Dhammacakkappavattana Sutra – An Awakened Mind II

Hello to all,

Here is the second in the series of talks given in the Deer Park at the Buddha Center in the virtual world of Second Life.  The first talk can found here.

We picked up the thread of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutra where we left off last week.

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by Wayne Ren-Cheng

“The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha), monks, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering — in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering.

The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering is this: It is this craving which produces re-becoming (rebirth) accompanied by passionate greed, and finding fresh delight now here, and now there, namely craving for sense pleasure, craving for existence and craving for non-existence.

The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of those very cravings, giving them up, relinquishing them, liberating oneself from them, and detaching oneself from them.

The Noble Truth of the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering is this: It is the Noble Eightfold Path, and nothing else, namely: appropriate understanding, appropriate thought, appropriate speech, appropriate action, appropriate livelihood, appropriate effort, appropriate mindfulness and appropriate concentration.

This is the Four Ennobling Truths’: such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. ‘This suffering, as a noble truth, should be fully realized’: such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before. ‘This suffering, as ennobling truths have been fully realized’: such was the vision, the knowledge, the wisdom, the science, the light that arose in me concerning things not heard before.”

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Seed, Weed and Harvest Action — Anguttara Nikaya

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

Buddhists are farmers rather than hunters. We don’t stalk the world with a bow and arrow of faith and promises. We till the soil of potential so that seeds of mindfulness can take form. Buddhist practice is an act of cultivating the positive dispositions in the bodymind and planting the seeds of generosity, acceptance, compassion and wisdom. Action is taken to be mindful when the weeds of greed, hatred or delusion sprout and to weed out all negative dispositions. The harvest is one of an individual whose bodymind turns toward the clear light of selfless action.

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Siddhartha, in the Anguttara Nikayas teaches that greed, hatred and delusion originate much of the negative actions taken by human beings. He begins in the Anguttara Nikaya with the weeds of the bodymind that a Buddhist practitioners must be always mindful of.

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Schrodinger’s Dharma – A Cat Reveals Buddha-nature

by Wayne Ren-Cheng
The Buddhist concept that “form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form” found most famously in the Heart Sutra can be difficult to wrap the mind around. Emptiness is well . . . empty, and form has substance so how each can be both requires a thought experiment followed by a realization of experience. Today scientific research is proving aspects of Buddhism, in particular the changes that occur as a result of meditative practice to have beneficial effects on the bodymind. To better understand the conundrum of emptiness and form there is a scientific thought experiment that is useful.

 
In Buddhist philosophy everything, all dharma is causally conditioned. It becomes what it is in a particular moment as a result of the causal process of the Universe, of its interaction with other phenomena. This would not possible if all dharma had inherent and permanent form. It has neither aspect and until it is acted upon physically and/or mentally it has only potential (emptiness) to take on form. Causal conditioning, the who, what, when, where, why and how of the causal process enacts the transformation from emptiness to form. Very philosophical concept but it can be experienced if one is mindful. Still, for Westerners caught up in concrete definitions and concrete descriptions it isn’t an easy concept. Let’s look to a contemporary science model for help.

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Worldview Buffet: Another Contemporary Parable

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

There was an emptiness in Wade’s stomach that bothered him. That emptiness kept drawing attention to itself. Wade was finding it hard to concentrate when all he could think about was filling up with something . . . but he wasn’t sure what it needed to be. Wandering around he came upon a sign. It wasn’t a big sign with flashing neon letters, and it didn’t have a cute logo like Big Boy’s chubby kid with the red checked overalls on. It was a simply designed sign, a pristine white background with a stylized planet earth and the words World-View Buffet in dark purple lettering. Through the window, slightly fogged with condensation he could see row-after-row of steam tables laden with . . . actually he couldn’t tell what was on them so he chose to go inside.

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Thoughts of Enlightenment

by Ven. Wayne Ren-Cheng

There is a question that each of us eventually have to answer: “How am I going to be?” For better or worse you make decisions that affect ‘how you are’ and how people perceive you. You’ll have to decide what you want your life to be; then, you’ll have to go about building the life that you imagine. As a human being you are empowered with the freedom to engage in self-cultivation, to deliberately mold the way you live and interact with the world, acting as an agent of positive change. You have access to the knowledge and the tools to make good choices; and to actualize a social self using imagination, courage, and integrity. That social self, understanding deeply its unique role in the Universal causal process can then go on to cease doing harm, do only good, and do good for others. Deliberate positive self-cultivation opens the bodymind to realizing enlightening moments and engaging with the world.

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Engaging Causality

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

In the Majjhima Nikayas, the Maha-hatthipadopama-sutta (36) the Buddha teaches that “He who sees causality (dependent origination, co-dependent arising) sees the dharma, and he who sees the dharma sees causality.” Without an understanding and recognition of dependent origination following the Eightfold Path or engaging in any other Buddhist practice can be an empty exercise. The potential is there but the realization of possibilities will not be. In another teaching (Itivuttaka, from the Kuddhaka Nikaya) it is written the Buddha said, “A disciple sees the dharma, and seeing the dharma sees me.” The Buddha was speaking directly to a gathering of monks but the same holds true for anyone. Causality is the core of understanding the dharma, and of realizing how Buddhist practice can be effective in changing how we are. Realizing the ideal of causality empowers us with the knowledge that we can make a difference through our engaged actions, whether they be within ourselves, or with others, or with the world around us. This is a powerful and liberating realization.

The Buddha teaches about four characteristics of causal relationships:

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How Much is Enough?

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

Westerners live in a land of abundance. That isn’t to say that we all have everything and anything we want; it is a fact though that everything and anything is available to us. We live a life thinking that consumerism is a natural state of being human, it is promoted unceasingly in the media, holidays are built around it, and the Prosperity Gospel promises a higher level of buying and owning. Even those who live “below the poverty line” have more material wealth than most of the developing world outside our borders. The saying, money can’t buy happiness seems less true to Westerners than ever before. This is not money’s fault, money is not responsible for how anyone feels; it is individual and societal expectations and fears that lead to disharmony and suffering.

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Wearing a Social Hat

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

It is necessary to understand the concept of self from a pragmatic Buddhist perspective in order to begin a quest for the social virtuosity that strengthens practice and enhances how you relate to the world. There is the “self” and there is the “not-self”. Confusion and misunderstanding arises from dualistic thinking, not seeing the holism of the two ideals that exist simultaneously in you. It is said that language cannot convey what we really mean by “the self”. Granted there are limitations to language but I accept the challenge because if we there isn’t a foundational understanding of “the self” then how can personal transformation to a social self begin? The tricky part comes courtesy of the Causal Process of the Universe, the cause and effect of the ever-changing, ever-impermanent nature of “the self”. In each moment there is the “self” as it is in each moment, AND there is the “not-self” that is undergoing change caused by that moment, and the cycle continues from birth to death. Each of you are unique expressions of the Universe, a “self” that defines you in each moment, and a “not-self” that defines how you interact with the world in that moment.

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Where the Ideal Meets the Real

by Wayne Ren-Cheng

Buddhist philosophy and practice is packed with high ideals. Generosity of spirit and ‘cease to do harm’; compassion is non-negotiable, mindfulness, serenity arising from meditation, Nirvana, bodhisattvas, co-dependent arising, selflessness and . . . it is a long list of noble ideals. Contemporary living provides moment-to-moment opportunities to put those ideals into practice. At each of those moments the ideal meets the real.

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Five Instances: Compassionate Consuming of Meat

by Wayne Ren-Cheng Shi

Recently there has been a lot of activity on my posting “Buddhists Eat Meat”.  There are those who vehemently disagree with this point of view.  Here I offer why I, and many other contemporary/traditionalist Buddhists have attained this appropriate view of the intent of encompassing compassion, compassion that requires us to honor that which gives us strength to do good works whatever category it falls under.

Wayne Ren-Cheng — November 8, 2013

FIVE INSTANCES: COMPASSIONATE CONSUMING OF MEAT

One of the most frequently asked questions about being a Buddhist is, “Do I have to be a vegetarian to be a Buddhist?” The answer is no. Yes, there are varying opinions, translations and commentaries that say otherwise but the Buddha teachings make it clear that it is a matter of personal preference that is founded in the Five Instances. Master Sokei-An offers a pragmatic view of the issue, backed by the words of Rinzai Zen legacy teacher, Soyen Shaku; perceptions that arise from the words of the Buddha and the Vinaya Pitaka.

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