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2013-12 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Listening, are You?

2013-12 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Listening, are You?

  • What’s Wrong With Everybody Else?
  • Learning to Listen in a Different Way
  • Adjusting Your Vision of the World
  • Looks Like a Duck, But Does It Walk, Talk and Act Like One?

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(Based upon guidance in Resonance, Issue 7, 12/2013)
For buddhist practitioners, and arguably everyone in general, the actions and words of others are our best reflection of who we are, and what we represent to others. Going through life thinking, “Wow, everyone I know is so negative. Why can’t they be more positive?”  Or when service at an establishment is particularly poor or excellent, it isn’t so much a random factor of what solely someone else chose to do. We, as the other 50% of that interaction, are bringing ourselves, and our own actions, speech and thoughts to the very same connection with another person.

We observe that each of those opportunities to connect with another person come with messages, spoken and unspoken. Each of us may hear these voices in every encounter, and find in them lessons for reflection and action. Listen to the words of your mother and father. Listen to your husband or wife. Listen to what everyone around you has to say. Listen to all manner of counsel, and to the groans of the sick and suffering. You will find the voices of the buddhas hidden within them. Listen with sincerity and awaken. This most basic practice is the first step toward a direct experience of the timeless essence of buddhahood.

Think about what you feel when you hear or receive the communications from others. What goes through your mind if someone is uttering a robotic, “Thanks, have a happy holidays…” over and over, versus someone who seems to have genuine appreciation or caring, and simply smiles and says, “Thank you.” You can sense whether someone is genuinely conveying gratitude, or repeating a rehearsed autonomic script designed by a marketing writer.  And did the way you approached the situation, invite the kind of response you received?

When you start to really figure out what it’s like to be in another person’s position, perhaps a fast-food service clerk who meets an endless stream of people who just want to get through an order, and perhaps really would prefer an iPad menu to a human interaction, becoming increasingly numb towards the never-ending line of people waiting for their turn to hear, “Welcome to… may I take your order?” Do you ever start that interaction with gratitude that they’re ready to help? Or do you respond equally automatically, “Yes, I want…” Listen to yourself, and think about if that’s the kind of words you want to receive. Listen to others and discover why they respond that way to you.

Of course, listening without resulting action is equally non-productive and does not lead to actual practice. So, in performing your own personal fitness listening training, you will also develop your skills in conveying compassionate truth. People who ask for opinions and comments are easier to deal with than those refusing to listen, but even then the words chosen must not only be heartfelt and kind, but also be appropriate to the recipient.

Realize first that a person who is taking the time and energy to refute what you’re saying, and arguing, has already demonstrated a basic caring of your opinion, otherwise why not just shrug and walk away? How do you know when the wrong words are in-use? Ever witnessed a conversation that goes, “Oh, you’re so stubborn.” And the reply is, “No, I’m not!” — wrong words, with a defensive response. That person doesn’t want to hear that they’re stubborn. There’s a different path to get through what you’re trying to say. But to know that path, you need to be open and understanding what the person wants. For that person, being stubborn is a negative trait, with which they consider being labeled as unacceptable But their passion, commitment, and perseverance are all alternate ways they express their steadfast determination. So it’s those traits that are yours to learn to appreciate..

Achieving the bodhisattva path is not about simply shaving your head like a monk – at that point, you now have a shaved head. That would be akin to holding a paint brush and palette of enamel paints, and saying you’re a painter. The Shinnyo Path is a lay Buddhist practice based upon what you do, not what you try to appear like, or say you’re going to do.

So, what is a bodhisattva life? …doing what is basically right, such as being honest and making efforts to be in harmony with others, all the while thinking what it means to be an example to others. It’s about trying to become someone that others can count on, be it at home as a good family member, or in the community and society at large. This is what it means to accomplish what bodhisattvas do, and walk the path to becoming a buddha oneself (also known as… enlightenment.)

2013-10 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On Breaking Bad (Precepts)

2013-10 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On Breaking Bad (Precepts)

  • The Five Precepts (Rules of Engagement)
  • Why Learning from Others Comes First
  • Extending the Awakening Universe

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A precept is a rule of conduct originally developed as standards for monks and nuns to know when their behavior had strayed from following the proper path of conduct. Depending on which text you examine, monks have about 250 precepts and nuns somewhere between 348 to 500 by which they must abide during their practice.  Lay Buddhists (you and me) within the Nirvana Sutra were given eight (8) specific ones to apply in daily life.

