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Today, I offer a film review of 'Into Great Silence' (2006):
Synopsis: Nestled deep in the French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is considered one of the world’s most ascetic monasteries. In 1984, German filmmaker Philip Gröning wrote to the Carthusian order for permission to make a documentary about them. They said they would get back to him. Sixteen years later, they were ready. Gröning, sans crew or artificial lighting, lived in the monks’ quarters for six months—filming their daily prayers, tasks, rituals and rare outdoor excursions.
QUESTION 1: "Does Satori provide the answer to the ‘big questions’?" I write you now Jundo because recently certain ideas, questions, and doubts have come to me which have, to be honest, shaken my faith in the Dharma painfully. ... these doubts really have me feeling lost... I now strongly feel the need to speak to a teacher. One who has trained in Zen and opened their 'mind's eye' in some degree. I'm not expecting miracle answers that will solve everything for me but I would just like the opinion and perspective of one who has developed their Zazen practice. Basically, I was hoping that I could run a few thoughts past you Jundo. [Please answer] one at a time. But these questions seem quite pressing to me right now.
Mettā (a word in the ancient Buddhist Pāli language) has been translated as "loving-kindness," "benevolence," "good will," "love" and "sympathy." It is one of the ten Pāramitās (Virtues) of Buddhism. The mettā bhāvanā ("cultivation of mettā") is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. The object of mettā meditation is loving kindness (but, of course, without demands or attachment). Traditionally, the practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves, then their loved ones, friends, strangers, enemies (perhaps the most difficult part of the practice) and finally towards all sentient beings.
It can be said to oneself, out loud or inwardly. It can be spoken, and need not be sung or chanted. It need not be considered a "prayer" to some force outside us (we will leave that to silence), and can be thought of as simply our aspiration for a better world for all living beings. Truly, 'inside' and 'outside' are not two, and one can effect and greatly change the other.To begin, take a moment to quiet your mind, and focus your attention on recalling the experience and sensation of loving kindness. Try to summon such feelings within, and hold them throughout your sincere reciting of the following.
You will then begin by offering Metta to yourself. If distracting thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them pass, and return to your Metta practice from there, again and again, just as in Shikantaza. While reciting, try to maintain the experience and sensation of loving kindness to the beings mentioned. Note that the word "suffering" in the following refers to the Buddhist idea of Dukkha http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/09/sit-long-with-jundo-heart-sutra-xx-four.html )
1. May I be free of enmity; may I feel safe and still.
2. May I be free of suffering, may I be loving, grateful and kind.
3. May I be healthy and at ease in all my ills.
4. May I be at peace, embracing all conditions of life.
Next, repeat the chant with a specific close loved one in mind ...
1. May he(she) be free of enmity; may he(she) feel safe and still.
2. May he(she) be free of suffering; may he(she) be loving, grateful and kind.
3. May he(she) be healthy and at ease in all his(her) ills.
4. May he(she) be at peace, embracing all conditions of life
Then, repeat the above in succession for a specific close friend, a specific neutral person (someone you neither like nor dislike), and then a difficult person (no need to start with the most difficult person, but someone whom you have a distaste for ... However, it is a good practice to focus on true enemies or hateful individuals. That is perhaps the most valuable and difficult practice of all).
Close with all beings:
1. May we be free of enmity; may we feel safe and still.
2. May we be free of suffering; may we be loving, grateful and kind.
3. May we be healthy and at ease in all our ills.
4. May we be at peace, embracing all conditions of life
When staying at Tendo Monastery in China, while the old master Nyojo was abbot there, we sat zazen until about eleven o’clock at night and got up at about half-past two to sit zazen. The abbot sat with the assembly in the sodo, never taking even one night off.
While sitting, many monks fell asleep. The abbot walked around hitting them with his fist or his slipper, scolding them and encouraging them to wake up. If they continued to sleep, he went to the shodo1, rang the bell, and called his attendants to light the candles. On the spur of the moment he would say such things as; “What is the use of sleeping? Why do you gather in a sodo? Why did you become a monk and enter this monastery? ... It is utterly foolish to pass the time you are alive meaninglessly sleeping or lying down while you fail to practice the buddha dharma. ...
Because of the late hour, I pulled my car off on the side of the road and sat there.
AS WE SEW A RAKUSU IN PREPARATION FOR JUKAI, I THOUGHT IT NICE TO LOOK BACK ON THIS LITTLE VISIT WITH NISHIJIMA ROSHI (who is doing fine, by the way) ...
Today, our most special guest 'sits-a-long' ...
The subject was the 'Kesa' (skt. kâshâya), the monk's outer robe. The 'Rakusu' is the shortened version that I wear most days. Nishijima Roshi always sits in a full Kashaya. He recently wrote this:
I PROMISED TO TAKE MY SON TO SEE FIREWORKS TODAY,
SO A GOOD PLACE FOR SOME INSTA-ZAZEN© ...