15 Aug
2019
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Three Kinds of Happiness

The topic of my next 5-week Study & Practice class series will be the Three Kinds of Happiness, as described in Phillip Moffitt’s Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering (which will be our reference text).

These three kinds of happiness are:

  • “The happiness that arises when conditions in your life are what you desire them to be
  • “The well-being that comes when your mind is joyful and at ease, regardless of the conditions of your life at the moment
  • “The unbounded joy you feel when your mind has reached final liberation from all clinging”

*** This is an intermediate-level course suitable for meditators who are interested in a deeper understanding of their relationship to the conditions of life, as well as an overview of the samadhi meditation practice that leads to deep states of mental absorption (jhana), and the Insight Meditation practice (vipassana) that leads to liberation. ***

When: Tuesday evenings, Sept 17 to Oct 15, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
Where: First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman (at Kingshighway)

Each session will include instructions plus 20-30 minutes of silent meditation and time for discussion. The classes are offered on a dana (generosity) basis. To register, there is an initial $20 fee, which pays for room rental and helps to cover the costs of maintaining this DharmaTown website.

For more information and to register, e-mail me, Jan Rosamond, here.

*** My teaching credentials: I have completed four years of training through Spirit Rock, where I am certified as a Community Dharma Leader. I’ve practiced in the Western Insight tradition for more than 20 years with a variety of teachers including Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and many others. I’ve spent more than 500 days on silent retreat including several 1- and 2-month intensive retreats in the U.S., South Africa, and Burma (Myanmar). My mentoring teacher is Phillip Moffitt. ***

14 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books
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The Opposite of “Racist” Isn’t “Not Racist”

I was so moved — and enlightened — by Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” (which I posted about here) that as soon as I heard he was coming out with a follow-up book — “How to Be an Antiracist” — I pre-ordered it.

And now, finally, it’s here. It arrived on my Kindle yesterday. And I can’t put it down.

It begins with Kendi describing his own unwitting racism. (Kendi is Black.) He write:

“I was a dupe, a chump who saw the on-going struggles of Black people and decided that Black people themselves were the problem. This is the consistent function of racist ideas — and any kind of bigotry more broadly: to manipulate us into seeing people as the problem, instead of the policies that ensnare them..

“The good news is that racist and antiracist are not fixed identities. We can be a racist one minute and an antiracist the next. What we say about race, what we do about race, in each moment, determines what — not who — we are.

“I used to be racist most of the time. I am changing. I am no longer identifying with racists by claiming to be ‘not racist.’ I am no longer speaking through the mask of racial neutrality. I am no longer manipulated by racist ideas to see racial groups as problems…

“This book is ultimately about the basic struggle we’re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see others as fully human. I share my own journey of being raised in the dueling racial consciousness of the Reagan-era Black middle class, then right-turning onto the ten-lane highway of anti-Black racism — a highway mysteriously free of police and free of gas — and veering off onto the two-lane highway of anti-White racism, where gas is rare and police are everywhere, before finding and turning down the unlit dirt road of antiracism.

“After taking this grueling journey to the dirt road of antiracism, humanity can come upon the clearing of a potential future: an antiracist world in all its imperfect beauty. It can become real if we focus on power instead of people, if we focus on changing policy instead of groups of people. It’s possible if we overcome our cynicism about the permanence of racism.

“We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend not to be racist. Now let’s know how to be antiracist.”

12 Aug
2019
Posted in: Retreats
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Come Meet My Friend Tuere

My friend, Tuere Sala, is coming to St. Louis!

She’ll give an evening talk on Friday, Sept 6 (6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the First Unitarian Church on Waterman and Kingshighway). Then she’ll lead a day-long retreat on Saturday, Sept 7 (9:00 am to 4:00 pm, also at the First Unitarian Church). And then, she’ll offer a special afternoon session for People of Color on Sunday, Sept 8 (2:00 to 4:00 pm, at InPower Institute near Tower Grove Park). 

You can come for just the Friday night talk ($10), or just the Saturday day-long ($50), or BOTH (priced on a sliding scale beginning at $55). AND if you self-identify as a person of color, you can ALSO come to the Sunday POC session ($5)!

I’ve sat several long retreats with Tuere and she is AWESOME. (She’s also funny!) She’s a former prosecuting attorney turned Dharma teacher, who has worked extensively with folks who are living with high stress, dealing with past trauma, or who just have a lot of trouble sitting still! (Sound like anyone you know?)

Click here for more info about Tuere and details about the weekend events. Or if you have any questions, you can e-mail me here. Or just show up at the right time/place. (No one will be turned away for lack of funds.)

I will be there. Come by and say hi!

9 Aug
2019
Posted in: Books, Practice
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They Are Kissing.

An untrained mind obscures the natural qualities of heart. As the mind becomes more clear and the heart lets loose of the constrictions created by the roughness of life, awareness can flow without judgement.

This does not mean without discernment. Discernment leads to wisdom. Awareness is the essence of discernment, but it does not reject anything.

Judgement leads to separation. Comparing leads to separation. But discernment includes everything.

A well-trained mind, collected and unified, sees the dance of opposites. The heart blossoms and the opposites unite.

The moon and sun: Kiss.

This is within you. Your sun. Your moon.

You are what you want.

***

(adapted from Awakening through the Nine Bodies, by Phillip Moffitt)

8 Aug
2019
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This Doesn’t Work

“The Buddha came to the following realization: the path to happiness and a sense of well being in this very life lies not in avoiding suffering but in using the conscious, embodied, direct experience of it as a vehicle to gain deep insight into the true nature of life and your own experience.” — from Dancing with Life, by Phillip Moffitt

6 Aug
2019
Posted in: Practice
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There’s This

My mom turns 90 this month.

There’s stuff going on with her health that needs my attention, so probably for the next week or so I won’t be posting as often as I’d like.

Old age is hard.

Practice helps.

It’s still hard.
But there are gifts.

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!

1 Aug
2019
Posted in: Art, Practice
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Breathe.

(Illustration/text by Maira Kalman, who sat a 3-day silent retreat at IMS in 2013 and then drew/wrote about the experience for Mindful magazine.)

31 Jul
2019
Posted in: Classes
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Cultivation of Attention

I’m thinking of offering a new 5-week Study & Practice class series on the Cultivation of Attention. So far, I’m planning to include instructions and guided meditations on:

  • Resting Attention on the Body
  • Aiming and Sustaining Attention
  • Practicing Kind Attention

I’m hoping to offer the series beginning Sept 17, but I’m still working out the details. Stay tuned!

***

(illustration by Maira Kalman)

30 Jul
2019
Posted in: Poems
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Someplace Between the 17th and 18th Mile

Under Ideal Conditions
by Al Zolynas

say in the flattest part of North Dakota
on a starless moonless night
no breath of wind

a man could light a candle
then walk away
every now and then
he could turn and see
the candle burning

seventeen miles later
provided conditions remained ideal
he could still see the flame

somewhere between the seventeen and eighteenth mile
he would lose the light

if he were walking backwards
he would know the exact moment when he lost the flame

he could step forward and find it again
back and forth
dark to light light to dark

what’s the place where the light disappears?
where the light reappears?
don’t tell me about photons
and eyeballs
reflection and refraction
don’t tell me about one hundred and eighty-six thousand
miles per second and the theory of relativity

all I know is that place
where the light appears and disappears
that’s the place where we live