Category Archives: buddhism

This category is about everything Buddha and Buddhism, which teaches that:
1) everything is marked by impermanence, to believe in any permanence is to suffer, and the the ultimate cause of suffering is the rejection of the non-permanent self.
2) Enlightenment (contentment) can be found through the understanding of the true nature of existence (trilaksana) as stated here, and by living in accordance to such an understanding.

What the Buddha taught

Upon discovering the way to liberation from suffering the Buddha went to his former companions who had abandoned him. Noticing his changed disposition they listened and realised that he had reached their common goal.

He taught them that everything without exception is impermanent, that to understand otherwise is the cause of suffering, and that the most expedient way to liberation is to accept the impermanence of the self (non-self).

The Buddha summarised it in this way:

      1. life is suffering,
      2. it is cause by our desires (thirst),
      3. to cease suffering one must detach from desires, and
      4. the way to do it is by having correct
        1. understanding
        2. thought
        3. speech
        4. action
        5. livelihood
        6. effort
        7. mindfulness
        8. concentration

He also taught the nature our personality (skandha) and explained what the chain of rebirth (paticca-samuppada) is in detail so that we can deal with it practically. He taught that we must end rebirth (samsara) and not to perpetuate it by sowing the seeds (karma) that bring about further becoming, and he showed that a careful moderate lifestyle will quell future becoming.

He taught this one teaching (Dharma) for forty-five years until he died from accidental food poisoning.


The historical Buddha was born 2,500 years ago near the border of Nepal and India. He was a prince. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of a small kingdom. His mother, Maya, gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, his real name, in Lumbini, a forest en route to her family home. Without anymore reason to go she turned back and returned to Kapilavastu, the capital.

Soothsayers had predicted that he would become either a great king or a great spiritual leader. King Suddhodana, worried that his son would not ascend the throne, gave Siddhartha every comfort possible to ensure he would be groomed to become the next king.

At the age of 28, having married and awaiting the birth of his child, Siddhartha had decided to venture outside into the world to see his kingdom. There, he saw for the first time sickness, old age and death. He also saw the serenity of an ascetic among this reality.

Deciding to search for this happiness he left his family and duties. Now known as Shakyamuni, The Sage of the Shakya Clan, he sought the best teachers of the time, mastered their teachings. But he did not find the happiness he had seen in that ascetic he had met on that fateful trip. Deciding that that extreme asceticism is no better than decadence he changed his approach and followed a more moderate practice – The Middle Way. After intense meditation he became fully enlightened and found the happiness that he had sought.

At age 35 now known as Buddha, The Enlightened One, he spent the next forty-five years teaching the way which brings about liberation from suffering.


think about it –

is matter
is space
is time

while god
maybe 0
the world
is an integer

and nietzsche
may have
“god is dead”

but to me
“god is ‘nothing’
& the world is

from the world
came god and gods,
not the other way
as we might believe

Consciousness is mundane

There is nothing special about consciousness. It is only the consciousness which wants to think so. In this sense I agree with Object-Oriented Ontologists.

But what I do not agree with OOO is that to think it is necessary (read: special) to be free (like a rock is) from subjectivity and objectivity.

I have found it gratifying to come to terms with my humanness and celebrate existence – without being anthropologically arrogant – as only a human being can.

I know of no other existence

I know of no other existence other than this one. We may speak of souls and spirits but we may only speak of them from this existence, and none other. Whether souls or spirits exist or not is really not the point. What we should be noting is that the possible existence of or as souls and spirits has no direct bearing on this existence other than through that kind of thought and discourse.

The Noise In The Data

What are the limits of my knowledge of the world?

For the last ten years I have “existed” in Japan. Within this time the nature of reality has not changed. This is as expected and is not surprising. I had lived in the three countries previously, and also extensively spent time in another country intermittently most of my life. The nature of reality holds true for all these places. I have also looked through the telescope at the International Space Station, the surface of the moon, Jupiter and Saturn its moons, Mars, and the light from distant stars and galaxies. As far as I can tell the nature of the reality is no different than to the one here on Earth. But that does not mean the nature of reality cannot be different elsewhere in the parts of the universe I have yet to observe.

