...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter...
March 11, 2003
2. Perception ...by Claire
3. A Buddhist Perspective on Forgiveness ...by Lama Yeshe
4. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: An International
Conference on Forgiveness
5. Book Review: The Art of Forgiveness,
Lovingkindness, and Peace ...Jack Kornfield
6. Peace Link: The Women's International
League for Peace and Freedom
there was a monk who was an expert on the Diamond Sutra, and
as books were very valuable in his day, he carried the only
copy in his part of the world on his back. He was widely sought
after for his readings and insight into the Diamond Sutra, and
very successful at propounding its profundities to not only
monks and masters but to the lay people as well.
the people of that region came to know of the Diamond Sutra,
and as the monk was traveling on a mountain road, he came upon
an old woman selling tea and cakes. The hungry monk would have
loved to refresh himself, but alas, he had no money. He told
the old woman, "I have upon my back a treasure beyond knowing
-- the Diamond Sutra. If you will give me some tea and cakes,
I will tell you of this great treasure of knowledge."
old woman knew something of the Diamond Sutra herself, and proposed
her own bargain. She said, "Oh learned monk, if you will
answer a simple question, I will give you tea and cakes."
To this the monk readily agreed. The woman then said, "When
you eat these cakes, are you eating with the mind of the past,
the mind of the present or the mind of the future?"
answer occurred to the monk, so he took the pack from his back
and got out the text of the Diamond Sutra, hoping he could find
the answer. As he studied and pondered, the day grew late and
the old woman packed up her things to go home for the day.
are a foolish monk indeed," said the old woman as she left
the hungry monk in his quandary. "You eat the tea and cakes
with your mouth."
Perception ...by Claire Hansen
very close to me once told me that "perception is reality."
It didn't click with me until years later. I thought "right
was right" and "wrong was wrong." When someone
did something wrong, I felt justified in making a judgment that
he or she was wrong. However, something inside of me always
told me that maybe I was too rigid in my judgment-maybe I was
rationalizing my position. Most of the time I dismissed that
part of me by thinking of something else.
older I got, the harder it became to dismiss that little voice.
My world got bigger, and I met more people. I became a wife,
mother, and teacher. This led to more and more complicated situations.
My list of "do's and don'ts" often were not applicable.
Things got confusing and things became grayer instead of black
in the dictionary is defined as: "becoming aware of through
the senses; especially to see or hear." I saw a documentary
recently of a group of people who lived on a small Pacific island.
These people were all related and had a genetic defect in their
eyes. They were all completely color blind. They only saw black,
white, and shades of gray. Their eyes were also very sensitive
to light. Their eyes lacked the cone cells which enable us to
see color. Can you imagine how they view the world? Things may
blend into other things because they can't see color differences.
On the other hand, they evidently can see better at night than
all perceived things differently. We all have different frames
of reference or points of view. This is why we get involved
in conflicts. Nothing is absolute; try teaching physics, as
I do. One of the most difficult concepts to get across to my
students during the first semester is the idea of relativity.
have to convince them that nothing is absolutely still and nothing
is absolutely in motion. Everything must be compared with something
else. You are still in your seats relative to me, but relative
to someone on the moon, you are moving. The earth revolves around
its axis. It also travels around the sun. The sun is part of
the Milky Way Galaxy and moves within it. The whole galaxy is
moving, too. There are about a hundred billion stars in our
galaxy and we are aware of about a hundred billion galaxies,
all in motion.
said that the faster we move the slower time becomes. The cosmic
speed limit is about 186,000 miles per second-the speed of light.
He said that the closer we move to the speed of light, the slower
times becomes. If we reach the speed of light, time becomes
zero. Isn't this hard to perceive?
was right. The Apollo astronauts were traveling faster than
we are on the earth when they traveled to the moon. When they
came back, their atomic clocks (which were synchronized with
Houston) were about 20 minutes, I believe, slower than the clocks
in Houston. They were 20 minutes younger than the people on
is absolute. We are not absolute creatures. We all have the
possibility of being good and bad. We are all capable of doing
wonderful things or ending up in jail.
learned something about Buddhism a few years ago. I learned
that there is no such thing as forgiveness in Buddhism. I was
shocked to hear that from a minister until he explained his
position further. He said that to forgive means that the person
doing the forgiving has to come from a higher plane than the
one being forgiven. In Buddhism, we are all equal. This is one
of the greatest contributions of Buddhism-we are all equal.
In other words, we all have the same capacity to do good things
or bad things. The person forgiving is no better or worse potentially
than the person being forgiven.
of forgiveness, we Buddhists offer our compassion and support
for each other. We realize (hopefully) that under the same conditions,
we may very well have behaved the same way as the one that has
and points of view must be examined from all angles to get a
clear understanding of the situation. This refers to the first
statement of the Eightfold Noble Path-right view. If we can
do that, we can understand the condition of life. I know I'll
never be fully aware of my shortcomings, but I hope I'll always
strive toward that awareness. In the meantime, I have a greater
understanding of the phrase "perception is reality."
A Buddhist Perspective on Forgiveness
...by Lama Yeshe Losal Rimpoche
Yeshe Losal is the Abbot and Retreat Master of Samye Ling, Director
of the Holy Island Project and Chairman of Rokpa Trust. Since
completing 12 years of retreat, much of it in solitude, Lama
Yeshe has been the guiding force behind the development of Samye
Ling, which was the first and is the largest Tibetan Buddhist
centre in Europe. He is responsible for the spiritual development
of over 40 resident monks and nuns as well as the lay community.
Lama Yeshe is also the only person in the Western World to have
twice completed the 49 day "Dark" or Bardo retreat.
It is his profound experience as a meditator, together with
his direct, good humoured way of communicating, that make him
in demand as a teacher around the world. As Director of the
Holy Island Project, his vision of the island as a focus for
world peace through inner peace is the guiding principle of
personal account of Lama Yeshe's presentation
Yeshe is a Buddhist monk who left Chinese-occupied Tibet in
1959 for exile in the West,where he is a leading teacher of
Tibetan meditation techniques.Currently involved in the Polio
Project, he is the director of Samye Ling, a Buddhist retreat
centre situated in northern Scotland not far from Findhorn,
where he is a frequent visitor.
For me,this forgiveness is a very big subject!’ began
Lama Yeshe, his viewpoint informed by his dedicated practice
of Tibetan Buddhism. From where does the need for forgiveness
originate? Who creates the conditions in the first place that
necessitate acts of forgiveness? For the Buddhist the root of
the problem lies deep in our own minds; it stems from ‘not
seeing properly’. People from all different ages and backgrounds
are not learning to let go of the various life-experiences that
have caused them suffering, instead allowing their attachment
to pain to take them over. Lama Yeshe’s message is clear:
we cannot begin to help others until we have helped ourselves.
’Don’t try to help the weak if you are not yet strong;
it will only bring you down’.We talk of forgiveness from
a place of ignorance - there can be no peace established on
the planet whilst there is fighting in our hearts and homes.
’Start within yourself. If I’m unable to free myself
from the cause and condition of suffering I’ll never be
able to help others do the same’.
life-form wants happiness and peace. This state of awareness,
which can invest our life with meaning in the present, can only
be achieved by cultivating non-attachment. The West tends to
interpret this concept literally in terms of giving up material
objects because its cultural identity is defined by financial
investment and property development - but this is a typically
crude approach. Non-attachment in the context of Buddhism is
located not so much on the physical plane of existence but in
the sphere of the mind. Mental clinging is ‘the big glue’
that pulls us in no matter how well we think we know how to
relinquish our attachments. We need to commit ourselves,Yeshe
emphasised, to the ‘liberation of the glue-free mind’,
the implication being that in the pursuit of true freedom via
meditation the need for forgiveness will simply fall away.
invited his audience to create the time for proper meditation:’true
meditation aids the process of letting go’. He pointed
out that we in the West use the modern-day preoccupation with
time and money to avoid taking space for contemplation, when
this should be our priority and asked us to reflect upon the
question ‘Is there anything I need to let go of?’
to enable us to release unwanted experiences from our personal
histories.This method of self-inquiry helps facilitate forgiveness
at a grass-roots level by allowing us the breathing space to
‘fully and completely’ release the past (which is
anyway ‘gone, over, finished’) as well as preventing
us from projecting into the future.The mind in meditation should
be ‘calm and settled in the present moment’; it
is from this place that change can be initiated. The pause from
the chaos and business of our daily lives provides us with the
opportunity to note those habits that hold us back from full
self-realisation. Through self-discovery and the contingent
willingness to recognise where we need to change we can motivate
ourselves to modify and control these weak spots, to strengthen
ourselves for the good of the whole.
we are no longer expending energy on worry and anxiety we are
freely available to serve others.’You have to believe
in your own ability to change and grow’. If you follow
the spiritual path you need to have enough ‘dharma ego’
to believe that you can achieve self-growth.You need a certain
amount of pride, otherwise you feel incapable of real change.
