“Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis. Continue reading
Joy filled my soul as I read that the 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand were thinking of entering a monastery in honor of the former Navy Seal that gave his life in an effort to save them. Continue reading
I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of life.
Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.” According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading
Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.
I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading
There is a message I receive every time I travel to the IKEA store and visit the “As Is” department. I get a feeling that the Universe is telling me to open myself to the message the Swedish furniture store wants to share with the rest of the world.
Accept life “As Is,” it softly calls out to me. Continue reading
“I don’t know” is soon to become my life-long mantra.
It has helped me immensely in calming the “monkey mind” after a wonderful Korean woman introduced it to me and it took a full day for me to understand its profound ramifications.
For me, saying “I don’t know” is a way of humbling myself and admitting that I know very little about the world I live in and what really matters in the scheme of life. No matter how hard I try to “get it right” through searching and throwing myself into one spiritual path after another, the end result brings me no closer to any definite answer and it’s okay to let it go and simply say “I don’t know.” to the world
I don’t know how electricity works, but I know that it exists and provides for so many of our heating and transportation needs, not to mention that hair dryer that vain men (some women, perhaps) depend on for their appearance. I don’t know how God (or some other Source by a different name) created us, or how many days it took for Him to create the world, but I know that it manifested from the same substance that you and I are made of and will one day return to.
Yes, I believe in a force that is higher than myself, a divine spiritual “something” that ties us all together like the atoms that we share and the oneness we truly are. It is this small kernel of faith I have been fortunate enough to cultivate that allows me to now say with a firm conviction: “I don’t know.”
The woman that shared this phenomenal truth was a WON Buddhist minister who served as mentor for the minister of the WON Buddhist Temple of Philadelphia. She appears angelic although there are a few silver strands in her dark hair that’s pulled straight back and tied up in a professional-looking bun in the back of her head. Wearing glasses, nothing seems to separate the love that shines from her eyes for other beings like me who are lucky enough to have come into contact with her.
Like all female ministers, she wears a black gown or dress (or whatever you call the lower part of clothing covering a woman’s torso). The top is covered by a pure white blouse with a big white bow tie. At first glance, it reminded me of the outfit worn by the Catholic nuns of a by-gone era, but without the heavy starch and the tough, drill sergeant demeanor and firmness that could scare a kid with eternal damnation for speaking out of turn in second grade.
“I don’t know” is also a state of mind. It is similar to the “beginners’ mind” that Zen Buddhist monks recommend practitioners assume when studying the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama.
But “I don’t know” surpasses that in WON Buddhism, in my opinion. Once you truly admit this, you’re better able to tame the mind. To rid it of unnecessary thoughts that plagued you day and night.
Once that occurs, you can move into the next level, which is “no mind.” It is the “emptiness” that you hear talk of by holy men and women – the sages of all walks of life and forms of religion – who experience life without any judgement whatsoever. You become void and see things through the eyes of equanimity.
I have a long way to go, and I may not reach that high mountain top of a enlightenment, but I’ve learned to take the first step, thanks to those I’ve met during the 100th anniversary this week for WON Buddhism.
It’s a baby step, one I am proud of announcing to the world when I assert that “I don’t know!”
“I am the wisest man alive for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”— Socrates
“I know nothing.” — Sgt. Schultz, of Television’s Hogan’s Heroes
I’ve been to some ten different Buddhist temples in the mountainous regions of Korea taking in the rustic, centuries-old magnificent works of art and spiritual creations of man. I felt uplifted when entering doorways that millions, perhaps billions, of others walked through in search of peace and calm on their way to a potential enlightenment.
None however, have inspired more of a majestic feeling inside than the new WON Center in Seoul, Korea, where a bolt of soft and pure lightning once again struck me with what I can only describe as a divine presence that’s humbling and elevating at the same time. Continue reading