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Desert Diamond 10-26-2016

Posted on October 26, 2016 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Beloved Sangha:


Last week I as asked the question, “Is there such a thing as a Gay Buddhist?” And my answer was “No.” Just exactly what did I mean by this, and was this an anti-gay statement? Yes I shall hereby answer the question, and no, it was not. I’ll explain.


I said that it was indeed possible to be a Buddhist who was Gay but not a Gay Buddhist: And my reasoning is based upon the Four Dharma Seals…those basic, foundations upon which any authentic Buddhist Tradition / Teaching must rest, as specified by Shakyamuni Buddha himself. By way of review, these are:


1. All Compounded Things Are Impermanent


2. All Emotions Are Painful / Unsatisfactory


3. All Phenomena Are Empty


4. Nirvana Is Beyond Extremes


I shall give a brief explanation of each first and then apply them, in toto, to our querry.


All Compounded Things Are Impermanent


All things, Time, Space, your car, YOU…all things are made up of parts, compounded together for a time, based on certain conditions, and then dissolve again: In Physics, this is known as Entropy… in a sense, why things exist at all. Things are always changing…if old things did not fade away, new things would never get started.


All Emotions Are Painful / Unsatisfactory


Emotions, much like the world, a temporary assemblage of atoms, our bodies, etc….are impermanent. If we cling or attach to them under the delusion that they are fixed, then there is naturally disappointment and dissatisfaction. This, by the way, includes pleasure and happiness…at least delusional pleasure / happiness based upon duality and false perception. Why are they dissatisfactory? Quite simply, they do not last…but then again, this is also true for ‘negative’ or afflictive emotions as well.


All Phenomena Are Empty


If all things are compounded for a time and then dissolve, are impermanent by nature, they thereby have no intrinsic essence of nature of existence from their own side…in short, they are ‘Empty’ of such a false notion. Why they are impermanent and compounded. This is NOT saying that things don’t exist or that nihilism is the reality; far from it. Merely that if 1 and 2, supra. Are true, then this is the natural state of things. What we perceive is really how we perceive…there is no What, for what we perceive is an illusion based upon ignorance (not accepting 1 and 2, supra).


Nirvana Is Beyond Extremes


This is simply understanding Shunyata (Emptiness) not just intellectually, or as a passing Mahayana or Zen Buddhist byword which is politically correct to sling around Sangha circles. No, this is REALLY understanding Shunyata truly….to be an Arya Being…a Bodhisattva and beyond. The absence of delusion and ignorance as to the true nature of self and all things, and therefore liberation from extremes of duality…true acceptance and lovingkindess with resultant happiness and peace without restriction or strings attached.


Given these Four Dharma Seals (most often seen as the Three Dharma Seals, with the Fourth really being the logical result of the Third), if we apply this to the qualifier or epithet of ‘Gay’ we see that this, too…as a principle, a notion…a characteristic….is Empty. Gayness is not the entire summation of your true self, nature or being, and neither is it permanent; to cling or attach to it as if it were leads to Dukkha…dissatisfaction….suffering.


This is why that if one considers oneself a Gay Buddhist, one is not a Buddhist at all…for a Buddhist, truly walking upon the spiritual path of the BuddhaDharma, would not apply nor cling to such a categorization or limitation of duality such as Gay unto themselves as a Dharma being, any more than one could arrogantly proclaim, “You are a woman and so therefore Dharma is not for you” or “Green eyed people with Red Hair are the true humans, vastly superior.” They are nonsensical, dissastifactory…and contrary to the Bodhichitta ideal of BuddhaDharma.


Does this make sense?


With Dharma Blessings,


Orgyen Jampa Dorje

 


Desert Diamond 10-16-2016

Posted on October 26, 2016 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (0)


October 16, 2016


Beloved Sangha:


It has often been asked me, nay, even demanded of me, that Temple White Lotus define itself, by hook or by crook, as a ‘Gay’ Temple. Until now, I have resisted the temptation to take the bait…but sometimes, one lies by one’s silence.


I would like to borrow a page from Shakyamuni’s playbook, as it were, and answer this question by way of posing the question back to you: Is there such a thing as ‘Gay’ Buddhism, and what would such a thing even mean? Can Buddhism be so contained…can it be, I dare say, so constrained, by such an adjective or qualifier as ‘Gay’?