’If you want to change for the better you have to believe
you can do it as no-one else can do it for you’. Self-forgiveness
is therefore of paramount importance: how can we find peace
and wisdom if we keep attacking and blaming ourselves? As we
become wiser, kinder and more forgiving the people around us
will begin to take note and will be inspired to initiate their
own inner change.Global healing happens incrementally in this
undramatic but powerful way, in our immediate environment.
direct relationship we can all work on is the primary one that
we have with our parents. ‘So many people blame their
parents’. If we were ‘really wise’ we would
acknowledge that ‘deep-down of course nobody wants to
cause their children suffering’. According to the Buddhist
teachings outlined by Lama Yeshe, it is the outworking of ‘bad
lineage’: our parents did not have positive role-models
either, so how can we hold them responsible for not being equipped
to give us what we in turn needed? ’We must see their
need for compassion, not blame’.
should do everything in our power to find ways and means to
forgive as this will lead to freedom and release. We can never
achieve this without the purification of meditation.Yeshe recommends
that we commit to meditating both morning and evening to gradually
increase our innate capacity for greater happiness and inner
stability.A common resistance he encounters to this approach
- particularly prevalent in alternative/new age communities
such as this one - arises from the thought-form ‘If I’m
not happy, I don’t want to make myself happy as that would
be to deny my own truth’.But Yeshe remains adamant that
we must use every method available to us to engender a sense
of peace with the self. To locate our well-being in our friendships/relationship
creates false security; in the eventuality of death, when we
cannot take our loved ones with us, ’only our state of
mind remains’ making it of paramount importance to start
building a peaceful relationship with the self right now.
Yeshe himself spent 12 years in silent retreat. He brings what
he has learnt through meditation into his everyday life. He
wakes daily giving thanks for all he has (‘What a lucky
Lama Yeshe I am!’). Time spent in silence, he reminds
us, results in ‘true speech’ effortlessly: ’I
recommend that we all become very very wise before we say anything
to anybody. Think very carefully before you speak’. Such
mindfulness, he suggests, will contribute to a state where forgiveness
is no longer a key issue because it promotes harmlessness. Wise
communication utilises language to befriend people, ’to
bring people together, to help people get along with one another.’
from the personal to the political, when asked about his attitude
towards the Chinese oppression of Tibet, Lama Yeshe concluded
that he has never condoned the use of violent means.’
What is freedom? The Chinese could never take away my freedom...I
only want to approach them with compassion, to teach them how
to love. We will succeed in this...’
An International Conference on Forgiveness
forgive means living and loving completely in the present, without
the shadows of the past. Forgiveness is not just for the other
person - but for ourselves. Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD.
we approach the beginning of the 21st century and reflect on
events of the 20th century, the question of forgiveness, and
its role in healing and reconciliation, seems more timely than
ever. The concept of forgiveness gives rise to a complex range
of feelings and dilemmas, which can take us on a journey towards
wisdom, inspiration and peace.
international conference explored the process of forgiveness,
with all of its challenges, and its role in both our private
lives and in our societies.
of the questions explored:
What is forgiveness?
How is it different from reconciliation?
What can be forgiven? Or not forgiven?
How can we balance the need for justice with the need to release
What makes it so difficult to forgive?
What about the need for retribution and revenge?
What are the steps needed to forgive?
Are there degrees of forgiveness?
What is the shadow side of forgiveness?
What is the role of self-forgiveness?
day focused on different areas in which questions of forgiveness
arose, through speakers, panel discussions, experiential workshops
Myss - Why Nations and People are Afraid to Forgive
- The Healing Power of Forgiveness
Michael Lapsley - To Heal and Remember, or to Bury and Forget?
Bamber - Forgiveness
Jampolsky and Diane Cirincione - Forgiveness the Greatest
Healer of All
Ayalon - The Road to Peace begins inside - The Art of Reconciliation
Craig - The Struggle to Forgive and the Freedom to Forgiveness
Yeshe Losal - The Buddhist Perspective on Forgiveness
James Movel Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa - Muslim/Christian
and Susan Collin Marks - Searching for Societal Reconcilation
and Collective Forgiveness
Kumar - on Forgiveness
Findhorn Foundation in co-operation with Coventry University's
Centre for Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual education centre founded
in 1962 on the principles of cooperation with nature and the
belief that spiritual experience is accessible to all. It has
grown to a community of over 300 members, hosting 7000 visitors
per year in its conferences and educational programs. It is
a recognised NGO by the Department of Public Information of
the United Nations, and is a registered charitable trust in
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace
author Jack Kornfield has put together a how-to book--his most
ambitious work yet--to encourage the best side of humanity.
