Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

4/6/17 - The Talk Nobody Want's to Hear, Part One

"High Stakes as the Dalai Lama Hints at Being ‘Reborn’ Outside China. Beijing wants to pick the next Tibetan spiritual leader, but the Dalai Lama’s visit to a monastery town in India suggests that he has other plans."

The above quote is from a headline in the Wall Street Journal (link below though with only limited access to full article).

Following is a summation of an article in the NY Times concerning this matter:

"The Dalai Lama has been enigmatic about how his successor will be chosen.

In the past, monks have turned to visions and oracles to lead them to a child conceived just as the previous Dalai Lama died. Having identified a child, they administer tests seeking to confirm that he is the reincarnated lama, such as asking him to pick out objects belonging to his predecessor.

But that method would leave Tibetan Buddhism without a leader for at least a year, allowing China to identify and promote its own candidate. The Dalai Lama has hinted that he may instead opt for a nontraditional selection process, selecting a child or an adult to succeed him while he is still alive.

Aging Tibetan Buddhist lamas have, in some cases, visited places where they would later be reincarnated as babies, and the Dalai Lama’s visits to Tawang and Mongolia seemed to fall into that pattern, said Robert J. Barnett, a historian of modern Tibet at Columbia University.

“This is a way of getting under the skin of the Chinese, of probing them, and reminding them that they have no control over where the next reincarnation occurs,” he said.

As the Dalai Lama’s arrival in Tawang grew closer this week, Chinese statements grew increasingly bellicose, .....

...Though India is typically wary of provoking China, several officials have been unusually pugnacious in their responses. Pema Khandu, the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, took the unusual step this week of stating that an independent Tibet, not China, is India’s true northern neighbor.

“Let me get this straight,” Mr. Khandu told journalists. “China has no business telling us what to do and what not to do because it is not our next-door neighbor.”

The Dalai Lama, for his part, has been characteristically jovial to the crowd of journalists trailing after him, expounding cheerily on subjects from quantum physics to global warming. He hardly needs to do more, Mr. Barnett said.

“He doesn’t have to do anything except exist and be his usual beaming self to embarrass the Chinese,” he said. “He will be right on the border, he will be a complete free person, he will be only meters away from Chinese territory, but they cannot do anything about it.”

An interesting development in the ongoing Chinese attempt to control the future of Tibetan Buddhism. And a non-violent approach to a major international issue and conflict. 

Does this hold out hope for actual conflict resolution? Will the Chinese be willing to seriously negotiate with the Tibetans?

What can we learn from this?


Zazening Opportunity 4/2/17

Podcasts are also be available on iTunes (search podcasts prairie zen ) and soon on Google.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Not Limited

by  Elihu Genmyo Smith

We are not limited by fear nor hindered by fear, not limited by reactions to conditions, to circumstances.

Yes, in life we encounter fear. Despite fears about specific circumstances, fears about the possible arising of various conditions, we are not limited or hindered by fear, not limited by reactions to conditions or circumstances - unless we believe the fears, solidify the fears in our reactions to the moment. When we believe fears as reality, as the truth of life, when we solidify fears in our reactions, this is holding and believing confusions, anger and greed - creating suffering and harming, creating hindrances in this boundless universe.

Look closely when fear arises for you. When and how do you notice fear? When do you feel trapped by fear? And what have you found yourself doing as a result? What is your skillful practice in the midst of anger, hatred and greed? What is your skillful practice in the midst of fear? Please reflect on this.

We are not other than conditions, even fear conditions – and we are not the beliefs about circumstances, beliefs about arising conditions; we are not limited by conditions or circumstances - despite our believing otherwise.

For the well-being of all, for our peace, and the peace of all beings, it would be good to inquire, how can we not be trapped by arising fear?

How can we not be trapped by reactive habits that arise? How can we not be trapped by our beliefs and attachment to conditions which are always changing? Or alternatively, how can we be willingly trapped when trapped?

Life calls us to experiencing; even experiencing fear when this arises. There is no need to go looking for circumstances which arouse fear, conditions that we will fear; no need to go looking for fear. Fear arises in the process of life – though at times we may not notice this. We may not notice fear but only notice the reactive habits to fear – at some point we may notice anger, greed and confusion that we are caught in, or the various sequella that we build on this. Have you unmindfully been caught up in reactive habits of anger and greed in the virtual realms, picking up and attaching to hatred in the virtual social media? Do you notice this? Do you indulge in this? 

These are our opportunities. In noticing believing and holding to fear-reactive habits, in experiencing habitually acting out with suffering harming, our practice opportunity is experiencing this moment we truly are, and responding skillfully, appropriately, as who we are. Who are you?

This moment experiencing is “bigger” than fears and reactive habits. We may have a foreboding, a belief and even a fear, that if we experience this - experience this moment life that we fear, experience this that we imagine or believe is terrible - if we experience this, we will be overcome by fear, overcome by “something”, and we will not survive.

In a way this is true - experiencing fearing, being present as fearing and as reactive habits, we, as we believe our self to be, will not “survive.” Having experienced fear, over and over experiencing fear reactive habits when this arises, we will not “survive”, will not be the way that we have been. Our life is transformed, revealed, in experiencing.

But this is not what we fear and expect. We may expect that we will be overwhelmed in a terrible or dangerous way - so that we will “have” irreparable harm from fear, or from circumstances and reactions that we fear.

Of course, a physically, mentally or emotionally dangerous circumstance needs to be dealt with appropriately. But that “dangerous” circumstance is often, at worst, only a small piece of fear; and indeed, the fear often prevents us from dealing with circumstances, even evaluating the feared conditions and circumstances in the best way.

All things, all conditions are this life we are [we can say are this one] ; this, this experiencing, is all things; this is each thing, this right now – which is our response-moment life, this moment practice opportunity.

Though there are many circumstances and conditions, many everyday encounters, that “can’t be helped”, sometimes we take this phrase or belief “can’t be helped” as negative, as resignation of an inevitable powerlessness or even a sense of hopelessness. As if “can’t be helped” is a problem. And this assumption about the “can’t be helped” moment is the believing thoughts entanglement that hinders life experiencing, hinders being who we are, hinders responding as we are.

It is important to clarify and see clearly that being responsible is awakening what “can’t be helped”, revealing “can’t be helped”, being “can’t be helped”. This is (and requires) experiencing this universe moment - beyond the seeming limits of reactive habits, beyond fearing – being present, being zazening, allowing our universe to manifest in skillful and appropriate responses, in compassionate wisdom. What would this be? Please look closely at your life.

Part Two

Are we conditioned by conditions? Are we conditions? Are we other than conditions?

Conditions are our life, our opportunity of responding and manifesting this life we are, this Bodhisattva living of prajna paramita – sometimes seemingly “as opposed to” harmful delusions, harmful habit reactions – despite the seeming impossibility, to us, of doing this.

This is helping the “can’t be helped”, the “can’t be helped” manifesting; as we say in the Four Great Vows, “Beings are numberless, I vow to save them; Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them.”

Of course these vows are themselves “can’t be helped” – the seeming impossibility of saving numberless, of putting an end to inexhaustible, and so forth for the other vows. And this is fine.

The impossibility of Vows is only a problem in the realm of possible-versus-impossible of saving numberless (notice the fundamental assumption that they are not saved and need saving; and the belief that vowing “unaccomplishable saving” because of the “numberless” is a hindrance to the vow, as if being “impossible” is a hindrance). Similarly, impossibility is only a problem in the realm of possible-versus-impossible of ending inexhaustible (as if being “impossible” is a problem or takes away from the vowing to “exhaust the inexhaustible”; as if delusions “have” beginning and ending).

We may believe that form cannot be empty if we hold to either-or form - nevertheless form is exactly emptiness, and form is exactly form; similarly we may believe that either-or emptiness means emptiness cannot be form - nevertheless emptiness is exactly form, emptiness exactly emptiness. As with the either-or conditionality of saving numberless, of ending inexhaustible and of the Four Great Vows, it is the unexamined beliefs that make for difficulties.

Please remember the Heart Sutra stating,

“all dharmas are forms of emptiness…. thus the bodhisattva lives prajna paramita, with no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear, far beyond deluded thoughts, this is nirvana.

If we believe form, believe sensation, and miss emptiness, then we miss our life. Form then becomes a source of suffering, sensation becomes a source of suffering, the five skhanda become fixed, separate - and this believing, even believing “emptiness”, thus blind us, blind reactive habits into harming and suffering.

Without “belief” hindrance, our fear is no-fear; even this experiencing fear is seeing clearly, is the living prajna paramita Bodhisattva life.

Master Yuanwu’s (Engo’s) comments in Biyan Lu (Blue Cliff Record) case 25, “Whenever you practice and clarify, there aren't so many things to be concerned with. (Concerns arise) because outside you perceive that mountains and rivers and the great earth exist; within you perceive that seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing exist; above you see that there are various Buddhas that can be sought; and below you see that there are sentient beings who can be saved. You must simply spit them all out at once: afterwards, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, twenty-four hours a day, you fuse everything into one.

Then, though you're on the tip of a hair, it's as broad as the universe; though you dwell in a boiling cauldron or in furnace embers, it's like being in the land of peace and happiness; though you dwell amidst gems and jewels in profusion, it's like being in a thatched hut. For this kind of thing, if you are a competent adept, you get to reality naturally, without wasting any effort.”

The fourth practice principles is “being just this moment, compassion’s way.”

So, as my teacher Maezumi Roshi used to say, “please, take good care of your life.”

© 2017 Elihu Genmyo Smith

"Ungraspable" of 3/18/17 and "Opening Remarks" of 3/16/17

Saturday, March 11, 2017

China's Space Weapons

Sadly, the potential for war in space seems to have grown - or at least I have now become aware of this in an email sent to me.

Below are the opening and closing paragraphs of this recent detailed, well-researched and sourced article, with a link to the full article. Military agencies have been aware of this for a while, so there is probably much more about this that the public does not know.

What we can we or should do with this information?

This issue and article is all the more significant with the recent escalation of tension between North Korea and the world as a result of nuclear testing, missile tests and assassinations, China's support of N. Korea against South Korean and US alliance activity, and especially China's escalation of trade war tactics against the new THAD defensive anti-missile technology.

"Light wars: space-based lasers among Beijing’s hi-tech arms...

China’s military is developing powerful lasers, electromagnetic railguns and high-power microwave weapons for use in a future “light war” involving space-based attacks on satellites.

Beijing’s push to produce so-called directed-energy weapons aims to neutralize America’s key strategic advantage: the web of intelligence, communication and navigation satellites enabling military strikes of unparalleled precision expeditionary warfare far from US shores.

The idea of a space-based laser gun was disclosed in the journal Chinese Optics in December 2013....

“In future wars, the development of ASAT [anti-satellite] weapons is very important,” they wrote. “Among those weapons, laser attack system enjoys significant advantages of fast response speed, robust counter-interference performance and a high target destruction rate, especially for a space-based ASAT system. So the space-based laser weapon system will be one of the major ASAT development projects.”

The researchers propose building a 5-ton chemical laser that will be stationed in low-earth orbit as a combat platform capable of destroying satellites in orbit. Given funding by the Chinese military, which is in charge of China’s space program, the satellite-killing laser could be deployed by 2023.

According to the article, an anti-satellite attack in space would employ a ground-based radar to identify a target satellite, a special camera to provide precision targeting and a deployable membrane telescope that would focus the laser beam on the target satellite....

The closing paragraph of the article does not bode well:

“As long as China demonstrates its willingness to exploit much of its space program for potential military missions, the US must possess options for at least neutralizing potential threats, preferably short of threatening lives,” Fisher says."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Attachment  by Elihu Genmyo Smith
Attachments to feelings, to body condition, to positions and events seem natural.

You receive a promotion with a significantly increased salary; your daughter has had a successful delivery and gives birth to a healthy baby; you run a full marathon and are finally among the top ten in the event - these are just three examples of events which can elicit joy, elation and happiness, among many emotions and reactions.

You find your month old parked car has been smashed and there is no evidence by whom. Your boss declares that your division is being closed and you are laid off. Your mother tells you that her illness has been diagnosed as aggressive cancer. You wake up and your legs ache so much that it is painful to get out of bed; simply standing is a pulsating shooting pain.

Our responses to these four events - sadness, loss, grief, anger, rage - can be intense. These are opportunities of attachment manifesting. And, this coming going attachment sometimes brings on further reactions, often without noticing this. We may be overwhelmed, almost taken over by these reactions, believing these reactions, acting out of reactions. Has this been so for you? What has resulted from that?

Being embodied is the possibility of physical emotional joy, physical emotional pain, as well as other forms of attachment. This is human life, our life. The seemingly automatic self-attachment, even as it is a fundamental strength of life, can also be a fundamental life hindrance.

In the midst of ongoing change life, attachment can be stressful and painful, pulling in many directions and ways of being.

Have you noticed attachment events like this recently in your life?

Holding to these reactions, attaching to them, attaching to the attaching, living out of them, can make entanglement and trouble for us. Has this been so for you?

An aspect of the Buddha’s teaching can be stated as, ‘suffering, misery, arises not from loss but from attachment.’

This is important to clarify. Misery, suffering, are important and difficult human conditions. And I repeat, suffering and misery do not come from loss - though it often seems that way to us, especially in the midst of loss, in the midst of the various forms of loss which are an inevitable part of our life.

Believing attachment, holding to attachment of like or dislike, of wanting and repelling, of fear, greed and anger based on attachment, results in entanglements, troubles and harming. Please reflect on this for yourself.

