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Posted in compassion

Qualities of the Heart | Video

This is a video I recorded about the Yoga Sutra and the Four Immeasurables.

What if we center our lives in compassion and kindness?

 

I recorded a podcast on this subject that you can listen to  here:

Qualities of the Heart | Scharpening the Mind

Further Reading:

Four Immeasurable Minds

 

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Posted in buddhism, podcast

Perceptions and Reality: Wonhyo’s Story

 

I gave a talk recently about the power of our minds, the way our perceptions can shape the way we see the world.

You can listen to it here: Perceptions and Reality

In that talk I told the story of a Korean monk from the 600s named Wonhyo. I wanted to write this to talk about Wonhyo a little.

Wonhyo was a really important figure in the history of Buddhism in Korea. He lived in the 600s. His importance in the spread of Buddhism into Korea can’t be overstated and all of the schools of Buddhism in the country view him as an important figure. He wrote hundreds of Buddhist texts. In addition to his own work he wrote many commentaries on classic Buddhist texts from the various schools.

I like all that, but I like him more because he was kind of a weirdo. I like the Buddhist teachers that seemed crazy. Wonhyo did what other Buddhist teachers didn’t do. A lot of his time that wasn’t spent writing was spent out in the streets. He went to public places and taught regular people about Buddhism. Not only did he do that, but he didn’t always wear robes, he actually gave up being a monk to get married. Not only that, but he also included singing, dancing, and other forms of entertainment in his dharma talks.

Anyway, I spent that time telling you who Wonhyo was so that I could tell you his origin story. I like his story and I think that maybe it tells us something about ourselves.

When Wonhyo was a young monk he wanted to journey to China. Like many historical teachers, Wonhyo became convinced that the “real” Buddhism hadn’t come to his country yet. So, he wanted to go to China to find a better and more authentic Buddhism. So, he and a friend decided to take a journey to China together.

They were just walking and it was a long journey by foot.

One night on their journey they got caught in some terrible weather. It was a torrential downpour and they didn’t know what to do. They couldn’t keep walking in it. They found a cave, which they thought was some kind of temple dug into a mountain. They went inside to stay for the night and try to sleep. It was very dark and hard to see in this little cavern.

They slept for a while and Wonhyo woke up in the middle of the night. He looked around a little and stumbled on something round. He assumed it was a gourd and he held it to his mouth.

I guess in those days catching water in a gourd and drinking it was a thing people did.

There was water inside and he thought it was the best water he had ever tasted, it was refreshing and delicious.

The next morning the two friends woke up and discovered that their cave was a tomb. There were skeletons everywhere. Wonhyo looked down at the gourd he had found the night before and discovered it was skull full of dirty water. He threw up immediately.

It’s said that Wonhyo attained Enlightenment in that moment.

Why?

Because he saw that he had an incredible ability to reshape reality with his perception. He thought it was a gourd, and so he tasted really good water. His expectation changed the tasted of the water.

After this experience Wonhyo decided to go back home. He gave up being a monk and started spreading the teachings as a layman.

I think his story tells us a lot about ourselves. We expect an interaction or experience to be a certain way, and then we make it true.

How many times have you thought you’d have a bad day and it turned out you were right?

Is that because you were right? Or because your perceptions made it true?

It’s hard to really know. The hope is that with our meditation practice our minds get better and better at distinguishing things like that. If you can approach your day and just be present in it without predicting if it will be good or bad, I think that’s best.

Our perceptions tend to shape our reality and that causes us to avoid facing the truth.

 

 

 

Posted in compassion

Compassion! (video)

what is compassion?

Is there great compassion and regular compassion? What’s the difference?
Can we have compassion for people we don’t like?

 

Recommended Reading:

Compassion that is Boundless

Training In Compassion by Norman Fischer

click here for the audio version:

Compassion! Podcast

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Posted in videos

Living Your Best Life (Video)

This is a talk I gave on an old Zen teaching from Bodhidharma called “The Four Zen Gates.”

In this talk I try to bring an old Zen teaching to life to help us understand it a little better.

Live Your Best Life!

 

 

related articles:

Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma’s Two Entries

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Posted in meditation, zen

Fountain City Meditation: Encourage Others

The world is a crazy place right now and I am scared.

Lots of people’s lives are turned upside down right now by current events and things are really hard to understand and hard to deal with.

This is a story I like to share.

A student went to Nakagawa Soen Roshi during a meditation retreat and said, “Master, I am feeling very discouraged. What should I do?”

And Roshi replied, “Encourage others.”

That story has meant a lot to me since I heard it. I think we’re best at encouraging others when we feel discouraged and it feels like there’s no hope.

I am discouraged. How can I encourage you?

Encouragement is central to this new project and I will not lose sight of that intent. I want to encourage you.

I teach online. I think if you’re reading this you know that. I reach people all over the world and it’s rewarding. I’m trying to figure out if I can serve my local community too.

Right now I’m envisioning “Fountain City Meditation” as a floating community, a group where we come together at different places and different times.

I want to provide opportunities for meditation practice and I want to encourage that practice. There are several meditation communities in town. I want to reach the people that aren’t feeling served by those communities. I know those people exist.

I used to belong to a Buddhist community as a very active member, I was around for years. I saw so many people come and go.  Some people would come once or twice and then go. But others would stay for months and years and then just be gone. I don’t know what the disappearing people needed. I just know they weren’t getting it. I want to reach people that feel like they don’t belong anywhere. I want to reach people that no one is reaching and I want to encourage them.

