Articles by " Jan"
15 Sep
2017
Posted in: Retreats
By    Comments Off on Spring is Coming in November

Spring is Coming in November

Spring Washam, who teaches at Spirit Rock (and lots of other fabulous places) will be coming to St. Louis to lead a non-residential retreat November 10-12. I sat a retreat with Spring several years ago when she taught with Jack Kornfield in Yucca Valley and she was AWESOME.

Do not miss this opportunity!

The retreat will be held at the Forest Park Visitor Center staring on Friday night with a talk you can attend for just $5! It then continues all-day Saturday and ends Sunday morning. The theme of the retreat is: Love is the Answer and it will focus on Metta meditation practice.

You can come for Friday night only or just for Saturday-and-Sunday, or for both Friday night and Saturday-and-Sunday. The full weekend cost is $60. Scholarships are available. Click here for more information or to register.   

***

The Buddha once said, “We can look the whole world over and find no one more deserving of our love and kindness than ourselves.”

Metta practice protects the mind from falling into habitual patterns of reactivity that undermine our sincerest intentions to be happy. Also referred to as a mind liberating practice, it can awaken powerful healing energies that brighten and lift the mind to increasing levels of joy and clarity. Our greatest and most challenging task on the spiritual path is to learn to love and accept ourselves in every moment. Self-hatred, inner aggression and self-criticism are rooted in a mind that is confused and suffering. When we really love and honor ourselves there are no more questions.

This is an excellent weekend retreat for all those who feel energetically stuck in the past and are unable to break free and move forward. In this retreat we will focus on Metta practice, self-compassion and forgiveness in order to let go. 

***

The venue and cost structure of this retreat is an experiment for Mid America Dharma. We’re trying to reach a broader, more diverse audience and especially hoping to connect with folks who are new to meditation or who’ve never been on a retreat before. So bring your friends!

I’ll be there. I hope you will too.

14 Sep
2017
Posted in: Books
By    Comments Off on Looking for What You Already Have

Looking for What You Already Have

“When you seek love from another in your daily life or seek someone that will generate feelings of love within you, you are looking for what you already have.

“All love is already within you in its giving and receiving forms as pure love without attachment or expectation, but you have to discover its presence before you can rest your mind in its presence.

You are love, so when you feel love for another, you are experiencing this innate presence of love encountering itself through you and the other person.

“Likewise, when you have love for another, you are simply remembering what you always were and always will be, love itself.”

— from Awakening through the Nine Bodies, by Phillip Moffitt

13 Sep
2017
Posted in: Books, Webcasts
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Spirit Rock Live Webcast: Sept 17

This coming Sunday, Sept 17, Spirit Rock will webcast (live) an evening with Daniel Goleman from 9:00 to 11:00 pm St. Louis time (7:00 to 9:00 pm Pacific time). Cost begins at $15. Registration is required. Click here for more information.

***
The claims for the benefits of vipassana and mindfulness range from scientifically sound to pure hype. At this event, Daniel Goleman answers questions about what science actually has found, what’s not known, and what’s simply not true.

His new book with neuroscientist Richard Davidson, Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body sifts through the more than 6000 peer-reviewed articles on meditation to pinpoint the strongest one percent.

The news here for long-term vipassana meditators is compelling.

***

Check it out!!!

12 Sep
2017
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on I Wish You…

I Wish You…

Be a Circle
by Mark Nepo

I wish you the ability to breathe
after pain, to begin again, though
nothing else seems possible.

I wish you resilience: to part like
the ocean and accept like the sky.

I wish you survival: to take in life
like a trapped miner finding an
airhole and praising it as God.

I wish you courage: to ask of
everything you meet, “What
bridge are we?”

I wish that the kindness-that-you-
are can brighten your way,
like orange leaves falling
about the face of a doe.

I wish you endless journey
that seldom appears
as we imagine.

I wish you curiosity: to make
a boat of wonder and an
oar of gratitude.

11 Sep
2017
Posted in: Social Justice
By    Comments Off on No Natural Differences

No Natural Differences

Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to condemn the campaign of atrocities — which the UN now classifies as “ethnic cleansing” — being carried out against the Rohingya (Muslim minority) by the government of her country, Myanmar (a Buddhist country). This is unconscionable.

As a Buddhist, I am ashamed.

As a human, I am sickened.

So for today, let me just post the letter Desmond Tutu sent to his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner:

***

My dear Aung San Suu Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness.

God bless you.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

8 Sep
2017
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on The Trouble with Tribes

The Trouble with Tribes

The Change
by Tony Hoagland

The season turned like the page of a glossy fashion magazine.
In the park the daffodils came up
and in the parking lot, the new car models were on parade.

