Tag Archives: reflect

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
http://www.npr.org/sections/pictureshow/2012/08/07/157743116/does-the-mirror-reflect-how-you-feel

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
https://emmybella.wordpress.com/images-in-plane-mirrors/

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*/

2014-08 Shinnyo Buddhism Podcast – The Lights of Reflection

2014-08 Shinnyo Buddhism Podcast – The Lights of Reflection

  • Shiny Points of Light on the Freeway (of Life)
  • Finding the Brightness (in Everyone)
  • Seeing Beyond the Grime and Noise
  • Cleaning a Little Every Moment

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traffic_reflect2Have you ever driven down the road on a sunny morning and looked at the other cars? Usually in the early morning, or late afternoon, sunlight seems to reflect off of the cars in front of us, and often the cars coming towards us in the opposite direction. The sunlight doesn’t seem to pay attention to the particular make or model of the cars. Nor does it seem to always be brightest on the biggest ones, or the fastest ones, or even the oldest ones. Sometimes all of the cars are very bright; and other times a random few seem to glimmer back at you.  Sunlight doesn’t pay any attention to how much a car is worth, nor how it was manufactured.

traffic_reflectWhen we talk about every person having a Buddha nature within, sometimes it’s hard to imagine _every_ person having one. So, instead, look at the lights reflected on the cars.  Can you predict which ones will be bright, versus the ones which have no reflection at all?  Are the light reflections based upon where they came from, how they were built, or how expensive they were to buy? And yet, every single car, at one point or another, will reflect light; and sometimes that light cannot be seen by you, because of your perspective. But that same car could be brilliant to another person. Sometimes the person inside a car cannot see any reflections at all, especially upon their own vehicle.

And that’s how this concept of Buddha nature works. And the challenge becomes to imagine every single car you see before you and behind you with its own brilliant reflection, whether or not it’s immediately obvious or apparent. Even if that brightness is hidden behind years of dirt and rust, it’s still in there lying quietly beneath the grime.  That little light even is there if the vehicle is angrily honking at everyone, or smashed in an accident. Or even if the car sits idly every day, there is a reflection there somewhere waiting for someone to see it.

Also think about your own shiny reflection, that for the most part, you cannot see yourself. You can polish yourself to shine as brightly as possible. You can appreciate when others see those reflections becoming visible to others. And you can even come to appreciate when someone else notices a dull spot that can use a little more attention, because they would like your brilliance to shine brightly, too. Shinnyo members think a lot about cleaning, because it’s often a direct analogy to not only hygiene, but also to our spiritual cleanliness. Looking at our own limitations, prejudices, criticisms and need to get rewarded, or finding fault in others can be thought of as dirt sitting in our own spiritual vessels.  Every time we go to fill ourselves up with the waters of good or positivity, the more dirt and sediment that sits at the bottom, the quicker that same water becomes cloudy or even muddy once all that dirt is stirred up by the water.

So we learn to start with ourselves – cleaning out the dirt at the bottom of our own lives first. We ask others to see if our vessel is clean; or simply take note when someone else points out we have some dirt left over within. And we polish and sweep and wipe as many times as needed to keep our little containers ready to fill with pure water. Of course, just like any pail left outside, it will start to collect more dirt and dust as it sits, because that’s part of being a part of the great outdoors of society and the world. But if you keep cleaning a little each and every day, that task becomes easier and simpler each time.

2014-01 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – The New Year

2014-01 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – The New Year

  • Saisho – How to Use the Force
  • Using Diversity to Strengthen and Broaden Community
  • Self-Reflection Leading to Global Peace

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(Based upon Shinnyo-en’s Annual Guidance and Points of Practice for 2014 – Year of the Horse)

In HH Keishu Shinso’s New Year’s address she presented the 2014 guideline including working to extend saisho (lit. spiritual wonders) and our annual practices to include contributing in a loving and kind manner with diversity, and using sesshin (lit. self-reflection) to build our world of friendship. Part of our embodiment of the astrological animal traits, is not to just abide by your own birth year’s characteristics, but to also extend your focus and reach according to each year’s sign, sort of like being re-born each year into that year’s emphasis. Horse years include broadening horizons, openness, gatherings and crowds, and certainly  an attraction to many many diverse interests. So with that in mind, let’s explore this year’s guidelines and practice items as a whole.

