October 24, 2014

Essays by Fa Gong

"At the heart of all  genuine religions, profound philosophies and increasingly sophisticated  psychotherapies, lies the recognition that a nameless, unitary essence defines,  contains and creates all things; all phenomenon, all ideas, all existence. The  mystics and the wise, both religious and secular, have understood and tried to  explain this. But the difficulties in doing so reveal that this underlying  essence cannot be known through words or conceptions. The beauty and power of  Chan is that it points beyond these words, suggests much more behind any  conception." - Fa Gong

 

Prev Next Page:

No Mind? Really?

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Jul 01, 2012

No Mind? Really?

A couple of weeks ago a friend came to me to discuss problems she was having in her meditation practice. She was quite distraught at what she felt was her hopeless progress, and she despaired she'd ever get the hang of it. When I asked about the problem, she said... Read more

Mara the Abuser

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Apr 02, 2012

Mara the Abuser

In Buddhist literature we are often exposed to Mara, the sometimes wily, sometimes violent, sometimes beguiling tempter of Gautama on his way to Buddha-hood. Mara can be said to provide, essentially, a personification of that force which counters the evolutionary urge to enlightenment; it represents the energy of enslavement that... Read more

The Lion's Roar

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Aug 03, 2011

The Lion's Roar

I have only a poor understanding of economics, though I have always had an interest in the political and philosophical values and assumptions that underpin the various processes involved. I remember being struck, when first introduced to the basic principles of Buddhism, how utterly and diametrically opposed they were to the capitalist values and... Read more

Non-cultic Buddhism

by Fa Gong Shakya

Published Dec 03, 2010

Non-cultic Buddhism

A personal perspective Buddhism is an ancient path of practice; to some a religion, to others a philosophy, and to many simply a practice of sane living. From the outside looking in, it can seem an evolutionary, and revolutionary, spiritual technology that seems to stand unique amongst religions in that it... Read more

Buddhism and Psychotherapy: A Perspective

by Fa Gong

Published Jan 22, 2009

Buddhism and Psychotherapy: A Perspective

What we typically label as simply "mind" is, in Pali, substantially more precise. Our broad concept might of mind could be translated in Pali as vijnana, or consciousness. Nowhere does it suggest in Buddhist teaching that we can or should "still our consciousness," but the idea Westerners typically struggle with... Read more

The Problem With Precepts

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Nov 01, 2008

The Problem With Precepts

A fundamental recognition of a maturing life is that rarely is it what we do that defines us, but rather why we do it. The history of jurisprudence reflects the same increasing sophistication; the accused should be judged on the intent of an action, rather than on outcome. Certainly, the... Read more

A Dharma Chat: Right Speech

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Jul 01, 2008

A Dharma Chat: Right Speech

Right Speech is not just about morality, or even limited to wisdom teachings. It is also about Right Mindfulness and contemplative discipline, about identifying, labeling, and being mindful of thoughts -- all of the ego's chit-chat. We can, in fact use Right Speech as the bedrock and cornerstone of our... Read more

A Dharma Chat: "The Opiate Of The Masses"

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Jul 01, 2008

It has wisely been said "no-one attains enlightenment." This is precisely true. There is no ego that attains nirvana. When nirvana IS attained, there is no personal ego to experience it. This is the crux of the matter. The promises of new spiritual technologies to deliver enlightenment seek to seduce... Read more

Holier Than Thou

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Jul 01, 2008

Holier Than Thou

How is it that the "spiritual" person, for whom we might assume humility to be an essential characteristic, so often presents as aloof and arrogant? It is bad enough that the "holier than thou" attitude which often flaws the religious character is common to monastics, priests, gurus, teachers and devotees... Read more

Tibet and the Beijing Olympics

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 11, 2008

Tibet and the Beijing Olympics

As "online Buddhists" we do well to understand that this very medium creates new opportunities for the ego to express itself, and it quickly finds new ways to dominate. When I first learned to drive I used to be amazed at how much more aggressive and anti-social people seemed to... Read more

Musings on the Corpse & the Skandhas

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 10, 2008

Musings on the Corpse & the Skandhas

One of the challenges of Chan is that many students are often fatally handicapped by needing to have at least some degree of intellectual satisfaction before they will consider letting the intellect drop. Perhaps this is one of the occasions that Buddha referred to as requiring "skilful means" in teaching.... Read more

Who Drags This Corpse? The Vajra-Sword of Hsu Yun

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Aug 03, 2007

For the beginner new to Chan's tactics, attacking a hua tou may seem too abstruse, too hard, and too alien to know how to approach it. As easy as it might be to sit and count our breaths, be mindful of our thoughts, or concentrate on a mantra for a... Read more

Measuring Reality

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 23, 2007

Measuring Reality

Consider our first multi-day meditation retreat. After a couple of days of discomfort, both physical and psychological, the rebellious ego begins to question the authority of the "strange Oriental monk" with his odd and inscrutable methods. We begin to search our mental archives and apply some unique application of a... Read more

Non-Attachment, a Zen Imperative

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Feb 22, 2007

As our Zen practice deepens, we can observe ourselves as we shift in and out between our "small" and conditioned self, and that unconditioned SELF that cannot be described. And in this shifting we can see, if we look closely, the arising and the "evaporation" of attachment. And in this... Read more

The "Dreaded" Third Precept The challenge of sexual conduct, a student's perspective

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Apr 06, 2006

What is a "precept"? We Buddhists are all very aware of the five precepts (ore more or less depending on what school we associate with) we have taken when we chose to become Buddhists. But it seems there is remarkably little shared appreciation of what the precepts actually involve. Are... Read more

Who Am I? Reflections on Chan's Path

by Fa Gong, OHY

Published Mar 20, 2006

Religion's ubiquitous "ism's" often leave me wondering about their relation to spiritual growth. I'm reminded of a famous Chan hua-toa, "If you don't really exist, why am I trying to save you?". Why, for example, if Buddhism and Taoism are merely ways of living in harmony with nature, and nature... Read more