Skip to main content

Posts

Understanding Grace and Original Enlightenment in Buddhism

The dictionary defines g race  as, 'a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior."  Another definition that is commonly used in religious circles is, 'underserved mercy.'  To understand the Buddhist interpretation of grace we first need to understand the teaching of Original Enlightenment, which is found in the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana Sutra . It states that all sentient beings are inherently enlightened. More than that, they all exist as part of a single Buddha-body. This is explained through the Trikaya teaching, which divides the Buddha-body into three parts.  First, there is the Dharmakaya or wisdom-body of Buddha, which is the primordial essence of enlightenment.  Next, there is the Sambhogakaya or joy-body of Buddha, which includes celestial beings like Kannon and Amida.  Finally, there is the Nirmanakaya or physical-body of Buddha, which is physical reality. We can understand the Trikaya teaching by imagining the ocean in the north pole.  We hav
Recent posts

Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Buddhism

  As Buddhists, we have an unnatural pressure placed upon us to forgive people who harm us.  This is to be expected.  After all, humans are social creatures, and they hate conflict.   Unfortunately, the quickest way to end conflict is ask the victim of an altercation to forgive their perpetrator; immediately and without question. But this is an unhealthy practice.  It creates an environment where various types of abuse can occur.   That said, forgiveness is an important part of practice.  And it can be helpful to have a working definition of the word.  According to dictionary.com, to forgive means, "to cease to feel resentment against." But the way in which we go about forgiving people is important.  There is a process that needs to be followed. To put it a different way, if we cut our hand, it is foolish to expect it to heal immediately.  There are steps that must be followed to ensure the wound does not fester.  We clean the damaged area, apply pressure to stop the bleeding

Confessions of a Hungry Ghost

I moved out of my parent's house at the age of 18.  The ensuing years involved a series of highs and lows as I struggled to find my place in the world. I graduated college with a B.A. in philosophy. I served 8 years in the U.S. Marines.  Then I entered the civilian world and discovered veterans with liberal arts degrees aren't employable. So, I got a room mate and an apartment in a bad part of town.  I was lulled to sleep by the sound of gunshots each night, and I worked a crappy call center job that didn't pay my bills.  I ate canned ravioli three times a day, and friends commented on how skinny I looked. I was hungry and ashamed.  I'd done everything that the school counselors told me was required for success.  I wore suits to interviews,  I looked potential employers in the eye when I shook their hands, and I even spent money I didn't have to

Buddhism to Be Murdered By

Eminem dropped a surprise album recently called, Music to Be Murdered By- Side B  The first half of the album was dropped in January of this year,.  In both recordings he took on the entire music industry to prove his continued dominance of the rap game. He went after his his haters, music critics, new-school rappers, old-school rappers, and anyone who might have blinked at him wrong in the last 10 years. Imagine a man screaming, "Get off my lawn," at a bunch of kids while he torches his neighbor's car with a flamethrower.  That was Eminem on the Music to BE Murdered By LP .  And I loved every minute of it.  To be fair, I'm a little biased.  Eminem aka Marshall Mathers and I have a long history. I've never met him in person.  Be there's some common ground.  We both grew up in dying, rustbelt towns, we both got picked on in school, and we both have an unreal amount of family drama. The biggest difference is that Eminem expressed his childhood anger by climbing

Civil War and the Purpose of Buddhist Prayers

Through out history, the only way for someone to forcibly takeover a country was through intrigue and bloodshed. In fact, some of history's greatest rulers (Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Shaka Zulu, etc.) were also it's greatest killers; men who walked on the corpses of their enemies to reach the throne. If one looks at the United States, they see more of the same.  The genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of black Africans,  and the mistreatment of women were all done to solidify power in the hands of a chosen few. Thus, the fact that 46 men have been elected to become president of the United States and none of them had to kill or chase off their predecessor is remarkable. Regardless of one's political stance, the fact that our country can pick a leader, and then pick a new one in four years in the same way that one might pick a melon in the super market is cause for celebration.  It's proof that we live in a functioning democracy, and that while our co

Dr. Jill Biden and the Importance of Right Speech

The sad reality for content creators in 2020 is that if they want a large number of people to read their work, it needs to go viral.   In other words, an article needs to get people so hyped up that they have no choice but to read it, share it, and write endless think pieces on it in order to feel some level of catharsis. The writing doesn't need to be good, and it certainly doesn't need to be uplifting.  It just needs to get a reaction.  Often times, the best way to get a piece to go viral is to purposely garner a negative reaction; causing people to argue in the comments section; ensuring that the post will remain relevant for several days. The Wall Street Journal did exactly this on Friday when it published an op-ed called  Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an MD.  In the article, Dr. Joseph Epstein, who claims to hold an honorary doctorate from a school that he doesn't name, spends an inordinate amount of time belittling Dr. Jill Biden's doctorat

Buddhism and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

 My alarm goes off, and I hit the 'snooze' button. Using the least amount of effort possible, I untangle myself from the covers and look out the window.  My spirit drops.  From this angle, all I can see is a featureless gray sky.  Light rain patters the window, and as I listen to it all of the motivation to move, eat, or function in society bleeds from my body.  I'm wide-awake, but it's another three hours before I get out of bed. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder that comes and goes with the seasons.  More specifically, people who suffer from SAD tend to lack energy and feel moody during the fall and winter months.  Other symptoms may include fatigue and weight gain.  Scientists aren't sure as to the exact cause of SAD, however, the running theory is that a lack of sunlight in fall and winter causes the brains of some people to produce less serotonin; an important hormone for mood regulation. Buddhist training is NOT a cure for SAD, howev