Video:  Part 2 of Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, the Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche: Teachings on the Truth of Suffering, the Importance of Taking Refuge, and a Guided Meditation Visualizing Shakyamuni Buddha

Video: Part 2 of Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, the Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche: Teachings on the Truth of Suffering, the Importance of Taking Refuge, and a Guided Meditation Visualizing Shakyamuni Buddha

In part 2 of a teaching series on Buddhist Foundation Practices, Venerable Acharya Zasep Rinpoche introduces the fourth outer preliminary, the truth of suffering, in the context of boundless compassion for all sentient beings. Rinpoche transitions the teachings from the outer (covered in video 1>>)  to the inner preliminaries with a teaching on Refuge and…

Video: Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, The Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Rinpoche

Video: Buddhist Teachings on Ngondro, The Foundation Practices with Venerable Zasep Rinpoche

Our third Buddha Weekly teachings video introduces the first three outer preliminaries of Foundation Practices in Vajrayana Buddhism. Don’t miss this short video covering “Key Buddhist practices for busy people”, as taught by the most Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche at a Gaden Choling Toronto weekend retreat on Ngondro. Traditionally, in Vajrayana Buddhism, students begin…

The Science Of Your Center: The Vagus Nerve, Your Meditation Highway, And The Parasympathetic Nervous System; How Meditation Works Positively on the Body

The Science Of Your Center: The Vagus Nerve, Your Meditation Highway, And The Parasympathetic Nervous System; How Meditation Works Positively on the Body

By Anne Green Buddhism is known for its emphasis on meditation and meditative techniques. People from all walks of life have used Buddhist techniques to ‘relax’ and ‘de-stress’, despite neither being practising Buddhists nor indeed understanding much (if anything) about Buddhism itself. Without a doubt, meditation and the meditative techniques developed by Buddhists have helped…

Buddhist Home Retreat: What the Teachers Say About the Home Retreat Practice for Busy People Who Can’t Attend Extensive Retreats

Buddhist Home Retreat: What the Teachers Say About the Home Retreat Practice for Busy People Who Can’t Attend Extensive Retreats

Home retreat practice can never replace the experience, benefits and potential realizations of group practice retreats and extensive solitary retreat. There is something unmistakably powerful in uninterrupted group or solo practice in a place removed from our “ordinary lives.” In Vajrayana Buddhist practice, in particular — where much of the practice is designed to help…

La Gug Part 2 Video: Preserving Your Healthy Vitality and Life force —— from a Weekend Medicine Buddha Healing Retreat with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

La Gug Part 2 Video: Preserving Your Healthy Vitality and Life force —— from a Weekend Medicine Buddha Healing Retreat with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

In part one of this video series on La Gug Vitality Retrieval, the most Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche —spiritual head of several Buddhist Centres in Canada, the United States and Australia — explained how recognize the “symptoms your life-force is weakened.” In part two, Rinpoche teaches methods to preserve your valuable healthy vitality or life…

Deity Yoga: Science or Superstition? Vajrayana Deity Meditation Proves Invaluable in Preventing Cognitive Disorders. In What Other Ways is Vajrayana Buddhist Deity Practice More Science than Religion?

Deity Yoga: Science or Superstition? Vajrayana Deity Meditation Proves Invaluable in Preventing Cognitive Disorders. In What Other Ways is Vajrayana Buddhist Deity Practice More Science than Religion?

Deity Yoga in Tibetan Buddhism is very often misunderstood. In apparent contradiction to the implied meaning of “deity” — which is really a mistranslation of the Sanskrit “deva” — there might, in fact, be more science than superstition to the practices of deities. It’s a ridiculous notion, I know, but one I hope to support…

Prominent Scientists Declare “All Non Human Animals… Are Conscious Beings.” The Dalai Lama Protests Chicken Slaughter. An Orangutan Won Non-Human Rights Over Zoo Keeper. What Do the Teachers Say About Non-Human Compassion?

Prominent Scientists Declare “All Non Human Animals… Are Conscious Beings.” The Dalai Lama Protests Chicken Slaughter. An Orangutan Won Non-Human Rights Over Zoo Keeper. What Do the Teachers Say About Non-Human Compassion?

A prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists and other experts made a strong declaration, endorsed by Stephen Hawking, affirming that all “nonhuman animals… including octopuses” are sentient and feel emotions such as fear and happiness. In Argentina, an orangutan won non-human rights against his zoo-keeper. Recently, in the news, a monkey won the rights to…

Practice Overload and Too Many Commitments: Advice From the Teachers — Don’t Become a Spiritual Materialist

Practice Overload and Too Many Commitments: Advice From the Teachers — Don’t Become a Spiritual Materialist

Practice overload in Vajrayana Buddhism can become a top-of-mind issue for devoted practitioners who collect many initiations. If you are feeling stressed over your commitments, if your practice is not satisfying because of “practice pressure,” then “our practice becomes worse than paying tax to Uncle Sam,” joked Gelek Rinpoche at a Vajrayogini teaching. “At least,…

What the Teachers Say About Doggie Dharma: Did Buddha Teach That Dogs and Cats Have Buddha Nature? How Can You Help Your Companion Meet the Dharma in Daily Life? What to Do About Euthanasia?