I won’t answer this question for you, for Buddhism is not about putting thoughts into your head, forcing your conscience or brain washing you in any manner…no…I am not Jim Jones….and we serve no Koolaide, here. Rather, I shall humbly offer unto you a foundational basic of practically all schools of Buddhism, modern and traditional…an offering known as the Three Dharma Seals (or as the Vajrayana Buddhists elaborate it more specifically, the Four Seals of Dharma):


1. All compounded things are Impermanent


2. All emotions are Painful (Dukkha…unsatisfactory)


3. All phenomenon are empty of Inherent Existence (from their own side)


4. Nirvana is beyond All Extremes.


Buddhism is not based upon blind faith, but upon reason…scientific, methodical reason…in this case, reasoning / examining our own minds. Your homework is to sit with the Concept-Phenomenon-Trigger-Categorizing word ‘Gay’ and apply these Four Seals unto it. It shall be hard work, but this is what separates meditation / Buddhism from being a simple stress reduction/mindfulness (what I call mindless) bliss out session into a spiritual path…differentiates it from, what one of my teachers always say, “Squirrel/Marmot meditation from a spiritual path which gets you somewhere”. Thus, your assignment, dear agent, should you choose to accept it, is as follows:


• Spend some time in Shamata, grounding, stilling the mind, focusing upon the breath


• Place the word “Gay” in front of you and analyze…I mean, fine tooth comb, scientific investigative, pithy, precise…nuts and bolts take apart and reverse engineer analyze the term, and then do the same by applying each and every one of the Four Seals of Dharma to it. (Vipassana)


• Return to Shamata, and rest.


That is it for this week: Let me know what you come up with. No judgment, no criticism, just sharing…on the page or privately (I understand completely that the word “Gay” is such a Trigger word…which is part of the point of this exercise…why can an empty word, breath rattles from a frontal orifice, have such power? Analyze this too.


Good luck.


And no…this Dharma message shall not self-destruct; what ‘self’, after all, is there to destruct?


With Dharma Blessings,


Orgyen Jampa Dorje

 


Dharma Point: Renunciation

Posted on June 21, 2016 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Renunciation


Dharma thought for the week, and perhaps I shall elaborate upon this further: It is a thought about Renunciation.


Renunciation is one of the most basic foundation grounds of the Buddhist spiritual and ethical path; without it, one is not really a Buddhist at all. However, Renunciation has often gotten a 'bum wrap' and laden with emotional baggage in our Western Culture.


The good news is...Renunciation, in a manner of speaking, is easy....but that is what makes it so hard.


Its about changing one's perspective.


Almost everybody tends to think of Renunciation negatively, as if it were a painful or dastardly process of giving up something; this is the 'bum wrap' with which this word has been laden. In short, this notion simply is NOT true.


Think of it this way. You are walking home alone, at night, and the moonlight is casting your shadow upon the wall next to you; perhaps you are walking down a dark avenue or alley way of some kind. You see the shadow, and immediately get paranoid, frightened...its a serial stalker or Charlie Manson with a fire axe out to butcher me. Then, a burned out street lamp suddenly blinks back to life and, poof...the shadow is gone, and so is the threat.


Renunciation is the process of giving up the paranoic fear of the shadow threat...a mirage...an entity without substance, that was never really there.


So I put it to you, then...how can it be said that Renunciation is the painful act of giving up something, when its really just releasing an illusion without solid basis of existence from its own side?


Contemplate this...its deeper and yet simpler than you think.


<3



Statement Concerning the Terror Attacks in Orlando, Florida

Posted on June 13, 2016 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Terror: A Buddhist Perspective

Statement from the White Lotus Temple, Las Vegas in Response to the Pulse Nightclub Shootings

 

This is a cautionary tale that the Buddha would have utilized as a parable...a teaching moment of Dharma for us.

 

Indeed, he would point out that to react to this type of violence and all such worldly tempests without due Mindfulness and sobriety, we fall into a very unique trap of our own devising...nay, an ideological cage...an ethical and Dharmic dilemna. 

 

By this, I mean that if in the name of upholding values such as human dignity, right to worship, freedom and liberty...(gifts which all persons ....nay, all sentient beings should be blessed with), and by such 'upholding' we actually abridge and negate these very core values and blessings, then what was it all for...have not these tempests and violent upheavals of our day not succeeded and won? After all, we self-defeat our own values and dignity by doing so...and thereby prove, by our OWN Karmic choice...that the terrorists were, in action and ideology...correct.

 

As Buddhists, we strive to be examples of loving kindness, dignity, and remain mindful of all sentient beings, of their welfare, their happiness....their 'interbeing' with us and all things. We each strive daily to do this, the best we can with what we have to work with, as we know how, always learning, practicing, growing. 

 

What the terrorists lack....is our greatest strength....the Love which fosters an environment of true creativity, freedom of will and conscience...indeed, the blessings and dignities of life itself. All they have, is destruction. 

