23 Jul
Posted in: Books, Groups
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Unwanted Change

The Monday night “Dancing with Life” KM group meets again tonight and our “assignment,” as always, is to bring a passage from the book that we’d like to discuss. The one I’m bringing starts on page 47:

“The truth of the [inevitable stress] of change goes against the ethos of modern Western culture, which promotes an unrealistic expectation that you can manage your life to be secure against unwanted change.

“The false promise that you can maintain control creates an expectation that is a cause of suffering in itself, for you are bound to fail in this endeavor. Of course, you should act wisely as possible to manage change in your life–to do otherwise would be folly.

“But the difference lies in your attitude and expectations. Can you be at ease with its unpredictable, uncontrollable nature?” 

I’m working on it.

(image from “Gorey Creatures“)

19 Jul
Posted in: Groups
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Sneak Peek

I’m getting very excited about the new Hi-Pointe Sitting Group I’ll be leading, beginning next Wednesday, July 25 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Blue Lotus Dharma Center, located directly behind the Hi-Pointe Theatre. Scott Newell, Cindy Brinkop and I picked up the keys last night and I took a few pictures of the space we’ll be sitting in. Check it out:

This is the sanctuary where we’ll be sitting from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. There is also a bright, airy tea room where we will move to from 8:00 to 8:30 pm for a little social time and casual conversation. (I forgot to take photos of the tea room. Sorry. But come on Wednesday and see it for yourself!)

There are regular chairs available for sitting, as well as a variety of cushions in various sizes and shapes. And of course, you are welcome to bring your own, if you’d like.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have been offered this site. Not only is it a lovely, sacred and beautifully cared-for space, but it’s just blocks from my house!


Please note: the center is on the second floor of the building and there are no elevators, so for those who have difficulty with stairs, it might not be an ideal location. Also, incense is regularly used in the space, so it might not be a good place for those who are sensitive to fragrances.








Here is what the building looks like from the outside. Directions to the center can be found here. For those familiar with the neighborhood, turn onto Ethel from McCausland, go around behind the “dead Del Taco,” then about half a block up the street and the parking lot will be on your right.

The door to the center is under the cedar overhang. There will be a DharmaTown Hi-Pointe Sitting Group sign on the door, which will be unlocked from about 6:40 pm. Just go on in and head up the stairs. There will be a place to take off your shoes upstairs. (There is also a restroom.)

For more information, contact Jan Rosamond. Hope to see you there!



18 Jul
Posted in: Books, Practice
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I keep going back to the book we got at the last DPP retreat–Dhamma Everywhere, by U Tejaniya. The first time I picked it up, I just sort of breezed through it. It seemed kind of basic, even simplistic.

But a few lines got stuck in my mind. For example:
“Why is there so much focusing? It could be that you want a certain experience or you dislike what is happening…Is it meditation when we crave for what seems good or have an aversion to what seems bad?”

And: “Don’t try to find fault with the thinking mind–you are not trying to stop thinking. Instead, you work to recognize thinking when there is thinking.”

I guess you could say a little light came on in my mind, because now I really appreciate the simplicity–and wisdom–of his words.

Especially: “We practice because we want to understand. We wait, observe, and study what is happening in the mind and body so that we can understand their natures.

We are not intentionally trying to make the mind calm or trying to have ‘good sittings.’ We meditate to see what is happening as it is and to have the right attitude regarding what is happening, [that] it is nature and nothing personal…

“As soon as there is a thought that this experience or object is good, there is craving for it. When we see what is right as what is right, what is there as what is there, then there is escape from craving…..

“We are meditating to be free of craving and clinging.”  

(Dhamma Everywhere is published in Malaysia by Auspicious Affinity, for free distribution. You can download a pdf here.)

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

17 Jul
Posted in: Groups
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Dharma Roar

The Dharma Seed KM group met last night and listened to Jack Kornfield’s awesome “Poetry & Beauty” talk, which can be streamed or downloaded here.

Jack’s talks are always great, but he really out-did himself this time. He reads poetry and weaves stories and….well, there’s no way to sum up what he says, but I’ll give you a sample. It’s from the part where he talks about Dharma as the Lion’s Roar–female version. To illustrate, he reads this poem by Nikki Giovanni:

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad.

I sat on the throne drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was jesus
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filing from my fingernails are semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly
….like a bird in the sky…..

(image from “I Told You So,” by Daisy de Villeneuve


16 Jul
Posted in: Practice
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Post It!

The Dedicated Practitioner homework topic for this month is Daily Life Practice and Creativity, which as you might guess, I am totally loving. The homework always includes weekly readings, practices and reflections…and this month, it included this very cool tip:

“We all have different circumstances in our lives, and we can bring creativity to the process of finding practices that support us. For example, in recognizing that it is hard to remember to be mindful, [one of the teachers] decided to put notes around the house to provide a reminder about qualities to cultivate: generosity on the door, wisdom on the refrigerator, equanimity on the computer.”

What a great idea!



