Friday, September 29, 2006

Thought Moments

I ran into this Youtube project which is similiar to a project I am working on for

Here is the summary of the video:
"In Buddhism, the mental states experienced after a physical or mental object enters the mind are called THOUGHT MOMENTS. During interviews with people on the city streets, the micro-expressions of the interviewees are slowed down and eye direction is tracked, highlighting the responses to ten simple questions."

These thought moments are broken down into 6 categories and the director has decided that each eye movement aiming in a particular direction can be categorized under that field. It sounds very foolish until about minute 5:00 when one begins to see time after time the process repeat. Though not scientific, it is interesting. is far from completed and will remain a dusty little calling card page until the actual website is fully completed and all projects are ready. If my poor computer skills can grasp Macromedia Flash and my paper ideas become a reality, look for multimedia presentations on ideas too complex to present in text form.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Milarepa Film Update

Original Post: Milarepa

Checking back at the site reveals that the film is now available on DVD.

The Dvd is available in two editions:

A Special Edition DVD-
"This includes the full feature length widescreen version of the film.

Special Features:
Who is Milarepa?
A documentary exploring the historical Milarepa. With Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Pema Chodron, and others..
- Interview with the Director
- 5.1 surround sound
- Optional English Subtitles
- Theatrical Trailer
quote from

A Special Dharma Edition DVD-
"A boxed 3 DVD Set containing the Milarepa film as well as an exclusive 4-hour teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The teaching provides a rare and concise introduction to the Dzogchen path,as well as His Holiness' own rendering of the life story of Milarepa." quote from


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Iron Wrapped In Silk


Recently I was speaking with someone about the dual nature of the cat's paw while my nearly year old kitten Jubei-kun sat in front of me. I explained first that in gong fu the practitioner learns that blocking the punching fist is unskillful, for the fist moves very fast. If the practitioner makes a block at the very slow moving elbow, the block is much easier. With the cat, the claw is very sharp and can easily cut through human skin. The reflexes of the cat are even sharper and combine with the paw to form a viscious weapon. I stuck out my hand and pulled it back quickly, playing a game of reflexes with Jubei-kun. After a few tries, the young feline succeeded in catching my hand with a claw and quickly attached the claws from the other front paw. At that point he pulled both front paws inward, bit playfully, and then attacked with the rear claws to finish off my hand. If my hand had been prey, my hand would have been finished.
There is another side to the cat's paw. As we began the reflex game again, I flipped my hand over Jubei-kun's paw, to the top side. Here there is no danger. The cat claw is designed to move forward and grab, but can do little about an object directly behind it. This is where my intended lesson surprised even me. Just seconds before Jubei-kun had been playing roughly, attacking like a true predator. As I flipped my hand over his paw and began to stroke the soft fur on the other side, in an instant, his eyes closed, his muscles relaxed, and he began to purr.
To experiment, I again touched the claw side and the war began again. Just as quickly I touched the soft side and again, Jubei-kun was relaxed and purring.
Not every example I give goes so well, it not only worked for the situation, but gave me further insight into what I was attempting to explain.
Though we don't have claws, we humans also have this dual nature. When someone touches our claws, we attack. When someone touches our soft side, we tend to reply gently, though not usually to the extreme of my kitten. When two individuals, or two groups, or two countries, face off over time, heated exchanges may occur to a point in which both sides are convinced that each action, retaliation, or comment is a response to an action from the other. This will be the response from both sides.
How often do speak to others with words that may contain only gentle meaning, but clearly go to the cat's claw? When we get an excited response, we can reply that our comments were not harmful. We can look deeply and find the true intent. Many times, suffering incurred at work or in another environment is displaced on our friend or spouse. We carry our suffering like two buckets of waters on a bamboo pole until we can find someone else to dump it on. Not to feel like those who made us suffer, we play mind games and tricks, giving kind words with a hidden poison. When we reach the point where both sides feel that each action is a response to the other's attack, the situation is truly dire.
Mindfulness is the most powerful solution. When we approach others attempted to reach the other side of the paw, we will often reach a side of them we have not seen. Of course, some will not show this side, but that is not our concern. We do not want to live our lives biting our own tail, eating away until we get too far along. We can end this cycle of foolishness with mindful living. Retaliation is not our business. We live our lives on the soft side of the cat's paw.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Master

If we imagine that we are the champion in the ring, on the pitch, or on the field, we cannot say that we are the master. Age is our master. We are on top, but only for a time. Someone faster, more skilled, more gifted, with a new set of ideas with come to replace us and we will be left with only memories and trophies.

If we say that we are the most beautiful, age will show that it is the master again. If we are the most intelligent in our firm or company, another will soon come and that status will change. If we feel that we have power, when we look upwards, we find those above us. Those at the top find that they still answer to the many below in some way or another. The master has many other masters, or he holds the crown for only a short time.

In this short precious life we cannot hold on to anything. We cannot guarantee anything. We cannot be certain of a breathe, of continual sight or other senses, or that we will share in the joys of our past. We cannot be certain of a continued love or friendship. Some will attempt to hold on to these things with every ounce of effort and energy. They devote their lives to holding on to wealth, status, love, and any other possession. They have attained a high standard: the Master of Fools.

We can all be one master and one master only. We are born with a mind but at birth it is taken from us. We lose control of it. When others taunt us or say things to our displeasure, we yell back or we cry. They have decided our reaction. We are the puppet. Things will dangle in front of our senses and we will react, and the strings of our puppet mind will move. We have little control. Most of us will play this dance for the audience of other puppets for an entire life or many, with no hope of escape. We are different.

When we heard the words, "Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of suffering....." we found in our hands a tiny pair of scissors and we cut our first string, yet the puppet still dances to and fro. We have one chance to be a master, a master of our mind, which plays us for a fool. We cut strings until we learn to see beyond string and no-string. Then we no longer need tools. We are different. We have heard the words. We have taken the steps. We have to keep taking them. Buddhism is a daily practice in unthinking, not a religion of practices, sayings, and sutras. If we find ourselves before a Buddha made of wood or stone, or a Buddha bound in print, and we seek out this Buddha, then we later have one more string to cut. Where is the Buddha in our mind? If we kneel to the Buddha, we create the Buddha, and the puppet dance begins again. Let us not be the Master of Fools.

Happy cutting.


Saturday, September 09, 2006


In the Anguttara Nikaya, Buddha Gotama tells us of the story of Araka.

"Long ago, O monks, there lived a religious teacher named Araka, who was free of sensual lust. He had many hundreds of disciples, and this was the doctrine he taught to them:

"Short is the life of human beings, O brahmins, limited and brief; it is full of suffering, full of tribulation. This one should wisely understand. One should do good and live a pure life; for none who is born can escape death.

Araka then gives many examples to his disciples to give them a sense of this short life.

"Just as a line drawn on water will quickly vanish and will not last long; even so, brahmins, is human life like a line drawn on water. It is short, limited, and brief; it is full of suffering, full of tribulation. This one should wisely understand. One should do good and live a pure life; for none who is born can escape death.

"Just as a mountain stream, coming from afar, swiftly flowing, carrying away much flotsam, will not stand for a moment, an instant, a second, but will rush on, swirl and flow forward; even so, brahmins, is human life like a mountain stream. It is short.... for none who is born can escape death.

"Just as, when a cow is to be slaughtered is led to the shambles, whenever she lifts a leg she will be closer to slaughter, closer to death; even so, brahmins, is human life like cattle doomed to slaughter. It is short.... for none who is born can escape death.

It was after this lesson that Buddha Gotama revealed the most interesting secret of Araka and his group.

"But at that time, O monks, the human lifespan was 60,000 years, and at 500 years girls were ready for marriage. In those days people had but six afflictions: cold, heat, hunger, thirst, excrement, and urine. Though people lived so long and had so few afflictions, that teacher Araka gave to his disciples such a teaching: 'Short is the life of human beings....'

Then Buddha Gotama calculated the number of summers and winters, and the number of meals that a centenarian could expect. How short is just 100 years compared to that of 60, 000. It is clear that in our time we have more afflictions and less time. We are fortunate to live in an age where the words have not been forgotten and we can still free ourselves from this suffering. To do this, we must not always put off our practice and mindfulness until tomorrow, for even in the time of Araka, the time was too short.

"Whatever should be done by a compassionate teacher who, out of compassion, seeks the welfare of his disciples, that I have done for you. These are the roots of the tree, O monks, these are the empty huts. Meditate, monks, do not be negligent, or else you will regret it later. This is our instruction to you."

(Anguttara Nikaya 7:70; IV 136-39)

Sutra from:
Bodhi, Bhikkhu In The Buddha's Words Somerville: Wisdom Publications, 2005