the stupa opens tomorrow, and so does another new year. how fortuitous to round the same spiraling route from a few months ago, to now on maitreya’s birthday, studying yogacara, bowing to our root teacher, with the sun, star and moon teaching me, illuminating the path through darkness to the brightness and tranquility of true nature.
reading about the Therigatha vs. Augustine’s confessions really struck me how the more masculine and Christian method was to seek a divine beyond oneself to look within, while the enlightened nuns sought their inner (re)source for wisdom and purification and did not attach to a sense of self except for narrative purposes.
we have been receiving higher level cleaning training and inspections, so again when this morning, cleaning the Buddha hall, the overseer shifu reminded me to clean the hall well since many spirits came to practice with us. In a way, this job was being the Buddha’s assistant.
I joked, “can’t they come clean with us?”
she said, “Amitofo! no, they don’t have a body, that’s the opportunity for you in the human realm! as you clean well, you’ll be rewarded with beauty/nobility of appearance in the future lives.”
I responded, “So would Buddhism say the divine is in the details?”
Master Moon responded, “We only believe practice is in the details.”
Gotta write about how this year I nearly lost function of both my right hand and heart, it feels like a major lesson with implications reverberating for years to come…an initiation and crashing through questions of…can you bear a life and death with these in disability and failure? If I receive these functions back in part or near full, what will I do with them? How will I care for these differently? What will I stop 🛑 doing? What will I use this citizenship, hand and heart to cultivate?
For now, until I find the words, so thankful for healers, doctors, shifus, friends, hands, heart—all community and body shared deeply…
As 2019 wraps up, reflections bring me back to the beginning of the year…perhaps the most poignant thing is how heart congestion problems have been surfacing as I clarify my xin. In January, I began to have heart challenges after drinking gailizi water for my consecutive challenges, compounded with lacking health insurance and citizenship. Then in various intense settings, I kept struggling with health issues resurfacing. When I left temple to work for a bit, still waiting for citizenship which was a process that strangled a lot of job offers, I ended up getting embroiled in a job where these indigenous family pulled more Han capitalist shit than some Han families and overworked my body for less than minimal pay and no job security. Got axed the moment I asked for prior day notification for work and legal minimum wage. Lost housing too. It’s been a tumultuous time, but somehow I still was compelled joyfully and filial’ly to buy and offer my mom some wonderful olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Spain as the necessary first offering from first salary. I’ve learned to be more 乖 this year, just reflecting on how much my family has given me, in lieu of all challenges, I also have much to be grateful for them for…with boundaries much intact. And now I’m convalescing with this finally diagnosed, slow inherited family heart issues affecting multiple organs and seeking rebalancing and treatments. It’s an interesting thing, to be cared for so well while reaching clarity and growing disability to participate fully in society’s dominant systems. Repentance indeed is precious, life is precious to practice well with. I feel humbled with this heart in its current state, sure I feel like it could improve, but it’s also useful this very convalescent state to reflect on how insubstantial this body is and work more diligently to improve daily at a diligent and humane rate. All begins from the xin.
reflection from 預修班，led by Master Moon 月師父
I believe this short phrase “seeking the highest Buddha path, sharing the illumination with fellow sentient beings” illustrates the ontology and teleology of the Bodhisattva path. I think this is about the proper path and practice of kinship in all worlds and times. Practicing kinship means cultivating relationality in a world that is rapidly breaking. This reminder serves as a dynamic ground to practice from in our current time of crisis in relationships with dharma, with all living beings of the many realms, with all human beings, with the living earth and land and water and air. In Buddhist language, this phrase evokes the spirit of the Bodhisattva path. In more colloquial terms, this is about the cultivation of true friendship.
In the sutras, one of the famed friendships is between Śāriputra 舍利佛 and Maudgalyāyana 目犍連. In their friendship, they cared most dearly and deeply about the realization of the wisdom which liberates for themselves and each other. They both went on diverging paths but were united in direction, promising each other that whoever finds the answer first must return and share with the other. By this time, each wise man had a sizable number of disciples who were driven by the same urge towards freedom via wisdom. Thus, this shows the unity of the Buddhists’ effort and the freedom which complements the practice of friendship with the dharma and fellow aspirants. In a sense, this example of compassion in friendship is what we should aspire to actualize with our all of our friendships as well.
It is honest and best to begin by seeing one is afflicted as much as any other sentient being. And equally and preciously, from this realization, one begins to grow the aspiration to accomplish the best way of Buddhahood. This is is beginning wisdom and compassion. In other texts, we see this phrase clarified by Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chemo, the Steps on the Path to Enlightenment. Tsongkhapa speaks about how we must cultivate a trusting friendship/relationship with our teacher to seek treatment for our dire spiritual illness. “Suffering from this spiritual disease, we have been continually ignorant. We have created the basis of our own disease. You must take powerful medicine over a long period of time. To cure our inner disease…constant practice, like a flowing river that never stops, is the medicine that will bring complete relief from the disease of serious mental afflictions.”
I draw on this passage because it is critical to note here, first as a reminder to myself, that the ontology and teleology of the Bodhisattva path is directed at one’s own cosmology first before directing it outwards. And to break one of the modern age’s problems, which is the ignorance of self-reliance. Why do we need teachers, why do we need 上求佛道，in order to 下化眾生? Because where we are is so deeply afflicted by illusory self-created poisons, but this illusion inherently is not something to guilt oneself or one another for in that Catholic punitive ways, nor is it to escape into savior mode, as the Christian, western, hegemonic, patriarchal or even the Confucian, eastern, patriarchal model espouses.
I also confess that this tendency is one of my current flaws, which is to first seek external action and solutions without consequent, or simultaneous or prioritized inner work. Also, I tend to prioritize friendships over wisdom, so this is why I must remember the first part of the phrase. From my personal experiences observing and participating political work, many of us seek to help others without first adjusting ourselves, which magnifies the harm amidst already hurt people and beings. Yet, this idea, this pride of self already being purified enough to sufficiently help others is a significant beginning of harm and draws on western, patriarchal, capitalist and Christian and/or Confucian, masculine, feudalist based notions of salvation, or any cosmology that portends to have some sort of greater stable Emperor/God-like self, which are paths that are distinct from the path of liberation espoused by not just the Buddha, but all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who’s wisdom is an emanation of, as the Tibetan traditions call, Mahaprajnaparamita, the mother of all wisdoms. It is critical to note that the Buddha himself is not the savior as some more patriarchal traditions have painted him as, but as one emanation of the greater illumination of wisdom. Surely, the teachings of truth, or dharma, are the method, the medicines for our afflictions. But even the Buddha himself and the Bodhisattvas cannot force any sentient being towards liberation, that must begin within one’s own xin-mind-heart. The path to Buddhahood is cultivated within, our relationship to sentient beings begins within as well. We chant this in every evening class. We seek and cultivate unbreakable wisdom as a gift, a medicine we share with self and friends out of cultivated compassion and merit.
As a friend, we naturally desire to give the very best gift, via the very best medium. Should we give a wondrous gift in a poisoned package? No, that ruins the gift, the giver, and if received, the receiver as well. What makes a good gift? One which is from the best source—purified, wise, compassionate and enlivening, like the medicine of water. This is the essence of 佛，cultivated/applied in the 道。To whom do we give this cultivated gift? All 眾生 sentient beings who earnestly seek and practice wise freedom and purified compassion, beginning with oneself.
@Amanda thank you for always pushing me to think better about spiritual and material debts for my economics of karma development. And of course just affirming my taurus ♉️ ain’t just hedonism. Following stories to come after finishing the kneeling and IKAM with @Maria José
◦ Noodle propitiation
◦ Potato chips repentance//temple training of stuff you singularly with your greedily loved food endlessly to train you out of attachment (is capitalism is a punishment?)
◦ Coffee salt reparations
◦ No titty apologies
◦ Two scarf returns
◦ Pie 🥧 for Handkerchief
On another note, thinking a lot of writing stuff with @Crop Top on anti chinese nationalism of the 4 tiger 🐯 economy and how thats colonizing af to think y’all retain real chinese culture while denying chinese blood 🩸. Same and especially based off Japanese 🇯🇵 imperialism model and western supremacy is not unlocked. 👀 Ing at Hong Kong and middle upper class Taiwan fakas
In Northern school we learn through the sastras, the incredible words, and in Tang Dynasty Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sutra was translated by Great Venerable XuanZhang. This sutra is attributed to Nāgārjuna, who went to the depths of the sea and learned the protected 🔐 teachings in 🐉 lairs. Low 🔑 love how he got to such mastery through his restraint of Hoedom. His Holodex bigger than mine and mine is, according to Yao, bigger than 三國演義 😂。 I’m so excited to learn it and memorize. This shortened heart ♥️ of this sutra has delivered countless travelers including me from terror. To Jess, chanting this has been one of the ways I steadied myself amidst similar questions.
and I love how the sculpt imaging of transcendent perfection wisdom was sculpted in what we now call China first and as a mother.
Malas gifts from monk shifus who receive these from the ten directions
Sending these over ocean 🌊 liner to friends in this darkening winter season. I would like to incorporate more attention into learning the materials and woods and seeds and such precious stones. I desire knowing where they come from and were they taken from mama earth in good ceremony and were these crafted in good ways, for all the few simple materials monks are permitted. perhaps my bowl can be a commission with local indigenous potters?