essence we have already arrived. Because we have Nirvana within us, as part of our true nature. Think of enlightenment as a cup of coffee, that you have already drank. Now you need to find away to achieve that point of having just drank the coffee. What do you need to be able to drink the coffee. First of all you need the coffee, that you will consume, consider this the true knowledge you are seeking. Next you need a cup or mug to hold that coffee, as it makes it a lot easier to drink from a container, than trying to absorb it through osmosis, or holding your head under the coffee maker. The fact that we all take a slightly different path to obtain this coffee, is the same as some might prefer it black, others just sugar, some might like cream and sugar, or any of thousands of other ways. But just like the cup or mug makes it easier to ingest the coffee, and the flavors or additions make it easier to swallow, the coffee ends up inside of us. All the flavors are gone, and the vessel left behind.

So using the coffee analogy, in essence the Bodhisattva having already consumed the coffee has the knowledge to overcome the obstacles that their  senses are producing. They have no other external source to go for help. They already have the knowledge inside, and have the prajna paramita or perfect wisdom inside. Having this knowledge inside the Bodhisattva does not worry about anything that may happen, and is not afraid of what has happened in the past. With the past and future not worried about, it leaves only the present, which will not remain constant. So in this manner they accept impermanence and use it, to overcome obstacles that you or I would get caught up on. With their thoughts always in the moment, they don’t waste thoughts on what should not be worried about. How many times have you thought of all sorts of possible outcomes, only to find out these were ultimately found to be baseless distractions. Most of the fears we put in front of ourselves, never occur. If something does happen, accepting it and moving forward is the way the Bodhisattva handles these problems, they deal in what is, not what ifs. If we can reach this state of mind and keep it, we have achieved Nirvana, or the freedom from suffering.








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