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,…

Vegetarianism Should be a Global Priority: New Research from World Resources Institute Demonstrates Devastating Environmental Impact of Meat Industry

Vegetarianism Should be a Global Priority: New Research from World Resources Institute Demonstrates Devastating Environmental Impact of Meat Industry

Yet another well-researched report reinforces the devastating environmental impact of the meat industry — as we previously reported in Buddha Weekly, in our feature “Five Ways Vegetarianism Could Save the World.” At the time we published the story a small minority of readers suggested our numbers were exaggerated. This report, together with several others, indicates we underestimated…

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

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

In times of pain, sickness, or stress, my first thought of “remedy” is quiet meditation with the most sacred Medicine Buddha mantra. Inevitably, arthritis pains subsides in my case, and I’ve avoided most of the colds and flus that go around my business meetings— knock on wood. I give Medicine Buddha, exercise and good nutrition…

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….

The Disease Specialist: Black Manjushri Practice Has a Reputation for Successfully Helping Victims of the Most Dangerous Diseases, Including Cancer, Heart Disease and Aids

The Disease Specialist: Black Manjushri Practice Has a Reputation for Successfully Helping Victims of the Most Dangerous Diseases, Including Cancer, Heart Disease and Aids

When all is well with the world, and you’re in peak health, it’s probably enough to eat well, exercise and see a family doctor once a year. But, if that annual doctor’s visit brings dreaded news, a diagnosis of a serious disease or condition, your doctor will probably refer to a specialist. Specialized healing with…

Drumming for mindfulness and healing: a simple way to calm the mind, remove stress and heal. Studies show drum meditation supports treatments of cancer, Parkinsons and depression.

Drumming for mindfulness and healing: a simple way to calm the mind, remove stress and heal. Studies show drum meditation supports treatments of cancer, Parkinsons and depression.

Psychology and science have identified both drumming and mindfulness meditation as helpful therapy for everything from stress to memory loss to supportive cancer care. This is not new science. Since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, we have known about the stress-reducing benefits of both mindfulness and drumming. Bringing the two together — mindfulness and drumming — can be life-changing….

Internet DIY Dharma: What seven Buddhist teachers say about the pros and cons of Buddha’s teachings via the internet and the risks of do-it-yourself Dharma.

Internet DIY Dharma: What seven Buddhist teachers say about the pros and cons of Buddha’s teachings via the internet and the risks of do-it-yourself Dharma.

Recently, during an interview with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, he spoke at length about the internet: the positive aspects, and the downsides. It was an interesting take on digital dharma. I decided to research what other teachers have to say about the promise and dangers of Buddhist Dharma teachings online beyond the obvious pros vs…

5 Ways Vegetarianism Could Save the World; 5 Buddhist Teachings and Teachers Recommending a Vegetarian Lifestyle; 5 Reasons it’s the Ethical Thing to Do

5 Ways Vegetarianism Could Save the World; 5 Buddhist Teachings and Teachers Recommending a Vegetarian Lifestyle; 5 Reasons it’s the Ethical Thing to Do

Not all Buddhists are vegetarians. Did the Buddha actually suggest a vegan lifestyle? And, putting aside Buddhists, why is the meat industry growing when the science says it’s hurting our planet? These are the questions that frame our special feature focusing on Vegetarianism: five ways it could save the world, five Buddhist teachings that recommended…

Part 3: Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses how to find a teacher; why its important to meditate on death; how to start with Deity Yoga; how wrathful Deities can be misunderstood; and the role of internet in Dharma teachings.

Part 3: Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses how to find a teacher; why its important to meditate on death; how to start with Deity Yoga; how wrathful Deities can be misunderstood; and the role of internet in Dharma teachings.