The concept of saisho can be thought of of being similar to the concept of the “Force” in George Lucas’s Star Wars – an energy which flows through every living thing in the universe, neither created nor destroyed, but simply transitioning from form to form, and state to state.

So if entropy and enthalpy are the scientific study of such energy transitions, what does religion and spirituality do with the same concepts? Well, science does well at interpreting what happens when something occurs, such as when a brain cell is electrically stimulated causing a word to be uttered in a verbal response. And psychologically, we may be able to interpret what natural versus nurtured behavioral elements led to the specific content of those words.

But when someone’s words become altruistic — generated in a way that does not seem to directly extend from internal drives and motives, nor self-satisfying objectives, those we may speak of as being driven through a path other than simple scientific cause and effect. We might think of religion being wrapped around a focus of many miraculous events, such as rising from the dead, or surviving apocalypse, but in reality, there are other forms of “miracles” which we simply need to examine our own history to understand that the definition is temporary. Just 100 years ago, many millions fell victim to invisible virus outbreaks, and bacterial infections which were thought to be terminal (and to some extent brought about by divine retribution.) But as the collective human mind became increasingly open to the concept of “invisible life forms” and synergetic treatments, our own collective suffering diminished in return. A couple thousand years ago, we were pretty sure lead was really safe, and mercury was a form of medicinal cure.

So, the concept of saisho, could simply be humanity’s continued diminishing fear of the unknown (or hard to explain), and embracement of harmonic balance. Wave energy is a good example of harmonic convergence or cancellation. When waves are sent in opposing directions to each other, they tend to cancel each other’s energy, and result in a flattened and still surface devoid of movement. Combining wave forces in the same direction creates reinforcement and greater amplitude and strength than contained within the original separated waves. So as religions and spirituality converge and reinforce, rather than conflict and cancel each other, we may observe a rather miraculous result.

Just as small trickles of melting ice and tiny streams converge towards amazingly huge rivers and oceans, so works the power of diversity, or simply variety. In the early days of Shinnyo-en, when food and resources were scarce, the Shinnyo parents (Shinjo and Tomoji Ito) raised vegetables on the temple grounds and gave them to the neighbors and practitioners  Tomoji was known for silently cleaning and polishing attendees shoes while they attended lessons by Shinjo, simply because she thought it would bring a smile to someone’s face if they came out and found them that way. Similarly, the early morning cleaning practices wherein we go out and clean and polish a nearby public place, are not meant to be huge demonstrations in public service, but simple small efforts to make a corner of the world a brighter and more enjoyable place.

Perhaps you leave a thank you card for a co-worker for their efforts, or +1 someone’s post on Google, or have some other way to positively contribute to someone else experience of life – it’s an action that counts. It builds merit. And it is more than deciding NOT to do something.

From the ancient roots of philosophy – being a lover of wisdom, and seeker of universal truth, and contrasted with another ancient word, phronesis – seeking practical truth and comprehension, tempered with life experience, the simple example often given is about conveying words of truth to someone. Philosophically, those words can be harsh and bitter to someone unreceptive to them. Phronetically, one might avoid saying anything at all, as being the practical way to avoid the conflict. But through self-reflection (sesshin), we achieve a third state of placing ourselves into the recipients shoes, so to speak, and choose words which can enlighten the person to what we mean to say, truthfully, but without the pain, conflict, or avoidance. Sometimes this self-reflection leads to discovery that what we thought was something worth saying, wasn’t anything at all, and turned out to be an effort to persuade someone else. Remember that harmony includes diversity,  and does not strive towards conformity. Balance depends on the relative weight, mass and distribution of each element, and choosing an arbitrary center doesn’t make something balanced. So, be sure you know your own elements, and embrace your own variety (hint: it’s that self-reflection thing), and choosing your centers of balance will  become based upon solid reference points rather than guesswork.

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.)