Welcome to the Leaflet

The Leaflet blog provides:
. Innen's weekly comments from a Dharma perspecti
ve
• the up-to-date practice calendar for our Red Maple Mindful Living Centre,
• links to our Tendai family of centres

For more on RMS, or Tendai Canada, visit www.tendai.ca
For more on the Red Maple Mindful Living Centre, click the link on the right border


Sunday, December 29, 2013

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

For most of us, the threshold between years is like Janus, the Roman’s two-headed protector-god of the entry-way, an experience of looking out and looking in. We reflect on what we have done, and not done, how we have changed and not changed, and what possibilities lie before us. A fine symbol for this time of year is Akashaloka, the Realm of Infinite Possibilities, the name for our mini-temple, here at the Old Schoolhouse . This reminds us that, regardless of what has happened in the past twelve months, we are entering something new, something pregnant with unimaginable possibilities.
It may feel uneasy to allow such breadth of possibility, yet when we look at our lives of the past year - sudden deaths, locations to new homes and tragic-comic events in our public sphere - possibilities are infinite indeed. 


Our Dharma faith is characterized by an assumption that our lives are nested within and flowing along with the activity of the Buddhas. This assumption likewise presumes that outcomes are not within our control, but are rather the fulfillment of the Buddha vows. Therefore, as we prepare for the coming year, we need not become obsessed with specific accomplishments or goals, but rather sustain our commitment to the aspirations of wholesome living that constitute our practice.
 

This is not to promote a throwing up of hands and “let go and let God”, as they say in A.A. We cannot sidestep our own responsibilities for action. Our faith is directed at awakening and this is not about waiting by the sidelines. We don’t cause awakening, ours or anyone’s, this is prideful and mis-informed. We are instead called to harmonize our actions and choices with the activity of the Buddhas, because we already and always are the dynamic and unfolding activity of the Buddhas. When, from the perspective of this threshold, we cast our eyes down the decreasingly clear vista of 2014, we ask ourselves how and what will this year be. We are invited to do so from the Dharma perspective of infinite possibilities;  to direct ourselves at what actions and intentions will fulfill the commitment to all sentient beings.

Yours in the Dharma,                           
from Akashaloka,                   
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu               
       

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/ask-the-religion-experts/index.html

Sunday, December 22, 2013

WINTER AND WHITEBOARDS

WINTER AND WHITEBOARDS
 
It was a wonderful celebration of our year-end last Saturday. Friends and family from all over the Valley came by to practice and share together -deep bows to all. We schedule a formal service hiatus now, in part because of typically unpredictable weather and, in part, because of the obligations of Christmas among our community. When we next meet, it will be on the other side of the shortest day, the end of one year and the unfolding of a new one, and the start of our second decade of practice.
 

This time of hiatus and passage was reflected earlier today when I was out pushing some of the tons of fresh snow in our yard. I recalled the dazzling red, orange and green diversity we enjoyed only a few months ago, a multi-coloured world now replaced by little other than white on white on white. One of our family visitors actually  looked up at the white wall in the Jizo garden and said it looked like a “snow-nami” about to swamp us with some giant wave of whiteness. This time of year has that quality to it - wiping clean this year, like brush across a white board, so that we stand ready to write our future year. Our pack of multi-coloured markers lies open, waiting for each of us to add some new line, shape and colour to this landscape.

Yours in the Dharma,                          
from Akashaloka,                  
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu        


Read the Religion Experts for this week at:              

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/ask-the-religion-experts/index.html

Sunday, December 15, 2013

JODO-E

Jodo-e

With all of the fuss and political correctness about what to call or say at this time of year, those of us on the Dharma path can remember that our important date occurs early in December, usually around the 8th. Bodhi Day celebrates the enlightenment of our historical founder, Shakyamuni Buddha, some 2500 years ago. It is an important date all over East Asia, a key celebration on the Buddhist calendar.


In many countries Bodhi Day or, as we in the Tendai tradition call it, Jodo-e, includes marking the event with coloured lights and candles. This provides us with an opportunity to re-interpret some of the familiar Western/Christian celebration traditions in a way which speaks to us.  We can likewise display such lights, and understand them as symbols of the moon and morning star which figure so prominently in the Buddha’s awakening narrative. 


It is crucial for us to find such ways to make our faith resonate with our present context. We ought not merely imitate what happens in Japan or Korea, as if this is the correct way. All symbolic activity arises from what speaks to practitioners in our own time and place.
May this Jodo-e period remind all of us of the remarkable event of the Buddha’s awakening and call us to find ways to make that present in and through our daily lives.


Yours in the Dharma,                          
from Akashaloka,                  
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu               


Check out my column in the Ottawa Citizen        

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/ask-the-religion-experts/index.html


                  
   

Sunday, December 08, 2013

VIEWING AND REFLECTING

VIEWING AND REFLECTING

In the past few weeks I have been asked what I thought of my experiences in Japan. This proved impossible for me to answer until just a few days ago. I found I was so immersed in the experience and in the experiencing that I was not able to shift into any reflective mode. All my senses and cognitive capacities were set on absorb, so the mechanisms of meaning-making were idling. In fact I deliberately avoided engaging in such reflection. It seemed out of place to be doing so while the experience was still unfolding. Now, with a week or so between me and the direct experiences, I can start to ask some questions and consider some metaphors to make sense of it all.
Coincidentally, our community is set to engage in our annual reflection. During this time we look back over the past 12 months and review what we have done to fulfill the intentions we set for ourselves last January. In our January gathering we will present the intentions for 2014. This review is an essential aspect of how we practice.
On my travels I read the new book, Scarcity, (Mullainathan and Shafir) a radical new proposal for how we can understand how the human mind works. Although the theory is pure Western psychology, it is entirely compatible with Buddhist ideas about the human sense of lack, what we call dukkha. They suggest that we are poorly served when we become “captured” by short-term shortages. We tend to narrow our perception and behave in ways which re-create the same distortions of life which we are caught up with. They emphasize the need to step back from urgencies of life, to look at what our long term aspirations may be. When we do this, we make better decisions and are less likely to become overwhelmed by our lives. In short, we need to shift between pure experience and the reflection of what such experience might mean for us.


om namu amida butsu,
Innen, doshu