Mirror of Zen Blog

Buddhism ABC


Why is this such a revolutionary or shocking idea that it needs to become a simple internet meme in order to grab our attention long enough to consider? Over 2500 years ago, the Buddha made this same claim, but it makes sense now when it is stated by a Nobel Prize-winner: the universe we now inhabit is a universe which followed the collapse and “extinction” or death of another, previous universe. What’s the big fucking deal with this?

In his article, “Cosmic design from a Buddhist perspective”, published in the National Library of Medicine (under the auspices of the U.S. National Institutes of Health), the University of Virginia astronomer T. X. Juan puts it succinctly, “One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is the concept of interdependence which says that all things exist only in relationship to others, and that nothing can have an independent and autonomous existence. The world is a vast flow of events that are linked together and participate in one another. Thus there can be no First Cause, and no creation ex nihilo of the universe, as in the Big Bang theory. Since the universe has neither beginning nor end, the only universe compatible with Buddhism is a cyclic one. According to Buddhism, the exquisitely precise fine-tuning of the universe for the emergence of life and consciousness as expressed in the ‘anthropic principle’ is not due to a Creative Principle, but to the interdependence of matter with flows of consciousness, the two having co-existed for all times. [emphasis mine]” (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11797750/)

What came in between these 2500 year-old insights into the true nature of the universe and the findings of the Nobel Prize winner Roger Penrose?

Ignorance, people. What came was pure ignorance. The truth is hiding in plain sight before us, and it is only shrouded by our willing acceptance of ignorance. We smoke the opiate of the masses at our own peril.


“A Bad Situation is a Good Situation” [Evolutionarily-Speaking]


Zen Master Seung Sahn always taught us, “A ‘bad’ situation is a good situation, [if you know how to use it]; and a ‘good’ situation is a bad situation, [if you don’t use it well]”. Very simple.

Today, one of the most conditions most increasingly prevalent (or at least diagnosed, and perhaps over-diagnosed) among children over the last two decades is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to the authoritative demographics of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that globally affects 5% – 7.2% of youth and 2.5% – 6.7% of adults. Recent estimates indicate that prevalence is even higher in children in the United States (U.S.), around 8.7% or 5.3 million.” [Wikipedia]

“Millions of US children have been diagnosed with ADHD,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, “Boys (13%) are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (6%), and Black, non-Hispanic children and White, non-Hispanic children are more often diagnosed with ADHD (12% and 10%, respectively) than Hispanic children (8%) or Asian, non-Hispanic children (3%).” (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.htm)

lSo, ADHD is a big deal, and there are hundreds of millions of dollars of prescription medicines per year given to young children in the US alone to “control” it.

But what if its existence is due to evolutionary advantages? What if it is actually an appendage-mechanism which enhanced many humans’ chances of survival?

from guardian_us

Traits common to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as distractibility, disorganization, lack of focus or impulsivity, might have been an evolutionary advantage for our ancestors, a new study has found.

Researchers say while some ADHD traits tend to be viewed negatively, they might have helped people seek out new patches for foraging.

Dr David Barack of the University of Pennsylvania, said his study offers a potential explanation for why ADHD was more prevalent than expected from random genetic mutations alone and – more broadly – why traits such as distractibility or impulsivity were common.

“If [these traits] were truly negative, then you would think that over evolutionary time, they would be selected against,” he said. “Our findings are an initial data point, suggestive of advantages in certain choice contexts.”

Barack and colleagues analyzed data from 457 adults who completed an online foraging game in which they had to collect as many berries as possible within eight minutes.

The researchers found that participants with higher scores on the ADHD scale spent shorter periods of time in each patch of bushes than those with lower scores. In other words, they were more likely to abandon their current patch and hunt for a new one. Crucially, the team found such participants also gained more points in the game than those with lower scores on the ADHD scale.

The researchers said their results chimed with other work that suggested populations with nomadic lifestyles that benefited from exploring tended to have genes associated with ADHD.

However, they added the study had limitations, including that ADHD-like symptoms were based on self-reporting.

Surgery and Recovery: Health Update #2


It seems a little unseemly to bring attention to one’s health as a meditation teacher. But since various commitments and expectations could not recently be fulfilled as in the past, and all sorts of misunderstandings can (and will) emerge, perhaps I could take this opportunity once to give some clarity about some recent developments, and then refer folks back to this page in the future when things cannot be carried out as I would have otherwise wished.

Some months ago, following an unexpectedly slow recovery from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my left knee, it was discovered that there was a large growth happening inside the muscle tissue of my left calf. The growth of this large tumor has been putting pressure on the nerve center around the general region of the knee, and therefore this is the reason why sitting meditation had become ever more painful during retreats over the last year or two. The pain was not only affecting the knee itself, but it also had begun radiating down the length of the lower left leg. Walking was even becoming somewhat difficult over ever-shorter distances.

The tumor was determined to be benign, and was excised last Thursday, February 29, right after we finished the 90-day Winter Kyol Che retreat at Zen Center Regensburg. I could barely struggle through the intensive seven-day closing retreat which capped this year’s annual retreat season.

The surgery was a routine procedure, but not with out its risks: Because the tumor was located in an area of the leg dense with nerve networks, the doctors geared some possibility of paralysis happening either in my lower leg or foot or toes. Due to the great professional care of doctors and nurses at Regensburg’s Baumherzige Bruder Hospital, the growth was removed during an hour-long cutting. There is no paralysis whatsoever, and the wound is healing nicely. I am very, very lucky.

During the whole time of this health challenge, I was supported by our incredible Zen Center Regensburg Family: Silke (Boep Hwa), Dr. Katharina Kleinschmidt (Chon Su An), Yonym (Do Tzong), Lukas (Jeong Gong), Max (Shim Gum), Nico (Ah Gong), and all of the Patreon supporters whose monthly financial assistance has enabled me to get access to medicine and treatments which are NOT covered by my poverty-level medical insurance policy.

Pre-op prep.
Sunim’s Return (2): Hyon Gak Sunim #현각스님 Returns to Temple from the Hospital #zen #love #gratitude

[ The remainder of this post, including other juicy details and behind-the-scenes images of our supporting Team of Dharma-nurses and doctors, can be found on my Patreon page. Thank you very much for your love and support there — it truly helps me to carry out this Dharma work without fear of lack or want. ]


“Ogie’s Upsidedown”

“Ogie’s Upsidedown”
Ogie's Upsidedown -- 4k HD AI Video Art [11+ Hours AI Generated video]

I love this video. It’s not just great “effect” and random image-generation — whoever did this, there is a slight, fine thread of spiritual content here, or at least a conscious reaching for some. I encountered this video by accident in a shop in Barcelona last September, and have always wanted to come back to it. Stunning depth and matter here. The creator seems nameless, but their identity is fascinating in this. Could cool it for hours… (especially beginning around 4:09 and so forth)



So, What is the one pure, clear, and absolutely clear “something”? Really, if you open your mouth to say it, you are mistaken; if you just think that blankness is the answer, you are also incredibly mistaken. It’s here, it’s everywhere. Do you recognize it? Not a big mystery at all, it’s already apparent in all things. Not finding it, you wander endlessly in this crisscrossing current of phenomenal experience, and all sorts of dream, like suffering, drift in and out, and become your existence with no escape from them. Finding “it”, you are free everywhere. Which do you prefer?