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Posted in buddhism

Interview with Alex Kakuyo (Podcast)

I had my first long distance podcast guest. Sensei Alex Kakuyo is a lay Buddhist minister and author of Perfectly Ordinary: Buddhist Teachings for Everyday Life.

Download here and please subscribe:

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Spotify

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

If your favorite platform isn’t one of these four, search for “Sharpening the Mind” and let me know if you don’t find it. Also, please subscribe.

 

You can learn about Alex here: thesameoldzen.com

And you can buy his book here: Perfectly Ordinary

Alex teaches in the Bright Dawn Tradition, which you can learn about here: Brightdawn.org

I first “met” Alex because I saw his writing at The Tattooed Buddha, which you can see here: The Tattooed Buddha

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if you want to support this podcast by making a donation you can do so by clicking here: paypal.me/danielscharpenburg

Go like my Facebook Page: facebook.com/dscharpy

Posted in buddhism

Online Practice Opportunities

I hope you’re staying safe during the pandemic. I started doing daily videos over a month ago on my Facebook page. (facebook.com/dscharpy) I did these videos based on a Buddhist text called “The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva” At some point I’d like to teach a class on that text, a real and in person class. But we’ll see if such an opportunity ever appears. Anyway, You can access those videos here: https://kansascitymeditation.com/37-practices-of-a-bodhisattva-series/ All of that inspired me to make some more efforts to share teachings. So I’m livestreaming talks on my Facebook page according to a new schedule. schedule This is the new project. Meditation centers and Buddhist Temples are closed because of the virus.
I’m doing livestream videos on my Facebook page to give talks and to offer opportunities to practice with me. I sort of think of this as “teachings from the hermitage”
A Chan Hermitage is a place where an ordained Buddhist teacher lives and shares teachings and practices with people that visit. It’s a place to practice with sincerity, humility, and simplicity. In Buddhism there has always been temple practice for people that thrive in that world and hermit practice for people that don’t. Watching my videos is like entering my hermitage to receive teachings or to practice with me.
Can I help you with your practice? I think many of us are spending a lot more time at home because of the virus, but, ironically we’re so stressed by the virus that we aren’t meditating. And because we’re not meditating…we’re more stressed. So, tune in for these teachings if you’re interested. http://facebook.com/dscharpy ========================================================================= Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks! If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation. And go check out my Podcast Sharpening the Mind img_2525
Posted in buddhism, videos

37 Practices of a Bodhisattva Series

37 practices of all bodhisattvas

I did a series of daily talks during the Covid-19 lockdown.

I wanted to do something during this crisis, something to try to help others (and myself). At first I thought it might be too ambitious to give talks every day, but I made it work and I’m pretty proud of the series. I had intended for it to end right at the end of the lockdown here in Kansas City, but the lockdown has been extended.

I’ll try something else next. Putting out this material has been good as far as giving me something to do, bringing something positive into the world when so many people are struggling with what’s going on.

What’s a Bodhisattva?
A Bodhisattva is someone who is trying to unleash their potential for mindfulness and compassion. We’re on the Bodhisattva path because we’re trying our best.

This text “the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva” is a concise text written by a Tibetan teacher in the 14th century named Tokme Zangpo. It’s a summary of how we should behave as we are on the path to awakening. It’s like a list of 37 tips to help keep us on track.

Going through these every day has been enormously meaningful and helpful to me. I want to teach a class on this text at some point and I’m hoping an opportunity for that will appear.  

So, I am sharing all of the videos here.

You don’t have to watch all of these and you don’t have to watch them in any order.

These teachings are offered free of charge, but if you feel compelled to make a donation to support this work, you can click here:

donate

  1. Make Life Meaningful
  2. Attachment and Hatred
  3. Abandoning Negative Places
  4. Giving Up Concern For This Life
  5. Bad Company
  6. Relying on a Spiritual Friend
  7. Taking Refuge
  8. Lower Realms and Virtue
  9. Happiness is Like a Dewdrop
  10. What Use is Our Own Happiness?
  11. A Mind Intent on Benefitting Others
  12. When Someone Steals
  13. If Someone Tries To Cut Off Your Head
  14. Bringing Disgrace Onto the Path
  15. Bringing Harsh Words Onto the Path
  16. Bringing Ingratitude Onto the Path
  17. Bringing Defamation Onto the Path
  18. Bringing Decline Onto the Path
  19. Bringing Prosperity Onto the Path
  20. Bringing Anger Onto the Path
  21. Bringing Attachment Onto the Path
  22. Free From Delusion
  23. The Object of Attachment
  24. The Object of Aversion
  25. Training in Generosity
  26. Training in Discipline
  27. Training in Patience
  28. Training in Diligence
  29. Training in Concentration
  30. Training in Wisdom
  31. Examine Your Confusion
  32. The Faults of Others
  33. Honor and Status
  34. Giving Up Harsh Words
  35. Negative Emotions
  36. Mindfulness and the Benefit of Others
  37. Conclusion

 

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Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast The Kansas City Meditation Podcast

 

 

Posted in meditation

A Calm and Even Mind in the Pandemic

The world has stopped.