In The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, Kornfield
uses the evocative power of aphorisms to spark feelings and
thoughts that can germinate and grow. After a chapter of aphorisms
and quotations on each of the title's three topics, Kornfield
offers a related series of meditations that show how to cultivate
what the aphorisms have prepared. Whereas essays tend to be
read through and forgotten, this book invites a deliberate pace,
with the reader filling in the blanks, taking time away for
meditation, then coming back for more inspiration. Never descending
into triteness, Kornfield is realistic on tough issues, encouraging
awareness and persistence over resignation and indifference.
If you yearn to open your heart, open the pages of Kornfield's
latest. --Brian Bruya
hold in your hand an invitation: To remember the transforming
power of forgiveness and lovingkindness. To remember that no
matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace
this beautiful and graceful little book, internationally renowned
Buddhist teacher and meditation master Jack Kornfield has collected
age-old teachings, modern stories, and time-honored practices
for bringing healing, peace, and compassion into our daily lives.
Just to read these pages offers calm and comfort. The practices
contained here offer meditations for you to discover a new way
to meet life’s greatest challenges with acceptance, joy,
Reviewer: Curtis Grindahl from San Anselmo, California United
States- The older I become the simpler life seems. I've read
Jack's work, though I haven't read this book yet. I'm fortunate
to live in a community very close to the lovely San Geronimo
vallery where Spirit Rock Meditation Center is located. I see
Jack quite regularly standing with friends on a San Anselmo
street corner Saturdays, offering witness of his commitment
to peace and justice. The times I've heard him speak at Spirit
Rock and elsewhere I was deeply touched by his simple humanity.
to forgive, to treat others in our lives with loving kindness,
as we cultivate peace...what more is there to realize in this
human journey? There will always be what a teacher of mine once
called "cookies for the mind." Jack offers something
far more profound as he supports us in coming to each moment
with our hearts open. This is what I hope to do with the remaining
years of my life. It is comforting to share the journey with
others who understand what is truly important. Jack Kornfield
is surely one of them. Thank you Jack for sharing with us the
wisdom you've come to.
A reader from VT United States- This book is short yet profound.
No wasted words. Each phrase is a short lesson to meditate on,
full of meaning. There are modern quotes as well as ancient.
A favorite was by Ben Franklin: "Whatever is begun in anger
ends in shame". I was attracted to this book by its brevity
and the resonance of the words.
Reviewer: Joseph from Richmond, USA- When I first flipped
through it, I thought there was not much to this book - not
just because of al the empty space. I have read it several times
by now and what I started to like most about this book is just
picking it up, at any time, opening it to a random page and
to read a few lines. The book might not seem profound, but like
focusing on the breath, it has a grounding effect. Plenty of
other books on the shelve to learn about Buddhism - this one
shows, very simply, how to live Buddhism. Thanks Jack.
The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom was founded
in 1915 during World War I, with Jane Addams as its first president.
WILPF works to achieve through peaceful means world disarmament,
full rights for women, racial and economic justice, an end to
all forms of violence, and to establish those political, social,
and psychological conditions which can assure peace, freedom,
and justice for all.
works to create an environment of political, economic, social
and psychological freedom for all members of the human community,
so that true peace can be enjoyed by all.
April 28, 1915, a unique group of women met in an International
Congress in The Hague, Netherlands to protest against World
War I, then raging in Europe, to suggest ways to end it and
to prevent war in the future. The organizers of the Congress
were prominent women in the International Suffrage Alliance,
who saw the connection between their struggle for equal rights
and the struggle for peace. WILPF's foremothers rejected the
theory that war was inevitable and defied all obstacles to their
plan to meet together in wartime. They assembled more than 1,000
women from warring and neutral nations to work out a plan to
end WWI and lay the basis for a permanent peace. Out of this
meeting the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
first International President was Jane Addams, founder of Hull
House in Chicago and the first U.S. woman to win the Nobel Peace
Prize. For more information about Jane Addams, visit the official
site of the Nobel Foundation
was the wisdom of our founding foremothers in 1915 that peace
is not rooted only in treaties between great powers or a turning
away of weapons alone, but can only flourish when it is also
planted in the soil of justice, freedom, non-violence, opportunity
and equality for all. They understood, and WILPF still organizes
in the understanding, that all the problems that lead countries
to domestic and international violence are all connected and
all need to be solved in order to achieve sustainable peace.
remarkable vision still guides us today as we face the challenges
of the twenty-first century. In today's context this means
the equality of all people in a world free of sexism, racism,
classism, and homophobia,
the guarantee of fundamental human rights including the right
to sustainable development,
an end to all forms of violence: rape, battering, exploitation,
intervention and war,
the transfer of world resources from military to human needs,
leading to economic justice within and among nations, and
world disarmament and peaceful resolution of international conflicts
via the United Nations.
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