Browsing Category "Resources"
24 Oct
Posted in: Practice, Resources, Suttas
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Bring Light

FULL MOON REFLECTION from Forest Sangha:

One who transforms old and heedless ways
into fresh and wholesome acts
brings light into the world
like the moon freed from clouds.

— Dhammapada v. 173

“It would be a great pity if we viewed all our ‘old and heedless ways’ merely as troublesome tendencies that we had to get rid of. Just as recycling of material objects is sensibly recognized as more skilful than casually throwing things away, likewise a lot of wisdom and goodness can be found in that which previously caused us to suffer.

Arrogance is always offensive, but once purified and no longer held as who and what we are, can be transformed into self-confidence.

Stubbornness is always unattractive, but once purified and not seen as ‘self’, can manifest as resolute determination.”

15 Oct
Posted in: Resources, Teachers
By    Comments Off on If Buddhists had Godmothers…

If Buddhists had Godmothers…

The November issue of Lion’s Roar magazine (not the on-line version, but the print version that’s available right now at Whole Foods) has a great feature article on Mirabai Bush  — who was my first meditation teacher and is now my encourager, listener, inspirer, and loving friend…. in other words, if Buddhists had godmothers, she’d be mine!

The article begins:
“In 1972, Mirabai Bush traveled overland to India, planning to stay for two weeks. Then one day on a street in New Delhi, she happened to meet a young woman named Sharon Salzberg, who told her about an upcoming meditation course with the Vipassana teacher S.N. Goenka. It was going to be his very first retreat for Westerners.

“”I had never even sat cross-legged before,’ Bush remembers. ‘But it was like having wine and cheese in Paris, something you’re supposed to do. ‘We’re in India, so let’s try meditation!’

“Though Bush signed up for the Goenka retreat on a whim, it had an enormous impact on her. Indeed, it impacted the whole burgeoning spiritual movement in the West. Many of the students in attendance went on to become influential spiritual voices in America, including Buddhist teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goldman, and spiritual icon Ram Dass.

“Today, Mirabai Bush may not be as famous as some of the other meditators at the seminal retreat. But in the forty-five years since then, she has been at the forefront of the spiritual revolution in the Western world, helping to shape and lead it.

“Over the course of her long career, Bush has framed the meditation practices she first learned in India so they are applicable and accessible to people in the modern world. As cofounder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, she has helped introduce mindfulness into diverse fields–social engagement, the tech industry, higher education, and more.

“She was a key contributor to Search Inside Yourself, a groundbreaking employee program at Google, and a founding member of the Seva Foundation, which has given the gift of sight to four million people in Asia.

“She has co-authored books relating contemplative practice to education, neuroscience, and organizations. Her new book, Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying, is a dialogue with her close friend Ram Dass.

“As Bush explains it, love has been the guiding force in her life work. Many years ago, Neem Karoli Baba, her Hindu teacher, taught her to love everyone. ‘That has been a central practice for me–trying to do it, failing, trying again, seeing where my resistances are.

“‘What does it mean,’ she asks, ‘to discover this central place of love in others and create environments where we can all be loving?'”


Check it out!

10 Sep
Posted in: Poems, Resources, Suttas
By    Comments Off on Full and New Moon Reflections

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
By    Comments Off on “Yet”


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.