  • Refrain from killing.
  • Refrain from stealing.
  • Refrain from sexual misconduct.
  • Refrain from lying.
  • Refrain from becoming intoxicated.

(and 3 more that Shinnyo-en interprets as historical)

  • Refrain from self-adornment.
  • Refrain from song and dance.
  • Refrain from observing song and dance.

Magnificently and often simultaneously, Breaking Bad’s storyline (an AMC series created by Vince Gilligan) manages to violate every single one of them. The same is true of the entire world around us, every single day. But the difference between a fictional TV show and the real world, is that the show is comprised of actors performing scripted lines and not making active decisions to do a certain thing or commit a certain act. And skillful writing ensures that the outcomes of negative behavior does not have automatically positive results, particularly in the overall storyline, lest the audience become bored with predictable endings. But in the real world, people are making decisions, to break a law, or to abide. And we live in this same real world, alongside all the others, whether breaking precepts or not.

A core belief in Buddhism, just as in nature, is that other beings will only follow or emulate those who are successful, as the contrary makes virtually no sense at all. And if you attempt to admonish others without demonstrating the embodiment of success through pursuit of a path of truth, then why would anyone bother to listen to your words?

This concept is paraphrased in a number of different ways:

  • We first learn from others, and then we can step forward to practice on our own.
  •  Only when you put yourself on the right track will others follow after you.
  • Guide the troubled by standing in the same shoes.
  • Learn what we need to learn from others.

And strangely enough, all of these principles were also part of Breaking Bad’s storyline. The gift from the writers was to see that lead characters had no influence until they found their own self-truths and understood why others acted the way they did.  And akin to the way karma works, deaths and destruction did not lead to conclusion – they were only transformations of one person’s life or property to lead to another person’s greater greed and envy.

 

September and October are months leading up to the year-end period of purification and refreshing the mind and body to prepare for another year’s efforts. The ceremonies within this period (Saisho Homa) are conducted to re-purify entrances to this earthly world for welcoming the revisitation of the spiritual deities and return of Buddhas. As we individuals serve as the “vehicles’ for this visitation in-spirit, we too in the presence of ritual cleansing fires (which bring forth “light” to see the path in front of us) take time to reflect on our conduct in regards to the precepts and examine how our thoughts, actions and speech can be further improved to continue extending a world of harmony and peace around us.

 

From HH Keishu Shinso this month:

 

“…It is up to us to reach out and embrace others in the spirit of friendship to make harmony amid diversity a reality that is indestructible like a diamond.

Likewise, to create a world of friendship means to create a way of seeing the world based on friendly relations rather than adversarial ones that are very often filled with difficulties and setbacks. At times, we may encounter a challenging reality beyond our control that prevents us from building friendships. But by drawing on the resources of wisdom and compassion—which is the nature of buddhahood… —we can move forward.”

Momoiro Clover Z – 5th Dimension Countdown…

Because it’s out, now, on iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/5th-dimension/id633919099

DIRECT JAPAN

tumblr_mkbceh8t6H1qf4yc3o1_1280… 4 days before the most awaited J-Pop album of 2013 gets released!… 

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2013-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Podcast – Sesshin Meditation Training

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2013-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Podcast – Sesshin Meditation Training

  • Why Meditate?
  • Why Guided Meditation?
  • What’s the Difference between Guided Meditation and Sesshin Training?

