Articles by " Jan"
23 Aug
2019
Posted in: gratitude
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Happy Birthday, Mom

My mom is 90 today. This is her, in the picture my dad keeps on his desk. I’m not sure when it was taken. Maybe when they got married. (She was 18. He was 20. They’ve been married 72 years.)

The smaller photo behind it is also of her, shortly after my sister was born. (The little girl, looking on, is me!) And tucked in with that photo, cut out and pasted on, is another one of her, standing behind me and one of my brothers at my college graduation.

Things change, don’t they.

But love lives on.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

22 Aug
2019
Posted in: Practice
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I Take Heart…

A couple of weeks ago at Sunday Sangha I talked about how, in addition to chanting the Pali text, I use my own words to express what I mean when I recite the 5 Precepts — the classic practice of training to refrain from ethical misconduct. (My phrases are at the end of this post.)

I didn’t mention this on Sunday, but I also use my own words when doing another classic Buddhist practice — the formal Taking of Refuges, which is usually translated in English as:

To the Buddha, I go for refuge.
To the Dhamma, I go for refuge.
To the Sangha, I go for refuge.

I often recite the refuges in this way, as well chant them in the original Pali. But I also add my own way of expressing this intention, which is:

I take heart in the human capacity to Awaken.
I take heart in the Nature of the way things are.
I take heart in the Company of all those who are Awakening.

These are a little out of the ordinary, but this is the sense of the phrases that means the most to me. Which is important, because I’m serious about what I’m doing. I need to say what I really mean because I fully intend to live by what I say.

***

In case you missed my Sunday talk, here are the 5 Precepts — in my own words — which I recite every morning (along with the 3 Refuges above):

* For my own peace of mind and for the peace of others, may I practice compassion by not intentionally killing or harming any living creature.
* For my own contentment and for the contentment of others, may I practice generosity by not taking that which is not freely given.
* For my own well-being and for the well-being of others, may I practice loving-kindness by not engaging in sexuality that is harmful.
* For my own happiness and for the happiness of others, may I practice honesty and goodwill by not speaking in ways that are false, harsh, divisive, or mindless.
* For my own safety and for the safety of others, may I practice restraint by not clouding my mind with intoxicants.

***

21 Aug
2019
Posted in: Practice, Teachers
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Meditate with Mirabai!

Last week Mirabai Bush led a really beautiful on-line guided meditation (only 17 minutes long) for a Facebook “Mindful Women Meditate” event, in which 3,000 people participated — including me!

Anyone who’s spent any time at all around me (in person, or on this blog), already knows that being introduced to meditation by Mirabai totally opened my heart — an experience that I have come to understand and appreciate more and more over the years. (I know I’m not alone in having had this wide-heart-opening with Mirabai. The moderator of the Facebook session calls her the “Mother of Mindfulness.”)

If you’d like a sense of what meditating with Mirabai can be like, come join her in that big, big room she talks about in this guided meditation — now posted on YouTube. (click here.)

Relax. Breath. Enjoy.

(The photo above is of Mirabai with Ram Dass at one of their annual Open Your Heart in Paradise retreats.)

20 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books
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A Feeling of Aliveness

“The Buddha’s twelve insights of the Four Noble Truths is a teaching of the wisdom that is to be found in being consciously and fully present with your suffering until what is called ‘pure awareness’ or ‘Buddha nature’ or ’emptiness’ that lies beyond your personality is revealed. It points to the opportunity you have to make a radical inner shift in how you view your existence.

“Whatever the source of your suffering may be, this inner shift will provide a new, deeper context for interpreting your experiences that brings clarity and equanimity to your mind. The result of this inner transformation is that your life — with all its pain, disappointment and uncertainty, as well as all that you cherish, love, and work hard for — is radically enriched.

“You will discover, as so many other have before you, a feeling of aliveness, something mystical, palpable in your daily life. You may have a long journey to your final and full liberation, but peace and freedom of mind are available to you right now in ever-increasing measure.”

Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering,
by Phillip Moffitt

19 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books
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It Happens by Itself. But You Have to Be There.

“Mindfulness meditation strengthens the mind so that you can more easily be with difficult emotions or uncomfortable physical sensations that cause your mind to abandon the present moment. Mindfulness also strengthens the nervous system such that physical and mental pains don’t have the same degree of ‘hurt’ because the mind isn’t contracting in anticipation of more pain in the future.

For the first few years of practice you are literally reprogramming your nervous system to free it from habitual reactivity. This alone will bring much ease and flexibility to your mind.

The most life-changing benefits of mindfulness meditation are the insights, which arise spontaneously, the way a ripened apple falls from the tree of its own accord.

“Insight is what changes your life. Through insight you realize what brings well-being to yourself and others as well as what brings stress, discomfort, and dissatisfaction into your life. Such insights can be small or quite dramatic. Moreover, they have a cumulative effect such that previous insights become building blocks for still more insights….

“During meditation, you will most often have personal insights about your life and how it has been conditioned. Such insights help you grow and understand yourself better, leading to a fuller life…

Less frequent, but having far greater impact when they arise, are the insights about the nature of life itself. These are universal insights about the ever-changing and impersonal nature of your life experiences… Not-self and the constancy of change are basic characteristics of life, but the truth of them, in the sense of being life altering, can only be known through direct insight, which come from mindfulness.”

— from Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering,
by Phillip Moffitt

15 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books, Classes
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Three Kinds of Happiness

The topic of my next 5-week Study & Practice class series will be the Three Kinds of Happiness, as described in Phillip Moffitt’s Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering (which will be our reference text).

