Posted in koans, podcast

Wild Fox Koan (podcast)

Daniel and Alicia talk about Baizhang and the Wild Fox.  I invited my soon-to-be wife Alicia Marley onto the podcast again to talk about the second koan from the Gateless Barrier Collection. This is an odd koan with some magical things going on and the lesson might be a little hard to find.  Our conversation ended up taking us pretty far afield from talking about the koan and we ended up asking questions like “is chanting important?” and “Can meditation make you a better criminal?”

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Posted in tattooed buddha, Uncategorized

What’s the deal with meditation beads (malas)?

meditate malas

A lot of Buddhists wear these beads. They look kind of like rosaries, I guess.

They’re used in several different Buddhist traditions, but not in all of them.

A lot of Hindus and Yogis wear them too. There are long ones that you can wear as a necklace, or wrap around your wrist a few times. And there are short ones that are just bracelets. Sometimes you can identify a meditator by the fact that they’re wearing one.

They’re called malas.

Some people call them prayer beads. Some people call them meditation beads.

They can be made of many different things, usually a kind of wood. Mine is made of sandalwood. If you search for malas on the internet you can find all sorts of places to buy them. Traditionally they have 108 beads. If not 108, some number that’s divisible by 108, 54, 27, or 18.

Why 108?

It’s a sacred number in Hinduism. And in Buddhism we just kept it. Someone can probably make up some reason why it’s sacred in Buddhism but I think we should admit that it’s one of things from Hinduism that was kept when Buddhism was created. There are those that say there are 108 afflictions that cause our suffering.

Maybe 108 does have a special meaning to us, I’m not sure. But it is considered a number that is sacred and important.

Generally malas are used in mantra practice.

When we chant mantras we sometimes chant them 108 times.

So, when we chant, OM VAJRASATTVA HUM (a purification mantra), for example, we can move the beads through our fingers to keep track. That way we can keep track and focus on our mantra at the same time. I don’t know how someone would keep track of their number of recitations without one.

Mantra practice is not my favorite style of meditation, but I do practice it at least once a week.

Malas, of course, have a few other purposes.

If a teacher gives you one and blesses it, it can make you feel like you’re carrying your teacher with you. A mala has an extra bead called the ‘Guru Bead’ that is separate from the counting beads. It represents your teacher.

I have one that was blessed by the Dalai Lama.

Some people think they can provide some form of spiritual protection.

One thing is, if you’re wearing this thing, I think it’s a little easier to be mindful. It’s like having a constant reminder that we should be virtuous and mindful. There’s a tendency to be very spiritual in the temple or on the meditation cushion, but not necessarily in everyday life.

The path is meant to be practiced everywhere. The world is  my sacred space and my spiritual life is not separate from my world life.

It can help us recognize each other too. If I see someone wearing a mala, I know we have something in common.

I’m probably not going to strike up a conversation with a random person because they’re wearing a mala, but maybe it helps knowing they’re out there.

 

http://thetattooedbuddha.com/whats-the-deal-with-meditation-beads-malas/

Posted in buddhism

Essentials of Buddhist Training

When we’re in serious Buddhist training we should be engaged in mindfulness all the time, not simply when we are on the cushion. Sacredness isn’t limited to temples, the whole world is our temple.

When we are in training, ideally our bodies and minds are controlled. If we aren’t in control of ourselves, then we can cause harm to ourselves and others, which would be unfortunate.

In our practice, when we use a stabilization method such as following the breath, chanting a mantra, or burning incense, our purpose is to ensure that we are controlling our bodies and minds. There are many methods for self control.

When we sit in meditation, a natural position is best. Straighten your back as much as you can. If you start to slouch your back might start to hurt.

When our meditation practice becomes effective, there will be distractions. Mental states will arrive but we cannot cling to them. If we just observe them and let them go, then they will no longer hinder us.

Even if you get really bizarre or unexpected feelings, you should just notice them and not be afraid of them.