Tag Archives: embracement

2016-12 Shinnyo Podcast Regarding Hope

2016-12 Shinnyo Podcast Regarding Hope

  • What is Hope?
  • Does Hope Go Away?
  • Creating Hope
  • When Is Hope Lost and Found?

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Image of Where There's Life, There's Hope
Where There’s Life, There’s Hope – Courtesy of: http://www.hdnicewallpapers.com/Walls/Big/Thoughts%20and%20Quotes/Beautful_Thought_on_Life_and_Hope_HD_Wallpapers.jpg

If we define hope as wanting, wishing or imagining something that isn’t in our present existence, we could say that hope is an imaginary concept – something that isn’t real.  If we think of hope as a state of consciousness, or the state in which we are visualizing this changed existence, then hope becomes a more tangible idea – something that persists.

The four virtues of enlightenment are expressed as permanence, bliss, self and purity, and in this context, the state of permanence is elusive depending on how we define our concept of hope.  Each of these states is related to embracing the dynamics of change as an ever-present condition. But to also realize that hope becomes ever-present as long as we can imagine a state of improvement beyond where we are today. You give up your imagination, and you can say you gave up hope.

Nature accepts things as they are – whatever happens, happens. People like to change things, like creating clocks to track time instead of watching the sun and moon. We try to move and push our environment around to better suit what we think is easier, more advantageous, or even more efficient.

When facing extreme changes, that’s when humans often resort to despair instead of hope, losing that sense of a better tomorrow. But really, tomorrow is by its own peculiar definition, something that hasn’t happened yet. We may have a less shiny and perfect vision of that which has yet to come, but basically, it still is beyond the present. And until it happens, it’s still not our reality (barring existence in a parallel universe and warpage of time, of course.)

Our reality is how we perceive it. A fish out of water is kind of stressed, and probably certainly not happy about that. But it has relatively little capacity to change its own condition.  We, by comparison, have amazing capability to change our presence, where we are, how we live, and in what manner we decide to co-exist with everything else.  Question is, do you realize that potential?

Hope becomes real as we define and change ourselves, whether that means being content with whatever we have already, or transitioning and developing ourselves to see beyond our self-imposed limitations. In the path of transformation, we materialize our vision or goals into reality.

Looking at the situation in a more pragmatic light might be that we can consider ourselves either “stuck in traffic” or “faced with the opportunity to choose alternate paths to our destination.”  Either way, the traffic is there. It is up to us to figure out how we perceive it and how we deal with it..

My own hope in this case is that you find that hope isn’t something someone else gives you. Hope is what you give to yourself.

I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful. –Bob Hope

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bob_hope.html

/* That’s it for this session. Thank you for listening. For more information feel free to e-mail me at jlui at jlui dot net, or twitter @jhlui1 With Gassho, James*/



2015-August Shinnyo Podcast Mirrors and Seeing You

2015-August Shinnyo Podcast Mirrors and Seeing You

  • Paradise, Almost.
  • Embracement and Nothingness
  • Waking up and Making Some Coffee (not just thinking about it)

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Looking at your Self in a mirror

What do you see when you look in a mirror? Do you look at your hair, face, expressions, youth, aging, acne, whiskers, grey hairs, lines, dirt, oil, makeup, hemlines, shiny shoes… What do you see?

A mirror [ ˈmirər ] – a reflective surface, typically of glass coated with a metal amalgam, that reflects a clear image.

But what do you “see” in that image? Do you see your beauty? Your flaws? Do you see only what you want to see? Do you see what others see? Do you hesitate to look in a mirror?

A mirror does not judge, it merely reflects. Light and dark. Whatever is there, is there, or not. A mirror that is slightly askew, that is, seen indirectly at an angle, shows you something not directly in front of you. It can show around a corner, or something off to your side. Or a view from above or below. The light or shadows are a reflection in opposition, meaning you’re actually seeing the reverse of what is really there (unless adjusted by an optical reversing lens or otherwise image-processed.)

How you see something in a mirro

Seeing your self (or Self, metaphysically-speaking) is often considered a first step towards what is expressed in many different words: enlightenment, heaven, Nirvana, truth, Shinnyo, happiness, contentment, harmony, and even peace. Regardless of how you perceive everything and everybody around you, if your own self-image isn’t clear, or acceptable to you, then it reflects on and changes how you interact with everything and everybody else.

This concept of reflection is what we can also witness in how other people (and animals) communicate and interact with us.  The words someone uses to talk with you, especially individually, are intended for your ears to hear (or eyes to see, or to touch). They aren’t really good or bad, or supportive or critical, until you interpret their meaning. Otherwise, they are just words. This is the same as when you like or dislike what you see in a mirror. It’s pretty amazing how much actual power you have over what and how you feel as you perceive the world around you.

