Burmese scenes from the Life of the Buddha

Three richly illustrated Burmese manuscripts in the British Library on ‘The life of the Buddha’.

Prince Siddhartha is depicted on the throne in his palace

In the Palace: in the centre, Prince Siddhartha is depicted on the throne in his palace, being entertained by court musicians, with his wife Yasodharā on the smaller throne to the left. On the right, Prince Siddhartha, who is riding in his gilded carriage, points to the figure of a saffron-robed monk – the last of the four signs encountered by the Prince. Continue reading

The All-Knowing Buddha: A Secret Guide

Exhibition at The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street
New York, NY 10011
October 3, 2014 – April 13, 2015

The All-Knowing Buddha: A Secret Guide focuses on an exceptional set of paintings in the intimate format of album leaves from 18th-century China that illustrate the meditation practice of Sarvavid Vairochana, a primordial Buddha central to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The album is one of only two of its kind in existence to depict visually a secret esoteric practice. The presentation at the Rubin is the first time that these important paintings are exhibited in the United States.

Leaf 17, Wangzimial Aokhan Banner, Inner Mongolia, late 18-19 century. Continue reading

Part 2 Zazenshin: Acupuncture Needle of Zazen, by Shohaku Okumura

In the first instalment of this lecture, Reverend Okumura explained that `zazen is an acupuncture needle to heal the sickness caused by the three poisonous states of mind. Because the sickness is inveterate and obstinate, it is very difficult to heal. Even though our practise of zazen, being based in Buddha’s teaching, is a treatment of this sickness, our zazen itself can be a poison and cause sickness. Our way-seeking mind can be very deeply influenced by the three poisonous states of mind. This is a strange contradiction, isn’t it? In order to practise to be free from the three poisonous states of mind, we need the three poisonous states of mind. This is the most important koan for us: How can we continue to practise going through this contradiction? How can we go through this contradiction and continue to practise? How can we be free from this samsara within our Buddhist practice, within our zazen practice? I think that this is the sickness Dogen Zenji discusses in Shobogenzo: Zazenshin. How can we cure this sickness? This is the main point of Dogen’s poem Zazenshin.’ In this instalment of his commentary on Shobogenzo: Zazenshin, Reverend Okumura speaks about his experience in relation to this teaching.

 

My experience

Uchiyama RoshiI first read a book written by my teacher Kosho Uchiyama Roshi when I was seventeen years old. Somehow I wanted to be his student. I knew nothing about Buddhism or Zen, but somehow I wanted to live like him. I started to practise zazen when I was nineteen. Because I knew nothing about Buddhism, Zen or Dogen’s teachings, I went to Komazawa University to study Buddhism and Dogen. When I was twenty, I sat my first five-day sesshin at Antaiji, where Uchiyama Roshi lived. Eventually, when I was twenty-two, I was ordained. Continue reading

Looking Deeply, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddha in earth touching pose. Photo © Lisa DaixWhen you breathe in and out you may like to focus your attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen. Your breathing will then become deeper, and you may enjoy breathing. When you feel that, you may like to smile to yourself. This means you like it!

While we are breathing in and out and enjoying it a lot, we are concentrated; the object of our concentration is the breathing. Our practice may be described as the practice of mindfulness. I am mindful. But mindful of what? I can only pick up one thing at a time to be mindful of. I pick up my breath as the object of concentration; I am mindful of my breathing. It is a very wonderful practice, not only for beginners of meditation, but for those who have been practising for forty, fifty years, or more. So wonderful! So nourishing! Continue reading

Tathata or Suchness

Buddha in sitting posture.  © Victoria and Albert MuseumTathata means ‘Suchness’, or ‘as-is-ness of the moment’. When I first came across this word ‘Suchness’ in Zen literature, I thought, ‘What the heck is Suchness? Suchness! That’s nonsense! Can’t figure that one out.’ If we hold perceptions to be reality, then in order for our world to be real, we have to perceive it as something. It can’t be just what it is. We have to interpret it, or give it a name, or describe it in some way. We perceive the world through words, through ideas. This obsession with cameras and photography now, is just wanting to capture things, capture moments on film, petrify them in time, and make them fixed because everything is moving and changing. But Suchness, or Tathata, the Tathagata, is right now. This is the way it is. But sometimes, when I say, ‘This is the way it is,’ somebody will say, ‘You mean this is the way it is forever?’ No! RIGHT NOW — this is the way it is. The only way it can be is the way it is right now! It’s changing, but at this moment, the Suchness of this moment, is just this way. The thinking mind has to stop. Otherwise you will want to ask, ‘Where is it? What is he saying?’ You just have to stop your mind and listen, or watch. Then you will be relating to Suchness, the Suchness of the moment, the as-is-ness.

Ajahn Sumedho

Click here to read more teachings by Ajahn Sumedho.

You can find more Foundations of Buddhism here.

Million thanks to everyone _/\_

We had our millionth view this morning.

Our magazine had its millionth view this morning.  Million thanks to everyone _/\_
Million thanks to everyone _/\_

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