this bright world is yours to discover

Sangha & Inclusion

Imágenes del Ser - SFZC Online Dharma class in Spanish

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

Con Ven. Dhammadipa (la Reverenda Konin Cardenas)

22 de octubre – 19 de noviembre

Este curso de el Centro Zen de San Francisco, en linea, se concentrará en el estudio del ser y del no-ser en medio de la vida contemporánea. Con el propósito de experimentar una práctica más amplia y clara, vamos a explorar juntos extractos del libro Mente Zen, Mente de Principiante de Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, además de enseñanzas de una variedad de Maestros de Zen, incluidos Dongshan Liangjie y Eihei Dogen.

El curso ofrece:

  • Cuatro Pláticas del Dharma, una cada semana

  • Cuatro reuniones virtuales, una hora en vivo cada semana

  • Acceso a un sitio web privado e interactivo

  • Un foro de discusión con Ven. Dhammadipa y los demás participantes

  • Lecturas suplementarias

  • Zendo virtual

    Regístrese aquí

Ekan Zen Study Center is in Transition

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

Dear Dharma Friend,

The path of practice can be one of broad personal discovery and inner transformation. This has certainly been true for our Guiding Teacher who, as you may already know, has reached back to the roots of Zen tradition to embrace early Buddhist monasticism and the practice of the Vinaya. Now Reverend Konin Cardenas is also known as Venerable Dhammadipa. She has committed to long-term residential training at Aloka Vihara, a women's monastery in California, practicing the Theravada Forest Tradition of the West.

These changes are reflected in Ven. Dhammadipa’s practice, in the breadth of her teachings, and in the precepts she is now following. While she continues to offer teachings primarily focused on the Zen tradition, she is also teaching early Buddhism together with her Dhamma Sisters at Aloka Vihara.

Ven. Dhammadipa is now largely supported by the Saranaloka Foundation, which is financially responsible for all of the nuns at the vihara. Her basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and dental care are provided for by donors to the monastery. Her personal needs for travel and other minor expenses are provided for by her family. These changes are in accord with the Vinaya training precept of not handling money, which Ven. Dhammadipa has taken.

To reflect these changes, over the next few months, the EkanZenStudyCenter.org site will change to Dhamma-Dipa.com, a site that will be Ven. Dhammadipa's personal online presence. Her audio and video archives, blog posts, and personal teaching calendar will be available there. Ekan Zen Study Center will no longer exist as a 501(c)3 non-profit, and the corporation will be dissolved at the end of 2018. The donation page on the Dhamma-Dipa.com site will reflect new information about how to contribute a tax-deductible donation to the Saranaloka Foundation, for Venerable Dhammadipa or for the monastery in general.

The Ekan Zen Study Center Board of Directors fully supports Ven. Dhammadipa’s current path of practice, and your continued relationship with her and her teachings. We encourage you to grow your relationship with her. Should you have any questions or concerns our contact information is below, and we welcome hearing from you.

Together we affirm the mutual support that arises when practicing the Way together, intimately. May it continue, for the benefit of all beings!

With abiding support for your awakening life,

Norma Fogelberg, President

Rev. Choro Antonaccio, Treasurer

Rev. Konin Cardenas, Guiding Teacher/Secretary

Do bodhisattvas seek Nirvana?

Sangha & Inclusion, Study & ArtsGuiding TeacherComment

Student: I listened again to the [recording of the ] seminar and [the Buddhist teacher and academic] says that in early Buddhism the goal was Nirvana and he contrasts that, the elimination of passions, with the goal of the Mahayana of enlightenment which is not the elimination of the passions, but the evocation of the passion of compassion. A bodhisattva would not then be seeking nirvana but enlightenment, or acting out of enlightenment. Could you say a bit about your understanding of Nirvana? Do bodhisattvas pursue Nirvana or enlightenment?

Konin:  The question of Nirvana (Sanskrit) or Nibbāna (Pali) is such an fascinating one. The records that we have quote the Buddha as having said these three things about it, many times, in many of his discourses:

"This is truly peace, this is the Highest, namely the end of all kamma (karma) formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving, the detachment, the extinction, Nibbāna."

"Enraptured with lust (desire, greed), enraged with anger, blinded by delusion, overwhelmed, with mind ensnared, man (a human being) aims at his [her, their] own ruin, at the ruin of others, at the ruin of both and he [she, they] experiences mental pain and grief. But, if lust, anger and delusion are given up, man aims neither at his own ruin, nor at the ruin of others, nor at the ruin of both, and experiences no mental pain and grief. Thus is Nibbāna, immediate, visible in this life, inviting, attractive, comprehensible to the wise."

"The extinction of greed, the extinction of hatred, the extinction of delusion: this, indeed, is called Nibbāna."

So, as you can see, there is Nibbāna described as something that seems to be possible only at or after death, a cessation of the rounds of rebirth. It is likened to the flame of a candle going out, not being passed to another candle. When the Buddha died, he said that he was passing into Mahaparinibbāna, meaning great, final extinction or cessation. 

Interestingly, he also speaks of a realm he called "the deathless." He is quoted as saying this about it:

"Truly there is a realm where there is neither solid, nor fluid, neither heat, nor motion, neither this world, nor any other world, neither sun, nor moon. This I call neither arising nor passing away , neither holding still, being born, or dying. There is no foothold, no development, no basis. This is the end of suffering. There is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, informed. If there were not this unborn, this unoriginated, this uncreated, this unformed, release from the world of the born, the orginated the created, the formed would not be possible. But since there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, informed, there is release from the world of the born, the created, the created, the formed." 

What is this realm? What is the deathless?

However, Nibbāna had already happened for him in the second and third senses described above - the sense of freedom from the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion, complete rest in the mind. The Buddha said he dwelt in Nibbāna after his awakening/enlightenment, and his students who reached the highest ideal of awakening were called Arahants (Pali) or Arhats (Sanskrit). They were called that after having achieved this same freedom from the three poisons, again, called Nibbāna. This, he seems to have said, is available to everyone during their lifetime, and is a peace beyond any peace you can presently imagine. That is, until you have a taste of it. We can for brief periods be free from the three poisons, in moments of profound, bright clarity. That is a taste peace of mind, and that too is an experience of Nibbāna in this lifetime. 

As regards a bodhisattva, it is really important to remember that the bodhisattva ideal as a path also exists within the Theravada, or so called Hinayana, teachings. The Buddha referred to himself as a bodhisattva before his awakening. During the early periods of the Mahayana, practitioners were just beginning to take up the Buddha as a role model, rather than as a teacher. They chose to take up the attainment of Buddhahood as their goal, not the Arahant as a goal. Still, they ordained, lived and practiced in the same monasteries as those practicing the teachings we now know as Theravada [Sthaviravada, Sravakayana or Hinayana], who took the Buddha as a teacher who advocated the Arahant path. Yet it's really important to notice that, even though the Buddha was a bodhisattva, he didn't keep coming back to human form forever to help beings. He said that after his death he would be gone from any realm of rebirth forever. He goes on helping beings forever through the legacy of his teachings, which he said were sufficient for everyone to wake up by.

As I understand it, it was much later that the bodhisattva path came to be understood as coming back forever to keep helping beings. However, when it gets expanded in that way, then it makes sense that a bodhisattva wouldn't seek the final Nibbāna that the Buddha experienced and advocated for his students, because that would mean that their rebirths would come to an end.

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Finally, as for eliminating passion versus generating compassion, I have to say that my experience of the paths is that both are deeply based in compassion for all beings. The Buddha, echoed by the later Mahayana teachers, clearly stated that the most compassionate thing one could do for another was to help them to realize enlightenment, to wake up to the true nature of all things, to realize complete, final liberation from suffering.

In my view, compassion arises from two directions. One way of generating compassion is to remember that all beings suffer and don't want to suffer, and so we should do the right thing by them and for ourselves. We should be kind and ethical. This is a compassion that is fairly easy to generate. It is also a form of generating compassion that will lead the one who practices it to fewer obstacles in their life of practice. Another way of generating compassion is to see the way in which all beings are intimately, physically and mentally inter-dependent, impermanent, and very subtly deluded. Then, like the fingers on the hand, one intuitively has kindness towards everything with which one is intimately connected. Causing harm doesn't make sense anymore. Supporting everyone's enlightenment is the only thing that makes sense. All of the schools of Buddhism that I have studied and experienced are generating both of these two forms of compassion. That said, I have to add that there are some forms of practice that really tax my ability to see them as compassion. Unfortunately, delusion about compassion can enter the practice life too.