Similarly, if you can develop your sense of how others see things, learning how to step into other’s shoes and walk in their footsteps, so to speak, you begin to see why Shinnyo refers to everyone else becoming mirrors of you. The way they act and treat you is not so much a consequence of their specific intent in one way or another, but a reaction to what you represent to them.

My friendly facilitators Steve Snyder and Michael Benner, now over at TheAgelessWisdom with whom I spent many days, weeks, hours and years in my college years learning from and with, always used to say, “Your own Love flows through your own love for You.” This translated into something like, you can’t really give what you don’t have. If you look in the mirror and accept what you see, others will, too. It’s when you can’t or won’t accept what’s there, that others become confused and don’t know what you’re really about. And if you fabricate something else about that reflection, it becomes really difficult for others to see things the same way.

Animals in their purity of absorbing the world around them, often are the clearest mirror to your own behavior. And, similarly, so are newborn babies. They perceive the world as it is. They learn from what has happened to them in the past. And that often forms the basis for how they perceive something new. When an animal has only known a world of kindness, it doesn’t really know what aggression or meanness means. Trainers often point out that you can say whatever words you want, but it’s the intent, emotion and feeling that the animals are reacting to, and learning.  That’s also why it’s crucial to do as you say, and say as you do. People learn from what you do, and not so much what you say. Mirrors show what you are, and not what you say you are.

“Be gentle, love life, and take care of each other.” — Michael Benner

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/* For more information and discussion feel free to e-mail me at jlui at jlui dot net, or twitter @jhlui1; With Gassho _()_, James*/

2015-April Shinnyo Podcast Elevations and Heightened Expectations

2015-April Shinnyo Podcast Elevations and Heightened Expectations

  • Paradise, Almost.
  • Embracement and Nothingness
  • Waking up and Making Some Coffee (not just thinking about it)

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Lou Lawrence, Port Angeles WA US
Lou Lawrence, Port Angeles WA US

““I hear that this month practitioners are getting ready for my birthday celebration. I’m grateful that you all want to express your appreciation to me in this way. But what I hope for more than anything is for all people to live with joy in their lives. I pray that you will take this occasion as an opportunity to take action so that even one more person can find joy in the world around them.”

— Master Shinjo Ito, 1973

About this same time last year, I described the general process of spiritual elevation at Shinnyo-en and conceptually what it was about. At last month’s meditative sitting, our spiritual guide had a few interesting observations about the Los Angeles training that were worth sharing. He had travelled from Japan, first stopping up in San Francisco, and then Chicago and now in Los Angeles. The first 2 stops were typical of this time of year – still fairly cold and either rainy or snowy outside, and a general feeling of people still hibernating, so to speak. But upon arrival in Los Angeles, whereupon he was greeted with 90+F temperatures, and even now, a rain-less, overly sunny climate that defies historical record, he said “this must be a form of Paradise!”

During our training, he felt we shared a brightness and warmth similar to the weather outside, with much happiness and joy throughout the group. But as the meditation deepened, he felt the room growing darker and dimmer, and our corresponding moods and spirits turning inward and more self-centered. It’s as if we started out with a sense of communal support and joy for our training, and then shifted towards a much more singular “I must elevate. Must focus my thoughts. Be determined.” mindset. And while this sort of internally-centered focus works well for the beginning stages of learning to meditate and clear your mental dissonance, it really doesn’t work to develop the openness and compassion needed to develop embracement and oneness.

Often we find ourselves in this odd balance between the chicken and egg syndrome of sharpening our own mental and spiritual awareness, but at the same time, not shutting out the rest of the world, and ultimately compassion, in the process. it’s a little like the Zen concept of “learn everything, then learn to know nothing.” Learning to accept not only ourselves (which is an important first step), but also the rest of the universe as it is, where it is, and what it is – means embracement (jpn. Shoju or Shojou) in its truest sense.

Remember that when we pay respects to our spiritual figures, we do so as a gentle reminder that we wish to change not only ourselves, but inspire others to have aspirations and positive hope, just as the figure of the Ever-Present Tathagata Shakyamuni represents the timelessness and universality of the Buddha’s enlightenment, in other words, the potential of all people to bring forth their own innate potential (aka buddha nature) to awaken.

To become one with G*d, to walk in Christ’s footsteps, embrace Tao,

Moss or Forest?
Moss or Forest?

develop buddha nature, or simply be a good person – whatever you end up calling the process of incorporating compassionate practice into your daily life, it is the steps you take each and every moment that lead you somewhere else, and not the imagining what it will be like to get there.

“No matter where you go, there you are.”
— Confucius, Buckaroo Banzai, Luca Bloom, et.al.

/* For more information and discussion feel free to e-mail me at jlui at jlui dot net, or twitter @jhlui1; With Gassho _()_, James*/

2012-July Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Living Boddhisattvas / Embracement

2012-July Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Living Boddhisattvas / Embracement
Living as a Boddhisattva
Embracement of Everything, even Your Enemies

2012-July Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Living Boddhisattvas / Embracement

[audio https://jhlui1.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/201207_shinnyo_podcast.mp3]

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A sonouta, or spiritual poem, by Master Shinjo Ito reads:

Though human, we are bodhisattvas
When we dedicate ourselves for others.

