A discussion of many diverse topics within the realm of Alternative Medicine and Healthy Living, some of which include: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Eastern Nutrition, Pulse Diagnosis, Psychology and Bodymind Medicine, Aromatherapy, Philosophy, Spirituality, Buddhism, Meditation and Family.
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To be healthy requires that we experience a balance between yin and yang, and have a smooth flow of qi and blood throughout our bodies. This is best maintained by living a moderate lifestyle in accord with the energies of nature. As summer is not afraid to end and transmute into fall, so we too must be willing to let go and change where appropriate. Part of my path as a Buddhist and practitioner of Chinese medicine is to recognize when I fall prey to attachment towards particular behaviors, thoughts, emotions, etc. Likewise, I must point these issues out as they become relevant to my patients in the course of their healing.
While watching my dvd lectures from my teacher, Jeffrey Yuen, he discusses how so often patients come to see practitioners to rid themselves of their symptoms, but never see the connection to their lifestyles. Most look forward to getting back to their lives pain -free, cancer-free, or free of whatever ailments are plaguing them. But we must instruct our patients that their lifestyles are the problem. To do otherwise, we are simply treating the branch, the manifestation.
To heal, we need to change. We need to be brave enough to change our lives in a way that is conducive to health. On a spiritual level, this means non-attachment. It means cultivating a way of life that transmutes our physicality towards spirituality. The goal of qi gong, for example, is to alchemically transmute our jing (essence) to qi, then from qi to shen to expand our consciousness and experience emptiness, the non-duality of all things.
On a physical level, healing requires significant lifestyle modifications. Dietary changes (avoiding cold, damp, greasy, fried, preservatives, chemicals, refined sugars, etc. and eating for health, not pleasure, eating live whole foods, etc. (see the Resources page on my website for a really good introduction to Eastern nutrition), habitual patterns of movement (ie, sitting all day at a desk leaning over our keyboard which kills the qi in our chest), and perhaps most importantly our habituated emotional responses. If we are living lives of quiet desperation, unhappy in our marriage or work, unhappy with how we look or feel, we must make radical changes to secure our health. If we are having difficulty containing our anger, if we are experiencing depression, we must seek out their roots.
Dealing with roots of our habituated responses is incredibly powerful and the entire subject of humanistic psychology as detailed in Dr. Hammer's Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies is very well laid out. Learning how one's behaviors, rooted in early life, shape our health across the entire bodymind spectrum, and gaining the tools to make the appropriate changes can spark a profound healing.
So, as we have decided this is the 'year of sagely living' we must strive towards this ideal by rooting out our behaviors that are synonymous with imbalance, and replacing them with habits that foster health and well-being.
Friday 04th of January 2008 10:33:45 AM | Comments
The mark of the superior physician has traditionally been a high degree of cultivation. Eastern medicines have long held the scholar-warrior-physician as the benchmark for all doctors to aspire to. In this day and age, the scholar-physicians are few and far between. But there are a growing number of practitioners of Chinese medicine who seek to strive towards this ideal and see the importance of resurrecting this tradition.
The "Year of Sagely Living" is the brainchild of my good friend Brandt (Abdallah) Stickley (see Even Unto China) and Eric Grey (see Deepest Health) and I am fortunate to be involved in this at its inception. The idea is that over the course of the next year (beginning today) we make the commitment to cultivate the skills (academic, clinical, spiritual, etc.) of the superior physician. A syllabus of sorts has been created (see below) that will help guide the process. January 1st marks the beginning of scholarship and study. Each month will have a unique theme based on a synergy with the energies of each season and time of year. Excerpted below is the syllabus from Deepest Health.
While all these categories are areas that many of us are already cultivating to various degrees, the syllabus will allow a renewed commitment and strengthened focus on a monthly basis. Each of us involved will also share our experiences online on our respective blogs.
January - Gall Bladder, Zi 子 (Rat): Scholarship/Study: This category will contain practices to develop us into true scholars in the Confucian/neo-Confucian tradition. Why this pairing? The seasonal energy is still in winter, a contemplative mood prevails, but the Yang is rising. Similar to this, we can see scholarly pursuits as ACTIVE passivity. One generally sits still, but one’s mind is hard at work.
February - Liver, Chou 丑 (Ox): Strategy/Business: This category will contain practices in the realm of business development and strategic planning in the professional world. Why this pairing? The Liver is the general of the body, so has a natural affinity for this kind of activity.