At a workshop on leadership given by Henry Givray, president and CEO of Smith-Bucklin, he cites two qualities of great leaders being self-awareness, and self-management. Self-management (or self-control) comes through motivation to change, and developing discipline to alter behaviors. But what process do you follow to become more self-aware, that is, heightening awareness of your own strengths and limitations, knowing fully your values and ideals, or even knowing what you do and how you do it? Meditation, and many other closed-eye processes are a way bring focus to your own thoughts by shutting down the myriad of stimuli that bombard our senses every moment of every day.  Ever tried sitting down and thinking about one thing, and then thinking more about tangent elements of that one thing, and soon you are wondering why you were thinking about that one thing in the first place? Being able to calm down our expansive mental abilities to think and analyze many things at once takes some form of actual physical intervention, and meditation is one of the simplest and self-capable forms of performing this feat. You don’t have to soak in a sensory deprivation chamber, or alight atop a Himalayan mountain in order to achieve a state where you can focus deeply on something. The difference is similar to taking a brief glance in a mirror to check your appearance, or looking deeply at your own reflection in the mirror to see every aspect of your physicality, even what you may dislike seeing (and perhaps even being motivated to change.)

Sometimes, even the process of closing one’s eyes and attempting to pacify one’s thoughts doesn’t come easily. Too many daily distractions have piled-up creating worrisome subjects, or maybe the thought you want to focus upon isn’t easily visualized or even comprehended. You may even not know where to begin with really complicated situations. That’s when having something else provide the structure and attention focus for you helps a lot. Even your own voice and listening to your own verbalizations to yourself can help bring the extra framework of stability needed to train our mind’s excess capacity to think about many things at once, to calm the active and continuously curious senses back down to a state of focus and reflection. This is why many forms of meditation involve use of verbalized sounds or phrases, or mantras, which help achieve the same state of thinking.  Psychologically, when you task your mind to repeat an endless phrase, which doesn’t require much thought other than to make the same sounds over and over again, with closed-eyes, you have occupied your mouth, mind and body with a single task to accomplish, which through repetition, physically hones in your awareness and senses towards a common focus — even if that task is to say, “Ohmmmm…” over and over again (or in the case of those of us in the Oracle IT software world, we might use “select * from dual;”.)

So, having achieved that nice, “happy place” state, how do you go about re-focusing on that thing you wanted to ponder, whether it was self-reflection, or how to solve a problem? That’s where guided meditation comes to play. It takes a lot of practice to maintain that state of inner calm, and also be able to introduce something else to think about, without upsetting the tranquility by piling on subject after subject to think about – as we all have so many things we’d like to figure out. Having another person or even a recorded voice instill that verbalized change of subject is how we can assist ourselves to stay focused on our own calmness, while the outside world introduces the subject of study.  Listening to this podcast is a form of that kind of guidance, as you listen to each word and form images in your mind of what is being said. Guided meditation also facilitates that same process, whether in the form of a pre-recorded meditation audio track, playing Deepak Chopra’s Leela video game, or with another person providing the verbal support and guidance.

In Shinnyo-en, as in all forms of esoteric practice, self-reflection is one of the key forms of training to support our own development towards building a persistent world of harmony and joy. Shinnyo sesshin meditation training was developed by Master Shinjo Ito as a way to bridge the elements of the original Shingon form of sesshin, which involves complete isolation from the outside world and many rigorous hours of continued meditation practice, with the needs of the contemporary and practical world of today. This version of sesshin training has been arranged into differing levels of focus, ranging from simple self-awareness, to meditative problem-solving and crisis resolution. Depending on your own individual needs or objectives, you can choose to train in whichever level is most suitable for the particular area of focus you feel you need to work on as a priority. But the common element is the same – it is not that the words that the meditation guide gives you are the prescribed answers to your problems; it is about how you interpret those words, and what actions you take to actualize their meaning. The guide-person is a virtual verbal mirror for your own self-reflection. How you perceive what is said, is the key to understanding your own inner thoughts and what you do, and how you do it. And if you get the bigger picture, that’s also what the entire world is, and everyone around you – a mirror of your Self.

From this month’s Shinnyo Reflections newsletter, sesshin is one of the keys to creating a world based on friendship. The  Shinnyo-en community, together with the practitioners and temple staff as a whole, are working to create opportunities for more people to be able to receive structured sesshin. That structured setting practice goes beyond reflecting on the indications we receive. It involves thinking about our connectedness to others, putting ourselves in the place of others, and working together with others. In the process, some of our own deep-seated fears or worries will naturally evaporate—leading us to becoming more courageous overall. By acting on what inspires us and applying in daily life what we grasp through the meditative practice of sesshin, we can truly change our lives. And this starts from not being afraid to step forward because you really care for the wellbeing of others. This selflessness and letting go of attachment will surely help us to break free from the cycle of karmic suffering toward the joy of being spiritually liberated. Our efforts to act on our sesshin training experiences nurture us to overcome whatever hurdles we may face.

