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


Saturday, August 30, 2014

LABOUR DAY

LABOUR DAY

Although very few people actually acknowledge this weekend as a recognition of the struggles, accomplishments and contributions of working people,  it is Labour Day. Let me suggest this might also be a day to remind ourselves of the efforts and contributions of all beings. In our oryoki recitation we often will “This meal arises from the labour of all beings, may we remember there offerings”. What this reminds us is that each time we sit down to feed ourselves we can recall the incalculable chain of contributions made so that we may eat. From the people at the store who stock the shelves we can work back to delivery people, factory workers, pickers, farmers seed makers and the whole world of agriculture workers. Then multiply that times all the others for each item on our plate.
We may also recall that some of our food, especially meat and dairy in all of its forms comes to our table from the labour of uncounted animals or other beings, bees, birds, worms, beetles and on and on. Each has a contribution to make to that meal before us. With the humans we will often minimize this connection by saying “well they get paid for it” as if that balances off the debt. This cannot in any way even out the contributions of all those non-human beings, especially where our meal depends on their death.
Mealtime is but one way we can appreciate the efforts of so many beings. The greatest obscenity of the modern economic blindness is that we have dismissed the interconnection and contributions of animals, fish, birds, insects, trees, oceans and everything that is not rich, white males. Our existence is more than a web of beings, it is a web of interacting beings, each one contributing their unique efforts, their labours for the benefit of the whole.


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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

REFLECTIONS ON RELIGIOUS LIFE

REFLECTIONS ON RELIGIOUS LIFE

This week's Comment is part of a larger talk I shared at the Reflection2Action Retreat we held yesterday. The full text is available on the Dharma Talk Page here.

Within the ritual tradition in Buddhism, particularly our Tendai tradition, it is proposed that the reality we mentioned a few moments ago is impossible to experience or to communicate with through normal human actions. We are told that there are three ways through which that reality communicates with us. They are sacred chanting or mantra, particular postures or movements, mudra, and special visual patterns, mandala. If we wish to interact with that higher reality, then we must do so with those three capacities. If we are to agree that there is some reality beyond our individual human lives, then, it strikes me, we want to be alert to how we might connect with that reality. We cannot assume that this greater reality sees the human form and culture as being as advanced or special as we ourselves do, and that it must accommodate to our way of communicating. I think that, as we do with our mindfulness practice, we want to open ourselves to what is present beyond the confines of our limited bodily experience. We want to look for ways to reach deeper and deeper into the possibilities of human experience. With this in mind, it seems that religious activity, in addition to building community, offers us an opportunity to explore this realm, to move beyond our rather limited individual experience.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

ACCOMMODATION AND SEXISM

ACCOMMODATION AND SEXISM

A big story in this week’s news concerns some religious clerics who requested (and were given) special treatment by Canada’s Border Security. They apparently did not want to be checked over by any women staff for reputedly religious reasons. CBSA , as they have done before, it seems, accommodated their request. Is this a matter of accommodating religious beliefs, like women wearing face covering or those in uniform being allowed to substitute a turban for a cap?
All religions have their restrictions, and Buddhadharma is no exception.  For example, its part of the Theravadin monastic regime that they avoid being touched by anyone. I’m not sure why this might be. Buddhists don’t subscribe to theories of contamination. Our tradition began in part because of our great grandfather Shakyamuni’s rejection of the caste system and its discrimination. There is, of course, an acknowledgment that we can be distracted by being touched when we are engaged in meditative practice. Perhaps, some monastics sustain their practice so thoroughly that it even pervades airport travel. I don’t wish to pre-judge a situation, but I suspect we are once more dealing with another example of the claim that men can be corrupted or stained by contact with women. This is certainly present in some Buddhist traditions, and that is our mistake to challenge and correct.
Our Canadian society is great because we tend to respect those different from us. We do and do need to accommodate differing religious beliefs. This must not be unquestioning, however. We need to ask whether requests like these are driven by racism, sexism or other prejudices, rather than real religious orders. As Buddhists, if we are aware of such practices in practitioners of our Way, we are obliged to question and confront this where we find it.

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

Sunday, August 03, 2014

ROSARIES AND DEVOTION

ROSARIES AND DEVOTION
This week celebrates one of the greatest of the mediaeval Catholic figures, Saint Dominic. It was he who founded the Dominican Order in the early 113th century. They were famous for extreme self-denial and hardship, as well as their dedication to serving their community. For the Latin scholars out there, their name lead to a pun, The Dogs of God (domini canis). Dominican practice promoted the use of the rosary, such as reciting and counting the Hail Mary.

We can observe two parallels with our own tradition - the use of the rosary and the reliance a devotional and salvational practice form. In Buddhism, recitation, accompanied by use of a nenju or mala (rosary),  has been part of practice since the earliest times.

 In most print-limited cultures, people relied on repetitive formulaic recitation to hold the memory and precise detail of important religious teaching. Since the introduction of sutras, we have used sutra recitation, usually in a mono-chant form, to learn practice and share teachings such as our familiar Heart Sutra reminder “form is emptiness, emptiness is form”. Although Christianity was devotional from the beginning, the prominence of Mary, or what we call Marianism, emerged later.
In Buddhism, we also saw the early Dharma switch from a stark quasi-atheism to inclusion of an emphasis on a  personal relationship with Shakyamuni within a few hundred years of his death.

Tendai nenju or mala
Shakyamuni, as an object of devotion, and gradually devotion to the countless bodhisattvas, like the pseudo-Mary figure of Kwan-Yin, became one of the characteristics of later Buddhadharma. Only slightly later we see the emergence of a strongly devotional tradition around Amitabha Buddha, who, like Mary is seen as capable of intervening in time to assist our salvation. Like Marianism in Christianity, this Amidism or devotion to Amitabha has become the most practiced form of Buddhism in the world.

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