Well, it hasn’t really. But a whole lot of things have. My kids are out of school for the year. This year school ends at Spring Break. I’m not sad about this time at home with them, but I’m nervous I’ll go back to work before summer.

I’m working from home, and I’m one of the lucky ones. Some people are having to go to work during an outbreak. Other people have lost their jobs.  

It’s a really scary time.

But the worst thing to me is probably the uncertainty. We don’t know when this lockdown will end.

I’ve tried to encourage myself by encouraging others, so I’ve been doing videos every day on my Facebook page (facebook.com/dscharpy). I’m teaching from a text called “The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva.” I haven’t had the opportunity to teach a class on Buddhism in a long time and this is sort of scratching that itch for me, although I’d like the chance to do an in-person version and I’m hoping an opportunity like that appears.

Anyway,

There’s a virtue we talk about in Buddhism called Equanimity. It’s learning to face the storms of life with a calm and even mind. It can be a tremendously difficult thing to cultivate and it’s an area where our meditation practice helps us a great deal.

Equanimity is what helps us when everything is going wrong. Equanimity is what stops us from falling apart in an outbreak, when we feel trapped at home. Bad things come and go in life. There are little disasters and big disasters and life seems full of them. Equanimity is what gives us the ability to say, “Right now it’s like this, what can I do to make it better?” instead of always saying, “Why is this happening to me?”

When people talk about the benefits of meditation practice, they often focusing on attention, or clarity. Equanimity sometimes gets left out. But it’s so important and so needed. The truth is that when we’re better at paying attention, when we’re mindful, when we see the world around us clearly, not taking things so hard comes naturally. We learn how to grow that space between stimulus and response so we can hold the question, “What can I do right now?”

When we feel like we’re going to fall apart, we really need the space for that question.

We’re faced with a disaster right now. I told my kids to keep journals because they’re living through a big historical event and the won’t really understand the implications until later. This outbreak is big and there will be consequences for many years to come.

Returning to stillness is our hope for weathering this storm. If you have a meditation practice, don’t let the disruption to your routine make you stop. And if you don’t have one, it’s a good time to start.

We need more mindful people right now.

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Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast The Kansas City Meditation Podcast

 

Posted in bodhisattva

Awakening in the Outbreak

I had a new plan all set up.

I had a new time and place set up for a weekly meditation group and I was cautiously excited about it. I was going to start in early April and hoping people would find me.

Now everything in the city is shut down and I’ve had to cancel that group until further notice. It was pretty discouraging when I realized I’d have to do it.

I don’t know if I’ll end up starting that group or not. The truth is I’m not sure my city needs another meditation community. There are a lot of meditation communities in Kansas City.

There’s just not one that has me teaching. I wonder sometimes if that’s as important as I think it is. That’s not the right word. I don’t think it’s important. I just feel like I have something to contribute as a teacher.

Anyway,

I’m home now. I’m one of the lucky ones sent home from work with pay during this crisis. My kids are home too. School has been canceled for at least a month, so they’re having the joy of watching their teachers teach in videos and doing assignments on their iPads. (I think the North Kansas City School District is doing a good job dealing with this situation. Everything they’re doing for “virtual school” seems to be working)

 

But the thing I really wanted to tell you about is this: I’m teaching online.

I’ve gotten inspired. I’m giving teachings every day. I say it’s to inspire and help others, but really it’s to inspire and help myself.

I’m doing live videos on my facebook page every day.

This is helping me keep it together and if it’s helping anyone else, I think that’s great. I’m giving talks on “The 37 Practices of All Bodhisattvas”

This is a text in 37 parts and I’m doing a dive into each one. We all need connection and encouragement right now. So come and let’s encourage each other.

It’s going to be 37 talks for 37 days, if I can keep up with it. I’m really inspired by the teachings in this text and I think you will be too.

As of this writing I’ve done 7 of them. You can go back and find the old ones, or start where you are, it makes no difference.

https://www.facebook.com/DScharpy/

follow my page and you should get notified when I go live.

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I’m also recording the audio for my podcast, so I’m dropping a new podcast episode every day.