March - Lung, Yin 寅 (Tiger)- Activity/Rest: This category will contain practices having to do with appropriate cycles of rest and activity in daily life - for instance, appropriate waking times throughout the seasons. Why this pairing? This earthly branch and the essence of the Lung Zang is all about peaceful tension between opposites, like the time of the year associated with both. Further, being mindful of our need for balance between rest and activity is great preparation for the often overactive spring/summer energy.
April - Large Intestine, Mao 卯 (Rabbit) - Care of the planet/consumption: This category will contain practices that develop us into compassionate and sane consumers, while helping to develop our deep relationship with the natural world. Why this pairing? April is a time when we can see the beauty of nature all around us, so is a great time to contemplate our dependence on it and responsibility towards it. Also, the negative side of LI/Rabbit is a tendency to run rough-shod over the needs and wants of others, these practices will seek to counterbalance this.
May - Stomach, Chen 晨 (Dragon): Physical cultivation: This category will contain practices that help us to shape our physical bodies into ideal vehicles for the transmission of healing energy. Why this pairing? The natural world has exploded into full splendor and the weather in the Northern hemisphere will be warm enough in most places to warrant moving around outside. The ST is an Earth organ and is related to the flesh of the body, which we will be building with these practices. Think also of the dragon and its association with martial arts and other physical cultivation practices.
June - Spleen, Si 巳 (Snake)- Food choices - This category works in tandem with the previous one to help maintain the physical form of the body in an optimal way. Why this pairing? June is actually a great time to do fasting or other food restriction activities because most of us don’t feel any great desire to eat excessively in the summer heat. Further, reducing the burden on digestion will help us to focus on absorbing the pure Yang energy so abundantly available in June.
July - Heart, Wu 午 (Horse) - Community building/charity - This category speaks to our need to be an integral and contributing member of a number of communities. It also involves the practice of compassion in a world where inequality is the norm. Why this pairing? The summer is a wonderful time to participate in community-oriented projects! Also, the Heart and Fire (the Heart’s element) are about intimacy, about connection to Spirit — both of which are well represented in the idea behind this category.
August - Small Intestine, Wei 未 (Sheep)- Ethical Behavior - This category will include practices not covered in other categories that have some ethical dimension. These practices are likely to be very individual and defined by a person’s background, spiritual/religious practice and culture. For example, practicing “Right Speech” through abstinence from cursing. Why this pairing? The Fu (hollow, Yang) organs are said to transmit the essence of their associated Zang (solid, Yin) organs. SI exemplifies this relationship in its devotion to sacrifice as a way to manifest the Heart’s mandate of connection to Spirit in the purest sense. Also because many of the “ethical behavior” practices we discussed are somewhat prohibitive, it resonates with the descent into metal energy that the earthly branch Wei represents.
September - Bladder, Shen 申 (Monkey)- Arts/Aesthetics: This category involves the use of our creative faculties - particularly as they pertain to the arts associated with Chinese medicine, such as calligraphy. Why this pairing? These activities are Yin within Yang - they are still, yet active - like scholarship. More importantly is the symbolism of 申. One of the meanings of this character is to stretch, and the oracle bones show it as two hands pulling something in opposite directions. We might think about this as the intercourse between Heaven and Earth, the Human Being in the middle being the substrate that is stretched between those two poles. I think Art facilitates this threefold communication.
October - Kidney, You 酉 (Rooster/owl): Chinese medicine specific skills: This category includes the refinement of Chinese medicine related skills, such as hand techniques in acupuncture. For those not in the field, you might look into developing skills that will help you in your work. Why this pairing? The Kidney is often said to be the root of all skill and expertise. Also, with the cool calm energy of autumn, one can become focused enough to substantially increase specific skills.
November - Pericardium, Xu 戌: Relationships: This category will involve practices that help us develop more mature and meaningful relationships with others. Why this pairing? Pericardium is frequently said to mediate intimate relationships. One interesting symbolic note is the association of the earthly branch Xu, which means - essentially - weapon. This speaks on many levels to me. For instance, we must be careful to avoid violence in relationships, on whatever level. Also, relationships are a bit like handling weapons — if you’re not careful and mindful, it can come back to bite you. Finally, the late fall and winter are good times for relationship oriented activity, given that most of us desire to stay at home with family and friends as the weather cools.
December - Triple Burner, Hai 亥: Spiritual cultivation: Although we will be looking at spiritual dimensions of all kinds of activity throughout the year, this month we will give it special attention. These practices will probably be quite individual, but there may be some shared goals - such as having a daily meditation practice. Why this pairing? I’ve always learned about TB as being the mysterious “in between,” the mover between worlds, the ultimate stillness. What a metaphor for spiritual practice!
