Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly - winter 2011

"I Kinda Vow" author Genine Lentine explains the background to her Half-Moon Ceremony

This text, the Half-Moon Ceremony, or Ryaku Demi-Fusatsu is inspired by the Full Moon Ceremony, or Ryaku Fusatsu, a monthy renewal of the bodhisattva precepts. On the evening or morning of the full moon, the assembly gathers to give voice to their intentions and to invoke the energies of the ancestral bodhisattvas alive within themselves. 
The Village Zendo in NYC describes the ceremony as “an ancient Buddhist chanting and bowing ceremony of atonement and purification that provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge our deep karmic entanglements.”  Chanting the Gatha of Atonement is not about self-recrimination, but rather it’s a chance to accommodate one’s fallibility and give stuckness some room to find mobility. The word Fusatsu means, “to continue good practice,” or, “to stop unwholesome action (karma).”  

Commentary: Saturday Night at the Raccoon Lodge

© Tim Dose Not long ago I sent my students a link to a YouTube clip from The Honeymooners, the old TV series starring Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. The episode showed them with their pals at the Raccoon Lodge. You might want to look up the “Official Royal Raccoons Anthem” on YouTube.
The Raccoons are a fraternal order, complete with their own titles, rituals, songs, and costumes, including coonskin hats with dangling tails. They take themselves very seriously, and look and sound absolutely ridiculous. I sent it out because I wondered just how my students and I would look to an outsider during our own services, lined up in our rakusus and chanting in Sino-Japanese.

Ask The Teachers

Photo Credits: (Left-Right) Barbara Wenger, Janine Guldener, Mary Lang Question: Buddhism as a whole speaks eloquently on issues such as managing suffering and dealing with violence after it has occurred, with forgiveness, acceptance, and letting go. But, in my experience, it has been largely silent on dealing with issues of violence as they are occurring. So, here is my question: In day-to-day society—be it in a business setting, family setting, or more public setting—we often witness mistreatment such as emotional violence, bullying, and disenfranchisement being perpetrated against ourselves or others. Does the dharma provide any teaching on how to deal with this kind of situation—not after it has happened, but while it is happening? Should we respond and, if so, how should we respond?

Seeing Ourselves Clearly

Photo by Tenzin Choejor“The suffering and happiness each of us experiences,” says the Dalai Lama, “is a reflection of the distortion or clarity with which we view ourselves and the world.” The key is knowing the true nature of self.
To know and experience the nature of self correctly is to experience nirvana. To know the nature of self in a distorted manner is to experience samsara. It is therefore imperative that we devote ourselves to establishing just what the nature of self is!

The One Heart of Flight 93

Photo by J. Todd PolingSensei Anthony Stultz served as the Buddhist chaplain at the tenth anniversary memorial for the victims of Flight 93. He recalls this moving experience.

In the Zen Peacemaker family tradition we define Zen as a way of awakening to the oneness of all life. In the engaged Shin tradition, oneness is a metaphor for the compassionate action of the bodhisattva’s vow, personified in the cosmic mythos of Amida Buddha. The term “oneness” has become very popular and usually refers to conceptual ideas on nonduality and other interesting philosophical models. But the real heart of oneness is not an idea but an experience, an experience that opens us up to participate in a more universal consciousness unbounded by the fear-laden and survivalist tendencies of our self-conscious conditioning. I would like to share with you my most recent encounter.

What to Do When Energy Runs Wild

Photo by Paul Anderson Advanced meditation practices can cause energy imbalances that lead to serious physical and emotional problems. Ken McLeod, a veteran of two three-year retreats, explains what to do if this happens to you.
A few years ago, a psychologist came to see me with concerns after attending a one-day retreat. The practice instruction she had received was to put attention on just the physical sensations in her body, moment by moment. Whatever emotions or feelings arose, she was to focus only on the associated physical sensations. Thoughts and emotions were to be regarded as distractions.

Yes, We’re Buddhists Too!

Photo by Sjoerd WitteveenJan Willis examines the subtle—and not so subtle—racism that exists in American Buddhism.

On occasion, people have said to me, “Oh, I didn’t know that there were African American Buddhists!” Mostly my reaction is demure, but I sometimes want to respond with the question, “Why shouldn’t there be?” After all, African Americans are human beings who think and breathe and experience suffering just as other human beings do. More than 2,500 years ago, at the very end of his life, the Buddha declared, “In all these years, I have taught only two things: suffering and its cessation.” What a marvelous statement! And, given the end of the declaration, pretty good news.

Forum: Why Is American Buddhism So White?

Photo by Marc HamelOur panel looks at the problem of “whiteness’ in American Buddhism and what can be done—and in some cases is being done—to make it more diverse.
Introduction by Charles Johnson
I would wager that every Buddhist enjoys the story about Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch of Zen, who presented himself as a poor “commoner from Hsin-chou of Kwangtung” to the abbot of Tung-shan monastery in the Huang-mei district of Ch’i-chou in hopes of study, and was rebuked by the abbot with these words: “You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a buddha?” Hui-neng replied, “Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their buddhanature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our buddhanature.”

The Moon Is Me, I Am the Moon

Photo © Roland Schmid We are all one and the same. This is the experience of Zen. So teaches Shodo Harada Roshi in his new book of original calligraphies and commentaries, Moon by the Window.
When I ladle up springwater,
The moon enters my water jar
In Zen we look at the self and the world as one and the same, a united whole. Do flowers exist because we see them, or do we see flowers because they exist? Even though we try, we cannot divide the subjective from the objective.

How Can I Be a Compassionate Caregiver?

Photo by Georgina Shomroni Caring for someone with a chronic or terminal illness can bring out the best in us, says Stan Goldberg, but it can also reveal our sharp and judgmental qualities. For Buddhists caring for non-Buddhists, the challenge is even greater.
If you are not already a caregiver for someone with a chronic or terminal illness, statistics say you will be. It’s estimated that there are at least 45 million family caregivers in the United States and that number will keep rising as people live longer. You should assume that at least once in your life, you will be asked or feel obligated to provide care for someone who can no longer care for him or herself. It may be occasional and for a short period of time, or constant and last for years.