Archive for the ‘Tendai Journal’ Category

Tendai Week 5

Posted: June 8, 2011 by Ty in Tendai Journal

Karma and consequences, learning and practice. What is the balance in life? It becomes the adage from Rev. Lovejoy, if you steal bread to feed your family it is not bad, putting jam on it is bad. Seriously though, Karma comes down to free will, and how we choose to respond to Dukha, for it is within suffering that we choose to live life as it unfolds, or work towards changing it. The next life , and past lives are all tied in together, for it is through our choices that our present, and future are created as well as where our eternity is spent. If there is nothing after this life, then it becomes rather a straw argument to not be a nihilist, however those that do not believe in the afterlife can also be good citizens, is it only because of fear of harm? Or is it because of a belief in the inherent goodness of life? I would lend towards the inherent goodness in life. For a Buddhist practitioner, it becomes seeking both the why (Westerner students) and how (Japanese students) questions, for a Christian this is asking the idea behind faith and science, each answers there own set of questions for us to move forward in life. This brings the balance of practice and learning, we understand through learning this is how it works, and how we do this, but it is through our faith (practice) that we answer the why we do this.



The Buddhanature (or Christnature) the divine spark in each of us, is not hard to rationalize, the idea that as Jung discussed the ego and shadow could push this out of our ability to realize is apparent.  The inherent divine does not remove the question of suffering or evil from creation, why? Simple, yes we are all created good and blessed, but it is in our freewill where we discern how to act, and it is these actions that allow us to move away from self, or that aspect that seeks out the negative aspect of dukkha, and rather than move beyond it, which is what happens when we choose to embrace the Buddhahood inherent in ourselves. It is this seeking to align ourselves within congruence of our existence (living out of the buddhahood) that allows us to surrender our inherent negative self, and actually actualize the epitome of our existence.

The next step on the journey, walking meditation brings one into communion with our true divine nature, but also with the activity of creation itself.  Through communing deeper with all of creation the interdependent nature of all becomes evident to the individual, and allows for an openness of the soul to the true divine spark, which opens up to original enlightenment, or moving in this life, beyond the dukha.


Dukkha (or state of being) arises from the cascading links of the Chain of Causes and Conditions, essentially the seeking of life that leads up to birth which opens oneself up to the positive and negative that comes with that.

The doctrine of Shunyata (emptiness) is the continuation of the doctrine of Dependent Origination (that is everything is dependent on causes that came before). This is not emptiness as in nothingness, rather it is what is spoken of in the world faiths, in Christianity, the Christness of the individual, that is the emptying of one self of the selfish desires which bring about the cause of suffering, and moving to the point of presence in one’s life where you move forward in true concern for others (or as the Shema would state it, love of Holy, Love of Neighbour and Selflessness).

 The Heart Sutra

Ma ka han nya ha ra mi ta shin gyo

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva doing deep Prajna Paramita clearly saw emptiness of all five conditions, thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.

Oh Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.

Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form.

Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.

Oh Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness.

Not born, not destroyed, not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain;

So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness;

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;

No colour, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena;

No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness,

No ignorance and  no end of ignorance;

No old age and death, no end to old age and death;

No suffering, no cause of suffering,

No extinguishing, no path, no wisdom and no gain.

No gain and thus the Bodhisattva lives Prajna Paramita,

With no hindrance in the mind,

No hindrance, therefore no fear,

Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is Nirvana.

All past, present and future Buddhas live Prajna Paramita

And therefore attain Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi.

Therefore know; Prajna Paramita is the great mantra,

The vivid mantra, the best mantra,

The unsurpassed mantra,

It completely clears all pain.

This is the truth, not a lie,

So set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra, set forth this mantra and say:

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha!

Determined Origination moves one to contemplate the eternal soul, rebirth whether in a physical life, or a nirvanic existence as truly part of the Holy, it is creating the causes in the chain that eliminate dukkha and subscribe one to the selfless acts that open your actualized self to being Buddha (enlightened) here and now, and beyond, a true journey of change and transformation.  For it is in Shuntya that big emptiness of selfish act that the world itself is transformed as the individual is to truly create a new world, one where all are cared for, and community is authentic.

Do you think the Buddha is right to say that dukkha is inherent in all conditioned phenomena?

I love the concept of dukkha, because it is the intangible essence of life, like it can be defined as suffering, but think every choice we make in life transforms our life for good or ill, and it is our attitude to the outcome and our presence during life that creates our intention.

Does Buddhism give an adequate explanation of dukkha? Yes.

If life is full of suffering, doesn’t dwelling on it make it even more unbearable?

┬áI appreciate this weekÔÇÖs readings, for in Buddhism it is not dwelling on suffering, it is the analogy (much like with other wisdom teachers) that we are naming an illness, and then creating the cure through a treatment plan.

What is Nirvana? Is it ‘beyond words’ (and what does that mean?)? In some texts, it is described as the un-conditioned: does it make sense to think we can attain it by our conditioned efforts?

 Nirvana/Heaven, is the true bliss, the unified end of perfection if you will.  It is unconditioned conditioned because it is a life lived through the Ennobling Way, and the eight-fold path, redefining ourselves not lost and disempowered by dukkha, but rather actualized and empowered to transcend that which others choose to hold them back.

What is the role of the intellect on the Buddhist Path? The role of intellect is to understand the world, and the interactions between all created things.  It is going to a deeper understanding of why things exist, and how they are interconnected.- and the role of faith? Faith is the peace of seeking to live the conscious life.

Why am I interested in Buddhism?

I keep coming back essentially for the same reason most in the West do, meditation, the Christian tradition does not do this well. So like Thomas Merton, I seek renewal from the East.  Also though I have looked to the Dalai Lama (yes a different tradition I know) for spiritual formation, and have found that the idea of unity of the faiths, and the baseline of kindness resonates with me.
What do I expect to gain from Buddhist practice?

Simplicity of thought, action and heart once more.

How much effort am I willing to put into it?

The writing this week around the idea of practice and building routine is so right, I have fallen out of routine with my sacred practice and this will help to refocus me once more.

Are there things in my daily I need to change in order to fine time for
Buddhist practice? Am I willing to do that?

I have taken the steps to open up time at the beginning and end of my day for reflection, reading, and just meditation, slowing my breath, getting back on track with my spiritual care.  With this course of study I am looking forward to gaining new insights, and learnings from a new perspective on what it means to awaken.

So I have decided to continue my exploration of the world’s faiths, and this has led me back to the study of the practices of Buddhism, this time through a Japanese form known as Tendai.┬á The category Tendai Journal will track my experience with this.┬á It is a free online course that you yourself can take at: