Noon Blessing, Day 16 – In accord with your capacity

May those cultivating the good seeds of virtue and merit,
achieve success in accord with their capacity to handle that,
and the efforts they have made.

The qualification on the end of this blessing is quite interesting. May things work out, to the extent that you can handle the results. Which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. How many celebrities and performers have we seen whose lives were basically ruined by too much fame and money? Yet some achieve great success and it doesn’t seem to hinder them at all?

Daehaeng Kun Sunim often compared our capacity to a bowl, saying that if you poured too much into it, that would overflow and make a mess. That’s not to say that she criticized someone for their ability, just observed that bowls can only play the role that their size permits. Tiny saucers are good for holding soy sauce, and big soup pots are great for when you have a lot of people over.

But, if you want to be able to play a larger role, you have to increase your capacity. How do we do this? How do we stretch the sides of our bowl? By working at entrusting everything in life to our foundation. Every single worry, every complaint about work or politics, all the aches and pains, all the unhappiness, loneliness, or sadness we may be feeling. It’s actually kind of hard to let go of these things, because they are so close, and so regular that we may not notice them. That’s why it’s go to stop every once in while and take stock of what we are feeling and thinking, of how we’re viewing the world, and then try to entrust all of that.

It seems obvious, but a lot of times we are just enduring something rather than trying to entrust it. So remind yourself that you have this foundation, this Buddha-nature through which you are connected to all the energy and wisdom of the universe, and try to let go of your worries and even goals, and let them connect with that.

Noon Blessing, Day 14 – May the wisdom eye open, and may everyone experience samadhi

(This verse is a continuation of the idea started with yesterday’s verse.)

Let all those who study the sutras open the eye of wisdom,
and may they truly understand how the things of this world work.
Let all those who practice chanting,
experience samadhi and be grounded in it.

Noon Blessing, Day 13 – May the great question burst open, and enlightenment shine forth from within

This verse and tomorrow’s verse have a wonderful spirit that includes all types of spiritual practice.

Physically, may we all be free from the sufferings of disease and disaster,
mentally, may we all be free from every kind of lust, obsession, and hatred,
and never again be seduced by these.
Spiritually, may all those practice meditation have the great question burst open,
and enlightenment shine forth from within them.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes

There was a great question in the comments about ISIL, and their stated goal of wiping out everyone they disagreed with. I started answering the question, but my answer got longer and longer, and went on about cause and effect, and interconnectedness, so finally I decided to just give it its own post!

According to German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, who spent ten days embedded with ISIL in Mosul, the view he kept hearing was that ISIL wants to “conquer the world”, and that all who do not believe in the group’s interpretation of the Quran will be killed. Todenhöfer was struck by the ISIL fighters’ belief that “all religions who agree with democracy have to die”, and by their “incredible enthusiasm” – including enthusiasm for killing “hundreds of millions” of people”

Can you comment on this, please?

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes? Sigh. Karma, or cause and effect, exists. It’s like living in a small box – what we put out into the air around us is what we’re going to breathe in. If someone wants to swim in death and murder, they’re going to meet up with lots of death and murder. If they like hanging out with con artists and murderers, they stand a good chance of being swindled, robbed, or murdered. If they want to run out and fight people who like to fight and play with guns, that’s who they’re going to meet. And, as I’ll mention in a bit, it’s as if they are accumulating more and more heavy karma, such that after a while they can barely even take a step. And sometimes, it’s like the universe itself says, “Enough!” And their games come to an end.

Of course, it’s not always that simple, but there is definitely something about the people of an area and what sort of behavior they’ll put up with. If you look at all of the vicious dictatorships throughout history, most of them lasted a long time when they stayed in their home lands, but once they tried to invade other areas, they began to falter. So there is also definitely is an element of “like gathers with like.” Another good reason to hang out with kind and wise people!

Ultimately, this idea that other people are different from me, that they’re disconnected from me, that their suffering has no connection with me is a manifestation of fundamental ignorance. They really don’t understand that everything is one connected whole, and so their actions reflect that, and it’s as if the results of their actions are more painful in proportion to the level of their ignorance. This is why, in Daehaeng Kun Sunim’s translation of the Heart Sutra, the opening paragraph has the phrase, “inherently all life shares the same body, the same mind, the same live, works together as one, and freely gives and receives whatever is needed. They ceaselessly manifest and change, but because they don’t know this, they walk the path of suffering.”

The answer to what we have to do is in there: Let go of this separate I, keep letting go of that, value other’s lives and efforts, share what we can, accept help when we need it, give others and ourselves room to change and become better, and know that even someone behaving badly is not always going to be like that. They too are in the process of change and growing. (Though along the way, we might need to protect ourselves from their ignorance. Running away when someone wants to stab you is also wisdom.)

Noon Blessing, Day 11 – May our hardships come to an end

This verse seems… a little short! But, it’s still nonetheless true that we need to actually raise this intention and entrust it. There’s such a huge difference between actually entrusting this idea, and just vaguely wishing things were different. The difference between wishing I had a glass of water, and actually asking someone to bring me one.

If I’m giving a talk and my mouth begins to dry up, I can stand there, hoping someone notices and thinks I might need a glass of water, or, I can stand up for myself, and quietly ask someone nearby if they could bring me one. If you ask politely, just about everyone is willing to help out! But you have to ask, you can’t expect them to be a mind reader. I find it’s the same with raising intentions and entrusting them: We have to actually raise the intention, and then entrust it. Now, it may still not immediately disappear or turn out the way we’d like, but there’s something about this process that at least lets us begin to move forward.

May our hardships come to an end.

Noon Blessing, Day 10 – may we always enjoy the company the virtuous and wise

When I was looking for key phrase for the title of this post, I found myself a bit stumped. Both ideas are pretty important! In truth, I suppose that having clear perceptions is the most important. And being able to clearly see the world, with our experience untainted by desire or attachments sounds wonderful, and would probably make it possible for us to grow in ways we can’t begin to imagine.

And yet…. We also learn so much when we’re hanging out with people who are virtuous and wise. If they’re not *too* far beyond our own level, there is so much inspiration in seeing how they react to things, how they deal with difficult situations and people. May we all deeply experience both these states!

May our senses and perceptions be free of desire and attachments,
and may we always enjoy the company the virtuous and wise.