Archive for November 13, 2012

Best Picturesque Topographic Points on Globe



Posted November 13, 2012 by dranilj1 in Photography

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God’s Masterstroke of Palette and Brush

Fall’s season colors the world with every imaginable autumn color from God’s masterstroke of palette and brush. During fall, the beauty of nature is like a dream world, a fantasy.  Get out there and enjoy it while it lasts. You only live once and there is something about being out in nature that can balance a person and put their problems into perspective.

Posted November 13, 2012 by dranilj1 in Photography

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Happy Diwali Wishes




Diyas or little beacons are displayed to celebrate Diwali; the Festival of Lights that commemorates the victory of good over evil; a significant festival for Jains. Diwali’s significance goes much deeper, and though it typically lasts five days, now you get immersed in the celebration of Diwali. Happy Diwali Wishes for US.

Posted November 13, 2012 by dranilj1 in SPIRITUALITY

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Buddha Nature


Zen Gardens

To understand what is meant by “Buddha Nature,” we can look at the story of the three turnings of the wheel of Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. The first turning of the Dharma wheel is the four noble truths: that discontent arises from grasping the ever-changing phenomena of body and mind as “me,” and that freedom from this discontent is revealed through the path of not grasping anything as truly me. The four noble truths is a kind of deconstruction method. However, in this first turning, all the different elements that we can deconstruct this person into really do exist. Earth, wind, fire and water, for example: those kind of physical elements, when you break them down into their smallest bits, are indestructible elemental energies or physical matter, atoms. Early Buddhists, who were first turning exponents, had this kind of theory—that the world is made up of atoms—several centuries B.C., long before modern scientists discovered atoms. We don’t really exist as independent “persons”; we are a conglomeration of all this stuff that we think is a real “me,” but if we look closely, we only find atoms. This turning of the Dharma wheel was only the first.

The second turning of the Dharma wheel was fearlessly proclaimed in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, in which the deconstruction project goes even further. Here, not only is there no real “me,” but there are also no four noble truths, and, sorry to say, there are not even any atoms. There aren’t any particles or elements of mind, not even eyes, ears, nose, tongue or body, or colors, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, or objects of mind; all the things that were such won­derful elements to deconstruct the person into in the first turning can no longer be grasped as existent, because to do so would get in the way of our complete freedom. Sometimes this second turning is said to be the relinquishment, or letting go, of all fixed reference points. Anything can be a reference point: atoms, earth, fire, wind, all the different mental elements of mind; in the end there’s nothing that can be found in an essentially existent state. All that appears is merely a construction of mind; mental imputations build on previous mental imputations, and in the end nothing whatso­ever can actually be found. Ultimately, when we actually try to find an atom or anything else, we can see something there, we can feel and taste lots of things, but at the very essence of it, we can’t find anything truly existing.

The second turning of the Dharma wheel traditionally involves concentrated analysis and logical reasoning to convince our very confident mind that actually nothing can really be found; this is the amazing but challenging project of Nagarjuna. Such reasoning takes a lot of effort, applied again and again, to really undermine our beliefs, because we go about our day quite confidently thinking that things can be found. We believe that the road we walk on is really made up of little asphalt molecules, but the second turning is about breaking down that confidence so that actually the road that seems to be supporting us can’t be found, and even the asphalt molecules can’t be found. That might sound kind of disturbing; why would we want to undermine our confidence that we can walk on the road? It is somewhat painful to hold the unconscious belief that the road will support us, even though such pain is rarely noticed. But the point is that much greater forms of pain are based on exactly the same principle: that we believe what appears to us is truly existent and therefore we can’t help but grasp onto it or try to get away from it.

Finally, the third turning of the Dharma wheel is the way mind is originally free from all fixed reference points and at the same time is luminously clear and aware; this is also called Buddha Nature. Not only does Buddha Nature not require analytical reasoning to prove, but it can’t really be proved by analytical reasoning. We might think that’s a relief, since maybe then we can skip the difficult second turning work of studying Nagarjuna’s deconstructive logic and so on, and just enter the third turning of Buddha Nature, immanent and already complete. That may be possible, since anything is possible, especially from the point of view of the third turning. But generally it’s said that to approach the realization of this naturally present, already perfect Buddha Nature, it’s very helpful to first wholeheartedly engage in the step of deconstructing everything into vast unfindability, to relinquish all reference points. Otherwise we may not be able to appreciate the full extent of Buddha Nature, or even more problematic, we might consciously or unconsciously make Buddha Nature into a reference point and get at least a little hold on it and use that to maintain our sense of security that “at least there’s this!” If nothing else, we can at least have this thing called Buddha Nature. But Buddha Nature is not a thing, and especially not a thing we can have. When the ancient Zen teacher Zhaozhou was asked if a dog has Buddha Nature, he said, “no.”

