Andrew Furst

How Should a Buddhist Deal with Discarding Erroneous Beliefs? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Modern Koans, Writings

Question: How Should a Buddhist Deal with Discarding Erroneous Beliefs? Response: Humans have developed a couple of pretty neat tools for detecting erroneous beliefs.  Logic and standards for evidence are two great examples.  But your question gets to the heart of the matter – once you discover you’ve been acting based on erroneous beliefs, what do you do? I suspect, as always, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on the role the belief has in your world view. Let me give an example of how I’ve recently responded to…read more

What Does Pure Land Buddhism Teach? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question: What does Pure Land Buddhism teach? Response: The Pure Land Sutra is the enlightenment story of the Bodhisattva Dharmakāra. The story is set in the impossibly distant past. Upon fulfillment of 48 vows Dharmakāra became the Buddha Amitabha. Two of those vows are the central focus of the Pure Land school. 18. If I would become a Buddha, then any sentient being in any one of the ten directions who would earnestly believe and willingly wish to be born in my Pure Land, even if for only the duration of…read more

Hand Made Buddhist Shrine – Altoid Tin Project

Posted by in Buddha

I had some fun crafting this little Altoid tin project. I’m calling it the Sukhavati Box (Sukhavati means land of Bliss or Pure Land). It is a little portable Pure Land Shrine, its for sale, and it’s available at the store now.   It includes: 1. Images of Amitabha Buddha (Chinese: Amitofo) and Avalokiteshvara (Chinese: Quanyin). 2. a small handmade origami box with a quote from the Pure Land Sutra and an Amitabha mandala. 3. An incense cone and bottle cap burner 4. A hand made bottle cap candle. 5. Four…read more

Modern Koans – Why Right Action?

Posted by in Eightfold Path Series, Modern Koans, Writings

The Eightfold Path Series This is the one of several posts I will be offering titled the Eightfold Path Series. As I’ve reflected on my experience, I’ve come to see the Path as both the practice and the fruition. As we inch closer to realization of our true nature, we discover that the wisdom, ethics, and mindfulness prescribed by the Buddha are the most natural expression of our being. John Daido Loori Roshi’s book Invoking Reality was transformational for me. In it Roshi turns the path on it’s head in a way that uncovers it’s challenge…read more

The Whole Enchilada – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Estimated reading time: 13 minute(s) Om Ah Amitabha Hung As part of the opening ceremony at my meditation group I recite a light mantra.  It’s adapted from the Shingon tradition and refocused onto Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the Pure Land tradition. The mantra ends with the line quoted above. Om Ah Amitabha Hung is the whole enchilada. It can be interpreted to mean: In body, speech, and mind, I am Amitabha Buddha Most weeks, one or two newcomers will arrive at our Monday evening meditation group. I welcome them and ask…read more

Is Enlightenment Achievable? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Estimated reading time: 9 minute(s) Question: Do You Think Enlightenment or Awakening that follows meditation practice is actually achievable? Response: Enlightenment – arghh. What a troublesome idea.  Buddhist teachers need to be careful when getting pulled into this discussion.  Making short sharp declarations like enlightenment is not a goal can be confusing.  But associating it with personal achievement can also be misleading. So let’s start with that part of the question.  Is there such a thing as awakening that follows meditation practice?  There are two ideas merged into a premise here. …read more

Hearing – Meditations on Gratitude

Posted by in Meditations, Meditations on Gratitude

The senses are the gateway to the ultimate. Oh what a joy and a privilege to have your senses available to you. Particularly relevant to Pure Land Buddhism is the ability to hear the name that calls.  Namo Amitofo. AVALOKITESVARA’S MEDITATION ON HEARING FROM SURANGAMA SUTRA When one dwells in silence, Rolls of drums in ten directions, All can be simultaneously heard. Thus is hearing complete. Seeing cannot penetrate a screen, Neither can taste nor smell; Feeling comes only in contact, And thought in focus lack. But sound whether near…read more

Why Does Religion Always Go Bad? – Modern Koans

Posted by in Buddha, Modern Koans, Writings

Ouch.  To those of us who are religiously inclined, this is a pretty biting question.  But I don’t think that anyone should be surprised by it.  Religion looks ridiculous from a lot of angles.  Scientology looks crazy to Christians, Mormons sound nuts to Jews, and Islam sounds evil to Hindus. The question is open to a particularly Buddhist line of questioning.  Given that expectations are the root of suffering, what reasons do we have to believe in the purity and longevity of religions?  Is it timeless or time bound? Is…read more

One With The Universe? – Dialectic Two Step

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Estimated reading time: 16 minute(s) Woah, Woah, Woah, there. Hold on a second. Let’s back away from the hyperbole and take a nice deep breath now.  What do you mean “we’re all one with the universe”?  No really, do you know what you mean? In a lot of ways it’s a pretty counter intuitive idea. How sturdy is this Buddhist aphorism? I think it deserves a little poking? Probably, most of us have an abstract sense of oneness.  We’re all part of a whole.  We’re all in this boat together and…read more

Look West – A Two Minute Meditation

Posted by in Meditation Videos, Meditations

Gazing west my heart set to the Pure Land Amitabha’s grace is a troubling conundrum Kalpas of skepticism ruminate To my eyes no Western Pure Land appears To my ears, the jay’s urgency remains unchanged The only jewels in the pines and oaks are yesterdays cones and acorns The wind on my skin is just as cold as autumns past The tastes and smells of November decay spawn memories of leaf jumping and bonfires Sukhavati, Sukhavati, right here, right here. If you enjoyed this post,  please like and share. Minute…read more