Thursday
Aug172017

“Why should I re-read a Buddhist book 

when I know what happens?”

So many books today seem best suited to a mere single reading. This could well be due to our having learned all they had to tell us. Fortunately, there are other books, like Buddhist sutras and commentaries, which we can return to and benefit from for the rest of our lives. In fact, the more we read these books, the more we benefit from them. No longer do we need to hurriedly turn a book’s pages to find out “what happens.” We already know. Knowing what lies ahead, our mind can be at ease. As the very familiarity of the words calms us, our now peaceful mind can more deeply absorb the embedded wisdom in what we are reading, lingering contemplatively on a particularly moving passage, viewing another in a formerly unseen light. Thus, repeatedly reading our Buddhist book transforms what was once a leisure activity into a meditative practice as we take in the book at progressively more sublime, subtle, and meaningful levels. 

Sunday
Aug132017

No one departs 

a confrontation unscathed.

Whether a participant, an observer, or someone further removed, everyone involved in or touched by a dispute is harmed. Those who exchanged harsh words or even actual blows will have planted the seeds for future karmic retributions. Those who witnessed what happened will find themselves impacted in varying ways and degrees. All those affected will continue to influence others they come into contact with as the rancor engendered by the conflict injures everyone in its path like embers falling away from a smoldering fire scorch and sear all they touch. Thus the number of beings negatively impacted continues growing in ways the combatants never imagined. But regardless, as each of those untold beings is affected, the adverse karmic retributions will continue to mount for the original participants, especially the one who chose to begin the confrontation. Yet another reason we should think before acting. 

Wednesday
Aug092017

It’s time to clean out the attic.

No, not that one, the other one.

What other one you ask? The one stuffed with the accumulated dust-gathering detritus from uncountable lifetimes—your mind. Oh, that one. To appreciate the true situation, imagine you’ve lived in the same house since birth. Now consider what your house’s attic might look like if, since that illustrious day you’ve been stuffing things into it on a daily, make that a minute-by-minute, basis. Your house’s top-most floor just expanded to unimaginable proportions. And those proportions are nothing compared to our mental top-most floor, the one we’ve been stuffing things into willy-nilly since time immemorial. Oh dear! Indeed. Now let’s say we want to move. Where to? The Western Pure Land. To move, we need to clean out our attic. There’s no time to hold up each item reliving fond or bitter memories. If it’s not a good seed, a virtue, an Amituofo, out it goes. When our attic is rid of the detritus, we get to move. Finally. 

Saturday
Aug052017

We do not require 

diverse chants and mantras.

Just one.

With an abundance of Buddhist chants and mantras, it becomes tempting to learn several so as to select the most appropriate one for any situation we encounter. But for those of us who are still unaccomplished practitioners, such an approach poses the same dilemma we encounter while trying to simultaneously practice diverse schools: unfocused familiarity instead of focused proficiency. And to further complicate things, when under pressure we might not be sure which mantra or chant to use. Wouldn’t it be much easier if we had one that was ideal for all situations? Fortunately for us, we do. When sick, chant “Amituofo.” When concerned about others, chant “Amituofo.” When unsure what to do, feeling irritated, worried or scared, when dying—“Amituofo.” Having chanted “Amituofo” for all our needs, we will have strengthened our surest method for ending all afflictions and suffering.

Tuesday
Aug012017

Minding one’s own business 

is often not a lack of caring,

but of acting prudently.

Before voicing our views or interceding in something we witness or hear about, we should first determine whether to even involve ourselves. Sound callous? Not really, because much of what transpires isn’t our personal concern, isn’t our business. Regardless, we often have opinions regarding the mistakes the participants have made and in what manner they should rectify what they’ve done. But instead of declaring our views to all and sundry, we should ask ourselves some questions. Am I responsible in some way for the welfare of those involved? Do I share any accountability for what is now happening? Have I done or failed to do something that brought those involved to this point? In other words, is it my place to intercede? If we lack the wisdom to know the answers to these questions, might we not also lack the wisdom to intervene wisely?