Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dancing with Death

Dancing with Death I had to go to a funeral the other day. I didn’t know the guy very well but I had to go. He was 59 and died in a bad car wreck. I was an open coffin event, his body looked flat like it was run over by a steam roller, and his face looked like they pieced it together with clay. As I approached the coffin the two guys kneeling got and shook the coffin hard, so hard that the corpses head went back and forth like a bobble head. I am guessing his head was not connected to rest of him, when I saw this I turned around and B-lined for the back to room.

Next was the service with a catholic priest whose whole shtick was “only through Christ can we enter the kingdom of heaven”. My reaction was like WTF, that is a mean thing to say especially to non-Christians. Then the real kicker was when his daughters spoke they were completely devastated their pain was powerful that the whole room shook with their anguish. It was really heart breaking to see people in so much pain I had to hold back crying myself because their feelings had so much power.

There are two reasons I am telling this story one, I don’t like dogma and two I thought about the story of Siddhartha and how he saw suffering and wanted to alleviate it. That story of Siddhartha doesn’t capture the feeling of pain that was being felt at this funeral. It is more cerebral or logical, like Spocks version of shallow emotion. I am not saying he didn’t feel what I felt, I think what I was feeling is exactly the same that the Buddha felt and that drove him seek the dharma. I have to say reading about it and actually feeling are not the same, and can become intellectualized rather than a heartfelt experience.

His answer to suffering is the eightfold path. I have a funny feeling that if had I walked up to his daughters and gave them a sermon on the eightfold path and impermanence wouldn’t have been helpful at all. Just like the priest saying that Christ is the way probably was not helpful either. I think the only thing can that help someone in that kind of pain is to have an open heart, share the pain, and to be genuine, empathetic, open and present. I am not saying that Buddhism or Christianity is bad, but using the dogma can be a way to shelter ourselves from having a genuine experience and expressing kindness. It can be a way of separating ourselves from the interconnectivity of life, and those we share it with.

At the end of the funeral they played Monty Pythons Always look on the bright side of life. Life is nothing to lose your head about that is for sure.

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin
Give the audience a grin
Enjoy it, it's your last chance anyhow

Thanks for reading
El Dharmarado

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Way Seeking Mind

I don't know who this guy is but he sure can lay down a Dharma talk like no other!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Dharma of Sharknado

Some of you are probably aware of latest SyFy movie Sharknado that blew up the internet recently. While I was watching this cinematic epic I realized that there are some profound teachings that can be taught by using the analogy of a Sharknado. So here is my take on the Dharma of Sharknado

The tornado is like the mind that is always spinning and fighting to stop the mind from doing what it is created to do is like throwing a school of sharks into to the tornado, from there it will leave a trail of carnage everywhere it goes.

This is what happens during meditation when a meditator struggles with his or her mind to stop the thoughts. The energy we use to struggle against them is throwing sharks into a tornado. The trick is not to trying to stop the mind but to stop and let the mind be the mind, and let the thought be just thoughts, and not to become attached to them. When the meditator sees a thought then begins to build a story around the thought that is like feeding the shark, and trying to stop the thoughts completely is creating more sharks.

Just watch to tornado spin because that is what a tornado does. It will go where it wants but we don’t need to do anything else. Just watch the mind spin because that is what it does, when we stop to just watch we may notice some gaps in wind of the mind in those gaps there is a calm quit space, like being in the eye of a storm, that is the clear mind, the Buddha mind.

I know this is not my best blog post ever but whatever I wrote it during commercials while watching Sharknado and it is a way to take advantage of the buzz on the internet.

Thanks for reading
El Dharmarado Tamer of the Sharknado

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Bus to Enlightenment

The following is an interview my teacher and friend the Venerable Doshim Dharma.  I would like to thank him for taking the time to share some of his personal insights into Korean Buddhism, and his dream of starting the first mobile mediation center in the western hemisphere the Buddha bus

What first brought you to the practice of Zen?
Suffering, the general unhappiness that the Buddha identified as the mark of life--dukkha.

How did you find the right teacher?
I've had several teachers, but I realized that Seonsanim Paul Lynch was the right teacher for me because he never tried to impose and one form of practice on me. He trusted the teaching process and me as a student. I felt a genuine respect from him.

Why have you chosen Kwan Um rather than Soto or Rinzai  Zen?
I've practiced in Soto and a Soto-koan hybrid known as Sanbo Kyodan before I met Zen Master Seung Sahn's approach. There is just a genuine directness about his approach, his koan method, that can wake you up instantaneously. 

What motivated you to become a Zen Teacher?
Perhaps it's because I'm a classroom teacher, which affects the way you look at life, literature, and situations. Asking myself, "How could I teach that?" comes naturally. I also have a huge appreciation for the gift of the Buddhadharma, and consider it almost a tragedy not to share it. The Dharma has helped me so much, so becoming a teacher and devoting my life to the Dharma is like paying the debt back. It's the least I can do. 

Have there been any unexpected surprises or challenges to being a Zen teacher?
 Every week there's a new challenge. Between delivering Dharma talks, meeting new students, engaging students in interview, and teaching koans, a teacher has his or her hands full. It's really a dynamic and exciting responsibility. 

Where did the idea for the Buddha bus come from?
 I've been mulling over opening a Zen Center for a couple of years now, but it's really an enormous undertaking--utility bills, repairs, renovations, etc. It all adds up, and makes a sangha beholden to the almight dollar. So my father-in-law thought up the Buddha Bus. And the rest is history!

Why a mobile Zen center rather a stationary one?
 There are many advantages to a Buddha Bus versus a Zen Center. It's more reasonably priced, can move to meet people from around all of central New Jersey, and doesn't require the financial commitment to upkeep it. Plus, it's damn cool!

Do you have a target demographic that the Buddha bus is geared towards?
 Anyone who can meet us in a parking lot or park.

Can you describe to me this vision that you have for the Buddha bus?
Basically a mobile Dharma Center that can allows us, the sangha, to bring the Buddha's teachings others. Inside, we will sit and meditate, listen to a Dharma talk, and maybe, if space allows, practice walking meditation.

Has anyone told you they think your crazy for starting the Buddha bus project?
 At first, people give me a strange look, but as times passes and the idea settles, it grows on them.

Once you have the first Buddha bus on the road do you have any plans for a fleet of Buddha buses?
 Not yet, but that would be great. Maybe we could convert a bus into an RV with beds, bathroom, and kitchen. This way we could do retreats with the two buses together--one for meditation, the other for sleeping. 

I would like to give you a koan "Why did the Buddha bus go from the east coast to west?
"Beep beep!" Or better yet, "Hop on board!"

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
 Wake up and then save all sentient beings.

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Thanks for stopping by
El Dharmarado