Traditionally what we mean by “Buddha,” fully realized Buddha, is when Buddha Nature is fully revealed, free from all obscurations. It’s hard to say anything about what Buddha is without limiting it, but Buddha is free from this consciousness with which we’re aware of everything right now, this consciousness that’s seeing appearances of phenomena and aware of what’s happening as events outside of itself. This dualistic consciousness that appears to be split into subject and object cannot fully realize Buddha. So Buddha is already unimaginable, right? However, in the Zen tradition, it is said that this very mind is Buddha. This is not the dualistic mind as we know it, but the uncontrived true nature of mind, also called “ordinary mind.” This consciousness right now that appears as subject and object is actually completely empty of any fixed reference points. If we look for this mind itself, when we turn the light of awareness around to shine back on mind itself… Ah! It’s hard to find anything there.

So the fruition of the path in the third turning is not just nothingness, but a Buddha that is infinite compassion. It is the inconceivable inseparability of emptiness and compassionate awareness, complete openness to all. That is not mere negation—its infinite compassion with infinite skillful means to help beings in an infinite variety of ways, beings that are not objects outside of this awareness. Buddha, without moving a particle or going anywhere, without any effort or even intention, can immediately and completely liberate countless beings in infinite realms simultaneously. That’s not nothing! But it’s also not something; it’s completely inconceivable.

One great benefit of trusting in Buddha Nature is that it’s a cure for discouragement in our practice. Nagarjuna, who is mostly a second turning teacher, wrote a few short third turning treatises as well, and one says something like, “Since Buddha Nature is present, one can work hard and find pure gold hidden in rock. But if Buddha Nature is not here, even if one were to work hard, one would only get tired.” Buddha Nature is always here, but just obscured. Our normal dualistic thought is like clouds obscuring the vast clear sky of Buddha Nature, but occasionally there’s a little hole in the cloud, a glimpse of a small spot of clear sky. From that glimpse we can infer that there’s a huge unobstructed clear sky behind the clouds. From the point of view of the sky, the clouds don’t even obstruct it in any way; the sky has no problem with clouds floating through it.

Another benefit in trusting in Buddha Nature is that it can undermine our tendency to praise self and belittle others, since all beings, even cockroaches, are equally inseparable from Buddha Nature. It’s quite humbling actually. And of course Buddha Nature is not exclusive to Buddhism. You don’t have to be Buddhist to have it! Cockroaches aren’t Buddhist! Buddha Nature is not diminished at all when it manifests as a confused living being. It’s not improved in the slightest in its expression of an infinitely compassionate Buddha. Buddha Nature doesn’t ever change. A fully realized Buddha seems to be different from us sentient beings, but the Buddha Nature is identical. That’s one of the most miraculous qualities of this nature, that it never changes from beginning to end, and therefore it’s unconstructed, unconditioned, it’s not born, it doesn’t die, it’s not impermanent, it doesn’t come and go, but it’s not permanent either because it’s not some thing. It is simply the inconceivable inseparability of emptiness and compassionate awareness, shining forth right here and now.

Credits: Kokyo Henkel

Inquire About Mind with No Thought


Extrasensory Perception

Allow mind to be without thoughts of anything except trying to feel every sensation, hear every sound, taste without comparing, smell the aromas, including the incense and flowers, and be mindful of everything around you. When we become aware of these things, we will lose ourselves in our actions. The Sun is Yang and the Moon is Yin. These are the two forces of nature which balance everything. They are not opposites, but only two aspects of the essence of nature. We will learn to discover pure awareness, which our mind now consumes. When our awareness is free of mind, we call this No Mind. Awareness is as much an aspect of the body and the mind as it an aspect of the universe. We learn this by becoming mindful of our actions. We can practice it in everything we do. Be aware of every sensation and thought, and just let them pass. Watch the thoughts without giving them any more energy. In this way, our mind opens to perceive reality directly.

This is like a meditation; careful attention to everything that is going on. Most of us when we are eating, we always will be doing or thinking about five different things at the same time either that, or we talk while we are eating, and we never really get to be aware of the true enjoyment of the food. So this is a very thoughtless experience. We need to have no mind to experience the full potential of our senses and experience reality with a clearer, direct perception. We can develop no mind using the practice of clear attention or what other masters have called ‘mindfulness.’ When we are mindful of everything we are experiencing in the present moment, we separate our awareness from our thoughts. During this mindfulness, we realize thoughts and awareness can be separated, which allows us to ‘see and feel’ more clearly. On the other hand, when we experience mindlessness, our thoughts and awareness have merged, clouding the water, in effect, so that we are never fully clear and aware. Without realizing it, we end up acting like automatons; we are on autopilot. The harder we try thinking about where our Zen is, the more we fall into the mindless trap and become stuck. Therefore, we must seek to understand through the act of not thinking, or no mind.

