From An Introduction to the Tradition of Serene Reflection Meditation < https://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/IntroSRM13.pdf > The Five Laws of the Universe. Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, M.O.B.C. Law 1. The physical world is not answerable to my personal will. I am not the Cosmic Buddha and there is nothing in me that is not of the Cosmic Buddha. Thus no Zen Master ever says he is either enlightened or unenlightened. That Which Is is not a personal God. Law 2. The Law of Change. There is no such thing as a separate, individual “soul” or “spirit”2 that goes to a God or a Buddha to live unchanged in its individuality at the time of physical death. The physi- cal body parts from the seemingly individual part of the Buddha Nature 3 which man mistakenly calls his soul or spirit at the time of what is presently described as death. The body in its present form is unplugged, as it were, from the apparent life force and disintegrates into various compo- nents which turn again into other life forms or life-sustain- ing forces, e.g. worms, maggots, compost, water, etc., noth- ing whatsoever being wasted, all being recyclable. Law 3. The Law of Karma is inevitable and inexorable. The spiritual aspect of the so-called individual “spirit”* which a being, male or female, has thought of as himself returns to the Source, called herein the Buddha Nature (the third Body of the Trikaya ), in its entirety only if all past karma, both of the life-existence just ended, and those life- existences prior to it, has been purified. For example, a person who has lived an exemplary life during this lifetime may still not become one with the Buddha Nature if he has not looked deeply within himself and purified the karma he inherited from former lives. That part of the karma that is purified, however, returns to the Buddha Nature and becomes one with it, so that which is being thought of as an individual spirit becomes divided up, like returning unto like: the purified part of the spirit returns to the Buddha Nature and the unpurified part is reborn into whatever is a suitable form for its presently unpurified state. It should be noted that spirit, however uncleansed, is still spirit and herein lies its ability to bring life into existence no matter how debased the form may seem. Thus, a person who kept all the Precepts prohibition against carnal lust would find only the lustful nature of himself reborn as we know life, probably, but not necessarily, in animal form or as one of those unfortunate humans who are always in trouble for carnal acts they have not committed, the purified karma of his former life return- ing to its rightful home in the Buddha Nature. For centuries the argument against rebirth has always been statistical, i.e. if a person dies another must be born in his place, so why is the world population always changing? Rebirth does not work this way. The physical body dis- integrates and becomes recyclable material for use by the as yet unpurified karma-carrying sparks of spirit. These sparks become living organisms exactly in ratio to their own unpurified karma and are thus again given a chance to transcend that karma by purification, thereafter returning directly to the Buddha Mind, sometimes called the Buddha Nature. Because of the above it is impossible, and even stupid, to expect a baby human to be born every time another hu- man dies. Anything can be born as the result of any death, whether human or animal and, because every being in the world has done totally different things from everybody else, there is no formula that can be laid down as to what will happen specifically to anyone. Only the individual can do something about that, for himself, through meditation. All that can be truly said is that certain acts will have adverse effects on new life and other acts will have beneficial ones. The Buddhist Precepts are the nearest a person can get to a working formula for this purpose. Nor is just one being likely to result from the death of a previous being. An unconverted carnal lust may be reborn in animal form, an unresolved confusion at the time of death may be reborn in a muddle-headed human and a secret and hidden evil act may cause the birth of a fixed or wandering ghost, just to give a few examples. Thus the death of one human could result in the rebirth of an animal, a human and a ghost all out of the unpurified part of that human’s karma which will then become purified in its own way to become a beautiful part of the Buddha Mind. Such unpurified karma becomes a karmic debt which the new-born creature inherits. Thus Buddhism says, with absolute truth, that that which is reborn is not the same spirit as that which died nor is it different from it. No being keeps his imagined “spirit” intact at death. In the case of one who has purified every karmic jangle within that “spirit” from the time that it was part of the original Buddha Nature before the universe began to the present, that which was his or her spirit returns in its entirety to the Buddha Mind at the time of death, for it is indeed the whole of that Buddha Nature, and loses its indi- viduality therein leaving nothing whatsoever to be reborn. Therefore there is no individual soul and, thus, the Zen Master can say with truth that enlightened action leaves behind it no speck of dust. Very occasionally a person may be the inheritor of a lot of the karma from one particular previous existence and it may seem to him that he has inherited the equivalent of a whole previous personality. This is the main cause of the belief in reincarnation, however one should know that how- ever much karma a person may inherit from one place, he still will not inherit an individual soul since that which was purified in the former being will have returned to the Cosmic Buddha. Law 4. Without fail evil is vanquished and good prevails; this too is inexorable. Periodically it is necessary for the Buddha Nature to give more of Itself to a new-born being than is usual, other- wise there is no way in which that being will have sufficient purified spirit to be able to cleanse its present load of karma. For this purpose there comes forth from the Buddha Mind that which is termed a Bodhisattva version of the unpurified karmic stream in order to bring it to the Bodhisattva state. The following is a typical example. A person whose nature alternates between extremes of cruelty and compassion in his or her present existence be- gins to meditate deeply. He finds within himself two dis- tinctly different natures and longs to be undivided. As his meditation deepens he experiences past lives wherein that which he has inherited has been sadistic time and again down the centuries starting with little acts of excessive love which eventually, several lives later, became cruelty. For such a person the next step would be to be born mad had it not been for the fact that, at the hour of death, he or she had begun to doubt the wisdom of his or her actions. This doubt, constituting the equivalent of he or she saying “I could be wrong,” is sufficient to cause the Buddha Nature to pour out compassion; thus there issues forth a stream of pure spirit which picks up the impure stream and converts it from within. Herein the truth of the Fourth Law is proved:– without fail evil is vanquished and good prevails. No matter what a being has done, either in this life or in a past one, if he or she truly repents, or so much as even doubts, the wisdom of his or her evil acts as late in life as the moment of death, he or she opens the door to freedom. If, however, he or she willfully persists in his or her evil there will be born, soon after his or her death, some unfortunate being who will, through no fault of its own, carry that karmic stream and, unless it is converted either from within by a Bodhisattvic stream, or by meeting a priest or doctor who possesses such a stream, that unfortunate being will be born mad and remain mad. Law 5. The intuitive knowledge of Buddha Nature occurs to all. All beings have the intuitive knowledge of the Buddha Nature down the centuries. When man does not heed this intuitive knowledge, body and spirit separate and the cycle of birth, old age, disease and death becomes as a binding cord from which he cannot be free until he again decides to heed the still, small Voice within which is the voice of that intuitive knowledge which comes directly from the non-personal Buddha Nature. As a result of modern thinking man edu- cates his children away from this and, with the spread of materialism, man is increasingly looking for the cure of physical and mental illness outside of himself rather than within and the young become steadily more confused at an earlier and earlier age. *** Notes. 1. Cosmic Buddha. The Buddha Shakyamuni said, “There is an Unborn, Uncreated, Undying, Unchanging.” A term for the Dharmakaya, Eternal Nature, Buddhahood or Amitabha Buddha. The Buddha who appears in every place and time and in all beings; also called by various other names such as Vairocana Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Dharmakaya, Buddha Nature, Lord of the House, That Which Is. It can be revealed by genuine training but It cannot be explained as existing or not existing or in any other dualistic way. 2. What people usually think of as their “self,” “soul,” or “spirit” is actually an impermanent combination of several components. Some components, such as the ego, the sense of self, the body image, and the like are personal and individual but are continually changing and do not survive death. Another component, the Buddha Nature, because it is one with the Buddha Essence of the Universe, is unchanging and eternal and yet, for the very same reason, is neither personal nor individual. A third type of component is what is known as karma; this is the spiritual force set in motion by all volitional actions, whether good or ill. When we speak of a person’s karma, we refer to the sum total of all such forces currently remaining effective which he or she has produced in this life- time or has acquired at the time of conception from other beings which have left it unfulfilled at the times of their deaths. Positive volitional acts produce positive karma, sometimes called merit, which has positive effects on the lives of beings. This positive karma, already being at peace by its very nature, is at one with the infinite Sea of Merit of the Cosmic Buddha upon the death of the individual and thus provides no basis for an immortal soul. Negative karma, if not exhausted or purified in this lifetime, continues on after death and conditions the conception of a new being who will have an opportunity to allow it to run its course or to purify it, thus setting it to rest. Once its force is spent, negative karma ceases to exist, hence it, too, cannot produce an immortal and individual soul. The karma produced in this life and the karma inherited from other 30 beings are not of different types: they both act in the same way and are indistinguishable. Thus, in Buddhism, there really is no such thing as an individual and immortal soul; we use the term “spirit” here to refer to the entire matter described above, as a paragraph such as this cannot be inserted each time the concept is used. 3. Buddha Nature, Bussho (J), Buddhata (S). That which is shared by oneself with the Cosmic Buddha. One’s own True Nature, True Self. After Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened He said, “All beings without exception have the Nature of Buddha.” One’s own Buddha Essence. Buddha Nature also implies Cosmic Buddha. 4. Trikaya (S), Sanshin (J). The Three Bodies of the Buddha which are unified throughout the universe as well as in one’s own body. “I am not Buddha and there is nothing in me that is not of Buddha.” 5. Precepts, kai (J), sila (S). The ways of living that are in accordance with the Dharma. The second Paramita. One of the fundamental practices of the Bodhisattva training along with meditation, compassion and wisdom. The Precepts include the Three Refuges (I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha), the Three Pure Precepts (cease from evil, do only good, do good for others) and the Ten Great Precepts (do not kill, do not steal, do not covet, do not say that which is not true, do not sell the wine of delusion, do not speak against others, do not be proud of yourself and devalue others, do not be mean in giving either Dharma or wealth, do not be angry, do not defame the Three Treasures). 6. The reader should be aware that this statement, like all statements about the operation of the Law of Karma, is an oversimplification and an approximation. The full scope and operation of this Law is so vast and complex that it can be understood fully only by the Mind of a Buddha. Karma is not a substance which has a physical location and the use of the words “sparks” or “karmic residues” does not imply a material existence for them although they can be recognised through meditation. 7. Bodhisattva (S), bosatsu (J), pu-sa (C), “enlightened (bodhi) being (sattva).” A being which seeks enlightenment not only for itself but for all living beings as well, devoting itself to the Precepts, Four Wisdoms and Six Paramitas. A being which undertakes training to become a fully enlightened Buddha for the benefit of all beings including itself. The Bodhisattva ideal is the central aspect of Mahayana Buddhism. Bodhisattvas come forth for many reasons other than those given here. 31
*Redding Zen Priory is supported entirely by donations. *
*Your donations of training, time and financial support are gratefully
Carl Rogers, the great humanistic psychologist, said: Before every session, I take a moment to remember my humanity. There is no experience that this man has that I cannot share with him, no fear that I cannot understand, no suffering that I cannot care about, because I too am human. No matter how deep his wound, he does not need to be ashamed in front of me. I too am vulnerable. And because of this, I am enough. Whatever his story, he no longer needs to be alone with it. This is what will allow his healing to begin. Frank Ostaseski, the author of The Five Invitations, said There is no Dharma apart from the heart. When we can’t touch others, Just put your hand on your heart And say to yourself Or out loud "I choose love". To be open-hearted requires vulnerability. It is an invitation to feel everything fully. Courage is the heart’s answer when fear speaks. Bodhisattva are beings who had the willingness to stand with suffering even while they were afraid.
Hello everyone, Hoping you will join me as we day dream and plan of a times where we can get out there and travel again. Please feel free to leave a message or comment about the upcoming event. We are really looking forward to meeting all of you. Scott & Cindy. Here is a link to the meeting details. https://www.spiritualtravelings.com/event-details/spiritual-travelings-online-monthly-meet-up-2