21 Mar
2013
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A Room with Less of a View

Because there’s a church event that’s held in Hope Chapel on the 3rd Wednesday of every month, last night the Dharma Friends Sitting Group met in….well, let’s just say….less impressive surroundings.

But it’s not the place we come for — it’s the practice. And the discussion afterwards. Which were both really wonderful last night.

I hope you will join us next time.

We meet every Wednesday, 7:00 to 8:30 pm at First Unitarian Church, 5007 Waterman at Kingshighway (in the Central West End).

 

Usually we’re in Hope Chapel.

But once a month, we’re not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Mar
2013
Posted in: Camino
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Walking to the End of the Earth

It’s been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In my case, the journey of 500 miles (the Camino de Santiago) begins with a stack of books.

This one, by John Brierley, is a set of 36 maps broken up into day-long walks, each between 12 and 20 miles long, starting at St. Jean Pied de Port (in the southeast corner of France) and ending at the Atlantic Ocean, on the western-most edge of Spain, in a town called Finisterre (trans: End of the Earth).

The Camino actually ends at Santiago de Compostela (trans: St. James of the Field of Stars), at the Cathedral where James, the Apostle, is said to be buried, but many people….myself included….plan to continue walking on to Finisterre (about 35 miles farther), which seems a more poetic destination.

I love the idea of walking to the end of the earth.

Especially by way of the Camino, which itself is a kind of poem. And which seems to evoke the poetic, whenever anyone talks about it. Even in this book of maps, for example. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

We all have too much paraphernalia in our lives. In an effort to lighten the load, we have produced this slim lightweight volume of basic maps….

“All of us travel two paths simultaneously — the outer path along which we haul our body and the inner pathway of soul. We need to be mindful of both and take time to prepare ourselves accordingly. The traditional way of the pilgrim is to travel alone, by foot, carrying all the material possessions we might need for the journey ahead. This provides the first lesson of the pilgrim — to leave behind all that is superfluous and to travel with only the barest necessities.

“Preparation for the inner path is similar — we need to start by letting go of psychic waste accumulated over the years such as resentments, prejudice and outmoded belief systems. With an emptied mind we will more readily assimilate the lessons that come our way…”

Buen Camino.

19 Mar
2013
Posted in: Teachers
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Meet Him in St. Louis

Bhikkhu Bodhi is coming to St. Louis! (I met him at the Spirit Rock DPP retreat last November and he is DELIGHTFUL.)

Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to sit and walk — and talk! — with one of our most highly respected Dharma teachers. Bhikkhu Bodhi is President of the Buddhist Publication Society and founder of Buddhist Global Relief. His numerous publications include: The Noble Eightfold Path, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (which is the primary text for the Dedicated Practitioner Program), Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidamma, and In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon.

Here’s what I know of his schedule so far:

Sunday, June 2
Vesak Day (Buddha’s Birthday) Celebration 
at Mid-America Buddhist Association (MABA) in Augusta, MO. Events begin at 10:00 am and continue through closing ceremonies at 3:30 pm. Bhikkhu Bodhi will lead meditation and give a talk on Mindfulness of Breathing from 10:45 am to 11:45 am and a talk on the Buddha’s Teaching from the Pail Canon with Q&A from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Check here for more info.

Friday and Saturday, June 7 & 8
Retreat at Mid-America Buddhist Association (MABA) in Augusta, MO. Begins on June 7 at 8:30 am. This is all the information I have on this event at the moment. Check here for updates.

Saturday, June 8
Dharma Talk and Meditation on Four Foundations of Mindfulness, at Wat Phrasriratanaram in Florissant, MO, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Check here for more info.

Sunday, June 9
Walk to Feed the Hungry, begins at 1:00 pm on the steps of the Gateway Arch. Registration is $25 and includes a T-shirt. This event is sponsored by the Buddhist Council of Greater St. Louis. Check here for more info and to register.

Tuesday, June 11
Dharma Talk and Meditation at Pure Mind Center in University City, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Check here for more info.

I will post more details when they become available.

Stay tuned!

18 Mar
2013
Posted in: Books, Groups
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Momentary Nibbana

In Dancing with Life, Phillip Moffitt writes, “In daily life you’ve no doubt experienced many moments of cessation when your mind was finally free from stress and contraction after a period of suffering: There were the arguments in which you were attached to being right, but winning them suddenly no longer mattered; there were your old desires of receiving recognition or acceptance, or getting some material object, but now you realize you no longer care about them; or there was the time you were rejected by someone you were in love with and it hurt for a long time, but now there is no pain. The stress you felt about all of those things that you thought you had to have just disappeared.