2013-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Arts and Growing

2013-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Arts and Growing

[audio https://jhlui1.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/201301_shinnyo_podcast.mp3]

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2013 Guideline, Items of Practice, Sonouta

Many of history’s greatest leaders share a commonality – a side affection for the Arts, whether it be music, painting, fictional literature, or even acting.  It may be that these elemental activities, that are based more on individual creativity and interpretation than well-defined scientific guidelines are what create the flexible and innovative leaders around us.

For example, a leader who has been well-versed in laws and regulations, who knows how to “play exactly by the book” may be left uncertain in times demanding alternative approaches, or when facing rapidly changing challenges.

The person who is used to making the best of whatever the given situation presents, often has the freedom to think beyond conventional solutions and offer new strategies that may extend far beyond the conservative mindset.

Today the world is facing endless problems due to climate change, political tensions, economic crises, a soaring population, natural disasters and diseases, but the lovingkindness that already lies within our hearts and forms the core of genuine spiritual practice can help dispel these dark clouds to reveal a brighter future.  Lovingkindness is the good within us and the basis of humanity and philanthropy.

Acts of lovingkindness will lead to the serenity and peace of mind that comes from feeling close to others. Good things come from loving acts and kindness is born from putting one’s beliefs into practice. As our kind and caring actions accumulate, we come to understand through personal experience the interdependence of all life along with the joy of living and being given life.  To begin this process, the steps we take, however small, should be sincere and full of lovingkindness.  Every moment that we spend being a good friend to others polishes our buddha nature further, allowing us to move closer to buddhahood.

Shinso Ito, our head priest of Shinnyo-en set forth the guidelines for 2013 during the January 1st service:

With sincere efforts made towards a borderless realm of shinnyo,
And following the example of the Shinnyo Parents,
Let us expand our ties of friendship in the world.

To help put this into practice, the two guidelines are:
1. Contributing through steps of lovingkindness.
2. Acting on our sesshin experience.

As the practice of sesshin training helps of understand our own flaws and areas needing encouragement, it is not enough just to understand that you and I have things needing improvement, but we must take steps towards actually changing ourselves as part of our efforts to reflect a better example for others.

We close with the 2013 Sonouta which reads:

Let us never fail to endeavor and pray till the world of joy is realized.

Note that prayer and self-focus is second, and making efforts comes first. This is because by actually engaging in honest efforts to encourage and support others, self-transformation comes as a symmetrical byproduct of the process. The spirit of friendship will expand in the world when we strengthen the bond we have to our own buddha nature, and to each other.

2012-October Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Building a Trusted Reputation

2012-October Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Building a Trusted Reputation

The Importance of Establishing Trust
Consistency Builds a Foundation
Learning to Say, “Yes…”
Choosing the Difficult Path
2012-October Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Building a Trusted Reputation


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During an interview recently, Keishu-sama was asked, “What would you most like to be remembered for in this world?” She replied without hesitation, “Not to be formally recognized or rewarded, but to be a person who can be relied upon and trusted – to be a dependable person.”

The timeliness of this idea is quite unmistakable. On TED.com Rachel Botsman spoke this month on how a person’s reputation will become the new perception of an individual’s value, especially out in the virtual internet universe, where we will meet virtual strangers every day and virtual identities are only as genuine as the ratings or comments of others.  In this discussion there is a clear line drawn between one’s Influence (as measured by Likes, Re-Tweets, Follows and Facebook Friends) and one’s Trustworthiness (measured by positive Comments, Recommendations by others, and References by others to your own comments and opinions.)  Botsman points out that the ability to have a positive outcome from a business activity has a direct correlation to your own rather difficult-to-measure Trust factor, and has almost no relation to one’s credit score (FICO), virtual Likes or Influence rating.

So how do you go about building a good reputation?  Trust by others starts with actions towards the benefit of others. It’s easy not to trust someone who is always thinking of themselves first, or doing things in a selfish manner. Even more interesting are those who firmly believe they are making efforts for others, and yet are not sources of inspiration and seem to be beset by troubles and conflicts. The person who always barters is a good negotiator, but seldom trusted. And yet, it’s even simpler to trust someone who always acts by thinking of others first, placing themselves in “the other person’s shoes” and doing things which have no direct correlation with a reward.

Those actions must also have a consistency to them, similar to a river or stream that never dries up.  We think fondly of returning to the cool waters of an ever-present water source to refresh ourselves and cleanse our bodies and minds, but we don’t have that same affinity towards a tributary that only runs randomly, sometimes in great gushes, and other times a mere trickle. We seek every day, to find our own reliable and trustworthy sources of our own sustenance, and that includes those who inspire us and motivate us in life.

If we reflect on the Four Virtues of a Bodhisattva: Permanence (eternity or timelessness), Bliss (happiness), Self (identity or confidence), and Purity (truth)  (Jpn. Jo Raku Ga Jo) each one is attainable only through consistent practice. Each one can be soiled each time someone strays from these invaluable measures. But someone who endeavors to hold true each one of these ideals in their daily life and interactions, becomes by their actions, a trustworthy person because of their consistency and diligence to pursue them.

In a customer service training held by the Telephone Doctor, they introduce verbal phone etiquette choices that enhance communication skills for people dealing with others. The principles are the same in their training – learn to act as you would wish to be treated by putting yourself into the other person’s place before deciding how to react.

Instead of… Try using…
I don’t know. That’s a good question. Let me find out.
I can’t do… Well, what I can do…
You have to… What you need to do…
Just a second… This may take a minute. Can you hold?
No. <…> I can do <something instead>
<silence> (as a response to anything) <say something…>

When you hear the latter responses and imagine a person you’re dealing with responding that way with a smile, can you imagine feeling a little better about the response to your question, even if it happens to be not exactly what you were expecting?

It is very easy it seems to do the opposite of the Four Virtues, much like taking an elevator to the top of a mountain, versus climbing a rocky and steep path along the rocks. You can exhibit impatience, anger or frustration, lack of commitment and lying with as much ease as entering that express lift. Just as taking the stairs once in awhile strengthens our heart and muscles, so does choosing discipline in Life over convenience. We learn more from our difficulties than we ever do from our easy achievements. The interesting change of perspective that transforms the world around you is when you start seeing those challenges in terms of their presented opportunities rather than their burdens. As Life’s hurdles transform into steps, you might find your spiritual strength increasing as you exercise your free will.

2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Month

2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Month – 2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Truth, Self and Goodness http://ow.ly/1mg http://ow.ly/2sijjb

2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Month

2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Truth, Self and Goodness http://ow.ly/1mg318

2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Truth, Self and Goodness

2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Truth, Self and Goodness

Learning Oneness With Truth
Selfish Behavior or Why is the World So Cruel (to Me)?
On Being a Good Person

Audio File: 2012-September Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Truth, Self and Goodness

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September was the month when the core chant of our sangha was established as “Namu Shinnyo Ichinyo Dai Hatsu-Nehan Kyo.” Namu is an expression of devotion and trust; shinnyo is the truth or purity (Skt. tathata); ichinyo means oneness; and Dai Hatsu-Nehan Kyo is the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, also representing heaven. This mantra expresses the intent to be one with truth through the principles of the Mahaparinirvana (Nirvana) Sutra.  By chanting the Sandai, and ingraining its focus into our daily lives and actions, we come to recognize our true selves as described in the Sacred Principles – the verses that we recite as part of our daily chanting:

Like the full moon is pure, one is essentially without tarnish.
Like the full moon is round and perfect, one lacks nothing.
Like the full moon is clear, one is essentially the untarnished Dharma.

Master Shinjo Ito taught that the Sandai was a distillation of the essence of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra.  The Sandai voices our intention to change our lives and awaken to our true buddha nature by stepping forward with gratitude and joy for the benefit of others. Psychologically, when we incorporate an idea or thought using more than one of our senses, we tend to better remember it. This is a well-known practice of many advanced childhood learning programs, such as Montessori – to impress the idea in the mind, not only by reading it, but by reading it aloud, and preferably accompanying it with a reinforcing action. So, as we chant the words aloud, we also meditate and think about its meaning, and when we put the words into action, we will incorporate it into our lives. In this process, we begin to purify ourselves of the “Three Poisons” of greed, anger, and ignorance.

