Dhammapada, a collection of verses of Shakyamuni Buddha
Scenes from the Life of Buddha Pakistan, Gandhara, Kushan Period ( 320 CE) Cleveland Museum of Art
Long for the wakeful is the night. Long for the weary, a league. For fools unaware of True Dharma, samsara is long.
If wishes were horses…
A 1620s Scottish nursery rhyme teaches young children the reality of life. - wishing doesn’t get you a horse, a watch or pots and pans. This rhyme made me think of another time and place and the effort to shield a child from the realities of life. That child was Siddhartha Gautama of the Shakya clan. But his questioning mind took him on the path of awakening, the path leading to becoming a Buddha, a path that revealed the reality of life, a path that ended dukkha.
If wishes were horses…
Birthday candles on a cake, dandelions and shooting stars are just a few things that trigger a wishing mode. Some of us make wishes when watching our underdog football team play in a match, or when we sit for a school exam we haven’t prepared well enough for, or when we are waiting for medical test results from the doctor. Everything, from the mundane to life and death circumstance opens us up to making wishes to invoke an outcome we want, usually an unlikely outcome.
If wishes were horses…
At times, we each desperately want something. We want it in our hearts, we want it deeply and passionately and yet know we have no control over the outcome. If we felt we had control, it is unlikely we’d be wishing. So, most times, we want it against all odds. And all the time we neglect the teaching that nothing happens independently or out of nowhere. We do nothing more than to add to the sum total of our dukkha, our frustrations, our feeling of uneasiness when we neglect to accept the teaching that
When this exists, that comes to be With the arising of this, that arises When this does not exist, that does not come to be With the cessation of this, that ceases.
If wishes were horses…
We try to hide from the realities of life in many different ways. But we know, perhaps only in a small hidden corner of our being, that we can’t really escape them. The teaching of dependent origination, or, that nothing exists independently, is something we hide from and it is that unwillingness to see the realities of this life that builds and builds until we are left emotionally empty handed. Once we accept it, the Buddha Dharma offers a way out, a relief, a foundation for inner peace. “If wishes were horses” only leaves the petitioner without a horse.
Conquer anger with calm. Conquer liars with truth.
You should overcome anger by not getting angry; you should overcome evil by doing good; you should overcome stinginess with sharing; and you should overcome liars by telling the truth. (Dhammapada 23)
Do you know anyone who has a short temper? Do you know anyone who always seems angry? When you are angry it means your heart is no longer kind. People who are angry don’t realize that their heart is not pure. Even if you see someone get angry, I want you to respond with kindness.
Buddha said to conquer anger with calm. He taught us to conquer bad with good and conquer liars with truth. Remember that kindness is much stronger than anger.
Buddha extolled the importance of distancing oneself from anger, falsehoods, and misconduct. He warned practitioners against meeting anger with anger or lies with lies, as such are the hallmarks of superficiality. We live in an era of shifting values and social upheaval. It now seems even more essential that parents seize opportunities to reinforce moral character. Teach children that even- tempers are respectable, good deeds are commendable, empathy denotes reliability and honesty is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Excerpts of Buddhist voices across teachings, across continents, across time.
Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician, by Shinmon Aoki
Foreword by Taitetsu Unno
This little book, a diary of a mortician, invites the reader into the fascinating world of Buddhist spirituality which sees the extraordinary in things ordinary, mundane, and even repugnant. Written with deep affection for life and poetic sensibility, the author Shinmon Aoki evokes the world of boundless compassion found in Shin Buddhism which evolved from the Pure Land tradition of Mahayana Buddhism in 13th century Japan.
Coffinman is not a standard English word but a translation of the Japanese, nokanfu, whose job was to pick up a corpse, place it in a coffin, and ultimately prepare it for a funeral. The author, a failed businessman and once aspiring writer, is a coffinman, which invites nothing but rebuke from family and friends. But he conveys a refreshing view of life that only a person in his position can bring.
Once when he emptied a bucket of water, used for washing a corpse, near the trunk of a bamboo, he sees the translucent body of a dragonfly filled with eggs and observes:
Just a short time ago as I was doing the coffining
surrounded by people crying, no tears came, but
when I saw eggs shining in the dragonfly, tears
filled my eyes…
The tiny dragonfly dying after a few weeks
has been bearing eggs in unbroken succession
to perpetuate its life form from hundreds of
millions of years past.
