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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.)

2013-07 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Sacred Images

The Travels of the Shinnyo Masters
Making a Connection to the Past
Master Shinjo on Why Do We Have Buddha Images?

2013-July Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Sacred Images

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Bronze sculptures of the founders of Shinnyo-en Buddhism

The busts of the Shinnyo Parents and the Two Dojis that had been placed at Shinchoji (a Shinnyo-en main temple in Japan) and which had long been exposed to the smoke of the homa fires and incense (causing unique variations in color from their original bright golden bronze appearance when first cast) have been temporarily enshrined during their world tour at our temples in Singapore, Taiwan, six locations in Europe, and Hawaii before making their way to other temples on the mainland United States.

Here in Los Angeles, we supported their visit for a brief 3 weeks while many visitors experienced their first opportunity to make contact with these sacred images from afar. The exhibit included many educational exhibits about buddhist practices and what the purposes and meanings were for the images, sculptures and artwork represented in Shinnyo temples. Some religions forbid creating images of their deities or missionaries, possibly to prevent idolatry or misguided worship of the image itself. In buddhism, we are taught that images represent figures to assist connection with the human senses, but the philosophy is to respect those who walked the sacred path before us, not to worship them nor endow them with supernatural attributes. So, perhaps no differently than one would treasure ones old photographs of departed family members, we at Shinnyo-en are fortunate to have images which remind us in our minds and hearts to bring alive the memories and thoughts of both our founders and the originators of the Shinnyo Dharma Stream before them.

Through this tour of the Shinnyo busts, many practitioners have been able to form a spiritual connection to something infinite yet personal through the experience of touching the vajra cords attached to the busts. By spending time in front of the busts, many have reported feeling a sense of peace and calm. Others said they felt some kind of inner transformation had occurred, which helped them become more open. Some practitioners felt something warm and immediate, as if their hands were enveloped by the hands of our spiritual masters.

One practitioner said that it was a moment she would never forget, when she felt as if the Shinnyo Parents and the Two Dojis were telling her that her efforts were on track and that she was headed in the right direction.

As the busts travel to more of our centers, more people in the world can feel the atmosphere of Oyasono, a sacred site of pilgrimage where people can get closer to the core of Shinnyo Buddhism to recreate that warm atmosphere in their own surroundings.

The intention behind sending the busts to different places outside Japan is to help more people to feel spiritually connected to a sacred place that welcomes all. This international tour started in the centennial year of Shojushinin’s birth. and is due to last until the spring of 2014. It, too, is part of the enhancement of Oyasono as an eternal site, a spiritual “home” that welcomes, rejuvenates, and inspires people to truly strive toward buddhahood.

So what about the person who feels “nothing” when sitting before an image? Similar to the self-reflection that happens during meditation, one could say that the person who brings nothing to prayer, will receive exactly that — nothing. Personally, it takes a LOT of continued practice to become sensitive to all the chatter that is going on in one’s mind at any time. And closing one’s eyes only temporarily mutes one of those five major senses. Your brain is still hard-at-work bringing in smell, taste, touch, and sound sensory input, so to be able to identify and focus upon one quiet and tiny communication that may not be triggered by any of the external senses is the key to expanded listening (to yourself.) Even in a sensory deprivation chamber, you would still feel the pressure from the salt water, the sounds of your heartbeat, breathing and digestion, and taste whatever enzymes or substances are in your mouth – a continual cacophony of sensory stimulation.

This concept is perhaps the important psychological factor in religion. A person who believes there is no spirit or external force that can influence their life, often is quite correct for themselves. The human mind is capable of transcending its own environment – such as a person who is in an extremely hot/cold temperature place, yet feels nothing special (the “it’s not THAT hot/cold”-type of person.) Similarly, someone who can ignore spiritual or metaphysical influences, could similarly ignore their own sub-conscious or intuition, as well. “Mind over matter” is not just a proverbial notion.

