Sunday, February 3, 2013

Amituofo - Blessings from the heart

This weekend my family and I drove to New York City to celebrate the 100 day naming ceremony for my niece, Zoe Amaez. My brother-in-law, Daniel Amaez, is a Buddhist disciple and student of Shi Yan Ming, the founder of the USA Shaolin Temple. Danny and his wife, Diana, held Zoe's naming ceremony at the Temple, and it was a beautiful event filled with good food, family, friends, and all-around positive vibes.

In this, my first blog post in a very long time, I wanted to share a meditation that I read posted on a wall in the Temple. I think it is a standard reflection in Chan Buddhism. When I read it, I found it so simple and inspiring.

"Before I was born, who was I?
After I am born, who am I?
Respect yourself, and everyone will respect you.
Understand yourself, and everyone will understand you.
There are mirrors all around you:
Strive to see and understand yourself.
Strive to have the heart of a Buddha.
Stop doing bad things, only do good.
Do whatever you can to help others.
In these ways you help yourself.
Help yourself, and you help the world."

During the naming ceremony, Shifu, which is the term for "Master," or even "Teacher," and is the title most people use when speaking with Shi Yan Ming, explained some principles of Chan Buddhism. "Amituofo," is a common term members of the Temple use in many difference scenarios: when greeting each other, or visitors; when entering or leaving the Temple; before they execute a Kung Fu form. Another disciple invited me to have a drink of Chinese "wine" with my brother-in-law and a few other members of the Temple. "Amituofo," can even mean cheers, or bottoms-up. When Shifu talked about Amituofo durint Zoe's naming ceremony he explained that all faith traditions are beautiful, and so are all people. "Jesus Christ is wonderful," Shifu said. "Christianity, is beautiful." In his explanation of Chan Buddhist philosophy, no hierarchy of belief existed. All Gods, all beliefs, all people were good and excellent, and all paths to peace were beautiful.

The entire spirit of the ceremony and the people just made me smile. "Do whatever you can to help others. In these ways you help yourself. Help yourself, and you help the world."


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