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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Change. Evolve. Change. Evolve. – Richard’s Commentary

April 10, 2014 Leave a comment

We are spiraling toward something…do we know what that something is? Do we have a choice?

Rosemary uses the digital age of recording advances; 1.0, 2.0…she claims:

Each of us is ever evolving into the next version of ourselves – Me 2.0, Me 3.0, etc. Are you making conscious choices about your own evolutionary process or are you reacting to what is happening around you and evolving unconsciously into the next you?

Sometimes I wonder if each of us is truly evolving. Or are some of our fellows content to have things remain just as they are; content with the status quo? Are you evolving consciously or are you content to maintain your position and standing in life? Can you maintain it without changing?

I spent a good part of this past weekend immersed in Integral Theory, as best articulated by Ken Wilber. The specific topic of this Integral Life conference was “The Fourth Turning.” This “Turning” refers to the evolution of Buddhism. To summarize the background, there have been three “turnings” of Buddhism, or evolutions of the movement: there are three current forms or “schools”, namely the Theravada School, the Mahayana School and the Vajrayana School. The first school, or turning, is closely associated with the Buddhism originated by Gautama Buddha about 2600 years ago. About 200 AD the Mahayana School evolved out of and included original Buddhism. And in the 8th Century AD Vajrayana evolved out of and included Mahayana Buddhism.

Integral Life is proposing it is time for a “fourth turning” – a next generation of Buddhism; think of this as a progression from Buddhism 1.0 (Theravada) to Buddhism 2.0 (Mahayana) to Buddhism 3.0 Vajrayana to Buddhism 4.0! (A name or “yana” for this 4.0 was not offered!)

Here is the main point and argument: there has not been a real evolution in religion (any version, any sect, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Hinduism…) for at least a thousand years. Perhaps it is time for an advance in spirituality.

I am not writing here to support or deny the specifics of what I heard at the “Fourth Turning Conference.” The specifics while interesting are not my point. The point is to support Rosemary’s premise:

The important aspect of humanity’s interaction with change is that we must be conscious of the choices we are making to bring about change, in ourselves and in the world around us.

Ken Wilber and company are making a conscious effort to define a New Spirituality, to embrace scientific, sociological and psychological advancements and to expand Consciousness and celebrate Humanity. They chose Buddhism because it has demonstrated an ability to evolve over its 2600-year history. And it already offers a high degree of advanced spiritual technology on which to build.

They are making conscious choices; they are looking forward and embracing the past; they are leveraging the advances in all areas of human technology to create a robust Spirituality to help carry humanity forward into its uncertain future.

I welcome and applaud this effort. Yes, we are spiraling toward something; and it can be of our choosing, if we choose to be involved!

 

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MONDAY’S POEM: Sunday Bright

April 7, 2014 Leave a comment

I wrote this poem a number of years ago on a pretty Spring Sunday in Colorado. Yesterday was a pretty Sunday in Maryland. Rosemary and I spent much of the day with Ken Wilber and company watching the “Fourth Turning Conference” – what a treat, what light was brought to bear on the Integral approach to Buddhism, and how Integral Thought might be brought into practice to help expand awareness and evolve structures of consciousness.

From deep thought to bright day; life flows on and is good!

Sunday Bright

New day, new light
Celebrate the Sun’s Day.

New week, new right
Recognize the week’s way.

Travel on, write a song
Synchronize the rhythm long.

Make a wish, keep it real
Offer it as gods’ own grace.

Ask your heart, “how you feel?”
Step on out at your own pace.

Celebrate throughout the week
You know deep down of what we speak!

©2014 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

MONDAY’S POEM: Practice

January 13, 2014 Leave a comment

I mentioned in an earlier post this year that my “word for 2014” is Patience. Some days I think it is my word for this lifetime! But I am actually in conscious practice of all Six Paramitas, the Six Transcendent Perfections. My thought-poem for today is my meditation on these Paramitas:

Practice

Generosity begins with self, home.
Giving of oneself, even life itself,
Gains everything: Peace, joy, long-life
And the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.

Ethics begin with the mind, thoughts.
When the mind is clear, present,
The words of speech and
The actions of body follow, as does
The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.

Patience is the pivot point of all practice:
Anger is the teacher,
Patience is the lesson,
Long-lasting happiness is the path to
The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.

Joyful Exertion is the power
Fueled by courage and determination
That propel ordinary beings to Buddhahood,
And the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.

Meditative Contemplation is the only
Pathway home, to neutral mind,
To virtuous mind, to True Self,
And the Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.

Wisdom, the exact nature of things:
All is impermanent,
All that is impure is suffering,
All is emptiness:
The Transcendent Perfection of Wisdom.