Buddha Weekly continues its special series “Interviews with the Teachers” with part 3 of an extensive hours-long interview with the most Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche. Rinpoche is spiritual director of many temples, meditation centres and retreat centres in Australia, the United States and Canada and teaches also in Mexico and Mongolia. Future scheduled teachings from Zasep Rinpoche…

Kalachaka, The Wheel of Time: Empowerment and One-Day Retreat in Toronto with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

Kalachaka, The Wheel of Time: Empowerment and One-Day Retreat in Toronto with Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

Kalachakra tradition is among the most complex and advanced Vajrayana practices, a beautiful practice on a truly cosmic scale that “explores the nature of time and its relationship to every sentient being’s progress to full awakening.” [1] Unlike other higher yoga practices in Tibetan Buddhism, thousands of people attend Kalachakra empowerments to simply receive the…

Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche Returns to Toronto for Extensive Round of Buddhist Teachings in April at Gaden Choling Toronto: Ngondro Foundation Practice, Mahamudra, Six Session Yoga, La Gug Life Force Retrieval and Kalachakra.

Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche Returns to Toronto for Extensive Round of Buddhist Teachings in April at Gaden Choling Toronto: Ngondro Foundation Practice, Mahamudra, Six Session Yoga, La Gug Life Force Retrieval and Kalachakra.

Recently, Buddha Weekly interviewed the most Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, a learned Tibetan teacher of the Gelug lineage. The spiritual head of many temples and meditation centres in Canada, United States, and Australia, the eminent guru will make his semi-annual teaching round in Toronto, Canada in April 2016. (Full schedule below, or visit Gaden Choling…

Part 2 of Interview with the Teachers: Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses how Buddhism can help with today’s problems; on how we should think of hell realms and reincarnation; and how to practice when you have so little time.

Part 2 of Interview with the Teachers: Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses how Buddhism can help with today’s problems; on how we should think of hell realms and reincarnation; and how to practice when you have so little time.

Buddha Weekly continues its special series “Interviews with the Teachers” with part 2 of an extensive hours-long interview with the most Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche. Rinpoche is spiritual director of many temples, meditation centres and retreat centres in Australia, the United States and Canada and teaches also in Mexico and Mongolia. Future scheduled teachings from Zasep Rinpoche…

Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses decades of teaching, advice for beginner students and funny stories of his teachers.

Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses decades of teaching, advice for beginner students and funny stories of his teachers.

PART 1 OF A 3-PART FEATURE INTERVIEW WITH VENERABLE ZASEP TULKU RINPOCHE. Click here to read part 2>> Click here to read part 3>> Interview by Derek Lee Kane Zasep Tulku Rinpoche is always quick to smile and laugh, regardless of a hectic teaching schedule that has him spending many hours flying around the world….

Healing Event: “Healing Without Borders Retreat” with Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche—Weekend Retreat on Soul Retrieval (La Gug) Inner Spirit Healing and Medicine Buddha Practice

Healing Event: “Healing Without Borders Retreat” with Venerable Acharya Zasep Tulku Rinpoche—Weekend Retreat on Soul Retrieval (La Gug) Inner Spirit Healing and Medicine Buddha Practice

La Gug Life Force Inner Spirit Healing is a rare and precious teaching. The ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice has roots in even more ancient shamanic practices. Together with Medicine Buddha practice, they are important and treasured practices in Buddhism that have been relied on for healing for centuries. (More information on Medicine Buddha here>>) This…

Buddha Weekly Special: Interviews with the Buddhist Teachers — Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

Buddha Weekly Special: Interviews with the Buddhist Teachers — Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

Buddha Weekly begins its special series “Interviews with the Teachers” with an extensive hours-long interview with the most Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche. Rinpoche is spiritual director of many temples, meditation centres and retreat centres in Australia, the United States and Canada and teaches also in Mexico and Mongolia. He was first invited to teach in Australia…

Performing Arts Meditation: Celebrate Buddha Day (Vesak) with a Buddhist Opera. The Gata, Returns for an Encore Performance in Toronto

Performing Arts Meditation: Celebrate Buddha Day (Vesak) with a Buddhist Opera. The Gata, Returns for an Encore Performance in Toronto

In many Buddhist traditions, Vesak, the celebration of Buddha Day, is celebrated on the full moon in lunar calendar month of April (Vaisakha). Traditionally, Buddhists celebrate the event with festivals, art, meditation and reverence. Now, The Gata —an engaging and dazzling Buddhist opera which opens during the full moon of April — provides a unique…

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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