Monday, September 8, 2014

Generosity - Sharing the Dharma with Family & Friends

          Up to this point, we've discussed the first paramita of generosity.

          Donating materials or money when it is given deeply from the heart greatly contributes to our overall happiness and well-being as well as to those around us.

           We also learned about seven special ways that we can give for free on a daily basis. Here's a little recap:


Seven Good Deeds that Don't Cost Anything

1.) Having a kind, warm look in our eyes

2.) Smiling as best we can authentically

3.) Speaking with compassion & using the gentlest wordings

4.) Lending a hand & using our physical efforts to help people

5.) Expressing our gratitude with feeling & showing respect to others

6.) Giving up our seat or letting someone else go first

7.) Sharing a meal or opening up our home for someone who is in distress


          And lastly, we found out that we get the most of our donations and kind acts when we give them wisely in each of the Three Fields: Those We Respect, Those We're Grateful Toward, and Those in Desperate Need of Compassion.

          Now moving forward, the second category of generosity is Sharing the Teachings of Buddhism. This means to share what you've learned from the Dharma with the people of your life. 

          Giving the gift of Buddhism is in itself the very best way we can practice and give kindness. And now thanks to modern technology, we can even conveniently share it with anyone online!

          As we ourselves continue to listen to Buddhism, we learn more and more about who we really are gradually. Often times what we find out about ourselves can be very difficult to come to accept.

          But if we endeavor to push forward and keep seeking, we can and will attain absolute happiness -- all at once in just one split-second moment -- and, simultaneously discover our True Self at the same time.


Original Graphic by Paul Inkles available on Flickr.com

          Our purpose in life is to successfully obtain this once-in-a-lifetime experience of "WOW!" for ourselves and to then live on in gratitude and celebration of achieving eternal happiness. 

          We were born as human beings for the sole purpose of experiencing this blissful feeling like none other. In, Buddhism, it is also known as the Path of No Hindrance

          We guide others toward obtaining this spiritual liberation by sharing the Buddha's teachings with kindly words and comforting smiles. Our personal opinions and objections get placed aside when we share. We hold back our own desires to make quick value judgements or to share personal opinions. Priority is given to the guidance that is found within the teachings in order to help others find the right way. 

          To share Buddhism with others effectively, we must first learn how to truly listen to others deeply. We have to carefully understand and examine the other person's state of mind and condition before we begin sharing the Dharma. 

          By listening to others fully, we gain wisdom and learn about situations that we ourselves might face in the future. 


Original Comic by James Clayton available on Flickr.com

           Sharing Buddhism also develops our own capacity to have patience and compassion.

          Now the importance behind why we seek after the teachings is that we are facing a grave problem... literally. 

           There is only a limited amount of time for us here on Earth, and precious time is constantly ticking away night and day. All of us have this very crucial matter of mortality to face and solve, all while we're still alive.

         The teachings of Buddhism reveal to us a truth that is very difficult to hear or find anywhere else addressed in this same way. One Buddhist master by the name of Shinran used these words, "This world is as fleeting and unstable as a burning house." This doesn't paint a pretty picture for where we live.

          Though there is something we can all do about it, many of us choose to ignore the problem and put it off to some other time. Yet the thing we procrastinate the most about is our own impending death.

           Even when we hear about death occurring on the news, we all keep trying to live life to the fullest despite what we hear. We want to remain ignorant that death is coming up for us too. We sweep that problem under the rug for as long as we can, out of sight and out of mind. 

            But the more we try to run and hide, the more we come to find that all those worldly pursuits of happiness we fight so hard for every single day... keep letting us down again and again.  

             It's because all those worldly pleasures aren't capable of lasting in the first place.

             If we just pursue the good times relentlessly and do achieve fame and fortune, we are still inching closer and closer to the final moment of death. Ignorance is not bliss in the long run. Death happens suddenly and without notice to every person on the planet.

            We never know when that last moment will strike for us. But it's really coming for me one day, and it's really coming one day for you too. It is scary. I know.

