Browsing Category "Resources"
10 Sep
Posted in: Poems, Resources, Suttas
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Full and New Moon Reflections

A shout-out today for my friend Betsy who turned me on to this beautiful offering from the Forest SanghaReflections on the Dhammmapada, which (if you subscribe) will arise in your email on each new and full moon.

Here is yesterday’s
New Moon Reflection:

No More Thorns

If you walk the path
you will arrive at the end of suffering.

Having beheld this myself,
I proclaim the Way
which removes all thorns.

Dhammapada v. 275
(from A Dhammapada for Contemplation, 2nd edition, Aruna Publications, 2006)

“It is not necessary to move through life perpetually afraid of being skewered by the barbs of painful human interaction. All beings, including the Buddha himself, are subject to the eight worldly winds: praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, honor and insignificance.

“However, awakened beings are so completely transparent, so completely free from resistance, that they are always able to accord with it. They live unobstructed in their relationship with everything and everybody. Having walked the path to its end, they know beyond all doubt that to cling is to suffer. Wisdom shows them how to hold to life without creating pain, without spoiling it.”


The Forest Sangha represents the
International Monasteries in the Therevada Buddhist Tradition of Ajahn Chah.
To receive these fortnightly Reflections, click here.
To view earlier Reflections, click here.

8 Dec
Posted in: Resources, Teachers
By    Comments Off on Be Kind, But Do Not Be Quiet

Be Kind, But Do Not Be Quiet

speak-upThis from Truth is Power by Pamela Weiss, one of my teachers in the Community Dharma Leader (CDL) Program:

Dharma means truth. As we enter the ‘post-truth era’, where words become swords that slice and shred, rending the tender fabric that binds us, truth matters. Honest words matter….

Speaking truth to power is an urgent responsibility. Sometimes this means a firm and uncompromising ‘NO’: NO to hatred; NO to bigotry; NO to intolerance; NO to injustice and divisiveness and fear. And sometimes it means a full-throated ‘YES’: YES to big-heartedness; YES to tenderness; YES to beauty and curiosity and freedom and peace…

Whatever cause or issue grabs you, whatever wrenches your heart — misogyny, homophobia, racism, sanctuary, climate change — step in and step up. Don’t sit on the side lines. Now is not the time to wait. Jump in. Engage.


2 Nov
Posted in: Practice, Resources
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imagineMy mentor Mirabai Bush has an article in the current issue of Mindful magazine, titled Passion Rules. It includes a set of mindful investigation practices aimed at clarifying values, identifying obstacles and developing skills for waking up to a more value-driven life. For example:

What really matters to you in your life?
Practice: Think of an object related to your values and how it might be utilized thorough a vocation or avocation. Sit quietly, breathe in and out, holding the object in your mind, and see what arises. Allow its story to unfold without judgment.

What is in the way of living in alignment with those values?
Practice: Contemplate that question. Listen for how to overcome these obstacles. When negative judgments arise — I can’t start my own business because I don’t have the skills — try using the word “yet.” I don’t have them yet.

What do you do really well, and is there space for you to do it?
Practice: Imagine yourself as a child. What did you love to do and what did you know you were good at? Let images arise. Remember how it felt. Ask: Is it still true? What else is true now? Then identify the skills you’ll need to bring that latent passion back to life.

15 Jan
Posted in: CDL, Racism, Resources
By    Comments Off on Change Is Hard

Change Is Hard

Full-Color1Things, they are a changing!

Not easily, I might add. And not without confrontation, frustration, personal hurt…and  even organizational trauma! I was on a conference call last night intended to address these issues with some of the leadership at Spirit Rock and IMS; a large number of fellow Community Dharma Leaders-in-Training (one of whom appears in the photo above!); and the Core Faculty of the next Teacher Training Program, some of whom appear above and all of whom recently resigned over issues of institutional power/privilege and, yes, racism! But that’s for another post.

For now, let’s just take a moment to smile as we look at what truly is The New Face of Buddhism. The photo above is the new, fold-out cover of Shambala Sun magazine, now re-named: Lion’s Roar.

We’ve come a long way, Baby.

But oh how far we have to go.

14 Jan
Posted in: Practice, Resources, Retreats
By    Comments Off on Not Separate

Not Separate

not-separateFor today, one more quote from the collection offered for our reflection at the Exploring the Nature of Awareness retreat:

“The evolutionary imperative of our times demands we evolve from seeing the world ‘out there,’ separate and alien from us, to directly knowing our intimacy with all things. This is the shift from a dualistic consciousness to an awake awareness that recognized nothing is apart from anything else, or from our deeper nature.” — from Listening to the Heart, by Kittisaro and Thanissara

12 Jan
Posted in: Practice, Resources
By    Comments Off on Want to Be My Sitting Buddy?

Want to Be My Sitting Buddy?

Reading and thinking and talking about Dharma stuff is great….but really, the only way to actually “get” it is to practice. Which can be hard…because there always seems to be something else that needs to be done or some other time that seems like it would be better or some little nagging thought that seems so convincing like: gee, wouldn’t it really be better if I just laid down and took a nap!

One thing I’ve found that can help break old thought patterns like these is to have a Sitting Buddy. Or better yet, to have a LOT of Sitting Buddies. Which is why Sitting Groups are so great.

But it also helps to have VIRTUAL Sitting Buddies.

Which you can find by getting the Insight Timer app! (It works on Macs and PCs, iPhones and Androids and Google Play and who knows what else.) There’s a version that’s FREE or, of course, you can go for the Deluxe.

Either way, you can set it up so that you can “see” when your friends are sitting (if they’re using the app), or when they’ve been sitting, and for how long, etc. You can send messages. Or join groups. Listen to guided mediations. Or just see how many people — all over the world — are sitting at the same time you are.

It’s really inspiring. Especially when I see that my friends have been sitting!

If you’ve got the app and want to be one of my Sitting Buddies, just send a request (through the app) to Jan in St. Louis. That’s me!

Hope to be sitting with you soon.

16 Nov
Posted in: Groups, Resources
By    Comments Off on Out of the Battle

Out of the Battle

David H. led the Sunday Sangha Sitting Group yesterday, starting with this reading from Ajahn Chah:

“The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this–just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

David followed with selection of reading on what Buddhists call ” The Heavenly Messengers,” (i.e. Old Age, Sickness, and Death). He read from Bhikkhu Bodhi’s Meeting the Divine Messengers (click here to read) and from an article in Tricycle magazine titled Taken Away and Given: Encounters in Old Agewhich begins:

“It is said that we who live within the mists do not see the shapes of the clouds that are our dwelling place. We do not see the light of the sun, the moon, the stars, nor do we know the vastness of the sky.” (click here to read more)


Nina will be leading the discussion next week. She often finds her Dharma in the pages of the New York Times. Stay tuned!


24 Sep
Posted in: Resources, Teachers
By    Comments Off on Never! Always! Everyone!

Never! Always! Everyone!

Today I want to point you to an excellent blog post by Ajahn Sucitto, titled Sex, Sin and the Inner Tyrant, in which he talks about….well, sex…and the terrible things that result when the “Inner Tyrant….is supported by, or morphs into, the Outer Tyrant of political or religious repression.” (His post was written after teaching a retreat in Ireland, so the grim accounts of the Magdalene Laundries are particularly on his mind.)

On the “Inner Tyrant”:
Take note of the tyrannical voice: “never,” “always,” “the rest of your life,” and “everyone thinks” are standard references. The Tyrant always presents perceptions and impressions as solid truth, and based on that, operates in terms of black-and-white realities, prophesies and judgements. Justice and “what they/I deserve” are common slogans, messages that blaze through the mind with such conviction that we never examine their logic — and how they sour us.

Once infected by the Tyrant, the mind can justify any action; particularly a wrathful response to perceived evil. Hence Crusades, missions, jihads, witch-hunts pogroms, torture and jails. The Tyrant often masquerades as the Just God.

Justice? It’s too often a mask for self-interest and revenge…….

Meditation offers a resolution of the conundrum of passion. All compulsions grab the heart and deprive us of freedom; without meditation, people just use the Tyrant of blame, repression and punishment to ward off the Tyrant of compulsive desire. When we’re thrown between these two forces, we lose self-respect, empathy and clear understanding.

