Archive for December, 2009

Have Highest Happiness!

December 21, 2009


Further to my blog (Witnessing Happiness Here Now), I would like to offer the easy way to the highest happiness, time-tested many millennia. Anyone can have the highest happiness without prerequisite, money, matter, status, etc. Just remain calm and clear without delusion, greed, and hatred:

Not befriending fools, but befriending the wise,

And respecting the respectable; this is the highest happiness.


Living in a proper place, accumulating merits in preceding life,

Oneself generating the right aspiration; this is the highest happiness.


Learned in sciences, arts and training, and

Skillful in speech; this is the highest happiness.


Serving parents, loving and protecting one’s consort and children,

Orderly in one’s job unconfused; this is the highest happiness.


Giving, acting in truth, loving and protecting relatives, and

Non-blamable behaviors; this is the highest happiness.


Refraining from evil, controlling alcohol, and

Not neglecting virtuous actions; this is the highest happiness.


Respect, modesty, contentment, gratitude, and

Listening to lessons timely; this is the highest happiness.


Patience, warmth, meeting with people in the Way, and

Discussing truth at times; this is the highest happiness.


Striving, pure career and the seeing of the holy truths,

Realization of unconditioned peace; this is the highest happiness.


For the one who is not moved even touched by the worldly things,

Sorrow-less, undefiled and peaceful; this is the highest happiness.


Those, practiced such ways, defeated nowhere,

Go in happiness; for them this is the highest happiness. 


                                                                                         –Suttanipata, 259-269.


Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Paradox

December 21, 2009


President Obama’s Nobel Prize address was a paradox perplexing to himself, the Peace Prize, people, and the planet. He justified his war as just, but not that of his opponents. He demanded human rights, but not life and the living of others. He extolled love, but not love of enemies or turning the other cheek. He promised change, but not as people and the Prize committee expected. Did he change himself to a politician simply of self-justification and self-love?

The Noble Prize awarding committee must be perplexed at his stunning surge of 30,000 troops, bringing the total of troops stationed in Afghanistan to combat 100 terrorists against the U.S. to more than 100,000. Someone recommended that the prize now be called “War as Peace Prize.” Are the lives, money, matter, and minds of others expendable? He received only scattered applause throughout his speech. The planet is left unsure about nuclear weapons, the environment, and many other pressing problems.

An Oslo protester’s sign read: “You won it, now you earn it.” President Obama can, only if he changes his ego. Wars against enemy, empire, economy, or ecology come from ego. All wage wars for their justice, but not for the holy (wholesome whole). Partial truth or justice is not wholly truth or justice, as in the story of the blind men who touch only part of an elephant. As Gandhi said, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” Only when one gives up ego and empire, the wholesome whole is earned. So-called terrorism arises from ego and against ego, imperialism, etc.

Some say, “You must fight against Hitler, Al Qaeda, etc. and thus need wars, weapons, bases, nukes.” But this game rule of fighting for empire, essentially of ego, is the root cause of problems, holocaust, terrorists, wars, weapons of mass extinction, nuclear weapons, dictators, refugees, and starvation. Selfishness is the source of suffering, offering no solution to the political, social, economic, and ecological problems that are leading to catastrophe.

President Obama’s popularity rating dropped below 50 percent, reflecting the discouragement of his supporters. In my October 12 piece here, “Nobel Peace Prize for Obama Urges Our Effort,” I wrote that “Abolishing nuclear weapons, wars, violence, and selfishness is the great human responsibility. It is each person’s responsibility.” It is upon us to earn peace or not. Gandhi said that “We must be the change we wish to see,” and Dogen said that “Loving speech has the power to revolutionize the universe.” Genuine love has no ego, enemy, extermination.

Thanks-giving is a Holy-day!

December 21, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving Day and a Holiday. For tens of thousands of years, humankind has been giving thanks for the harvest after clearing and cultivating the land, sowing seeds, watering, and weeding. For generations we have aspired and worked – storing seeds and spades, restoring the soil and our surroundings, improving our situations and environment.

We celebrate by giving thanks to and for families, friends, rain, rivers, plants, the planet, the sun, the moon, and all that have brought such abundance. We are the outcome of our ancestors’ efforts, and those of their relatives and all relations throughout the world.

The Buddha said that religion is cultivation. Dogen, the 13th-century Japanese Zen monk and teacher, said that the Awakened Way or Great Way is with all from the very beginning. He described the Awakened Way as a cyclical advancement of aspiration, action, awakening, and unconditioned peace.

