This morning in our service we chanted our “Prayer of All Lineages”. Buddhism started from Buddha Shakyamuni and then spread throughout Asia and now is coming to Western countries as well. Buddha was a wonderfu lteacher who seems to have been able to bring out the best in people as well as help them overcome their blindnesses and become more wise and compassionate. However, each person is different and his leading disciples likewise. Each had a special talent. Shariputra was wise. Mogalana was good at meditation and yoga. Asaji was good at keeping the disciple. Ananda was kind, and so on. When new younger students came to be disciples, Buddha would allocate them to one or other of his chief disciples according to their need or talent. Thus, from the very beginning there were different schools of Buddhism, even while the sage was still alive.

As the Dharma spread far and wide this diversity continued. Although there are a variety of lineages, after Shakyamuni himself there was never really a Buddhist supreme prelate, like the pope. The nearest thing is the Dalai Lama but he is only officially the head of Tibetan Buddhism. Different schools all developed in their different ways.

In many schools of Buddhism there exist “lineage prayers” that celebrate the lineage of main teachers in that particular tradition. When I was a Zen monk, we used to recite every morning the list of eighty-five teachers from Shakyamuni down to our own present day teacher. These lineage traditions have been used to help establish the legitimacy of particular groups at various times in history, although modern scholarship has revealed various lacunae in them.

As Buddhism comes to the West it comes into a different culture with a different religious history. Here we are also used to having different denominations, but they did not mostly originate in an attempt to cater for natural human diversity so much as from conflict and disagreement. In Buddhism it is not unnatural for a person to study more than one school. In the West, however, there is a greater possessiveness about congregations and rivalry between sects. It would be a shame is this sectarian disease got too established in the new-to-the-west Buddhist religion. In our own sangha, therefore, we do not have a separate prayer, we have a “prayer of all lineages“ to celebrate the great diversity of ways in which the Dharma has been transmitted to the present day.

Reciting the prayer also gives one an appetite to study the lives and teachings of all - or at least some - of this vast collection of great Dharma ancestors.

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ITZI Conference 2017

Blog Posts

Study Grouop

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on November 13, 2017 at 8:04 0 Comments

We had our regular skype study group on Saturday evening. Three people attended including myself and we studied some of Dharmavidya’s writings and had very helpful discussions about subjects such as Buddhist prayer, accepting death and being Human. The next group will be on Saturday the 25th at 9.30pm. This late time is due to the fact that some of our members are overseas in different time zones. if you would like to join us please email me adamdunsby@hotmail.com or skype me…

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ON BEING LIBERALLY DOGMATIC (rather than dogmatically liberal)

Posted by David Brazier on November 8, 2017 at 11:30 0 Comments

Last night I had a conversation in a restaurant in which a person reported the view that the religion of the future would be Zen because Zen was a religion without dogmas. This statement struck me with particular force because at the moment I am in the middle of reviewing a draft chapter by another author on "Eastern Meditation Meets the West" for a future publication. This chapter highlights the cultural filters that ideas have to pass through in order to get a stamp of approval by our…

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Relationship.

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on September 9, 2017 at 20:56 0 Comments

Found this on a Chogyam Trungpa video…

''The relationship between student and teacher is like a dance…

In relating with the teacher, your critical input and your surrendering work together. They’re not working against each other. The more input you get from the teacher and the phenomenal world and the more you develop, at the same time, the more you question. So there is a kind of dance taking place between the teacher and yourself. You are not particularly trying to switch off…

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Reflections on Foolishness.

Posted by Dayamay Dunsby on September 5, 2017 at 11:50 2 Comments

I sometimes can’t believe how defective I am!! Whilst despairing of myself the other day I remembered a Shinran teaching that I found some time ago. It really made me think and reinforced my resolve to practice.

It is a Pureland teaching about the depth of our sin preventing us from being genuinely good. Our efforts to be decent, caring beings are always based in and therefore contaminated by our self centredness, greed hatred and delusion. This is due to the…

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