13 Jul
Posted in: Food
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Veggie Love

Here’s a bit of Veggie Dharma from Deborah Madison, my go-to kitchen guru.

Cucumber and Pepper Relish
from Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

Spoon this relish over pulled string cheese, fresh cheese curds, or grilled fish. If you like a bit of bite, add a teaspoon of minced hot chile.

1 or 2 dark green cucumbers (about 3/4 lb.)
1 small sweet pepper, any variety, very finely diced
3 scallions, including an inch of the greens, finely sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped dill
1 Tablespoon chopped lovage or cilantro
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Score the cucumbers with the tines of a fork or a citrus zester. Cut them lengthwise into quarters, slice off the seeds, then chop the flesh into small pieces. Toss the remaining ingredients. Taste for salt and adjust the level of acidity if needed. Let stand for 30 minutes if time allows. Use within a day or two. (Makes about 3 cups.)

(image by Anna Oneglia)


12 Jul
Posted in: Books, Practice
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How Do You Know?

I’ve been listening to U Tejaniya answer questions from students on retreat at IMS (available on Dharma Seed here) and reading his most recent book, “Dhamma Everywhere” (available as a free pdf here), and I’m very intrigued by his teachings…which are light, relaxed and very naturalistic.

He says, “…Do you know that you have a mind? How do you know that you have a mind? You can see or observe the mind through its workings/functions, e.g. knowing, thinking, experiencing, feeling, wanting, focusing, etc.

“Now, put your hands together and look at your clasped hands. You know that your hands are touching, right? How do you know this touching sensation? What is the mind doing that you are able to know this? You know because the mind is aware and paying attention to it right now.

“Do you know that the mind is paying attention and aware? Would you know that your hands were touching if your mind was thinking about something else?


“So you can see that it is not merely because your hands are touching that you know but because the mind is paying attention and awareness is a quality that is part of this attention that you know they are touching.

“Can you shift your attention from your palms to your feet? You can, right? This shift in attention is actually the mind at work. It is the mind paying attention.

“If you know that you are paying attention, then you are aware of the mind.” 

Maybe it’s just where I am in my practice right now, but I find not only what he says — but how he says it — to be very, very helpful.

11 Jul
Posted in: Groups, Sangha at Large
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Happy Birthday Metta

Last night we celebrated the One Year Anniversary of Maplewood Metta! This group is very sweet, super friendly, and growing all the time. Join us! We meet every Tuesday, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, at 2817 Oakland in Maplewood. For more info, click here.

Here’s a sneak peek:


































10 Jul
Posted in: Sangha at Large
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Tranquil Wisdom

St. Louis Insight Meditation Group will host visiting teacher, Venerable Vimalaramsi, on Sunday, July 22, 7-8:45 pm at Big Bend Yoga Center, 88 N. Gore, Webster Groves.

The title of his talk: What Is Meditation?

Ven. Vimalaramsi (Bhante) has practiced meditation for more than 37 years and was ordained a Theravada monk in 1989 in Thailand. In 2005, he founded Dhamma Sukka, a monastery and meditation center in Annapolis, MO, about 2 hours south of St. Louis. There he teaches a style of meditation called Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM).

By studying the teachings of the Buddha (suttas) directly, Bhante found the elements of the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Path, and the impersonal process of Dependent Origination to be the core of the teachings. In his studies, he realized that the word sutta meant “thread” and that these threads together create a finely woven cloth. Through this understanding and his own objective experience, the 8-Fold Path began to come alive with full meaning.

This event is open to everyone. Donations collected will benefit the Dhamma Sukha Center.

Please join us for this special evening.


9 Jul
Posted in: Books, Groups, Practice
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That Changes Things

The Monday night Dancing with Life KM group meets again tonight. The group is reading the book, Dancing with Life, by Phillip Moffitt and the “assignment” for tonight is to read to the end of Chapter 5 and to come prepared with at least one sentence, phrase or paragraph to discuss with the group.

I chose a few from an early part of the book, where Phillip gives very clear instructions for the mindfulness meditation practice, AND very clear descriptions of the benefits.

From page 13: “Starting over is a key step in meditation.” This is big for me because it’s so reassuring. It’s not a failure to have to keep starting over. It’s a key part of the process!

From page 20: For the first few years of practice you are literally reprogramming your nervous system to free it from habitual reactivity. This alone will bring much ease and flexibility to your mind.” I chose this sentence because he’s talking about a benefit of meditation that’s practical, tangle, not “woo-woo.” It’s a real, down-to-earth benefit that I have experienced.

And, he continues, “The most life-changing benefits of mindfulness meditation are the insights, which arise spontaneously the way a ripened apple falls from the tree of its own accord. Insight is what changes your life. Through insight you realize what brings well-being to yourself and others as well as what brings stress, discomfort, and dissatisfaction into your life.” I chose this passage because of the phrase: Insight is what changes your life.

I chose it because Insight has changed mine.

(image by Mose Tolliver, from “Outsider Art” postcards)