Browsing Category "Practice"
8 Aug
2012
Posted in: Books, Practice
By    Comments Off on Receiving with Generosity

Receiving with Generosity

The latest issue of Spirit Rock News includes an excerpt from Phillip Moffitt‘s terrific new book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life.

The excerpt is about generosity, which “does not mean self-sacrifice or reckless giving everything away. Such acts,” Phillip writes, “are actually grandiosity disguised as generosity.”

I love that he talks about generosity in such, well….generous terms. He says, “In daily life, generosity means receiving each moment with a generous attitude and meeting it with patience.”

“When interacting with friends or strangers, you give them your full attention as you listen to their words, and you interpret their actions with sympathy, even when they are clumsy.

“You cultivate magnanimous thoughts that allow you to see others in their best light and to interpret their actions as well-meaning until proven otherwise.

“Being generous in your thoughts doesn’t mean that you’re naive or that you permit a wrong action to go uncorrected. Rather, it means that you treat every one as innately worthy of your respect and care.”

What a beautiful way to live.

(image from “Offerings,” by Danielle and Olivier Follmi)

Note: Dharma Town Times got hit last night with a major spam attack, so I’ve temporarily closed the comments section. You can always send a comment directly to me here.

7 Aug
2012
Posted in: Practice
By    Comments Off on Engaged

Engaged

The topic for this month’s DPP homework is Socially Engaged Buddhism. There’s a lot of reading this month, which I expect I will be posting about later on, but one of the reflections and related practice exercises has already captured my attention.

The question is: How do I work with strong emotions…such as anger, despair, sadness, etc…..that arise about the state of the world?

The practice is: When you notice yourself with a fixed opponent or “enemy”….someone you know or a public figure….investigate how you think, feel, and speak about this person, and notice if you are developing a strongly polarized position in relationship to him/her.

Hmmmm.

 

 

 

 

(image from Phaidon Portraits)

6 Aug
2012
Posted in: Books, Groups, Practice
By    Comments Off on “Dancing” Tonight

“Dancing” Tonight

Tonight the Monday night “Dancing” KM Group meets for our on-going discussion of “Dancing with Life,” by Phillip Moffitt. So far, we’ve read to the end of Chapter 6, “The Call to Know That You Know.” As always, we bring a sentence, phrase or paragraph from the current reading to discuss with the group.

I’ve chosen a couple of snippets from various paragraphs on page 61:

“….beginner’s mind requires you to forsake your desires and ideas about what you will accomplish.”

The Buddha cautioned: ‘The future is always other than you imagined it.'”

Look to those far lofty peaks of enlightenment, heaven, or paradise for inspiration, but live in the now. For in this moment, you are either creating suffering for yourself and others, or you are not.”

(I hope I am not.)

 

 

 

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

3 Aug
2012
Posted in: Practice
By    Comments Off on 7 Things on a String

7 Things on a String

I had such a good time finding 10 Things to represent the 10 Perfections (which I wrote about here), that I decided to do something similar for the 7 Factors of Awakening.

This time I chose things I could string. I started with a little brass bell for mindfulness (sati), then bone, glass and clay beads for investigation (dhamma-vicaya), energy (viriya), joy (piti), and tranquility (passaddhi), a polished jade circle for concentration (samadhi), and a little silver heart for equanimity (upekkha).

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them now. The string is a little too heavy to wear as a bracelet, but I like having it on my desk and picking it up every now and then. It makes a nice little jingling sound that I find…well….pleasant.

I also like that it reminds me of what U Tejaniya says about the 7 Factors: “The first three factors — mindfulness, investigation and energy — are causes. The latter four — joy, tranquility, concentration and equanimity — are effects. We need to cultivate the causes, because these are what we can work on. We don’t need to do anything for the effects. We can’t create them, nor can be make them happen.”

2 Aug
2012
Posted in: Books, Practice
By    Comments Off on Dharma Perfume

Dharma Perfume

Last night at the Hi-Pointe Sitting Group, I closed the sit by reading a few verses from The Dhammapada. I chose Gil Fronsdal‘s translation, not only because I think the language is clear and beautiful, but also because the book includes this introduction, written by Jack Kornfield:

“…These teachings in the Dhammapada are as true now as the moment they were offered from the Buddha’s own lips. One page, one verse alone, has the power to change your life.

“Do not merely read these words but take them in slowly, savor them. Let them touch your heart’s deepest wisdom. Let your understanding grow. Seeing what is true, put these words into practice. Then, as the text says, let the fragrance of your virtue spread farther than the smell of rosebay and jasmine, farther than even the winds can blow.

“Let the practice release your heart from fear. Let the quieting of your mind and the clear seeing of the truth release you from confusion and clinging.”

Here are the verses we savored last night:

All experience is preceded by mind,
Let by mind,

Made by mind.
Speak or act with a corrupted mind,
And suffering follows
As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

“All experience is precede by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never-departing shadow.” 

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
By    Comments Off on 10 Things

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.)