Articles by " Jan"
1 Aug
2012
Posted in: Poems, Talks
By    Comments Off on Listen to This (without the all-CAPS)

Listen to This (without the all-CAPS)

I subscribe to Dharma Seed podcasts, so I listen to a lot of dharma talks. Most of them are very good…a few, I must admit are tedious…but some are so beautiful and inspiring that it’s all I can do not to fire off e-blasts to everyone I know, saying LISTEN TO THIS!!!! (We all know how welcome those emails are.)

So instead, I’ll just post the link here!

Pascal Auclair has a terrific talk, titled: On Unconditional Friendliness, Concentration and Other Things. It was recorded during a Metta retreat at True North Insight in Montreal. In the talk, Pascal reads a wonderful poem by Galway Kinnell, which I offer here (as an incentive to listen to the whole talk here.)

St. Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to teach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

(image from A Whole World by Couprie and Louchard)

31 Jul
2012
Posted in: Groups, Practice
By    Comments Off on First Tuesday Tonglen

First Tuesday Tonglen

Starting next Tuesday, Maplewood Metta will offer Tonglen practice on the first Tuesday of every month.

Tonglen is the powerful Tibetan practice of giving and receiving compassion, which fosters wisdom and fearlessness as well as love and compassion toward oneself and others. Scott Newell will lead us in this ancient healing practice.

All are welcome!

Where: The home of Johannes Wich-Schwarz, 28 17 Oakland, Maplewood, MO 63143

When: First Tuesday of every month, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm

 

 

 

(image from Spirit Rock publications)

30 Jul
2012
Posted in: Practice
By    Comments Off on It’s All In How You Look At It

It’s All In How You Look At It

Cindy, Thomas and I sat in Tower Grove park on Saturday morning (as part of the Sitting in the Park group). We don’t normally have a dharma talk, but this time a “teacher” appeared…in the form of a dog, who had been left waiting nearby while his owners were at the Market.

In honor of which, I offer this poem by Billy Collins:

Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking.

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

(image by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, from Outsider Art)

 

 

27 Jul
2012
Posted in: Practice
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10 Things

One of my DPP Dharma Buddies and I have been working together on the homework for this month, part of which is to find creative ways to cultivate the 10 “Perfections” (also called “Paramis”) in our daily life. The 10 Perfections in the Theravada tradition are: generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, persistence, patience, honesty, determination, good will, and equanimity.

So one thing we’ve decided to do, is to find 10 lovely little things we can hold in our hand–stones, beads, marbles, etc–that can each represent one of these qualities, and then to choose one each day…to carry it with us, or put it next to the computer, or on the windowsill over the sink or wherever…to help us remember to cultivate that particular quality throughout the day.

I chose a little charm I have with the word “change” engraved on it to represent the quality of equanimity, which is the quality I am focusing on today. When I look at the charm, or feel its smoothness in my hand, I will think:

Things change. No need to get worked up. Gain and loss, praise and blame….these are like storms in the mind. They blow over. And then something else comes along. It’s not about me. It’s the way things are. It’s OK.

 

26 Jul
2012
Posted in: Groups, Practice
By    Comments Off on The Sweet Taste of Dhamma

The Sweet Taste of Dhamma

We had a full house last night at the Hi-Pointe Sitting Group, with several new people in attendance, as well as many familiar friends. It was a lovely group in a beautiful space….what could be sweeter!

Here is the reading I used to end the sitting. It’s from Dhamma Everywhere, which is a collection of teachings by U Tejaniya.

Naturally, if there are wholesome mental states, there will be peace. It is important that the meditating mind is a wholesome mind or working towards wholesomeness. 

“Sati (mindfulness), samadhi (collectedness), viriya (energy), saddha (confidence) and panna (wisdom) are all wholesome. Out of all the wholesome actions we can do (dana/generosity, sila/ethical living, samadhi/collectedness, and panna/wisdom), cultivating wholesome mental qualities through developing insight/wisdom (vipassana bhavana) is the highest one.

Most people in the world like to enjoy the taste of good feelings or sensations. It is said that among all the tastes, the best taste is the taste of Dhamma.

“The taste of Dhamma is not just a feeling of peace–it is the supreme taste of knowing and understanding.” 

Hi-Pointe Sitting Group will now be meeting every Wednesday from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Blue Lotus Dharma Center (located just behind the Hi-Pointe Theatre). Join us!

(Thanks to Scott for the image of the alter above)

 

25 Jul
2012
Posted in: Groups, Practice
By    Comments Off on Take It Easy

Take It Easy

At the Hi-Pointe Sitting Group tonight, I plan to offer U Tejaniya‘s instructions for Insight Meditation, which is a lovely, relaxed, open-hearted style of practice. Here are the kinds of directions he gives:

“Meditation is acknowledging and observing whatever happens — whether pleasant or unpleasant — in a relaxed way.”

When meditating, both the mind and the body should be comfortable.”

“If the mind and body are getting tired, something is wrong with the way you are practicing, and it is time to check the way you are meditating.”

“Don’t focus too hard, don’t control. Neither force nor restrict yourself.”

“Don’t try to create anything, and don’t reject what is happening. Just be aware.”

