a buddhist carnival – 9th edition, part 1

welcome to the 9th edition of the buddhist carnival. it’s only been nine months? it seems like a long time, and a good long time. i always look forward to putting this carnival together.

even though there are still problems with blog carnival, we have a very nice selection of articles on buddhism this month; in fact, i will give you thoughts and excerpts of all of them. as i often do in this carnival, i will to stick to the middle way and not burden you with too many links; rather, i’ll serve up the carnival in two portions. this is the first one; you can expect the second one by next monday.

let’s start.

what is zen? who teaches it?
lately, i’ve enjoyed starting this carnival with a buddhist poem. chris from martial development was kind enough to supply one, in both his and my ongoing (and probably futile) question of what is zen, really, and is there such a thing as real zen? he quotes a ch’an (chinese zen) master in his post zen habits of master hsuan hua

the dumb transmit to the dumb,
one is teaching but neither has any idea.
the sifu goes to hell.
where will the student end up?

does a teacher need to be enlightened?
if we want a teacher to be more than “dumb” – how much does she need to know? what are the requirements? tom stine discusses the difference between enlightenment and encountering the absolute:

a teacher is not lesser because he hasn’t fully awakened. there are still many, many people who need what he or she has to offer. the grave fallacy that so many run into, which probably leads to a certain amount of difficulties, is the notion that a teacher needs to be “done” to be a teacher. but it isn’t so. all that is required is honesty with yourself and those you teach and interact with. much can be learned, much can be shared.

meditating: like a cat at the mouse hole
this, for example, can be shared (and here is an interesting thought: to what degree are these blogs that talk about buddhism our teachers?)

sarah uses the disney characters tom and jerry to illustrate how our mind likes to jump around during meditation (and even more at other times but then we usually don’t pay attention)

the swami turban on tom’s head is no accident. don’t think for one minute that i don’t loooove sitting on my sage meditation mat which looks lovely against my orange curtains and green buddha, ready for instant enlightenment right here in queens. but after following no more than three glorious breaths in and out, millions of insane thoughts come tumbling down. they are as obnoxious and adorable as jerry in those little aladdin pants! how the hell am i supposed to ignore that?! in classic over-achieving, runner sarah mode, i try to attack the problem by blocking the thoughts. but no dice. jerry’s not going anywhere.

buddhism and art
from the art of walt disney to another art form: here in vancouver, we have a new exhibition by performance artist zhang huan.

a line running through zhang’s art is his enduring relationship to buddhism. in a 1998 performance, pilgrimage—wind and water in new york, he threw himself down repeatedly on gravel-covered ground, imitating the prostrations of buddhist pilgrims, to the sounds of tibetan buddhist music.

in his shanghai studio, he has produced immense self-portrait busts using ash gathered from burnt offerings and incense in buddhist temples. he has also created huge representations of the fingers and limbs broken off buddhist statuary during china’s cultural revolution. these works function as a kind of reclamation of belief and, through it, a declaration of freedom.

(image of zhang huan by designboom)

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