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Thread: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

  1. #1

    6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    ... a flower ... a smile ...

    Pages 32 to 35 in Cook

    Pages 39 to 42 in Hixon

    Gassho, J

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    ... a shamrock ... a smile ...

    Only joking ;-)

    PS: The Irish Christian version of this story is St Patrick holding up the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity concept to non-Christian Irish... one God, three persons. Of couse, not being a Zen Buddhist, he used words.

    Gassho,

    Soen

  3. #3

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Hello,

    sorry...but I just have to slip this Father Ted quote in here, since St. Patrick was mentioned:

    "Father Ted: That's the great thing about Catholicism - it's very vague and no-one knows what its really all about."

    One could say the same thing about certain aspects of Buddhadharma :twisted:

    Gassho,

    Hans

  4. #4

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Big laughs on the previous comments haha but since I can only seem to intellectualize the meanings of these things, a verse:

    Gong and striker,
    Combined in an instant,
    Intimate,
    Yet the whole world resonates.

    Really enjoyed the comment about Mahkashyapa's toes in our sandals

    Taylor

  5. #5

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    An short aside. Stephen Batchelor had an interesting talk in one of his recent speaking series about how Mahakashyapa is viewed differently in different traditions. Obviously in Sotos school he plays a major key role, but Batchelor commented that if you read the Pali sutras he was not such a nice dude with Ananda.

  6. #6

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa


  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Great Fr Ted quote Hans! :lol:

    ... and since I'm a Zen Buddhist rather than an Irish Christian, all I have to say on the matter is:

  8. #8

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    An short aside. Stephen Batchelor had an interesting talk in one of his recent speaking series about how Mahakashyapa is viewed differently in different traditions. Obviously in Sotos school he plays a major key role, but Batchelor commented that if you read the Pali sutras he was not such a nice dude with Ananda.
    Do you have the link for that, Erik?

    Gassho, J

  9. #9

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    The focal point of this reading for me was:
    "This is simply raising a flower and smiling. No analysis of experience, no transcendent insight, no silent meditative equipoise, no separate action and response." p. 41, Hixon.

    I have a question about the Cook translation:
    "You should know that he was an old Buddha and not think that he was simply one of the Buddha's ordinary disciples." p. 33, Cook.

    The idea that Kashyapa was somehow special and not the same as the "average Joe" is a bit of the religious hyperbole that I tend to dismiss. Am I too quick to disagree with this translation? I thought one of the points being made here was the timeless/beginingless nature of our true nature, so how does an "old Buddha" differ from a "new" Buddha in this awakening?

    Gassho,
    Eika

  10. #10

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Chapter 18 A secular Buddhist in 'Confession of a Buddhist Atheist' by stephen Batchelor describes the power struggle between Kassapa and Ananda.

    Also in the chapter Batchelor suggests that Buddha never wanted a successor but 'envisioned a community that would be governed after his death by an impersonal body of ideas and practices rather than by an enlightened monk' p.230

  11. #11

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    I have a question about the Cook translation:
    "You should know that he was an old Buddha and not think that he was simply one of the Buddha's ordinary disciples." p. 33, Cook.

    The idea that Kashyapa was somehow special and not the same as the "average Joe" is a bit of the religious hyperbole that I tend to dismiss. Am I too quick to disagree with this translation? I thought one of the points being made here was the timeless/beginingless nature of our true nature, so how does an "old Buddha" differ from a "new" Buddha in this awakening?
    I think that it is something like that old saying from Animal Farm. In Buddhism, "we are all equal ... but some of us are more equal than others". 8)

    We are all Buddha, but yet there are enlightened beings and deluded beings, hungry ghosts and human beings, masters, great masters, not so great masters ...

    There is no doubt that, in Buddhism in general and Zen in particular, there was always the tendency to insist that some folks (usually those ancestors from whom one is a descendant) were head and shoulders above others.

    Then again, the Sixth Patriarch (perhaps the greatest of them all) was said to be an illiterate wood cutter, an "average joe", a layman who was working in the temple kitchen when he was made "the Sixth Patriarch". It has nothing to do with being an "average joe" or not.