Almost fifty years ago, Shojushinin said: “I hope that you can become someone whom others point to and say, ‘That’s a really good person!’ When others recognize that you have changed through your practice [of the Shinnyo Teaching] and they want to give it a try themselves, that’s when you’ll know you’ve actually changed.” The core value within Shinnyo-en is to be the example for others through your actions, life and behavior. The human potential movement of the 1970’s and 80’s used to say, “All love flows through your own love for You.” Many people back then interpreted those words to mean an ego-centric interpretation, leading to the “Me” decade. As a student of many years of those same programs, we learned what the larger meaning of self-appreciation and respect embraces. You are part of a greater whole, whether you define that as a society, the human race, or even the universe. Thus as your eyes open wider and can see yourself in those who are around you, and learn to have the same caring and appreciation for others as you would wish for yourself, that same energy and spirit embraces you in return.

The aim of the Sandai is for us to deepen our resolve to walk the Shinnyo Path towards buddhahood—actualizing the full potential of the buddha nature latent within each of us—and helping others to do the same. A first step is to express the warmth and kindness expounded in the Teaching through our words and actions as we work for the good of those around us in our daily lives. Finding true happiness and creating a better world for everyone begins with changing ourselves.

There is one of many interesting anecdotal stories presented in this month’s Nirvana about a situation in dealing with selfish behavior. Our daily lives offer up a wealth of experiences that we
may be tempted to interpret through the lens of the Self, leading us to blame others or recoil at what they say and do. But what if, on every occasion, the message of Truth is actually hidden within? By focusing on grasping the message and learning to gently suppress our instinctual self-centered tendencies, we can feel the silent but sure encouragement extended to us from
the spiritual realm that up to this point may have passed unnoticed.

An office staff member was preparing to depart for another assignment when she overheard someone say, “Oh, she looks like a runaway…” referring to the staff member’s luggage and travel attire. She was angered by the remark throughout her trip, and upon arrival told Shojushinin-sama, our dharma mother, about the incident.

“So how did you deal with it?” asked Shojushinin. The woman responded, “I thought it was so rude to say something like that, and it made me miserable. I tried hard to reflect on what happened, but I just can’t accept it.”

Shojushinin replied, “Well, then, just think of how the word “runaway” is written with the Chinese characters 家出, meaning “home” (家) and “leave” (出). Reverse these characters to read in the opposite order (出家), and you have the word for “entering the priesthood,” which is what you are actually doing. Now then, what is the difference between 家出 (runaway) and 出家 (entering the priesthood)? Running away from home involves all kinds of pain and suffering, while entering the priesthood leads one to the joy of serving the buddha realm. Try to catch the Buddha’s hidden message in what happened to you this morning as you work to become a full-fledged disciple.”

Shojushinin thus gently explained the importance of attempting to interpret daily events in a buddha-centered way. Viewing life’s challenges in a self-centered way leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. The anecdote above illustrates Shojushinin’s teaching of the significance of contemplation outside of a temple environment. At any given time, we should ask ourselves how to see things from a buddha-centered perspective, which is quite similar to Christianity’s “What Would Jesus Do?” principle of action. The philosophy is the same, with both taking a lot of effort to master the practice.

You learn to perceive daily challenges, not with a “why is Life doing this to me?” attitude, but to see each new hurdle or crack-in-the-road as something you are prepared for at that moment in-time, because the world does not change with intent how it deals with you. You are presented with that which you create for yourself. If you are faced with financial difficulty, it may be lack of experience with dealing with money, or stubbornness not to seek out expertise. If people seem challenging personality-wise or emotionally, might you not be inviting and attracting those people through your actions and behavior?  It is your actions that will create the harmony amid diversity around you. Similarly, most philosophers do not believe in Fate, as we are able to change our actions at every moment in time. Choosing a different path, may lead you to the same destination, but the experience gained will be different, and in-turn, so different will be your future decision-making.

Applying the concept of karma to embrace all actions, one negative action will offset a positive one. Only through consistent and continued accumulation of positively-focused actions can one actually change the balance of how you experience Life. Which also means, every time you think to yourself, “Why is Life doing this to me? I have been a very good person,” you basically reset your merit counter back to zero and get to start all over again. Similarly, doing something good, but expecting a return, whether a reward, or even recognition for the act, is simply bartering, and also results in a zero net-gain.

Whomever first coined the phrase, “Get over yourself,” was on the right track. But to complete the thought with accuracy and purpose, the entire concept probably should be, “Get over yourself, and do something for someone else without expectation.”

2012-August Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly

2012-August Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Attachments & Nature http://ow.ly/1lPBXD

2012-July Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Fo

2012-July Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – Living Boddhisattvas / Embracement http://ow.ly/1lb9qF

Recording Audio Podcasts (HowTo)

Besides the basic requirements to create some kind of recorded audio file (WAV/MP3), you’ll need a place on the web to share the file. It would have to be preferrably a regular public filesharing point because you don’t want search engines to miss your uploads because authentication (login) is required to access the file (the search engines can read the MP3 Tag information and add it to the search keywords to find your podcast).

WordPress provides this as an add-on annual fee for the extra storage required – video requires one additional fee, as well.  If you’re self-hosting a web site or your blog, you can probably already just store the podcasts in your existing “Media” Library folder.

For audio quality, I use a number of different recording techniques depending on what location I happen to be during production. The highest sonic quality used for recording the intro and outro mix segments of my podcasts come from a high-quality large diaphrame condenser microphone (Audio-Technica AT4050) at close range with a pop screen.

Here’s an example of that microphone’s recording quality:

2012-January Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

For remote recording in quiet surroundings, I have been using a binaural microphone set from Sound Professionals MS-TFB-2 – these intra-ear microphones are good to use in situations where you want to capture exactly what your own ears are hearing (and will record your voice through your own bone structure, as well).

A sample of this recording technique, fed into a EDIROL R-09HR digital recorder with built-in condenser power (not phantom power – it’s a smaller voltage required by ultra-mini condensers) sounds like this – note a slightly more hollow sound:

2012-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

Most recently, I’ve been experimenting with an Andrea Electronics SB-205B (Ear bud with stereo “beam” microphones).  When combined with the free downloadable software, they do a pretty good job of rejecting ambient noise, though there is still a less full sound to the vocal timbre even when using low-power settings for the “beam” control and noise reduction activated (without the noise reduction, they will pick up all your ambient noise quite well).

IOUG Podcast 04-MAY-2012

Recording and actual post-production is using open-source Audacity, which has easy-to-use plugins for Noise Reduction, a reasonable Compressor (equalizes volume and peaks), and a Normalizer (for setting the overall peak volumes to standard zero decibel (0db) levels).  Occassionally, I use the Echo filter to add ambience to a segment. Audacity can produce the final MP3 with all of the text tag fields completed, but you’ll need an MP3 tag editor to add the associated graphic icon that is used by many mobile Podcast players and iTunes. Otherwise , you’ll always see a generic Avatar icon next to your podcasts. Also, don’t forget to upload this to the same Media Library section of your blog, and set it as the Featured Image of your podcast blog posting. This step will assist in maintaining a consistent image for search engines and iTunes album art purposes.

Finally, I employ Google’s FeedBurner.com to provide a multi-source compatible RSS feed (and optimize Search Engine results) for the resulting WordPress feed (which is simply a filtered feed for the Category “Shinnyo Podcasts.”) That allows easier and formatted submission to publication sites like iTunes, and maintains a consistent subscription presence for all supportable podcast reading methods (Google Reader, Microsoft Live, browser-based RSS readers, etc.)

For this site, I’m using the native WordPress plugin support for Audio files – you just insert a plain string into your post, and it produces a small Java player instead of the string – “<left bracket> audio http://pathname/filename.mp3 <rt bracket>” I include a direct-link to the MP3 file as well, which allows search engines to read the tags.

[Addendum 23-May-2012] Noting ADA-compliance would be useful, I have added the text transcripts of my audio podcasts to the blog posts. Thanks to http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/podcast-video-transcripts/ for pointing out the benefits.