 

Even the darkest of caverns, which illuminated by the tiniest of lamps....glow with the warmth of newly discovered awareness, as does an infant emerging from the womb into a new world...a new life. Such passages, like birth, are always tempests and trials while they happen...yet if responded to appropriately, with sound bodhichitta, the intentional mindset of Enlightenment and Loving Kindness...they actually lead to fuller life and light for all beings. Otherwise, if not so recognized, these 'death doors' of life's inevitable challenges destruct us...nay, destroy us...walking about like the living dead, banging our heads upon so many stalagtites of our fears on the cavern's ceiling and fumbling blindly in the dark over the stalagmites of our negative emotions and energies upon the cavern floor, having BLOWN OUT our only source of light. This is the terroists job...this is their dilemna....NOT ours. If we keep our lamps lit, those pesky cave stalagtites keep their slimy little protrubances to themselves, thank you....and the stalagmites prove to help highlight the true path before us.

 

Walk upright, dearest ones, fearing not...for the opposite of Fear is Love! This is our power...our mighty weapon...a truth which is unassailable by anyone...the source of all power and light in all the Universe.

 

So get back to your lives, your worship, your shopping....too many joys are awaiting you...so many growth moments....and the tea is getting cold.

 

And I don't know about you, but I don't like cold tea..... or to paraphrase the 7th Doctor from the Doctor Who series:

 

"Oh there are many things I don't like...such as burnt toast...and bus station terminals. All that lost luggage...and so many more lost souls....."

 

Let loving kindness be your answer to the Terrorists.....let it be your answer of NO to their tempestuous question of your dignity. 

 

So hear me, you brutes of terror....and heed me well; you cannot take my dignity from me or anyone, ever! It is defended! It's champion is LOVE...the Great Promise....a promise that is kept and cannot be torn asunder except by the one who made it.

 

Besides, I don't like bus terminals either.....or the destination you are trying to take me to; you can take back your one way bus ride ticket, thank you very much just the same.

 

No, I think it's much more comfy right here, thank you so kindly....And besides....all that tea is getting colder by the minute.

 

May the Blessings of the Dharma be with you all; the Blessings of the Triple Gem's the love and light of your path.

May Bodhichitta arise where it has not yet arisen, remain where it is manifest, and may it grow forever, more and more, without limit.

---Rev. Orgyen Jampa Dorje (Rev. William L. Chamberlin),

Abbot: Temple White Lotus, Las Vegas, NV.

Saka Dawa Part II

Posted on May 20, 2016 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Saka Dawa: An Ancient Practice for a Modern World – Part II

---Rev. William L. Chamberlin, (Orgyen Jampa Dorje)

In the previous article, we discussed who the Buddha was, some rudimentary information about Karma, and how Merit fits in with both. In this second article, I would like to introduce the practice or Observance of Saka Dawa, proper.

For Tibetans, the full moon of the fourth month (May 21 this year, roughly) is a most auspicious day, for it is the day that the Buddha was born, gained Enlightenment, and also passed on (his Parinirvana). Primarily, this is a day in which Temple members would gather in their Temple location and bring offerings of incense, fruit, flowers, dana (cash donations), hear Sutra recitations, and do some kind of ceremony in honor of the Buddha specifically, but by extension, the Triple Gems themselves (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). This is upon the day itself, although the entire month would be considered sacred and many such ceremonies and deeds would be observed throughout. The entire month is considered most auspicious as to the accumulation of merit, and involves many considerations, such as the following:

• Refraining from eating meat (if not vegetarian)

• Offering donations to the Temple/monastery/nunnery or to an individual teacher

• Taking/retaking Refuge vows and lay Precepts

• Praying/reciting mantras, such as that of Shakyamuni Buddha

• Prostrations at a Temple or holy site

• Feeding the homeless and supporting such efforts financially

• Lighting of butter lamps

• Pilgrimages to holy places

• Buying animals which were to be put down and adopting them and/or finding homes for them/releasing them

• Circumambulating around stupas or holy places (clockwise around holy sites while reciting mantras)

• Taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts for a time

o Avoid killing

o Avoid stealing

o Avoid sexual exploitation (leading up to no sex at all for a time, like a retreat)

o Avoid deception

o Avoid intoxicants

o One meal a day (vegetarian, if possible)

o Avoid displays or indulgence in luxuries for a time

o Avoid wearing jewelry, perfume and make up; also includes dancing, enjoying, or playing music (with attachment, just for sensual pleasure purposes)

Some Tibetans or Vajrayana Buddhists also take a Nyung Ney or short retreat, which is an intensive two-day affair, which includes taking the above 8 Mahayana Precepts strictly, with complete fasting and silence on the second day. And of course, a Puja or Rite dedicated to Shakyamuni Buddha would fall in there as well.