These three kinds of happiness are:

  • “The happiness that arises when conditions in your life are what you desire them to be
  • “The well-being that comes when your mind is joyful and at ease, regardless of the conditions of your life at the moment
  • “The unbounded joy you feel when your mind has reached final liberation from all clinging”

*** This is an intermediate-level course suitable for meditators who are interested in a deeper understanding of their relationship to the conditions of life, as well as an overview of the samadhi meditation practice that leads to deep states of mental absorption (jhana), and the Insight Meditation practice (vipassana) that leads to liberation. ***

When: Tuesday evenings, Sept 17 to Oct 15, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Where: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman (at Kingshighway)

Each session will include instructions plus 20-30 minutes of silent meditation and time for discussion. The classes are offered on a dana (generosity) basis. To register, there is an initial $20 fee, which pays for room rental and helps to cover the costs of maintaining this DharmaTown website.

For more information and to register, e-mail me, Jan Rosamond, here.

*** My teaching credentials: I have completed four years of training through Spirit Rock, where I am certified as a Community Dharma Leader. I’ve practiced in the Western Insight tradition for more than 20 years with a variety of teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and many others. I’ve spent more than 500 days on silent retreat including several 1- and 2-month intensive retreats in the U.S., South Africa, and Burma (Myanmar). My mentoring teacher is Phillip Moffitt. ***

14 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books
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The Opposite of “Racist” Isn’t “Not Racist”

I was so moved — and enlightened — by Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” (which I posted about here) that as soon as I heard he was coming out with a follow-up book — “How to Be an Antiracist” — I pre-ordered it.

And now, finally, it’s here. It arrived on my Kindle yesterday. And I can’t put it down.

It begins with Kendi describing his own unwitting racism. (Kendi is Black.) He write:

“I was a dupe, a chump who saw the on-going struggles of Black people and decided that Black people themselves were the problem. This is the consistent function of racist ideas — and any kind of bigotry more broadly: to manipulate us into seeing people as the problem, instead of the policies that ensnare them..

“The good news is that racist and antiracist are not fixed identities. We can be a racist one minute and an antiracist the next. What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what — not who — we are.

“I used to be racist most of the time. I am changing. I am no longer identifying with racists by claiming to be ‘not racist.’ I am no longer speaking through the mask of racial neutrality. I am no longer manipulated by racist ideas to see racial groups as problems…

“This book is ultimately about the basic struggle we’re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see others as fully human. I share my own journey of being raised in the dueling racial consciousness of the Reagan-era Black middle class, then right-turning onto the ten-lane highway of anti-Black racism — a highway mysteriously free of police and free of gas — and veering off onto the two-lane highway of anti-White racism, where gas is rare and police are everywhere, before finding and turning down the unlit dirt road of antiracism.

“After taking this grueling journey to the dirt road of antiracism, humanity can come upon the clearing of a potential future: an antiracist world in all its imperfect beauty. It can become real if we focus on power instead of people, if we focus on changing policy instead of groups of people. It’s possible if we overcome our cynicism about the permanence of racism.

“We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend not to be racist. Now let’s know how to be antiracist.”

12 Aug
2019
Posted in: Retreats
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Come Meet My Friend Tuere

My friend, Tuere Sala, is coming to St. Louis!

She’ll give an evening talk on Friday, Sept 6 (6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the First Unitarian Church on Waterman and Kingshighway). Then she’ll lead a day-long retreat on Saturday, Sept 7 (9:00 am to 4:00 pm, also at the First Unitarian Church). And then, she’ll offer a special afternoon session for People of Color on Sunday, Sept 8 (2:00 to 4:00 pm, at InPower Institute near Tower Grove Park). 

You can come for just the Friday night talk ($10), or just the Saturday day-long ($50), or BOTH (priced on a sliding scale beginning at $55). AND if you self-identify as a person of color, you can ALSO come to the Sunday POC session ($5)!

I’ve sat several long retreats with Tuere and she is AWESOME. (She’s also funny!) She’s a former prosecuting attorney turned Dharma teacher, who has worked extensively with folks who are living with high stress, dealing with past trauma, or who just have a lot of trouble sitting still! (Sound like anyone you know?)

Click here for more info about Tuere and details about the weekend events. Or if you have any questions, you can e-mail me here. Or just show up at the right time/place. (No one will be turned away for lack of funds.)

I will be there. Come by and say hi!

9 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books, Practice
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They Are Kissing.

An untrained mind obscures the natural qualities of heart. As the mind becomes more clear and the heart lets loose of the constrictions created by the roughness of life, awareness can flow without judgement.

This does not mean without discernment. Discernment leads to wisdom. Awareness is the essence of discernment, but it does not reject anything.

Judgement leads to separation. Comparing leads to separation. But discernment includes everything.

A well-trained mind, collected and unified, sees the dance of opposites. The heart blossoms and the opposites unite.

The moon and sun: Kiss.

This is within you. Your sun. Your moon.

You are what you want.

***

(adapted from Awakening through the Nine Bodies, by Phillip Moffitt)

8 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books
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This Doesn’t Work

“The Buddha came to the following realization: the path to happiness and a sense of well being in this very life lies not in avoiding suffering but in using the conscious, embodied, direct experience of it as a vehicle to gain deep insight into the true nature of life and your own experience.” — from Dancing with Life, by Phillip Moffitt