Articles by " Jan"
16 Dec
2019
Posted in: Books
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Having Given Words to Everything…

I’ve just finished reading Tim Parks’ fascinating new book, Out of My Head: On the Trail of Consciousness, which I actually loved, although I think he goes way off the deep end pushing a theory of consciousness “in which experience is made possible by the meeting of a perceptive system and the world, but is actually located at the object perceived, identical with it even; in short, experience is the same thing as the object.”

But I love what he has to say about the problem of language:
“In particular, having given words to everything we could see and touch — birds and beasts, rocks and trees, nuts and bolts — and then to everything we experience as emotion — fear, hope, happiness, grief — we had also got into the habit of inventing words for things we’d never seen or even felt, but liked to believe existed anyway: angels, demons, fairies, God.

“‘Self’ was one of these invented words, I suggested, an entity no one had ever really witnessed or grasped; so were ‘identity,’ ‘personality,’ ‘character,’ ‘soul’ — the more words you have, the more believable the chimera becomes — thus creating the illusion that we, the modern individual, existed in some way apart from the physical world, not subject to the constant change to which the phenomena around us are subject, but rather projecting ourselves through time on a stream of words.

“Identity, in short, was a story we told ourselves; language and words were in strict alliance with an internist, Cartesian view of reality: experience was all in our heads where we talked to ourselves, indeed talked ourselves into existence.”

13 Dec
2019
Posted in: Practice
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We Become Attuned

Matthew Brensilver also writes:
“The more attuned we are to our hearts, the clearer our ethical behavior becomes.

“So, the more we actually become embodied, start to feel our body fully, to feel our heart, the clearer ethical conduct becomes. It’s like we become attuned to our own system in such a way that we begin to feel that doing good feels good.

“And the kind of karmic loop, when we act out of alignment with our own deepest integrity, that feedback loop gets shorter and shorter, so we really feel it. And this clarity breeds more careful, non-harming behavior.”

***

Text quoted: The Buddha’s Path: Sila, Samadhi, Panna, by Matthew Brensilver, PhD, Spirit Rock Teachers Council Member; published in the Jan-May 2020 issue of Spirit Rock News

Photo credit: Liberty Park Music

11 Dec
2019
Posted in: Practice
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The Year of Opening to Mystery

Long-time DharmaTown readers may remember that a couple of years ago, after hearing Phillip Moffitt’s New Year talk about “Making This the Year of….”, I decided to try out the practice he was suggesting by making 2018: The Year of Listening. Which turned out to be such a revelation that I decided to try it again by making 2019: The Year of Getting to Know Goodwill. During which I discovered a virtual sea of goodwill that I have been swimming in, all my life, without recognizing it. (That we’ve ALL been swimming in, actually. It’s everywhere. Nothing happens without it. That sounds dubious, I know, because goodwill’s not the only thing we’re swimming in. But give it a year and see for yourself!)

So now this year: After all that listening and getting-to-know-ing, I seem to be moving into a whole new awareness of and openness to — the mysteries of this life. The mystery of being alive, for example. Of being conscious. And embodied. Of having a mind that is sometimes so dismissive of others, so opinionated, and so stuck on itself, but also, somehow, underneath that, also full of love, and beauty, and selflessness.

It’s such a mystery.

I love what Matthew Brensilver writes in the latest Spirit Rock News,
“To be mindful of goodness brings love, and to be mindful of pain brings love. That is something like a miracle, this weird asymmetry, that to attend to goodness brings love, and to attend to suffering also brings love. That’s not something we should take on faith. But this [the Buddha’s path] is the laboratory…

“The steadier and more unified the mind gets, the deeper the love can be. Sometimes the mind gathers so singularly around an object — the breath, a metta phrase, the body, sound, sight, looking into the eyes of another person — the mind just becomes unified. And all the static, fragmentation, and division collapses. And in that mind state, it’s like a drop of love reaches everywhere.

“The mind is said to be boundless. That’s not making a statement about the nature of mind, but the actual experience is that in this moment there is love without end, without discrimination, without preference…”

This is just one of the mysteries to which I find myself opening.

***

Text quoted: The Buddha’s Path: Sila, Samadhi, Panna, by Matthew Brensilver, PhD, Spirit Rock Teachers Council Member; published in the Jan-May 2020 issue of Spirit Rock News

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

9 Dec
2019
Posted in: Generosity, Practice
By    Comments Off on Freely Offered

Freely Offered

While I was in California, I was talking with Phillip about my practice of posting on this Dharmatown website, and he asked me if I use a royalty-free site for the images. I told him no, that I just google around until I find something that fits. He didn’t say anything and so I went on talking about other things.

But the question has stayed with me. Truth is, I haven’t been particularly careful about checking whether or not the images I use are — in the strictest sense — freely offered. (As in: I undertake the precept of not taking that which is not freely offered.) I’ve always figured that if it’s already on the web, and it doesn’t have an obvious copyright mark, then it’s OK for me to use — since I’m not claiming ownership or making a profit from it or anything like that.

But now that doesn’t feel quite right.

So I’ve decided to take more responsibility for the images/texts I use. You may have noticed that since I’ve come back from that trip, I’ve either used images/texts that belong to me personally or I’ve credited the source of those images/texts and provided a link.

And as a way to make amends for my previous lack of attention, I’ve decided to try to use more images that I, personally, create — the drawing of this teapot, for example — and, explicitly, to offer them freely.

***

Idam me silam maggaphalananassa paccayo hotu.
(May my ethical conduct lead to the highest fruits of liberation for myself and for all beings.)

6 Dec
2019
Posted in: Teachers
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Love, Mirabai.

While I was away, Mirabai sent me this link to a video recording of the “Just Like Me” meditation she led for 2,000 people (online) in celebration of World Kindness Day, which apparently was Nov 13th. (Who knew!)

