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Showing posts from May, 2012

Too Big For Any Sticks or Stones to Hurt Us

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Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me!
What child growing up in America has not invoked this mantra at least once or twice when faced with the taunts and teasing and name-calling that seem to be an almost “inevitable” part of childhood life? + From an early age we recognize the wisdom of these words, and even though we might not always succeed at bringing to life their truth we at least come to realize our potential for being “big enough” that no verbal insult need ever darken our mood.
But what does it mean, anyway, to be big enough that no such words can ever harm us? Perhaps it means we’re big enough to know that, when considered along with our multitude of other qualities, the so-called bad quality of wearing thick glasses or having freckles all over our face is but a trifle. Or perhaps it means we’re bigger still and have come to realize that wearing thick glasses or having a freckly face is merely what is – neither good nor bad – despite what anyone el…

On Being a "Good" Buddhist - Reflections on the Diamond Sutra

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The Vajracchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra is often called, quite simply, The Diamond Sutra. Thich Nhat Hanh (1992) suggests, however, that we refer to it by its full name: The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion. The Diamond Sutra and the Mahaprajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra, or Heart Sutra, are perhaps the two best known sutras amongst all those that comprise the Mahaprajnaparamita (Schuhmacher & Woerner, 1994, p. 128). I’ll be quoting quite liberally from The Diamond Sutra throughout this post. Unless otherwise noted, all translated passages are those of Price & Mou-lam (1990). Okay, let’s dive right in:


Buddha said: Subhuti, all the bodhisattva heroes should discipline their thoughts as follows: All living creatures… are caused by me to attain unbounded liberation nirvana. Yet, when vast, uncountable, immeasurable numbers of beings have thus been liberated, verily no being has been liberated. Why is this, Subhuti? It is because no bodhisattva who is a real bodhisattva cherishes the…

Confessions of an Ambivalent Buddhist

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Observed by Buddhists all over the world around this time of year, Vesak Day is a day of reflection upon the birth, enlightenment, and death of the historical Buddha. The precise day on which it falls in any given year is determined by the calendar utilized by whichever sect is doing the celebrating. For most, it will be observed this weekend. Here in St. Louis, however, Buddhists of various sects have agreed to gather collectively on the 20th of May.


I have numerous fond memories of Vesak Days past, many of which have been held on the beautiful grounds of a monastery just west of town, overlooking rolling wooded hills and the Missouri River valley. Vesak Day is a time of meditation, self-reflection, ritual observance, Dharma teachings, and lots of good food and fellowship – in addition to it quite often falling on a sublimely gorgeous spring day.


One of the rituals performed involves the “bathing of the baby Buddha,” a ritual in which practitioners dribble ladles of water or tea ov…