Koan – The Thief Who Became a Disciple

One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding wither his money or his life.

show me the money

Shichiri told him: “Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer.” Then he resumed his recitation.

A little while afterwards he stopped and called: “Don’t take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow.”

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The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.

A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offense against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: “This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.”

sharing

After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

Source

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3 things you should know about Zen

Some time ago we were discussing about zen and koans.

So we can take a bit of time now and draw the main concepts of zen:

cuenco tibetano

Zen is a branch of Buddhism

Buddhism has two main branches: Theravada and Mahayana.

From this last one, there are many traditions and one of them is Zen.

Source and source

stone budha statue

The objective in Zen is to achieve enlightenment

Though it receives many names in Western adaptation, such as nirvana or bodhi, the concept is quite simple.

  1. Insight in past lives
  2. Insight in the workings of Karma and Reincarnation
  3. Insight in the Four Noble Truths

enlightenment

There is no specific path

Zen emphasizes the attainment of enlightenment and the personal expression of direct insight in the Buddhist teachings.

As such, it de-emphasizes mere knowledge of sutras and doctrineand favors direct understanding through zazen and interaction with an accomplished teacher.

your own path

We have been exposed to westernized Eastern philosophies for decades and though there is a general social consensus of understanding, our basic beliefs are so differently grounded that its hard to really grasp some of the concepts.

Hopefully these basic guides will help understanding them a bit better.

Fables – Why are you asleep?

Once upon a time there was a village in India close to a trading road. Many people passed by.

castillo ruta de la seda

But the village had become known for an unlikely event: there was a man that been asleep for over a forth of a century non stop.

hombre durmiendo en una cama en el bosque

Nobody knew the reason. What a strange event! Those who travelled through the road always stopped to observe the sleeping man.

But how can this be? – asked the visitors.

In the near region lived a hermit.

He was a disdainful and spent the day in deep contemplation and would not be distrubed.

yogui japones

But he has become famous for being able to read other people’s thoughts.

The mayor of the village visited him and begged that he visited the sleeping man and try to fin out the cause of his long and deep rest.

The hermit was noble so, beyond his unappealing facade, he accepted to help discover the misery.

He went to the village and sat next to the sleeping man. He concentrated deeply and strated driving his conscience into the sleeping man’s mind.

At last, his mental enegy connected.

Dos personas conectadas

Minutes later, the hermit came back to his regular conscience state and all the village had gathered to hear what he had to say. With a clam voice, he explained:

 – Dear friends, I have reached the brain and heart of the sleeping man. I have searched for the origin and I am glad to announce I have found it.

This man dreams he is awake, therefore he has no intention of waking up.

Inicio de dia con gallo

  * The Master says: don’t be like this man, spiritually asleep so deeply that you believe you are Awakened.*

Fables – You are I and I am You

Once upon a time there was an honest student.

Alumnos budda

In his heart lived the desire of perfectioning himself. One dawn, when the crickets started to break the silence of the late afternoon, he traveled to a humble house in the mountains where a yogui dwelled and knocked on his door.

casita en la montaña

– Who is it? – asked the yogui

– It is me, respected master. I have come to seek spiritual guiding from you

– You are not prepared enough – answered the yogui without opening the door. Spend a year in a cave and meditate. Meditate without break. Then, come back and I will guide you.

rays of light

In the begining, the student felt his heart sink, but since he was fully determined, he obeyed the yogui.

He found a cave in the base of the mountain and during a year he practiced deep meditation. He learned how to be with himself and Being.

cueva himalaya

When the monsoon arrived, he knew a year had past since he arrived to the cave. He left to meet again with the yogui and knocked at his door.

– Who is it? – asked the yogui-

– I am You – answered the student.

– If that is so -said the yogui – enter. There was no place in this house for two “I”s

dos pájaros en la luz

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Fables – All you need is fear

Once upon a time there was a king with a pure heart and very interested in spiritual growth.

He was visited often by yogis and mystical masters that could provide him with advice and methods for his personal enlightment.

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News reached him about a very suspicious aesthet and resolved to call him to try him.

The aesther presented himself to the monarch and the later stated:

“Proof you are an authentic aesthet or I will have you hanged!”

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The yogi said:

Majesty, I promise I have very strange and supernatural visions. I see a golden bird in the sky and the daemons under the earth. I can see them right now!

“How is it possible – inquired the king –  that through these thick walls you can see what you claim in the sky and under the earth?”

The aesther answered:

“I only needed fear”

Mujer al borde

Author: traditional Indian tale

We always speak badly of fear…but it does have its uses! Have you had a situation where fear has aided you?

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Religion or Spirituality?

Alcanzando la luz

“I don’t belive in religion”

“I don’t think there is anything else”

“I’m getting enought just going through my days”

“I’m a very spiritual person”

We’ve all heard such statements and may have even shared them at some point in time.

In a society such as the western, where certain needs, rewards and attitudes are encouraged… does the religious or spiritual phenomenon have space?

What is “better, religion or spirituality?

Are they the same? What do they differ in ?

atardecer impactante

Let us start by the formal definitions:

Religion ( by Merriam-Webster)

A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

Spiritual ( also by Merriam-Webster)

Of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit

They key element that sets them appart are the practices, since we can agree that both are concerned about the well-being of the spirit.

Hence, as a consequence we could state that :

All human being has a spiritual dimension.

manos recibiendo luz

Who hasn’t felt the need to feed beyond food? Personal relationships, professional satifaction, feeling of belonging to a community…

What about religion?

Símbolos de religiones

In past times (though not so far away as we may think!), religion was one of society’s pilars.

Not pretending to analyze any particular religion, most of them share certain traits:

– They have authority figures, which decide what is adhering to the religion and what isn’t

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– They profess throug ther own rites, which usually are strict and mandatory.

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– Their symbology is very clearly cut

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– They are excluding: religions claim they are authentic and only

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This is the key element that sets them apart.

When you put together ritual practices along with the pretension of being the one and only, this draws a line that separates what belongs and what doesn’t.

On the other side, we live in an Era (for many more decades than many people think) packed with spiritual possibilities.

chakras

The most known are the so called alternative therapies: Reiki, Pranic Healing, Yoga or Bach Flowers just to name a few. Even amongst them, you can find different variations.

However, and here is where the main difference with religions shines, it is hard to find a technique or therapy that excludes other ways of doing or thinking.

For example, you’ll be hard pressed to find a reikist (reiki therpist) that claims that a yogi is wrong.

Whilst a pranic healer focuses on the kundalini energy and the coiled snake, a reikist focuses on the universal energy.

meditacion

For some, the energy ascends whislt for others it descends.

This doesn’t mean that anything is in.

If these techniques and philosofies share something it is that the grow a spirituality that embraces different approaches to common goal.

They all start from their own certainties, paradigms and ways of understanding life, energy and spirit.

Even then, they accept that others can chip in, grow and broaden the opportunities.

cooperacion

This artile is a reflection, trying to put in words a very complicated topic and one that most people stand their ground in an intense way.

I hope that the conciliatory intention gets its way through and if it helps awakening sensibilities, cooperation and comprehension, it will have made its purpose.

Do you agree with the differences? Is there some experience you wish to share?

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