And check out this photo from the retreat in Maui she’s leading right now with Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Trudy Goodman, and Krishna Das.

Oh, and what about the t-shirt she’s wearing! Is that great or what!!!

***

(Mirabai’s meditation begins at the 33:32 point of the recording; her photo can be found on Facebook; the t-shirt is from Black Lotus Rising.)

5 Dec
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Solids are not Solid

Solids are not Solid

The Gaps
by Frances Leviston,
courtesy of Pome

And then they revealed that solids were not solid
That a wall was not solid
That it consisted of molecules fixed and vibrating
Some distance apart, as did the flesh

That solidity was really the likelihood
Of stuff not falling
Between two chairs, down the gaps

And that walking through the wall was not impossible
That it could be like
Slipping between pine trunks into a forest
Which had looked from the road impermeable
But was where something lived

And that one could peer back from the gloom towards the light
A different creature
With tender eyes, with an ear for water.

***

image credit: My Heart is Dancing into the Universe, by Yayoi Kusama, published in The Strand Magazine, 2018/10/15

4 Dec
2019
Posted in: Groups
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Introducing: Tuesday Night Insight Group!

Beginning January 7, Jan Rosamond will lead a new, weekly meditation group — Tuesday Night Insight — which will offer teachings from the Early Buddhist (Theravada) tradition, practice instructions, silent meditation, and group discussion. Both new and experienced students are welcome.

The group meets on a “dana” (generosity) basis. There is no fee and no need to register in advance. Chairs are provided, but if you prefer a cushion, please bring your own.

Where: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman (at Kingshighway), 63108. Free parking in the church lot.
When: Tuesdays, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Note: The front door will be locked. If you are running late, please text 314-210-8820 BEFORE 7 pm so we can make sure someone will be in the lobby to let you in.

***

Jan Rosamond has competed four years of formal training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she is certified as a Community Dharma Leader.

Jan has practiced in the Early Buddhist (Theravada) tradition for more than 20 years with a variety of teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg. She’s sat more than 500 nights of silent retreat including several 1- and 2-month intensive meditation retreats in the U.S., South Africa, and Burma (Myanmar). Her mentoring teacher is Phillip Moffitt.

***

For more information, contact Jan by email here or text 314-210-8820.

2 Dec
2019
Posted in: Practice
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Just Protect It from the Breeze

If you grasp a leaf on a tree and try your hardest to hold it still, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never succeed. There will always be some vibration caused by slight tremors in your muscles. However, if you don’t touch the leaf and just protect it from the breeze, the leaf comes to a natural state of stillness. Ajahn Brahm

***

I didn’t want to fly on the day before Thanksgiving, so I stayed over at this lovely AirBnB — which has a private deck — and held my own little after-retreat retreat!

1 Dec
2019
Posted in: Nine Bodies
By    Comments Off on For Myself and for the World

For Myself and for the World

Just a quick post to say that I’m back (and totally psyched!!!) from a very deep (and very sweet) retreat kicking off the start of a year-long Teacher Training in the Nine Bodies — explorations in the nature of consciousness — taught by Phillip Moffitt.

This is a photo of our group (except for one of us who had to catch an early flight). Our training will continue throughout the year, including individual meetings with Phillip during the month-long retreat at Spirit Rock in March.

If I look a little dazed in this photo (that’s me with the pink hair), it’s because I’m still reeling from the incredible good fortune of having been invited to be a part of this group.

I won’t let you down, Phillip.

May my efforts be for the welfare of myself, for others, for both, and for the whole world.

11 Nov
2019
Posted in: Books, Retreats, Travel
By    Comments Off on Confess What You Are Smuggling

Confess What You Are Smuggling

I leave tomorrow morning for the next Advanced Practitioners Program retreat at Spirit Rock followed by the first Nine Bodies Teacher Training retreat. I return on Thanksgiving Day, so most likely I won’t post again until December.

In my absence, I leave you with this excerpt from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, which is my all-time favorite guidebook for those about to travel:

“…So then, yours is truly a journey through memory!” The Great Khan, his ears always sharp, sat up in his hammock every time he caught a sigh in Marco’s speech. “It was to slough off a burden of nostalgia that you went so far away!” he exclaimed, or else: “You return from your voyages with a cargo of regrets!” And he added, sarcastically: “Meager purchases, to tell the truth, for a merchant of the Serenissima!”

This was the target of all Kublai’s questions about the past and the future. For an hour he had been toying with it, like a cat with a mouse, and finally he had Marco with his back to the wall, attacking him, putting a knee on his chest, seizing him by the beard: “This is what I wanted to hear from you: you confess what you are smuggling: moods, stages of grace, elegies!”

These words and actions were perhaps only imagined, as the two, silent and motionless, watched the smoke rise slowly from their pipes. The cloud dissolved at times in a wisp of wind, or else remained suspended in mid-air; and the answer was in that cloud. As the puff carried the smoke away, Marco thought of the mists that clouded the expanse of the sea and the mountain ranges and, when dispelled, leave the air dry and diaphanous, revealing distant cities. It was beyond that screen of fickle humors that his gaze wished to arrive: the form of things can be discerned better at a distance.

Or else the cloud hovered, having barely left the lips, dense and slow, and suggested another vision: the exhalations that hang over the roofs of the metropolises, the opaque smoke that is scattered, the hood of miasmata that weights over the bituminous streets. Not the labile mists of memory nor the the dry transparence, but the charring of burned lives that forms a scab on the city, the sponge swollen with vital matter that no longer floats, the jam of past, present, future that blocks existences calcified in the illusion of movement: this is what you would find at the end of your journey.