©2014 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

“Breakfast with Buddha” – A Book Review

January 10, 2014 Leave a comment

I mentioned this book in my post yesterday as a sign of alignment of my path with the Plan of the Universe. It was a delightful Christmas gift and I raced through the book anticipating each new scene and experience: a good laugh, a shed tear, an unfolding story well told. Here is my short review:

I had not read anything by Roland Murello before I received this book. And I haven’t read a good “road-trip” story in a long time. Both encounters have been very rewarding. And perhaps the rewards have been deeper because I could so easily identify with all of the characters!

You don’t have to identify with any of the characters, however, to enjoy the book. If you are interested in a story of the movement of a fairly typical upper middleclass, middle aged American guy moving through early spiritual awakenings, then I highly recommend this well written book.

Otto Ringling is the main character. He grew up as a Lutheran in the Midwest (North Dakota) on a wheat farm. (I grew up as a Lutheran on a dairy farm in Wisconsin.) He is comfortable in his life: loving wife, two teenage kids whom he adores, great job publishing food books (he loves to eat fine food accompanied by great wine); all is going really well for him. But he has these nagging little discomforts with all of this; small inner tremors that begin to shake things up a bit.

Otto has a sister, Cecelia (mine is a sister-in-law). He calls her Seese (I call mine Cees). He claims his Seese is “as flaky as a good spanakopita crust.” (I won’t say anything here about my Cees, except that I love her!). Otto’s journey truly begins with the sudden death of their parents, the bigger tremor that really begins to shake his foundation.

Otto’s gradual awakening is guided by a Rinpoche, a “friend” of Cecelia. The story unfolds as a road-trip (just Otto and the Rinpoche) from Cecelia’s home in New Jersey to their parents’ farm in North Dakota. There are hilarious scenes through the whole trip, well described, often involving the search for the perfect meal along the meandering journey, as Otto serves Rinpoche a dose of true Americana and Rinpoche serves Otto a dose of the true way to awakening.

The book is light, fun, poignant, silly, profound and just plain enjoyable as a spiritual awakening travelogue. Perhaps I enjoyed it so much because it rang so true for me. But I think anyone who is beginning to get in touch with the truth and their own spiritual awakening will also enjoy the book.

And the best news for me is there is now a sequel: Lunch with Buddha. I can hardly wait to get my copy; and I’ve got a B&N gift card to spend!

Dreaming BIG!!! – Richard’s Commentary

January 9, 2014 Leave a comment

How are you doing with those New Year’s Resolutions? Did you make a few, a lot? If you are anyone like me you have given up on trying to change your life that way. No, I made no resolutions, but that doesn’t mean I have no big dreams!

The Divine Feminine are spot on when they address this issue of resolutions, dreams, transformation and how to manifest the changes you want to see:

Where are you looking for your resources? Are you waiting to win the lottery? If so, are you buying tickets? Are you using the word ‘someday’ in your vocabulary of dreams, always placing that dream in the far distant future? Do you know what you actually need to take a step in the direction of your dreams?

You need Clarity, Commitment and Consciousness.

For me, clarity means “clear intention.” If we are muddled in our thinking, unsure of what it is we want to change, hesitant about reaching for the big goal, then the Universe can’t support us. Clear intention lets the Universe know our direction and can then offer the resources to help us realize our goals. This is the first component of manifestation.

Over the past few months I have become very clear in the direction I want the rest of my life to take. And the Universe is responding! Just as a trivial example of this, I received a book as a gift from a dear friend; it is Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. My friend had no idea when she picked this up for me that I have moved firmly back onto my Buddhist path. She had no idea that I am planning my own journey this year to return to my roots. Merullo’s novel and his characters have so much in common with my own life that it’s almost silly. My friend was moved by the Universe to place this book in my hands! (I’ll have more to say on Breakfast with Buddha in a future post.)

Now, I have studied, practiced, sat Zazen, read and explored in most ways possible this notion of Buddhism for many years. But I have never really committed to this path. This is the second component of manifestation. The Universe needs to know we are serious about our clear intentions. All of my past studies and practices, while I took them very seriously, were not true commitments to the path. They were exploratory, forays into the fascinating world, but with no real committed intention of remaining there.

This has changed. I am committed. My living habits are changing to support the commitment: diet, drink, sleep, dream-time, meditation are all much more focused, real, and supporting my commitment. Again, the Universe is responding to my commitment with the resources I need to continue.

