Showing posts from October, 2013

Do Zombies Have Buddha-Nature?

Okay, I’ve written a Buddhist Christmas post and a Buddhist Easter post…, why not a Buddhist Halloween post? If you think about it, Buddhism and Halloween do seem to go together well. After all, Buddhism – especially Tibetan Buddhism – has its fair share of stories about demons and hell realms and whatnot. And what is the bardo realm if not a veritable haunted house of the mind! Indeed, no matter what we might say to the contrary, any Buddhist who believes in reincarnation is without a doubt motivated, at least in part, by a desire to keep from being reborn in one of the hell realms, or as a hungry ghost perhaps. And those who don’t necessarily believe in reincarnation still seek to refrain from creating hell realms here in the present moment, or being reborn in one in the next. So why not bring our fears of these demons and hell realms out into the open by celebrating them at least one night each year!
I was inspired to write this post after catching parts of a couple of episodes of…

Dogen's 'Flower of Emptiness' - Part 2

Dogen’s Shobogenzo contains a fascicle known as Kuge, or Flower of Emptiness. As discussed in Part 1, kuge is a term that is sometimes used to describe apparitions caused by cataracts or some other eye disease – ‘flowers in the sky’, so to speak. Within the context of a Buddhist discussion, kuge is sometimes used in reference to our obscured vision of ‘things as it is’ – vision which presumably becomes clarified over the course of our meditative practice. In Kuge, Dogen uses our more commonsensical understanding of ‘flowers in the sky’ as a means to discuss the true nature of emptiness, shunyata, as he understands it. Thus, the translation of Kuge as The Flower of Emptiness (Nishiyama, 1975).

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to read Part 1, I will reiterate the caution regarding interpreting in a nihilistic way Buddhist teachings related to emptiness. Without correct understanding of emptiness we might misinterpret the teaching that no thing exists (in our ordinary way …

Dogen's 'Flower of Emptiness' - Part 1

An Introduction
The fascicle of Dogen’s Shobogenzo known as Kuge predominantly relates to the nature of what many modern English-speaking Buddhists refer to as emptinessshunyata, in Sanskrit. Realization of the true nature of emptiness is enjoyed by all buddhas. Those of us still working on the clarification of understanding, however, are susceptible to thinking about it in different and perhaps even erroneous ways. For instance, some English versions of Buddhist scriptures translate shunyata as voidness, thereby creating the potential for the unsuspecting reader or practitioner to think of emptiness in very nihilistic and world-negating terms, i.e., that this world and everything in it is nothing but illusion. Regardless of what translation might be used, however, it is also the case that not all schools of Buddhism think about emptiness in the same way. Generally speaking, those with a less sweeping view of shunyata encourage individual renunciation of this samsaric realm, this r…