The main point of all of these different methods is to further plant the impetus, or incentive/inspiration/aspiration within ones mental continuum, in order to develop the mind of enlightenment, loving-kindness and a stronger Karma connection with Shakyamuni Buddha: His life, his meritorious deeds and their fruits, and of course, his Enlightenment.

It is because all such activities upon this month of Merit, Saka Dawa, are so dedicated to Shakyamuni, that it is so conducive to magnifying the spiritual fruits/merit of any enlightened and loving deeds, done in honor of, by the inspiration of, and dedicated toward the goal of, Shakyamuni the Great-Teacher himself and all other beings.

 

Saga Dawa, Part I

Posted on May 20, 2016 at 3:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Saka Dawa: An Ancient Practice for A Modern World – Part I

--Orgyen Jampa Dorje (Rev. William L. Chamberlin, Temple White Lotus, LLC.)

If it can be said that Buddhists, particularly those of the Vajrayana variety, had a Christmas and Easter celebration/holiday combined, it would be the one known as Saka Dawa, which normally can last an entire month from the first week of May through the first week of June; the dates are sometimes fluid. The most auspicious day would be on the Full Moon day of the 15th of the Tibetan Month, which is May 21st on our calendars. It is upon this day that the birth, enlightenment, and paranirvana (death) of Shakyamuni Buddha is jointly commemorated.

The very name of this month long celebration is even named after this auspicious day: Saka is from Tibetan Astrology, meaning the Star called Saka which is associated with the full moon day of the fourth month; and, Dawa means month. Hence, Saka Dawa is the Saka Star Month of the Full Moon day of the Fourth Month.

This sounds all very interesting. But why should we, here in the West…those unwashed barbarians of us not from the Himalayas….even care? Well, I’ll tell you….and it’s all about Merit. However, first some background to set the scene.

The historical Buddha, at least the Encyclopedia Britannica version, is often called Shakyamuni Buddha….or, the Awakened Sage of the Shakya clan (his family, tribal name). Born sometime in the 5th century B.C.E., he was named Siddhartha Gautama, with Gautama being a more specific family name (immediate family) and Siddhartha meaning “one who has accomplished a goal”.

The Shakya were a tribal clan and ruled over a city-state with its capital in Kapilavastu, in modern day Nepal. Although probably more of a Tribal or Clan Republic than a powerful kingdom as normally depicted, it did exist on a major transit route for lucrative trade. Just south, across the modern day Nepal-Indian border, were very prosperous and powerful city-states and outright kingdoms which benefited from this trade. Chief among these was Varanasi (Benares)….The place from which the Buddha first began to share his vision.

Siddhartha’s father married two sisters, Maya and Pajapati Gotami, a princess of another city, the Koliya. Maya was his mother, but died at child birth, leaving his step mother, Pajapati, to raise him; hence, his family name of Gotama in addition to Shakya, his father’s clan name.

Now, there are various accounts of the Buddha’s nativity, some miraculous and magical, and yet others rather straightforward; I will leave it up to you to decide which version you accept and/or research more, if so moved. The main thing is that he was well off, sheltered, very skilled in all he undertook, including his training as a warrior (being a member of the warrior/ruling caste, a Kshatriya), but also very spiritually sensitive and searching, as if he were born with a mid-life crisis in full spasm right from the moment of his birth.

This striving/dissatisfaction with the status quo and the general, politically and socially correct explanation for the meaning of life, death, morality, politics, etc. were to drive him towards becoming the future Buddha. More on that later.

Besides being probably quite skilled in defense and warfare, including playing with disturbingly sharp objects (swords, as his father was known to be a master swordsman himself), Siddhartha was quite illiterate….he was, after all, living in a pre-literate age for the most part.

He was also skillful in the love department (Siddhartha, that is) by all accounts; and upon reaching the mature age of 16 was married, by arrangement of his father, to his cousin, Yasodhara, who was also of 16 years of age. She was the daughter of another chief, of Koliya, with her mother being the sister of Siddhartha’s father. She was also the sister of another cousin, Devadatta, who would be known later as the consummate thorn in his side during all his years of teaching….basically earning the reputation as being the Buddha’s equivalent of Judas Iscariot.

