Guiding Principles

Treebeard

In an episode of The Simpsons titled “Radioactive Man” (Episode 2, Season 7), Milhouse is chosen to play Fallout Boy in the film version of their beloved comic book, Radioactive Man. But the rigors of film acting, especially the constant repetition of lines, cause Milhouse to exclaim in frustration, “I’ve said ‘jiminy jillickers!’ so many times it’s lost all meaning!”

The same can be said of Zen.

The use of the word in everything from website design to candle scents to room decoration to wise, seemingly inscrutable sayings in fortune cookies has rendered the word “Zen” to mean everything, and therefore nothing.

Zen is not what we do.

Zen is who we are.

Life is Zen.

We attain that when we keep clear mind – moment after moment after moment…when we ask the question, “What is it?” and answer “Don’t know” – moment after moment after moment.

Doing that enables Zen practitioners to be open to what arises each moment, and then to be clear of mind and open of heart to help others — those whom we may not notice at all if not for our practice.

With clear mind (also known as Don’t-know mind or Moment-mind), Zen enables us to attain correct situation, correct function, and correct relationship.

Putting all of this together, Zen is…

Our Practice
“What is it? Don’t know.”

Our Job
“How may I help you?”

Our Clarity
Correct Situation, Correct Function, Correct Relationship.

Our Direction
For us, our direction is Only Love.

In other words, it is compassion in action.

That is our direction.

What is your direction?

Buddhism offers a long and rich history (some 2,500 years!) of ethical and moral principles designed not only to better oneself, but also to enrich the lives of those around us through compassion, loving-kindness and service.

Some of the more well-known of these principles are:

The Four Noble Truths

  1. Life is suffering
  2. We suffer because we desire that which we do not have
  3. There is a way out of suffering
  4. That way is the Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

The Four Great Vows

  1. All beings one body I vow to liberate
  2. Endless blind passions I vow to uproot
  3. Dharma gates without number I vow to penetrate
  4. The Great Way of Buddha I vow to attain

The Three Jewels (or Refuges):

  1. I go for refuge to the Buddha, and resolve that with all beings, I will realize the Great Way and develop a heart of enlightenment
  2. I go for refuge to the Dharma, and resolve that with all beings, I will penetrate the teachings and uncover a wisdom as vast as the ocean
  3. I go for refuge to the Sangha, and resolve that with all beings, I will seek great peace and harmony so that nothing will impede our progress

The Five Precepts

  1. Do not harm, but cherish all life
  2. Do not take what is not given, but respect the things of others
  3. Do not engage in sexual promiscuity, but practice purity of
    mind and self-restraint
  4. Do not lie, but speak the truth
  5. Do not partake in the production and transactions of firearms
    and chemical poisons that are injurious to public health and
    safety, nor of drugs and liquors that confuse and weaken the
    mind

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