Tuesday 01st of January 2008 05:08:33 PM | Comments
Because it lacks consciousness, I must admit that a word cannot praise me. Undoubtedly, the cause of my delight is that another is delighted with me.
But what does it matter to me whether another's delight is in me or someone else? His alone is the pleasure of that delight. Not even a trifling part of it is mine.
From "365 Buddha: Daily Meditations," edited by Jeff Schmidt. Reprinted by arrangement with Tarcher/Putnam, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.
Friday 02nd of November 2007 11:15:40 AM | Comments
On Friday night, I hosted Lama Lobsang who lectured on Tibetan medicine. One of the more notable things I wanted to share from that talk was the following statement:
If you can get a disease, you can cure a disease. We just need to know the cause.And while he did acknowledge certain "karmic diseases" that have no cure, most diseases were curable. He said that was the only logical way to understand the ability of someone to get sick. If one can get sick, one can get un-sick. Knowing the cause of the disease is the most difficult part. In fact, he stated that in many instances we will never know the real cause; that it is hidden, as in karmic diseases. But placing the emphasis on diagnosis is the real key to understanding the causes (or coming as close to the cause as one can), and then healing the person from that disease. He gave the analogy of knowing what country a person is from by looking at their face and features, but not being able to know the exact town or street address or the specific details. The more details you can uncover, the better your success at treating the disease.
Sunday 07th of October 2007 08:57:36 AM | Comments
What would your life be like if you could live each moment in the moment without judging it based upon your past experiences or projecting it into the future? Experiencing things as they truly are with no bias or duality or theoretical constructs......
Thursday 06th of September 2007 10:15:52 PM | Comments
Often in medicine, the tendency is to view illness as antagonistic. But, like everything else, a simple shift in perspective can point one in a whole new direction. If one thinks of their illness as part of themselves rather than something separate, one can view their illness as a way of getting to know oneself better. The Type A personality who has a heart attack may have an opportunity to slow down and "smell the roses;" the father who suddenly loses his job gets to spend time with his children; the cancer patient who comes to terms with her mortality and can fully appreciate the time that she has left, are just a few examples. I have had patients who later became very thankful for their illnesses and the lessons that they learned from them.
Illnesses, symptoms, etc. are a chance for us to purify ourselves; purify our negative karma, change faulty beliefs, let go of pain, sorrow, anger, etc. that no longer serves us. We need to view our symptoms as something that is trying to teach us something. Our job is to figure it out. We can't squash it with pain medication, or antibiotics, or chemotherapy. We need to face it head-on. To be a warrior and fight through the suffering to get to the other side. Be on a quest for truth, simplicity and finding one's inner nature.
And above all, don't be afraid to change. If you see your imbalances as rooted in your thought patterns, your past actions and your behaviors, without changing one can never heal. Your symptoms are your opportunity to make the necessary changes and adjustments. Failure to adapt and change breeds illness. Awareness is the first step.
Monday 16th of July 2007 11:08:14 PM | Comments
I wanted to inform everyone of the above-referenced monastery and medical school/clinic that Rinpoche has asked me to create on His behalf. I am in the process of forming a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in this name. This is a project that I am hoping will keep Rinpoche here in NJ for a good part of each year. He has expressed to me that He would like to spend the majority of His time here, and this monastery/school/clinic is the first step in ensuring this happens. Upon Rinpoche's request, the location of the monastery will be my home and office for the time being. When Rinpoche returns from Tibet in October, He will be bringing back all the silks and throne materials to make everything formal and official!
As with all ventures of this nature, help from as many interested parties is welcomed and necessary. The areas of help include:
1. Initial Fundraising: to set this monastery up properly and professionally we need to raise approximately $1,000 for the incorporation fees, filing of 501(c)(3) status, lawyer fees, articles of incorporation and bylaw drafting.
2. Website: I have begun putting up a temporary website. The address is http://rangnangogminling
3. On-going Fundraising: to keep the business running, there are a number of on-going fees, including: (a) website maintenance, hosting, design; (b) state and federal corporation and registration fees; (c) raising monies for the eventuality of a separate location (ownership, rental, etc.); (d) funding the workshops, lectures and other Buddhist teachings that will take place at the monastery, etc.
4. Executive Board: We will need to appoint/elect an executive board, so those of you who are interested in being an on-going part of this venture, please contact me.
I am very much determined to have this completed by the time Rinpoche returns from Tibet in October. Thus, time is of the essence!
