The Five Practice Mirrors (FPM), also referred to as the Five Training Elements, are the organizing principle of Hollow Bones…
I sit here looking out at a snowy spring morning and think of all the changes that have taken place…
New Year’s resolutions have been around awhile. According to the History Channel, perhaps as far back as the Babylonians, 4000…
Genuine gratitude isn’t something we can do, practice, or cultivate. Gratitude is not something we can be told to have, or required to feel, by others. It is not “finding the silver lining” as a way to turn away from the pain in our lives and the difficulties we must face. It is not the same as compassionate understanding or forgiveness and serves a different purpose in guiding our lives. Gratitude naturally and spontaneously flows through us when we open and soften to the truth that everything is changing, and that change is the gift of life.
Karma is the principle of cause and effect. Simply put, when a thing happens, another thing happens. In pop culture, karma is typically used to refer to an observable effect in the sense of a universal or cosmic reckoning. In Buddhism, there is no divine agency that punishes or rewards us for our behavior, and no effect randomly happens. It is simply our own lack of clarity regarding causality that makes it seem so.
When we’re speaking or thinking in words and engaging the world with any notion of self, we are not “cultivating The Silence.” There are two kinds of “Silence” in meditation practice, absolute and non-dual. “Absolute Silence” points to cessation events where there is a gap in consciousness without a gap in awareness. Non-dual silence refers to spontaneously intuiting the dependently originating nature of all experiences and integrating that into the worldview of the self-making apparatus. In my view, going through Absolute Silence is one of the key (though not indispensable) ways to realize non-dual silence. Zen is an efficient framework for “cultivating the Silence” when we know what, why, and how Zen supports it. Knowing is an intellectual capacity. Intellect is developed by reading, writing, discussing, and contemplating in words. A skillful and robust intellectual understanding is the first step toward using Zen and zen effectively. This is just like having “the right tool for the job” is predicated on knowing what tools do what, when to use them and why.
The key to believing in a way out and feeling empowered to actualize change in my life lay in committing to a practice method. In some cases, the practice method is specifically suited to address a particular shortcoming. In other cases, it’s more spiritually oriented and aimed at fundamental shifts in perspective. Either way, it’s all about identifying something one can take up to address the issue and get started, no matter how helpless we may feel.
Our practice’s history is rich with instructions, maps, schemes, and methods. It is not at all vague. We can use these to set ourselves on a skillful journey of training that prepares us to just “Sit down. Be quiet. Wake up.” This article is a meander across some of the theories and practices in a way that will hopefully support you in your journey from concentration (dharana) to meditation (dhyana) to samadhi (liberating absorption).
It is the first line that is most essential to our main topic. “Enlightenment is awakening…” begs the question, “what awakens?” The only thing that can, “me!”
When we look deeply enough, we discover that we are the pure potential for experience. Everything is already happening here, within. There’s nothing that we can’t face or handle. Even in our darkest moments, there is space to remember and choose.