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Buddhadharma : Fall 2015
fall 2 0 1 5 buDDhaDharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 17 the buddha in the tree You don’t need to look at a statue to see the Buddha, says Thich Nhat Hanh. I think the dharma hall is dif- ferent from a Buddha hall. The Buddha can represent the dharma, but a tree can repre- sent the dharma also. When we bow to the tree, we can see the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha in the tree. Many Chinese-speaking and Vietnam- ese-speaking people will find this a little bit strange, but in Plum Village we sometimes do things that are a little bit strange. Instead of a very big statue of Buddha, we just put a tiny Buddha, and sometimes there is no Buddha statue—just a rock or a tree to get people acquainted with that kind of look- ing. When you look at a rock or a tree deeply, you can see the Buddha. FROM mindFulness Bell, SuMMER 2015 a better script Tenzin Gache says memorizing Buddhist texts replaces the stories we’re being told with the ones we really need to hear. One common criticism people raise about memorization is that it is just words. It’s true, they are “just words”; however, the words we say and hear have a powerful effect on how we think, feel, and behave. For many of us today, popular songs, movie clips, and catchphrases continuously replay themselves in our conscious and uncon- scious layers of mind, subtly influencing our mood and belief system in ways we may not notice until we try to meditate and find our mind is like Times Square or worse. As the content of popular culture mostly encourages attachment, worry, or violence, becoming mindful of what we consume is sound advice for bringing our mind into a more peaceful space. Another method to counter these negative influ- ences is to fill our mind with more constructive pathways. Cultivation of positive mental states like compassion, patience, and introspection is essential, and memorizing texts and prayers that encourage these states helps enhance them and ensure that they become more habitual. In fact, the Tibetan word for meditation, gom, literally means “to habituate.” First we learn something and commit it to memory, then we reflect on it and consider its meaning. Finally, we call it to mind again and again, familiarizing ourselves with its message and gradually deepening our understanding. The intention behind memorization is to actively train and develop your cognitive abilities and familiarize yourself with con- structive ways of thinking. Many of us read a passage from a dharma text and think, “I must remember this point,” but how often do we forget our initial insight and inspira- tion? Through memorizing inspiring texts, we continuously call them to mind, habitu- ating ourselves to the positive attitude they convey. Through memorizing difficult texts, we gradually begin to penetrate their hidden significance while integrating the message into our being in such a way that we start to feel “This is a part of me.” If we truly are the summation of what we think and believe, we would be prudent to become familiar with eloquent, uplifting, and saga- cious sayings rather than much of the super- ficial relics of pop culture that bombard us if we tune into TV and the Internet. FROM mandala, JuLy–DECEMBER 2015 Seated Buddha Mongolia