Posted on 5 July 2013 by Buddhism Now
Awareness is the key. But what does the word mean to you? To most people, perhaps, it denotes an acknowledgement of that which is going on around them in a general sort of way. In the context of meditation, however, it means ‘waking up’, becoming acutely sensitive, knowing, feeling, living the moment in its pristine state, sensing colours and contours, sounds, textures, smells, recognising tendencies within oneself yet resisting the pull to be controlled by them — this is meditation, to begin with at least.
Life is a bit of a game really, isn’t it? We look forward to something and when it comes we criticise it, resent it, worry about it, want to change it, want to make it better.
Why do so many beings have to endure hunger and cold, heat, disease, cruelty, physical and mental abuse and deprivation, torture, injustice, and all the rest of it? Some have to go through a living hell, don’t they? And others suffer because there isn’t any cheese in the fridge. (more…)
Filed under: Beginners, Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, Diana St Ruth, Encyclopedia | Tagged: awareness, Beginners guide to Buddhist meditation, Buddhism, Buddhist meditation 101, Gautama Buddha, meditation | 18 Comments »
Posted on 30 June 2013 by Buddhism Now
To our western ears, Zen can often sound austere, unkind, even brutal and cruel. We hear about the rejections at the monastery gate, the hardships, humiliations and rough treatment its adherents are sometimes subjected to, and maybe we’re inclined to think it’s all a bit much for grown up people. However, when things are taken out of context—historically, spiritually, and culturally—they can so easily be misjudged and that is what can happen to Zen. This is, after all, a particular system which has survived around the world for centuries. It isn’t the only route for Buddhists, of course, but it is a tried and tested one. Naturally, when the attempt is made to transplant something so subtle from one country to the next, let alone from east to west, there will be difficulties, and it will be subject to abuse or misuse which in many respects it is suffering now in the west where in a broader sense the word ‘Zen’ has come to mean clever, smart, refined, minimalist, aesthetically pleasing, fashionable, tough, etc, and sometimes removing it entirely from its Buddhist context. (more…)
Filed under: Buddhism, Ch'an / Seon / Zen, Diana St Ruth, Encyclopedia, History, Mahayana | Tagged: Baso, Chinese Buddhism, Huai Hai, Huai Jang, Hui Neng, Ma Tsu, Photos by @KyotoDailyPhoto, Zen Masters | Leave a Comment »
Posted on 4 May 2013 by Buddhism Now
People sometimes say that the world is progressing towards being wiser, fairer, more civilised. But I do wonder about that. There’s a lot of unrest and disorder in our world at the moment—politically, economically, socially, and not much regard for individual suffering. Is this new or is it just more of the same since time began—just the old world going round and round?
In Buddhist terms one can see that the world is merely the outward manifestation of greed, hatred and delusion (samsara), and what is happening is to be expected. How can it be otherwise while greed, hatred and delusion reign? There is no suggestion, of course, that one should not try to do something about that world out there as well as the world within. Of course we should; that is our job as Buddhists, isn’t it, to work on greed, hatred and delusion—especially within ourselves? (more…)
Filed under: Beginners, Buddhism, Diana St Ruth | Tagged: Buddhist blog, greed hatred and delusion, Nirvana, Prajnaparamita, religion, samsara, wisdom and compassion | 1 Comment »
Posted on 15 April 2013 by Buddhism Now
Diana St Ruth
I received an interesting piece recently by Jamie Gargett—which follows this preamble—about the realm of the hungry ghosts on the Wheel of Life. I was therefore prompted to write this short introduction as a reminder of this fascinating teaching-aid.
Most will agree, I am sure, that the Wheel of Life never loses its value as an object of contemplation. It has everything in it as far as the Buddha’s teaching is concerned, and the Tibetans, among others, have used it since time immemorial.
The first thing that one notices in these vivid Tibetan scrolls (thangkas), is the a large character representing the Lord of Death. He is shown holding up a great, round mirror. There is no physical face staring back at us, however, instead the reflection is of the experiences in our lives—all the possibilities open to us—in the form of a wheel. (more…)
Filed under: Art, Diana St Ruth, Encyclopedia, Tibetan | Tagged: Buddhist art, Buddhist blog, Buddhist Wheel of Life, Hungry ghosts, Jamie Gargett, thangkas, Tibetan Buddhism | Leave a Comment »
Posted on 18 March 2013 by Buddhism Now
If you like cats—if you are a total fool when it comes to cats, as I am—you will probably make a beeline for them when you see them in the street, and pet them if they’ll let you. But you won’t be upset if they turn their backs on you, stick their tails in the air, and walk off—because that’s how cats are. And if your cat at home makes self-centred demands—as they are wont to do—you probably won’t mind in the least. And they can be quite moody—all over you one minute and ignoring you the next—but you simply won’t mind, because you don’t expect cats to be any other way. So, cat lovers tolerate their cats’ little quirks and foibles with ease and just think: ‘Oh well, that’s cats for you!’ (more…)
Filed under: Beginners, Biography, Buddhist meditation, Diana St Ruth | Tagged: animals, Buddhist blog, Buddhist Monastery, Cat lovers, Cats, Meditation Retreat | 12 Comments »
Posted on 21 February 2013 by Buddhism Now
Pushing and shoving, I came to realize, is part of a Tibetan monk’s way of life, but there was nothing malicious about it. On the contrary. To see young monks struggling to get into the main gompa at Drepung early one morning when the Dalai Lama moved from Ganden in the middle of his stay was a sight indeed! The object, it seemed, was to get into the gompa itself where His Holiness was about to give a puja. The main doorway was completely blocked with a sea of maroon spilling out, down the steps and onto the surrounding area below. But there was a side door which was still being bombarded by younger monks to the obvious displeasure of the disciplinarians who were straining to lash out with long sticks. But their blows were mostly ineffectual, failing to find the mark. The whole crowd cheered as yet another monk hitched up his robes and climbed up the little wall and over the railings which flanked the doorway. These young ones continued to surge forward and the packing of bodies became even tighter — a little frightening to see. Not one more human being could be accommodated in that space and so when yet another one tried, the obvious happened — he was transported like a bird through the air on the raised hands of those beneath him, and in. A wave of laughter swept through the crowd. Then another one did it, and another. They were swept through that doorway as though down a plughole, to the utter delight of the crowd. The odd blow of a flailing stick mattered little to these tough youngsters who got the prize — inside, witnessing a colourful puja with high lamas and the greatest of them all, the Dalai Lama. It would certainly do you no good to come to a Kalachakra Initiation at Mundgod, or probably any other gathering of this nature, if you didn’t like being touched. Everything was boisterous, jokey, speedy and physical. And it was clear this was the way it was meant to be, especially when it came to tea time! Woe betide the unsuspecting soul who got in the way of a dashing monk with a teapot. And they dashed in groups! Tea time at Kalachakra was a sight to behold. How else are thirty thousand people going to get their cuppas in such a short time unless it is with great speed? Besides, this was obviously a time-honoured custom and one performed, as with most other things it seemed to me, with joyful vigour. (more…)
Filed under: Art, Biography, Buddhism, Diana St Ruth, History, News & events, Tibetan | Tagged: Dalai Lama, Drepung, Ganden, Gompa, Kalachakra Initiation at Mundgod, Photo: Lisa Daix, Puja, Tibetan sand mandala, Tsampa | 3 Comments »