The author sees life and death, or Life/Death in Buddhist discourse, manifested in the luminance face of dying. When he goes to the hospital reluctantly to visit his uncle who has cut off all ties with him with disdain and even anger, he writes, “That phase of his was so soft and gentle, it virtually glowed. The next morning my uncle died.” It is this glow that Coffinman sees everywhere in life, especially “in the faces of many of the deceased, the glimmering faces of that radiant light floating about.” Once when picking a corpse left untouched for several days, he notices maggots and says, “A maggot is just another life form. And just when I was thinking that, I was sure I saw one of them glow with light.”
This light is none other than Inconceivable Light (amitabha), one of the many synonyms for Armida Buddha. Armida is not a being who emits rays of light but a radical awakening of the numinous. According to the author,
This Inconceivable Light is immeasurable, reaching
everywhere without limit. It penetrates all things
and has neither shape nor form. It exists in eternity.
If we think of it as a light that comes to us from
eternity, then it’s constantly near us, constantly
shining upon us.
Inconceivable suggests that this light is beyond conceptual understanding not beyond experiential awareness. Aoki explains, “In that moment when Life and Death suddenly integrate, that Inconceivable Light passes before our eyes like a shooting star.”
This is reminiscent of the advice that Basho once gave to his students on the craft of haiku poetry: “Capture in words the passing moment radiating with light before it vanishes from sight.” Religiously speaking this passing moment radiating with light is captured in the, namu–amida–butsu. In the intoning of the Name, the Inconceivable Light that is amida–butsu penetrates through each finite, limited namu–being, making possible the liberation from all karmic bondages.
This light is also the radiance in the countenance of Shakyamuni Buddha as he is about to preach The Larger Sutra of Infinite Life. Just as Kasyapa’s smile marks the legendary beginning of Zen, so likewise Ananda’s praise of the Buddha – filled with serenity, radiance, majesty and lofty resplendence – marks the beginning of Pure Land Buddhism:
Deep in the state of Great Serenity
The Buddha’s radiant face was wondrous to behold.
As Ananda astutely observed,
Winning him praise from the Buddha
For inquiring as to the matter.
This radiance was also experienced by Shinran, the founder of Shin Buddhism, who spent his 90 years on earth to make it accessible to all beings. Countless are the people who have received this luminosity through his teachings contained in the Tannisho (“Grievous Differences”) and his major opus, Kyōgyōshinshō (“Teaching, Practice, Faith, Realization”). Among them, Aoki the coffinman, with “eyes like the clear blue sky and transparent like the wind,” shares this rich spiritual legacy with quiet humor, penetrating insight, and boundless compassion.
Excerpt from: Coffinman, 2002, Buddhist Education Center – Anaheim California
9:45 AM: Sitting mediation, all levels, including beginners: Meditation Leader, Greg Stepanic
10:30 AM: Shin Buddhist Sangha Gathering and Service: Rev. Anita Tokuzen Kazarian
Friday, December 31 – New Year’s Eve Service:
2:00 PM: New Year’s Eve (afternoon) - Joint Year’s Eve Service
Cleveland Buddhist Temple and True Names Sangha invite you to a share New Year’s Eve afternoon Service. Our combined service will include traditions unique to each path and give us an opportunity to quietly contemplate the events of the past year and express our gratitude for all we have received.
The Sangha, one of the Three Treasures of Buddhism, is ours to experience
Join our Sangha gathering one time to explore, share and understand how Buddhist teachings benefit us and offer an alternative way of living this life,
an alternative that liberates us from dukkha (suffering).
This is an opportunity to reflect on the Buddha Dharma,
to understand how we move from dukkha to peace
and how its wisdom and compassion brings calmness to this life.
What happens at a gathering?
We gather as an informal group. We may do sitting meditation, chanting meditation, recitations, pay respect to those who have gone before us, to one another and the Buddha Dharma (the teachings). The Sangha, one of the three treasures of Buddhism, gives us community and time to understand how Buddhism works in our daily lives. We may share our thoughts, experiences or not.
What does not happen?
We do not worship, we do not have petitionary prayer, nor do we have rules or regulations to judge us from one another.
We follow the State of Ohio guidelines for Covid-19 safety and precautions.
Our gathering includes the name of those who have passed before us. To include the name of a loved one or friend, please email Rev. Anita.
Please contact Rev. Anita for visits to assisted living, nursing homes or hospitals for those who cannot attend the service.
Free and Online
Eastern Buddhist League
February 12-13 – Eastern Buddhist League Virtual Gathering A week-end to share knowledge, fun and meals with Dharma Friends from eastern United States and Canada! Free and open to all. Details to follow.