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In his book ‘Touching Enlightenment’, the Buddhist teacher Reggie Ray makes the point that many western meditation students spend a lot of time in their heads and very little in their body. Meditation practice is all too often seen as a mind practice with very little to do with somatic sensations. He goes on to say that unless we fully embody our practice, and allow it to include our physical nature as well as our mind, we will end up as a set of disembodied heads, further away from enlightenment than when we started. I tend to agree.

To me it seems strange that we have come such a long way from an embodied practice since it seems to have been part of the intention of the Buddha to learn mindfulness of the body as a base before adding anything else. However, I guess now there are far more sensory distractions and intellectual pursuits to be had than there were in India two and half thousand years ago and perhaps we need to emphasise the physicality of practice more now than ever before. (more…)

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Note from Irisha:

Many of the Leafers have started the preparatory study for the second online Jukai and put their sewing skills to test. Once again I did not think I was ready for taking Jukai this year for a number of reasons but asked Fugen (Torbjörn), one of the last year’s Jukai takers and a committed Leafer, to share about the ceremony itself and what Jukai meant to him. In this post he shares his Jukai experience.

What about you? Have you taken Jukai or whatever equivalent can be found in your tradition?  Did it influence your life? If so, how? What is your take on the formal commitment to the practice?

Fugen on Jukai experience

What is the meaning of “Jukai”?

According to the Buddhist Dictionary, Jukai literally means “to receive” or “to undertake the Precepts”.  It is the ceremony both of one’s formally committing to the Buddhist Sangha and to the practice of Zen Buddhism, and of one’s undertaking the Sixteen Mahayana Bodhisattva Precepts as guidelines for life.

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FugenHave you ever watched a kid playing?  There is something special about the way they can pick up a stick, shout “STICK!!” and run into the world causing havoc. There is nothing more in this moment than the kid, the stick and the world. I would like to call this special something ‘mindfulness’ or ‘presence’ if you will.

Master Dogen wrote on Time (in Being-Time, Uji):

See each thing in this entire world as a moment of time.
Things do not hinder one another, just as moments do not hinder one another. …
Each moment is all being, is the entire world.
Reflect now whether any being or any world is left out of the present moment.


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Footprint of Buddha with Dharmacakra and Triratna, 1st century, Gandhāra.

Footprint of Buddha with Dharmacakra and Triratna, 1st century, Gandhāra.

Before he died, the Buddha instructed the sangha not to make images of him. In the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, he wanted each of his disciples to be “an island unto his or herself, as a refuge unto his or herself seeking no other refuges”. There were no portrayals of the Buddha in a human form in early Buddhism. But his presence was represented symbolical in pictures and sculptures by an empty throne, dharma wheels and footprints.

The stone-relief footprint motif, originating in India, spread throughout eastern Asia with Buddhism as stamps on the earth of the Buddha’s existence, his comings and goings, his path. Was the original message in these is that what is to be venerated is not the Buddha’s person, but the path that he had walked and marked for others to walk? Are they a form of invitation for ones to follow the same course and discover their own awakenings from within themselves?

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