Browsing Category "Groups"
4 Oct
2012
Posted in: Groups, Practice, Talks
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Wakefulness, Wisdom, Community

Last night at the Hi-Pointe Sitting Group, someone asked if we could spend some of our time learning the Pali chants I use to start the sit. So we did!

Here’s the Homage part of the chant in Pali (which we repeat 3 times):
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma-sambuddhassa

Here it is in English:
Homage to the Blessed, Noble and Pefectly Enlightened One

Here’s the Refuges part in Pali (normally done 3 times, but we just do it once):
Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami

Sangham saranam gacchami 

Here it is in English:
To the Buddha I go for refuge
To the Dhamma I go for refuge
To the Sangha I go for refuge

For me, this means that I turn to Wakefulness (the Buddha), Wisdom (the Dhamma) and Community (the Sangha) for my place of safety and rest.

Of course chants are to be heard, not read. Click here for a terrific talk by Greg Scharf, where you can listen to these chants, and hear a beautiful reflection on what it means to pay Homage and Take Refuge.

(image from Offerings by Danielle and Olivier Follmi)

1 Oct
2012
Posted in: Books, Groups
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The Dance Goes On

The Dancing with Life KM Group meets again tonight. We’re still finishing up the first section of the book by Phillip Moffitt, which focus on the First Noble Truth, the fact that there are difficulties, troubles, challenges…”suffering”…in this life.

The passage I’m bringing for tonight’s discussion is from the very end of this first section, on page 72 in the hardback version. I chose it because it’s a reminder that acknowledging and accepting the fact of life’s “suffering” does not mean becoming a doormat, or a martyr, or in some way pretending that the problems and difficulties don’t matter.

It says: In practicing being with life just as it is, you still prefer that your suffering end and you act on that preference whenever possible.

But most crucially you do not demand that your difficulties go away. Instead, you consciously and voluntarily carry your suffering, and in your acceptance of it you find meaning….Astonishingly, when you fully accept dukkha [suffering], you also discover distance from your difficulties. The way out of suffering is the way through. As Sumedho says, “To let go of suffering we have to admit it into consciousness.”   

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

21 Sep
2012
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Another Cool Thing

Oh….and at the end of the Hi-Pointe sitting on Wednesday night….there were fireworks!

OK. It had nothing to do with the sit. There was a free concert going on at Art Hill, and when it was over, they shot off fireworks….

 

 

 

 

….which we could see from the big, beautiful windows at the Blue Lotus Dharma Center…where we meet every Wednesday evening from 7:00 to 8:30 (shown here, in a photo taken during the day).

The Center is located at 1002 Hi-Pointe Place, which is just behind and to the west of the Hi-Pointe Theatre, so mostly what you see out the front window is the giant AMACO sign on Skinker. That, along with the Buddhas and the Thangkas and the little white Christmas lights (along the top of the maroon wall) make for quite an eclectic setting.

I love it.

Come see for yourself!

(I didn’t take the photo of the fireworks above. It’s just one I had in my archive of images. But you get the picture.)

 

 

20 Sep
2012
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Above All

Last night at the Hi-Pointe Sitting Group, I opened (and closed) the sitting with this selection from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche:

Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible. 

Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature.

Think of your ordinary, emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation.

Let peace work on you and enable you to gather your scattered mind….and awaken in you the awareness and insight of Clear Seeing. And you will find all your negativity disarmed, your aggression dissolved, and your confusion evaporating slowly like mist into the vast and stainless sky of your absolute nature.

 

19 Sep
2012
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What We Carry

At last Monday’s “Dancing with Life” KM group we ended up talking about retreats and dharma buddies, and lots of other interesting and important things, but we never got around to reading from the book. No matter. We’ll just pick up next week where we left off.

But I still want to post the passage I had planned to share with the group. Because it’s one I’d somehow missed on previous readings.

It’s from page 69 (hardback edition) and it comes after the part where Phillip Moffitt uses the metaphor of a wagon that carries a load to explain the idea that bearing one’s “essential, unavoidable suffering” is what allows a person to move on with their life.

The group has discussed this at several of our meetings, but we never got to the sentence that jumped out at me this time around, which is: You are being the carriage for conscious life.

Not: You are being the carriage for your own personal struggles. Or even: You are being the carriage for your own, individual life.

But: You are being the carriage for conscious life.

Here’s the sentence that precedes it: “Making the radical choice to know dukkha by mindfully agreeing to bear it as your part of the burden of being human gives your life meaning, no matter how modest or challenged it is.”

This, I believe, is what Phillip means when he says that the Four Noble Truths are not just Truths that are Noble, but that the living of them is, in fact, what ennobles us

(image from “Offerings,” by Danielle and Olivier Follmi)

 

 

17 Sep
2012
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Like Magic

Saturday morning, Cindy, Thomas and I were sitting in Tower Grove Park….meditating….as part of the Sitting in the Park group that meets every Saturday morning from 8:30 to 9:00 am.

I was sitting with my eyes closed, noticing the sounds of the birds and the motorcycles, the church bells, the dogs, the kids, the cars, and the leaves in the trees being blown by the wind. Then thirty minutes were up and Cindy rang the bell. And I opened my eyes….

….and there were four new people sitting there meditating with us!

It was as if they had materialized, out of thin air. Or sprung up from the soil. Like mushrooms!

Of course, they had arrived on foot, like normal. But they had been so quiet. (Or I had been so oblivious.) They had come after we started, and had sat down beside us, filling in the circle, and joining in the meditation….. all without saying a word.

It was really, really lovely.

Thank you, folks. I hope to see you again.

 

13 Sep
2012
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Simple But Not Easy

Last night at the Hi-Pointe Sitting Group, I closed our sit by reading this bit of advice from Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche:

I would like to pass on one little bit of advice I give to everyone.
Relax.
Just relax.
Be nice to each other.
As you go through your life, simply be kind to people.
Try to help them rather than hurt them.
Try to get along with them rather than fall out with them.
I will leave you with that, and with all my very best wishes.

Such simple advice.

Easy to hear. Hard to do.

That’s why they call it practice!

 

11 Sep
2012
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Listening to Phillip

Last night the DharmaSeed KM group listened to a very entertaining talk by Phillip Moffitt about ways to look (mindfully) at making major — or minor — life changes. He talked about different kinds of changes, including developmental changes related to life stages, adjustmental changes made in response to some new circumstance, and insight changes based on a new understanding of life and its meaning.

He also talked about sex! (You can listen for yourself by clicking here.)

At the end of the talk, he offered metta (well-wishing) to everyone listening. Instead of the traditional phrases, he used ones that he and a group of incarcerated men developed during the years he taught meditation in prison.

I loves these phrases:

May you be safe from internal and external harm.

May you have a calm, clear mind and a peaceful, loving heart.

May you be physically strong, healthy and vital.

May you experience love, joy, wonder and wisdom in this life, just as it is.

May it be so.

6 Sep
2012
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You Can’t Pretend She’s Not There

In keeping with this month’s theme of Women and Sexuality in Buddhism, I read a selection from The Buddha and the Goddess, by Rick Fields at last night’s Hi-Pointe Sitting Group.

Here’s a taste:
Thus have I envisioned:
Once the Buddha was walking along the forest path in the Oak Grove at Ojai,
walking without arriving anywhere or having any thought of arriving or not arriving.

And lotuses, shining with the morning dew miraculously appeared under every step
Soft as silk beneath the toes of the Buddha.

When suddenly, out of the turquoise sky, dancing in front of his half-shut inward-looking eyes, shimmering like a rainbow or a spider’s web,
transparent as the dew on a lotus flower–the Goddess appeared quivering like a humming bird in the air before him.

She, for she was surely a she, as the Buddha could clearly see with his eye of discriminating awareness wisdom, was mostly red in color, though when the light shifted, she flashed like a rainbow.

She was naked except for the usual flower ornaments goddesses wear.

Her long his was deep blue, her eyes fathomless pits of space, and her third eye a bloodshot song of fire.

The Buddha folded his hands together and greeted the Goddess thus: “O goddess, why are you blocking my path? Before I saw you I was happily going nowhere. Now I’m not so sure where I go.”

“You can go around me,” said the Goddess, twirling on her heel like a bird darting away, but just a little way away, “or you can come after me
but you can’t pretend I’m not here,
This is my forest, too.”

With that the Buddha sat, supple as a snake, solid as a rock, beneath a Bo tree that sprung full-leaved to shade him.

“Perhaps we should have a chat,” he said. “After years of arduous practice at the time of the morning star, I penetrated reality and ….”

“Not so fast, Buddha,” the Goddess said,
“I am reality.”

It goes on from there, but you get the gist.

(I found this in Jack Kornfield’s The Buddha Is Still Teaching. He credits Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in Buddhism & Ecology, edited by Allan Hunt Badiner.)

(image from The Buddha Tarot by Robert M. Place)

 

4 Sep
2012
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Dancing with Awareness

Last night at the Dancing with Life KM group, we spent a lot of time talking about the Third Insight, what Phillip Moffitt calls “knowing that you know.”

On page 62, he says, “Using mindfulness in working with the Third Insight means that you practice consciously shifting your awareness….For instance, if you experience pain in your back during sitting meditation, concentrate your attention not on the physical stimulus or even your experience of the pain itself, but rather on your awareness of the pain…..

“In other words, instead of just being aware that the mind is experiencing suffering around an event, notice that the knowing of it is independent from the experience itself.” (emphasis added)

I have learned that this is really the key in being able to connect with whatever’s happening….without reacting to it automatically in some old, habitual way.

On page 63, Phillip goes on to say, “You will quickly notice that this awareness is untouched by what it is aware of, regardless of whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. It is simply there, knowing that it knows. Note, however, that this knowing is not removed from or indifferent to the experience; rather, it offers you an expanded perspective on the experience. It opens you to the awareness of awareness itself.”

This may not sound like much. But in my experience, it’s the difference between being on “auto pilot” and having a conscious choice in the way you live your life.

(image from Q-card by zolo.com)