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Sangha & Inclusion

Living with the One Reality that Demonstrates Two Truths

Study & Arts, Sitting & Ritual, Service & Engagement, Sangha & InclusionGuiding TeacherComment


Do you have any suggestions for how to continue to benefit from the Heart Sutra's view of utter liberation: that “there is nothing here that threatens, there is nothing to be defended,” while following the imperatives of ethics, while caring for the body-mind of self and others involved for now in this karmic process? I can see that both views are true in theory, but they strike me as contradictory in practice--I seem to be able to focus on only one view at a time. So how to resolve, or investigate, what I experience as this tension between compassion that leads to the desire to prevent or alleviate suffering in the world of mundane specificity (form) and the movement of compassion, as embodied by Avalokitesvara and the Heart Sutra, to free human beings from our (biologically generated (?) and profoundly embedded) mistaken perceptions of “our” relation to those forms?

My replies:

The short answer to your excellent question is this:

The precepts are themselves a description of the way karma and the other principles of reality really work.

To say more:

When you know that the thing you think is your self is merely an aggregation of elements and energy, then you also know that you are literally what you think, do and say in any given moment, and you are the consequences that unfold from that. So you take care because you know how the body and mind and karma really work. Yet you are also free of that, because you can live in absolute harmony with it, not pushed and pulled.

To add a bit more:

When you taste a bit of the three marks of existence - impermanent, empty, and fundamentally unsatisfactory (dukkha) - then a strong sense of compassion naturally wells up for yourself and others who are entangled by these principles without fully seeing or understanding them. You want to help the clarity to develop and the dukkha to stop. This turns you deeper and deeper toward practice, which happens in the midst of a mundane world, which itself is the expression of the principles.

To see it this way is to see that the precepts and concepts and meditation experiences that we're studying are themselves describing a way of living that cares for the body as a vehicle for clarity, and cares for self and others by not enacting harm, and cares for the world by being aware of consequences. These practices keep turning your mind and body toward the insights that keeping generating compassion, and so on, and so on. Finally, when you fully realize the principles and drop the illusion of self, there is total clarity about the nature of interconnection, even while the need to define one's self relative to others has gone away.

Update on activities for 2019

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & Ritual, Study & ArtsGuiding TeacherComment

Dear Students of the Way,

For many of you, it has been a while since we have practiced face-to-face, whether virtually or in person. Know that I think of you often, and send kindness.

Since we have entered a new year and the Spanish online course is completed, I am settling down to prepare the curriculum for the 2019 online offerings. I am hoping to offer one class in the spring and in the fall, as well as a summer book club again this year.

I would like the Spring 2019 class to begin in late April or early May. It will be based on Dogen's "Guidelines for the Practice of the Way," originally titled "Gakudo Yojinshu" in the Chinese. It is Dogen's top ten list of important points for Zen practitioners to keep in mind, and it touches on topics such as effort, student-teacher relationships, compassion, and the koan "mu." Of course, there will be some supplemental materials as well. I expect the course will involve a pre-recorded talk and a group discussion meeting each week. Once the class dates are set, I will post them to this website and to Twitter. For now, if there are other folks you know who may be interested, please feel free to pass this page along to them.

It's not too early to make suggestions for the summer book club, also. It will be a bit short this year, starting in mid- or late July and ending by October 1st.

In the more immediate time frame, I am going to be offering practice discussion online. If you would like to connect for a practice discussion, please write to {hey.konin@gmail.com} to request one of these times. Also, please specify whether you prefer Zoom or Skype video chat, or a phone call and to what number.

And I have added some more “Study & Arts” posts to the home page, including recent poetry and watercolor paintings from my solitary retreat.

Lastly, my next retreat offering is to co-lead a 5 day sit in early May at Spirit Rock in Northern California. It's wait listed, so mention this post if you decide to sign up. We'll try to get you in.

I look forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, let's keep sitting!