Master Shinjo Ito during a lecture in 1965 told his students,

“When you have one good dharma teacher, many others can be educated and nurtured. Since our path is one of being a “greater vehicle,” our aim is to raise each person to be a good role model who can guide many others. Put simply, the Shinnyo Path is one that aims to nurture bodhisattvas and buddhas. That’s why I make Buddhist sculptures. By giving form to a buddha figure, I hope to encourage people to give form to a buddha in their heart and soul.”

Momoiro Clover Z – Black Weekend (Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf cover) Lyrics (translated to English)

ももいろクローバーZ – Black Weekend Kuroi Shuumatsu (黒い週末) – http://idolyrics.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/kuroi-shuumatsu-%E9%BB%92%E3%81%84%E9%80%B1%E6%9C%AB-lyrics/

(Translated out of absolute curiosity. The original song by Black SabbathSweet Leaf” is a song about marijuana and smoking pot. So I wanted to know what these young ladies were actually singing about.)

Black (dark or sorrowful) Weekend

Basically composed as an anime theme song about “Brave Raidin” – a precursor to Ultraman back in the 1970’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_Raideen

Black weekend, come on Raideen! (ref. to Yusha Raidin – a super robot anime series)
Black weekend, come on Raideen!

No more laughs today
Had to cut my power
I’m on the verge of crying
Black weekend, come on Raideen!

Where are the tickets to the promised land
Deprived of freedom, this doll can’t sleep
A Cold, hungry never-ending nightmare
Whose fingers point to those who do not approach
Wanting worship, more and more!
I am left longing, longing.

I curse this timing
Had to cut my power again
{My nose is bleeding, is that supposed to happen?)
Have courage, then…
Black weekend, come on Raideen!

After being buried in mud and covered in poison,
I was left in silence with my weakness

Tore open a door, shaken to the soul,
I heard a crying voice
Slapped me awake
Something said that brought joy to my soul
Heard the voice once more
Have resound, brave Raideen!

I feel my pulse
The beat awakens me
Abracadabra!

[Away! Ha, ha, ha, ha, Hah! What!?]

Standing before me with dazzling eyes
I see a god of salvation
He has chosen me
We move on together and believe!

I pray you understand this is not what I wished for
To be banned and proud of being in darkness

With regret for being born
Crippled by my own loss
I have appreciation for what I’ve received
Kept alive by giving to others

I know, and you know the pain of suffering
When love doesn’t come, even after praying

Are we clear!? Let’s go!

This is not a school of fear
Leading to a world full of negativity
Grab this opportunity to do more
And I say, Never Let Go!

Hey C’mon Hello Raideen
Hey C’mon Hello Raideen
Hey C’mon Hello Raideen
Hey C’mon Hello Raideen

Together we are invincible, combined like a team
I like strong grips with guts!
I hate half-hearted fighting when it gets hot!
A straight-forward approach is best.

Oh, cruel merry-go-round
With a spiral of tears
Is it a test to bury evil?
After being buried in mud and covered in poison,
I was left in silence with my weakness

Tore open a door, shaken to the soul,
I heard a crying voice
Slapped me awake
Something said that brought joy to my soul
Heard the voice once more
Have resound, brave Raideen!

Thanks to your blessing, no longer afraid of being broken
Or spread like a stain across the broken sky.

I feel my pulse
The beat awakens me
Abracadabra!

I struggled to turn the screw in-time
Like Noah’s Ark
Towards the future
Without a second wasted

Never forgetting the people I met
Like Noah’s Ark
Were embraced
By the Shining Weekend

Momoiro Clover Z – Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi-tachi yo Lyrics (translated to English)

ももいろクローバーZ – Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi-tachi yo (サラバ、愛しき悲しみたちよ) – http://idolyrics.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/saraba-itoshiki-kanashimi-tachi-yo-%E3%82%B5%E3%83%A9%E3%83%90%E3%80%81%E6%84%9B%E3%81%97%E3%81%8D%E6%82%B2%E3%81%97%E3%81%BF%E3%81%9F%E3%81%A1%E3%82%88-lyrics/

(translated by Re-blog from ldolrics.wordpress.com)