Sometimes I think that nothing really changes–

The young girls show the latest crop of tummies,
and the new president proves that he’s a dummy.

But remember the tennis match we watched that year?
Right before our eyes

some tough little European blonde
pitted against that big black girl from Alabama,
cornrowed hair and Zulu bangles on her arms,
some outrageous name like Vondella Aphrodite–

We were just walking past the lounge
and got sucked in by the screen above the bar,
and pretty soon
we started to care about who won,

putting ourselves into each whacked return
as the volleys went back and forth and back
like some contest between
the old world and the new,

and you loved her complicated hair
and her to-hell-with-everybody stare,
and I,
I couldn’t help wanting
the white girl to come out on top,

because she was one of my kind, my tribe,
with her pale eyes and thin lips

and because the black girl was so big
and so black,
so unintimidated,

hitting the ball like she was driving the Emancipation Proclamation
down Abraham Lincoln’s throat,
like she wasn’t asking anyone’s permission.

There are moments when history
passes you so close
you can smell its breath,
you can reach your hand out
and touch it on its flank,

and I don’t watch all that much Masterpiece Theatre,
but I could feel the end of an era there

in front of those bleachers full of people
in their Sunday tennis-watching clothes

as that black girl wore down her opponent
then kicked her ass good
then thumped her once more for good measure

and stood up on the red clay court
holding her racket over her head like a guitar.

And the little pink judge
had to climb up on a box
to put the ribbon on her neck,

still managing to smile into the camera flash,
even though everything was changing

and in fact, everything had already changed–

Poof, remember? It was the twentieth century almost gone,
we were there,

and when we went to put it back where it belonged,
it was past us
and we were changed.

***

That’s right, Tony. Change happened — IS happening. And it’s GOOD. May you and your tribe be able to see that at last.

7 Sep
2017
Posted in: Books, Racism
By    Comments Off on But Not All of Us

But Not All of Us

Three of my CDL buddies and I are continuing our “Waking Up to Whiteness” study group by assigning ourselves books to read (ones that we most likely would never have read in the past) and then talking about them together once a month. The book we’re reading now is Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life, by David Billings.

Here’s a passage that has really stayed with me:

The dominant culture in the US has always lifted up the nation’s ‘rugged individualism’ as key to understanding ourselves as a people.

But not all of us have been allowed to be individuals. People of color have always been lumped together as part of a group even when the grouping made no sense (Hispanic), was ahistorical (American Indians), or culturally insulting (Asian).

Only white people are allowed to be individuals, first and foremost.

6 Sep
2017
Posted in: Books
By    Comments Off on Both the Motivation and the Destination

Both the Motivation and the Destination

Yesterday I started reading Phillip Moffitt’s new book, Awakening through the Nine Bodies: Explorations in Consciousness for Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Practitioners.

This is not a beginner’s book.

In the Introduction Phillip writes: “Inevitably, if students practice meditation with intensity, altered mind states will arise for most of them. These mind states can be extremely pleasant and involve an altered sense of perceptions, or a dazzling sense of well-being or clarity of mind that is so enticing that students obsess about wanting to have more of such an experience. It is easy for these states to distract them from the true purpose of meditation, which is to liberate the mind from greed, hatred, and delusion.”

While I am very much excited about the book’s focus on extraordinary mind states, the passage that really resonates with my deepest experience is this:

“What I have found thus far in my own journey is that love (not romantic, self-referential love, but rather the mysterious, interdependent oneness that is beyond the ego) is both the motivator for the journey and its final destination.”

I can’t wait to read more.

5 Sep
2017
Posted in: Art, Classes
By    Comments Off on Buddha Comes to Dogtown

Buddha Comes to Dogtown

It’s a long story, but just let me say: I am thrilled to announce that this fabulous Buddha statue, which used to reside at MacroSun (on Washington Avenue), has now come to live at my house (in Dogtown). I am SO HAPPY. And now that I’ve got such an auspicious space to meet, I’m going to starting working on organizing a new dharma discussion and study group! Stay tuned.

 

1 Sep
2017
Posted in: Books, Teachers
By    Comments Off on If I’m Going to Die…

If I’m Going to Die…

“If I’m going to die, the best way to prepare is to quiet my mind & open my heart. If I’m going to live, the best way is to quiet my mind & open my heart.” 

News from Mirabai Bush, my beloved dharma teacher, mentor, and deep dear friend:
She and Ram Dass have just finished writing their second book together, this one on love and dying, to be published by Sounds True. (Their first book was Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service, written in 1991.) No release date announced just yet. Stay tuned!