We can never experience No Mind with mind. Therefore, when we have no thought, we see the mind for what it really is: a mechanism of memory, categories, associations, emotions, and intellect, all of which are byproducts of the brain’s mapping structure and chemistry. It’s a mental web in which our awareness is trapped. When mind consumes awareness, we have mindlessness. When awareness consumes mind, we have mindfulness.

Our mind blocks our pure awareness. The more concerned we are with what we’ve learned and what we know, the harder it is to see what’s really there. The mind traps itself, but when we step out of this trap we see the whole reality. You remove the duality of yourself from the knowing. Instead of saying ‘I know that,’ there is just the knowing. The more we study mind, the farther away we move from our true nature. It is like attempting to view the back of our head with our eyes. When searching for our Zen, the more we seek, the more we will not find it. Only when we have no thought will we then understand mind. Unfortunately, all the way we were taught ‘Look and you shall find it.’

Perform At Optimum Best



When we completely forget about trying, we return to the natural wonder of play that we experienced as children. We forget this as we become an adult and lose our spontaneity. It is easy to not see this change taking place. As our ego was developing and we became competitive, we began to identify with our self-image, our team, our school, our city. Each time we identified with something, we lost the play in what we did. Thus, we missed the play in the game. Instead, we need to allow ourselves to simply play for the sake of playing and nothing else—no goal, just the process.

When we play just for the sake of playing, it’s a lot more fun, and we really enjoy the game. Usually, we stress out about who will win. We worry about sponsors, money, fame, and in the process we lose sight of the purpose of the game. The purpose is to play because we want to, and to have a good time. We can apply this paradox to our life. People in business are so serious and concerned with outcomes, they miss out on the fun and excitement of the entire process. They feel stressed out, full of anxiety, worry, and always feeling like having to keep catching up. The stress of trying hard to achieve outcomes is unhealthy and, all too often, enemies are made along the path to monetary success. We all need to pay more attention to finding the play in what we do. This is more productive way and most important, a healthier way.

This is what the ancient masters called serving the task. It is the selfless act of just doing and not thinking about results. This is doing for the sake of doing, as in original play. It is the natural action of the universe from which all life and non-life is manifested, as when the rays of the sun travel millions of miles through space to give life to a flower. Original play is everything that happens unintentionally in nature like seeds grow, suns explode, planets evolve, and water flows. The universe doesn’t have intention or expectations. The universe simply selflessly acts and everything is done. It is a playful ritual of natural order, unlike the rituals we use in society that many times are so unnatural and have false intentions.

That is exactly one of the things wrong with religion today. People are so concerned about ritual, so used to standing on ceremony; they forget there’s supposed to be a direct spiritual experience in their belief. They forget the play in their faith and get all involved in the ‘have-to’s’ rather than the process. We focus on scripture and ceremony instead of getting into the direct experience. The more you look, the farther you move away from it.

The entire universe works on the concept of play, as there is no selfish intention in any aspect of nature, only selfless action. It is exactly like children playing. They are sometimes so engrossed in the play that they become selfless; there is only the game for them and nothing else. This is the true play of no mind. When we no longer choose sides in the game, we play effortlessly and thus our performance increases. We lose the tight competitive mind-body hold that can keep us from our full potential. We also lose the ‘self’ and its socially imposed expectations. Losing the self in true play would be great and how easy it is to get blocked by our persistent expectations and our shoulds?!

We are blocked, which is not natural; therefore, we fail to achieve our peak performance. Play is the acting and reacting that we do every day without the ego, without the Self. When we truly play, we are in the Now; we are not focused on future worries or past regrets or past guilt. We act because it is our natural tendency to act, just as a hawk can fly in circles for a long time, fully enjoying the wind without flapping its wings. The hawk plays in the air currents and simply becomes the wind by fulfilling its natural potential. In that moment, the hawk and the wind are one and the same. We all have our natural potentials, and through play we reflect them in the world.

Most of us see play as games and having fun, and work as serious and stressful. Very few enjoy both at the same time. We have not experienced that reality of nature. It is only our intentions and expectations which make work, work and not play. When at work, we would rather be doing something else; we become consumed with the goal or work becomes boring through repetition. But all we need to do is focus on the work in the moment and learn to discover the play. We need to work without the conditioned effort and any ego-intention so it can become play. When, like children, we are able to lose ourselves in the play and become the game, only then do we learn to perform at our optimum best. We simply lose ourselves in the work and serve the task. This is like the sports coach advice: ‘Lose yourself in the action of the game. Just play without trying to prove anything. Then you will be in the zone, and be at your best.’

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