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Showing posts from October, 2011

The Heart Sutra - An Introduction (Part 1 of 5)

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Some combination of brevity, succinctness, depth of meaning, and poeticism has made the Heart Sutra one of the most widely known of all sutras – revered by practitioners of nearly all the various schools of Mahayana Buddhism. Formally known as the Mahaprajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra, the Heart Sutra is the shortest of the forty or so sutras that comprise the entire Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra (Schuhmacher & Woerner, 1994, p. 128 – hereafter referred to as S&W).

Perhaps we should, ahem, “brush up” on our Sanskrit! Prajna is usually translated as wisdom, but not without some reservation. My teacher, Rosan Yoshida roshi, actually prefers the word prognosis over wisdom due to the far reaching nature of the wisdom conveyed by the word prajna. Thich Nhat Hanh (1988) also has some misgivings about the use of the word wisdom in this context, saying: “Understanding is like water flowing in a stream. Wisdom and knowledge are solid and can block our understanding” (p. 8).

Paramita literally me…

Llama Hunting in the Wilds of Colorado

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“There’s a couple of spots right in front of the trailhead,” the campground host said as she pointed in the general direction of the trail. “You can park there or up by the road out here and I won’t have to charge you. Park anywhere else, though, and it’ll cost you five bucks.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it,” I nodded, and headed off in the direction that she’d pointed.


“You didn’t find it?” she greeted me with incredulity after I’d circled back around to where she still stood talking to one of the campers.
“No,” I smiled meekly, hiding my own aggravation.
“Alright, the road’s going to veer to the left and start heading back this way. That’s when you need to be looking to the right because the trailhead kind of sits back a ways.” She bent her wrist to the right just in case I had trouble telling my right from my left.
“Gotcha,” I said. “Thanks again.”


After I’d circled back around yet again, however, she was standing there with her hands on her hips as if she were fixing to give me a good…

A Wheel That Just Won't Stop Wobbling

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Many years ago now I had a neighbor – a pretty young woman who played violin in the symphony. She was healthy and good natured, with an abundance of friends and stimulating work that took her to beautiful places all over the world. Her home was brightly furnished and stylish, and her European sedan was shiny and clean. There didn’t seem to be a single thing in the world that she lacked – with the exception of me, of course! Oh, the crush I had on that woman!


We were taking a walk one day and, knowing of my interest in Buddhism, she asked me for my take on it. Anyway, I took a deep breath and began what I thought would be a fairly involved monologue about how our existence is suffering and that this suffering is rooted in our fundamental ignorance of the nature of reality. I anticipated that these first two Noble Truths were going to sound like a real downer, so I intended to make my way fairly quickly to the Buddhist equivalent of Christianity’s “good news” – that this suffering can …

A Season of Introspection

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The seasons can change quickly here in Missouri – at times seeming to go from the chill of winter straight into the sweltering heat of summer with hardly a trace of spring, or from summer to autumn over the course of an afternoon! It felt a little bit like the latter this year as we transitioned from a summer drought that seemed to never want to end into the chilly nights of fall over the course of just a scant few days. Of course, I’m speaking very subjectively right now. I don’t have any temperature charts in front of me showing the highs and lows of recent days in order to compare them to the averages of seasons past. I only have my experience of the passing days to go on right now, and my memories of seasons past to compare them to. (By the way, as I edit this we’re enjoying once again the warmth of summer. Such is the nature of St. Louis weather!)


Taking stock of where we’re at with respect to our spiritual journey is a similarly subjective exercise. As the years go by and the …