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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
buddhadharma| 15 |spring 2008 sucked up by the future. meditation is not think- ing, not something abstract. sitting meditation, first of all, is to be present, to sit still. Once we have that stillness, we’ll be able to see the truth. We can have projects and take actions that are appropriate to the truth in order to take care of a situation. that is why dwelling peacefully, happily, in the present moment is so important. You come back to the present moment to be nourished, to be healed, and also to manage the problems and issues in the present. If we can take care of the issues in the present, then we’ll have a future. those who practice pure Land, especially begin- ners, believe that the pure Land is in the future. they think that we go there only when we die, and that we go in a western direction, the direction of extreme happiness. But people who have prac- ticed pure Land for a long time go more deeply. the pure Land is not in the west or in the east, but right in our mind. When we practice medita- tion, and we practice properly, we practice in the pure Land. each breath, each step, each smile, each look can bring us happiness in the present moment. the Buddha, wherever he went, never left the pure Land. If we can live in the pure Land with each step, each breath, each smile, everything can give rise to the pure Land. that’s why I want to remind you: If you have no capacity to live happily in the present moment, there is no way to have happiness in the future. From Mindfulness Bell, auTumn 2007. negotiating karma Changing your karma can be an enormous chal- lenge, says Zen Master Dae Bong. But with prac- ticing mind, eventually you can direct it to where you want it to go. some years ago in Korea, there lived a very devout Buddhist family with two teenage daughters. the older one was very responsible and always did the right thing. However, the younger one was quite wild. she would sneak out at night and go dancing, drinking, and sleeping around—the whole nine yards. perhaps today that would not seem that odd, but back then it was unheard of. the older sister was always on her case about it, but the father was very kind to the younger daughter. finally the older daughter went to the father and complained, “she’s no good; she does all these bad things. Why are you so nice to her? Why don’t you correct her?” “You don’t understand,” said the father. “I used to stay up and yell at her when she got home. But one day when I was waiting for her to come back, I fell asleep, and when I awoke she had already come back and was in our dharma room bowing and then sitting. Later I asked about it and she said, ‘I know I have this bad karma, I just can’t control it. But I try to bow to Buddha every day 108 times, and I sit and hope that I can change this karma.’ so then I said, ‘Oh, very good. You just continue that way.’” the father remained very kind toward the younger daughter, and over time the girl’s desire started to clam down. Before, she would run out every chance she got, then only a couple times a week, and then only once a week. finally, going out wasn’t that interesting to her any more. she even enjoyed bowing, sitting, and doing things to help others. everybody has karma. some of it we consider good, and some bad. But if we have a practicing mind, then we can change our karma. On the other hand, if we have an “I like it!” mind and don’t develop a practicing mind, then we will really have a problem. Zen master seung sahn was always a good teacher because he understood that people have karma. If you want to, you can change even the strongest karma. However, you can’t always do that immediately. If you keep trying, if you keep developing a practicing mind, eventually you can become stronger than your karma. then karma will follow your direction, rather than you following your karma. Zen master seung sahn said that our karma is like a dog. If you take a dog for a walk, sometimes you walk straight but the dog runs all over the place. He smells something, then runs over there; he pees and looks for food, round and round. But if you are the master and you keep going straight, eventually the dog will end up at the same place you do. the dog is not going to run off completely; it will always come back to where you are. so our practicing mind is like that. If we make our practicing mind strong, then our karma will run this way and that way, but eventually it will come back to where we are; it will follow us. then we can use our karma to help other people. From The Kwan uM sChool of Zen newsletter, Fall 2007. SERgEBlOCH