Simple

simple_crab
A very simple painting.

Buddhism is simply about simplicity.

Even though much of what is written about Buddhism can be frustratingly hard to digest, it’s shear simplicity. It’s hard only because our mind lives in the realm of competing things.

The fewer things you seek, the freer you are – fewer gotchas, roadblocks, and engineering of convoluted compromises no one is happy with. Simplicity increases with decreasing constraints. A beginner’s mind, free from “sacred” beliefs. A 100% acceptance of what is right in front of you, free of desires. That’s it!

Certainly, other people and things have their “desires” and there isn’t much if anything you can do about it. They are what they are. However, we can ultimately eliminate all complexity and the resultant suffering from our lives through simplicity.

With that said, simplicity does not equate to deprivation. The Buddha went through a long phase of ascetic deprivation before plopping under the Bodhi Tree, emaciated and near death. His ascetic days at least showed him something that didn’t work.

Simplicity also is not something you seek. “Seeking” something, even simplicity or enlightenment, is still a desire for something. Rather, simplicity means choosing not to exacerbate complexity. Turn away from unforced engagement (picking fights),  procrastination (resisting what is), or running away (you can’t run away from yourself).

Happy Day 3 of the Lunar Bodhi Season!!

Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku

Lunar Bodhi Season 2018!

Happy Bodhi 4715!!!

Today begins the Lunar Bodhi Season for 2018! That is, it begins seven days of meditation that ends the morning of  the eighth day, Sunday, January 13, 2019, Bodhi Day.

But Isn’t it 2019? It’s the 12th New Moon starting from the Chinese New Year – a lunar calendar –  back on February 16, 2018. Really, this is Bodhi Season 4715 in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. I discuss this in more detail, in this blog, When is Bodhi Day 2018?. Mrs. Hanamoku and I celebrate both the Secular and Lunar Bodhi Days. However, we do place more emphasis on the former since it does come first.

A few weeks ago, during the Secular Bodhi Season of 2018, I posted a series of blogs for each of the seven days, starting with Tomorrow Begins the Secular Bodhi Season of 2018. Please do read that set, one for each of the upcoming days – as you would an Advent Calendar. I intended the series for both the Secular and Lunar Bodhi Seasons of 2018.

Links to the other posts belonging to this set of Secular Bodhi Day 2018 posts:

Although Siddhartha Gautama did literally meditate under the Bodhi Tree for these seven days, I can’t do that. There’s this earning a living thing that gets in the way. But we do “meditate” in a few other ways. My primary meditation during that Secular Bodhi Season last month took the form of spending two or three hours early in the morning before heading to work (3am to 6am) writing each of those blogs.

Mrs. Hanamoku and I also stick to a simpler diet, pretty much vegetarian; certainly no sugar, alcohol, or other stuff that’s “not good for you”. Since the Secular Bodhi Season is in December, we’re even more mindful of keeping “the Christmas Spirit”.

However, I’ll leave with a new little lesson to help with your meditation during this next week.

Kiai!!

In most martial arts (although here I’m referring mostly to the Japanese styles), there is a notion of kiai (pronounced like key-eye). This is that “hi-yah” sound you often here during fight scenes in martial arts movies.

I was taught it as a very sharp “long A” sound (like the A in bake). Most important than the actual sound, it comes from deep in the belly. Think of like doing crunches and saying A at the contraction of your ab muscles.

What is the purpose of that noise? At the time of this writing, the Wikipedia article for Kiai doesn’t mention anything about the really important aspect it, just a very superficial, although valid, interpretation:

“Students of Japanese martial arts such as aikido, karate, kobudo, kendo, or judo (or related arts such as taiko drumming) use kiai to startle an opponent, intimidate, express confidence, or express victory.”

However, the kiai is more to affect you than to affect your opponent. Its real value is in reigning in your focus when it starts to wander. It brings our minds back to the present, away from fears based on the past or what hasn’t happened, or things that don’t matter. The more we’re in the present, the more we fit into the flow.

It’s for that purpose that I keep a bell with me during meditation, a gentle kiai to bring me back if (when) my mind wanders.

Faith and Patience to you!

Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku