Browsing Category "Practice"
2 Aug
2012
Posted in: Books, Practice
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.”

 

18 Jul
2012
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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) 

16 Jul
2012
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Post It!

The Dedicated Practitioner homework topic for this month is Daily Life Practice and Creativity, which as you might guess, I am totally loving. The homework always includes weekly readings, practices and reflections…and this month, it included this very cool tip:

“We all have different circumstances in our lives, and we can bring creativity to the process of finding practices that support us. For example, in recognizing that it is hard to remember to be mindful, [one of the teachers] decided to put notes around the house to provide a reminder about qualities to cultivate: generosity on the door, wisdom on the refrigerator, equanimity on the computer.”

What a great idea!

 

 

12 Jul
2012
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How Do You Know?

I’ve been listening to U Tejaniya answer questions from students on retreat at IMS (available on Dharma Seed here) and reading his most recent book, “Dhamma Everywhere” (available as a free pdf here), and I’m very intrigued by his teachings…which are light, relaxed and very naturalistic.

He says, “…Do you know that you have a mind? How do you know that you have a mind? You can see or observe the mind through its workings/functions, e.g. knowing, thinking, experiencing, feeling, wanting, focusing, etc.

“Now, put your hands together and look at your clasped hands. You know that your hands are touching, right? How do you know this touching sensation? What is the mind doing that you are able to know this? You know because the mind is aware and paying attention to it right now.

“Do you know that the mind is paying attention and aware? Would you know that your hands were touching if your mind was thinking about something else?

“No.

“So you can see that it is not merely because your hands are touching that you know but because the mind is paying attention and awareness is a quality that is part of this attention that you know they are touching.

“Can you shift your attention from your palms to your feet? You can, right? This shift in attention is actually the mind at work. It is the mind paying attention.

“If you know that you are paying attention, then you are aware of the mind.” 

Maybe it’s just where I am in my practice right now, but I find not only what he says — but how he says it — to be very, very helpful.