Archaeologists have found Buddhist shrine from sixth century B.C.
Its remains were found under a known Buddhist shrine, built about 300 years later
Results are published in the journal Antiquity
The older structure seems to have been made of timber
(CNN) -- There are about 500 million Buddhists worldwide, but it's unclear exactly when in history this religion began. The Buddha's life story spread first through oral tradition, and little physical evidence about Buddhism's early years has been found.
Now, scientists for the first time have uncovered archaeological evidence of when the Buddha's monumentally influential life occurred. Excavations in Nepal date a Buddhist shrine, located at what is said to be the Buddha's birthplace, to the sixth century B.C.
The research, published in the journal Antiquity, describes the remains of a timber structure about the same size and shape as a temple built at the same site in the third century B.C.........
"Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West
WASHINGTON—In a 45-minute video posted on Tibetan websites Thursday, Tsuglag Rinpoche, leader of the Buddhist extremist group Kammaṭṭhāna, threatened to soon inflict a wave of peace and tranquility on the West...."
Enlightened while walking in the
mountains, Su Tung-Po (a Sung Dynasty poet, 1036 - 1101 CE) wrote the following:
sounds of the valley stream are his long broad tongue,
forms of the mountain are his pure body.
the night, I heard the myriad sutras uttered.
can I relate what they mean?”
Dogen Zenji says, “This insight
enabled him to be enlightened when he heard the valley stream and his example
is edifying. It is a pity that from ancient times up to the present, people do
not realize that the universe is proclaiming the actual body of Buddha.”
One reason we may have difficulties
with this is our narrow vision and comprehension. The first phrase of the Four
Practice Principles is, “caught in self-centered dream.” This is attachment to
me and not-me, to dualism. But many of us take the phrase “self-centered
dream”, only in a narrow sense of “Oh, that is me in this body,” or this
body-mind habits, as opposed to other people; but both of these are human-centric
in perspective though we often don’t realize it. Not only are we human-centric,
we are animate-centric. When Huangbo says, “Buddhas and beings are one mind. No
other dharmas besides this,” we take it in terms of animate beings. Holding to a
dualistic view of animate and inanimate is what blinds us to the life that we
are. We add self to beings, to animate beings, to inanimate beings. And we privilege
human, privilege animate, privilege self – with all that results from this privileging.
The poet’s awakening occurred when he asked his teacher about the phrase,
“inanimate objects proclaim the Dharma.” Struggling with this phrase, with this
koan, walking in the mountains and hearing the sound of the valley stream, he
awakened, realized this true nature.
Being self-absorbed, we think we
walk through a universe, that we are walking through these “other” “things”
that are all about us. On one level, it is definitely important to “see” other
people; just don’t hold to ideas of “self” regarding others or self. Please “see”
other animate beings; going beyond that, “see” so-called inanimate. Of course,
these are just categories that we humans create – and then privilege some
versus others. If we only see our practice in terms of one body, three
treasures, then, Yasutani Roshi says, “Our practice descends to the level of
mere philosophy and the study of mental delusion.” Practice, the Buddha Way,
this awakened life, is much more than that; it is not limited by such things.
And this is difficult to talk “about” since so many of the ordinary assumptions
and presumptions of speech and human habits go “against” life as is, so that
when we hear a poem like “the sounds of the valley stream…” we may think, “Oh,
that is metaphorical.”
Master Zhaozhou (Joshu) is asked, “What
is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” (What is Zen?) He
responds, “Oak tree in the garden.” Maybe we take it as a metaphor of
something, as a symbol of something. Or we may take it in a concrete,
materialistic way. Do not be fooled! The questioner responded to Zhaozhou,
“Master, do not teach using external objects.” Zhaozhou said, “I am not
teaching using external objects.” The questioner asks again, “What is the
meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west?” Zhaozhou responds, “Oak tree in
the garden.” (The Chinese ideogram here translated as oak may also be
translated as cypress or juniper)
Master Lingyun (Reiun) is awakened
on seeing flowering peach blossoms. We think, “Oh, it is those peach blossoms
out there that did something ‘inside’ him.” That is human-centric, that is
self-centered. That is a delusion which limit us; we limit our functioning from
morning to night in the midst of this body that is our life. Thus, when Master Yunmen
(Ummon) is asked the straightforward question, “What is the pure body of the
Buddha?,” he answers straightforwardly, “The flowering garden hedge.”
When we say Buddha was awakened on
seeing the morning star, is the morning star separate from Buddha? If you think
he saw the morning star and something happened “inside his head”, inside his
mind, then that much we don’t see, that much our whole practice becomes as
Yasutani said, mental delusions and philosophy. Nevertheless, we say Buddha was
awakened. And this awakening is expressed in, “I and all beings of the great
earth have together attained the way.” To say it another way, “All beings of
the great earth are the wisdom and perfection of the Buddha.” These are
pointers and encouragement. Nevertheless, if I use clumsy words, practice is whole
body-mind-world, being just this.
This is not easy for us, especially
us modern humans. Dogen says about the Buddha of Maintained Three Treasures,
“Converting devas and liberating humans, appearing in vast space or in a speck
of dust, this is the Buddha Treasure.” What does it mean that myriad worlds are
in a speck of dust? Do we take it in a theoretical, conceptual way, and then
miss all the specks of dust that we encounter from morning to night, miss the
Buddha Treasure dust specks? Doing that, we disregard our life, miss the myriad
aspects of our life, miss vast space.
When Su Tung Po says, “myriad
verses are heard throughout the night,” what is this? These are sutras. What are sutras? They
express this true nature that we are. How are these heard? He doesn’t mean it metaphorically.
What are Buddhas in various forms? Buddhas here, Buddhas there; Buddhas are all
our daily encounters, all over this world. If this were just metaphors, then
maybe that is useful, but we have reduced much of life to symbols and we have
missed the strength and essence of this moment.
Yunmen says, “The East Mountain
walks across the water.” Dogen comments, “This essence of realization and
actualization of the Way is that all mountains are East Mountain, and all those
East Mountains walk across the water. Therefore, Nine Great Mountains and
Mountains of India actualize themselves and attain practice and enlightenment.
This is East Mountain.” That is why we can talk about the practice of the
preaching of insentient beings, inanimate beings. What is that? Do we live in a
world where there is us, animate beings, and other, inanimate things, all
around us? Do we believe that privileging?
It is fine to speak of humans and
non-humans. There is myself and someone else. Good. But if we get caught in
that, then our life is that much limited by our preconceptions that close us
off. Here in the zendo there is a wood floor – but if we get caught in that
dualistically, that much our walking on this wood, sitting on this wood, is
hindered and we imprison our self. Dogen continues, “We should know that the
East Mountain walking across the water is the bones and marrow of the Buddhas
and Ancestors. All types of water are actualized at the foot of the East
Mountain. ..Water is not comprised of earth, water, fire, wind, space,
consciousness, and so forth. It is not blue, yellow, red, white, black, and so
forth. It has no form, sound, smell, taste, sensation, perception.
Nevertheless, it is actualized in all these things. Consequently, it is very
difficult to clarify the nature of this world. Correct interpretation depends
on the meaning of wind and emptiness. It doesn’t depend on ideas of oneself and
others, and is beyond superficial understanding. Do not limit your vision to
some narrow range.” And yet we limit our vision.
There are myriad ways that we are
encouraged and supported, if we are open to this. All sorts of koan enable us
to be beyond our self-centric, human-centric, animate-centric vision. This is
our practice all the time. That is why practice is being this moment. “Right
now being no-mind,” says Huangbo. Being this moment isn’t just inside a bag of
skin. It is being this moment, the whole universe. Time-space are all together
just this moment. Everything in front of you is just this moment. When you
breathe, it is not an isolated “you” breathing, it is the universe breathing
you. Breathing reaches across space and time in a very immediate sense. Just
this moment. That is why it may be hard for us to understand Huangbo saying, “Buddhas
and our self being just this one mind, nothing besides that.” And if there is
nothing besides that, this is only our self taking care of our self. But if we
don’t appreciate this, then we perpetuate self-centered dreams – which is what
we do when we are addicted to all sorts of self-centered privileging. And at
times this privileging even seems natural to us.
Buddha of the Maintained Three
Treasures is not something that we can grasp conceptually. And yet, we can chew
it and see for ourselves - appear in vast space. There are two nice testing questions
- “What kind of Buddhas appear in vast space? What kind of Buddhas appear in
This is an opportunity for us, when
we are washing dishes, chopping vegetables, writing on a computer, driving down
the road. And in walking in the mountains at night and listening to the sutras
that the streams chant. This is our body. The sounds of the valley streams are
Buddha’s long, broad tongue. The forms
of the mountain are his pure body. Is the night star sky your pure body? If
not, how not? If so, how so?
The Dharma of the Maintained Three Treasures,
Dogen says, “Transformed into sutras and converted into oceanic storehouse, it
delivers the animate and inanimate. This is the Dharma Treasure.” How do we
deliver inanimate? This is practice. There are koan dealing with this, because
that is how to broaden and expand our vision, capacity, practice and life.
Because our life is broad, expanded – this is boundless. Boundless is not a
metaphor for something else. That’s why Huangbo says all dharmas are nothing
but this. How do we serve all beings, save all beings?
Our culture is human-centric. This
is what we are born into and this is our opportunity to see when we caught in
self-centered dream. The word self-centered is not just about a “self” inside a
bag of skin.
Our practice is always this moment,
nothing left over and nothing left out; both equality and differentiation, not
one covering over the other. And yet, when it is equality, it is just this.
When it is differentiation, it is emptiness is form. This form swallows up the
whole universe. The peach blossoms are the body of the Buddha. Or the dish you
are washing is the body of the Buddha, is your body - so take good care of it.