(if you want to know why I left, just ask. I want to share with others and I want others to feel comfortable sharing with me. There are real human issues in life and no one is perfect)

I also want to reach people that maybe don’t feel totally lost, but are interested in something a little different.

So, this is my invitation to you, if you’re in or around Kansas City. 

If you want a community where none of us pretend that we’re perfect or that we have it all together.

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong in a Meditation Center or  Buddhist Temple.

If you’ve ever felt like you’re the only person in the meditation room who doesn’t know what’s going on.

If you really want a sense of community with your meditation group.

If you feel like you can’t meditate, or you’re not calm enough, or everyone will look at you like a fraud.

If you feel alone in a room full of people because no one in the community has reached out to you.

Come join. I want to encourage you.

Facebook Page

Fountain City Meditation

I don’t know how many events we’re going to have, or how often. A lot of that will depend on how much demand there is.

But I’m inspired to serve. I’m here to help.
What do you need?

 

How can I encourage you?

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Posted in buddhism

Goodness

Basic Goodness


This is a term that was coined by Chogyam Trungpa in the 1980s. I really like this term. It was his reframing of the concept of Buddha Nature. He wanted to express it in a way that was easier for everyone to grasp. Buddha Nature might make us start picturing Buddha statues or spirits or something and that’s the wrong idea. If the terminology we’re using to talk about our own true nature that’s always present in us starts making us think of things outside of us.

The simple idea is that we’re good, that we have a kind of dignity and virtue that is fundamental to our being.

Our true nature is awake and free, all the things we want to be. Our struggles come, not from fundamental flaws in our being, but from attachments and delusions…ultimately things that are temporary. I like to think of the things we struggle with as clouds and our Basic Goodness as the sky. These things are going to come and go, although sometimes it sure seems like they stay for a long time.

 So, there are times in life when we know what the right thing to do is and we don’t do it. We all have that experience, sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small ways. What I want to encourage you to do is ask yourself, “Am I coming from my true self right now?” Once we realize that the way to be authentic is to make the right choices, then hopefully that can motivate us a little. Do you want to be real or fake?

That’s a tough question.

By the right thing, I mean doing whatever causes the least harm to ourselves and others. I’m going to talk about basic goodness in regards to ourselves because at times in regards to others it can be a little harder to see what the best choices are.

It’s with that in mind that I want to talk to you about a very simple thing. Flossing. We all know we’re supposed to floss, that it’s good for our personal care. It’s also easy and doesn’t take very long.  But most of us simply don’t do it. We just don’t. I have floss sitting on my bathroom counter and I don’t use it every day even though I know for certain that I should. When I do use it I’m doing the right thing for myself and my personal care. I’m coming from a place of Basic Goodness.

And I really want to compare flossing to meditation practice.

I was leading a meditation gathering and at the end someone asked me, “How often do you do it?” And I replied, “I wish I could say every day, but I can’t. I want to do it every day, but I don’t, it’s close to every other day.” And that was the truth. Meditation is something that I know is good for me. It improves my well being in all sorts of ways. But, for no reason, I don’t do it every day. I just don’t want to, like flossing. When I do go meditate, I’m coming from my true self. Making yourself meditate when you don’t really want to is coming from Basic Goodness. It’s doing the right thing for yourself

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Posted in interfaith

Buddhism and Religion (Video)

This is a live video I did  in the Tattooed Buddha Community Group.

I encourage you to join that group, which you can get to here:
Tattooed Buddha Community

I explored questions about whether a Christian can practice Buddhism, among other things.

To donate by Paypal: https://www.paypal.me/DanielScharpenburg
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Posted in han shan

Calming the Waters

Waves roughen the sea and windmill turn because of the wind. Take away the wind and the sea becomes calm and the windmills come to rest. For every effect there is a cause. The waves of desire for things in the material world churn our minds, keep up in a constant state of agitation, scrambling in all directions. What do you think could happen if we eliminate desire?

Master Silly Mountain

 

Our various struggles can really get us down sometimes. Life is hard and we need to do whatever we can to keep it together. We are like the sea. We have different forms of emotional baggage and neuroses that cause us all sorts of harm. We want things to be different, we want things we don’t have, or we want things to not change when the truth is everything does. All of these things, our delusions and attachments, are the wind and we are the sea. This is a wonderful analogy for our practice and I like it a lot. We are trying to just settle down the sea. There are big waves sometimes and little waves other times. And sometimes the sea is very calm. People have described the aim of meditation practice in various ways over the years. I like the image of a calm sea.

We are agitated by our desires. And we want to be calm instead.

That’s what our practice can help us with. We want to learn how to calm the waters, but also how to not get dragged away when there are waves. Because there will always be waves.

 

Posted in zen

What is Zen?

The purpose of Zen practice is Enlightenment, self realization, awakening to the absolute truth of reality. It’s a path of transformation instead of salvation.

We have a constructed image in our minds of who we are and what the world is. Zen is about being in the moment without the constructs. Dropping ego. Dropping the past and our thoughts about the future and engaging with the present moment.

Easier said than done. Our minds want to do anything but stay in this moment. Zen involves learning to quiet our minds and penetrate through these layers of delusion. Zen is teaching our minds how to sit still.

We do this by following a set of principles: meditation, mindfulness, and morality.

Anyone can do it. The path to awakening isn’t restricted to some lucky or noble few. It’s for everyone.

Our true nature is one with everything and the only reason we don’t see that is because we are in layers of delusion. When we meditate we clear some of that delusion. We have to dig ourselves out.

We train to realize our true nature. We investigate ourselves.

We just have to be present to perceive our true nature.

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