Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blue Cliff Monastery

From My Zen Experience

Have been meaning to do this for a long time and conditions finally came together for my second visit to Blue Cliff Monastery this weekend. It is in Pine Bush, NY. I had stayed here in February 2008 and have been meaning to come back since then.

The monastery is residence to monks and nuns of Order of Interbeing, institution started by dear Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The monastery is very peaceful and quiet. There is lot of emphasis on mindfulness. Work is done slowly and mindfully, no one is in any rush to go any where or achieve anything. They actually request you to slow down and not worry if something is not finished because there will always be another time to finish. This is in such contrast to my daily life living in suburbs of NY and working in corporate America. I am supposed to do as much as I can and as fast as I can!!

Continuing on my thoughts of greed and hoarding, it is amazing to see the sisters who live here - they are so peaceful and light. They have minimal material possessions, they live in community and everything is done together for the community - cooking, taking meals, cleaning, laundary etc and yet, they are some of the most content, radiant and loving people I have seen in my life. This shows how little we need in terms of material wealth to be happy. Most of us have everything we need (not want) and we still cannot seem to realize even bits of happiness.

I am thankful that I was able to come here and spend the weekend.The food is just super delicius! The service is beautiful - with chanting of sutras (we chanted Diamond Sutra this morning), verses of gratitude and bows (they call it touching the earth). Most of all, I am reminded of the importance of mindfuless. Hopefully, it will stay with me atleast for a few days after I leave from here.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Reposted from: Succession of Insights


I picked this one up from Amazon as it was suggested for children.
It did not specify age…

The subtitle says “A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents”

There are many wonderful stories in this book. Quite a few come from Jataka tales and many are similar to ones you may have read in “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones” but there were a few that I could not readily identify the source.

While I enjoyed the message of the stories and value the content I do have some gripes with it. I had selected this book for reading at bed time to the kids, and there lies the problem. In the presentation of the stories a lot of difficult vocabulary was used. And in many of the stories I had to either think fast and use a word that fit the situation or stop to explain a complex word. While this may have been good for helping my children build their vocabulary, I fear that the message of the stories themselves often got lost in jargon. Which is in my mind a shame. So I would recommend this book for older kids and may give it to them as they begin to read more themselves, but I would not recommend it for reading to smaller children.

A note to people who write “Children’s Books”: never use a $64.00 word when a .25¢ word will do.

Hope that helps somebody!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greed and tendency to hoard

My Zen Experience

I have been fascinated with greed lately, to a great extent - with my own greed. The mind easily and happily forgets all that it has and tends to zero in on one thing that it doesn't have and wants desparately (not need, but want). Ah..and once it has that, it just as easily becomes bored with it or takes it for granted and the whole cycle starts again. So, why are we so greedy? Why is there never enough for us?

I have been observing the bird feeder in my backyard. If I fill it up with three cups of birdseed, it takes 3-4 days for it to become empty. The birds don't seem to be greedy and want to hoard all they can while the feeder is out there. While these thoughts have been bubbling in my head, I read somewhere else that animals who hunt for food, only kill and eat what they need. I know there are birds and animals who store food for winter but it seems like they only store what they need. It is only the human race that does not understand the meaning of taking what is needed. It always wants more and more and more.

Why is this? To some extent, we gather because we are afraid that if we don't do so, we will run out of stuff and die. We have no confidence in laws of Universe and its ability to sustain itself, which inlcudes us. Other times, we hoard just because we want to be better than our fellow humans and want to show off our status. Our wants take us to battle fields, lead us to wrong doing, create mental agonies and still is never over. Our needs are always fulfilled, under all circumstances. Even if we think it is not being fulfilled, it indeed is or else we would not be here today as a race. How about if we try to take what we need and leave the rest for others? Next time, we want something, how about if we ask ourselves a simple why before taking any action?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Succession of Insights: BOOK REVIEW: IN BUDDHA’S KITCHEN

Succession of Insights: BOOK REVIEW: <i>IN BUDDHA’S KITCHEN</i>

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Are you here to numb your pain or getting high? friend, so you thought Zen and meditation would enable you to numb your pain or get high and may be you can forget all your worries for sometime at least? You thought it could get you either super normal powers where you can manifest you every desire or raise you above your feelings so all you will feel is pleasure. I know it cuts through heart and it never goes many things you wanted, you did get a lot of them and still what you don't have overpowers all your achievements and happiness. Somehow, the time that you spend pondering over what you don't have or did not get, comes out to be always more than the time that you spend on being thankful for what you have. So, you thought let me try this thing called Zen and may be it will help.

The good news is that it will! The bad news is that it is not going to numb you or make you high. Zen creates warriors and not zombies! and trust me, it is not easy. It will make you come face to face with yourself so closely that you will have goosebumps. You will look into reality of who you are and it will be a path of struggle. It is not easy to face ourselves, most of the time we are running away from ourselves and the question of why. We would rather act upon instincts without analyzing. Acting out of impulse is far easier than paying attention and being mindful.

Zen creates warriors..who are mindful..who are looking into life squarely..who are not running away from it or drowning themselves in sensual pleasures..this is what makes the path difficult. As a result of investigation, peace and contentment emerges..every time the want arises..dissatisfaction arises..the warrior is trained to question..look deeper..figure it out. The warrior has to be willing to train himself with every ounce of energy in his body, with every fibre of his being..only his quest of finding the reality enables him to tread the path and become one with it.

Are you a warrior or zombie?

Labels: , , , , , , , ,