The royal couple eventually had a child, a son named Rahula (which translated means ‘the Fetter’), or as I like to call him, “The Ball and Chain”, which betrays a glimpse into that spiritual, psychic and emotional disenchantment the Buddha had with the status quo and accepted realities of the world. Now don’t get me wrong….he loved his family very much, and always did. It was because of this love, that he decided to strive onward, into the primordial wilderness and away from secular distraction, in order to find his answers. Eventually he would obtain these answers, deep within himself, seated beneath a tree, thereby obtaining the state known as Nirvana.

Essentially, the core of his discovery was that reality is not how we perceive/project it to be based on our ignorance/obscurations/habituated patterns, that this is based upon attachment to those patterns, that this situation can be re-habituated, and this is done via Ethics/Meditation/Wisdom.

Thus ends our crib notes version of history. I shall again leave it up to the reader to pursue the Buddha’s history more, if so lead; and doing so is not by any accounts a disappointing quest: His life and teachings are, indeed, very inspirational even for us in our modern day age.

So….Saka Dawa celebrates this Buddha fellow and his birth, teachings and death; where does Enlightenment fit in, and for that matter….what is the fuss about this Enlightenment thing about, anyhow?

I shall….enlighten you. (Yes….I went there…..)

In a nutshell, to be enlightened means to become a being who is one that has freed her or himself from negative Karma, its results, and subsequently coming to a complete understanding of the true nature of all Reality; and all this without any more projections, delusion, or disturbed emotions.

Enlightenment basically means, putting it quite simplistic terms mind you, that you no longer are bound or driven by any aversions or attachments based upon ignorance, anger, greed/jealousy, etc. Disturbing emotions and disturbances are no longer present, and ethics, meditative equipoise (concentration/purity of mind), wisdom…..and all with the motivation of pure bodhichitta (enlightenment mind steeped in pure loving kindness/compassion).

All of us have the innate potential or Buddha Nature within us, like a diamond, but it is covered with delusional muck and mire; enlightenment is when these layers of obscurations have been stripped away, leaving only the diamond behind…pure, luminous, and without limit.

To make a long story short, enlightenment involves the accumulation of Merit, or otherwise known as Potentials of Happiness made actual, without limit. In the meantime, as we are progressing on our path, we ‘accumulate’ merit, these potentialities of positivity, purifying our mindstreams and habituated patterns, leading us to happiness/fulfillment/nirvana. Basically, again being extremely simplistic here, Enlightenment is the full actualization of positive

potentials (merit), which no longer need accumulating or to be collected or striven for...we become, I dare say, Meritorious Beings, par excellence.

Another way to think about Merit is in terms of Karma; we reap the Karmic seeds which we sow, impartially, pure and simple. Positive seeds lead to positive results, and negative seeds lead to negative results. Meritorious actions of body, speech and mind are the seeds which accumulate, to sprout in fertile soil when conditions are ripe for them to do so. We sow the seeds of our own paradise, until no sowing is any longer required….for we ourselves become that paradise.

It is important to understand that this is not just emotive feelings of happiness that we are talking about, here…these potentials. It is not the warm fuzzy feeling you get from doing something proper before, during, or after a positive (or for that matter, a negative or destructive) act. The unique thing about Karma is that it is not linear (A leads to B in chronological order) but more like an atomic reaction, with results spinning off in all kinds of complicated ways. From moment to moment, these results become patterns, and these ripen based upon conditions in seemingly haphazard ways. Some seeds land here, some over there, some on fertile soil, some on rocky ground and eventually get blown onto another plot of soil, etc. It is a continuum, a process, non-linear, without discernable beginning or ending, moment after moment, lifetime after lifetime. It is, indeed, the lubricant which does grease the great wheel of life itself (Samsara).

Think also of Merit in terms of a matrix….a network of these seed-patterns which accumulate over time, like a web. Within each present moment, this entire web or network of potentials (Merit) exists…Karma is them ripening, becoming actual; enlightenment is being consciously aware and fully present to these potentials, and out of loving kindness,

keeping them all positive….allowing only the positive, as much as we are able, to actualize. When only positive potentials persist, and indeed become fully actualized…presto…Nirvana has been achieved.

Now I realize that this is all too simplistic and general to convey great meaning and understanding, but I hope it is enough to at least trigger the thirst within you to study these notions more on your own. In a nutshell, let’s just conclude by saying that Merit/Karma/Enlightenment are muy importante with respect to our life’s work of Enlightenment and spiritual progress.

So, having covered some basic and essential ground, we are back where we started: What were we discussing, again? Oh, yes….the month of Saka Dewa….I dare say, The Month dedicated to the accumulation of Merit.

Thus we reach the end of Part I.

