The lord who looks down

April 21, 2008

 The most famous of these bodhisattvas is Avalokitesvara, the “lord who looks down.”  Indeed, much of the Lotus Sutra’s fame in East Asia derives from one brief chapter, the twenty-fifth chapter devoted to the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara or, as he (she rather) was known in China, Guanyin, “he who discerns the sounds of the world.” 

The Story of Buddhism p. 80 paragraph 2 

Psalm 102:17-20 

Genesis 16:11 

Genesis 29:33 

Exodus 3:7 

Exodus 16:8 

Exodus 22:27 

2 Chronicles 7:14 

 I must add that for Israel, there was a downside to being heard:

Numbers 11:1 

Numbers 14:26-30 



conventional truth…

March 6, 2008


Romans 1:18-22 (The Message)

Only the ignorant would believe that things exist in the way that they appear.  Yet this false appearance of conventional truths does not render them utterly nonexistent.  As Nagarjuna says, without conventional truths, the ultimate cannot be known.  Indeed, the category of the conventional encompasses all of the salubrious components of the Buddhist path, including the Buddha.  The relation between the two truths would then seem to be one between an object (the conventional truth) and its true nature (the ultimate truth).  The Heart Sutra famously declares, “Form is empty.  Emptiness is form.”  Commentators have taken this as an expression of the relation between the two truths.  Form, the first of the five aggregates and a conventional truth, is empty.  Emptiness, the ultimate reality, is not to be found apart from the objects of ordinary experience; it is the very nature of form. 

The Story of Buddhism p. 31-32

When the philosopher Zhu Xi explained the word di in the Yijing (Book of Changes), he said it meant “Lord of Heaven.”

One difference I take note of in regards to Master Jinul’s quote as opposed to what the apostle Paul says is that Master Jinul uses the pronoun “they”.  If they aspire to the path of the Buddha while obstinately holding to their feeling that the Buddha is outside the mind…

Paul, on the other hand uses the pronoun “I”.  If I speak with the toungues of men and of angels yet have not love, I am but a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

I’m just curious as to what that implies.  I mean, it seems to me that Master Jinul “has arrived”; that he cannot fall back into that state of ignorance of seeking the Buddha nature outside himself.  Paul, on the other hand, seems to be implying that he is capable of doing something which is not in love.   

Granted these two men are speaking of two entirely different topics.  One love, the other, aspiring to the path of the Buddha. 

But are they really entirely different topics?  How is aspiring to the path of the Buddha different from posessing love through acts of patience, kindness etc. ? 

I also understand that Master Jinul is just one man and he doesn’t speak for all of Buddhism, so I am not trying to use my observations as a criticism to Buddhism.  I’m just stating what stood out to me this morning. 

I came across the following passage in this book I’m reading p. 284.  It’s what lead to a Korean monk’s enlightenment:

“If they aspire to the path of the Buddha while obstinately holding to their feeling that the Buddha is outside the mind or the Dharma is outside the nature, then, even though they pass through kalpas as numerous as dust motes, burning their bodies, charring their arms, crushing their bones, and exposing their marrow, or else write sutras with their own blood, never lying down to sleep, eating only one offering a day at the hour of the Hare (5-7 a.m.), or even studying through the entire Tripitaka and cultivating all sorts of ascetic practices, it is like trying to make rice by boiling sand–it will only add to their tribulation.” -Susimgyel by Master Jinul

p. 284

I realize this statement is not entirely related to the following passage I am about to quote, but I couldn’t help but to consider how the author’s reasoning reflects the reasoning of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Christians.

Meditation farming Buddhism

February 20, 2008


I’ve been going through a book about Buddhism in Modern Korea.  In it, I came across this passage:

Master Yongseong “[…] founded Hwagwawon center at Hadong, Gyeongsangnam-do province in which he demonstrated “meditation farming Buddhism,” a life of working and practicing Seon (Zen).”  p. 282

My curiousity is this:  a life of working and practicing Zen; does that imply practicing Zen while working?  If so, I think that such a life would be incredibly challenging,

 yet the thought of living that way is very appealing.

Some Background on Zen

D.T. Suzuki asserted that satori (awakening) has always been the goal of every school of Buddhism, but that which distinguished the Zen tradition as it developed in China, Korea, and Japan was a way of life radically different from that of Indian Buddhists. In India, the tradition of the mendicant (bhikkhu) prevailed, but in China social circumstances led to the development of a temple and training-center system in which the abbot and the monks all performed mundane tasks. These included food gardening or farming, carpentry, architecture, housekeeping, administration, and the practice of folk medicine. Consequently, the enlightenment sought in Zen had to stand up well to the demands and potential frustrations of everyday life.[citation needed]

Though shalt wear a skirt 2

November 25, 2007



I never thought I’d say this but I’ve conformed (at least for now maybe forever) to an ultraconservative lifestyle.  Meaning for the past four or five days, I’ve worn only a skirt and no make up or jewelry (and a top of course) in public.  This mainly has to do with my pastor’s understanding of how a female should dress.  Some would consider my conformity to his viewpoint as becoming a legalist.  Anyhow, it’s not really been all that bad.  I saw this picture which I think perfectly illustrates the point of dressing ultra modestly.    If Chrisitanity has anything to do with making known the life of God contained within a person, well it makes sense not to be outwardly flashy.  As for the whole deal with wearing a skirt, I must say that I haven’t had nearly as many lustful thoughts towards women in the past four days as I’d been having before.   And the ones which have come have been much less difficult not to linger on.  

i was at a bus stop recently with another American.  There was a Korean lady sitting next to us who suddenly got up and walked off briskly.  The American i was with said “i bet she knows something we don’t know”.  Turns out she was right.  i felt sort of like that today as i was walking downtown here.  It was a pretty narrow squeeze where i ended up walking behind a really old man.  He was practically standing still!  i tried to pass him but the sidewalk was too narrow.  So, i went onto the road to get around him.  i say this man was walking so slow because i’m not even that fast of a walker usually.  i mean i guess you could say i’m about medium paced.  In fact, when i passed the man, shortly thereafter  i heard someone gaining on me as a girl around my age walked past. 

Anyhow, i got to thinking: does this man know something i don’t know?  i mean he’s definately been around a lot longer than me.  Granted his body is well failing him as anyone’s body tends to do with age.  So i guess the question should be why does time slow us down?  Why are things designed that way?   Also, i wonder, even though the man can’t much help it that he walks so dadgum slow, i wonder if he sort of sighs at all of us rushing by.   

it seems to me that the Bible isn’t very clear on rather or not one experiences suffering/death (i’m going to equate the two here) as a result of past deeds. 

For example, the passage about Jesus healing the man born blind seems to suggest that physical suffering/handicap is not the result of sin as the disciples assumed it was.  But then, you have King David losing the son (v. 13-14) he had with another man’s wife.  This suggests that sin is inherited.  

 Not to mention these passages.    And just when it seems that you might as well throw in the towel of personal responsability and become a fatalist,

  Deuteronomy 24:17  pops up suggesting that God sees it fitting that each die for his own sins.     

On the contrary however, we have David living for a murder he committed but his son dying instead.  And each is to die/suffer for his own sin?   

This contradictory theology had me scratching my head until i considered the reason God is said to have killed David’s son. i stopped scratching my head for a moment when i read that, but now i’m scratching my head again. 

14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, [a] the son born to you will die. (NIV) 

That single sentence expresses how much the God of David was concerned about using Israel to draw all of the nations to Himself. 

So much so, that He would (as the account recorded in our bible goes), cause harm to the house of David so that the nations wouldn’t completely turn their eyes away from the God of David in disgust. 

As for why God chose to slay david’s son instead of David himself, is still beyond me, in light of Deuteronomy 24:17.

  I mean, David, the one who had a man killed after sleeping with the guy’s wife, doesn’t die for his sin, or for giving the other nations a reason to mock the God of Israel.  But, his son dies.   

Also, what is God’s intent in causing David’s son to die?  Was it to punish David without killing him?  Or was it to show the mockers of David’s God that He did not approve of what david had done?  Was it both?

According to the reasoning of the prophet Nathan, God’s surmised expression of disapproval towards one man mercilessly stealing from and killing another man is portrayed because those acts do not reflect who the God of David was/is.

It seems that David’s God/the God of Israel was/is very concerned about Israel reflecting who He is. 

As for God intending that David suffer for having wronged someone,

David seems to have been grieved over the loss of his son.  And as far as having his wives stolen, i don’t know where in the Bible that happens or if it’s even recorded. 

Both of these instances involve a loss of something David had been given by God. 

The Bible seems to support the reasoning that all the things we have are given to us by God

(here’s where i start to ramble)     

The reason i mention that what we have has been given us, is that i wonder if pain can exist without pleasure.  I mean, yes there are viruses, which one would assume are created to inflict pain, but what do viruses do?  They use the building block of life (a cell), which is composed of the blueprint for life (DNA), to live, killing the cell in the process. 

Look at this parallel:

In the end, all will see that whatever Evil had was from holiness. It

had nothing of its own. [Rabbi Kaplan speaks more about this in Innerspace, pp.

161-162.] p. 32

 there’s also the passages which deal with children being blessed for their parent’s actions.

this article  (see 6th paragraph)

i’ve been trying to come to terms with my hangup on the parable of the unmerciful servant

  i read this quote by buddha on forgiveness:

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.
– buddha.

buddha has a reason for regarding anger to be unvirtuous. 

however, i also came across this statement from a buddhist teacher regarding anger:

Santideva offers an interesting argument for patience and against anger.  When someone strikes us with a stick, do we become angry at the stick or the person weilding the stick?  Both are necessary for pain to be inflicted, but we feel anger only for the agent of our pain, not the instrument.  If we are directing our anger against the root cause of the pain, we should therefore direct our anger against anger.” 

The story of Buddhism p. 78

so, according to this teacher, the way to destroy negative-karma-causing-anger is to use it against itself.  According to the buddha, the way to be rid of anger is to forget thoughts of resentment/anger. 

Maybe one could go on to say that to forget thougths of resentment we resent resentment?  sort of like how people forget the terrible things that happened to them in their childhood b/c they resent such incidents? 

The passage goes on:

 “according to the law of karma, everything unpleasant that happens to us is a result of our past misdeeds. Therefore, the person who harms us is in fact only the unwitting conduit of our own past nonvirtue, returning in the form of feelings of pain. And as a result of harming us, the other person will himself or herself incur negative karma for which he or she will have to suffer in the future. If we respond in anger, we are both planting seeds for our own future suffering and causing further pain for the person who already will have to suffer for the harm they have done us.”

The Story of Buddhism p. 78

So, even in buddhism, what the parable of the unmerciful servant describes as torchure from the master (v. 34) exists in the form of negative karma.