What I can say is this: the nature of my immediate physical reality is thus, and that is all that matters.

Why should I need to worry about there being a different reality? For me, to function and operate in this world, this is all that I need to know – that within my world, reality is uniformed.

In the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta, The Buddha said this when asked about the “deeper questions” of the nature of the world:

“[Your questions are] just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

The story tells us The Buddha’s attitude toward questions of irrelevance. What we need to know is immediately available to you through your senses and perception. This should be your starting point on the investigation into reality, whether you are Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, atheist, a philosopher or scientist or any other category of being I have not mentioned. For this is truly what is common among us, our senses and perception. Everything else is supplemental and, in my opinion, like noise in the data.

Life as a lay practitioner in a Zen Temple

In 1990, I entered Bukkokuji, a Zen temple in Obama City, Japan. This temple was in the heartland of Soto Zen Buddhism which had been introduced from China 1,200 years ago.

Like many temples it was at the foot of a mountain hidden among residential houses. It is then run by Harada Tangen Roshi (roshi: teacher), a Zen priest, and 20 training monks, half of which are Japanese and half foreigners.

Like most Zen temples it has a main gate, main hall, meditation hall and some support buildings.

Temples are quiet places, and in general supported by the local community. Traditionally, to enter a temple as a training monk one is to make enquiry at the gate and ask for acceptance. The routine is to reject the trainee. This usually lasts for three to four days. During the night he is given isolated lodging in an unused part of the temple, after which he continues to ask for acceptance the next day. Because Bukkokuji accepts foreigners and pay trainees no such hard routine is necessary. An introduction and phone call is all that was necessary.

People lodge together in large traditional tatami (grass mat) rooms. Each person has a space no larger perhaps than a single bed. All belongings are kept next to the bed.

From spring to autumn the daily routine starts at 5:20am. A monk runs around the temple ringing a loud bell. We wash and prepare for a short run and stretching. After stretching we meditate (zazen). Each meditation session is about 40 minutes long. After meditation we do morning recitations. And then breakfast is served. By breakfast it is after 7am.

During the serving of breakfast recitations continue. The typical breakfast (and other meals) consists of rice, soup, beans vegetables and pickled vegetables. Each person is given a personal set of three bowls, chopsticks and a cloth to wrap and store them, to use in the course of their stay at the temple. All meals are eaten in silence. Seconds are allowed.

After all members finish eating we wash our bowls. One-quarter of a cup of hot water is all we use. With a pickle we save from the meal as a sponge we wash all bowls and chopsticks. The hot water, now a kind of broth, can either be drunk or put into a bucket to be later given to vegetation outside.

Before we start work (samu) in the morning we have a short rest or do personal chores like brushing terry or washing clothes. Work in general is to maintain the temple. It could be anything from cleaning, working in the field, to clear out the septic tanks for use as fertiliser. We have a rest then before lunch. After lunch we do more work. And then we have tea where the Roshi-sama (as the master is called by his students) will join us give a talk to encourage us in our goal of enlightenment.

Once in a while Roshi-sama will hold give private guidance (dokusan) to the trainees.

And then before dinner we have evening recitations. After dinner we rest before three sessions of meditation. By the end of mediation it is 9pm. All light go out and all sleep.

This routine is for four days. On the fifth day bath is prepared and generally no work is done but meditation continues. On the 21st of each month a public lecture (teisho) is given by Roshi-sama. Intermittently, monks go out to beg for alms (takuhatsu). This is done as spiritual training as well.

In December, for eight days until the 8th (Buddha’s Enlightenment Day) a special session of meditation (sesshin) is done. Apart from some general cleaning most of the time is spent meditating. Sleep is limited to 3 to 4 hours. And private guidance is given regularly.