The Way

The word Buddhism was only coined by Europeans in the last few hundred years. For two millennia Buddhists were simply known as people who followed the Dharma. The word Dharma, like many Sanskrit words, has a wide range of meanings and can’t be translated into a single English word. However, a general description that works well enough for this purpose is path. It’s a path or prescription that can be followed. 

This meaning led to an interesting story when the Dharma arrived in China, because Tao means The Way. Some Taoists believed a story (early conspiracy theory!?) that claimed Laozi traveled east after writing the Tao Te Ching and taught a young man named Siddhartha about the Tao, which later came to be called the Dharma. It was suggested that the Dharma was built on the Tao or, to take the image of a path or road further, that the Dharma connected to the Tao. This is not at all likely but, like all good conspiracy theories, remotely possible. Siddhartha Gautama is said to have been born between 563 and 480 BCE and Laozi was born sometime between the 4th and 6th century BCE. 

Something else happened, however… Dharma met Tao in China and became Chan and then Zen. Instead of extending the path into India, a new path was forged. 

Phone Finger

Once you get the message, hang up the phone.
—Alan Watts

It is said that when a finger is pointed at moon, one should look at the moon, not the finger.

Ryokan writes about the finger and the moon in the following poem:

Relying upon a finger, we see the moon
Relying upon the moon, we understand the finger.
Moon and finger
Are neither the same nor different.
This expedient analogy is for guiding beginners.
Having seen reality as it is,
There is neither moon nor finger.

You can find out more about his poem here: LINK

More about Ryokan in this Diary: Parallels, Autumn

Good Morning Cactus

May all be happy.
May all be healthy and safe.
May all have enough.
May all be at peace.

This time I didn’t write “beings” because I realized that I want to include mountains and rivers.

I walked by my cactus friend and saw that they were doing well and are even taller than when I saw them in the summer:
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I was in a store to investigate and instigate heating/cooling units for my apartment, since it has neither. While there, I saw this little growing pod. This would have looked sooooo futuristic twenty years ago!
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I also met a person with a beautiful family name: Vagarinho
It means Little Wanderer in Portuguese.
Same root as Vagrant, which also comes from the Latin word vagari, meaning to wander.

We are all Vagarinhos. :-)

On my way home I walked by a school and saw this on the wall:
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“Every person is a World”


This morning I was thinking about my wishes and hopes for the new year when I remembered a saying I heard many years ago. That saying is from India, I learned, and goes like this:

A healthy person has 10,000 wishes, a sick person only one.

There must be many millions of people who all have the same wish. May many of them come true.

When I think of the people who have only one wish it is only logical to also think of other beings who wish to survive, species on the verge of extinction, forests getting wiped out for cattle ranches, and so on.

May all beings be safe

May all beings be healthy

May all beings be happy

May all beings be free