Farewell, Dear Sorrows

Are you going? Or not? You should just go
Tell me whether you wanna say it VS if you don’t wanna say it
Whether it’s up front or the opposite is the neverending question
But how you do it is the bottom line

Ah-Ha Dig it, Dig it
Ah-Ha Dig it, Dig it
Ah-Ha Dig it, Dig it
Ah-Ha Dig it up

Don’t see, don’t speak, don’t hear
Wise man, you’re death is drawing near
If you say please, it will be halted
If so, if you’re let off the hook, then laugh

The heart’s voice is echoing
A carnival of tears and hopes
In a dawn that’s ever so conceited

Don’t go… Don’t go… Don’t cry… Don’t cry…

Farewell to the tomorrow that was flinged off
For the sake of “self”-love as you know it,
With your courageous voice, shout with all your might
A flock of sheep aren’t sleeping
Look back at the shout of a lost heart
Our world has still only just begun

I’ll make you think lonely thoughts
Are you doing it? Are you slacking off? It’s alright if you slack off!
Your unexpected wailing is disasterous
So I’ll just praise you, with all my might

And I continued to dream through thick and thin
An angel came and flew down before me
And I wanna be free,
Continuing in front of the sky through thick and thin

1, 2 and 3, 4, 5 Get Up, Stand Up Free Your Soul
1, 2 and 3, 4, 5 Get Up, Stand Up Free Your Soul
1, 2 and 3, 4, 5 Stand Up And Make Some Noise!

Oh-Ho Do it, Do it
Oh-Ho Do it, Do it
Oh-Ho Do it, Do it
Oh-Ho Do it now,

The heart’s voice is echoing
A carnival of tears and hopes
In a dawn that’s ever so conceited

Swing about… Swing about… Go forward… Go forward…

Farewell to the tomorrow that was flinged off
For the sake of “self”-love as you know it,
With your courageous voice, shout with all your might
A flock of sheep aren’t sleeping
Look back at the shout of a lost heart
Our world has still only just begun

Ah-Ha Dig it, Dig it
Ah-Ha Dig it, Dig it
Ah-Ha Dig it, Dig it
Ah-Ha Dig it up
Oh-Ho Do it, Do it
Oh-Ho Do it, Do it
Oh-Ho Do it, Do it
Oh-Ho Do it now, Do it now, Do it now

 

Alll About Database 12c At Collaborate 13 #C13DEN – IOUG Forum

The Background behind Oracle Database 12c Revealed at Collaborate 13 presented by Bobby Curtis (BIAS Corp – @curtisbl294) and me:

And then we explain the specifics about What You Need to Know about Database 12c, and Why being part of IOUG made this possible:

#C13DEN Collaborate 13 Urban Revival Night Party IOUG/OAUG/Quest

Denver Colorado Convention Center April 10, 2013 – Thank you to all the attendees, volunteers, sponsors and staff who made this another legendary week of Oracle education for everyone!  See you in 2014 – Collaborate 14 – Las Vegas, Nevada April 7-11, 2014 – Venetian Resort and Conference Center.  Taped for collaborate.ioug.org by me.

Collaborate 2013 Networking Opportunity Events

Where I can keep track of the special events (note: these are not “parties” as so many people are misled to believe) at Collaborate (April 7-11, 2013 – Denver, Colorado):

  • IOUG Volunteers Event, Saturday 6:30p-8:30p, Wynkoop Brewery
  • IOUG 20th Anniversary Welcome, 5:00p-7:00p MHB Foyer
  • Keste Cust. Appr, Sunday 5:30-7:30p, Green Russell
  • Oracle ACE Dinner, Sunday 7p-9p, <tbd>
  • PiTTS/ECS/OraPlayer Forms Recp, Tuesday 5-8:00p, Exhibit Hall D
  • DSI/CSS Cust.Appr, Tuesday, 7:30-10:30p, Biscuits & Blues
  • Rimini Street Cust. Appr, Tuesday, 7:00-9:30p, Ocean Prime
  • Fishbowl Cust. Appr, Tuesday, 7:00-9:00p, Peaks Lounge
  • Noetix Cust. Appr, Tuesday, 7:00-9:00p, Marlowe’s
  • Collab13 Urban Revival Party, Wed 7:30-10:30p, Exh Hall D
Feel free to post your own additions in the comments. 

Momoiro Clover Z – Neo STARGATE Lyrics (translated to English)

ももいろクローバーZ – Neo STARGATE (歌詞) – http://ameblo.jp/blackparlpiece2/entry-11489481311.html

(translated by request – it’s a little weird spacey song)

Close your eyes, you can hear the voiceless whispering
Let go of your fears and let it inspire you
I don’t know what the symbols mean to evolution
But I’ll tell you about a dimension beyond time
I arrive now to the Blue Earth to travel the stars with everyone
Our gates are wide open, our souls deep asleep
Dreaming among the spiral galaxies
Their light embracing us newly reborn

The beginning of time was never written
We can learn and adapt towards the future
Breaking the old ways and creating harmony in darkness and light
Embracing the depth of one’s own creation, Take Off!

To release the bonds, and soar up to the highest
Learn to care more, the time has come
Old ways give way to the new (shaved as if by a blade)
Now as time marches on
The persistent measure of time is  love
The unknown road lies ahead to ascend

Open the Gate Open your Soul

Though struggle and suffering continue to repeat forever
Every person has their sins, even those who did not want them
But we have cleansed our consciousness, connected together hand-in-hand
Pandora’s box is open and will never close again
People do not realize that the there is only one
Light is always stronger than darkness, and nothing is stronger than Love.

Even going farther than ever before
Dreaming among the spiral galaxies
Their light embracing us newly reborn

To release the bonds, and soar up to the highest
Learn to care more, the time has come
Old ways give way to the new (like shaved by a blade)
Now as time marches on
The measure of our time is permanent love
The unknown road lies ahead to ascend
The gate is now open, it’s not a miracle (if you do it)
Let’s go together great STARGATE

Open the Gate Open your Soul

Romajii version – from http://www.jpopasia.com/group/momoiroclover/videos/neo-stargate::32893.html:

Hitomi o tojireba kikoeru sore wa koe naki sasayaki
Osore o tebanashi mezameyo sore wa uchinaru hirameki
Shinka o unagasu rogosu ga jibun no shiranai jibun ga
Tsugeru yo jigen o koeru toki ga kita
Dare mo hoshi o tabi shite aoi chikyuu ni kita ne  Ima o mezashi
Dakara bokura wa toberu Ake tamashii no oku nemuru tobira
Ginga ni toki no rasen inori nagara kara susume
Hikari daita genomu hirari umarekawaru

Hajimari no yoake yogen-sho ni wanai
Kizutsuite manabe kakikaeta mirai
Suranpu no yami de mogaki yotei chōwa o yabutte
Michinaru ishiki sōzō mitsudo o agete teikuofu

Maiagatte maiagatte toraware o zenbu kaijo shite
Mayoi o keri age sonotoki wa kuru
Togisumashite mizukara o sogi otoshite
Furui paradaimu imanara maniau shifuto shite ike
Jikan-jiku wa towa no ima kōdo wa aida
Michinaru michi jigen jōshō

Open the Gate Open your Soul

Zutto kurikaesa reta arasoi toka kurushimi toka
Subete hito ga okashita tsumida wazawai sae hoshi no oshie
Dakedo bokutachi wa mō ishiki o kiyome-te to te o tsunagi ikite yukeru
Aketa pandora no hako wa nidoto tojiru koto wa nai sa
Dakara hito ga kidzuku shika nai bokura wa min’na hitotsudakara
Sōda hikari wa itsumo yami yori tsuyoi
Ai yori tsuyoi chikara

Wanai motto saki e saki e
Ginga ni toki no rasen inorinagara susume
Hikari daita genomu hirari umarekawaru