What the Teachers Say About Doggie Dharma: Did Buddha Teach That Dogs and Cats Have Buddha Nature? How Can You Help Your Companion Meet the Dharma in Daily Life? What to Do About Euthanasia?

I saw a sparkling moment of real Doggie Dharma last weekend. At a Medicine Buddha retreat, a nice couple brought along their beloved 15 month-old pup. My kind teacher, Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, smiled as they lifted the pup for a blessing after the teachings. I had brought along my bell and vajra for blessing. Others,…

The Psychology of Taking Refuge: What the Teachers Say About How to Avoid Taking Refuge in the Wrong Things and Why Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels Can Help Us Overcome Life’s Obstacles.

The Psychology of Taking Refuge: What the Teachers Say About How to Avoid Taking Refuge in the Wrong Things and Why Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels Can Help Us Overcome Life’s Obstacles.

“We are extraordinarily adept at taking refuge, the problem is we take refuge in the wrong things.” writes noted Buddhist teacher and psychologist Rob Preece, in his breakthrough book, Preparing for Tantra. [1] Rob Preece explains what he means by “wrong things”: “We take refuge from our stress, our emotional problems, and our relationships in anything…

Veterinarian’s Suicide with Animal Euthanasia Drugs a Protest Against Animal “Mercy” Killings: What Do Buddhist Teachers Say About Animal Euthanasia?

Veterinarian’s Suicide with Animal Euthanasia Drugs a Protest Against Animal “Mercy” Killings: What Do Buddhist Teachers Say About Animal Euthanasia?

Veterinarian Jian Zhicheng (Chien Chih-cheng 簡稚澄) killed herself in protest over the forced “mercy” killings of animals. Her suicide was a shocking act — a distressed plea to stop the killing. She used the same drugs she had been compelled to use on over 700 stray dogs by the system which encouraged euthanasia to avoid…

“What the Teachers Say” Video Series: Buddhist Teachings on La Gug — Restoring Life Force Vitality — from a Weekend Retreat on La Gug with Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche. Part 1 — “Symptoms Your Life-force is Weakened”

“What the Teachers Say” Video Series: Buddhist Teachings on La Gug — Restoring Life Force Vitality — from a Weekend Retreat on La Gug with Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche. Part 1 — “Symptoms Your Life-force is Weakened”

La Gug literally translates as “Vitality Retrieval.” For centuries, Tibetan Buddhism has perfected meditations which help you restore your vitality — also known as life force, Chi or Prana. Even modern medicine recognizes the healing power of meditation. Restoring vitality is one of the keys to good health and a long life, according to Tibetan…

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

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….

Vesak Day Parade and Celebration in Toronto (Mississauga) Organized by 28 Buddhist Temples and Centres on Saturday May 28, 2016: “Blessings on the City, the Nation, and the World”

Vesak Day Parade and Celebration in Toronto (Mississauga) Organized by 28 Buddhist Temples and Centres on Saturday May 28, 2016: “Blessings on the City, the Nation, and the World”

This weekend, May 28, 2016, 28 Canadian Buddhist temples and centres from most major schools of Buddhism will celebrate Vesak Day — commemorating the birth, Paranirvana and Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. The weekend event, including blessings, chantings, ceremonies, bathing Buddha ritual and even martial arts demonstrations is in the Greater Toronto Area, at the Mississauga…

Happy Wesak Day! On this most sacred day, celebrating the birth, Enlightenment and Paranirvana of Gautama Buddha, we wish all sentient beings health, happiness, and ultimate Enlightenment.

Happy Wesak Day! On this most sacred day, celebrating the birth, Enlightenment and Paranirvana of Gautama Buddha, we wish all sentient beings health, happiness, and ultimate Enlightenment.

Wesak Day, celebrating the three significant events of the Buddha’s life — his birth, his Enlightenment and his Paranirvana (passing away) — is celebrated today in some countries, depending on the Lunar Calendar. On the full moon of this month, Buddhists around the world celebrate Wesak (or Vesak) with simple and elaborate ceremonies.    …

Buddha Weekly Interviews Cree Medicine Man Sean Walking Bear; “Interview with the Teachers” Takes a Slight Detour into Native Spirituality to Highlight The Common Areas of Philosophy: “The mind is where we build our life from the inside out.”

Buddha Weekly Interviews Cree Medicine Man Sean Walking Bear; “Interview with the Teachers” Takes a Slight Detour into Native Spirituality to Highlight The Common Areas of Philosophy: “The mind is where we build our life from the inside out.”

This week, Buddha Weekly takes a slight detour into Native Spirituality, interviewing Cree Medicine Man Sean Walking Bear. Born in Alberta, Canada — now residing in Nevada — Sean Walking Bear is a full Cree, trained by the Medicine Men of his community. He also learned the traditional sacred arts of rattle and drum making…

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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