Taking Refuge

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I would like to share some thoughts concerning the Buddhist notion of Taking Refuge and the Five Precepts. This by no means represents all traditions or lineages of Buddhism, but is intended as a general guideline….a generic ‘food for thought’ statement, as it were.

The moment you have formulated the intent to Take Refuge in the Triple Gems (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) you have, for all practical purposes, already done so; any further ceremonies, rites or externalities to this intent as helps, blessings, empowerments, and certifications….of that which already is. Many wish to undergo a formal Initiation or Precepts/Refuge Rite for enrichment, as a further blessing, and celebration of their intent formulation; as to it being ‘mandatory’, I find such a notion to be empty. How can something be imparted unto you that, for all practical purposes, are already there? The seed is already planted, the soil, light, and water is already in place; such a formal Rite is, as it were, additional fertilizer, to help the grace of new growth to sprout more fully. Beyond this, it is a mere externality, and not a necessity.

Taking Refuge is a promise, a commitment, to take each day as it comes and to grow in renewal unto the Triple Gems, based upon three things:

1. Renunciation: Renewal/repentance/release…without looking back. A transformation.

2. Orientation: A realization that nothing external to oneself can fulfil one, make one happy, or lead to enlightenment.

3. Determination: Letting go of habitual patterns and proceeding anew in faith.

To summarize these three notions, they are the correctives for three unwholesome states or aspects of one’s life journey which are, by their nature, unskillful and serve you not. These are:

1. No longer taking refuge in worldly attachments; being non-attached, as opposed to detached.

2. No longer intentionally being harmful to oneself or other sentient beings.

3. No longer associating (intimately) with non-spiritual persons.

Taking Refuge therefore means having a daily practice of personal, spiritual cultivation, or disciplines, to help you along your newfound path. Again, (Buddhists do love their lists, so), three things come to mind, here:

• Honoring the Buddha

• Confidence in the Dharma

• Respect and support for the Sangha

Just what are the Triple Gems in which you are taking refuge, anyhow? Again, we turn to a famous Buddhist List (go figure) for the answer to this query:

1. Outer Refuge: Buddha (the teacher), Dharma (the way/teaching), and Sangha (your guides along the way)

2. Inner Refuge: Buddha (Wakefulness/mindfulness), Dharma (experiential understanding), Sangha (putting your learned experiences into use)

3. Secret Refuge: Buddha (emptiness-non ego), Dharma (clarity), and Sangha (unrestricted experience)

Each Refuge is normally repeated three times, which each repetition deepening your commitment unto each Gem, accompanied by three bows for each:

• First: Request for Refuge

• Second: Intent to observe the vow of Refuge

• Third: Acceptance of the vow of Refuge

Finally, I would like to add some comments about the Five Precepts and Buddhist Ethics in general.

Buddhist ethics simply involve developing what is often called the ‘skilled mind’; in this case, I refer to the ‘skilled mind’ of a lay practitioner as opposed to a fully avowed monastic. They are not etched in stone on tablets handing down a mountain from a higher power; rather, they are utilitarian and ethical guidelines to help one gauge whether any action of body, speech or mind can lead to intentional harm onto either oneself and/or another. They are a barometer by which to determine the Karma (effect) of such choices (causes/actions of body, speech, or mind).

For the new Initiate taking Refuge in the Triple Gems, there are five basic Precepts which are taken, and they are as follows (yes…another famous Buddhist list):

1. Precept 1: Not taking life

2. Precept 2: Not stealing

3. Precept 3: Not engage in sexual misconduct

4. Precept 4: Not to engage in false speech

5. Precept 5: Not to engage in the consumption of substances which can lead one into unmindfulness/heedlessness

What is important to keep in mind regarding these 5 ‘Nots’ are again that they are not etched into stone tablets as commandments which, if not literally followed, will lead you into external judgment and eventual hellfire damnation. Rather, they are daily guides/reminders/helps along the path of your spiritual journey….things which, if avoided, will help you grow without setback, distraction, and also provide a helpful context/condition for others to so choose and act as well. This is why the way I think of them are as promises, to oneself and others, to daily examine oneself and undertake a path of training, without guilt, to provide an enlightened environment within and without of loving-kindness, wisdom, and mutual support. So, instead of thinking of them as ‘Thou Shalt Not’s, think of them as, “I undertake the promise to daily train myself to…..”. None of the Precepts represent actions which are evil or bad in anyway; for instance, it does not really mean avoid all alcohol or even medicines, but just those choices involving them which are not conducive toward loving conduct toward yourself/others and impede your having a mindful conscience in your daily life which could keep you from your goal and lead you astray as a distraction.

