A Great East-West Teaching Embraced by Teachers of Multiple Faiths

Genpo Roshi began developing the Big Mind process in 1999, after having taught traditional Zen meditation and koan study for more than twenty years as a senior student, then Dharma successor of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and as a Zen Master in both Soto and Rinzai lineages. The process is intended to allow anyone —including non-Buddhists—to experience the enlightenment of the Buddha. The process is designed as a combination of Eastern meditation and Western psychological techniques to transmit the essence of Zen teachings in a way that is readily accessible and relevant to Westerners, a realization they can further deepen through meditation. The Big Mindprocess enables participants to get in touch with various aspects of themselves by inviting them to identify as and speak from these aspects or states of mind. He walks them through interactions with different aspects of their mind, including ordinary, finite ones such as the Protector, the Skeptic and Desiring Mind; and less familiar, transcendent ones such as the Non-Seeking Non-Grasping Mind, the Way, and Big Mind and Big Heart.

Zen teachers and masters, including such representatives of the tradition as Bishop Gengo Akiba, Abbot of the headquarters of the Soto Zen school in North America, have embraced Big Mind as a profound blending of the heritage of Zen with western culture which is pointing the way to the future of Zen, not only in the West, but in the world. Among leading representatives of Western spiritual traditions, Father Thomas Keating has written of his “great admiration of the creativity and originality” of Genpo Roshi’s work, predicting that “it will make a significant contribution to the East West dialogue and the needs of the growing populations of those seekers who are attracted to move beyond seeking.” And Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi has written, “The masters of Jewish mysticism guided advanced seekers to the levels of Great Mind and Extended Heart. In our day Genpo Roshi, aka Reb Merzel, offers the trans-denominational seeker a contemporary gate to the highest awareness.” In the foreword to Merzel’s book Big Mind, Big Heart, author and integral theorist Ken Wilber wrote about the merits of the Big Mind process: “The Big Mind process founded by Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel is arguably the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism. It is an astonishingly original, profound, and effective path for waking up, or seeing one’s True Nature. . . . It will show you that part of your own awareness, which is already enlightened, already one with Spirit, already fully awakened. Once you spot that, an entirely different world opens for you.” Wilber ends the foreword by expressing deep thanks to Dennis Genpo Merzel for discovering this simple and innovative process.

Find more videos on Big Mind Network

Advertisements

Logos Made Flesh: Jesus and Vedanta

Platonic Forms

“The concept of the avatar evolved from the theory of Logos in both Western and Eastern philosophy. In the west, the theory of Logos was first developed by the Greeks to bridge the gulf that separates God from man, the known from the unknown. Plato projected Logos as the supreme Good, under which all lesser ideas, i.e. archetypes of things, relations, qualities and values are subsumed. Later, the Stoics denied the validity of Plato’s supersensual archetypes. They perceived the principle of reason to be immanent and active in the universe. Philo, and Alexandrian Jew and contemporary of Jesus, combined Stoic reason with Plato’s transcendentalism, and added them to Hebraism. He declared that Logos was not only immanent in the universe but was transcendent as well, one with God. The author of the Fourth Gospel then used Philo’s Logos theory as the basis for his interpretation of the life of Christ, but gave it new vision…He stressed that the conception of Logos as word rather than reason, interpreting it as an expression of the divine will, an outpouring of God’s goodness, power, light, and love. To quote St. John:

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’

The Logos, the “only begotten of the Father’ was ‘made flesh’ in Jesus Christ.

In the Vedas we find passages almost identical with the opening sequence of the Gospel of John: ‘In the beginning was the Lord of Creatures, second to him was the Word.’ ‘The word was verily Brahman.’ According to the Hindus, Brahman was conditioned by Maya, his creative power, is first manifested as the eternal undifferentiated Word, our of which the concrete sensible world then evolves. To the Hindus, therefore, the Word is incarnated through all beings, each of whom may directly realize God through he divine power of the Word. But like St. John, Hindus believe that in a special sense the Logos made flesh in the avatar-the avatar being the descent of God, whereas the ordinary man ascends toward God.”

Excerpt from ” The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta”  by Swami Prabhavananda, Vedanta Press 1946.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

South Park Creators Animate Alan Watts

These are some great shorts by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that are set to Alan Watts‘ recordings. Enjoy!

Tagore-Writer, Philosopher, Musician, Mystic

Maya

That I should make much of myself and turn it on all sides, thus casting colored shadows on thy radiance —such is thy Maya.