Yours in the Dharma,

Dhammadīpā Kōnin Cardenas

In response to the border crisis

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & EngagementGuiding TeacherComment

In memory of 7 year-old Jakelin Caal Maquín,

and all who have been or will be affected by her death

Jakelin Caal Maquín

Jakelin Caal Maquín

In these times,

 When those who come to the US southern border seeking safety are attacked with tear gas

 When children far from home sit in cells awaiting reunions with parents they may never see again

 And when the fear of too few resources and the feelings of overwhelm,

lead those who work and live at the border to harden their hearts and act with aggression

I am saddened and concerned

In these times,

 When the needs and desires of human beings are far out of balance with nature’s ability to provide

 When the pressure to create and hoard wealth leads to corruption, oppression, and violence around the world

 And when the concept of territory is harmful,

increasing divisiveness and the sense of separation in a world engulfed in climate crisis

I am saddened and concerned

Hearing the cries of the world, I offer this blessing:

 May we all be touched by these forms of suffering, and find loving kindness and compassion in our hearts

 May we all care for those who seek peace and safety for themselves and their children

 May we all share in the joy of those who have been able to create a better life for themselves

 May we all open our arms

 And may we receive all beings with eyes of equanimity

 May we all find balance within ourselves as beings supported by and made of Earth

 May we all realize that greed is a delusion that never leads to fulfillment, and find a boundless flow of generosity

 May we all quench the fires of violence, embracing those who are friendly, indifferent, or hostile, sharing the blessings of our lives

 And may we all cultivate minds as vast as the sky, relinquishing all that separates us and dwelling in peace together

En memoria de Jakelin Caal Maquín quien tenía 7 años de edad,

y todos los que han sido o serán afectados por su muerte

En esta época,

 Cuando los que vienen a la frontera del sur de los Estados Unidos en busca de seguridad son atacados con gas lacrimógeno

 Cuando los niños lejos de casa se sienten en las celdas esperando reuniones con padres que quizá nunca volverán a ver

 Y cuando el temor de la falta de recursos y el sentido de estar abrumado

conduce a los que trabajan y viven en la frontera a endurecer sus corazones y actuar con agresión

Estoy entristecida y preocupada

En esta época,

 Cuando las necesidades y deseos de los seres humanos están fuera de equilibrio con lo que la naturaleza puede proporcionar

 Cuando la presión para crear y acaparar la riqueza conduce a la corrupción, la opresión y la violencia en todo el mundo

 Y cuando el concepto del territorio es perjudicial

aumentando la división y el sentido de la separación en medio de un mundo envuelto en crisis climática

Estoy entristecida y preocupada

Escuchando los llantos del mundo, ofrezco esta bendición:

 Que todos nos sentiremos afectados por estas formas de sufrimiento, y conseguiremos el amor bondadoso y la compasión en nuestros corazones

 Que todos ofreceremos cuidado para aquellos que buscan la paz y la seguridad para sí mismos y sus hijos

 Que todos compartiremos en la alegría de los que hayan podido crear una vida mejor por sí mismos

 Que todos abriremos nuestros brazos

 Y recibiremos todos los seres con ojos de ecuanimidad

 Que todos encontremos el equilibrio en nosotros mismos como seres apoyados por y hecho de la Tierra

 Que todos nos demos cuenta de que la codicia es un engaño que nunca resultará en satisfacción, y encontraremos el flujo de generosidad ilimitado

 Que todos extinguiremos los fuegos de la violencia, abrazando a los que son amables, indiferentes, o hostiles, compartiendo las bendiciones de nuestras vidas

 Y que todos cultivaremos mentes tan vastas como el cielo, renunciando todo lo que nos separa y viviendo en paz juntos

Resources for those who want to respond

Border crisis 

Sacramento Immigration Coalition


California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance


East Bay Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights


WOLA Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas


Climate crisis 

Extinction Rebellion


Drawdown: Summary of Solutions