The Four Noble Truths

Shared by Ann.

Buddism is philosophy, psychology & religion.

Philosophy: Some people see Buddhism as finding a way to lead your life differently.

Psychology: finding and investigating yourself through mindfulness and meditation.

Religion: Certain beliefs. Each sect has different practices, but almost all of them practice The Four Noble Truths.

  1. Suffering
  2. The Cause of Suffering
  3. The Cessation of Suffering
  4. The Path of the cessation of Suffering

Suffering: We all suffer personally, socially, and mentally. Not getting what we desire is suffering.

The Cause of Suffering: When you have greed and crave, there will be suffering. If you don’t accept the situation as is, there will be suffering.

The Cessation of Suffering: Accept what it is and stop craving.

We didn’t discuss the path of the cessation of Suffering.

Nan’s experience with the tea ceremony

Flower arrangement by Raphael

Shared by Nan

During a winter Sesshin in Dallas last year in December,   I was partaking in a tea ceremony with my group. This was a journal from my experience.

During the tea ceremony, I was holding a very small cup … the tea server poured the tea inside my cup … everything was done in a very mindful and graceful manner. Bowing and serving then bowing .

As I looked at the green tea, I started to imagine the labor of love that went into the production of the tea… from the farmers growing the tea, harvesting, selling and preparing for the community.

I touched the cup and felt the warmth on my hands. I smelled the natural aroma rising from the tea.
Inhaling and feeling the goodness of it
exhaling and letting go of all my negative thoughts.

I started sipping the tea… introduced myself to it …getting to know it…  the mild and bitter taste as it touched my mouth …

I heard myself as I swallow each sip of the tea… I kept sipping slowly … every sipping has its distinct sound …

to my surprise … I felt as if there was plenty of tea in the small cup… I kept drinking but there was always more in the cup… it was a cup that just kept on giving … as though it was never empty.. I felt such an abundance!

I felt full from drinking from the cup!  Was the cup ever empty? Was it empty or full ? Am I still talking about the cup or my tummy? I do not know. I do not know yet I continue to smile as I am recalling this one with the tea!

How students should prepare for zazen 坐禅心得 ( zazen kokoroe)

How students should prepare for zazen

Shared by Kaz

In 2012, Rev Ito shared with students how students should be prepared to come to our zendo for zazen. “Rinzai hakone zendo zazen kokoroe”. I added explanations.

  1. 礼儀作法 (reigi saho): Etiquette & be courteous. Students should respect the zendo and other students. Students can clean and set up our zendo where we meditate. To be courteous to others, students can avoid disturbing others by arrive early and try move less during zazen.
  2. 坐してかんがえよ (za shite kangae yo): Just sit. Do not think anything. Don’t think about what you are going to do later today or what happened to you earlier, just sit to be yourself.
  3. 坐をきめよ (za wo kime yo)(座相)zasou: Find your center and sit. Students can move bodies from side to side and front and back to find their center.
  4. 背筋 頭 丹田 (sesuji atama tanden): Let your body to sit. Straighten your spine and align your head. Focus on tanden, 2.5 inches below your navel. Your mind and everything sit in tanden.
  5. 気息を坐らせよ (kisoku wo suwaraseyo):  Control your breath. 1/3 should be inhaling, and 2/3 should be exhaling. Try longer exhaling.
  6. 丹田を落ち着かせここが己の住処なり (tanden wo ochitsukase kokoga onoreno sumika nari):  Focus on tanden. Breathe slowly and abdominally.

Here is recording of teisho by Rev Ito from 7/22/2012.


Shared by Oscar

Through meditation, I began to question how to accept negative emotions. Although wanting to be happy is a habit and being able to control what we are exposed to is the easy path. It is important to have an open mind that willingly accepts comfort and discomfort. Instead of having a mental diet and avoiding negative emotions and negativity in general, striving for acceptance of those feelings yields better understanding and peace when dealing with them. The goal is to ultimately achieve balance and acceptance to improve quality of life. At the same time, becoming less judgmental and connecting with others by feeling and understanding the same emotions we all go through. And to remember that as humans, we are allowed to feel all kinds of ways and don’t have to force ourselves to feel one specific way all the time. 

Happiness is a habit

Shared by Peter

In the book titled “The Art of Living”, it said “Happiness is a habit.  It’s training” The author was Thich That Hahn, a renowned Buddhist monk. 

Habit can be either an exceedingly good servant or a very bad master. 

So how do cultivate a good servant and stay away from a bad master?

  1. Let go of the past.   “It is mental slavery to cling to things that have stopped serving its purpose in your life.” — Chinonye J. Chidolue Equally important is, Letting go of strong attachment to things, such as wealth, power, fame, ego, and other possessions.
  1. Stop worrying about the future. We are always looking outside ourselves for something to make us feel satisfied and complete. But so long as we have the energy of craving in us, we’re never satisfied with what we have and with who we are right now, and true happiness is not possible.  The energy of craving sucks us into the future

The past does not exist, and the future is not here yet. Happiness can only possibly be found in the present moment.  As soon as we realize that in this very moment we already have enough, and we already are enough, true happiness becomes possible. 

With mindfulness, concentration, and insight, we can free ourselves from feelings of restlessness and craving, and realize that, right now, we already have more than enough conditions to be happy.  It’s training.   Practicing mindfulness (of the present moment)  during mediation can be good training for happiness is a habit. 

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass us again. Enjoy every moment of your life.” — quote from unknown

“We were born with our spiritual power, ki.”

Shared by Reni

Rev. Ito’s teisho: “We were born with our spiritual power, ki.”

   We were born with our life energy which is part of the invisible energy forces of the Universe. Ki is our spiritual self, life energy. Ki, the spirit lives in our seika tanden, in raw translation, it means “everlasting life”. Seika tanden locations differ by each individual, approximately 3-5 centimeters below the navel within the hara. In Zazen meditation the cosmic mudra hand gesture, the left hand gently embraces our right hand and forms a circle resting around the hara. While we are deep breathing air into our thiaframe we form an internal decision. The internal decision of refocusing from the muddled mind and finding clarity in tanden while we connect to our innate state of being. During meditation the body’s center line, seichusen, balances back towards alignment & strengthens our core energy. With each mindful moment we kindly remind ourselves that we’re one with the Universe.