2012-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

2012-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast
New Year’s Guidance and Practices

2012-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

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The Chinese zodiac symbol for this year is the Yang-Water Dragon. According to the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang and the five elements, yang-water signifies the ocean and the great rivers while the Dragon, rules the morning. Thus the Yang-Water Dragon symbolizes bright prospects similar to the rise of the dawning sun over the vast ocean of human nature. We hope that 2012 to be a good year that will shed light on many things.

Our guideline this year is to create harmony amid diversity.  Just as a symphony orchestra is comprised of many instruments, of varied sounds and timbre. When playing together in oneness, they create a sonic harmony, where we appreciate the combined harmonies more than the individual players.  A choir is formed of many individual voices of different character and tonality, but when brought together, produce sounds that are far more impacting and energy-filled than the individuals by themselves. In this same way, the combined energies of all the different people of the world, when brought together towards a greater goal, can produce a result beyond comprehension. This is the vision of the world we strive to achieve.

For our daily practice, beginning to create harmony amid diversity, can be achieved through two parallel paths of action:

1) Take a step of loving kindness toward the future
We have a responsibility to ensure the next generation can also share in the blessings of this beautiful planet. We should step forward to serve society by safeguarding all life, no matter how small, as we act with a compassion for all and aim to build peace.“Toward the future” means to encourage all of us to create a world of lasting happiness filled with hope, and to make that hope a reality for more than just the present, but also for the future children for many generations. Strive to learn from your past as you rise to the challenges of the present.

When we truly devote ourselves to the benefit of all people equally, we will be reciprocating for all we have received and feel the joy of practice without being self-centered. In this way, there are no enemies to be found, as we are all one people again, learning to live together in one place.

2)  Attain a deeper appreciation 
of the transcendent
Having and developing a deep appreciation of one’s foundation, or life roots, can create something new and bring it to life. Esoteric buddhism teaches of a transcendent force that activates the values the Dharma or laws of life, and helps us awaken to its many greater truths.

Meditation and reflection, both by yourself and through guidance, leads you towards embracement of all things good and bad that happen to you. That experience leads you towards discovering your own hidden pure nature and helps you set your potential for good actions, thoughts and words free. We can then explore this potential and draw on our experiences, especially our struggles, to change ourselves for the better.

By further letting others see our enlightened spirit through conscientious service for others, we share these feelings of selflessness and compassion for others and demonstrate personally how others can take their own first steps from out of their worlds of shadow and discontent and into a brighter and more contented experience that exists in the very same place. This is the base principle of creating Heaven on Earth.


IOUG Extras Podcast 28-APR-2012 (Collabo

IOUG Extras Podcast 28-APR-2012 (Collaborate Foodie Edition) http://ow.ly/1jcZtS

IOUG Podcast 26-APR-2012 – For the week

IOUG Podcast 26-APR-2012 – For the week of April 26th, 2012: Quest Software Releases Toad for Oracle 11.5 EMC Announ… http://ow.ly/1j8NmK

2012-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

2012-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast
The Story of Shojushinin

2012-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

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In Shinnyo-en one of our important sources of teaching is woman known post-humously as Shojushinin (a dharma name meaning “heart or mind of embracement or shoju”). She was the wife of Master Shinjo Ito, one of the founders of Shinnyo-en, and the administrative head of our sangha. Noted for finding ways to apply the Buddhist teachings in her daily life, she would often relate Buddhist themes to her daily chores. She taught those who lent a hand with her in the kitchen in such a down-to-earth, accessible way that people began considering her their Dharma Mother. Those informal teachings came to be called her “kitchen sermons,”  which later became known as the “Seventeen Teachings.”

Shojushinin led the Shinnyo-en community with humility and grace, and imbued all her actions with the principles and ideas taught by Master Shinjo. She once remarked: “When we say, ‘I should have done this or that,’ it is usually too late. I hope we can take all reactions and indications manifested in this world as a reply from the spiritual world about our own actions , and ponder and learn from each one with careful deliberation. Let’s endeavor wholeheartedly so as not to have any regrets later that we could have done a little better.”

The Shinnyo Teaching provides a path for each of us to engage our buddha nature and develop it fully through our conduct and actions in the world around us. Shojushinin maintained a deep trust in this innate buddhahood throughout her life, and held an unshakable belief that everyone has the capacity to cultivate the same behavioral buddha-like manners for themselves. Shojushinin’s example provided inspiration and guidance to those pursuing the path of buddhahood throughout her lifetime, and continues to do so today.

Buddhist teachings provide a path for each of us to engage our buddha nature and develop it fully through our conduct and actions everyday in the world. In particular, the roots of Shinnyo-en buddhism were grafted from a merging of the practices found in both the smaller vehicle, or hinayana exoteric teachings, such as Tendai buddhism, and those of the larger vehicle, or mahayana esoteric teachings, like Shingon and Zen. These are the same principles found in the last and final teaching by Shakyamuni, also known as the Nirvana Sutra.  As mentioned, the principles of buddhism are meant to be passed from person-to-person directly, and not simply published and randomly absorbed by whomever happens to read a sutra, or listen to a lesson. This is because the purity and truthfulness of what is being taught should not be left up to random interpretation by the listener or reader.

Think about the old children’s game of Telephone, where children line up and at one end someone says something to the person next to them, who then relays what they heard to the next, and so on. By the time the end of the line is reached, the message is often transformed into something that doesn’t at all resemble the original words spoken. This is human nature at work – we hear what we want to hear, and not always what is actually being said. So whenever we train ourselves in buddhism we always strive to listen with pure hearts and minds and not allow our egos to change the meaning to something we want to hear.

In a practical example, if someone says, “This candy is sweet like maple syrup.” And we haven’t ever tasted maple ourselves, we would be best not to try to make up similarities like, “Oh you mean it’s like apple juice?” in order to allow our prior learning and habits to interfere with the new experience. Try to keep your mind open to imagining what “maple” tastes like and hopefully experience that kind of sweetness yourself through further exploration, so you get a true meaning of what the person was describing, rather than a rationalization of what you thought they meant.

Alternative Stair-climber Design for Elderly/Assistance-needed Persons

A belt-and-track based stairwell lift device that can be embedded into the stairwell wall by notching the studs; constructed of structural material that when attached to the studs will also act as a structural brace; Up/Down step controls on the lift-plate for passenger-controlled ascent/descent; lift-plate folds out-of-way when not in-use; compact motor and belt-width for ease of embedded installation in narrow stairwells.

Since there are many stairwells, in many countries, that are not wide-enough to accommodate a conventional chair-lift systems. And many of these locations are in multi-story businesses, such as hair salons, restaurants, and small service businesses that cannot afford major remodeling to accommodate the growing elderly/assist-required population. A belt-and-track based stairwell lift device that can be embedded into the stairwell wall by notching the studs; constructed of structural material that when attached to the studs will also act as a structural brace; Up/Down step controls on the lift-plate for passenger-controlled ascent/descent; lift-plate folds out-of-way when not in-use; compact motor and belt-width for ease of embedded installation in narrow stairwells.


2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Extras Podcast (Sounds)

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Extras Podcast
The Sounds of Buddhism

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Extras Podcast

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When you have your first opportunity to witness a Buddhist ceremony of any kind, I imagine you will hear and see a lot of new things that have little or no explanation given to you – the ringing of bells at various times, or the rattling sound of a staff with a bunch of metal rings on it, or chanting in a language unfamiliar to you.  Buddhism came a long way to reach the various countries where it is now practiced.  Originally from India, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, scholars and students traveled to and from China, Thailand, Japan, and eventually here in North America, and to every other continent on the planet. As Buddhism is a person-to-person teaching – that is, that its preferred transmission is “heart-to-heart” from one person to the next so that both receive the benefit of the teaching process, and each scholar or student has a different way of expressing the teaching attuned to the particular listener involved.

Sounds are significant in Buddhism because, psychologically-speaking, the human brain expands its activity when listening to sounds or music more than any other form of sensory input.  For example, when you’re singing a song, even one you know extremely well by heart, it’s difficult, or impossible to think of anything else while singing.  You psychologically are focused on several things at once: the lyrics, the melody, the intonation, the timbre, your vocal muscles, your emotional state, and the vibrations coming from your larynx and body as you resonate the sounds. Ancient Buddhism understood this very well.  When reciting something simple, like the often heard master syllable, “Om” your focus changes to what you are doing. Every denomination of Buddhism has its own core chant. You may have heard this one, which is related to Nichiren, one of Buddhism’s many master disciples. Or this one, which is from Shinnyo-en.  Each of these repeating chants is used to bring focus to the normally unquiet human mind, and generate spiritual harmony as it is chanted in unison with others.

The chanting you hear in the background during the introduction of each of these podcasts is from Shinnyo-en and normally accompanies three bows performed at the commencement of each gathering. These are meant to remind ourselves that our teachings do not emanate from ourselves but from the many people who came before us, and those who encounter it in the future. The unfamiliar language you hear is from the ancient roots in India, known as Pali. While certain chants have been adopted to the native language of the particular practicing denomination, such as in China or Japan, the core chants which begin each service are often performed in the original Pali to respect the origins of the teaching, and for practical purposes, because the translated versions are not nearly as poetic nor rhyming.  The musical melody is one from Shinnyo-en which became unified to our expression of the Goreiju (or spiritual mantra) Goreiju (instrumental) – Gamelan Bells.mp3. This mantra is found in many other denominations of Buddhism, but the melody is unique to Shinnyo-en and has many historical roots in the teaching.

Sounds from a spiritual sense, are meant as a purification process.  As a pure sound is emitted from a pure source, it is believed that the sound helps purify all that it touches.  Buddhist services and ceremonies are often begun and ended with sounds, whether from an instrument or the human voice.

At most every service conducted on a regular basis, you will hear the sound of a wood clave (or hyoshigi in Japanese) being struck two times, and then once.  And at the end, a single strike to indicate the end of a chant or the service chanting. When conducted by a lay person, the same sounds may be produced by striking a small gong or bell. When you’re at home doing your own home practice, if you don’t have an actual set of clave or gongs to use, you can just clap your hand to your thigh to make the sound in a similar way. As many chants are repeated, and in some cases hundreds of times, hearing the sound of the gong is often your way to know this is the time for the repeating chant to finish.

During services conducted by an officiant of higher rank, or purity in a practical sense, you will hear the service chanting by the officiant begun and concluded with the bronze chime sound (or kondo kei) instead of the wood clave.  They may also use a hand bell at the conclusion of their service chanting, further serving symbolically and sonically as a purification of the area of the service and of those attending it.

And for grand purification ceremonies you might see a religious leader walking with a wooden staff with a number of metal rings at the top – this is called a shakujo in Japanese. As they walk, you will hear the clatter of the rings as they strike the ground with the staff.  Then at the beginning and ending of each chanting, instead of a clave, bell or gong, you might hear the shakujo being shaken in-time with the chanting, and then a final longer shake to end the chant.

So this was a little introduction to the many different sounds associated with Buddhist practice and ceremonies.  I hope you will find it useful to help broaden your understanding of what is a simple and yet complex form of spiritual belief and personal development.

2012-March Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

2012-March Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast
Exploring Enlightenment and Spiritual Awakening
The Nirvana Sutra
Attaining Joy Through Your Daily Actions

2012-March Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

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Enlightenment, or knowing why everything is the way it is, is not a distant reality that can take countless lifetimes to attain. Rather, it is a part of the world we inhabit and experience every day. With the guidance of a good teacher, we are taught that enlightenment can be realized through the activities of body, speech, and mind, known as the Three Secrets or Mysteries. All actions, or karma, emanate from these three sources. In esoteric buddhism, the concentrated power of the body, speech, and mind is activated by forming hand signs called mudras (denoting the body), chanting mantras (your speech), and visualizing the buddhas in meditation (using your mind). Training in these practices allows one to experience the buddha nature that exists both within ourselves and in the universe around you.

A sutra is a term given to the writings and translations of teachings by Shakyamuni Buddha. The Nirvana Sutra focuses on his teachings in the final moments of his life as he summarized and clarified all that he had taught previously.

This last sutra contains four key ideas:

1) Everyone without exception can hope to attain nirvana;
2) The presence, guidance, and compassion of the Buddha is timeless;
3) All living beings possess a buddha nature; and
4) Nirvana (or heaven) exists here and now in this world and is characterized by permanence-bliss-self-purity.

Those last 4 terms permanence-bliss-self and purity, could also mean, a timeless sense of happiness through the awareness and acceptance of one’s self, with truth and without reservation. So it’s the cultivation of everyone’s innate positive nature that brings about the universal sense of joy.

Shinnyo-en’s founder, Shinjo Ito once said, “Time is precious. How many people can say with confidence that they spend their time in a truly meaningful way? We may not be able to achieve anything big with our time, but it would be nice if we could say we used it wisely” it is how we use our time now that determines the path we take.

Should we spend our time staring at a bare patch of dirt waiting and hoping for something to grow? Or perhaps instead, with intention and dedication plant a seed, provide food and sun, and water it carefully so that new life may truly develop. Because all living things are interdependent, your own spiritual awakening comes, not from self-enlightenment, but helping others to develop and open their own eyes. As those people you touch and interact with also gain a sense of permanance-bliss-self and purity, your own world begins to grow and prosper.

