Modern Thoughts in Buddhism with Robert Thurman
We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from the Classic Course from Robert Thurman which was recorded in the mid 1980's as we neared the end of the second- Christian Millenium, many prophetic voices were being raised to speak of revelation and other apocolyptic visions. Some western mystics even mentioned the future Buddha.
So Buddha is when they incarnated in the world, according to the legend. They had come down to this Tusita from which they could see the earth or the human level fairly well. It’s like a kind of staging area, they come there and they live in a certain area of Tusita which is known as Sudanba which is this area, where Maitreya is depicted in this palace, Maitreya is depicted in, and in this Sudanba they then dwell and they look at the earth and they wait for the earth to evolve to a certain point and then they incarnated the earth. And when a Buddha leaves, like when Sedata left there, to come to the earth 2,500 years ago, he left Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Maitreya, who is depicted there to come after him, to the regions of the Buddhist area of Tusita.
Tusita has a larger area than just where the Buddhist settlers are, there are many gods who live there also, but he left Maitreya in charge of that area and to teach the dharma there as he is doing there, and he will come himself. When, we do not know. Some people say 100,000 years from now, some people say 5,000 years from now, some people say 2,500 years from now. It’s difficult to say, when exactly Maitreya will come.
The Question of Meaning with Mark Matousek
We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from "The Question of Meaning" with Mark Matousek. Where do we find the meaning of life? The answer is different for everyone. Mark Matousek takes us on the journey to understand how we can all discover the meaning of life within ourselves.
Let's talk about the question of meaning. Why is a strong sense of meaning so crucial? What do we do when our lives lack meaning? How do we find meaning in life when things overwhelm us and we can barely keep our heads up, and where does meaning actually come from?
Now, I’m going to focus on six essential tools that we can use to discover and cultivate an inspired sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Without meaning, it could be hard to face the challenges that are thrown our way and hard to weather the terrible bits, to understand ourselves, to find a reason to go on, and most of all, hard to make choices.
Now, choice is the first important tool we’re going to talk about in cultivating meaning. As Viktor Frankl wrote,”The ability to choose our way is the last of the human freedoms”. In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Frankl describes being a prisoner of war and seeing the power of choice acted out every single day in matters of life and death. "We, who lived in concentration camps, can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way". Now, in deepest despair, meaning was nearly as important as food in the day to day lives of these prisoners. During his time in the camp, Frankl maintained a sense of meaning by imagining that his wife, who had been sent to another concentration camp, was alive. She wasn’t, yet this story is what helped to keep him alive, to give his existence and the prospect of a future a feeling of significance. His story about his life is the only thing that stood between Frankl and suicidal despair. Later, he would come up with a formulation that captured this wisdom; suffering, minus meaning, equals despair.
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Basic Buddhism (Mahayana) with Robert Thurman
We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from Basic Buddhism with Robert Thurman. From this five lecture title he will focus on each part of Buddhism. Today the topic is Mahayana.
So the mission of the Buddha Bodhisattva who wants to be Buddha and transform the universe is not a sort of materialistic mission, because all things are empty, all things are transformable. After all, other beings have already obtained Buddhahood. This universe is already the Buddha verse of many Buddhas. So it is not like we go to somebody and just say “We’ll take planet Earth and we’ll do that to it, and we’ll do this to the Sun”. It’s not like it’s a matter of everything being empty space. It’s a matter of realizing how it is a Buddha feels in contributing to the Buddha solution and not the non-Buddha problem. In the way the solution is already affected, it’s already hinting at something strange about this motivation. Because the motivation of compassion is to transform the universe so that it is perfect.
But the critical intelligence of wisdom says: But wait, my perception of imperfection itself is part of the problem. So I’m not going to go into a thing of just sort of naïvely accepting the apparent ignorant reality of this Buddha verse and, a supposed beautified, perfected purified reality of some other Buddha verse and think I’m going to push this one from here to there. Because that would be operating only on compassion, and compassion by itself will not succeed. Compassion has to be always connected with wisdom. So we are on a world of shared image of an ignorant and unsatisfactory world. But remember, we share this world with infinite numbers of Buddhas, to whom this is an exquisite, glorious world. Everything is perfect. We are in our perfect situations, each of us, to learn and evolve, and develop and become enlightened and to realize the perfection, and to contribute to helping others realize the perfection.
From a Buddha’s point of view, supposedly, our point of view collides with those points of view. Which is the preferable point of view? Well, unfortunately, since we don’t really know what is a Buddha, we don’t necessarily believe there is any such thing as a Buddha. We do know we are here, and we definitely think we know what’s going on. Unfortunately, we prefer our crappy worlds. We are totally stuck in it. We complain and moan and groan. When we die we’re going to howl, when we’re really sick we howl, when we break something we howl, when someone else dies we howl, and yet, we really stick to this reality. Therefore, we should stick to this reality. Buddhism is not saying we should go into a fantasy world, but we should be aware that this reality is in fact our fantasy. It’s our routinized fantasy in fact.
Chanting Breath by Breath with Thich Nhat Hanh
We are pleased to bring you this new release of Chanting Breath by Breath with Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks & Nuns of Plum Village.
In Plum Village, the practice of chanting in English is a flower, slowly blossoming. The chants and music on this CD are some of the first petals to open on this beautiful flower. Chanted by the resident community of Plum Village in 2002, these recordings include most of the chants contained in Chanting from the Heart, with live tracks from a monastic ordination ceremony and a traditional incense offering chanted by Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnamese.