Showing posts from March, 2012

Practice is Enlightenment

The Missouri Zen Center’s Spring Egg Hunt takes place this Sunday. It’s a takeoff on the traditional Easter egg hunt. However, since we’re a Buddhist organization, no particular overt belief in the Easter Bunny is required. What’s that you say? An egg hunt doesn’t really sound all that Buddhist? Well, to tell you the truth, it doesn’t sound all that Christian either!

For those readers unfamiliar with the modern Easter egg hunt, it generally involves putting candy or chocolate or perhaps coins inside hollow plastic eggs which are then hidden around the garden just as the Easter Bunny would have hidden them in days gone by. Children seem to love it – the exception being those occasions when the older ones find ten times more eggs than any of the hapless and uninitiated toddlers in their midst.

About this time last year a few of us were standing around after meditation and chatting about the upcoming event. “What do you put inside the eggs?” somebody asked. “Well, we’re Buddhist,” someo…

The Nature of Humans

Human is a human is a human is a human.

Clearly, I’m riffing on Gertrude Stein’s “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”…, not to mention my previous post! My question, however, is a serious one. Whereas I previously pondered the nature of things – their roseness, suchness, emptiness, the two levels of truth regarding their independent existence, and so forth – here I will ponder humanness. Now, the astute reader might already be questioning why this post is even necessary given the fact that we and the rose are of the same “stuff” of ultimate reality, given the fact that humanness and roseness alike are but worldly manifestations of the suchness spoken of in The Nature of Things. Well, since I’ve already got your attention, how about staying with me for just a little bit longer, anyway?

In The Nature of Things I stated that “what I am calling roseness… is something that the rose can’t help but actualize, but which we, with our incessantly conceptualizing minds, so easily miss.” Indeed, …

The Nature Of Things

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.

What are we to make of such a statement? On one hand we might be inclined to interpret it from a post-modern, image-saturated perspective such as: “if you’ve seen one rose you’ve seen them all.” Ah, but would a poet really endeavor to convey such a jaded sentiment? Quite to the contrary, I think that Gertrude Stein is striving with this line in Sacred Emily to deepen our understanding of the nature of the rose, its essence of being, its roseness. The rose is what it is, fully and completely. It is not like anything. It is not like something red; it is red. It is not like something beautifully scented; it is beautifully scented. It is not like something that is pleasing in form, or delicate, or fleeting; it simply is all of those things. But to say that a rose is all of those things might tend to imply that it is simply a collection of attributes, the totality of which somehow add up to roseness. No, roseness precedes and transcends any definition of…

Letting Fall That Which Is Ready To Fall (More Thoughts On Attachment)

Let me begin by mentioning that I’ve added a new section to the blog. You’ll find it below my profile as you scroll down the right hand side. I’m calling it Things I’m Either Doing Or Have Done In Order To Be Kinder To The Earth. My motivation for adding it is three-fold: 1) I’m convinced that human-caused climate change is on the verge of bringing unprecedented suffering to all living beings; 2) Regular readers here will know that I commonly refer to the bodhisattva vow to “save all beings” as one of my guiding principles; and 3) I strive for congruence between the actions that, in totality, make up “my” life and the principles by which I vow to live “my” life.

Now, almost certainly there will be a reader or two or three who will notice that I’m not strictly vegetarian and who will thereby be prompted to wonder about the strength or legitimacy of my vow to “save all beings” given the fact that I can’t even keep myself from eating them from time to time! Believe me, this is a matter …