Siddhartha Gautam, aka Sakyamuni (the sage of the Sakyas), became a buddha around 2,500 years ago. Today, known as Buddha Purnima, the day of the full moon in May, is celebrated as his birthday. Here’s the Chinese singer Imee Ooi singing the Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra, aka The Heart Sutra. Listen.
The maha-mantra of the Heart Sutra, “om gate, gate, para-gate, parasum-gate, bodhi svaha om”, appears around the 3:50 time stamp. Continue reading
One of these days I will get around to replying to some of the comments that do need a response. Now though is time for an open thread. Say what’s on your mind.
What is happiness, and how can we achieve it?
Happiness can’t be reduced to a few agreeable sensations. Rather, it is a way of being and of experiencing the world—a profound fulfillment that suffuses every moment and endures despite inevitable setbacks.
Thus spake Matthieu Ricard in an article on happiness in Yes Magazing. He talks about basic meditation.
It is not difficult to begin. You just have to sit from time to time, turn your mind within, and let your thoughts calm down. Focus your attention on a chosen object. It can be an object in your room, your breath, or your own mind. Inevitably, your mind will wander as you do this. Each time it does, gently bring it back to the object of concentration, like a butterfly that returns again and again to a flower.
In the freshness of the present moment, past is gone, future is not yet born, and—if one remains in pure mindfulness and freedom—disturbing thoughts arise and go without leaving a trace. That is basic meditation.
I was listening to a lecture “Alan Watts Teaches Meditation” (mp3 format) and I thought that I would share a bit of what he said on this blog. I enjoy listening to Alan Watts. Thankfully, there is a lot of great recordings of his available on the web. While in Berkeley, I used to listen to these dharma talks of his on a local public radio station. Anyway, I took the time to transcribe a few minutes of the talk. If anyone is interested in the audio files, let me know and I will tell you how to get them.
[Here is a transcript from one of the scores of Alan Watts’ talks I have in mp3 format.]
[Begin transcript of Alan’s talk.]
I’m not really a musician but it just so happens that I have in front of me a fabulous instrument which the Japanese call koto. I suppose it would be best described as a table harp. Long instrument stringed with bridges – horizontal harp.
It was customary among Chinese poets in the old days to read poetry and strum on the lute or table harp at the same time. And I have got here a curious old text called Ts’ai-ken T’an – which means the “Vegetable Root Discourses” – written by Koji Tse (sp?) somewhere around 1624.
All the successful techniques for manipulating matter originated mainly in the West but the greater achievement of manipulating the mind – I am justifiably proud to claim – originated in India. In my opinion, the mind has precedence over matter. For the moment I will sidestep the other matter that it is a mistake to make a distinction between mind and matter – there isn’t in my opinion. But for the moment, I will treat them as being different as most people do.
Everything has a cost and this arises from the basic fact that we are mortals. We are given a finite amount of time. Time is the limiting constraint, not money or stuff. The more stuff out there that clamors for our attention, the more acutely we wish “had we but world enough, and time.” Aside from material stuff, we are also drowning in information. They call it the “attention economy.” The result of a surfeit of things to attend to is the premium on attention.
You have to agree that Siddhartha Gautama had great timing. His birth was during the full moon in the month of May. He attained enlightenment and became a buddha some years later on a full moon in the month of May. And to round it all off, he attained parinirvana (died) during a full moon of May when he was old.
The full moon is so bright outside my bedroom window this morning that it woke me up at 4 AM. It being the 2nd of May, this month we will have “a blue moon” – a second full moon in the same month. Two “purnima’s,” as a full moon is called in Sanskrit (and many of its daughter languages.) This purnima is called the Buddha Purnima.
The delightful story told in an earlier post Thoughts Without a Thinker must be followed by the story that Amar was kind enough to point me to on his blog. Go read Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art).
Many years ago I had read a book by Mark Epstein called Thoughts Without a Thinker, which is about psychotherapy from a Buddist perspective. I enjoyed the book immensely of course, but there is something in the first chapter that I cannot resist quoting in full.