    Gassho, J

  12. #12

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Thanks, Jundo.

    Gassho,

    Eika

  13. #13

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    Chapter 18 A secular Buddhist in 'Confession of a Buddhist Atheist' by stephen Batchelor describes the power struggle between Kassapa and Ananda.

    Also in the chapter Batchelor suggests that Buddha never wanted a successor but 'envisioned a community that would be governed after his death by an impersonal body of ideas and practices rather than by an enlightened monk' p.230
    Rich--Thanks for the references.
    Jundo--It's a very small commentary that Batchelor gives w/i a larger presentation. If I can find it, I'll reference it here.

  14. #14
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    I got the feeling reading these chapters that this was a done deal between Buddha and Mahakashyapa and the whole flower "ceremony" just formalized it, almost literally a passing of the torch (light). I picture the knowing nod between the two, and all the other monks asking, "Hey, what just happened?"

    Other than that, I liked how symbolism and reality meet as one (beyond one?) in the image of the flower, the masculine/feminine aspects as an aspect of unity, and from Hixon:
    Daily the old fellow Shakyamuni and you walk about, stand in place, sit, and lie down together, and you have words together without even a moment of separation.

  15. #15

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    The nirm??ak?ya of Buddha passed on the light, and spread the dharma onwards. In time, it reached us.

    The dharmak?ya of Buddha was already there, had already passed on the light, and is shining through all of us in this very moment. "In truth -- for what could go wrong?"

    ??? ??? ?????? ???????? ???? ??????

  16. #16

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    The nirm??ak?ya of Buddha passed on the light, and spread the dharma onwards. In time, it reached us.

    The dharmak?ya of Buddha was already there, had already passed on the light, and is shining through all of us in this very moment. "In truth -- for what could go wrong?"

    ??? ??? ?????? ???????? ???? ??????
    Everyone wandering around in a dark room. Shakyamuni was tall enough to reach the switch, Mahakashyapa was the only who noticed the light had come on; he smiled.

    Gassho

  17. #17

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Raising a flower and smiling, this is clearly not choosing words. That’s why transmission in Zen is seen outside words and letters, in the total intimacy of this.
    Shobogenzo. The display of ancestors names on the shiho, the transmission silk, a written document given by the teacher during Denpo, the transmission ceremony, looks like an eye, or a flower with countless petals.Here and now the first transmission takes place, it is clearly the matrix of numberless before and after.
    Hixon insists on the very simple and naked experience, what Eika pointed out in a previous post, the transmission process requires to let go, throw away body and mind on the mat, zagu,(bowing mats) touching, many bows, and in every single one, teacher and student turn into each other.
    In our tradition, we receive before being given anything, so it is always: jukai before jukai ( precepts ceremony), shukke tokudo ( leaving home, priest ordination) before shukke tokudo, denpo (transmission) before denpo. Remember the famous koan: “if you have a stick I will give you one, if you don’t have any, I will take it way from you”.
    Mahakashyapa has already met this: when presented with a single flower, he smiles.

    gassho to all


    Taigu[attachment=0]blutlinie%20455[1].jpg[/attachment]

    Attached files .jpg]

  18. #18

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    In our tradition, we receive before being given anything, . . .
    :!:
    _/_

  19. #19

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    The nirm??ak?ya of Buddha passed on the light, and spread the dharma onwards. In time, it reached us.

    The dharmak?ya of Buddha was already there, had already passed on the light, and is shining through all of us in this very moment. "In truth -- for what could go wrong?"

    ??? ??? ?????? ???????? ???? ??????
    Thank you, Anista.

    Please have a look at these pages from the Platform Sutra (this is the John McRae translation of the 13th Century version ... PDF) ...

    http://www.numatacenter.com/digital/dBE ... a_2000.pdf

    Pages 68 of 172 (Page 50 of the print version), from the bottom paragraph, "What is the pure dharmakaya buddha?" ... until about the end of page 70 or so of 172 (page 52 of the print version).

    Gassho, J

  20. #20

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Transmission of the Light occurs beyond & independent of time or space, while words are defined by both.

  21. #21

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    The nirm??ak?ya of Buddha passed on the light, and spread the dharma onwards. In time, it reached us.

    The dharmak?ya of Buddha was already there, had already passed on the light, and is shining through all of us in this very moment. "In truth -- for what could go wrong?"

    ??? ??? ?????? ???????? ???? ??????
    Thank you, Anista.

    Please have a look at these pages from the Platform Sutra (this is the John McRae translation of the 13th Century version ... PDF) ...

    http://www.numatacenter.com/digital/dBE ... a_2000.pdf

    Pages 68 of 172 (Page 50 of the print version), from the bottom paragraph, "What is the pure dharmakaya buddha?" ... until about the end of page 70 or so of 172 (page 52 of the print version).

    Gassho, J
    Oo, good call! Very nice reference. (If I'm thinking what you're thinking).

    Always separating myself from all the dharmas. It's a bad habit, really.

    Gassho, Philip

  22. #22

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Wonderful thoughtful posts above and to come!! Thank you!
    Not much to add but here is how I read this:
    They had a an inside joke that was not 1 bit inside!
    All the assembly witnessed the transmission long before, by remaining still, verified missing it.
    They knew long before the flower was raised. Mahakashyapa and Buddha, all the same. Buddha raised the flower and smiled.


    Gassho
    Shohei

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Coming a little late to the dance, but here's my $.02.

    I'd ike to jump back two posts just to log in my feeling about lineage etc. This idea is, of course, very familiar to me as a priest. In the sacramental Christian churches we have what is termed Apostolic Succession. What that means is that every priest who is ordained is able to trace back through the bishop who ordained him, and in the case of bishops those who consecrated him, all the previous bishops and those who ordained them back to the Apostles, who were ordained by Jesus Christ. I can literally make a list through the past 1977 years tracing back to a particular Apostle who started the particular lineage I am in.

    So the idea of Buddhist lineage and transmission is not at all foreign to me. It is quite acceptable and reasonable for me to want to know that. It would also seem rather probable that this could be done, seeing that such a list would only be about an half century longer than my other list!

    Now coming back to the present sections; a couple of things jumped out at me while reading: "...when Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened, the great earth and all beings were enlighted"[Cook; pg 30];and,"Never alone. This means oneness.There is nothing separate to be known, no one separate to perform the act of knowing. Great Compassion is simply the absence of separateness" [Nixon;pg 36]

    So then, it would seem logical to assume that if we all became enlightened with Shakyamuni Buddha on that Autumn morning, that what is next is to recognize that was the case as did Mahakashyapa when he saw: the smile, the closed eyes or the flower of Buddha, or all of them together. It could have been a broom, or a toilet brush or a playful splash or water down at the river for morning bath. I cannot get hung up about the time or place or belabored symbolic act or object that did it for Mahakashyapa. What seems to be more important is that he at some moment realized he was looking into a mirror and the enlightened was "recalled" in him.

    Gassho ( and waiting for my mirror-moment)

    Seishin Kyrill

  24. #24

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    An short aside. Stephen Batchelor had an interesting talk in one of his recent speaking series about how Mahakashyapa is viewed differently in different traditions. Obviously in Sotos school he plays a major key role, but Batchelor commented that if you read the Pali sutras he was not such a nice dude with Ananda.
    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Jundo--It's a very small commentary that Batchelor gives w/i a larger presentation. If I can find it, I'll reference it here.
    I listened to this podcast as well and believe it is one of these here....I listened a bit, but could not locate the part about Mahakashyapa....

    http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/step...lks/talks.html

    Gassho,
    Jisen/BrianW

  25. #25

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Due to a hectic week, I am going to just share the notes I scribbled in the margins of the books after I read.

    Simplicity in the flower. Becoming a buddha isn't difficult, every being is already a buddha--no becoming; beginningless. Mahakashyapa smiles, at the flower which is buddha, and Buddha that is buddha, at the buddha nature in everything. The two enlightened men facing each other, reflecting this as they reflect nothing because all is as it is and was and will be.

    Gassho,
    Jen

  26. #26

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    A difficult but very empowering text.
    I specially enjoyed the idea of making that scene from thousands of years ago real in us when we practice zazen:
    If you just urgently practice the way today, Kashyapa has not entered mount Kukkutapada, but can appear in Japan. Shakyamuni fleshly body will be warm right now, and Kashyapa smile will be new again.
    I read it as if when we are in zazen, with the right attitude, The treasure of the Eye of the True Dharma and the Wondrous Mind of Nirvana is continuoulsy being transmited from the ancestors to no one, that is, me . When I realise that I am "me" static jumps in and transmission is broken.

    Gassho

    Da5id

  27. #27

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    I feel like I understand exactly what happened between Buddha/flower/Mahakashyapa, deeply and intimately. I also feel like I haven't got the faintest clue what happened.

    Reiterating and paraphrasing a lesson recently learned: Less analyzing, more smiling.

  28. #28

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter
    I feel like I understand exactly what happened between Buddha/flower/Mahakashyapa, deeply and intimately. I also feel like I haven't got the faintest clue what happened.
    That's probably how the other 79,999 monks felt; sitting together on a mountain and waiting... waiting.

    Hixon refers to the 80,000 as 'mindstreams of the principal male and female transmitters of Dharma...' What does he mean by mindstreams?

    Gassho,

    JohnH

  29. #29

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    I believe a recent sit-along with Jundo (i.e., http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=17304 may have revealed to me why I enjoy the closing poems so much in our readings. So far they have focused on nature and, although I am sure full of hidden meaning that I am missing, they have a simplicity to them. The use of nature to illustrate our teachings hits me at my core. In the recent sit-along, Jundo explores how some get carried away with the concept of enlightenment as being some fanciful blissed out state. Some chase after this experience as the be all and end all of our practice...as Jundo states they miss the most important gift of all "to be so totally at home and whole with/as/living this life/." So back to our reading...the simplicity of Keizan's ending poem, absent of extraordinary events, just seems so in accord with everyday experience.


    Know that in a remote place in a cloud-covered valley,

    There is still a sacred pine that passes through the chill of the ages.

    Gassho,
    Jisen/BrianW

    (Disclaimer: I do make a point to surround my self with nature as much as possible and thus this may not be true for others.)

  30. #30

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Like Eika, I found the focal point of these readings to be: “Perfectly pure complete understanding is not involved with the ordinary discriminating mind. . .” (Cook, p. 34). “Understanding,” not “acquisition.” For me, the general flavor of both texts is that we have what we need, or think we want, or think we are lacking. We simply need to get out of our own way (and heads) to realize it. Simple, beautiful, always available.

    Gassho, Jikyo

  31. #31

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    How is the undertaking of austeries viewed by Keizan? In "Shakyamuni" we read that, "Reeds grew up between his [Shakyamuni's] legs as he sat tranquilly and erect without movement for six years"; and in Mahakashyapa we read: "He practiced the twelve austerities and never vainly wasted his time during the night or day. Seeing his emaciated body and uncouth clothing, the whole commnity of monks was struck with wonder. As a result, when the Buddha preached the Dharma, he shared his seat at each assembly with Kashyapa". Keizan seems to approve of this, but I thought that the Buddha abandoned these sort of austerities saying that they are not the path to enlightenment because they can strenghten the ego ("Look how tough I am!").

    I was struck by the vigorous sets of contrasts in this passage between austerity and gentleness; mystical lights/eternal sleeps and the reality of toes in sandals; very specific moments in time and no time at all.

    gassho
    Monkton

  32. #32
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Hi all,

    I haven't posted in a couple weeks, but wanted to say that I am reading along with everyone. I have no great insights or thoughts on what we've read...and yet I am ok with not having a clue. So, I'll just ride along for awhile and see what comes up, ok?

    Many bows (as I stitch the frame of my kesa at 2am while the house is quiet).

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  33. #33

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by monkton
    How is the undertaking of austeries viewed by Keizan? In "Shakyamuni" we read that, "Reeds grew up between his [Shakyamuni's] legs as he sat tranquilly and erect without movement for six years"; and in Mahakashyapa we read: "He practiced the twelve austerities and never vainly wasted his time during the night or day. Seeing his emaciated body and uncouth clothing, the whole commnity of monks was struck with wonder. As a result, when the Buddha preached the Dharma, he shared his seat at each assembly with Kashyapa". Keizan seems to approve of this, but I thought that the Buddha abandoned these sort of austerities saying that they are not the path to enlightenment because they can strenghten the ego ("Look how tough I am!").

    I was struck by the vigorous sets of contrasts in this passage between austerity and gentleness; mystical lights/eternal sleeps and the reality of toes in sandals; very specific moments in time and no time at all.

    gassho
    Monkton
    I think that Zen monasteries, historically, were not unlike the corner gym or health club.

    You have your "no pain no gain" weight training types, and your "slow, steady, "it's not a race" cardio vascular "running to no where" treadmill types".

    The key to both, however, is the "no gain" and "no where to go" aspect.

    .

  34. #34

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Hi Jundo,
    thanks for putting that in perspective,
    Monkton
    (one of the treadmill types)

  35. #35
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    I thoroughly enjoyed Hixon's closing poem - other than that, I'm not fond of his writing style.

    In Cook's translation "Daily the old fellow Shakyamuni and you walk about, stand in place, sit, and lie down together and you have words together without even a moment of separation." stood out.

    Ron

  36. #36

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Hey everyone. Sorry I am getting into this so late. I have had some stuff to deal with around here and it has all been sort of hectic. Anyways I have caught up on the reading and don't have much to say. I get a bit lost in the reading sometimes but I am trying to get a grasp on it all; and with all of your great comments it has made understanding it easier.

  37. #37

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Some more on austerities practiced by Mahakasyapa:

    Mahakasyapa was scolded by Vimalak?rti because when he went on alms rounds he would only visit the houses of the poor (and therefor only get poor food) and Vimalak?rti told Mahakasyapa that his practices of such austerities were intrinsically worthless and only useful if combine with true equanimity reached through the wisdom that realizes emptiness. I sure am glad Mahakasyapa finally got it.

    Yours in practice,
    Jordan

  38. #38

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuken
    Some more on austerities practiced by Mahakasyapa:

    Mahakasyapa was scolded by Vimalak?rti because when he went on alms rounds he would only visit the houses of the poor (and therefor only get poor food) and Vimalak?rti told Mahakasyapa that his practices of such austerities were intrinsically worthless and only useful if combine with true equanimity reached through the wisdom that realizes emptiness. I sure am glad Mahakasyapa finally got it.

    Yours in practice,
    Jordan
    Perhaps he should have gone to the houses of the rich and given to the poor. Bodhisattva Robin Hood.

    I am reading now a book that is largely a critique of Dana practices in the modern Theravada countries like Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka ... although the criticism can apply to most Mahayana countries too. Makes much of the priesthood look like a bunch of parasites and abusers of the system of Dana (Generosity and Giving), whose teachings primarily focus on collecting donations ... Here is a blog by the author ...

    http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/2008/07/p ... hamma.html

    Gassho, J

  39. #39

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Hi.

    Here's an pdf of the broken buddha (probably the book jundo reffered to)
    http://www.buddhistische-gesellschaft-b ... dhanew.pdf

    I recommend it.
    And do not miss his blog, it's also recommendable..
    Both very thoughtful.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  40. #40

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Shakyamuni saw Mahakashyapa tapping his toe to the beat and welcomed him to the dance. Dance/This! Gassho Shogen

  41. #41

    Re: 6/25 TRANSMISSION of the LIGHT: to Mahakashyapa

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo

    I think that Zen monasteries, historically, were not unlike the corner gym or health club.

    You have your "no pain no gain" weight training types, and your "slow, steady, "it's not a race" cardio vascular "running to no where" treadmill types".

    The key to both, however, is the "no gain" and "no where to go" aspect.

    .
    The most profound passage I have read all day.

    Cheers.

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