To make a donation, or to help in any way, please contact me as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone for their anticipated support. And PLEASE pass this information on to everyone that you know who may be interested in this project and all members of the sangha (as I do not have email addresses for most of them). We will need as much support as possible.
Sunday 08th of July 2007 10:49:47 PM | Comments
There is no more important determinant of one's health than the state of mind. Of course, genetics, constitution, lifestyle habits, etc. have a large impact, but the power of our minds has the most pivotal of roles. In Chinese medicine we differentiate causes of disease into multiple categories: (1) internal: emotions and state of mind (including, anger, fear, grief, overthinking, etc.); (2) external: climactic factors (wind, cold, damp, heat/fire, etc.); and (3) miscellaneous (which is not meant to minimize its importance): habits, trauma, toxins, etc.
Of these three categories, the emotions make up the largest percentage of the etiology of disease. Controlling one's emotions, therefore, would seem to have a tremendous impact on our health and the prevention of disease (or treatment thereof). Listening yesterday (again) to a series of lectures that Taoist priest Jeffrey Yuen gave on cancer and Chinese medicine, I couldn't help but notice the correlation between what Jeffrey states and Dharmakirti's psychological law (see previous post). Essentially, Jeffrey was mentioning how the diagnosis of cancer is viewed as a death sentence by most of us and that it is, in fact, how one handles this diagnosis that has tremendous influence on whether or not someone will heal. So often, people get so overwhelmed by the fear of death that they are constantly focused on death. This reinforcement perpetuates negative states of mind and set a vicious cycle in which the disease grows stronger and the patient's health deteriorates (mentally and physically). Jeffrey even goes to say that cancer support groups are for the most part detrimental in that they give credence and power to this deadly disease. He advocates for support groups which foster hope and the desire to heal.
As always, our minds have the greatest power and potential to either bring us towards happiness and health or towards undesirable states of mind and illness. It all depends on how much attention we give positive thoughts and emotions or negative thoughts and states of mind. On a website I visited recently, I read the following tale:
One evening an old Martial Arts Master told his young students about a “Great Battle of life and death” that goes on inside all Human Beings.
The wise man said, "The battle is between "Two Dragons" … They are battling for dominance inside us all.
One is Dark, it represents Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Light, it represents Good. It is joy, love, peace, hope, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, serenity, compassion and faith."
The students thought about it for a while and then asked the Master: "Which Dragon wins?"
The old wise man simply replied, "The one you feed."
Friday 06th of July 2007 09:57:12 PM | Comments
HH The Dalai Lama's book The Universe in a Single Atom: the convergence of science and spirituality has a wealth of interesting discussions on the nature of consciousness, the origin of the universe, and on scientific exploration in general into the truth of reality. A relevant passage to achieving happiness mentions Dharmakirti's "psychological law" which posits psychological states and emotions as a field of opposing forces in constant flux. One family of emotion may consist of hate, anger and hostility, while the other consists of love, compassion and empathy. The argument is that if any one side of this polarity gains strength, the other weakens. Thus, the goal is to practice and reinforce the desired states of mind, effectively weakening the undesirable and transforming one's thoughts and emotions. Just as turning on a light dispels darkness, cultivating love and compassion can eliminate hate and anger over time with dedicated practice and intention.
Thursday 05th of July 2007 09:22:43 PM | Comments
A few quotes that struck me today......
"If one believes in only what modern nihilists can see, one cannot believe that there is anything beyond ordinary existence. With this view, there cannot be any religion with a spiritual foundation. If one only wants to believe what ordinary nihilists believe, one cannot be spiritual, because being spiritual means believing in what is sacred and beyond the ordinary."
"Defined simply, nihilism is disbelief in anything beyond what is perceived by ordinary, shortsighted senses, and spirituality is belief in what is beyond these senses, which is the basis that sustains all religions.......If one were to believe only in material reality, there would be no immaterial object of faith as a basis for belief, and therefore no spiritual path to follow or result of enlightenment to attain."
"If there is no belief in spiritual appearances, then one cannot create positive phenomena, because no matter what religion is followed, positive phenomena originally come from believing in spirituality......All the divine messages of the Koran, the Vedas, the Bible, and the Buddhist scriptures, as well as celestial appearances of heavens, gods, and purelands, cannot be canceled just because they are not perceived with obscured senses."
