Counting Down to Day 14 (Day 115 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Zenful Catch Up, Part II

Part two of the Zenful Catch Up series is The Heart Sutra:

English Translation (taken from the USAShaolinTemple.org website):

When Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara practised the deep Prajnaparamita, he saw that the five skandhas were empty; thus he overcame all ills and suffering.

“O Sariputra! Form does not differ from the void, and the void does not differ from the form. Form is the void, and the void is form. The same is true for feelings, conceptions, impulses and consciousness.

O Sariputra, the characteristics of the void is not created, not annihilated, not impure, not pure, not increasing, not decreasing.

Therefore, in the void there are no forms and no feelings, conceptions, impulses and no consciousness: there is no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind; there is no form, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea; no eye elements, until we come to no elements of consciousness; no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance, until we come to no old age and death; and no ending of old age and death.

Also, there is no truth of suffering, of the cause of suffering, of the cessation of suffering or of the path. There is no wisdom, and there is no attainment whatsoever. Because there is nothing to be attained, a Bodhisattva relying on Prajnaparamita has no obstruction in his heart. Because there is no obstruction he has no fear, and he passes far beyond all confused imagination and reaches Ultimate Nirvana.

All Buddhas in the past, present and future have attained Supreme Enlightenment by relying on the Prajnaparamita. Therefore we know that the Prajnaparamita is the great magic Mantra, the great Mantra of illumination, it is the supreme Mantra, the unequaled Mantra which can truly wipe out all suffering without fail.”

Therefore, he uttered the Prajnaparamita mantra, by saying:

“Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasemgate Bodhi-svaha!”

Counting Down to Day 33 (Day 96 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Kinhin, A Walking Meditation

Day by day, one in front of the other, heel then toes.
We place the foot on the floor in front of us, then we shift our weight. One step. We place the other then we shift our weight. Two steps.
Feel the heel sink into the earth; feel the toes follow the heel’s lead.
Knees relaxed and spine straight we walk in meditation. We are awake and aware of our bodies. Aware of our surroundings. Aware of our breathing.
We think: Just walking, just thinking, just breathing.
Just Kinhin.

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

Counting Down to Day 90 (Day 40) of the Middle Path Makeover – Appreciation Society

In Zen Buddhism we practice letting go of the ego whenever possible. We practice concentrating our thoughts and actions to stem from kindness, compassion and empathy. We practice offering dana (charity) in the form of our time or money and we practice giving without expecting anything in return. This is all part of practicing the Middle Path; the Buddha Way. But it’s still nice to be appreciated.

I really don’t ask for a lot in return. I’m a pretty humble person overall and don’t really enjoy tooting my own horn. Still once in a while, I would like to know that my actions are recognized as helpful or contributing to the greater good. A pat on the back goes a long way. I think we can all agree that a big fat raise speaks volumes. Flowers are also nice; purple ones. Oh and I LOVE dark chocolate.

Honestly, those things do feel great to receive, but what’s most important to me (and my ego) is feeling validated for making a difference “out there”. A simple yet genuine thank you for my efforts sticks with me for days, sometimes weeks! I’m embarrassed to admit I often look outside myself for confirmation. Sure, I’d love to say I’ve reached the point of enlightenment where I don’t feel I need any recognition at all. But frankly speaking, I’m just not there yet. I’m still waiting to be the next skinny celebrity. PLEASE NOTE: I AM NOT SKINNY, NOR AM I A CELEBRITY (YET).

So now what you ask? Well, I’ve decided to keep actively practicing my daily to-do of giving without expecting anything in return because it’s honestly going very well. But I’m also going to embrace all the lapsed moments of validity-craving self indulgences by joining the Appreciation Society. Hell, if you can’t beat ’em…

And if anyone out there knows a great personal trainer or the producers of Oprah and FitTV, I’m ready to make my appearance as America’s Top Zenful Blogger. 🙂

Appreciate you,

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

Day 129 (Day 1): Launching The Middle Path Makeover

Today begins my 129-day countdown to what I’m calling the Middle Path Makeover. The Middle Path, also known as the Middle Way, is a Buddhist reference described as “a path of moderation between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification”. In other words, I want to share my ups and downs (on record) on my journey to revealing a more balanced mind, body, spirit and sangha (community).

I must admit that although I’m excited to embark on this project and eager to see how it all unfolds, I’m pretty nervous about the follow through. Mine’s never been very good. Aside from possibly disappointing anyone who might be reading this (is there anyone reading this?), I hate the idea of disappointing myself… again. Still, I am committed to giving this project my best effort. I’m hopeful that the results will be helpful, motivating, or perhaps even inspirational in promoting others to lead a self-awakened, balanced life.

I have created a daily plan to include the following:
Zazen sitting meditation a minimum of 10 minutes per day
Eating until I am full, not stuffed, and following a balanced diet program where I will track my food/activity
Positive self talk
Commit to working on a single task at a time
Do something kind for someone without expecting anything in return
Abstain from gossip
Abstain from reacting to anger I might experience
Exercise a minimum of 20 minutes per day

My weekly plan will also include:
Community service
Video Blog documenting my community service experience

You should know that I up until now, have only incorporated bits and pieces of this plan into my daily life with big gaping holes- hence, the balance hasn’t been there. I’m going to give this plan the ol’ college try so I invite you, whoever you are, to read along or even join me, if you wish. I’d love the company.

Here we go! 🙂

Leah Joy