And it’s really all about changing our mind, isn’t it? One of Rosemary’s expressions I’m fond of is: If you want to change your life, change your mind. Reality is after all nothing more than consciousness, the third component of transformation.  We all encounter blocks along our way. Most of these stumbling blocks, scattered across our paths, are mental blocks, maybe old beliefs planted in us from childhood. Much like the main character in Merullo’s book, Otto Ringling, I was raised as a Lutheran in the Midwest. “Lutherans don’t become Buddhists!” We don’t even think about Buddhists, unless they are setting themselves on fire in Viet Nam when we are burning our draft cards at a safe distance at the University! I’ve been changing my mind about a lot of things over the past 60 years; it’s time for this once-upon-a-time Lutheran to admit his true colors. Through many cycles of birth, old age, sickness and death, I’ve traveled the road as a Buddhist! I think I’ll finish this one the same way!

The Divine Feminine conclude: Dream BIG!!! With Clarity, Commitment and Consciousness you can live that dream!

And I do have Big Dreams for 2014. I hope you do too!

My Authentic Buddhist Self

December 20, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m not very fond of labels. Maybe it’s because I prefer to go through life flexibly, avoiding being “type-cast” in any particular role. Perhaps this keeps me in flow, ready for change, evolving through the lives I have lived, even in this one life-time! Or does it keep me from commitment?

I grew up in a so called Christian home. We didn’t so much think of ourselves as Christian at that time; everyone was one so there was no need to distinguish ourselves with the label. When filling out forms and the “religion question” was asked I checked the “Christian” box; this was automatic but I’m not so sure how authentic it was.

The University, Peace Corps and life experiences, not the least of which was initiation into Transcendental Meditation in 1969, moved me smartly beyond the Christian label. I wasn’t anti-Christian; I had just moved beyond the dogma and form I had grown up with.

I was ordained in December 2000 as an “Interfaith Minister” through Pebble Hill Interfaith Community Church in Pennsylvania. Yes, this is a label but it seemed broad enough to fit my approach to “stay loose.” And my ordination wasn’t so much to earn a title as to continue the search for an identity. My course of studies helped me along that path but I did not conclude anything other than to continue the search.

What am I searching for? Certainly not a label. But I am looking for an authentic identity. Don’t we all want to know who we are?

Rosemary and I have written a lot about this subject, “Purpose.” It really does come down to this in the end. Don’t we all long to know “why”?

It has come to this: in these days when we have written about authenticity it is time to go inside and seek the clear answer to the question. I have studied, practiced, remembered, sat for hours, been in silence, bowed to statues and other iconic art, chanted, risen in the dark before dawn to the call of the Han, considered the vows, all the while feeling the familiarity of it. And I have resisted. It is time now to embrace who I truly am.

For much of my life now I have been a practicing Zen Buddhist without taking the full vows and without the label. But I’m not a Zen Buddhist. What I have been truly resisting, or perhaps more accurately not fully realizing and embracing, is the call to study and practice Tibetan Buddhism, Vajrayana, The Diamond Path.

Why the resistance? In part I’ve thought of the Vajrayana as ornate, overly ceremonial and complex; I like the simple, clear Zen-way of things. In part I have resisted Tantra as a practice overly foreign and strange; I prefer the straightforward, easily comprehended approach to practice. And, in part, I have walked the Vajra Path in previous lives; I’ve done that, don’t need to do that, learn that again in this life.

KalachakraThen I began to receive visions in my meditations; visions of the very ornate and overly ceremonial practices and technologies of Trantra. I began, again, to read the Kalachakra Tranta Rite of Initiation, this time with clarity and excitement. I researched when His Holiness is conferring the initiation again: 2014 in Ladakh! And I began having visions of doing this!

It has taken me my whole life to return, again, to something familiar, something genuine, something that has been calling to me to come back. I’ve known I’m a Buddhist at heart. And now I am embracing the truth that I am a follower of the Trantric Path. Perhaps in some mysterious way this is my ultimate label.

You will be reading more about this journey I’m setting off on in the coming weeks and months. It is a journey home to my authentic self!

Monday’s Poem: New Humanity

January 7, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve been posting a lot about new thought, new time, a new way to look at the Universe and our place in it. Today’s poem is motivated by all this writing about Oneness, Time as an Echo-Chamber, the endless cycles and where they are leading. The main reference here is the Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.

New Humanity

Gate, Gate:
Avalokitesvara
Clearly saw emptiness.
Nothing new here.

But what if
This emptiness is
Everything?
What if
Avalokitesvara
Sees the All?

No separation,
No you and me,
No it, no out,
No then, no now.

What then?
No war, no peace,
No loss, no grief,
No mine, no yours.

Imagine!

©2012 Richard W. Bredeson. All rights reserved.

PS: To start 2013 off with incredible guidance from The Divine Feminine you can get the 8 recordings Rosemary made at the end of 2012 during her Wisdom of the Week (WOW) calls. Get them here.