Articles by " Jan"
17 Aug
Posted in: Retreats, Teachers
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Introducing: Retreat in a Box

On Sunday, October 11, Dharma Town will host a day-long video-recorded retreat led by Jack Kornfield. Jack led this Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation retreat at Spirit Rock in April of 2014, where it was also offered as a live webcast. The recording of the webcast was made available to Spirit Rock monthly donors (of which I am one).

I checked with Spirit Rock and they said it would be OK for me to invite a group of people to “attend” the recorded retreat, which includes dharma talks, instruction, guided and silent sitting meditation, walking meditation with instructions, and a Q&A session — all given by Jack Kornfield.

So….Spirit Rock RETREAT-IN-A-BOX was born!

This event is FREE and will be held at the  home of one of our sangha members. Space is limited, so reservations are required. If you are interested and would like more information, please email Jan here.

If all goes well, we plan to offer a retreat like this every quarter. The next one is schedule for Sunday, January, 17, 2016. Future topics and teachers are:
No Self in the Brain, led by Rick Hanson
Buddhist Psychology, oled by Jack Kornfield
Equanimity, led by Sharon Salzberg

Stay tuned!


14 Aug
Posted in: Teachers
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Returning the Treasure

I just got an email from Jack Kornfield (not from him personally….from his website), in which he talks about leading Western-style meditation retreats in Singapore and China!

Look closely at the little table in front of the big Buddha in this photo. That’s Jack with his partner-and-fellow-Dharma-teacher, Trudy Goodman, teaching in Singapore’s largest temple. (Quite a backdrop!)

I’ll let Jack tell you all about it. Click here to read his account.

13 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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Sometimes It’s Like This

Quite a lot of the time when I meditate, it just feels “normal” — I’m sitting and breathing and then daydreaming then I notice that I’m daydreaming and then I go back to just sitting and breathing…and then it all happens again, over and over and over again. But sometimes it’s not like that. Sometimes it’s very, very different.

Exactly how it is…is hard to describe.

So for today’s post, I offer this poem by Jane Hirshfield (a Buddhist practitioner). I don’t know for sure, but it seems clear to me that the poem is about what it feels like, sometimes, when you meditate.

Many-Roofed Building in Moonlight

I found myself
suddenly voluminous,
a many-roofed building in moonlight.

Thought traversed
me as simply as moths might.
Feelings traversed me as fish.

I heard myself thinking,
It isn’t the piano, it isn’t the ears.

Then heard, too soon, the ordinary furnace,
the usual footsteps above me.

Washed my face again with hot water,
as I did when I was a child.

12 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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So Great

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless. 

— W. B. Yeats, from Vacillation

11 Aug
Posted in: Poems, Teachers
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Hugely Wildly Happy

I booked my tickets yesterday for the trip to Garrison, NY, for the next CDL workshop, after which I will drive to Massachusetts to spend Saturday/Sunday with Mirabai Bush (my first Dharma teacher and the one whose whole-wide-world love make me hugely, wildly, happy.)

So for today, I will post this poem by the legendary Indian poet, who inspired Mirabai to take on her name.

The earth looked at Him and began to dance.
Mira knows why, for her soul too
is in love.

If you cannot picture God
in a way that always
strengthens you,

You need to read
more of my

–Mirabai, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

10 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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Reach for the Latch

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even rapture, the outer stone?

— from Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches, by Mary Oliver

7 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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Before the Past is Erased

My first grand-nephew is expected to come into this world sometime later this month. His name will be Ethan. His parents are my niece and her husband, and certainly, he was conceived in the usual way. But beyond that, what can we really know about who he is or where he has come from?

For today, I am drawn to this from The Storyby Michael Ondaatje:

For his first forty days a child
is given dreams of previous lives.
Journeys, winding paths,
a hundred small lessons
and then the past is erased.

Some are born screaming,
some full of introspective wandering
into the past–that bus ride in winter,
the sudden arrival within
a new city in the dark.
And those departures from family bonds
leaving what was lost and needed.
So the child’s face is a lake
of fast moving clouds and emotions.

A last chance for the clear history of the self.
All our mothers and grandparents here,
our dismantled childhoods
in the buildings of the past.

Some great forty-day daydream
before we bury the maps. 

6 Aug
Posted in: Books, Practice
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Thinking About Not Thinking

I think I’m going to use a reading from Gil Fronsdal for the Sunday Sangha discussion I’ll be leading this coming weekend. It’s from the section on “Mindfulness of Thoughts,” in his excellent little book, The Issue at Hand: Essays on Buddhist Mindfulness Practice, which is available as a free pdf here.

Sometimes people think the point of mediation is to stop thinking–to have a silent mind. This does happen occasionally, but it is not necessarily the point of meditation. Thoughts are an important part of life, and mindfulness practice is not supposed to be a struggle against them. 

“We can benefit more by being friends with our thoughts than by regarding them as unfortunate distractions. In mindfulness, we are not stopping thoughts as much as overcoming any preoccupation we have with them.

“However, mindfulness is not thinking about things, either. It is a non-discursive observation of our life in all its aspects. In those moments when thinking predominated, mindfulness is the clear and silent awareness that we are thinking.

“A piece of advice I found helpful and relaxing was when someone said, ‘For the purpose of meditation, nothing is particularly worth thinking about.’

“Thoughts can come and go as they wish, and the meditator does not need to become involved with them. We are not interested in engaging in the content of our thoughts. Mindfulness of thinking is simply recognizing that we are thinking.” 

5 Aug
Posted in: Suttas
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In the Mud but Not Muddy

“The Dharma of the Buddha does not require a person to go into homelessness or to resign from the world, unless he or she feels called upon to do so; but the Dharma of the Buddha requires every person to free themselves from the illusion of self, to cleanse one’s heart, to give up one’s thirst for power, and lead a life of righteousness.

“And whatever people do, whether they remain in the world as artisans, merchants, or officers of the king, or retire from the world and devote themselves to a life of religious meditation, let them put their whole heart into their task; let them be diligent and energetic. 

“And if, like the lotus flower, which grows out of muddy water but remains untouched by the mud, they engage in life without cherishing envy or hatred, and if they live in the world not a life of self but a life of truth, then surely joy, peace, and bliss will dwell in their minds.”

— adapted from the Buddhacarita, translated by Samuel Beal

4 Aug
Posted in: Retreats
By    Comments Off on Go For It!

Go For It!

If you are at all interested in going on retreat, and are available for either a weekend or a full 8 days beginning Sept 5….THIS IS THE RETREAT FOR YOU.

It will be held in the Kansas City area (only 4 hours from St. Louis) and will be led by Spirit Rock/IMS teacher, Shaila Catherine (who specializes in deep concentration practices), and KC Dharma Leader, Phillip Jones (president of Mid-American Dharma).

DON’T LET FINANCES STAND IN YOUR WAY. Reduced Rates starting at $250 are now available, plus additional financial assistance, if needed.

Please help support our efforts to bring nationally recognized teachers to the midwest by attending this retreat!

Click here to learn more and to register. REGISTRATION ENDS AUG. 22.