You Should Go Ask a Cat

You think you did “more” sitting when you sit for longer periods of meditation. That is actually not correct. In the same way that you think you are from a country called Greece or Norway or Germany. You think that you are your name, or your thoughts, or your memories or beliefs. But these are only partial, illusory truths. If you still don’t understand, go ask a tree. If you don’t get a good answer there, then go ask a cat. [An Insta-bite excerpt for Instagram from the talk “Moment = Infinite Time”.] Support further efforts like this to spread the Dharma by connecting with a regular contribution on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/mirrorofzen Support Zen Center Regensburg: https://zen-center-regensburg.com/donate/ Film Editing/Design: Γιάννης Παπάκης Παπαδοπουλάκης /// Vajra Vlito Studios Graphic: Matt Semke /// www.catswilleatyou.com

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Reply to a Reader: Buddhism and the Arts of Harm

Question: If I enter the military, does it violate the Right Livelihood of the Eight Noble Path?  How do you reconcile military service members with non-violence [ahimsa] emphasized in Buddhism? Reply: This is a very good question. First, you must understand: guns do not kill people.  Bombs can never intentionally kill anyone.  Knives and chemical weapons, even missiles have never, ever killed people.  In all of human history, not a single weapon ever killed another human being.  Not one single time.  And they never will, because it is literally impossible for a gun or knife or bomb or missile to just jump up and kill someone. Only human beings murder other human beings. (Yes, and diseases do, and sharks do, and lions do, but that is another matter of agency and will: we are concerned here, in this question, with the question of human agency and the matter of ahimsa.) If you put a knife in front of someone, it is only according to their thinking that they either pick up the knife and butter some bread for you, or plunge the knife right into your chest.  The knife does not decide to make karma and suffering with itself; the

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Shorter? Longer? Sittings / 3

When the usual daily sitting meditation period is suddenly extended, without any warning, there is the tendency to think that something is “longer” than usual. From the standpoint of before-thinking mind, “don’t know,” nothing could be further from the truth… Moment has no border, no edge or boundary. So, it has no length. (Insta-bite excerpt from the longer teaching-video, “Moment = Infinite Time”.)

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Offering Flowers to the Buddha

In temple culture in Asia, as in church culture in the West, we sometimes receive flower-offerings for the temple. Someone makes a donation — a one-time donation, or an ongoing donation — which we then use in part to purchase fresh flowers at the local farmer’s market. The flowers are carefully cut and arranged. In temples, an entire art-form has been born from this tradition of good people supporting temple-work by making donations which can appear as offerings on the altar. Every Saturday morning is the “farmer’s market” located in an old square, the Kornmarkt, a few meters from the front door of the Zen Center Regensburg. We secure these really, really fresh wild grasses and edible flowers and aromatic wild leaves which provide unbelievable salads for the rest of the week. By doing this, we support local farmers, sustainable agriculture, local economies of scale, limit our CO2 footprint, and enjoy really really clean super-fresh hearty veggies that can steam our practice forward with clear mind and clean bodies. If we receive a “flower offering” donation, we prepare an arrangement of flowers that is picked out at the market to brighten our Dharma Room. Then, when guests come for practice

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The Heart Sutra: a Timeless Dialogue on Emptiness

I just encountered this translation of “The Heart Sutra” by Professor Robert Thurman. It is the same matter as the one we chant in our Zen Center, but is extrapolated out from the pithy, tight chant that we do twice a day, giving a more fine-grained insight into the dynamic of this epic conversation. I share it here because it can “fill in the blanks” for people about what is “going on” in the sutra that we chant twice daily: It is an elegant dialogue with Sariputra and Kwan Seum Bosal, as the Bodhisattva (called Avalokitesvara) comes out of a meditation period, and clearly expresses the true nature of reality: devoid of self-existent substance or separate objectness. Heart Sutra Translation by Robert A.F. Thurman In Sanskrit: Bhagavatī Prajñāpāramitā-hṛdaya-sūtraIn Tibetan: Chomden Dayma Sherab Parchin Nyingpo’i DoeIn In English: Blessed Lady Buddha Transcendent Wisdom Heart Sūtra Thus did I hear on a singular occasion. The Blessed Lord was dwelling on the Vulture Peak at Rājagṛha, together with great communities of mendicants and bodhisattvas. At that time, the Blessed Lord entranced himself in the teaching samadhi called “Illumination of the Profound.” Just then, the noble bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the great hero, was realizing the

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