Backyard Dharma Musings

Bodhisattva Vows ~

Creations are numberless; I vow to free them

Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to transform them

Reality is boundless; I vow to perceive it

The awakened way is unsurpassable; I vow to embody it

At its most basic, the Buddha taught that we all suffer and the reason we suffer is because we have the desire to cling to things that are impermanent like life, health, and relationships. And he also taught that the end of suffering is possible through the cessation of this craving or clinging. And finally, he teaches that there is a path to the end of suffering (craving) which includes the cultivation of Right Understanding, Right Intent, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration – also known as the Eightfold Path.

In my world, Buddhism is an embodied, non-dual, earth-based religion that originated in India and from there migrated to China and throughout Asia and ultimately to the U.S. My home tradition is Zen in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition of  Engaged Buddhism from Vietnam and I also have a love of Soto Zen (from Japan) and the Upaya Zen Center. 

Compassion practice is central to Buddhism and flows from what Thich Nhat Hanh calls Interbing which means that everything is interdependent – nothing exists separately from anything else – reality is non-dual. Take yourself as an example. You would not exist without your parents. You also are as you are in this moment because of the oatmeal you ate for breakfast, the farmer that grew the oats, and the driver that transported the oats, as well as the sunshine and rain that Inter-are with those oats. That driver that transported your oats does not exist separately from their parents and on and on… We can trace our existence back to the stars and beyond. Compassion flows from the experience of Interbeing or non-duality, from the realization that everything is you.

A core Buddhist practice is meditation. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel approaches zazen or sitting in silence as an earth based, embodied practice and says in her book, “The Shamanic Bones of Zen,” To take one’s seat in zazen is to sit upon the earth. It is to connect to the source of our lives, which is the breath passed on by ancestors.

Senior Dharma Teacher, Larry Ward simply tells us that “We are Earthlings.” We are made up of the same elements as the rest of the earth; we inter-are with the earth, water, fire and air; we are the earth. So, meditation reconnects us to the earth, air, fire, and water which are our source and our being – welcoming our whole bodies into belonging and presence.