To summarize, we take these Precepts as a daily reminder unto ourselves to be loving and skillful towards ourselves and others in all choices/intentions/actions of body, speech, and mind; one should never guilt-trip oneself or allow others to do so onto you if you ‘break’ any of them; they are trainings, signposts, pointing out unto us the most direct path/road to take leading unto transformation, growth, and ultimate enlightenment for ourselves and others. So in the words of that Heaven Metal song, remember to always…..

“….slow ride….take it easy….”

But please, do, take them in all seriousness.

With blessings in the Dharma.

Shihan Yin Shu Amatayus Sensei,

Rev. William L. Chamberlin, Abbot

Temple White Lotus, LLC. Of Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

When Terror Strikes: A Buddhist Perspective

Posted on December 3, 2015 at 6:15 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a cautionary tale that the Buddha would have utilized as a parable...a teaching moment of Dharma for us.

 

Indeed, he would point out that to react to this type of violence and all such worldly tempests without due Mindfulness and sobriety, we fall into a very unique trap of our own devising...nay, an ideological cage...an ethical and Dharmic dilemna.

 

By this, I mean that if in the name of upholding values such as human dignity, right to worship, freedom and liberty...(gifts which all persons ....nay, all sentient beings should be blessed with), and by such 'upholding' we actually abridge and negate these very core values and blessings, then what was it all for...have not these tempests and violent upheavals of our day not succeeded and won? After all, we self-defeat our own values and dignity by doing so...and thereby prove, by own OWN Karmic choice...that the terrorists were, in action and ideology...correct.

 

As Buddhists, we strive to be examples of loving kindness, dignity, and mindful of all sentient beings, of their welfare, their happiness....their 'interbeing' with us and all things. We each strive daily to do this, the best we can with what we have to work with, as we know how, always learning, practicing, growing.

 

What the terrorists lack....is our greatest strength....the Love which fosters an environment of true creativity, freedom of will and conscience...indeed, the blessings and dignities of life itself. All they have, is destruction.

 

Even the darkest of caverns, which illuminated by the tiniest of lamps....glow with the warmth of newly discovered awareness, as does an infant emerging from the womb into a new world...a new life. Such passages, like birth, are always tempests and trials while they happen...yet if responded to appropriately, with sound bodhichitta, metta...loving kindness...they actually lead to fuller life and light. Otherwise, if not so recognized, these 'death doors' of life's inevitable challenges destruct us...nay, destroy us...walking about like the living dead, banging our heads upon so many stalagtites on the cavern's ceiling....fumbling blindly in the dark, having BLOW OUT our only source of light. This is the terroists job...this is their dilemna....NOT ours. If we keep our lamps lit, those pesky cave stalagtites keep their slimy little protrubances to themselves, thank you.

 

Walk upright, dearest ones, fearing not...for the opposite of Fear is Love! This is our power...our mighty weapon...a truth which is unassailable by anyone...the source of all power and light in all the Universe.

 

So get back to your lives, your worship, your shopping....too many joys are awaiting you...so many growth moments....and the tea is getting cold.

 

And I don't know about you, but I don't like cold tea..... or to paraphrase the 7th Doctor from the Doctor Who series:

 

"Oh there are many things I don't like...such as burnt toast...and bus station terminals. All that lost luggage...and so many more lost souls....."

 

Let loving kindness be your answer to the Terrorists.....let it be your answer of NO to their tempestuous question of your dignity.

 

So hear me, you brutes of terror....and heed me well; you cannot take my dignity from me or anyone, ever! It is defended! It's champion is LOVE...the Great Promise....a promise that is kept and cannot be torn asunder except by the one who made it.

 

Besides, I don't like bus terminals.....or the destination you are trying to take me to.

 

No, I think it's much more comfy right here, thank you so kindly....

 

And besides....all that tea is getting colder by the minute.

 

Namaste!

 

Namu Amida Butsu!

The Eight Winds

Posted on August 30, 2015 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The Eight Winds—Dharma for 8/30/2015

Profit and loss, defamation and fame, praise and blame, suffering and joy; all of these are impermanent; and thus, why should any of them cause satisfaction or dissatisfaction?

---- Mahasamghika Vinaya

 

In Buddhism, these are known simply as the Eight Winds. What are your thoughts on this short but very profound Sutra passage?

 

Dharma for August 20

Posted on August 20, 2015 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Dharma Reading for August 20:

 

Thus have I heard:

 

How is one concerned with his own good and the good of others? Concerning this, one is concerned with the restraint of greed, hatred and delusion in himself, and he incites others to the same restraint.

