The Mindfulness of Feelings: Overcoming Negative Feelings and Using Discriminating Alertness of Feelings in Your Practice: Mahamudra Teachings from Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, Session 3.

For coverage of Session 1 of Mahamudra Teachings>> For coverage of Session 2 of Mahamudra Teachings>> By Lee Kane “If You Don’t Feel Anything, It Can Be a Problem” “Feelings are part of us,” said Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, during the recent mini-retreat on Mahamudra and “mindfulness of feelings” in Owen Sound. “It’s part of…

Much More-Than-Six-Words of Advice — Zasep Tulku Rinpoche teaches on Mindfulness of Body; Anger; and Healing Through Meditation (Mahamudra Teachings Session 2)

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“Mahamudra is ultimately about trying to experience absolute truth” — and Helping Your Mind Get to Know Your Mind: Teaching Retreat Notes, Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

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Avalokitesvara compassion practices can “enhance treatment of anxiety, depression, trauma” say some scientists and clinicians. For the rest of us, his compassion brings us closer to bliss and wisdom.

Avalokitesvara is the metaphorical rock star of the Bodhisattvas. “Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, is one of the most important and popular Buddhist deities,” writes Karen Andres in Tibetan Contemplative Traditions. [1] “Avalokitesvara is the personification of compassion… Even the Buddhas cannot estimate Avalokitesvara’s merit. It is said that just thinking of him garners more…

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Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche: A big smile, easy humor, unforgettable teachings

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Visualization Activates the Mind; Mindfulness Stills the Mind — Which is Right for Your Buddhist Practice?

Many Buddhists — and non-Buddhists — practice mindfulness to still the mind. In Buddhist practice, this stilling of the “monkey mind” has many advantages, and can help us glimpse reality as it truly is — the wisdom path to eventual enlightenment. Other Buddhists — and non-Buddhists — practice forms of visualization. Deity visualization in Vajrayana…

Limitless Tara, Beyond the Green: Buddha, Bodhisattva, Savior, Mother of all the Buddhas, Hindu Maa Tara, Goddess of Many Colors, Consort of Buddhas, Wisdom Mother, Action Hero…

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The First Doctor: Medicine Buddha Bhaisajyaguru — Empowering You to Heal

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Broken Commitments: Breaking Buddhist Vows or Promises Carries Heavy Karma, But What Do We Do About It?

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Science: Research Proves Vajrayana Meditation Techniques Involving Deity Visualization Improve Cognitive Performance and May Be Promising For Degenerative Brain Disorders

Science, and in particular the medical profession, has long accepted the positive benefits of all forms or meditation. Many studies across decades of research have proven meditation is simply good for the body—and your health. A new study from the National University of Singapore, attempts to differentiate the relative benefits of different types of meditation….

Wisdom and Compassion—Ghanta and Vajra: Why the Bell and Dorje are Inseparable Symbols of Indivisible Emptiness and Form

The Bell and Dorje are virtually synonymous with advanced Vajrayana tantric practice. A Tibetan practitioner is rarely separated from these powerful meditational and ritual symbols—just as the Bell and Dorje should never be separated from each other. Even non-Buddhists might recognize the symbolism immediately—among the most widely recognized symbols used in Buddhism. (See video below for “How…

Thich Nhat Hanh Wakes from 7-Week Coma, Gives “Renowned Infectious Smile”

Buddha Weekly is delighted to report the great Zen Monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh woke from a weeks-long coma. After he opened his eyes and smiled, doctors declared him no longer comatose. He has been in a coma since November 11, after being treated for a brain hemorrhage. “Thay [the Vietnamese term for master] has…

How is the Mind Different from the Brain? Science May Support the Duality of Separate Mind and Brain.

“We don’t know what consciousness is, or what it does,” said Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D. in his lecture The Mind is Not the Brain “There’s no known, obvious reason, why we should be conscious at all, or exactly how the mind works.” His conclusion, based on significant research, was:  “…The mind is field-like. That it’s not…

Drumming for a Wakeful Mind

Drumming for a Wakeful Mind

Mokugyo are instantly recognizable by their entirely unique and pleasant penetrating sound that almost seems to hypnotize with it’s intensity. The use of the fish drum is nearly universally used in ritual and private meditation amongst most forms of Zen or Chan, Mahayana Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism. (See video below of monk playing fish drum.)
By whatever name—mokugyo in Japan, muyu in China, mock gnu in Vietnam, moktak in Korea, shingnya in Tibet—the piercing pang, pang, pang of the fish drum can be heard at virtually all rituals. Any chanting of sutras or mantras is likely to accompanied by the trance-inducing wooden fish drum. Taoists and Shinto practitioners have also adopted this powerful little drum.


In Chan and Zen traditions, together with many Mahayana Buddhist traditions, variations on the fish drum are used to symbolize wakefulness, keep us alert, and to add sound and blessings to chants.

Why use a drum

We use a drum in meditation to keep us wakeful, mindful, alert. At the same time, the stimulating sound, entirely unique in percussion, has a trance-like effect, allowing something of an altered state of meditation. The sound’s uniqueness also instantly evokes sacredness. The sound travels, apparently on forever, penetrating all of the illusion we call our world, and carrying our mantras and sutras along.

Fish drum doesn’t always look like a fish

The fish drum is hand-carved out of a single block of wood, then hollowed out, smoothed, carved with symbols, then lacquered. Small mokugyo sit on a cushion to make sure the sound is pleasant. Larger temple muku normally rest on a temple stand. When struck by a wooden mallet, with or without felt or rubber striking tips, the sound is entirely unique.

The fish drum doesn’t always resemble a fish. Large fish drums, suspended in Chinese temples, are elaborately carved into fish and painted with gold and red. These giant fish are struck each morning and evening to help us remember all the fish in the sea, and to remind us to be wakeful.

What does it mean?

Because the fish never sleeps, it becomes a symbol of awakened meditation and even enlightenment. Since most fish adapt to have large eyes, to see in the murky waters, they also represent penetrating sight, overcoming illusion and attachment.
Fish is one of the eight auspicious symbols in Buddhism
The fish is one of the eight auspicious symbols in Buddhism, accepted by all streams of Buddhism. This auspicious symbol is normally two golden fish, symbolic of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers and represents good fortune in general. Striking the drum reminds us, with each piercing strike, to remember the lessons of the eight auspicious signs.

The other symbols are:
• the Lotus, one of the most recognized symbols, standing for the beauty and clarity of enlightenment and the true nature of all beings because the beautiful flower reaches out of the muck

• the Parasol, symbol of royal dignity and protection
• Conch Shell horn representing the sound of the Dharma penetrating the universe to release all beings
• the Banner of Victory: symbolizing Buddha’s victory over Mara, who represents passion, fear of death, pride and lust
• the Vase, filled with sacred items, the never emptying vase is always full and represents long life
• the Dharma Wheel: the eight spoked wheel representing the eightfold path taught by Buddha
• the Eternal Knot: a never-ending symbol that signifies that all phenomena are linked.


Larger fish drums are often hung outside temples.

Fish symbolism

The fish is a universal symbol of well-being, happiness, prosperity in freedom in all of Asia. This symbolism is partially because fish are always active and a source of a good life, but also because in India—the well-spring of enlightenment—the Ganges river (and its fish life) are sacred.
Good fortune fish are a major part of Feng Shui in China and aquariums are often prominent in homes to bring happiness and prosperity.

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