Maiagatte maiagatte toraware o zenbu kaijo shite
Mayoi o keri age sonotoki wa kuru
Togisumashite mizukara o sogi otoshite
Furui paradaimu imanara maniau shifuto shite yuke
Jikan-jiku wa towa no ima kōdo wa aida
Michinaru michi jigen jōshō
Atsui negai hotobashireba kiseki janakute
Ima doa hiraku yukō tomoni ōinaru STARGATE

Open the Gate Open your Soul

Lyric added by: Koichi11

2013-March Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Podcast – Going With The Flow

2013-March Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Podcast – Going With The Flow

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Watching How Traffic Gridlock Forms
Harmonious Paths in Disaster
The Bodhisattva Vow

Traffic patterns, much like check-out lines at a store are fascinating to observe – people always jostling for a better position, racing ahead only to get stuck as that lane eventually slows to a crawl again. Having a higher-view, similar to what truckers can see, you start to see the larger picture of traffic. On some freeways, for whatever reason, sometimes the right-side slow lanes go faster than the left-side passing ones. Motorcyclists tend to be more aware of their surroundings, so we notice when the little red sports car that sped up quickly to race ahead, gets blithely stuck in slower traffic and fades to the rear. We notice when there’s an unusually slow driver in the far left lane causing traffic from behind to have to move right to pass.

We also notice how the large truck drivers, sentenced by regulation to an existence imprisoned within the right two lanes, also learn to drive with consistency of both throttle and path. They don’t tend to change lanes, and try to maintain a steady pace of forward momentum. Having so much mass to move, does not allow for rapid fluctuations in speed and direction, so those drivers have to plan well ahead in order to stay safe, and keep from endangering others. These professional drivers make decisions to change paths because of safety and overall-efficiency. Opening wide the throttle to jump into a temporary opening might decrease a few seconds of the trip time, but the sacrifice is an above-average burn of precious (and these days, costly) fuel. Too many snap decisions and there might not be enough in the tank to complete the trip without stopping for more fuel – adding additional delays to the overall arrival time.

Every time someone unexpectedly changes lanes, whether without signalling, or abruptly changing from one lane to another, those people displaced usually end up slowing down slightly (to keep themselves safe), and those in-front glance in their rear mirrors wondering why they are being suddenly tailgated. The people to the sides spend a few thought moments thinking to themselves “how rude!” or other distractions.  Collectively the single decision of one person to try and jump a little farther ahead of the others, ends up having collateral energy expenditures on all those individuals around them, and inevitably, that lack of focus and concentration also results in slightly slower progress.

Buddhism observes many such paths and interactions: water flowing along a stream, winds flowing through and around forests, birds migrating from place to place – each having a starting point and a destination. Each kind of energy makes its best effort to get to its ending point but deviates its path only for natural drives: danger, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Ultimately the path of least resistance is always sought, to conserve energy.  Water gains flow and volume when it moves as a whole, widening its path and straightening its course. Air becomes powerful as it goes faster and forms streams of continuous flow. Birds in flocks expend less energy to get to their destination when they take turns leading and following each other, staying within the leader’s wake, taking the least amount of energy to maintain formation flight.

March 11 marks the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the third memorial service for its victims (In Japan, a funeral is counted as the first of the yearly memorial services, so the third memorial service is conducted on the second anniversary.) The torrential water that flooded most of the Tohoku region followed its own path of least resistance. Residents noted the risks associated with building directly in the path of the ocean’s own tides, and recommended higher altitude and raised platform construction be incorporated during the reconstruction. Living in connection with the ever-present tides and constructing flexible buildings that can sway and move with the quaking earth are similar examples of harmonious paths.

Two thousand, five hundred years ago, at the Buddha’s final moment of nirvana, Chunda, the lay follower, showed us in his purity how to truly accomplish dana paramita, or the perfection of giving. Shakyamuni accepted Chunda’s sincere offering and reassured him that he’d be there whenever Chunda needed him. “There is no need to grieve over my death,” he said, “I have entered a state of nirvana. I am in a place of eternal bliss. Listen well, with a sincere attitude. I will explain the bodhisattva vow [to endeavor for the sake of all sentient beings] to you, so that serene and tranquil bliss can be attained equally by all sentient beings. You have now listened to the truth of my ever present tathagata nature; etch this truth and what you have heard into your mind, and train accordingly.”

And so, returning to our traffic analogy, imagine what traffic would be like if the very front person on every lane were concerned about holding up traffic flow for everyone behind them. And each person in-turn was focused on the safety and efficacy of each other driver’s capacity to reach their destination safely and quickly.  And even the last person was conscientious about lagging too far behind, lest someone else follow behind them.  Races go fast because each individual has the same objective – the finish line. A careless and untrained move by any individual can lead to disastrous results for everyone participating, so they each strive to maximize their potential, which results in a collective increase in effort and effectiveness for everyone.

2013-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Your Heart and The Stars

2013-February Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Your Heart and The Stars

Creating Your Own Destiny (and Reality)
Why the Stars are Prominent in Buddhism
Practice from Your Heart

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Some people say they were born unlucky.  Yet we are the ones who create our future, and we can change our destiny at every moment of every day, with each decision and action we choose to take. From the winter solstice to the seasonal divide [in Jpn. setsubun, or the coming of spring], days grow longer as part of the yearly cycle. That is when a negative phase begins turning into a positive phase (and in the skies, the cross-over of the equatorial divide occurs from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern side.)

During the winter service rituals, we make offerings to the stars that “govern” our lives signifying our choice to respect that which is beyond our control. This comes from practices adopted into Esoteric Buddhism in which stars and planets were regarded as divinities, and included in mandalas for prayers and rituals. This gave people a practical means of effecting inner transformation by linking with the cosmic forces that move the stars in the sky and rotate the planet without our human intervention.

The Star Ritual period, during which a star offering rite is conducted daily, is held beginning with the winter solstice and concluding at the traditional seasonal divide. It comes at the time of the lunar New Year, when we are reminded of change, especially within ourselves. The Star Ritual acts as our own ritualistic purification of the delusions or karma that hinder our buddha nature from emerging. The practices of purification for spiritual growth and repentance for inner purification are performed along with the prayers and rituals. The rites are directed at transforming the stars that govern negativity into ones that govern and boost positivity, and help to reorient our minds so that we can transform our lives in the New Year. The Shinnyo-en Winter Training is held beginning with the new year and also concluding with the seasonal divide. That is why the end of the Winter Training coincides with the final homa (or spiritual purification ceremony) of the Star Ritual. During Winter Training, we endeavor in acts of purification—specific acts of practice to polish ourselves and awaken our buddha nature.
The underlying significance of Winter Training for our sangha will remain unchanging in the eternal future. As the first Shinnyo-en Winter Training started with the enshrinement of the Mahavairochana Achala back in 1935, it is a period for practitioners to go back in spirit to the beginning and renew their vow to uphold the  dharma and embody the spirit of Achala’s embodiment of perseverance and determination deep within their own hearts and minds. When our faith remains unwavering and we strive in altruistic practice, we can help to fill the world with “everlasting hope.”

In this month’s premier issue of the new English-language publication “Resonance” (formerly “The Nirvana”, available online to Shinnyo practitioners world-wide), an early observation from Master Shinjo Ito provided the essential distillation of all dharma teachings:

Jan-1975: A letter requesting that I contribute an article for the magazine Josei Bukkyo [“Women in Buddhism”] arrived while I was out preparing for a propagation trip to [the northern region of] Tohoku. Upon my return I read the letter, and when I saw the proposed title, “The Nirvana Sutra: A Light in My Heart,” I truly felt that the Mahaparinirvana (Nirvana) Sutra is indeed a light in my heart. I would even go as far as to say it is my life.

(Buddha Shakyamuni)  urges each individual to become a person who gives true spiritual support and encouragement to others. At the same time, he explains that the Nirvana teachings cannot be grasped only by theory or logic but must be mastered above all through actual practice; that is, putting the teachings into action.