Because attachments seem to be who we are, we “follow” attachments without even noticing this. We make self of arising-passing attaching, without perceiving an alternative to acting out of attachments. Do you believe attachment reactions as truth, as what is good and what should be? Do you follow them?

The Avatamsaka Sutra states that Buddha, upon Awakening, said, “All beings are endowed with wisdom and perfection of the Tathagata - but because of attachment and delusion they miss this and suffer.”

This Buddha Awakening is your Awakening, your life.Yet, we miss life when entangling in attachment. And this attachment believing, attachment attachment, keeps us from compassionate responding.

Varieties of attachment – “unconscious” attachment, “conscious” attachment – are what keep us from compassionate living.

The “4 Practice Principles” begin, “caught in self-centered dream”, caught in the attachment that is self-dream. Attachment is in form, sensation, conceptions – the seemingly natural tendencies of self-volition and experiencing, our very consciousness, awareness. Clarifying if and how this occurs in your life is zazening. Please be zazening life, please clarify this.

There is no other form of the universe than right here. You might wonder why in Bodhisattva’s Vow we say, “When I a student of the Way, look at the real form of the Universe”? We say “real form” because attachment distorts this life moment, blinds us to life, blinds us to this moment form. Thus Bodhisattva’s Vow needs to state skillfully that what we believe may not be the so-called “real form” because our attachments distort right here now for us.

There is no other “real form” elsewhere. And yes, we may miss this moment form - miss form is emptiness, miss emptiness is exactly form. So we are reminded in the Heart Sutra. And even as are reminded by the Heart Sutra, we must be clear - form is exactly form, emptiness exactly emptiness. No other real form.

Experiencing – bodily experiencing, body-mind experiencing, body-mind-universe experiencing – experiencing.

Do you fail to see this life because of holding to attachments about this moment, about this particular condition? Does attachment holding occur in your life? Please notice if and when this attachment holding occurs.

Because of attachment holding, the Bodhisattva’s Vow emphasizes – in any event (in this particular event), in any moment (in this very moment), in any place (this very place here), none is other than this Buddha Awakening life.

This right here now is the real form, your very life – no need to go looking elsewhere or else-how for some other real form.

And we must be supported by our Bodhisattva Vows, by being a practitioner of the way, in order to not be blinded or hindered by the natural tendency attachment holding. Not hindered, thus experiencing manifests in our compassionate responding.

Dogen states, “drop away body mind” – exactly dropping away this moment attachment. Right here is dropped away body mind.

You may discover that the attachment habit is strong, pervasive. At times manifesting attachment, noticing manifesting attachment and responding may be the necessary focus of our practice effort sitting, walking, throughout the day, when with others and when alone. Attachment holding can be bodily, thoughts, feelings, self, other.

Attachment to attachment, attachment self-centeredness, poisons life. The antidoting of attachment self-centered poisoning is experiencing. When we notice attachment arising, right at this moment is experiencing opportunity, which is experiencing holding; using this noticed opportunity is being this body-mind attachment, is experiencing holding, is releasing holding.

Attachment is no-thing. It is not other than this Buddha nature manifesting, our particular Buddha nature life. Experiencing is being just this – being free of just this.

In being blinded by attachment holding, we miss this here - by not allowing this light to permeate this moment. There is no need to continue reactive-habit distortions, the greed anger attachment harm that might otherwise result. Just make your practice effort when discovering attachment, allow attachment arising passing as your life, your moment experiencing.

So that we do not misunderstand, I repeat that attachment is just this human life. “(Though) the Buddha Way transcends being and non-being,…Nevertheless - flowers fall amid our longing, and weeds spring up amid our loathing – and that is all”(Dogen, Genjo Koan). This is our life practice.

Holding Mu lightly was Soen Roshi’s practice instruction and encouragement to Aitken Roshi. Being our life lightly is being awakened by the myriad dharmas, even being awakened by attachment dharmas. This is allowing the Universe living us.

Lightly being allows my life to be Dharma manifesting this life, this body-mind-world experiencing, rather than self-centered tightness controlling and hindering, the body mind holding-attaching blinding us.(Though this manifesting Dharma is not hindered yet for us blinding attaching-holding interferes; we miss this moment life we are, hindering compassionate responding.)

Our life practice is being transparent, being present, being lightly present -being transparently present, being transpresent.

Being just this – (is) being free of just this – this manifesting compassionate way.

© 2017 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Sesshin Dharma talks

Opening Remarks 1/11/17
Intimacy - Part 1   1/12/17
Intimacy - Part 2   1/13/17
Loving - Part 1  1/14/17
Loving - Part 2  1/15/17

Link to MLK Sermon "Loving Your Enemies"