Monthly Archives: May 2012

New classes starting soon!



The new classes will begin in June. They will happen on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.

The times will be from 8-915.


Tuesdays: Meditation 101

This class will start again. An introduction to Buddhist meditation, with some discussion.


Wednesdays: Beyond the Basics

This class follows Med. 101. We’ll spend a bit longer meditating. We’ll learn some new meditation practices, including contemplative meditation. You must have completed Meditation 101 to take this class, or have been practicing for a while.


Thursdays: Poetry of the Sages

We’ll meditate some in the beginning of class, and then read and discuss poetry. Authors will come from a wide range of times and places. We’ll explore how magic and wisdom manifest in the written and spoken word.


So those are the classes. They’ll run for about six to eight weeks (more details soon).

Kailash Buddhist Meditation Centre, Howbeck Ro...

Kailash Buddhist Meditation Centre, Howbeck Road, Oxton, Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There is more. I’ll be teaching an intensive on Time/Space/Knowledge, a theory created by Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. I’ll be teaching a series of workshops outdoors (most likely at Maudsley State Park in Newburyport), in which we’ll meditate in delightful natural settings. There may be other classes offered during this time as well.


Delicious polar

ginger ale. One of the many good things about living in New England.

Polar Sign Original

Polar Sign Original (Photo credit: Wikipedia)  


For anyone there are the last “Meditation 101,” or if you’re planning on attending next week’s class (you should! it’ll be great! plus no refunds!)

we talked about impermanence, or change. We ended the class by talking a little bit about cause and effect.

One thing I think about a lot these days is how, in Buddhism, there’s so much said about cycles and patterns. Buddhists, like most religious folks, follow a calendar (at least some do).

If you want to keep it more secular, you can start with the approach: in my life, there might be some patterns and ways things happen in cycles. Then you could observe cause and effect: is that the case? Are things entirely random, and is the whole idea of cycles happening (beyond say the natural world, which we’re pretty removed from) fantasy?

At this point, most people, if they’re not hooked into some religion, have a calendar determined by work, social life, and government holidays. The seasons go on. You notice, more or less, enjoy or complain, and that’s it. My idea is, why not have a calendar that is related to your spiritual life? It’s not a new idea at all, but it’s a little alien to a lot of Western Buddhists, I think, which is unfortunate. It’s also unfortunate that (modern American) holidays get a bad rap. They seem to not only be about commerce a lot of the time, but feel awkwardly random- why this day? Does it really mean anything? Maybe that’s just me. Sometimes they don’t have the juice they need, though, in my opinion. I don’t doubt this is different for, say, observant Catholics going to Easter celebrations. But for a lot of people, holidays have no zip, no energy. The implication is definitely that they could (more). But that would mean people acknowledging some kind of sacredness outside of themselves, and not being spiritually materialistic about the endeavor. The problem is that to a certain extent, unless we’re going (American Buddhists, now, I’m talking about) to Tibetanize ourselves, or Japanize ourselves, we are faced with celebrating ritual and holidays in our own unique way, that makes sense to us as Americans.

Of course I’ve gotten off track here, as I always do when I write.

For anyone taking Meditation 101, we’re not too worried about who’s a Buddhist, or what that is, we’re mostly thinking about life in concrete terms, and about learning to meditate. In regards to holidays and calendars, then you could, as a secular meditator, or an interested meditator consider, if you like: is there anything meaningful about the calendar and its patterns? What about holidays?

Milarepa May 3

I’m going to try write more later about this. For now, a short one.


On the “Chronicles” website, there’s a series of talks on Milarepa. In the commentary on one talk, the idea is presented that Milarepa’s life involves family troubles, conflicts just like our own. Milarepa was an ascetic yogi for most of his life, I believe, but in contrast to that, his story also includes ordinary stuff, stuff that is “relatable.”

A few years back I found a free download of a Trungpa Rinpoche talk somewhere online. It was entitled the “Origin of Suffering,” but was mistitled, and was actually a track from a teaching on the 100,000 songs of Milarepa, this particular talk focusing on the principle of the dakini. Milarepa, while meditating, encounters a dakini, a feminine spirit embodying certain energies. Dakinis, whether you think of them as spirits, or as energetic events, are associated with both “inspiration” as Rinpoche put it, and chaos- plague, war, famine.

The dakini seems esoteric and Tibetan and superstitious even, but it’s very real and ordinary. One way of looking at it- it’s like the Al Bundy aspect of life, the sitcom aspect. You just can’t win. Things keep falling apart and falling apart. You’re part of a “cosmic joke.” Another way of looking at it is in terms of your own subconscious and its influence on you/itself. You keep hearing voices, and they influence you, sometimes to be mean, or crazy, or habitual. Those subconscious pulls are the dakini, or dakinis.

paraphrased from talk:

“It’s not enough to … try to be good, try to do right.. under the surface, other energy aspects are creeping…”


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