In this world of the present, it may seem as if everything we see and hear brings us only anxiety, fear, or anger instead of happiness and joy. We may simply shrug our shoulders at the situation, but are we not also committing, unknowingly or at times even knowingly, the same kind of negative actions in our daily lives [that cause this anxiety, fear, or anger in others]? From child discipline to nuclear war, I think we need to give thought and reflection to these problems [instead of turning a blind eye to them]. These are not someone else’s issues. I believe the first step in Buddhism can be summed up in the phrase “give matters due thought.”

 

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.

Western Digital My Book 111a This Media is Write Protected (Read Only)

Bought 3 of these Western Digital 3TB My Books from BandH.com because I wanted the core drives out of them (the $130 price per unit was less than buying the bare drives, so go figure…) They happened to be the Mac versions (p/n WDBAAG0030HCH-02 to be exact, Model 111a), which differ only by what software is pre-loaded on the maintenance partition (from here – http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=125&lang=en ).

Guts of a My Book 111a USB 3.0 External Enclosure
Guts of a My Book 111a USB 3.0 External Enclosure

Decided to re-use the flimsy, but working plastic enclosures for a left-over Seagate 750GB drive.  Connected everything and using the working sequence of power-plug first, power on using the little button, then plug in the USB connector.

Bink! The drive appears as a CD-ROM. A genuine read-only ROM drive.  Cool (not.) Can’t format it, partition it, wipe it, nothing.

Google’d all over the place, and everyone was unplug-this, it’s your OS, it’s a bad USB.  But I noticed in the Device Manager, I had a missing driver for a “TUSB3410 Boot Device”.  So took care of that by finding Texas Instrument’s original driver at: http://www.ti.com/product/tusb3410 – that cleared the yellow exclamation point.

Then tried the suggested “WD Quick Formatter” utility from the WD website but kept receiving the same “This Media is Write Protected” error and the utility ends in error and exits.  Hm…

On a hunch, I tried next the “WD SES Driver” – that installed fine, but didn’t change anything (and doesn’t hurt anything – it adds a specialised SCSI extension to allow access to some of the firmware features on the circuit board (LED controls, remote On/Off, etc.)

Finally, I tried the “WD Universal Firmware Updater for Windows” and it at first complained that there was a problem accessing the drive, but try:

  1. Use safely remove hardware to unplug the drive (click USB tray icon and Eject),
  2. Power down the drive using the button (hold for about 5 secs.),
  3. Unplug the USB cable,
  4. Unplug the power cord from the My Book,
  5. Re-connect the power cord,
  6. Press power button to turn it back on,
  7. Re-connect the USB cable and let the PC recognize the drive,
  8. Press [Retry]

And for whatever reason, it nicely reformatted the drive as NTFS and re-wrote the firmware back on the drive.  At that point, I was able to use standard Drive Management to re-format it back to FAT32 (what I needed), and everything is perfectly normal.

==== Addendum 11/13/2012 –

I’ve reused one of the My Book enclosures with an older smaller SATA drive (happens to be a Seagate) and was running into a problem that MANY buyers of the cheaper My Book external drives have been facing:

You plug it in, and try to start it, and the front LED just blinks.  You hold the reset button, and it still blinks.  You leave the power off for an hour, plug it back in, and it still just blinks.  Leave it overnight, and it powers on normally.  Turn it back off and try to restart it, and it just blinks again (no drive spin-up.) [Link to Western Digital’s Community Forum discussion on this topic: http://community.wdc.com/t5/External-Drives-for-Mac/WD-Elements-2TB-External-hard-drive-BLINKING-LIGHT-Problem/m-p/503802#M6647]

What did I just discover?

11/13/2012 – SOLVED (for the blinking light on power-on).  Okay this was a really dumb idea.  But all I did when I turned it off and it wouldn’t turn back on (unplugged everything and kept the power off for at least 30 minutes and still only got the blinking light.  I stuck the My Book in the freezer for 5 minutes.  (Yes…that’s what I just did.)

Just took it out, with a cold plastic case, plugged it in, and it powered on perfectly.

I have never had to refrigerate a USB hard drive controller to get it to reset, but this is a totally new one for me.