“Trying to create something is greed. Rejecting what is happening is aversion. Not knowing if something is happening or has stopped happening is delusion.”

You are not trying to make things turn out the way you want them to happen. You are trying to know what is happening as it is.” 

Interested? Join us at Blue Lotus Dharma Center, 1002 Hi-Pointe Place, 63117. (Directly behind the Hi-Pointe Theatre.) We sit every Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. For more information, contact Jan.

(I have no idea who to credit for this image. It’s on a deck of cards I’ve had in my desk for ages.)

 

24 Jul
2012
Posted in: Books, Practice
By    1 Comment

Face It

I thought today might be a good day to share one of my favorite passages from Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante Gunaratana. It’s from Chapter 7, “What To Do With Your Mind.”

“Somewhere in this [meditation] process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy.

“Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and helpless.

“No problem.

“You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way, and you just never noticed. You are also no crazier than everybody else around you.

“The only real difference is that you have confronted the situation; they have not. So they still feel relatively comfortable.

“Ignorance may be bliss, but it does not lead to liberation. So don’t let this realization unsettle you. It is a milestone actually, a sign of real progress. The very fact that you have looked at the problem straight in the eye means that you are on your way up and out of it.”

 

23 Jul
2012
Posted in: Books, Groups
By    Comments Off on Unwanted Change

Unwanted Change

The Monday night “Dancing with Life” KM group meets again tonight and our “assignment,” as always, is to bring a passage from the book that we’d like to discuss. The one I’m bringing starts on page 47:

“The truth of the [inevitable stress] of change goes against the ethos of modern Western culture, which promotes an unrealistic expectation that you can manage your life to be secure against unwanted change.

“The false promise that you can maintain control creates an expectation that is a cause of suffering in itself, for you are bound to fail in this endeavor. Of course, you should act wisely as possible to manage change in your life–to do otherwise would be folly.

“But the difference lies in your attitude and expectations. Can you be at ease with its unpredictable, uncontrollable nature?” 

I’m working on it.

(image from “Gorey Creatures“)

19 Jul
2012
Posted in: Groups
By    Comments Off on Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek

I’m getting very excited about the new Hi-Pointe Sitting Group I’ll be leading, beginning next Wednesday, July 25 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Blue Lotus Dharma Center, located directly behind the Hi-Pointe Theatre. Scott Newell, Cindy Brinkop and I picked up the keys last night and I took a few pictures of the space we’ll be sitting in. Check it out:

This is the sanctuary where we’ll be sitting from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. There is also a bright, airy tea room where we will move to from 8:00 to 8:30 pm for a little social time and casual conversation. (I forgot to take photos of the tea room. Sorry. But come on Wednesday and see it for yourself!)

There are regular chairs available for sitting, as well as a variety of cushions in various sizes and shapes. And of course, you are welcome to bring your own, if you’d like.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have been offered this site. Not only is it a lovely, sacred and beautifully cared-for space, but it’s just blocks from my house!

 

Please note: the center is on the second floor of the building and there are no elevators, so for those who have difficulty with stairs, it might not be an ideal location. Also, incense is regularly used in the space, so it might not be a good place for those who are sensitive to fragrances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is what the building looks like from the outside. Directions to the center can be found here. For those familiar with the neighborhood, turn onto Ethel from McCausland, go around behind the “dead Del Taco,” then about half a block up the street and the parking lot will be on your right.

The door to the center is under the cedar overhang. There will be a DharmaTown Hi-Pointe Sitting Group sign on the door, which will be unlocked from about 6:40 pm. Just go on in and head up the stairs. There will be a place to take off your shoes upstairs. (There is also a restroom.)

For more information, contact Jan Rosamond. Hope to see you there!

 

 

18 Jul
2012
Posted in: Books, Practice
By    Comments Off on Ah-Ha!

Ah-Ha!

I keep going back to the book we got at the last DPP retreat–Dhamma Everywhere, by U Tejaniya. The first time I picked it up, I just sort of breezed through it. It seemed kind of basic, even simplistic.

But a few lines got stuck in my mind. For example:
“Why is there so much focusing? It could be that you want a certain experience or you dislike what is happening…Is it meditation when we crave for what seems good or have an aversion to what seems bad?”

And: “Don’t try to find fault with the thinking mind–you are not trying to stop thinking. Instead, you work to recognize thinking when there is thinking.”

I guess you could say a little light came on in my mind, because now I really appreciate the simplicity–and wisdom–of his words.

Especially: “We practice because we want to understand. We wait, observe, and study what is happening in the mind and body so that we can understand their natures.

We are not intentionally trying to make the mind calm or trying to have ‘good sittings.’ We meditate to see what is happening as it is and to have the right attitude regarding what is happening, [that] it is nature and nothing personal…

“As soon as there is a thought that this experience or object is good, there is craving for it. When we see what is right as what is right, what is there as what is there, then there is escape from craving…..

“We are meditating to be free of craving and clinging.”  

(Dhamma Everywhere is published in Malaysia by Auspicious Affinity, for free distribution. You can download a pdf here.)

(image from “A Whole World,” by Louchard and Couprie)