             That's exactly why sharing Dharma is thus the most precious gift we can offer ourselves or others while our life force still remains strong. Being born a human being gives us this tremendous opportunity to uncover our True Self. Knowing who we are is a kind of bliss that we've never known for uncountable aeons past. Now, finally, we can obtain it.

But with more than 7,000 sutras to study, this is no easy task.

               That's why it's so important for us to find a good teacher who can guide our understanding of the Buddha's words. By observing and listening to true Buddhist teachers directly at a Buddhist center, you can learn about the Dharma in the best way.




          Then when you decide to share Buddhism on your own, you can invite the people closest to you over to your home for a spiritual chat. Here and there, you can bring up Buddhism in conversation whenever and wherever you feel that it is comfortable to do so. If you want to form a study group, you can hold a talk at a library, cafe, or public space that is suitable for study.




           When Buddhism becomes a big part of your life, it is because you are moved deeply to discover your purpose of life. You realize that there is this very grand endeavor we all have in our lives. We are all born for this reason. 

          And then when you attain it and feel that true happiness inside yourself, you can't just keep such a profound feeling of peacefulness all to your lonesome. If you actually find the meaning of life, you must of course share that wisdom with all your family, friends, and loved ones. And the world even!

          Imagine for a moment that you go to a very delicious and famous Italian restaurant. You order a pizza there, but up until your first bite, you couldn't believe all those rave reviews you read online. "No pizza can taste that delicious," you think to yourself. But everyone kept going on and on about how wonderful the pizza tastes there. It makes you start to wonder. But you can't really know whether that pizza is delicious or not until you actually go there, order it, and take a bite.


Original Photo by Ragdoll available on Flickr.com
  
         That first mouthful represents that split-second moment that reveals to you just how great the flavor really is! Wow!

           The first thing you'd do is spread the word to all your friends, "Hey, you gotta go to this pizza place and try it! I'm serious. I thought all the people were exaggerating, but now I know better. You won't believe how good it is until you try it."

           You'd want everybody to share in the same wonderful experience you just had. Likewise, when we experience a real sense of contentment from the wisdom of the Buddha's teachings, we also can't wait to share that joy we found with those closest to us.

            Sharing Buddhism begins with finding one person -- YOURSELF!

           Once you begin to discover more about your True Self, you will develop a stronger karmic connection with Buddhism. Over time, you will then naturally develop a wish to share with others. But it's totally up to you and your own discretion.

           If you do talk to your family and friends about the Dharma, you will find out all the little gaps in your own understanding. (I'm still learning every day even as I try to write this blog.)

           Sharing Buddhism with others begins by talking wholeheartedly with just one person at a time. Even though there are so many people in the world in desperate need of the truth, the spread of truth begins patiently and accurately with one person. We give our all to them and share as best we can in each lesson. By focusing on teaching to this one individual, gradually our knowledge base and experience will expand, and we can be able to share with larger groups.

            It's very important to have empathy for the feelings of those who follow a different sect of Buddhism or a different religion altogether. Learn from them as well as teach them. But keep in mind that every religion or spiritual group has its own different idea about where our path in life leads. Sometimes, putting it all together and finding the right one can be confusing. But this is an important task you must decide for yourself.


Original Photo by EnKayTee available on Flickr.com

          At the beginning, we are still making up our minds, and we may need time to find our exact spiritual direction. But when we know that we wish to dedicate ourselves and follow the Pure Land path, we then become mindful of continuing on the course that is taught so we can reach the finish line as soon as possible.

           We want in our hearts to bring everyone toward happiness, but ultimately the choice is up to every person to make. Teach with the most energy to those open-minded persons who express a real thirst for the teachings.

           Remember, the Dharma is not something that can be forced or pushed onto someone. Each person must find the truth at their pace. We can only wish in our hearts that everyone obtain absolute happiness quickly.

            And when teaching, it's better to find a person's question accurately from a Buddhist teacher than to answer incompletely or in a round-about kind of way. You may be answering incorrectly if you do so. We must guide people in the right direction, first and foremost.