 

Thus have I heard.

 

Namo Buddhaya!

Daily Dharma -- August 18 and 19

Posted on August 19, 2015 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

August 18:

 

Thus have I heard:

 

What people expect to happen is often different from what actually happens. Thus does disappointment arise. This is the way the world works.

 

August 19:

 

There are these three types of sick person to be found in the world. What three?

 

There is the sick person who, whether he obtains the proper diet, proper medicines, proper nursing or not, will not recover from his illness.

 

Again, there is the sick person who, whether he obtains the proper diet, the proper medicines, the proper nursing or not, will recover from his illness anyway.

 

And again, there is the sick person who will recover from his illness only if he gets the proper diet, medicines, and nursing.

 

It is for this last type that proper diet, medicine and nursing should be prescribed, but the others should be looked after also.

 

Now, there are three types of person in the world who can be compared to the three types of sick person. What three?

 

There is the person who, whether he gets the chance of seeing the Tathagata and learning the Dhamma and discipline or not, will not enter the perfection of things that are skillful.

 

Again, there is the person who, whether he gets a chance of seeing the Tathagata and learning the Dhamma and discipline or not, will enter the perfection of things that are skillful.

 

And again, there is the person who will enter into the perfection of things that are skillful only if he gets a chance of seeing the Tathagata and learning the Dhamma and discipline.

 

It is on account of this last person that the Dhamma is proclaimed, but it should be taught to the others, also.

 

Thus have I heard: Namo Buddhaya!

Daily Dharma for August 17

Posted on August 17, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Daily Dharma For August 17

Thus have I heard:

I tell you this: let an intelligent person come to me who is sincere, honest and straightforward, and I will instruct him, I will teach him Dhamma. If he practices as he is taught, then in seven years he will attain in this very life by his own knowledge and vision that for the sake of which young men go forth from home into homelessness, and he will abide in it. Never mind seven years; he will be able to do it in seven days.

Now, you may think: "The recluse Gotama only says this in order to get disciples." But this is not so; le he who is your teacher be your teacher still. You may think: "He wants us to give up our commandments." But this is not so; continue to live by your commandments. Or you may think: "He wants us to give up our way of life." But this is not so; continue to live your way of life. Or again you may think: "He wants us to practice things that are wrong or not practice things that are right, according to our teachings." But this is not so; continue to avoid the things your teaching considers wrong, and practice the things your teaching considers right. But there are unskillful things not yet given up, things tainted, leading to rebirth, fearful, or painful result in the future, things associated with birth, decay and death. And it is for giving up of these things that I teach Dhamma. However, if you practice correctly, these tainted things will be given up, and the things that lead to purification will grow and develop. In this very life you will attain the fullness of perfected wisdom by your own knowledge and vision, and abide in it.

Thus have I heard.

Namo Buddhaya!

Daily Dharma for August 16

Posted on August 17, 2015 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Daily Dharma for August 16

Thus have I heard:

Just as the River Ganges flows towards, inclines towards, tends towards the East -- so too, one who cultivates and develops the Noble Eightfold Path flows towards, inclines towards and tends towards Nirvana.

Thus have I heard.

Namo Buddhaya!

Daily Dharma for August 15

Posted on August 15, 2015 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Daily Dharma for August 15

 

Polaiya the wanderer came to visit the Lord, greeting him courteously, and sat down at one side, and as he did, the Lord said to him:

"Potaliya, there are these four persons found in the world. What four? Concerning this, one criticizes that which deserves criticism at the right time, saying what is factual and true, but he does not praise that which deserves praise. Again, one speaks in praise of the praiseworthy at the right time, saying what is factual and true, but does not criticize that which deserves criticism. And again, one neither criticizes that which deserves criticism, nor praises the praiseworthy. And finally, one criticizes that which deserves criticism and praises the praiseworthy, at the right time, saying what is factual and true. Now, of these four persons, which do you think is the most admirable and rare?"

 

"In my view, good Gotama, he who neither criticizes that which deserves criticism nor praises the praiseworthy is the most admirable and rare. And why? Because his indifference is admirable."

 

"Well, I maintain that he who criticizes that which deserves criticism and praises the praiseworthy, at the right time, saying what is factual and true -- he is the best. And why? Because his timing is admirable."

 

Thus, have I heard.

 

Emaho! Namo Buddhaya!

New Moon Ancestral Remembrance Rite

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

New Moon Ancestral Remembrance Rite, open to Initiate Members of the Temple Sangha --- closed to the Public otherwise.

 

All, however, can include names/intentions to be included in the Rite and Fire Puja.


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