Thou settest a barrier in thine own being
and then callest thy severed self in myriad notes.
This thy self-separation has taken body in me.

The poignant song is echoed through all the sky in many-coloued tears
and smiles, alarms and hopes; waves rise up and sink again,
dreams break and form.
In me is thy own defeat of self.

This screen that thou hast raised is painted with innumerable figures
with the brush of the night and the day.
Behind it thy seat is woven in wondrous mysteries of curves,
casting away all barren lines of straightness.

The great pageant of thee and me has overspread the sky.
With the tune of thee and me all the air is vibrant,
and all ages pass with the hiding and seeking of thee and me.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941, Calcutta, India)

  • Click here for a transcript of a conversation between Einstein and Tagore in 1930


More Tagore Poems

Ecosophy: Deep Ecology

Add to Google Buzz

“Ecology and spirituality are fundamentally connected, because deep ecological awareness, ultimately, is spiritual awareness.”

-Fritjov Capra

Deep ecology is a branch of “ecosophy” coined by Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in 1973  that sees all of nature, including humans, as an interconnected web. This system of environmental ethics differentiates itself from traditional environmentalism, which it sees as too anthropomorphic. The deep ecology movement philosophy parallels the shifts in scientific thinking from Newtonian, in which the human observer is removed from the object of observation, to quantum in which the observer cannot be separated from the experiment.

Deep ecologists assert that if humans expand the self to include all living things, our relationship to the environment becomes psychological: “If we have deep ecological awareness of being part of the web of life, then we will, as opposed to should, be inclined to care for all living nature.” Fritjov Capra, a systems theorist and physicist, is a proponent of deep ecology and authored the 1975 book The Tao of Physics that discusses the connection between modern physics and eastern mysticism. The ecological dilemmas we face, looking from a deep ecological perspective, can be solved only with a shift in human consciousness in which our relationship to nature becomes one of unity rather than of separateness. The fight against global warming is not only a political battle, it is a spiritual one.

Resources:

-For links to articles on deep ecology and interviews with the Arne Naess, click here.

Journal of Ecosophy

Overview of Deep Ecology

-Fritjov Capra Video: “The Systems View of Life.”

-Link to article: “The World Affirming Vision of Non-Duality: Vedanta Contribution to Deep Ecology.”

Video: “Stephen Harding: Gaia Theory and Deep Ecology”

Arne Naess Obituary, NYTimes 2009

-Quotes about deep ecology


Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Embodied Cognition

Chronesthesia, the mental ability to travel in time, to relive past experiences and imagine future experiences, supposedly sets humans apart from animals. But a new study, also mentioned this week in the New York Times, finds that this ‘mind travel’ is actually intertwined with physical experience. For example: researchers found that subjects holding hot coffee were more likely to judge someone as “warm” then when holding a cold beverage, and heavy items were judged as more important than lighter ones. Similarly, the New York Times author writes about how researchers tied a subject’s memory of social acceptance to a warmer room temperature. The physical context affected the judgments of the research subjects; hence the article’s phrase “embodied cognition.”

One of the philosophical impacts of this, though not novel, is that perception of reality is partly determined by the context of the subject. The mind is embedded within a physical environment. Abstraction itself becomes more complex in a world without the mind-body duality. This idea, in my life, has affected how I view psychology and more specifically in my work, how I view mental illness.

The mind-in-environment approach is one of the reasons I was drawn to social work practice. Standard psychological assessment looks at the client as though in a vacuum. Many social workers, on the contrary, utilize an idea called Bio-Ecological Systems Theory when assessing a client.  There are five levels taken into account:

  1. Microsystem: Immediate environments
  2. Mesosystem: The connections between immediate environments
  3. Exosystem: External environmental settings
  4. Macrosystem: The wider cultural context 
  5. Chronosystem: The evolving patterns changes and events over the life course.

The individual is affected by a complex array of influences, and cannot be isolated. This approach dramatically changes how a practitioner views mental illness. Rather than looking at something as ‘all in the mind,’ we must take a more holistic approach and include body, environment, culture, time, etc. Cause and effect, responsibility and identity become more difficult to pin down in a world where everything is part of an interconnected web. This may be hard to grasp in the American psyche, where the individual is expected to ‘pull himself up by his bootstraps.’ Such a complex web can be daunting, but it also means that the world is resting on many shoulders and not just our own.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine