Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Practicing Without Ego

Why do we practice Buddhism?  To gain enlightenment, or find out the meaning of life?  The practice of Buddhism goes far beyond that.

What I mean by "practicing without ego" is to let go of any notion of ourselves. Our nature as humans is to expect rewards for our practices of compassion, devotion, and giving.  By expecting rewards, we are practicing with our ego and not the Dharma.  We always want something, which is why desire is described as a holy truth.  When we desire rewards or enlightenment, we only end up with more suffering because these are not given to us.

By practicing selflessly, and not being attached to the outcome, we can realize a feeling of liberation.  It's okay to feel good about helping others and devoting yourself, but in reality these feelings are truly empty.  Just practice and let go.  What comes along, comes along.  It's not always true that "what goes around, comes around."  Sometimes what goes around, never comes back.  Sometimes it comes back in a way opposite of what we wanted.  Want stems from desire, stemming from attatchment, stemming from ego (which leads to disappointment and suffering).

Do not expect anything, and let go of the ego.  
When you seek it, you cannot find it. -Zen proverb.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Return From the Monastery

In my previous post I had mentioned going on a retreat to a Zen monastery, specifically Ryumonji Zen Monastery.  I have recently returned home, with a whole sense of being.
I learned many things during my stay, (including but not limited to), things about myself, Zazen, and practice.  For lack of a better term, I found the "light" which I needed, not only for my practice, but also for myself.  The abbot was genuinely kind and compassionate.  Never before had I met a man who was so kind, understanding, and genuine.
Shoken/The Abbot (left) and myself (right)

So my returning marks the end of my hiatus from blogging, which I now plan to post more frequently.  Thanks to all of you who have been following me through my hiatus.

Here are a couple pictures of the monastery I took during my stay.   Gassho.
Ryumonji (left to right): Sodo/Sitting Hall, Hondo/Buddha Hall, Kuin/Dining and Dorms

View from courtyard

Entrance sign
Temple Bell

Friday, June 3, 2011

Maybe a Monk, Maybe Not

Ok, so I know in my last post I spoke about monastic life not being the way to go.  Well, with some discussions with loved ones and internal contemplation, that view may have changed.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be visiting a monastery for a couple of months, to see what it's like.
It definitely will not be easy.  Getting up at 4:30 am, meditating in 40 minute intervals four times a day, doing work, and constantly studying.  "Why am I doing this?," you may ask.
I need to make some serious changes in my life, and through inner contemplation, I feel this is very much needed.  Not a desire or want, just plain required.
So, (hoping they have Internet access), my future posts after June 15th may be form there.  If not, well, I will be back online after my stay.
Amituofo to all.
Ryumonji Zen Monastery