Browsing Category "Teachers"
6 Dec
2019
Posted in: Teachers
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Love, Mirabai.

While I was away, Mirabai sent me this link to a video recording of the “Just Like Me” meditation she led for 2,000 people (online) in celebration of World Kindness Day, which apparently was Nov 13th. (Who knew!)

And check out this photo from the retreat in Maui she’s leading right now with Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Trudy Goodman, and Krishna Das.

Oh, and what about the t-shirt she’s wearing! Is that great or what!!!

***

(Mirabai’s meditation begins at the 33:32 point of the recording; her photo can be found on Facebook; the t-shirt is from Black Lotus Rising.)

13 Sep
2019
Posted in: Talks, Teachers
By    Comments Off on It Doesn’t Even Have to Be Called Buddhism

It Doesn’t Even Have to Be Called Buddhism

The following is an excerpt from Let’s Just Call It Love, by Jack Kornfield, published in the March 2019 issue of Lion’s Roar magazine:

“The important question is not the future of Buddhism…

“It is clear there won’t be a single Buddhism in the West. There will be different Buddhisms. Every other Buddhist culture has many sects and traditions living side by side. These express the ten thousand skillful means of awakening: through devotion and meditation, direct pointing and transmissions, myth and story, community and ritual, wise heart and wise society.

“There are conservative, traditional sects who preserve the teachings, and in each generation, there are adaptive sects who modernize and renew them. Even though they can glare at each other across the divide, these perspectives complement each other. We need them both.

“Buddhist traditions in the West are already being changed. While we don’t know what the next decades will bring, there are hints.

“Buddhism in the West is already not as patriarchal as in the past, embodying more female leaders and more feminine wisdom. It is less hierarchical and more democratic. While building monastic traditions, it is more lay-oriented.

“There is more emphasis on meditation and less on the practice of devotion and offering. There is a growing use of self-compassion to counterbalance spiritual ambition and misguided effort.

“While true to its roots, Buddhism is also incorporating the complementary skills of modern psychology, trauma work, and neuroscience. Diversity and inclusion is a visible direction for Buddhist communities everywhere, as is more active engagement in the alleviation of suffering in our society….

“And true to capitalism, the dharma is being packaged and sold. Some people are worried about the watering down of the dharma, the secular selling without a deeper foundation. History laughs. Let it spread in ten thousand forms. The dharma can take care of itself! It is magnificent, the timeless truth, the reality of life.

“And honestly, though we Americans are expert at misusing things, there is a centuries-long tradition of misusing the teachings prior to us. Magnificently watered-down dharma was and is widespread across Buddhist Asia.

“There are whole sects that live for money-making funerals, and millions who go to temples to get fortunes read or to make offerings for business success, better luck in marriage, or to offset their continuing misdeeds. Yet these societies are also the treasure houses of profound dharma and great sanghas. Popular Buddhism and devotion to deep practice inter-are. They always exist in a dance together.

“I say let the dharma spread and become so common it becomes an invisible understanding, enhancing humanity in every field. Let it foster virtue, inner well-being, respect for basic human dignity, care for all life, and the awakening of freedom.

“Let these seeds of goodness flower in a thousand forms.

“It doesn’t even have to be called Buddhism.

“Let’s just call it love.”

11 Sep
2019
Posted in: Talks, Teachers
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Practice with Phillip from Home — for FREE!

This coming Monday (Sept 16), Phillip Moffitt will lead a guided meditation (about 30 min), followed by a dharma talk (about 1 hr), at the Spirit Rock Community Center near San Francisco. But you don’t have to go to California to take part!

The evening is available live online — and you can watch for FREE — but only if you register in advance (click here).

It begins at 7:15 pm Pacific Time (9:15 pm St. Louis time), but the video recording is available for at least two weeks after the event ends — so you don’t even have to stay up late to watch it!!!

But again, ONLY IF YOU REGISTER BEFORE IT BEGINS. (register here)

Phillip doesn’t do this often. Now’s your chance. Don’t miss it!

21 Aug
2019
Posted in: Practice, Teachers
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Meditate with Mirabai!

Last week Mirabai Bush led a really beautiful on-line guided meditation (only 17 minutes long) for a Facebook “Mindful Women Meditate” event, in which 3,000 people participated — including me!

Anyone who’s spent any time at all around me (in person, or on this blog), already knows that being introduced to meditation by Mirabai totally opened my heart — an experience that I have come to understand and appreciate more and more over the years. (I know I’m not alone in having had this wide-heart-opening with Mirabai. The moderator of the Facebook session calls her the “Mother of Mindfulness.”)

If you’d like a sense of what meditating with Mirabai can be like, come join her in that big, big room she talks about in this guided meditation — now posted on YouTube. (click here.)

Relax. Breath. Enjoy.

(The photo above is of Mirabai with Ram Dass at one of their annual Open Your Heart in Paradise retreats.)

2 Aug
2019
Posted in: Practice, Teachers
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Postcard from Mirabai!

Mirabai sent me this photo of herself awhile back. I keep a copy on my desk because I love her. And because it makes me happy just to see her. Even in a photo!

Today she sent me this e-mail:

I’m leading a short meditation to bring women together in a contemplative on-line space on August 8 (next Thursday) at 2 pm St. Louis time. If you can, please join us.

We are exploring what it means to be mindful (and spirit-ful) women together. There’ll be a short discussion after the meditation. Many great women are in the initial group. Check it out here. It’s free (as it should be!)

Love,
Mirabai

***

This invitation is not just for me. It’s for any woman (self identified) who’s interested in mindfulness meditation. I will definitely be on the call. Hope you will too!

28 May
2019
Posted in: Practice, Talks, Teachers
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Find. And Follow.

For today, one last post before I leave on Friday for a month-long retreat at the Forest Refuge:
Ajahn Sucitto’s very succinct response to a pair of written questions submitted during a recent Q&A session (also at the Forest Refuge).

Question #1:
“Is there anyone equivalent to the saints who one can ask for help with one’s practice?”

Question #2:
“If you could only give one suggestion or piece of advice to someone to further them towards liberation, what would that suggestion or piece of advice be?”

Sucitto’s response:
“Well, the answer to both these questions would be: Find a spiritual friend.

“And, if a teacher arises that you find yourself getting good results with, follow that teacher.”

***

I wholeheartedly agree.

After the retreat, I’ll be staying with my spiritual friend and teacher, Mirabai. (That’s us, in the photo above.)

Then I’ll be home on July 3 and hope to post again on July 8. I expect I’ll have a lot to say. Stay tuned.

14 May
2019
Posted in: Practice, Retreats, Teachers
By    Comments Off on The Mind Can Rest

The Mind Can Rest

I can’t give you a link to the recorded talks from the Nature of Awareness retreat I just went to, because those talks are only available to people who attended the retreat. But I can report on my own experience, and my experience is this:

I find myself returning again and again to the following words, which struck me as deeply significant when Phillip offered them during his guided meditation on the Earth and Wind Elements:

“In the stillness, the mind can find ground. Can rest. But also in movement. Attention can rest in knowing movement. Attention can rest in regard to a moving object — whether it’s the wind element, or thoughts, or desire or aversion or joy… Attention can rest. This knowing capacity is not dependent on whether the object that is being know is still or moving. 

“This stillness, that allows the resting, is awareness.”

7 May
2019
Posted in: Teachers
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Mirabai…and ME!

In the midst of making travel plans to attend the June month-long retreat at the Forest Refuge (in Barre, MA), I took a quick look at Mirabai Bush’s new website, since I’ll be staying a few days with her after the retreat is over — Mirabai is my “Dharma Godmother” — and while I was scrolling down to look at her calendar, I came across this picture. (above) That’s Mirabai, on the right, with blond hair, dressed in black, holding a microphone and looking across the room, directly at…ME!!!!

Yes, that’s me!!!, in the purple long-sleeve t-shirt, with cropped reddish-orange hair, and funky black-and-white-checked glasses. I’m not sure, but I think this was taken in about 2010. It was at a conference on Contemplative Practices in Academia at the Garrison Institute (in upstate New York), which I had more or less “crashed” (I am not in academia), because it was the only way I knew, back then, to get to be in the room with her. You can see how riveted I was.

At lot has changed since then (not the least of which is my hair!) but I would still go to extraordinary lengths to be in any room that Mirabai is in.

I love you, Mirabai. I’ll see you soon.

4 Apr
2019
Posted in: Books, Teachers
By    Comments Off on Unique to You, but Not You

Unique to You, but Not You

In celebration of getting to meet with my teacher and mentor Phillip Moffitt very soon, I offer this excerpt from his book on self development, Emotional Chaos to Clarity, a longer section of which was just posted on the Spirit Rock website (here).   

“When I teach meditation students about the ways identity is created, I encourage them to think about false identity in terms of what I call the myth of fingerprints. On the surface it may seem that we are separate and isolated from one another, but this is only a partial truth that obscures the larger truth that we are all interconnected. Yes, your fingerprints are different from mine and from everyone else’s, but we all have fingers, which we use in similar ways. Thus, in knowing what it means to have fingers, we discover that what we have in common is more important than our differences. The dissimilarity of our fingerprints isn’t what’s important but how we use our fingers. Do we use them for building and creating beauty or do we use them to cause harm?

“The same is true of your emotional history. It is uniquely yours, but others also experience the joy, anger, excitement, fear, and love that you feel. Your emotional history doesn’t make you a separate species; it is simply one of the endless ways that human beings manifest the emotions they share.

“To give another example, if a raindrop falls to earth, seeps into the ground, and then slowly travels through the soil to a creek, and from there flows over many rocks and branches into the sea, it has had an incredible history. But that history doesn’t capture the essence of rain. Likewise, your emotional history doesn’t capture your essence. Nonetheless, many people live their whole lives without realizing that they are mistaken about who they are.

“You too may struggle to understand your authentic self. For instance, you may unconsciously assume that you are the collection of old habits of mind that you’ve accrued over your lifetime in reaction to difficulty, disappointment, and uncertainty. You may believe you are someone who is anxious because as a child you had to endure a constant stream of criticism from your parents. Or you may see yourself as a failure because you haven’t achieved your career goals. But these conditioned mind states are not you—they are merely thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings, as you can observe for yourself, are temporary and ever-changing, and arise episodically. So while they may characterize your experience sometimes, they don’t define you. Your authentic self is defined by the values from which you respond to these mind states.” (continue reading here)


28 Mar
2019
Posted in: Teachers
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Not Based on Good or Bad

In reading that Spirit Rock’s Ethics and Reconciliation Council (EAR Council) has formally withdrawn Noah Levine’s authorization to teach and then reading a bit more about the process they went through to come to this conclusion, I can’t say that I’m feeling happy (the whole situation is sad and upsetting), but I can say that I feel reassured.

Especially after reading the concept on which this Council was formed:

Conflicts will inevitably arise within the Spirit Rock community. The health of our community is not measured by the presence or absence of conflict as much as by our willingness to find effective, responsible, and compassionate means of resolving interpersonal tensions. The intention to attend to and learn from conflict is a clear application of Buddhist practice into our daily lives; without this intention, practice can too easily be a comfort rather than a deep transformative vehicle for our lives.

Buddhist conflict resolution is not based on good or bad, blame or guilt, winning or losing, offenders or victims. Rather it is based on fully addressing the suffering of all concerned. Hurt, fear, and anger are taken seriously through forums in which everyone may speak honestly, safely, and completely about their own direct experiences and feelings. In looking for resolution, Buddhist practice values dialogue over silence, reconciliation over estrangement, forgiveness over resentment, confession over accusation, and atonement over punishment.

Because the process of reaching such resolution is often very difficult, Spirit Rock’s Ethics and Reconciliation Council (EAR Council) offers support. (Read more here.)