practice

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Buddha Face

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from the Sutra of 42 Chapters:

Chapter 9: Knowledge and Practice

The Buddha said, “For those who accrue extensive knowledge of the Way, becoming enamored with it, the Way is difficult to attain.For those with unwavering resolve in following the Way, the Way is great indeed.”

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Poems for Mindful Breathing

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Image result for breathing meditation

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Gathas by Thich Nhat Hanh

(short poems to accompany your in- and out-breath):

In, out.

Deep, slow.

Calm, ease.

Smile, release.

Present moment, wonderful moment.

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Do not pursue the past.

Do not lose yourself in the future.

The past no longer is.

The future has not yet come.

Looking deeply at life as it is in the very here and now,

the practitioner dwells in stability and freedom.

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As an island unto myself,

Buddha is my mindfulness,

Shining near shining far,

Dharma is my breathing,

Guarding body and mind,

I am free.

As an island unto myself,

Sangha is my skandas,

working in harmony.

Taking refuge in myself,

coming back to myself,

I am free.

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Breathing in, I go back

To the island of myself.

There are beautiful trees,

There is water, there are birds,

There is sunshine and fresh air.

Breathing out, I feel safe.

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The mind can go in a thousand directions,

but on this beautiful path,

I walk in peace.

With each step,

a gentle wind blows.

With each step,

a flower blooms.

source

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Using gathas in our daily practice makes it easy and enjoyable. Gathas are Zen poems that we can memorize and recite silently to ourselves as we practice mindfulness of breathing. Gathas are simple and can be used to accompany any activity. This is a wonderful gatha. We can use it when our mind is confused, when we don’t know the right thing to do, when we’re in a dangerous situation or beginning to panic. When we come back to the breath, breathe mindfully, and recite this gatha, our mind will be calmed immediately. Once we feel stable, we’ll be able to see clearly what we should and should not do in order to improve the situation.

Coming back to take refuge in the island of the self is the teaching the Buddha gave when he was eighty years old. He knew that after he entered nirvana there would be many disciples, both monastic and lay, who would feel lonely and that they had lost their place of refuge. So he taught that inside us there’s an island where we can take refuge. When we feel lost, lonely, sad, hesitant, in despair, when we don’t know what the correct thing to do is, we can come back to that island and have safety.

That island is our stable mind. That island is not a place outside of us. One breath can bring us back to that island immediately. In each person there are the seeds of stability, freedom, and non-fear. It’s these seeds that make a place of refuge for us and protect us. When we take refuge in our island, we’re taking refuge in something real, not in some abstract idea or vague notion about the future. We can use this gatha when we do sitting meditation or walking meditation. Whether we’re sitting, standing, walking or lying down, we can practice coming back to take refuge. Breathing in, we can say, “coming back to take refuge.” Breathing out we can say, “in the island of myself.”

Coming back to take refuge

In the island of myself.

Or we can say:

Coming back

Taking refuge

The island

Of myself.”

(Thich Nhat Hanh, Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go, p. 195)

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safety

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Image result for lying in the meadow

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“As an island unto myself, Buddha is my mindfulness, shining near, shining far. Dharma is my breathing, guarding body and mind.”

 

Thich Nhat Hanh

We should practice in order to touch the Buddha and the Dharma several times a day, in our daily lives. The Sangha is also available. First of all the five elements within us — form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness, the five Skandhas–may be in disharmony with each other when you don’t practice.

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full awareness of the body

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I am, once again, finding great satisfaction and pleasure in this practice of the full awareness of breathing. Below are two short excerpts from the Buddha’s discourse.

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“O bhikkhus, the full awareness of breathing, if developed and practiced continuously, will be rewarding and bring great advantages. It will lead to success in practicing the Four Establishments of Mindfulness. If the method of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness is developed and practiced continuously, it will lead to success in the practice of the Seven Factors of Awakening. The Seven Factors of Awakening, if developed and practiced continuously, will give rise to understanding and liberation of the mind.

“What is the way to develop and practice continuously the method of Full Awareness of Breathing so that the practice will be rewarding and offer great benefit?

“It is like this, bhikkhus: the practitioner goes into the forest or to the foot of a tree, or to any deserted place, sits stably in the lotus position, holding his or her body quite straight, and practices like this:

‘Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.’

1. ‘Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath.

