livin' the values

Today after the regular zazen sitting, we did the jukai ceremony for a student visiting from Sweden. Jukai is the ceremony of receiving the Buddhist Precepts and marks the formal beginning of one's start as a Buddhist layman.
The precepts were originally the rules for the community of Buddha's original followers. Whenever you have a group of people living together, there will always be issues, disputes, and problems. Rules help keep the society running smoothly.
At one time there were hundreds of rules, but they have basically been pared down to the main 16.
First are the Three Devotions:
  1. Devotion to Buddha; the founder of Buddhism
  2. Devotion to Dharma; the Universe itself
  3. Devotion to Sangha; our companions in life
Next are the Three Universal Precepts:
  1. Observance of rules; follow the rules of society
  2. Observance of morality; act appropriately in all situations -- act right
  3. Salvation of all living beings; we are all elements of the Universe
The above six are pretty touchy-feely, so the next ten really spell out in concrete terms what's what. These are the Ten Fundamental Precepts, but really they're more like guidelines:
  1. Don't destroy life
  2. Don't steal
  3. Don't desire too much
  4. Don't lie
  5. Don't live by selling liquor
  6. Don't discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen
  7. Don't praise yourself or berate others
  8. Don't begrudge the sharing of Buddhist teachings and other things, but give them freely
  9. Don't become angry
  10. Don't abuse the three supreme values; Buddha Dharma, and Sangha.
It is not a sin to break them, and there is no penance for erasing the sin. There is no one telling you what you can and cannot do, and nothing to keep you from doing whatever you want, save yourself.

During the ceremony you do a bunch of prostrations and repeat a bunch of stuff three times, and then finally you receive your rakusu and your Buddhist name and a copy of the Buddhist lineage from Buddha down through all his disciples, with your name written in last.

Nishijima-sensei made an appearance and he really is a pleasant little guy. Whole thing took about 40 minutes, but add an hour to that to fold up all the robes and put away the alter table and other apparatus.

Buddhism is the ultimate self-help methodology; it's all up to you. There are others to guide and help you, but ultimately you sit on your cushion every day and it's you and your thoughts and your life. It's your responsibility to deal with your own issues and live as you choose. Some people choose to hide from reality through alcohol or drugs or television. Some people make everything someone else's fault; mean boss, uncaring parents, uncaring society. Certainly there are people in the world who aren't helping you, and there's nothing you can do about them. You can, however, do something about how you live your own life.
Someone asked me "how can you be so positive all the time?" which I thought was a silly observation, since I don't think I'm a happy, bubbly optimist. I am a realist though; I know what I can and cannot do. I get upset when things don't go my way or when someone isn't helping, and then I do what I can about it; I get my job done, I cover for the other person, I try to make it right. Not because I'm the hero or want all the praise or because I'm always the smartest but because that's the right thing to do.
And if it's say something at work, I do my job and when I'm done I go home and play with my daughter or go into the dojo or sit in zazen or look at stupid crap on the internet.
It's my life, I can think it's miserable and everyone's out to get me, or I can make the best of it and deal with it and have as much fun as I can.
Zazen is just a way of forcing you to sit quietly, you and your thoughts, to realize that all the crap inside your head is just yours; no one stuck a syringe full of bad thoughts and jammed it into your brain. You put those thoughts into your head, you're the only one who can deal with them and take them out.

mostly almost done!

OK most of the boxes are gone, the phone and security system are hooked up, and the wireless network is in full effect.
P reorganized the kitchen and I did the bathroom drawers. She's now working on the closet as my clothes have been relegated to the other room until she separates winter stuff from summer and gets rid of the will-never-wear bits.
I've the The Smallwood on the job to help me replace the TV with a nice plasma; something in the 37-42 inch range will be fine, and no tuner necessary as I got a cable box, so just a dumb monitor will work.
Last night I discovered what some of The Mystery Switches do. Some, like in the bathroom and kitchen, turn on the floor-level heater to keep one's toes toasty in winter. Others apparently control the night lights, but all of the night lights save the one by the entrance don't seem to work. Perhaps the bulb is burnt, but I can't see how to open it without ripping the whole unit off of the wall, so I emailed the maintenance corp and they're going to send someone out.
Been cold and rainy these past couple of days, so I've cranked on the central heater in every room -- I mean, I'm paying for it anyway right! So bourgeois of me!

subprime, yup

As a follow up to my diatribe previously, I see that Bloomberg columnist Michael Lewis agrees with me.

moved (mostly)

Only three boxes of stuff left to unpack. In sum:
We have too many clothes and magazines, and not enough shelves and closet space.
Plenty of space in the kitchen and everywhere else.
Living room is currently full of empty boxes, and everything is hooked up except for the phone line and security system.
Highlight of the move was the cable guy. He ended up hanging out for over an hour and we set up the whole audio-visual system. Sadly my old TV is so big I have to sit it on the floor as I don't have any furniture burly enough to support its weight. Reckon that means it's time to buy a new (lightweight!) flat-panel TV.


Originally uploaded by renfield.

Our upstairs neighbors include two adorable South African sisters, 10 and 5. Tonchan's got babysitters!