- Dying with Confidence:
- The rapping monk: Buddhist monk Kansho Tagai, a.k.a. MC Happiness, is experimenting with hip-hop in order to make Buddhism accessible to young people.
“Getting the young people back to religion is key to Buddhism’s survival … In Japan, it’s a religion in crisis.” … Each year, hundreds of temples close in Japan and it’s a similar struggle seen by other religions around the world. Another idea that monks hope will help get more young people involved is mixing faith with fun at something called the Monk Bar. This modern day bar serves up alcoholic drinks while teaching the Buddhist mantra, according to Zenshin Fujioka. … “Twice as many people, especially the young, are now visiting the temple,” Tagai said. “Other monks are even calling me up for advice.”
- Go easy on that incense:
… The report in question concluded that regularly inhaling incense smoke could in fact put people at risk of cancers of the respiratory tract.
Many Buddhist centers of course employ incense regularly: to time meditations by, and in ceremonial use. Lots of meditators use incense at home in the same ways. Incense is lovely, but a good meditation timer — or a meditation-timer CD or even an iPhone app — offers a risk-free alternative. Just a word to the wisdom-seekers.
- The power of proper posture: This reminded me of tadasana and the Balance (Yoga) Center in Palo Alto.
… The stand-up-straight brigade, however, often make a further claim: that posture affects the way the posturer treats himself, as well as how others treat him. To test the truth of this, Li Huang and Adam Galinsky, at Northwestern University in Illinois, have compared posture’s effects on self-esteem with those of a more conventional ego-booster, management responsibility. In a paper just published in Psychological Science they conclude, surprisingly, that posture may matter more.
… Thus, meditation practice in Buddhism is actually practicing for death. You are practicing so that you can have mindfulness and clarity in that moment when you are dying, so you are confident you are prepared to use the experiences after death for the best rebirth possible—or even complete and perfect liberation.
We must redefine the meaning of our practice so we can cultivate a feeling of rejoicing about the moment of death. If we practice hard enough in our lifetime, the experience of death will be our absolute best opportunity to have the strongest result from all of the aspirations and practices we’ve cultivated in our dharma life. If we are duly prepared, I can promise that the moment of death will be an experience of rejoicing. If we are not prepared, it will surely be a time of fear and regret. When we think about death in this light, we should feel strongly motivated to practice every day.