Excerpted from: A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar, by Thinley Norbu
Tuesday 29th of May 2007 09:37:59 PM | Comments
Ever have something happen to you that you couldn't control, or have a loved one sick with no means to stop their suffering? This feeling of powerlessness while so often seen as a source of tremendous suffering to us, can be turned around (so I am told :-)) to provoke a deep sense of freedom. Once we accept that we have no control over our lives, we can start to quiet our expectations and simply bask in the in appreciation for what we have and how lucky we are. Even in the midst of our suffering, we can see things from a different perspective. And we can be there for others more fully to help them gain a different perspective as well.
Thursday 24th of May 2007 03:24:24 PM | Comments
Rinpoche is reconstructing a monastery and medical clinic in Tibet. As it is a large project, anyone wishing to contribute is welcomed. You can access the site here with descriptions of the plans as well as other information. In the future, we also plan on having a school and clinic for Rinpoche here in NJ!
(The pictures of the ceremonial objects from the Medicine Buddha empowerment on this page took place at my home.)
Thursday 24th of May 2007 03:06:21 PM | Comments
I was struck today by a patient whom I have treated for a couple of years and whom I respect as a very intelligent, caring, loving person and friend who came in feeling acute anxiety, panic and fear over a (mis)belief that perhaps she was not a capable and adequate mother. So many of us struggle with profound insecurities, whether it be in our personal, social or professional lives, and these beliefs begin to shape the way we feel about ourselves, interact with others and ultimately create our reality.
And while it is human nature to question ourselves, to suffer from jealousy, anger, ignorance based upon our karmic imprints, I did want to write this post if only to remind myself and this friend of our unstained Buddha-nature hiding behind all of our delusions. These insecurities and "bad" feelings must be recognized for what they truly are: false beliefs forced upon us by our deluded minds from habituated thoughts. Recognizing this is the first step in breaking this unconscious habituation and thus obtaining freedom from these insecurities.
Tuesday 08th of May 2007 09:12:02 PM | Comments
Monday 21st of May 2007 08:22:16 PM | Comments
It seems appropriate (at least to me) to contemplate death on a regular basis, and especially at significant times in one's life. After all, we know two things are certain; we will all die, and we are not sure when. So, even while the excitement of the imminent birth of my child grows, being aware of my mortality is always in the picture.
And it seems fitting that this past week I have had the pleasure once again to host Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche, this time for a three part teaching on the Bardo, the intermediate stages of consciousness (some of which deal with our experiences with death and in the afterlife). A main thrust of these teachings, in similar fashion to most of Buddhism, is to do virtuous deeds, to collect merit and good karma as it is only one's karmic imprints that follow the consciousness once it has been separated from the body. Good karmic imprints propel one towards better future lives and the chance at achieving enlightenment for the good of all sentient beings.
Of course, being comfortable with the idea of death is difficult, and here I must admit that at the current time I am not. But, I do find it helpful to think that the more good I do, the more patients I care for and try to heal, the more good karma I collect, the more love I feel and share with my family and friends, the better my chances are of securing future happiness.
So, then, when is a good time to die? I suppose, once one feels secure in the amount of merit and good karma collected.....
Friday 04th of May 2007 09:19:26 PM | Comments
One of the least talked about aspects of medicine and healing is the role that our intention plays in this process. And healing most definitely is a process. Most healing takes place over a period of time (with the exception of instantaneous healing which is under the auspices of the Heart in it's ability to vaporize phlegm and obstructions by connecting our spirit to its unstained nature).
This process requires a certain will and dedication to seeing all the requisites to the healing take place. And most important during this time frame is the state of mind of the patient. I have found no other better determinant of the success of any given treatment than the patient's positive outlook and belief that he or she will heal. Consequently, I have had the largest successes of my medical career when my intention has been clear and focused. Intention on how to direct the qi with any given needle, on formulating herbal formulas, but most importantly, on my desire to see a patient heal.
Cartesian thought that is so heavily relied upon by western medicine separates the patient's body/illness from his mind. In so doing, it is deprived of the enormity of the healing powers that one's intention can ignite. Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and many other alternative modalities respect intention in the healing process. In fact, one of the reasons I am so moved to write this post now is after witnessing Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche approach and communicate with his patients. Rinpoche's ability to diagnose fatal illnesses and chronic debilitating conditions via pulse and urine diagnosis was impressive. But his ability to explain these diagnoses while simultaneously instilling hope and security that they would be healed was even more interesting to witness. To actually witness a patient being diagnosed with early stage breast cancer for the first time and feel relief was an unusual experience! She knew (because Rinpoche expressed it to her) that she would be alright and hence the healing was sparked even before the herbs were prescribed!
Of course, intention can backfire on us if we spend our time worried, scared, feeling helpless, hopeless and completely wrapped up in our own despair. Our intention needs to be focused on healing. And what Rinpoche says, it should be focused on healing others. We should go through our treatments for the benefit of other beings who suffer as we do. The acupuncture, herbs, medicines are to be taken with the intention of healing those in similar and worse conditions than ourselves. By so doing, the power of our intention magnifies for our benefit and all those other beings we intend to heal. The purer one's intention, the bigger the benefits.
Thursday 19th of April 2007 10:15:15 PM | Comments
This week I had the pleasure of hosting Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche in my home and office and sitting in with Him during a series of medical consultations. Never before have I so clearly witnessed what it means to be a healer.
His incredible skill with the intricacies of urine diagnosis, reading pulses and palpation were, actually, the least remarkable of what makes Rinpoche a true healer. His presence, loving-kindness and compassion radiates through His being, and despite the communication difficulties through an interpreter, the direction of his attention and the purity of His heart make one instantly grateful and sparks the transformative process of healing.
His presence was a beautiful reminder that what truly makes a healer is not simply one's medical knowledge or techniques (of which Rinpoche possesses in unique abundance), but rather one's cultivation.
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 08:14:53 AM | Comments
"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty...." Albert Einstein
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 08:15:14 AM | Comments
According to Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, there are 5 noble qualities that allow one to experience the "natural state of happiness." They are:
1. Contentment: appreciating what one has, not yearning for what one has yet to possess.
2. Rejoicing: sharing in other people's happiness, not feeling pride or envy.
3. Forgiveness: forgiving and apologizing at the right time can heal rifts and provide peace, respect and mutual understanding.
4. Having a Good Heart: (the most important of the 5) having an insight into the true view of reality that happiness comes from loving-kindness and compassion, not hate, close-mindedness or craving. This true view is that things do not possess any solid existence despite the impression they seem real and solid. They are simply impressions occurring as the result of prior causes and conditions.
5. Mindfulness: keeping our minds clear and calm and aware of each moment and attempting to improve ourselves.
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 08:16:28 AM | Comments
"At this very moment, can you or your circumstances be otherwise? When you understand that this present moment is all there is, you have no choice but to come to a radical acceptance that is none other than true peace and composure."
"To me, total responsibility means that everything -- literally every single phenomenon inside and outside of my being -- is wholly a projection of myself."
--Eido Shimano Roshi
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 08:16:54 AM | Comments
I just saw this on another site, and really enjoyed it.
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 08:18:18 AM | Comments
Wondering what others think about fate and destiny. To me it's a very interesting concept. What are we meant to do, to become. So often these concepts are used interchangeably. I think of fate as something we have become resigned to. Destiny is more of what we are meant to achieve and become. What we are here for. Both seem to be out of our "control" in the sense that we either achieve our destiny by recognizing it, accepting it (surrendering), and then living up to our potential, or we either fail to recognize, accept or achieve it (fate).
I am open to others thoughts on this.
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 09:33:41 AM | Comments
In the latest issue of Buddhadharma, Zen Master Harada Roshi was asked about the concept of Qi (ki in Japanese). He states that one can cultivate Qi doing yoga, qigong and tai chi, but that the best way is through meditation. Specifically discussing zazen meditation, he mentions that we develop Qi by "physically experiencing our essential oneness with the very existence of the universe," and that the most important thing is that we "partake of [Qi] in its universal expression."
There are numerous definitions of Qi, ranging from "energy", to "matter on the verge of becoming energy/energy on the verge of becoming matter", to "life-force," etc. None of these really give the flavor of what exactly Qi is. Daoist priest and Chinese medicine expert, Jeffrey Yuen describes Qi as essentially the relationship between things. Qi, as a catalyzing force, cannot exist by itself. It only exists or serves a function between things.
I see this idea consistent with Master Roshi's description above. The ability to "experience oneself not as a separate, limited body but as a body of the entire universe" to a large degree depends on the purity of the relationship, mediated by the purity of one's Qi. Experiencing this oneness is akin to purifying our obscurations and realizing our buddhanature. During this process, while meditating, one calms the body, the breath and the mind and allows Qi to fill and permeate our being, overflow and eventually connect with and expand into our surroundings and eventually the entire universe.
Having this direct relationship with our bodies, environment and universe is the process of cultivation. In order to move beyond our own ego and self, one must cultivate and purify one's own Qi.
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 09:39:50 AM | Comments