If we make the whole more wholesome, we can celebrate this day as a holy day. If we can make every day a holy day, we can celebrate a happy day every day. May we all give thanks to all and live holy and happy!

(alternative, without comparing to passing of seasons)

The Buddha said that religion is cultivation. Dogen, the 13th-century Japanese Zen monk and teacher, said that the Awakened Way or Great Way is with all from the very beginning. He described the Awakened Way as a cyclical advancement of aspiration, action, awakening, and unconditioned peace.

Shooting Spree Suffering

December 21, 2009


Again, again, and again!

When does it stop?

Never, never, and never!

Unless you stop it.

   Soldiers and horses entered Mt. Yun-ju. The master (Yun-ju) sat upright and motionless. The commander, without bowing, sat facing him and asked, “When does the world attain peace?” The master said, “Waiting for the commander’s mind to become satisfied.” The commander then bowed and made him his teacher. (Yun-ju ‘s Record)

So long as everyone thinks “that’s none of my business,” it never stops. It is the karma of thinking so and acting so.

   Men of great power, why can’t you lift your legs? (Wu-men, Barrierless Barrier)

Even though great, one cannot lift even one’s own legs. Why? Because: one is bound by karma.

   Men of great strength, you row so hard! But, your boat is moored. (

However hard one may try, one cannot advance. Why? Because: one is bound by ego.

   Seeing a fire in a nearby village, the Awakened One said to the new converts, former fire devotees, “All is on fire!  What is on fire? The eyes are on fire. … By the fire of attachment … aversion … and delusion, they are on fire.” (Collection of Related Topics, 35, 28; Zoagon 8, 13)

   He said, “Better than conquering thousands upon thousands on the battlefield is conquering oneself. Then indeed is one the greatest victor in war. (Dhammapada, 8, 103)

   Remembering his war experience and the world’s engagement in folly, Homeless Kodo said, “Cease fire!” (Collected Work of Sawaki Kodo)

How can one stop the flaring ego and firing karma? Just sit upright and motionless. This makes everyone upright (egoless, sinless) and motionless (karmaless, no killing, stealing, lying, etc.). This breaks the chain of karma and brings about satisfaction for all for good. Anyone can “come and see” amrita (ambrosia, immortality) in truth, peace, and holiness.

   Better than living one hundred years not seeing birth and death is living one day seeing birth and death.

   Better than living one hundred years not seeing immortality is living one day seeing immortality.

   Better than living one hundred years not seeing the highest dharma is living one day seeing the highest dharma. (Dhammapada 8, 113-115)

Conquer None, but Oneself!

December 21, 2009


After humankind’s trial and error in conquering things, we have come to a dead end.

Our attempt to conquer nature now knows no gain, but only error and extinction. Our attempt to conquer men now meets no merit, but only error and exhaustion.

The winner produces enmity, because in suffering the defeated one lies down.

Being settled beyond victory and defeat, comfortably in peace one lies down.

                                                 – The Dhammapada, 201


The one who desires happiness causing others’ suffering

Is not freed from enmity but entangled in the snares of enmity.   

                                                 – Op.cit., 291


Enmity is never appeased by enmity here,

but by non-enmity. This is the truth forever.     

                                                 -Op.cit., 5


Human suffering comes from the delusion of independent and eternal ego. There is no such thing as the self-same, self-sovereign self. Our delusion and desire create bubbles of ego and economy in the great sea of eco-system. Bubbles burst but the sea remains.

Self-centeredness ends in wars, the worst, wishful, wasteful invention institutionalized by human civilization. The world spends 1.5 trillion dollars yearly and invaluable lives producing nothing good, but sacrificing all. The pyramidal system is a one-way ticket to destruction and death, with no return-ticket to saving and life.

What is suffering, if anyone asks this,

Mind separating men, please answer this. 

                                                – Ryôkan


Human right and wrong is the matter of a dream.  

                                                – Ryôkan

Eventually no one can conquer anyone except oneself. Even one-inch worm has a half-inch soul. The human soul cannot be conquered. In the end, no one can conquer anything. Even a single molecule contains the truth of the whole universe wrought throughout time and space.

Better than conquering thousands upon thousands in war

is conquering oneself. Then is one the greatest war victor.


