Archive for October, 2009


October 16, 2009



The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama stunned the world, including himself. My first email to read, before 5 a.m. going to the Missouri Zen Center as usual, was congratulations to The Peace Alliance, an initiative to establish a U.S. Department of Peace. I wondered if this were another dream, like those we created recently in a brainstorming session at the Fourth Global Alliance Summit in Costa Rica.


It turned out to be real. The satellite TV news from Japan reported citizens’ voices from Hiroshima and other cities throughout the country: hope for humanity to make a world without nuclear weapons, etc. On the way back home from the Center, I listened to NPR conveying pros and cons and doubts from all over the world. The Global Alliance listserv posted joy and anger and calls for a realistic approach. Eventually, exuberance and extreme reactions will subside and reality will reveal itself. While the global problematique presents a dark prospect, this award to President Obama is like the flashing of the morning star.


In my regular talk during zazen (seated meditation), I referred to this award as support for President Obama who, like fellow laureates Nelson Mandela (1993), the Dalai Lama (1989), et al., has urged the world to advance in its aspirations and actions. I quoted Professor Carlos Vargas at the above cited Summit: “The abolition of nuclear weapons is the ultimate human right.” Not only human life, but the entire global life system is threatened with extinction simply because of selfishness. Selfishness is the ultimate mark of immaturity. Violence is the ultimate means of selfishness. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate force of violence.


Abolishing nuclear weapons, wars, violence, and selfishness is the great human responsibility. It is each person’s responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility to cultivate what, in Buddhism, we term the Six Perfections: giving (sharing), patience, striving, morality, concentration, and prognosis (insight, wisdom). Then anyone can verify truth and peace in himself or herself anywhere, anytime. From this vantage point we can live a joyful life in truth and peace with everyone and everything we encounter and envision in space and time. Time flies. Life flashes!



October 16, 2009



Sixteen Webster University students and staff, part of the Webster Works Worldwide team, arrived at the Missouri Zen Center early Wednesday morning to sit zazen (seated meditation), transplant trees and flowers in our garden, and make repairs to our building. After a few hours they and our staff enjoyed lunch with bon appétit under the warm sun surrounded by trees and flowers, with baby mice and a big snake they found rounding out our garden’s abundant biodiversity.


Before starting zazen, I talked about the global problématique (all ecological, economic, and ethical crises intertwined) and the sixth mass extinction – the first to be caused by humans – that threatens to destroy the whole global life system. Then, I talked about how we can avoid our catastrophic demise by sitting calm and clear, stopping our karma (cognate of ceremony, repeated action resulting in habit), and becoming truthful and peaceful, like a tree (cognate of true, dharma: norm of all forms).


After our wonderful work renewing the garden and building, I thanked the students for their volunteer work, commenting that the solution to our problems lies in this kind of aspiration and action for common causes, going beyond the self-interest that has culminated in our present crises. All universal religions aim at reunion in holiness (wholesome whole) from selfishness (sinful separation). We mostly fall into selfishness due to karma, because we are all karma-machines as the Buddha (Awakened One) prognosticated. The Buddha sat in meditation to stop karma.


When he attained awakening and unconditioned peace (nirvana, no wind), enjoying complete peace and truth under and with trees for weeks, the Buddha was besought by Brahma (the Supreme One) to go out into the world to share his way lest the world perish. If we continue our karma, we cannot continue our existence, much less lead a happy life. Remember the Keep America Beautiful campaign? “People start pollution. People can stop it.” Only people can stop karma. Therefore people must stop it. Prosper or perish depends on us. Paradise or Pure Land depends on the mind of humankind.


October 16, 2009



I visited Costa Rica to attend the Fourth Global Alliance Summit for Ministries and Departments of Peace from September 17 through 23. It started with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and second term president Oscar Arias’ address and ended with that of the Vice Minister of the new Ministry of Justice and Peace.


This country became the third to have a Ministry of Peace after the Solomon Islands and Nepal. The atmosphere and content of the conference with 102 delegates from 21 countries were warm and wonderful. The conference was held in open green space at Quinta del Sol.


Costa Rica (Rich Coast) has 5% of the world’s biodiversity in its 0.1% of the planet’s land, and it relinquished capital punishment in 1877 and its military force in 1949. Six percent of its budget goes to education, and its literacy rate is 97.5%. Its ecology and tradition of valuing nature and life resulted in the new Ministry of Justice and Peace.


To be in nature and in accord with natural principles have made Costa Ricans peaceful, truthful and happy. It is quite natural that the people enjoy their life; Costa Rica is a top raking country in the world satisfaction index and the planet happiness index. The people strive for welfare, peace, disarmament, and ecology.


While attending the summit, I stayed at a home across from the Peace Academy, which worked to create the new Ministry of Peace, arranged the Summit, and is devoted to undertaking peace initiatives. There I enjoyed a garden abundant with tropical flowers, trees, butterflies and birds visiting them, and the sound of a creek approaching from afar.


Oh, here is Paradise! Genuine joy filled my heart and whole being. Peace is in nature! So I found. About forty years ago I visited Maui Island, and at its northern top in the Pacific Ocean, I felt like I found Paradise there. People there left their homes unlocked as in Costa Rica, and even went bare-footed.


When I took a shower in the Costa Rican family’s home, the cold water on a cool night made me wonder if hot water was available. Noting the electrical cords coming from the wall, I saw there was a three step switch at the shower head and guessed there must be a heater in it. I tried decreasing the water volume, and voila!


Lukewarm water came out. Back home I tried this on a one handle shower. Yes!, the water temperature increases as water volume decreases. Thus, I enjoyed the warm water of Paradise and Pure Land. People want Paradise with drink and dance, etc., but not Pure Land with all in peace and truth, do they?


It is possible to realize unconditioned peace (nirvana) and taste amrita (ambrosia / immortality) in meditation. This gives us the ability to see Paradise and Pure Land. However, it does not necessarily mean we realize them in our Common World (Saha-Loka). “The heart pure: the land pure” in the Yuima-kyo is realized only through our effort together.


To purify the world we share in common, we must first cultivate our hearts. Pure hearts can reflect and become truth and peace in original nature. In purity we can reflect each other like crystal balls of the Indra-net. Then we can verify Pure Land together. We can stop our karma (habits) to witness and realize Pure Land only when we’ve first purified our own hearts.