Everyday Buddhism

Reflection
by Peggy Bryant

The other day I was walking around the block near the hospital where I work, when an older man got out of his car right near me. We exchanged “hellos” and I asked how he was. He was a handsome, African American, tall and athletic looking. He noted my hospital ID badge and started telling me about his recent heart bypass surgery, his kidneys that were beginning to fail (his doctor wanted to discuss dialysis), and his prostate cancer. He said, “You know, I’m just not sure I want to deal with all this.” He told me that he had worked for many years as a longshoreman at the Oakland docks. He was always in good shape, he said, and he had felt good about himself physically. Now, he said, pointing to his outstretched arm, “I don’t have much muscle left.” He was proud that he had just celebrated his 73rd birthday. It was tough, he said. All the while, he had a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye, so I knew that he’d continue to fight. He was grateful for what he had.
This made me reflect on my Buddhist practice and how we struggle with our conventional views of ourselves versus what we know to be true about existence; that is, everything is impermanent. How can we learn to accept impermanence? Buddhism teaches that meditation is key in developing self knowledge and, therefore, clear seeing. During sitting meditation, we face ourselves alone. It’s very difficult to allow things just to be as they are when we sit. There’s no fooling ourselves that things come and go – thoughts, pains, noises, feelings change. Impermanence. That means accepting our bodies that hurt, our minds that run around, our always having to work to remain focused and alert. To just sit, facing ourselves as we are.
I wish I could tell that man I met on the street how meditation is helping me to face myself and accept things as they are, always changing. That is half the battle.

The Life of Subtraction
by Chuan Ren

Just as one teaches students how to subtract in mathematics (one of the most difficult concepts to teach to children for some reason), first with physical manipulates (fingers, blocks, candies, etc.) and then gradually moving to the abstract practice of subtraction through symbolic numerals mentally and on paper, so I am attempting to subtract my attachments and false ego.
I need to begin with one step at a time. First, by diminishing the most obvious in the physical state: television. There could be nothing more deceptive, false, or ignorant than watching television. By recently removing the act of foolishly watching television, I was able to naturally extricate the urge to be a certain way and buy more of what is not at all necessary.
Now is the more challenging part: How do I remove all of my other, less obvious and more abstract attachments that have been embedded within me during my thirty years of living? I have been constantly surrounded, fed, and bombarded with delusions. I have willingly accepted so many of them. Learning the teachings of Buddha at Buddha Gate Monastery, meditation, and my husband’s unceasing and compassionate assistance with reminding me to develop more awareness, have all assisted me in becoming more conscious of where my attachments lie and what is real. I want and “need” that new and fashionable cell phone. I desire the good-tasting food from that fancy restaurant. I really crave that feel-good compliment from my boss in order to feed my false ego. If only I could really, truly understand that these desires are just bringing me suffering.
Subtracting these material goods and attachments from this life, in fact, add to my life. My true Buddha nature can be revealed through subtraction.

The Life of Subtraction
by Chuan Xiu

Due to Buddha’s infinite compassion,I encountered Buddha Gate during a confusing period. Every time I ask myself “Who is walking?”, “Who is meditating?” or “Who is eating?”, I notice that new “I”s surge, but I can neverdiscoverwho they are. I used to believe I knew myself, but now I don’t know who I am. Who is this who demands and expects so much of everyone? Who is this who is never satisfied? Who is this who seekssocial identification andfulfillment of senseless habits while swinging betweenself-limitation and self-exaltation?
If I don’t know who I am,I have no legitimate reason to struggle so hard in order to satisfymy endless threads of desires.This has helped me to make small, daily life decisions that once sounded daunting:vegetarianism, less comparison, emotional sublimation and the attempt to empty the mind of pre-concepts. Thepractice is lighterwhen I remember that I am not myself and that the Buddha’s Mind is infinite.

Weeding & Planting
by Darlene Cioffi-Pangilla (Chuan Ling)

 

I am a volunteer at the Gardens at Heather Farm in Walnut Creek. The time I spend gives me the opportunity to reflect on what is taught in Buddha Gate’s Meditation and Buddhism classes.
As we begin the new year, the weeds accumulated over the winter need to be pulled up, making space for new flowers to be planted and the dormant ones to emerge and grow.The weeding and planting is ongoing:  each day, each week, all year.  Should this not be like our daily life, not only while at Buddha Gate?  We weed out what needs to be eliminated, and we plant new attitudes, thoughts, speech, and actions that WILL enhance our personal environment and that of the greater world.
While pruning shrubs, trees or whatever, at the Gardens, we first remove the coarse stuff so that the finer growth can be seen.  We then step back and look at the finer growth from different angles to see what needs to be weeded or pruned so that the plants intrinsic beauty has a chance to be revealed.

Is this not like our meditation practice?  We sit to allow the coarse stuff to surface.  The more we sit, the more falls away, the fine with the coarse, deeper and deeper, subtle and even more subtle until our True Nature, the subtlest of all things, Is. I must continuously weed and plant, weed and plant. Buddha Gate Monastery and the teachings available there help me to better recognize what I need to weed and what I need to plant.  For this I am most grateful.
減法的人生
就好像教學生數學減法(某方面來說,是最難教的概念之一。)首先從具體模擬(用手指、方塊、糖果等。)然後慢慢地轉移到,透過數字在紙上及智力上抽象的減法練習,如同我嘗試地削減我的執著。
我需要一步一步來。首先,得先減少最具體,最明顯的:看電視。大概沒什麼事比看電視來得更虛妄不實或無明不覺。自從近來,遠離了呆滯地看電視的行為,我已經可以很自然地,從那股購買些不必要物品的衝動中解脫。
進一步,更挑戰的部份是:我如何去除其他較不明顯,更隱微地已深藏在我三十年的生活當中的執著?我已經被無明妄想不斷地環繞、餵食、轟炸已久。我也已習慣接受他們。在佛門寺學佛禪修,以及我同修不斷慈悲地幫助我、提醒我,讓我提起覺性,意識到什麼是執著虛妄,什麼是真實的。我想要或“需要”那新型流行的手機,我想到精緻的餐廳享用美食,我真渴望老闆讚歎我,好讓我長養那我執。我其實真正需要了解的,是那些欲望帶給我痛苦。
從生活中,減少這些物欲執著才是豐富我的生命。透過這些減損,我的佛性由此開展。
佛門寺研經班傳仁(Lauryn Marinho)

減法的人生
因為佛陀無盡的慈悲,在我困惑時,得遇佛門寺。每一次我問自己,“誰在走路?” “誰在打坐?” 或 “誰在吃飯?” 我發覺一個新的“我”湧現,但我仍不明白那是什麼。過去,我認為我知道自己,但現在,我不知道自己是誰。這個向外要求、期待這麼多的,是誰? 這個永不滿足的,是誰? 這個在自我設限和自我得意之間,搖擺追尋著社會地位及無意義的成就感,是誰?
如果我不知道我是誰,我沒有正當的理由為了滿足這無止盡的欲求奮力掙扎。這幫助我從每天生活中小小的決定做起,雖然它一度聽來令人怯步:素食、少比較、昇華情緒及去除心中成見。但當我記得我不再是自己,而是本具無量的佛性時,修行簡單些了!
佛門寺研經班傳修 (Vinicius Marinho)