The Four Immeasurable Minds

Photo by Benn Bell

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Four Immeasurable Minds

  • Love, compassion, joy, equanimity
  • If you learn how to practice love, compassion, joy, and equanimity, you will know how to heal the illness, anger, sorrow, insecurity, sadness, hatred, loneliness and unhealthy attachments.
  • Whoever practices the Four Immeasurable Minds together with the Seven Factors of Awakening, the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path will arrive at deep enlightenment.
  1. The first aspect of true love in Buddhism is friendship.
  2. The second aspect of true love is compassion.
  3. The third aspect of true love is joy. True love always brings joy to us and the ones we love.
  4. The fourth element of true love is equanimity: nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even mindedness, letting go. If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging it is not true love. This is the wisdom of equality.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

Galveston Day 6

The Continuing Saga of Ghost Dog and the Buddha

Greetings from Galveston! Each morning I rose just before dawn and headed for the beach to catch the stellar event unfolding on the horizon. I was not disappointed. Most mornings Buddha stayed in bed, but this glorious morning he accompanied me out to the beach.

Moments before Sunrise
First the tide rushes in…
The Rising Sun
The Sun Also Rises

Today I wanted to ride around Galveston to look at some of the buildings. Galveston is home to some interesting old historic buildings and to some newer more modern ones.

American National Insurance Building, One Moody Plaza
United States National Bank

This building is being converted into condos.

Rosenberg Library

The Rosenberg Library is the oldest continuously operating library in Texas. I visited this beautiful library with the hopes of finding a clean well lighted place to study in. But, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Due to covid the study rooms were closed. I was free to roam the stacks but not to study. I did come away with a book however, so all was not lost.

Hutchings Building in the Strand

The Strand Historic District, also known as the Strand District, in downtown Galveston, Texas, is a National Historic Landmark District of mainly Victorian era buildings that now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops.

Gaido’s Seaside Inn

Later in the day we headed back to the motel for a dip in the pool. We were staying at Gaido’s Seaside Inn, which according to their own testimony boasts of having the best pool on the island. Who am I to argue?

No Diving
Pool Side
Having a chat
Proof of Life – The Buddha

We ended the evening at a Mexican Restaurant. Buddha’s friends hadn’t heard from him in a while so I posted this picure to prove he was still alive.

Stay tuned for day 7 of the exciting adventures of Ghost Dog and the Buddha.

The Three Doors of Liberation

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Three Doors of Liberation:

  1. Emptiness/shunyata
  2. Signlessness/animitta
  3. Aimlessness/apranihita

Emptiness or shunyata:

Emptiness always means empty of something. A cup is empty of water. A bowl is empty of soup. We are empty of a separate, independent self.

Emptiness does not mean nonexistence. It means interdependent co-arising, impermanence, and non-self. Emptiness is the middle way between existence and nonexistence.

Everyone we cherish will someday, get sick and die. If we do not practice the mediation on emptiness, when it happens, we will be overwhelmed.

Signlessness or animitta:

The second door of liberation is signlessness. “Sign” means an appearance or the object of our perception.

Signs are instruments for our use, but they are not absolute truth, and they can mislead us. Wherever there is a sign, there is deception, illusion. Appearances can deceive.

If you see the signlessness of signs, you see the Tathagata. Tathagata means the wonderous nature of reality.

Everything manifests by means of signs.

Life span is the period of time between our birth and our death. We think we are alive for a specific period of time that has a beginning and an end. But when we look deeply, we see that we have never been born and we will never die. And our fear dissolves. With mindfulness, concentration, and the Three Dharma Seals, we can unlock the door of Liberation called signlessness and obtain the greatest relief.

Aimlessness or apranihita:

The Third Door of Liberation is aimlessness. There is nothing to do, nothing to realize. The purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself.

Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest practice of meditation.

According to the Heart Sutra there is “nothing to attain.”

Aimlessness and Nirvana are one.

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment

              Waking up this morning, I smile

              Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.

              I vow to live freely in each moment

              and to look at all beings with the eyes of love.

              -Thich Nhat Hanh

These twenty-four hours are a precious gift, a gift we can only realize when we have opened the Third Door of Liberation.

The practice of aimlessness, is the practice of freedom.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo by Benn Bell

The Three Dharma Seals

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Three Dharma Seals

Impermanence, Non-self, Nirvana

  • From the point of view of time we say “impermanence” and from the point of view of space we say “non-self.”
  • It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent.
  • Nothing is ever lost. Nothing is ever gained.
  • The second dharma seal is non-self. Nothing has a separate existence or separate self. Everything has to inter-be with everything else.
  • When we see that everyone and everything belongs to the same stream of life, our suffering will vanish.
  • Non-self means that you are made of elements which are not you.
  • Nirvana is the third dharma seal. It is the ground of being.
  • “The dharma I offer you is only a raft to help you cross over to the other shore,” said the Buddha.
  • Nirvana is the extinction of all notions.
  • Happy Continuation
  • Eight concepts: birth, death, permanence, dissolution, coming, going, one, many.
  • The practice to end attachment of these eight ideas is called the eight no’s or the middle way.
  • Experience always goes before ideas.
  • Any teaching that does not bear the mark of the Three Dharma Seals, the Four Holy Truths, and the Eightfold Path is not authentically Buddhist.
  • Two Relevancies
    1. Relevance to essence – The three dharma seals: impermanence, non-self, Nirvana.
    2. Relevance must fit the circumstances.
  • Four Standards of Truth
    1. The worldly
    2. The person
    3. Healing
    4. The absolute – No self
  • The Four Reliances
    1. Teaching
    2. Discourses
    3. Meaning
    4. Insight

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell

The Two Truths

Buddhism by the Numbers

The Two Truths

According to Buddhism there are two kinds of truth: Relative Truth and Absolute Truth. We recognize the presence of happiness and the presence of suffering. One day we realize that suffering and happiness are “not two.”

  • Where ever there is joy there is suffering.
  • Suffering and joy are not two.
  • Our life is the path
  • We enter the path of practice through the door of knowledge
  • All conditioned things are impermanent. They are phenomena, subject to birth and death.

In the Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dharma the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path. In the Heart Sutra, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara tell us there is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path. Is this a contradiction? No. The Buddha is speaking in terms of relative truth and Avlakiteshvara is teaching in terms of absolute truth.

The Buddha recommends that we recite the Five Remembrances every day:

  1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
  2. I am of the nature to have ill-health. There is no way to escape having ill-health.
  3. All things dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  4. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.

Waves

  • When we look at the ocean, we see that each wave has a beginning and an end.
  • If we look deeply, we can see a wave is made of water.
  • While living the life of a wave, it also lives the life of water. When a wave touches her true nature, which is water, all her complexes will cease, and she will transcend birth and death.
  • Liberation is the ability to go from the world of signs to the world of true nature.
  • What is essential is to be our best while we are here.
  • All formations are impermanent.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell

Right Diligence

Buddhism by the Numbers


Right Diligence

Right diligence or right effort is the kind of energy that helps us realize the Noble Eightfold Path. Four practices usually associated with right diligence:

  1. Preventing unwholesome seeds in our store consciousness from arising
  2. Helping unwholesome seeds that have arisen return to our store consciousness
  3. Finding ways to water wholesome seeds in our store consciousness that have not yet arisen
  4. Nourishing the wholesome seeds that have already arisen.

Unwholesome means not conducive to the path. The wholesome seeds of happiness, love, loyalty, and reconciliation need watering every day.

According to Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is divided into eight parts, including mind consciousness and store consciousness. Store consciousness is described as a field in which every kind of seed can be planted. Seeds of suffering, sorrow, fear, and anger, and seeds of happiness and hope. When these seeds sprout, they manifest in our mind consciousness and when they do, they become stronger.

We need to know our physical and psychological limits. We shouldn’t force ourselves to do ascetic practices or lose ourselves in sensual pleasures. Right Diligence lies in the Middle Way between the extremes of austerity and sensual indulgence. Joy and ease are two factors that are at the heart of Right Diligence.

The following gatha can give us energy to live the day well:

Waking up this morning I smile

24 brand new hours are before me

I vow to live fully in each moment

and look to all beings with eyes of compassion.

The practice of mindful living should be joyful and pleasant.  If you breathe in and out and feel joy and peace, that is right diligence.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Photo credit: Benn Bell

RIGHT THINKING

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Thinking

  • Thinking is the speech of the mind.
  • Right thinking leads to Right Action.
  • When we concentrate on our breathing, we bring body and mind back together and become whole.
  • Mindful breathing helps us stop being preoccupied by sorrows of the past and anxieties of the future. It helps us to be in touch with life in the present moment.

Four Practices Related to Right Thinking

  1. Are you sure?
  2. What am I doing?
  3. Hello habit energy.
  4. Bodhichitta – Mind of love.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

THANKSGIVING

wp-1488040842599.jpgI think it’s very nice to have a special day of thanksgiving, but I also know some people are hurting today. Let us cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings. With a boundless heart let us cherish all living beings and radiate kindness all over the world. Let us turn a life of resentment into a life of gratitude and be thankful for every day we are alive. The true miracle is just to walk the earth.