But when we operate in terms of present-moment experience, and a clear and empathic approach to meeting the energies of fear, rage and desire as they happen to us, then there’s a way out of the tyranny. The energy of desire can then be held and correctly channeled  not into prophesies or assumptions of what others think or God wills, but into the full fruition of the heart.


Click here to read the full post on Ajahn Sucitto’s blog.

28 Jul
Posted in: Practice, Resources
By    Comments Off on Back in Action

Back in Action

Ah. After many days of almost continual bed rest, and with the help of an excellent physical therapist, the muscles in my back have released their vise-grip and I am back to “normal” — which of course does not mitigate the inevitable effects of gravity and the inescapable nature of the body to wear out — but still, I’m feeling fine and very happy to be back in action!

And here’s what I have to report:

I have just signed up to participate in an excellent on-line study-and-practice course offered by Kittisaro and Thanissara. (Who often teach at IMS, but they live in South Africa, where they hold a month-long retreat every January, to which I hope to go — I’m on the wait list!)

The course is a go-at-your-own-pace program, organized in 3 modules, each consisting of 12 lessons. And it’s freely offered on a dana basis, which means that there is no cost, just the opportunity to make a donation — if you so choose.

Each lesson consists of 2 recorded talks, 2 (short) contemplative readings, an exercise in contemplative inquiry along with some contemplative exercises, a targeted meditation practice, and suggestions for integrating these practices into daily life. Plus there’s extra material, which consists of recorded chants, dharma talks and/or additional readings.

Here’s an example of the “Integrating Into Daily Life” suggestion from the first lesson is: During the day, take mini pauses of 5-10 minutes. Start with asking “How is it now?” and taking 3-5 long breaths. Then train your attention to steady within the body and breath during that time. You can do this in any posture during any activity.

If you’re interested in checking out the course — and I really hope you do! — click here. You’ll need to request a Username and Password before accessing the course material. But there’s no need to commit to anything…just get the name and password, log on, and take a look!

And if you do decide to take the course, send me an email here. Part of the intention of the program is to foster a community of practitioners, so it would be great to do the course with some buddies!

5 Jun
Posted in: Resources
By    Comments Off on For Dharma Geeks Only

For Dharma Geeks Only

In one of the talks given to the new group of Dedicated Practitioners (DPP5), Tempel Smith mentions a new website that he has “fallen in love with,” so of course I had to check it out.

It’s called Buddha Vacana (which means Words of the Buddha) and basically it’s a way to get a fuller understanding of some of the key words and phrases from the Early Buddhist texts by using side-by-side comparison of the Pali and English translations. What’s really cool — I’m a Dharma Geek, what can I say — is that when you scroll over the Pali word, an info bubble pops up with all the different ways in which that particular word has been translated.

For example, in an excerpt from the Anapanassati Sutta, the well-known teaching about the practice of mindfulness of breathing, anapanassati is broken down into anapana (breath, respiration) + sati (awareness, attention, mindfulness)… and if you click on “for further details” under the word sati, you get:

“sati: the term has two meaning which, although apparently opposed are actually related:

“(1) awareness, attention, mindfulness, fact of being clearly conscious/vigilant. It is one of the seven bojjhangas, said to be the most important because the other six are to be developed along with it. The standard definition of samma-sati, given for example at SN 45.8, actually consists of the description of the four satipatthanas. Sati is one of the five spiritual indriyas and the five balas. Sati as one of the five balas is defined at AN 5.14.

“(2) memory, recollection. This aspect of sati is actually also covered by the definition given at AN 5.14. These two meanings are related in the sense that an awareness supported by the collectedness of concentration is a necessary condition to get proper perception and understanding of what is happening in the present moment, which enables an easy recollection at a later time of what precisely was happening, of what was said, what was done at a prior moment, even a long time before. In one case sati is defined as per what is happening in the present moment, and in the other as per the qualities that develop in the bhikkhu when he has been endowed with this awareness of the present moment for a long time.”

(Each of the italicized words above are hyperlinked to even more information!)


So, OK, the site is not for everyone. But for all you Dharma Geeks…this site is AWESOME.