So just what are a bodhisattva’s practices?  A Nirvana Sutra passage advises us to put the needs of others before our own and always act in the spirit of being a “great vehicle.” With the determination to behave with this mindset and put it into action, we can become bodhisattvas ourselves. Each person’s practice is unique, but we can discern what it means for each of us individually and carry it out by engaging in self-reflection.

An ideal should be something we build with other people rather than force upon them. Try to be a foundation for others, communicate well, and help one another. You don’t have to do anything special: it may be small actions like cleaning up a classroom or public place, preparing the office before others arrive for the day, tidying up after they leave, or even just listening sincerely and carefully to what others say. By making these small efforts in our everyday lives, we can heighten our aspiration for enlightenment and come closer to awakening ourselves.

The repeated process of self-reflection followed by action that incorporates our insights into our daily lives helps us approach our own ideals. Self-reflection may also generate regrets about the past. But when that happens, we simply need to react quickly and resolutely, with a determination never to repeat our mistakes. By enriching this experience through the application of our insights in daily altruistic practice we can further polish our own behavior and bring forth the radiance of a bodhisattva within our own lives.

At the recent Lantern Floating in Hawaii, HH Shinso Ito wrote the English words “Mother Ocean” and the characters “摂受” (Jpn. shoju, meaning embracement) upon the lanterns that were set afloat on the sea. She wanted everyone to know that when we offer consolatory prayers based on the Nirvana teachings we include all beings—past and present—as well as mountains, rivers, plants, and trees. The Buddha embraces all forms of life with loving compassion. The buddha realm of permanence and bliss is inclusive of all life—down to the smallest creature—and everything is interrelated. Nothing exists independently from others.

One other topic this month relates to a situation in Shinnyo-en’s history known commonly as the Dharma Crisis. In this particular event, similar to many events we have witnessed throughout history, a religious leader was questioned or challenged as to his or her convictions, practices or actions. Master Shinso Ito and the then named, Sangha of Truth, the early identity of Shinnyo-en, were brought under questioning by the Japanese government related to sanctity and conformance to religious doctrines of approved organizations at the time.  While the Dharma Crisis itself could be subject to an entire podcast, this month we examine what instigated the event and how it was dealt with in the context of Master Ito’s own bodhisattva practice.

The original charges asserted were brought by a person within the Sangha who had achieved a position of great responsibility and stature within the organization. He was well-educated in the scripture, and was considered a dharma teacher and educator by the Sangha. But this person was, as all of us are, a human.  As his status increased in the organization, he made incorrect and improper decisions in his relationships with others in the Sangha, and used his position to create opportunities to increase his own self-importance and power. His high-ranking position in the Sangha brought into question the purity of the Sangha’s practices.  After all, how can one regard an organization as pure, if its own leadership does not demonstrate purity?

When confronted by Master Ito as to his conduct, he immediately resigned but did not admit any responsibility nor apologies for the lives he had altered. Those same individuals were the ones who supported Master Ito’s innocence of the charges by the government. After the Crisis period was over and Shinnyo-en regained its stability, very little was ever mentioned to lay followers about who this person was, nor how he came to his position.  But internal practices were put into place throughout the organization to educate each person of leadership about their responsibilities to others and how human nature can lead us to the wrong ideas and the wrong actions.

If you have the opportunity to inspect one of the original carved wooden plaques bearing the Shinnyo-en characters in Japanese, which were hand-sculpted by Master Ito himself, you would discover a small and unique annotation on the reverse sides which when translated reads, “With prayers for the future enlightenment of O-san.” It is this “O-san” who was the person who initiated the charges in the Dharma Crisis. Master Ito, with his own hand, carved these words as his own advocacy for forgiveness and acceptance of the person who would have been most responsible for destruction of the Sangha, or in simple terms, his enemy.  The teachings remind us that every single person and living thing has a Buddha-nature. It may be buried beneath layers of karmic dirt that has accumulated over years of neglect, but it is always there.  Helping others reveal this nature, and with it a universal sense of peace and balance, starts with your own compassion towards what you, as a human, may not perceive as likable or desirable.  We all have within ourselves, as humans, an “O-san” like nature. It is when we acknowledge that it exists and care more for others that the “O-san” qualities diminish and fade.

This was the principle of Shoju, or true embracement, in actual practice by Shinnyo-en’s founder. As he always felt one should set behavior by one’s own example in life, he thus demonstrated his own path to enlightenment and life as a boddhisattva through his actions. We can do the same both in practice, and spiritually through our requests for “Osegaki” (or Spiritual Purification) wherein we remember our ancestors, forgive them for their mistakes and misgivings, and learn to incorporate these changes in behavior to help reduce or eliminate them from both our own lives and those who depend upon us.