For this week, we will look at a very brief introduction to Lao Tzu and Tao Te Ching. Please look at the document below:
This week, we will learn how to manage conflict in a healthy manner. We will examine the Buddhist notions of Ahimsa, Dhammapada, the Five Precepts and Eight Precepts.
What is Ahimsa? https://www.britannica.com/topic/ahimsa
What is Dhammapada, the Five Precepts and Eight Precepts?
We will also look at Chuang Tzu’s story on the empty boat: http://omswami.com/2015/09/the-empty-boat.html
This week, we will look inwards into our selves and understand sources of isolation. We will look at two texts: 1. The Heart Sutra and its notion on fundamental emptiness 2. Bhaddekaratta Sutta on knowing the better way to live alone
The Heart Sutra: heart sutra
Bhaddekaratta Sutta: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.131.than.html
We will also look at one zen koan, “Manjusri outside the gate”
Manjusri outside the gate: https://tricycle.org/magazine/entering-lotus-0/
“Manjushri Enters the Gate,” the first case from the classic collection The Iron Flute. In Buddhist mythology, the bodhisattva Manjushri is the embodiment of wisdom, and a statue of him sits atop the main altar in Zen Buddhist meditation halls. In the koan, the Buddha calls to Manjushri, who is standing outside the temple gate, “Manjushri, Manjushri, why don’t you enter?” Manjushri answers, “I don’t see a thing outside the gate. Why should I enter?”
This week, we will examine why we refuse the idea of being “common” — we will look at the Diamond Sutra with a focus on non-duality.
We will look at one primary text, which I will hand out during our session.
Meanwhile, here are two commentaries on the Diamond Sutra: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/Five-things-to-know-about-diamond-sutra-worlds-oldest-dated-printed-book-180959052/
We will also look at two zen koans, “one hand clapping” and “kill the Buddha.”
One hand clapping:
Kill the Buddha:
This week, we will examine how we can remain faithful to ourselves — we will look at the Platform Sutra, especially on the subject of the body and mind.
We will look at one primary text:
We will also look at two zen koans, “washing your bowls” and “the sound of bells.”
Washing your bowl:
The sound of bells:
Zen Master Unmon said: “The world is vast and wide. Why do you put on your robes at the sound of a bell?” (from http://www.stat.wmich.edu/naranjo/zenkoans/chinapagezen.html)
This week, we will examine what it means to listen + why we have an overwhelming need to express — we will a look at the sutra on the White Lotus of the Sublime Dharma, or the Lotus Sutra, especially on the universal door and five voices. This sutra is one of the key sutras in Mahayana Buddhism, and the basis on which the Chinese and Japanese schools Tiantai, Tendai, Cheontae, and Nichiren was established.
We will look at one primary text:
A person wrote their reflection on the chapter here: https://stillwatersanghamn.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/five-kinds-of-voices/
This week, we will examine how we should face change — we will take a closer look at the Middle Way and the Upajjhatthana Sutta, or the five remembrances. This is a sermon famous for its five facts regarding the fragility of life and our true inheritance.
We will look at one primary text and one discourse:
You may find the Upajjhatthana Sutta here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.057.than.html — it’s a translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
We will also read excerpts from A Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma by The Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw. Please look over Part 3 which explains the Noble Eightfold Path (p. 58 – 84: or p. 58 – 64, 70 – 71, 74 – 76, 82 – 84). You can find the material here:
I will share excerpts from the Kalama Sutta and Parable of the Raft to aid our discussion as well.
This week, we will discuss the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, or the Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion. This is the first sermon that Buddha gave to the five ascetics after reaching enlightenment, and contain one of the most fundamental thoughts in Buddhism.
We will look at one primary text and two discourses:
You may find the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta here: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.harv.html — Thanissaro Bhikkhu is a big figure in Pali translations, but I liked the Peter Harvey version better. There are different translations on that site, so browse around! If you want a more word-by-word translation, please go to http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samyutta/maha/sn56-011.html.
We will also look at A Discourse on the Wheel of Dhamma by The Venerable Mahāsi Sayādaw, and Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel: Talks on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism by Venerable Master Sheng Yen. Ven. Sayādaw was a notable figure in Theravada Buddhism, and Ven. Sheng Yen was a dharma heir and key figure in Chan Buddhism.
For the Sayādaw text, we will read sections from Part 4 to 7 which explicate The Four Noble Truths, from the 1st truth (p. 84 – 113: or p. 87 – 113), 2nd truth (p. 114 – 150: or p. 114 – 124, 145 – 150), 3rd and 4th truth (p. 151 – 197: or p. 151 – 159, 169 – 171, 172, 195 – 197). We will also read Part 3 which explains the Noble Eightfold Path (p. 58 – 84: or p. 58 – 64, 70 – 71, 74 – 76, 82 – 84). I know it looks like a lot of reading, but if you look at the book, its pages are quite small, so hopefully it won’t be too much.
For the Sheng Yen text, feel free to read all of it.
You don’t have to read both of the texts — they are slightly different perspectives on the same topic. We are only reading to have a better understanding of the Sutta, not to discuss the texts academically. However, I do highly advise reading all of the Sayādaw text if possible.