Browsing Category "Sunday Sangha"
29 May
Posted in: Chanting, Sunday Sangha
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The Highest Blessings

At Sunday Sangha yesterday, Thomas offered reflections on the Mangala Sutta, a much-beloved teaching that’s often chanted at retreats led by monastics (and other auspicious occasions). Here’s the English version I learned (from the Amaravati chant book):

[Now let us chant the verses on the Highest Blessings]

Thus have I heard that the Blessed One
Was staying at Savatthi,
Residing at the Jeta’s Grove
In Anathapindika’s Park.

Then in the dark of the night, a radiant deva
Illuminated all Jeta’s Grove.
She bowed down low before the Blessed One
Then standing to one side she said:

“Devas are concerned for happiness
And ever long for peace.
The same is true for humankind.
What then are the highest blessings?”

“Avoiding those of foolish ways,
Associating with the wise,
And honoring those worthy of honor.
These are the highest blessings.

“Living in places of suitable kinds,
With the fruits of past good deeds
And guided by the rightful way.
These are the highest blessings.

“Accomplished in learning and craftsman’s skills,
With disciple, highly trained,
And speech that is true and pleasant to hear.
These are the highest blessings.

“Providing for mother and father’s support
And cherishing family.
And ways of work that harm no being,
These are the highest blessings.

“Generosity and a righteous life,
Offering help to relatives and kin,
And acting in ways that leave no blame.
These are the highest blessings.

“Steadfast in restraint, and shunning evil ways,
Avoiding intoxicants that dull the mind,
And heedfulness in all things that arise.
These are the highest blessings.

“Respectfulness and being of humble ways,
Contentment and gratitude,
And hearing the Dhamma frequently taught.
These are the highest blessings.

“Patience and willingness to accept one’s faults,
Seeing venerated seekers of the truth,
And sharing often the words of Dhamma.
These are the highest blessings.

“Ardent, committed to the Holy Life,
Seeing for oneself the Noble Truths
And the realization of Nibbana.
These are the highest blessings.

“Although in contact with the world,
Unshaken the mind remains,
Beyond all sorrow, spotless, secure.
These are the highest blessings.

“They who live by following this path
Know victory wherever they go,
And every place for them is safe.
These are the highest blessings.

29 Jan
Posted in: Practice, Sunday Sangha
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Who Makes You Smile?

start-with-smileI’m thinking about leading a guided Metta meditation at Sunday Sangha this coming weekend. Metta is often translated as “lovingkindness,” but I prefer “goodwill” or “friendliness” because it’s really about developing the habit of responding to others….and to ourselves….with a non-judgmental, non-aversive attitude.

Traditionally we start the practice by wishing happiness/safety/wellbeing to ourselves, but sometimes that’s hard. It feels selfish. Or awkward. Or it brings up feelings of unworthiness. Or reminds us of how unhappy/unsafe/unwell we often are!

So instead I like to start by telling people to picture someone who makes them smile. (Could be a kid. Could be a dog!) Usually this evokes such a pleasant mental feeling that it’s easy to want good things for that person…or pet: May you be safe. May you be happy.

Lately I’ve tried using less traditional phrases like: I hope things go well for you. I want you to be happy. May you live well and prosper!

Sound like fun? Join us on Sunday. (11:00 am to 12:30 pm at Solar Yoga, 6002 Pershing, 63112)

Or try it right now:
Think of someone who makes you smile. Wish them well.

25 Jan
Posted in: Books, Sunday Sangha
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Will This Lead to Happiness?

desire-and-thenAt yesterday’s Sunday Sangha, Thomas kicked off a lively discussion about the nature of desire and the “hallucination of perception” that getting what we want will make us happy. He offered this passage from Joseph Goldstein’s Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening:

“Sensual desires arise from the fundamental misperception that they will actually bring about a lasting happiness–something that, given their impermanence, is not possible. In Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Anna’s lover comes to this realization:

‘Vronsky, meanwhile, in spite of the complete realization of what he had so long desired, was not perfectly happy. He soon felt that the realization of his desires gave him no more than a grain of sand out of the mountain of happiness he had expected. It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselves happiness as the realization of their desires.'”  (The mistake women make too, I might add.)