If you’re interested in just audio, check out:

RSS Kansas City Meditation Podcast

 

The version of the text I’m using for these talks is called “Illuminating the 37 Practices of A Bodhisattva” and you can get it here if you’re interested:

Illuminating the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

and if you’d rather not get on facebook, you can also see the videos on YouTube here:

Daniel Scharpenburg YouTube Channel

Posted in podcast

Too Busy to Meditate (podcast)

I recorded this podcast to address questions people sometimes ask about meditation.

Click here:

https://anchor.fm/daniel-scharpenburg/episodes/What-If-Im-Too-Busy-to-Meditate-ealhro

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Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast The Kansas City Meditation Podcast

 

 

Posted in buddhism, ch'an

Intro to Silent Illumination

Silent Illumination (mozhao) is a formless meditation practice.*

The Buddhism I really teach is Silent Illumination Chan. Its is a meditation practice founded entirely in the awakening of our true nature in the here and now.

These words aren’t used for no reason. “Silent” represents the core of our being. Some people prefer words like “emptiness” or “no self.”

What’s that? It’s our mind before thinking. Before we think about our baggage or the projections we put on the world. We have a lot of narratives and constructs around ourselves and the silence represents what’s underneath all that. There is what’s been called a “don’t know mind” or “beginner’s mind” that exists underneath these layers.

I call it silence.

When we can engage this silence, we can gain some insight. We can see that things are impermanent and that everything is connected. Sometimes this is called Selflessness, which is a kind of heavy and hard to understand word. It just means that we are part of the world. We didn’t come into the world, we came out of it and we are connected to everything.

The silent part of our mind is free from the coming and going of all our distracted thoughts and delusions.

We could say the silence is like the sky and all our thoughts and delusions, all of our bullshit, is clouds passing through. They just pass through and they’re gone. We don’t have to do anything except: not obsess about the clouds. The sky isn’t really effected by the clouds, and you don’t have to be effected by your shit.

The true nature of your mind is free from disturbance. And we can tune into that silence even when we’re in the middle of turmoil—even when everything is going wrong. That silence is still there. It’s not something outside of us. It’s not something we’re trying to gain; it’s there underneath. The nature of the mind is free of all that nonsense. And I call it silence.

Illumination represents the natural function of our minds, which is wisdom. This is related to silence because it’s that empty nature that allows this wisdom to appear. This is openness—mental freedom—the ability to change and liberate ourselves.

Illumination is the function of wisdom and it responds to the needs of ourselves and others.

It’s where we learn how to see things as they really are and have a more dynamic and clear view of the world around us. This is clarity beyond the stories we tell ourselves and our self image. It’s the sky without the clouds.

The practice is sometimes called “the method of no method” and that’s why some may find it difficult at first. Silent Illumination isn’t really a practice. It’s rooted in the idea that we already have the wisdom we are seeking.

To compare it to other forms of meditation, Buddhist meditation is usually put in categories of either calming (samatha) or insight (vipassana). One of these is designed to help bring stability to our scattered minds. The other is to gain insight into the nature of our minds.

Silent Illumination includes both. Traditionally it’s said that calmness leads to meditative absorption and insight leads to wisdom. In Silent Illumination these aren’t practiced separately. They’re practiced together because the truth is there is no separation. The true nature of calm is silence.

So how do we do it?

In sitting meditation we don’t try to do anything. We don’t need to try to force the clouds to go away. We just try to be aware of each moment. Just pay attention to the sitting that you’re doing.

We’re not trying to follow the breath; we’re not trying to keep a mantra. We’re not visualizing anything. We’re just being here. Be with your body sitting. Stop doing everything else and just sit. Every time you get distracted, just come back to sitting and notice how sitting feels.

Just be here.

When we sit in this way, the mind calms down and calmness (samadhi) comes. And after we do it a little while, wisdom (prajna) follows. And even if you have powerful experiences, even if you think you’ve made some wonderful attainment, still just come back to the sitting. This is all there is.

This is just a brief introduction. My favorite practice is the method of no method.

 

*a version of this article originally appeared on The Tattooed Buddha

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Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast The Kansas City Meditation Podcast

 

Posted in podcast, videos

Signs of Spiritual Maturity (podcast + video)

I recorded two talks on the same subject, Spiritual Maturity.

You can get the podcast here:

Signs of Spiritual Maturity

and watch the video here:

 

This talk is based on a passage from “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield, which you can buy here:

A Path with Heart

 

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Visit my YouTube Channel to hear  Talks!

If you’d like to support my work, please consider making a donation.

And go check out my Podcast The Kansas City Meditation Podcast