Buddhism and Meditation

Respect for Things

On the 29th May the MK Triratna Buddhism Group looked at a talk by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki.

The talk explores our attitudes towards the material world, how this governs our interractions and ultimately, how we feel about ourselves.

Here are the notes from the class:

In meditation we are from thinking and free from emotional activity – this is not to say that there is no thinking or emotional activity, but that we are not limited by it. In this moment, free from limitations we trust ourselves completely. Because we respect ourselves, because we put faith in our life, we just sit. That is our practice.

When our life is based on complete respect and complete trust, it will be completely peaceful. Our relationship with nature and our surroundings should also be like this.

In the Zendo

This morning when bowing, we heard a big noise from the dining room above, people were pushing chairs across the tile floor without picking them up. This is not the way to treat chairs, not just because it may disturb people bowing in the Zendo, but because fundamentally this is not a very respectful way to treat things.

Pushing chairs is convenient, but it gives us a lazy feeling. This is part of our culture and eventually it leads to people fighting each other.

“Instead of respecting things we want to use them for ourselves, and if it is difficult to use them, we want to conquer them”

When we move chairs carefully, we will experience the feeling of practice in the dining room. To care for the chairs means our practice goes beyond the mediation hall. The feeling is quite different from scraping chairs. When we practice this way, we ourselves are Buddha and we respect ourselves.


The Bodhisattva Way

The treasure in the meditation hall is not the beautiful building or the statues, it is the practitioners. Each one of us should be a beautiful flower and each one of us should be a Buddha, leading people in our practice.

Since there are no special rules on how to treat things or be kind to people we keep studying what will help people practice together. If you do not forget this point you will found out how to treat people, how to treat things and how to treat yourself.

Our practice is to help people and to help people we find out how to practice in each moment.

To sit free from the limitations of thought and emotional activity is not just a matter of concentration. This is to rely completely on ourselves, to find refuge in our practice. We are just like a baby in the lap of its mother.


Everyday Life

To extend this spirit into everyday life means respecting things and respecting each other, because when we respect things we will find their true life. When we respect plants we will find their real life, the power and beauty of flowers.

Though love is important, if it is separated from respect and sincerity it will not work.

With big mind and with pure sincerity and respect, love can really be love.

So let’s try hard and find out how to make a blade of grass into a Buddha.

Thank you very much.


(Adapted from Shunryu Suzuki in “Not Always So”)