Better is the conquering of self than the conquering of others,

by the self-controlled person always in restrained action.


Even a god, spirits, Death Devil, and Brahma

cannot overturn the victory of such a person.         

                                                -The Dhammapada, 103-5

Truth is the factors and function of the entire universe intertwined and interacting as a dynamic, holy (wholly wholesome) system. No one should be deluded or deviate from it. An Upanishad passage employed by the people of India as their national emblem states it concisely:

Truth only wins.                      – The Mundaka Upanishad, 1.2.5

In the end, delusions and desires win nothing, but only collapse upon themselves like iron consumed by rust. Only truth wins, not untruth. Truth always wins because it is the total universal system, beyond selfish, superfluous delusion and desire.

By oneself indeed evil is done, by oneself one is defiled.

By oneself evil is not done, by oneself one is purified.

Purity and defilement depend on oneself.

No one else purifies another.                    

                                                – The Dhammapada, 165

Being Truth and True Friend

December 21, 2009


Have you been enjoying the bright beautiful full moon? Western people see a man’s face in the moon, while Eastern people see a hare pounding rice cake. Why? In the East we learn the story of the hare in the moon as children, and we associate it, in the form of bright round rice cakes, with celebrations such as new year’s day. The presence of the hare comes from an ancient Buddhist story from India.

In an early incarnation, the future Buddha was born as a hare, and he freely gave his life out of compassion for a stranger in need. This story was beautifully told in a poem by the 19th-century Zen monk and poet Ryokan. I read his poem to the morning meditation group at our center recently, on the day of the full moon, and I’d like to share my translation of it with you now.

“The Hare in the Moon”

Long, long time ago

there lived in the world

Monkey, Hare and Fox

bound in friendship

playing in the morn

in field and on mount,

returning in the evening

into forest.

Thusly as years passed,

the Lord of Heaven,

hearing it, wanted

to know if it’s true.

Becoming an old man,

he tottered along

to where they lived,

and asked them,

“I have heard that

you are different

in species, but are

playing in the same

mind among yourselves.

If it is as I heard,

please help this old man

of his hunger.”

So saying he rested,

throwing his staff aside:

Having said, “It is easy,”

and after a while,

Monkey came collecting nuts,

from the woods behind.

Fox gave fish to him

brought from a stream in front.

Hare hopped and jumped,

but nothing to gain.

Being abused of the mind,

different, poor indeed,

the Hare plotted and said,

“Monkey, bring firewood.

Fox, please set fire!”

As they did as asked,

the Hare threw herself

into the smoke, and gave

herself to the old stranger.

The old man, upon seeing this,

cried bitterly looking up

the high heaven, and

fell down to the ground.

In a while, beating his bosom,

he said, “You three friends

are inferior to none of you,

but the Hare is specially

kind-hearted,” and

resuming the heavenly body,

picked up the dead body, and

sent it to the moon palace.

The “Hare in the moon”

is because of this –

thus up until the present time

it has been told, and

hearing this I also

drenched thoroughly

the sleeves of my robe.

This story captures the qualities of compassion, true friendship, and the interrelation of all that are central to the Awakened Way. In the literature and teachings of Zen Buddhism, the moon is a recurring symbol of the holy harmony of all. The mind moon is total truth and perfect peace, and any attempt to describe it using conventional language is at best the finger that points to it – a hint only, not the truth itself.

Here, the poet Ryokan is admiring the mind moon that is full and bright, like a mirror that reflects the universe just as it is. There is a story that he was so enamored of the moon that, catching a glimpse as he went to buy sake for a guest, he completely forgot the guest and sat looking at it for hours. Only the pure mind can see Pure Land.

Dogen, the 13th-century monk, teacher, and founder of the Soto school of Zen, also loved the moon, gazing at it even as he sensed his last moment. For Dogen too, the moon shone as the brilliant pure heart-mind. Amazed at the perfect round moon shining forth, he must have recollected his life, remembering this favorite Buddhist verse:

Doing all good,

Doing no evil,

Purifying mind

Is the teaching

Of all buddhas.

When we sit, we still and purify our minds, becoming like the bright beautiful full moon – holy truth itself. When we become holy truth itself, we are together with all throughout the universe, unified with all in space and time. We are supported by all and we are supporting all. If we don’t know this truth and act accordingly, we disintegrate and destroy this universal life system. Being truth is being a true friend; if one is not being a friend, one is not truth.