            That's why we make our best effort to encourage others to visit a Pure Land Buddhist center. This is the best place for us to directly learn the teachings. Once there, we can learn in the best way how to share the teachings. By visiting a Buddhist center or meeting with Buddhist friends, we can all find the answers to our innermost questions together.




           It's been said that, "Material weath may be treasure for a lifetime, but the Dharma is a treasure for all eternity." Money and possessions can only bring us temporary pleasure while we're alive in this world. Once we die, we must leave behind all our treasures, our possessions, and... even our loved ones. We must go it all alone.

        This sad fact is what makes death so very difficult and painful for all of us. This world is the only home we've come to know. At death, we must leave with nothing.

        For all these reasons, death is our most crucial matter to solve. It's also why a sensitivity to the nature of how all things are impermanent is essential in Buddhism.

         Without this inclination, people remain focused only on the pleasures of life until they get old, sick, or die. People worry a great deal about having enough money for their retirements, but that's only an issue if you live that long. Old age is not guaranteed. Death is what's certain.


Original Photo by ~C4Chaos ~C4無秩序 available at Flickr.com

          Having a keen sense of impermanence drives us to make continual efforts toward studying the teachings. It pushes us to listen more carefully so that we can find out once and for all who we really are on this journey... BEFORE it's too late and death comes knocking for us.

          Even if we forget all about our own death and become overly consumed with worldly desires, we will still lose those closest to us sooner or later. And so we are reminded again but in a way that hits us so deeply we can't deny it any longer.

         It has been said that we cry the most at funerals because we're crying two times -- once for the person who has left us, and once for ourselves because we too must go one day. 


"Ties in this world last only for a time.

We are husband and wife,
 
parent and child

for a short period only.

Once this reality sinks in,

we cannot help treasuring

each moment

of our brief association."


-Takamori Kentetsu


          Listening to Buddhism leads us toward finally attaining our one and only purpose in this life, to attain that everlasting, constant, thriving joy inside us. It's not something we get after we die. We must discover it in this lifetime while we're still alive. 

         Once we have finished this momentous accomplishment of life, we simultaneously discover our eternal self at long last. For it is only when we know ourselves that we can be truly happy.

          The gift of Buddhist truth is the most precious gift of all because it has the power to dispel the darkness of our anxious minds surrounding the issue of where go in the afterlife. It clearly illuminates once and for all -- while still living -- what happens to us after this life fades away. Imagine the peace of mind knowing that.

          Once this wisdom is known to us with 100% certainty, we experience what's known in Buddhism as the level of true settlement. This level of true settlement is the 51st level of enlightenment. We live the remaining course of our natural lives still full of all the worldly passions that come with being human. But when one who has attained the level of true settlement dies, they are then granted Nirvana, or what known as the 52nd level of enlightenment. This is the highest level of enlightenment. 

          That's when we are reborn as a Buddha in a blissful world known as the Pure Land of Amida Buddha. Once there, we become a buddha. Then in our own time, we choose to leave the Pure Land and return to this suffering world and other worlds like it as buddhas in order to guide others to absolute happiness. Unlike humans, however, buddhas possess the faculties of perfect wisdom and compassion.

          It is through the Buddha's great wisdom that we are guided to understand, once and for all, the meaning of this unique, precious, often turbulent journey as a human being. We realize the true wonder behind being human. It's a blissful, shimmering experience that makes us want to yell from a mountaintop, "WOW! How wonderful and blessed I am to have been born human! I am the happiest person in the universe!"

            And even with this joyous expression, the fulfillment of such an absolute form of happiness cannot be fully described, for it is an experience which is beyond words and even human understanding.

            Once absolute truth is finally realized within us, the preciousness of Buddhist wisdom becomes completely crystal clear. That's when we know where we are going in the afterlife without a shadow of a doubt, and we know ourselves completely, through and through. 


Original Word Art by Celestine Chua available on Flickr.com


              Of all the wisdom out there, the teachings of Pure Land Buddhism are the very best gift we can provide to anyone, because these teachings contain within them the supreme truth that guides all humanity equally to absolute happiness without any discrimination whatsoever.

             So I wish to share with you now all the links and resources that have guided me thus far on my own quest. By learning deeply from this knowledge yourself, you will then be able to advise others freely as you wish.



***


PURE LAND BUDDHIST RESOURCES

TABLE OF CONTENTS


1.) Pure Land Buddhism Locations Worldwide (Japan, United States, Brazil)


2.) Weekly Online Pure Land Buddhist Chats via Skype (English, Russian)


3.) Pure Land Buddhist Social Media (English, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian) 


4.) Mirror of Dharma Blog Links (Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter)


***

1.) PURE LAND BUDDHISM 
CENTER LOCATIONS WORLDWIDE


JAPAN - More than 50 locations


                 Jodo Shinshu Shinrankai is the Pure Land Buddhist organization where I personally attend services. It is headquartered Toyama, Japan on the central, western coast of Honshu. It's a few hours by bus from Tokyo, and it's just a one-hour flight from Narita.

                   Our head teacher, Kentetsu Takamori, teaches lectures there in the center's world-renowned 2,000 Tatami Mat Hall (seen below). It is an architectural wonder as it is a vast hall suitable for thousands upon thousands of people to gather all without the use of any pillars. The complex boasts many different buildings with classrooms and facilities to study Buddhism. The grounds have many beautiful ponds, hiking trails, and delicious cafes. 

                 Every year, we have two major events where followers from all over the world come together to learn the teachings. One is held in Spring, and the other in Fall. This year's Fall two-day event is on October 12 and 13. (In the U.S. time zone, that's Oct. 11 and 12).

                 You're very welcome to attend these conferences or the many other of the lectures held there year-round. 
             

                  There are also many other centers throughout the islands that you can visit.  If you would like information about visiting a center, please contact bitae22@hotmail.com.  



                




 
  日本語での情報をお知りになりたいですか? 
Email - gff02313@gmail.com

                                                                                   ***

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

California - Los Angeles              Hawaii - Honolulu


                    Our main temple in the United States is located in Los Angeles, California, in the City of Gardena. I attend here personally, so please come on out and visit all of us soon! It's a short drive away for anyone living in the L.A. area. Schedules are available on our meetup.com page listed below. 







 






                                  
 For information about meetings in Los Angeles or any other U.S. locations, 
contact me at purelandstudy@gmail.com.


***

BRAZIL - Sao Paolo


                                  For those living in South America, feel free to make your way toward Brazil! There is one temple located outside Sao Paolo. The temple does not yet have its own webpage so feel free to view their address and phone number at the link below. More resources are available in the social media section below.




   Falar Português?  Email - castelanolk@gmail.com

 ***

WEEKLY PURE LAND BUDDHIST 
ONLINE CHAT VIA SKYPE 





Add user ID: onebuddhism 
to your Skype contact list. 
Then send a chat request and write that you wish to join.


No Donation Required - Free

Skype meetings in English are held every 
Thursday at 6:00 a.m. and Friday at 5:00 p.m. 
(Pacific Standard Time in the U.S.) 
Make sure you have the right time zone!

For info, email - bitae22@hotmail.com or fcostelloe@gmail.com

For Skype Meetings in Russian, please email - shinpureland@gmail.com


***

PURE LAND BUDDHIST SOCIAL MEDIA

I would also like to share with you some of the best Pure Land Buddhist links out on the web, now available in many languages. 


ENGLISH








JAPANESE
















日本語での情報をお知りになりたいですか? Email - gff02313@gmail.com


CHINESE




说中国话? Email - tangkinkok@hotmail.com



PORTUGUESE









   Falar Português?  Email - castelanolk@gmail.com


RUSSIAN




Говорить по-русски? Email - shinpureland@gmail.com



***

MIRROR OF DHARMA BLOG


Of course, don't forget to promote this website, mirrorofdharma.org.






                             This concludes the paramita of generosity. Check in next time when we move on to learn more about the rest of the Six Paramitas.

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