Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Eight-fold Noble Path via Noah Levine

The Fourth of Buddha's Noble Truths are: Right understanding, Right thought, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, Right concentration. These are the usual translations. 

Recently, at the request of Sangha member Rob Dowtin, I read Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries by Noah Levine. Levine, a second generation American Buddhist, grew up in terrible combat with all that is parental, authoritarian, American, Buddhist, spiritual, etcetera. Everything that was not him. And I think he probably through himself into the mix. He turned to the usual suspects. Punks. Drugs. Sex. Theft. He was dancing in the angry midst. But then he began to practice. I am very glad he did. And I am very glad I read the book, the third of three. Levine's work stresses a very utilitarian and pro-active embodiment of Buddhist practice, and in Against the Stream he bases his practice on Buddha's Metta Sutta, aka The Buddha's Words on Practicing Loving Kindness. 

In the back of the book Noah includes his own adaptations to many of the texts that we use in our practice. Here is his adaptation of the Eight-Fold Noble Path. 

1.      Understanding reality as it is
2.   Intentionally living in a wise and compassionate way
3.      Speaking what is true and useful
4.      Acting with non-violent, honest and sober integrity
5.      Earning a living in a wise and non-harming manner (see note below)
6.      Energetically training the heart/mind
7.      Mindfully bringing attention to each moment
8.      Concentrating attention on the impermanent unfolding of the present

NOTE: I changed number 5 which was: " Working in a wise and non-harming profession." I believe that there are professions that may seem harmful from the outside, but, when practiced wisely, can be very non-harming. 

--Bobby Kankin Byrd

Monday, July 16, 2012

James Joyce & the Village Zendo on Broadway

Thanks to the Village Zendo in New York City

When I was in New York City in May, I attended services several times at the Village Zendo on Broadway at the Prince Street subway exit. Twice I hear Pat Enkyo O'Hara Roshi  deliver a teisho. Another time one of her students. Other times I went by just to sit. I enjoy that place. The sangha is open-hearted, and it has developed a nice community spirit. The Sangha members are participants in a number of different communities--political activism, cultural, intellectual, literary, others--and they bring their interests to the Zendo. I liked that. I brought home with me a packet of materials from there, including their very fine brochure which outlines their practice in all of its spheres--and written by a number of the sangha members. You're welcome to come by and read it. 
--Bobby Kankin