“The late Thai meditation teacher the Venerable Ajahn Buddhadosa says that each of these ordinary moments in which the mind is no longer grasping is a moment of nibbana, a little sampling of the mind being free from clinging. He teaches that if you did not have many of these small, brief moments of cessation each day you would literally go crazy from the tension and stress that arise from clinging.

There are hundreds, even thousands of moments each day when your mind is not grasping at anything. Your mind is temporarily, albeit briefly, content with how things are, and it is not stressed.”

So pay attention….and enjoy all those little bits of freedom!

(image: Housewives Tarot)

15 Mar
2013
Posted in: Books, Practice
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Just Show Up

Two KM groups has been reading and discussing Phillip Moffitt’s, “Dancing with Life,” for more than a year now….and all I can say is the more I read and reflect on this book, the more it speaks to me.

I leave you to savor this quote (from page 167):

Just show up for your deepest intentions, as best you can, and then allow the dharma, the truth of awakened presence, to do the work.

 

 

 

 

(image: Insight Meditation Society)

14 Mar
2013
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Room with a View

Wow. Now that the days have gotten longer, the Dharma Friends Sitting Group room really shines!

Here’s the view looking out toward the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s the room again, this time looking in from the garden.

As you can see, it’s nice and big, with plenty of space for sitting….and walking! In fact, we’re thinking about doing a day or half-day of sitting-and-walking practice at some point in the future.

Stay tuned.

 

13 Mar
2013
Posted in: Homework
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Equanimity

Here is one of the assignments from this month’s DPP homework, on the topic of Equanimity:

Take a few moments to think of someone you consider equanimous. How does it feel to have in mind this person and this quality they manifest? Remember times when you’ve witnessed this person and others around you experiencing equanimity and times when you experienced it yourself. What are the benefits of a non-reactive mind? What other qualities tend to accompany equanimity?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time thinking of someone I actually know (as to someone I know about, or have heard of, or have an idealized impression of), who I would consider to be equanimous. Someone generally calm, not easily rattled….level-headed, even-tempered, peaceful and truly graceful under pressure.

Surely there must be someone!

How about you?

12 Mar
2013
Posted in: Camino
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April 2014

One of my new Dharma Buddies, Pamela, was at the Dharma Seed KM group last night, and before we started listening to the tape, I asked her how the training was going for the Camino de Santiago (the 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain) because I thought she was planning to walk it this spring. Turns out, she’s planning to walk it with Deborah, who was also there last night….and they plan to walk it NEXT SPRING (starting in April of 2014).

Which means I could go with them!!!

I’ve already started training. Sort of. That 45-minute hike up and around the hills at the retreat outside of Tucson was my “official” start. (Because it was such an inspiring landscape….and because the path was challenging enough to require a walking stick.)

And of course, I’ve been mentally “training” by pouring over maps, reading books and watching YouTube videos. There are a dozens of them! Here’s one in particular I like: On the Path.

(image: “A Whole World,” by Couprie and Louchard)

11 Mar
2013
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Burning Mind

The Monday night “Dancing with Life” KM group has started reading Chapter 14, which begins looking deeply into the Third Noble Truth: The Noble Truth of Cessation is the abandoning of all craving.

Phillip Moffitt writes, “Imagine your mind totally free of craving, ill will, and delusion. It is clear, alert, and unaffected by external and internal conditions, whether pleasant or unpleasant. This liberated mind state is what comes with the realization of the Third Noble Truth….

“The fruit of realizing cessation is nibbana, in which you are no longer affected by dukkha. Nibbana literally means, ‘cooled’ and is analogous to a fire that’s no longer burning. Thus, when there is cessation, your mind no longer burns in response to the arising of pleasant and unpleasant in your life; it isn’t reactive or controlled by what you like or dislike…

“From this place of non-attachement, you are free to respond to the moment in a manner that is aligned with your values and reflects your deepest wisdom.”

(image: Q-cards)

8 Mar
2013
Posted in: Practice, Retreats
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Seat & Feet

Here’s a tip I brought back from one of Eric Kolvig‘s talks at the Tucson retreat:

Periodically throughout the day, especially when things start to escalate, see if you can bring your attention to your “seat” (the sensations of your butt on the chair, if you’re sitting) and/or to your feet. This offers a chance to get out of the whirlwind of whatever’s going on for a second and helps to ground you in the present moment. It doesn’t change anything about what’s going on. Except that it interrupts the habitual reactions we often get hooked into…which, of course, does give us the chance to take a fresh look at the situation and maybe respond more skillfully this time.

Give it a try!

(image: from “A Whole World,” by Couprie and Louchard)