Posts Tagged ‘Dukkha’

Living a Buddhist Life

October 28, 2013

Pureland Buddhism offers those of us with families, jobs, and busy lives a way to live those lives in an authentic and fully Buddhist way. However, Living fully Buddhist lives requires us, especially in the West, to understand and embrace a few uncomfortable realities.

1. Buddhism IS a religion. Buddhism is a lifelong and daily religious path of transformation and awakening. As such we must bring the Dharma into the many mundane activities of day to day life.

When getting up in the morning it is important to set aside a few minutes to take refuge and recollect the reality of Measureless Awakening by saying Nembutsu, “Namo Amida Bu!” Before meals you should say Nembutsu or other short Buddhist prayers to express gratitude for the food received.  Before going to bed it is good to take refuge, say Nembutsu, and take a few moments to reflect on the day that is ending.

These little daily rituals and habits, which take only minutes to perform, are the individual steps along the path to awakening. Over a lifetime the distance covered by these steps will be significant.

2. The Buddhist religious life cannot be lived separate from the precepts. Living a life guided and protected by the precepts reflects our deep faith and trust in the Buddhist Dharma. We should reflect daily upon the precepts and how we have both succeeded and failed to keep them.

3. Living a Buddhist religious life means going to “church”. The Buddhist path must be lived in the company of other Buddhist practitioners.  We all need the support and guidance of fellow practitioners.  We all need to hear the Dharma. We all certainly need opportunities to practice generosity by giving of our time and energy.

By supporting and participating in your local Buddhist community/sangha/temple/chuch, be it big or small, you benefit innumerable sentient beings. Remember, without Buddhist Communities to preserve, protect, and teach the the Dharma none of us  would have been able to encounter the Dharma.

4. Amida’s measureless light is ever present. It is our own fundamental ignorance that prevents us from experiencing Amida’s all pervasive Wisdom and Compassion.

The Nembutsu is an expression our own existential suffering.  The Nembutsu is also the path that leads to the end of suffering, which the Buddha called Nirvana.

Namo Amida Bu!

Ananda

A Friend Dies

March 29, 2013

As Buddhists we strive to alleviate suffering.  We do this in many ways, but often in involves following the Eightfold path or trying to perfect the Ten Bodhisattva vows.  Ideally we practice the Buddha Dharma not for ourselves but for the benefit of all beings.  To that end we dedicate our accumulate merit to others, that they my quickly be liberated from the endless cycle of suffering.

In the Pureland tradition, this desire for the all beings to be free from suffering, is at the heart of the Nembutsu, the practice of recollecting the Tathagata by continuously reciting, Namo Amida Bu.  We as self-centered and deluded beings cannot affect even our own salvation, even less the salvation of others. So we call upon the Buddha of Limitless light, Amitabha, that his compassion may liberate all beings.  Hearing and reciting the Nembutsu, means to leaving behind this world of Dukkha and entering the realm of the Buddhas, which is called sukkah, the antidote to Dukkha.

In the Sukkha Realm all beings hear the Dharma, Practice the Dharma, and ripen in the Dharma until they become Buddhas, Awakened One’s, freed of the trap of self, and are able to liberate beings from suffering and the causes of suffering.

As Buddhists who practice the Nembutsu, each recitation of Namo Amida Bu is prayer that all beings will be reborn in the Sukkha Realm, and not remain trapped on the endless wheel of suffering that is the Dukkha Realm.

That is the theory.  But I confess that my heart is broken every time a friend or relative dies.  I grieve at the loss I feel and for the loss and pain of those who love the departed.  As a student of the Dharma, I know that death comes to all of us, that it is part of this Dukkha realm.  As a Pureland practitioner I recite the Nembutsu every day with the hope that all beings can be reborn in the realm of the Buddhas.  As a practitioner I am deeply aware that the only barrier to directly experiencing the Buddha’s limitless compassion is self-clinging. And as a minister I recognize that I must put aside my own grief and try and help the one dying obtain a good birth as well as provide comfort and support to the family and friends.

Though my heart may be torn apart with pain and grief, I am aware, at some level, of something bigger. It does not lesson the hurt or in anyway protect me from the darkest grief. However it does allow me to wakeup the next day willing to love people even more than before and suffer again the pain of loss and the many hurts that is part of caring human relationships. What this is I do not know. Some might call it faith.  But to me it feels more like the years of accumulated practice have created a world in which it is impossible to forget the reality of the Buddhas.

Namo Amida Bu!

Peace, Paul

New Year

January 3, 2009

The New Year has come and gone.  We survived relatively unscathed, staying indoors out of the craziness of fireworks, gunfire, and drunkenness.  The rain has continued, which I am sure put a bit of a damper on the various neighborhood pyrotechnic festivities.

The beginning of the New Year is a time for resolutions and new beginnings.   Which all sounds wonderful until you actually try to make changes in your life.  Then the rubber hits the road and we see how entrenched we are in our comfortable and familiar habits.  We may not like our habits and behaviors but they are what we know.

This is, of course, why practicing the Buddha Dharma is so hard!  The Dharma runs contrary to what is familiar.  In the Buddhist way of thinking it is our habitual patterns that create and perpetuate much of the suffering in our lives and the world.

To begin “anew” we must be willing to see these habitual patterns and recognize that they are the root of much suffering.  This is why the Buddha’s first teaching, after his awakening, is about Dukkha (suffering) and the causes of suffering.  It is a concise teaching.  Yet it is the foundation for the vast and innumerable teachings known as the Buddha Dharma.

“Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of Dukkha: birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, illness is dukkha; death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha; association with what is displeasing is dukkha; separation what is pleasing is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha.”

Peace, Paul