Karma (Sanskrit: कर्म kárma , kárman- "act, action, performance"[1]; Pali: kamma) is the concept of "action" or "deed" in Indian religions understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called samsara) described in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Do you believe in time?

Time is not real, we make time up. That's why 3 hours can seem like 5 minutes, and 5 minutes can seem like 3 hours.

Time is a measurement. What then, does time measure?

Time measures the ever changing flux and flow within the unchanging present moment.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Power of Dharma

Ever since I moved back to my apartment, there has been an ant pile out next to the sidewalk right where my parking space is. I found it REALLY irritating. I'd notice it every time I was out there, and I'd kick it over sometimes, or drop water on it if I was adding water to my car, and I didn't bother watching where I walked unless there were a LOT of ants out, and only then to avoid getting bit myself.

Some days, it would set my mood for the drive, or for the next several hours.

Then I accepted the first precept: I will avoid taking life.

It was actually a few weeks ago that I started trying to practice the precepts. At first, the ants left my awareness all together - I was focusing on the bigger animals to start with. About a week went by, and insects and lizards and other small animals started to register more with me - usually right after I'd squashed a mosquito or fly. With the smaller animals, I'd find myself going out of my way to try not to scare them anymore than I had to - if you've ever seen one of our little anole lizards take a header off the second floor balcony, you know why. It looks like it hurts when they land!

The past few days, I've become aware again of the ants. It's a different awareness. I try to avoid killing any of them if possible (sometimes there are a lot, and they're moving fast, so when I start to put my foot down, the ground is clear, but when my foot gets there, an ant or 2 have run under it), and when that happens, I think a little thought wishing them well on their next rebirth. Rather than an annoyance, they are simply kindred living things, doing their best to make it through their day, as I am trying to make it through mine.

It is a very different way to live and look at the world than the way I've been living and looking. I find that I am happier, more peaceful, and have a better understanding of myself and my world.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Introduction to Buddhism

I have been both fortunate and challenged as I've started trying to learn about Buddhism. Challenged, because it seems the only meditation center in my area is associated with the New Kadampa Tradition. I went once, and I knew enough about Buddhism to know that what they were teaching there wasn't quite what I'd learned so far. After doing a bit of research, it turned out that it just wasn't something I wanted to get involved with. It seems they've gone to great lengths to ensure no mention was made of their origins, which seems to violate the precept about false speech. I wish them well, but what they do there is not what I am seeking.

Fortunate, because about a week into it, I came across the Urban Dharma website, and found these wonderful podcasts from Ven. Kusala Bhikshu.

Kusala does a great job of putting the concepts of Buddhism into a language I can easily understand. I'm intelligent enough to be able to understand what I read in other places, but there is a certain joy that comes with the almost effortless way understanding flows when I'm listening to one of his presentations, or reading an article he's written or recommended. If you want to know more about Buddhism, I'd recommend you start with him and his Dharma Talks Podcast. I downloaded them all into iTunes, and started with the "A Guide to Basic Buddhism" talks from back in 2005.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Video Games.

Buddhism is a path that focuses on suffering - and reducing suffering.

Obviously non-violence isn't required - the Shaolin monks have, perhaps, the most legendary kung-fu in the world. But the manner in which it is used (or not used) by the monks is important.

Many of the video games I play are very violent. Yes, they are games, but they do effect your mind.

The other side of that coin is this: chess is a violent game. Yet I doubt that a monk would refuse the intellectual exercise.

Do I need to give up my games? Or would it be less of a "need" and more of a statement?

I have a feeling this is something that will be meditated on at some point.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The "Stuff" project

Over the past 2 weekends, I've been working on reducing the amount of stuff that owns me. Yes, you read that right. The further along in this project I get, the more I feel like I was the one that was owned.

The first part of this journey came to be when I decided I wanted to know if I could live in a one bedroom apartment, or if I need a 2 bedroom. You see, I've been living in a one bedroom only because I have a garage I pay extra for. Lots of my stuff lives in that garage so that I can have room to live here, in the apartment.

I needed to know if I could squeeze uncomfortably into a one bedroom apartment, or if I needed a 2 bedroom, so that my stuff could have it's own room. Oh, at first, I was rather unskillfully calling that second bedroom an "office" or "computer room". But the more I began to unclutter my life, the more honest I became. A second bedroom wouldn't be the "computer room" or "office" - my computer was already quite happily sharing a room with me here, in the apartment. I came to the realization that the second room would just be for my stuff. Wow. Scary. My stuff is going to have me paying rent for it now?

This is where it hit me like a brick. I pay rent for that garage. I'm already paying rent for my stuff. $600 this year just so my stuff has a place to live. I'm a slave to my stuff.

I scouted my apartment. I counted how many boxes I could stack up, and where. 25 total. Oh boy - is that going to be enough? We're talking the little boxes paper comes in - the "case" size.

In the end, I needed one big box (about the size of 3 of the paper case boxes) and 2 of the paper case boxes. I'm still not convinced I even need all of that.

Once I got started, it has become easier to let go of things - I hope to make that a habit. Also unusual for me is that I've insisted I make use of what I already have - I may reduce, but I may not add new things. So I did not buy the microwave stand that in the past would have been *required* for this project. Somehow it wasn't needed after all. Same thing with the table and new book case. The result is that I'm content with my space, and with my mind. More content with both, I think, than I would have been if I'd gone and spent the money on the "new" things I "needed" to "make the place work".

I was getting ready to observe that I can now take that extra money I saved and put it all in the bank. That is an unskillful thought. It arises from greed. Since this is money that I'm surprised to have, I believe the correct thing to do is to put some in the bank, and donate some to a cause I can support. Generosity is more skillful.

During this time I've been listening to the podcasts from Urban Dharma. If you're reading this blog, you should probably go have a look and a listen.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Transcending Duality

The world is eternal,
It can't go on forever.
So let it go,
And hold on tight.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Jesus asks for forgivness.

I heard a story today about a monk and a master. The monk had been studying under a master, but went to a new master. The new master asked, "So what did your last master teach you?"

The monk replied "He taught me that the true meaning of Buddhism is Agin asks for fire."

To which the master said "And what does that mean?"

The monk said "Well, Agin is the god of fire, and fire itself, so he asking for fire is like me seeking to be a Buddha, since he is fire and I am already a Buddha."

"Ah, it is as I feared" said the master, "You've missed the point completely!"

"Then master, what is the true meaning of Buddism?" asked the monk.

"Agin asks for fire." replied the master.

The monk understood.

My dialog is that Jesus asks for forgiveness.