Collaborate 2012 Networking Opportunity Events/Party List – Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay

Where I can keep track of the special events (note: these are not just “parties” as so many people are misled to believe, but yes, alcohol is usually to be found) at Collaborate 2012:

  • IOUG Welcome Reception (Ops Classified), Sun 5-7p, Mandalay L
  • Virtualization SIG Meet and Greet, Sun 4-5p, Surf F
  • OAUG Welcome Reception, Sun 6:30-8:30p, Shark Reef Aquarium MBay
  • Geek Meet, Mon 8-9p, Mandalay L
  • Collab Welcome Reception, Mon 6-8p, Exhibitor Showcase
  • TruTek Original Software Party, Mon 7-11p, MB Hotel Suite 34135
  • Quest/TOAD Reception, Mon 8-10p, MB Eyecandy Lounge
  • Collab Exhibitor Showcase Happy Hour, Tues 5:30-7p, Exh Showcase
  • RF-Smart/JDE Alliance, Tues 6:30-9:30p, Border Grill
  • TierData/Excel4apps/More4apps Reception, Tues 8-11pm, Mandalay Bay (minus5° Ice Bar)
  • CSS/DSI Tues 7-11p, MB House of Blues Concert
  • Collaborate Back to the 80s Party, Weds 7:30-10:30p, Mandalay Bay

Stopping Cell SMS Text Spam (7726)

Cellular phone carriers seem to be a little imbalanced when it comes to marketing.  They over-indulge us with offers to switch, get better phones, go faster, be more hip and stylish.

But when it comes to something actually useful, you have to learn about it by Google‘ing it?

Register your received Spam SMS text messages that get sent to your phone with your local carrier by forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM, if you actually had letters on your phone number buttons)

Because of how SMS was implemented, it’s near impossible to block a specific Spam sender, but at least you can help raise visibility of where they are coming from (even though, the source addresses are probably being spoofed, as well.)

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast
Five Behavioral Ideals for 2012 (+3 bonus ones)
Month of Rebirth and Departure from Suffering

Shinnyo-en Monthly Focus Podcast 2012-April 

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In this month of April, 2012, also the centennial year of our dharma mother, Shojushin’in-sama, we are reminded that one of her most treasured ways of communicating the Teaching to us was through her kitchen sermons, outlined in-detail within her two Wisteria Cluster books.

There were a total of seventeen such ideals she created, to remind each of us in a simple way how to remain solid on your path towards enlightenment.

On the sange petal papers being issued during several key services throughout this year will be the following five ideals from those seventeen teachings:

Be gentle, yet strong.

Be a person whom others miss.

Do not fight.

Treat people with respect.

And Always smile when meeting people.

Her Holiness Keishu-sama has also provided two rephrased versions of the ideals to be better interpreted in our modern eenvironment.

They are:
To Bring out your true self – referring to the buddha nature that lies within each of us, and encouraging you to express this goodness at every opportunity. Learning to act with kindness and wisdom and letting go of anger, jealousy and other attachments transforms your perceptions from suffering into appreciation for each opportunity to adapt and improve yourself, and others.

Next is, Always keep in mind that you are a Shinnyo practitioner. Some situations may require calm acceptance, while others need candid and truthful advice, but both should be performed without giving into your emotions, but rather with compassion towards the other person. Sometimes we need to support others by providing silence and listening, but others may need strong leadership and for you to set the example of how to behave in a better manner.

Keishu-sama’s last reminder this month is to Avoid gossip. Period. This means stepping into the other person’s place and reminding yourself that being the subject of someone else’s gossip about you is painful and hard to understand. If you have opinions of others, think of how you would want to be approached by someone else thinking the same of you. How would you want to be informed of something confusing or questionable that others saw? Hopefully you would prefer someone confiding directly to you, and using kind words or supportive thoughts and suggestions.

April, the month of Buddha‘s birth, is known affectionately as the month of rebirth, and departure from suffering. Each of these ideals is meant to give you a way to measure your own progress along the way through life. And hopefully as you hold yourself to higher ideals, others will be inspired by your efforts to polish your own actions and behavior.

Wild Swarm Moves Itself In

It’s Monday, April 2nd, and my wife says, “Looks like there’s a lot of bees in the backyard.” Earlier this morning and over the past few days we noticed one or two scout bees wandering around the empty boxes outside (the TBH and two cardboard nucs have resident colonies.)
We watched as a very pretty and good-sized swarm created a fuzzy cloud over the whole patio, and began settling on a couple of stacked Langstroth boxes from last year (a deep and a medium.) Taking pictures and videos of these are quite easy as swarms are much more docile and calm when searching for a place to live. They become more defensive once moved in and built comb. But at this stage, if you don’t mind their sheer numbers, they’re quite easy to be around. New home, zero work for us. “Easy breezy!” – Kirk Anderson