2. ‘Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath. Breathing out a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath.

3. ‘Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.’ He or she practices like this.

4. ‘Breathing in, I calm my whole body. Breathing out, I calm my whole body.’ He or she practices like this.

“In what way does one develop and continuously practice the Full Awareness of Breathing, in order to succeed in the practice of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness?

“When the practitioner breathes in or out a long or a short breath, aware of his breath or his whole body, or aware that he is making his whole body calm and at peace, he abides peacefully in the observation of the body in the body, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life. These exercises of breathing with Full Awareness belong to the First Establishment of Mindfulness, the body.

from Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary:

“I wish to say something about the expressions ‘observing the body in the body,’ observing the feelings in the feelings’, and ‘observing the objects of mind in the objects of mind.’ The key to ‘observation meditation’ is that the subject of the observation and the object of the observation not be regarded as two separate things. A scientist might try to separate him or herself from the object he or she is observing and measuring, but students of meditation have to remove the boundary between subject and object. When we observe something, we are that thing. Nonduality is the key word. ‘Observing the body in the body’ means that in the process of observing we do not stand outside of our own body like an independent observer, but we identify with the object being observed.

“This is the only path that can lead us to the penetration and direct experience of reality. In ‘observation meditation,’ the subject and object of meditation are one entity also.

“In order to succeed in the work of observation we must go beyond both attachment and aversion.”

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on the Full Awareness of Breathing

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Plum Village Bell Meditation

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Dear Friends, These are my favorite meditations at present. They are lead by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, zen master, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. These meditations are based on the Buddha’s

Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing

Thich Nhat Hanh lived for many years in the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France. These meditations were recorded there. (HERE is the complete SoundCloud playlist.) Continue reading

authority

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Thanks to Nadine Marie for this.

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Do not believe anything because it is said by an authority,

or if it is said to come from angels,

or from Gods, or from an inspired source.

Believe it only if you have explored it in your own heart

and mind and body and found it to be true.

Work out your own path, through diligence.

~Gautama Buddha

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“Authority” comes from “author” –

find out who is the author? 

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thusness

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My Comment:

Some of you may enjoy what has been passed down to us by the ancients, in this case the discourse of the Buddha to a senior monk, Subhuti. Here is a passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Zen Keys” in which he explains the meaning of a certain part of the ancient text Vairacchedika-prainaparamita, also known as The Diamond Sutra. Since our consciousness is the content of our consciousness, by allowing new content into our awareness we change our consciousness. Enjoy!

Thich Nhat Hanh in “Zen Keys”:

 

There is no discrimination in reality in itself. But “reality” in the world of concepts is full of discriminations: subject/object, I/Not-I, etc. This is not truly reality but an erroneous image of reality. The origin of this erroneous image is called discrimination or imagination(vikalpa) in the Vijanavada school.

This flower, for example, which is near the window, is a true flower in its non-discriminated reality. Because we discriminate it is no longer revealed. In its place stands an erroneous image of it. The word “empty” which at first signified the absence of permanent identity, now acquires another meaning: the image created by the concept does not represent any reality, it is imaginary.

The A Which Is Not A Is Truly A

In the Vajracchedika-prajnaparamita we find many expressions given in the form, “The A which is not A is truly A.” Let us take several examples: “Living beings, I say that they are not living beings, this is why they are truly living beings.” “The Buddhist doctrine, I say is not the doctrine of Buddhism, this is why it is truly the Buddhist doctrine.”

What does that signify? It is quite simple. Reality is only reality when it is not grasped conceptually. ‘What we construct through our concepts is not reality. It can also be said, “This flower, which is not a concept, is truly a flower.” Here again is found the rejection of the principle of permanent identity, and a tendency to see things by means of the go-between of conceptualization. The practitioner of the Way must enter into direct contact with reality, without allowing concepts to separate him from this reality. Reality cannot be conceived, nor can it be described in words. Reality is reality; it is thus. This is the significance of the word thusness (tathata).

source: Thich Nhat Hahn, Zen Keys, PDF file p.58

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a magic show

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“If you arrive at understanding the unborn nature of all that is and know that the mind is a magic show, that there is no object, no phenomenon that has real existence, then wherever you are there is purity, and that is Buddha.”

Zen Master Linji

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the unborn nature of all that is

the mind is a magic show

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