Zen: Direct Pointing to Reality

'To one who practices Zen any such term as 'holy' or 'Buddha' is a trap, implying the reality of such things when in fact they only exist as concepts in the mind. Zen masters, when they meet each other, would rock with laughter at the idea that they were supposed to be holy and worthy of reverence and would often caricature each other in portrait form as rotund or absurdly wizened old men, with such titles as 'a bag of rice' or 'a snowflake in a hot oven.' They would delightedly set traps, trying to trick each other into conceptual statements about enlightenment or Buddhism or Nirvana, and burst into laughter when the trap was subtly acknowledged or avoided.'

- Anne Bancroft, Zen, Direct Pointing to Reality.

A Very Early Buddhist Poem

'Let all beings be happy!

Weak or strong, of high, middle or low estate,

small or great, visible or invisible,

near or far away, alive or still to be born -

May they all be perfectly happy!

Let nobody lie to anybody or despise any single being anywhere.

May nobody wish harm to any single creature out of anger or hatred!

Let us cherish all creatures, as a mother her only child!

May our loving thoughts fill the whole world, above, below, across

- without limit; our love will know no obstacles -

a boundless goodwill toward the whole world,

unrestricted, free of hatred or enmity.

Whether we are standing or walking, sitting or lying down,

as long as we are awake we should cultivate this love in our heart.

This is the noblest way of living.’

- Sutta Nipata 1.18 in Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong.

The Loving Kindness of Ethics

'The Buddha described an ethical life as a heartfelt commitment to bodily acts of loving kindness, verbal acts of loving kindness, and mental acts of loving kindness. Genuine ethics are rooted in the deep treasuring of harmlessness, generosity, and the end of conflict and sorrow - loving kindness in its truest sense. They are the healers of division, mistrust, and fear, and they awaken our capacity for freedom. In these commitments, the twin pillars of wisdom and compassion merge; they are the path of the Bodhisattva and the Buddha.

The ethical guidelines of the Buddhist tradition invite us to live a life of loving kindness through restraint and cultivation. We communicate with the world through our bodies, speech and minds, and so we are encouraged to explore the intentions and forces that guide our words, actions and thoughts, and choices, appreciating the power they hold to impact on our world in each moment. The ethical guidelines, undertaken as a meditation practice, invite us to explore the origins of our actions, speech and thought. We learn to return to the kindergarten of wisdom - the understanding of what leads to suffering and separation, and what leads to harmony and freedom. The essential lessons of compassion are learned in this kindergarten; we learn them not just once, but over and over. A zen master was once asked, “What is the key to happiness?” He answered, “Good judgment.” “How do I gain good judgment?” he was questioned. “Experience,” was the reply. “How then do I get experience?” the student further probed. “Bad judgment,” were his final words. Our teachers have been met in the countless experiences of our lives that teach us the ways of generating complexity and confusion, and the ways of cultivating simplicity and peace.’

- Christina Feldman, The Buddhist Path to Simplicity.

Mindfulness and Meaningful Work

'Those of us who start on the path to right livelihood find that our lives are more balanced, simple, clear and focused. We are no longer strung out in a meaningless cycle of material consumption.

The contemporary economy focuses on this cycle of consumption. It doesn’t really support our efforts to find meaningful work. Today, work is a means to consume or to pay debt for consumption already indulged in. How many people do you know who really love the work they are doing? How many feel bored and alienated? How many are simply earning money to spend it on material pleasures?

Right livelihood demands that you take responsibility for making your work more meaningful. Good work is dignified. It develops faculties and serves your community. It is a central human activity.’

- Roger Prichard, in Claude Whitmyer’s Mindfulness and Meaningful Work.

Awakening Confidence

'Warriorship refers to realizing the power, dignity, and wakefulness that are inherent in all of us human beings. It is awakening our basic human confidence, which allows us to cheer up, develop a sense of vision, and succeed in what we are doing. Because warriorship is innate in human beings, the way to become a warrior - or the warrior's path - is to see who and what we are as human beings and cultivate that. If we look at ourselves directly, without hesitation or embarrassment, we find that we have a lot of strength and a lot of resources available constantly.

- Chogyam Trungpa, The Pocket Chogyam Trungpa.