Monthly Archives: July 2012

So what is “meditation basics”?

For anyone interested, here’s a little about the series called Meditation Basics.

The emphasis is more on practices than on the intricacies of Buddhist thought. Not that the intricacies are bad; they’re wonderful, but they’re not for everyone. To get an actual feel for the practices, it’s probably best to show up and try a class.

But what are the classes like? Well, Basics 1 one focuses on mindfulness meditation. This is sitting meditation. Actually, there’s a lot to work on just with this technique. There’s a lot of depth there, and a lot to be discovered. It’s also a foundation for other techniques.

Basics 2 works on some other practices. It continues with the practice of mindful sitting meditation. We work on walking meditation, and also the practice of “the four immeasurables.” This is an introduction to contemplative meditation. In some ways, it’s more intellectual than mindfulness practice.

As you can see, we don’t do anything too exotic, or complicated. Part of the idea there is that learning foundational practices like mindful breathing allows people to do other practices (like visualization) better, if they want to at some point. It’s like doing strength training in order to get better at playing soccer, or baseball.

Basics 1 and 2 coming up in a few weeks. Basics 3 will probably be in the near future, and here’s what that covers: more mindfulness, and what’s known as “body scan” meditation. Another technique is taught as well. The body scan turns the mindfulness developed in other practices, and turns it inward, into the body.

This is what Basics covers. Not too much philosophy, lots of practice.

365/220 The meaning of mindfulness, Aug. 08, 2011

365/220 The meaning of mindfulness, Aug. 08, 2011 (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

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August: a time for classes

Just a quick reminder about classes.

Two classes will be offered in August: Meditation Basics 1, and Meditation Basics 2. These are classes that are not heavy on traditional Buddhist material, but focus instead on meditation technique.

Meditation Basics 1

7-815 pm

Mondays and Wednesdays
Aug. 6-22

Meditation Basics 2

7-815 pm

Tuesdays and Thursdays

Aug. 7-23

There’s no prerequisite. Taken separately, the classes are 75 each, or $100 if taken together.

Last poetry class

In honor of the final poetry/meditation class, for “poetry of the sages,” I’m posting a few youtube videos.

 

First, is an interview with Ginsberg and William F. Buckley. It makes me think about poetry and artists in terms of culture and politics. It’s also an interesting glimpse of two people conversing, and an older style of media. For someone somewhat saturated in modern American culture, seeing this makes me rethink the kind of stuff I’m absorbing via radio, TV, etc., on a daily basis. With this last idea, I’m thinking in particular about Ginsberg’s comment about people not having the data to understand “the police state” because of censorship, and self-censorship. Now, I wouldn’t so easily label things a police state, in the way Allen Ginsburg does, but at the same time, there are lots of problems out there, politically and socially, and media is a part of this picture.

 

 

Is this about poetry? Well, not directly so, but here are a few connections:

1. Allen Ginsburg was a famous poet. Poets these days would have trouble getting on a bigtime conservative talk show. They just wouldn’t be well known enough.

So that’s about poets as media or cultural icons.

2. It’s about language and how this affects people’s minds (censorship), and this relates obviously to poetry.

The censorship question is especially interesting because the rules are so much more lax today than in 1968.

 

Since I do want to include some actual poetry, here is some by Gertrude Stein. For me, this is mostly about the way my mind works with the rhythm and sounds. There is interpretation that can go on as far as the meaning, but I don’t know how much with Stein is intentional, and how much poetry, for her, is just about playing with rhythm and sound. Anyway, here’s some Stein. Enjoy.

 

Medicine Buddha

Statue of Medicine Buddha, Sangye Menla

Statue of Medicine Buddha, Sangye Menla (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Tibetan Buddhists, the practice of Medicine Buddha is something you can do. This connects to a few larger questions:

 

– what is the view of healing?

this happens in the context of body ailments, and especially mental/emotional ailments

in light of the problem of “spiritual materialism,” how much and what kind of healing do we want or need?

is “healing” just some sort of New Age promise, some sort of scheme?

 

– doesn’t this connect to ideas about fixing, transforming, and recognizing?

fixing- there are some big issues that could shorten lifespan, and impede practice- good to fix these, right?

transforming- just as with emotional issues, all issues could be transformed into their positive versions (too much heat into warmth and compassion, too much cold into clarity and precision, something like that)

recognizing- things are essentially good and pure, even illnesses and problems

 

of course, the last two seem at odds, and hashing that out is beyond me at this point

 

– ideas of people as “broken” and needing to be healed, and good and bad sides to this

ideas of people as good, fine, and good and bad sides to this

being too hung up on needing to fix things

being too arrogant about things beings fine

 

– since a lot of this seems very individualistic, what about more social applications of healing?

social problems seem localized in some ways— how do you address this?

New classes on the way! Other thoughts will probably be included!

As I keep chipping away at the Milarepa material, and posting that here, it will show up, here. Or churning away, as one teacher put it, comparing Milarepa’s words to milk, which must be churned, and can then be transformed into milk, butter, and cream. In any case, I plan to keep working on that.
It’s a big task, a lot of songs. It’s interesting to me how a task that big can seem both totally undoable (how could you ever complete all of them, it would take either a monumental one time effort, or just years of smaller continued efforts) and casually very doable- if a song or two a day takes years, then so be it. It takes years, and means not a whole lot of effort, at least short term.

Anyway, classes… This was probably not clear, since I didn’t mention it directly, but the classes offered right now are part of a curriculum, and one that will be changing over time, but a curriculum nonetheless.

This is to say that, yes, I am just a guy offering some classes on meditation and theory, but, then again, I actually have a vision, buzzword that’s often a little annoying, or a plan, maybe, for the kind of education I’m offering.

One pretty traditional setup in Tibetan Buddhism is the “three yana” structure. This is one thing I’m basing my classes on.

So, in order to keep this post to the point, and not too boring, I’ll draw this to a close. Classes are being offered, and you’re invited to attend! Of course, if you are somewhat interested but not sure, you could attend one, and then decide.

Again, there is a curriculum, and it is based on this three part structure of the “yanas.” The next post, which you can skip if you don’t want a detailed explanation of the curriculum and plan for courses, will go over what this structure means more or less, and how I’ll be implementing it.

Oh, it’s also the anniversary of the first turning of the wheel of the dharma, the first official teaching the Buddha gave. Happy turning of the wheel!

Jake

Milarepa Friday 13th part 2

71

 

I bow  down at the feet of my guru.

Good patrons, if you want to realize the essence

of the mind,

practice these: faith, knowledge, discipline.

 

These three things are the central pillar of the mind.

This is the tree you should plant and cultivate.

Nonattachment, nonclinging, and seeing clearly

these are the shields of the mind.

They are light, but strong.

You should seek out these shields.

 

Meditation, effort, energy,

these are the three horses of the mind.

 

Self-luminosity, self-cognizance, and self-rapture

these are the three fruits of the mind.

Refine the fluid and essence emerges.

If you want results, these are the results

you should look for.

Coming from yogic intuition

I sing this song of the twelve meanings of mind.

Inspired by faith, keep practicing my good patrons.

 

74

 

I supplicate my guru.

I met you by having accomplished great merit.

Now I stay where you predicated I would.

 

This place of hills and forests is delightful.

In the mountain meadows flowers bloom.

The trees sway and dance in the forest.

Monkeys play here.

Birds sing. Bees buzz around.

All day rainbows come and go.

A sweet rain falls in both summer and winter.

Mist and fog roll in during fall and spring.

I’m happy to live in such a pleasant place, alone,

meditating on the emptiness-illuminating mind.

 

What a pleasant array of manifestations!

The more variations there are, the more joyful I feel.

What a pleasure to have a body free from negative karma.

These innumerable confusions are a joy!

The more fear I feel the happier I am.

What a wonder- the death of emotions.

The larger the upset, the larger the passions

the more ease and pleasure you can feel.

 

How good it is to know that joy and suffering are one.

How good it is to move and play

with a body empowered by yoga.

Isn’t it fun to jump, run, dance, and leap?

 

How good it is to sing a victory song.

How good it is to chant and hum.

Even better to speak and sing at the top of your voice!

The mind that is steeped in nonduality

is powerful and confident.

The highest ease is the self-existing emanation of energy.

 

These multifarious forms and insights arising are delightful.

I sing this yogic song of joy

as a gift to my faithful students.

 

 

75

 

Oh, my guru shows the unmistakable path to liberation.

The perfect guide, the great compassionate one,

please never leave me.

Always remain above my head, as a jewel on my crest.

 

Listen, followers of the dharma,

meditators sitting here,

although the teachings of the buddha are numerous,

the gifted can practice vajrayana, profound path.

 

If you want to become a buddha in this life

do not crave things

and do not intensify your ego-clinging

or you’ll be entangled in good and bad, this and that,

and fall into the realm of misery.

 

When you serve your teacher,

refrain from thinking,

“I work while he enjoys the benefits.”

If you feel this way, unhappiness will surely follow,

and so your aspirations will flounder.

 

When observing samaya, avoid associating with troubled people,

or you’ll be contaminated by their influence,

and you could violate the precepts as a result.

 

When you study and practice,

do not arrogantly cling to words

or the dormant fire of the five passions will flare up

and virtuous thoughts and deeds will be consumed.

 

When you meditate with friends on retreat,

do not do too much, or your virtue and devotion

will run out.

 

When you practice creation and completion

based on the ear-whispered instructions

do not perform magic or bother with spirits.

If you do, demons might arise in your own mind,

and worldly longing will burn.

 

When you have acquired experience and realization

do not show off your power,

or predict the future.

If you do, the secret instructions could lose potency,

and merit and insight could, then, diminish.

 

Be careful! Avoid these pitfalls,

and avoid nonvirtue.

Don’t eat poisonous food.

Don’t eat dangerous offerings.

Don’t speak sweetly just to please others.

Be humbly and modest, and you’ll be on the right track.

 

Milarepa friday the 13th

The blessings of the guru enter my heart.

My I realize emptiness.

 

In answer to my faithful patrons

I sing a song that is pleasant to even deities and buddhas.

 

Arising, emptiness, and nonduality,

these three things are the essence of the view.

 

Luminosity, nonthought, undistractedness,

these three things are the essence of meditation.

 

Freedom from clinging, nonattachment, being unbiased,

are the essence of action.

 

No hope, no fear, no confusion,

these are the essence of accomplishment.

 

Not trying, not hiding, or discriminating,

these three are the essence of the vows.

 

 

70

 

I bow down at the feet of the guru.

Deep in the unspoiled forest

I happily practice meditation.

With no attachment or clinging

moving or being still is equally pleasant.

Healthy in body and mind,

I willingly sustain my illusory form.

I never sleep,

just sitting comfortably in the quiet.

Abiding in the samadhi of impermanence

I taste enjoyment.

I’m glad that my chandali practice is continuous.

I joyfully do my tantric practice

with no fear or confusion.

I perfect my cultivation of energy with no distraction.

I’m really happy to be alone.

These are the pleasures of my  body.

 

The path of wisdom and skillful means is enjoyable.

The yoga of creation and completion,

and nondual meditation are enjoyable.

Prajna, awareness of not coming or going, is enjoyable.

No friends, no chatting, the absence is enjoyable.

These are the pleasures of speech.

 

The understanding of nongrasping is enjoyable.

Meditation without interruption is enjoyable.

Accomplishment free from hope or fear is enjoyable.

Actions done without defilement are enjoyable.

These are the pleasures of mind.

 

Luminosity free of thought and change- this is enjoyable.

The great bliss of dharmadatu- this is enjoyable.

The unceasing realm of form- this is enjoyable.

 

This little song of enjoyment flowing freely from my heart

has been inspired by meditation, the merging of action and prajna.

Those who want the fruit of bodhi

may follow this this path of yogic practice.

 

Speaking of Milarepa

Since I’ve been writing so much about Mila recently, I should mention this.

 

At the Drikung Meditation Center in Arlington MA, there is a teacher named Lho Ongtrul Rinpoche giving teachings soon. (I could be misspelling his name- if so, I apologize.) He’s giving a Kurukulla empowerment, and a Milarepa empowerment, and more. The cost is not high, and they’re willing to offer reduced rates if cost is an issue. Volunteers always needed.

 

So, if Milarepa’s songs have struck some sort of chord, consider signing up for these teachings. I don’t think I’ll be attending, at least not the Milarepa day, since I’ll be working, but think it over. Hearing the dharma in person is worthwhile, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “maybe I should go to X teaching,” skipped it because I was a little tired or uncomfortable going to a new place, and then regretted it afterwards.

 

Remember, there are at least three jewels!

Speaking of Milarepa

Since I’ve been writing so much about Mila recently, I should mention this.

 

At the Drikung Meditation Center in Arlington MA, there is a teacher named Lho Ongtrul Rinpoche giving teachings soon. (I could be misspelling his name- if so, I apologize.) He’s giving a Kurukulla empowerment, and a Milarepa empowerment, and more. The cost is not high, and they’re willing to offer reduced rates if cost is an issue. Volunteers always needed.

 

So, if Milarepa’s songs have struck some sort of chord, consider signing up for these teachings. I don’t think I’ll be attending, at least not the Milarepa day, since I’ll be working, but think it over. Hearing the dharma in person is worthwhile, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “maybe I should go to X teaching,” skipped it because I was a little tired or uncomfortable going to a new place, and then regretted it afterwards.

 

Remember, there are at least three jewels!

Speaking of Milarepa

Since I’ve been writing so much about Mila recently, I should mention this.

 

At the Drikung Meditation Center in Arlington MA, there is a teacher named Lho Ongtrul Rinpoche giving teachings soon. (I could be misspelling his name- if so, I apologize.) He’s giving a Kurukulla empowerment, and a Milarepa empowerment, and more. The cost is not high, and they’re willing to offer reduced rates if cost is an issue. Volunteers always needed.

 

So, if Milarepa’s songs have struck some sort of chord, consider signing up for these teachings. I don’t think I’ll be attending, at least not the Milarepa day, since I’ll be working, but think it over. Hearing the dharma in person is worthwhile, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “maybe I should go to X teaching,” skipped it because I was a little tired or uncomfortable going to a new place, and then regretted it afterwards.

 

Remember, there are at least three jewels!

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