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To actually know yourself is to be the buddha

Méditation d'automne...!!!

Méditation d’automne…!!! (Photo credit: Denis Collette…!!!)

 

Oh my guru,

who exemplifies view, meditation, and action,

please grant your blessings

and let me achieve absorption in the realm of the nature of mind.

 

As far as view, meditation, action, and accomplishment,

keep these three points in mind:

all manifestations, even the universe itself is contained in mind.

The nature of mind is the realm of luminosity

beyond thought, beyond form.

Those are the key points of the view.

 

Wandering thoughts are liberated in the dharmakaya.

Awareness,  luminosity is always blissful.

Meditate in the style of nonaction and ease.

These are the key points of practice.

 

The ten virtues naturally grow

within uncontrived actions.

The ten unvirtuous acts are then purified.

Luminous emptiness is never disturbed

by remedies or correct behavior.

These are the key points of action.

 

There is no nirvana to attain.

There is no samsara to renounce.

To actually know yourself is to be the buddha.

These are the key points when it comes to accomplishment.

 

Simplify these three down to one.

This emptiness is the nature of being

which only an excellent guru can illustrate clearly.

You don’t have to do a lot.

If one notices co-emergent wisdom

the goal has been reached.

This talk is a precious jewel

for all practitioners of the dharma.

 

– Jetsun Milarepa

 

Dynamic tranquility: the Buddha in contemplation.

Dynamic tranquility: the Buddha in contemplation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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About the “Meditation Basics” program

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As I’m enjoying my day off, I’d like to write a little about the Meditation Basics classes that are starting soon.

As the title suggests, this is a good introduction for people new to the practice of meditation. At the same time, I’m sure that more experienced people would benefit as well. The class combines time spent sitting, with some discussion. If you’ve been interested in meditation and are thinking about trying it out, or have just started on your own, this is a great class for you. If you’re a more seasoned meditator, we’d love to have you here as well. The presence of serious meditators always adds something special to a group.

Group practice is valuable. I think there’s no way to overstate this. Personally, I read a lot, and meditated on my own for a few years before I got curious enough, or brave enough, to try out sitting meditation with a group (Berkeley Shambhala in California). I was so nervous going to a new place, not knowing anyone there. I remember to this day how the person at the door, who’d buzz you in, seemed really unfriendly. Weren’t meditators supposed to be friendly and gentle and caring? She buzzed me in, I walked up to the second floor, and made my way into the meditation hall. I felt like I knew what I was doing, since I’d been meditating by myself for a few years. Somehow, it felt very different though. The room was warm, pleasantly decorated, and not too crowded. But being around other people as I sat felt significantly different. Doing the technique I’d done for so long with others, and in that space, felt different. I felt exposed, put on the spot. I noticed my own thoughts and feelings much more clearly, including the feeling that I already knew what I was doing, and that I was a good meditator already.

I went back to this particular center a few times. Maybe three or four. Not too many. Somehow the difficulty of it, and the intuition that something was up there drew me in. That door guardian, who still brings up a little twinge of annoyance after all these years, somehow her presence, her unyieldingness had done something. The experience of being with a group had also. Later, asking questions of the more senior students did something valuable too. For the most part, I could just tell they had something. They were not ordinary people. They weren’t saints or gods, but they had something, and something I wanted to get for myself.

After leaving those Sunday meditations, I’d walk around Berkeley a little bit, enjoy the sunshine, probably get some coffee. Then I’d drive home to Fairfax, I think, at that point. Fairfax is an odd little town in Marin County, with a definite hippy vibe. There’s a church there that hosts a monthly (I think) rave. Normal church, but just once a month there’s a rave there, with DJ’s, people dancing. The Good Earth, I think, is the big health food store in town, and they make their own kombucha. They have this giant kombucha fungus sitting in a big jar at the back of the store. It’s really a hug kombucha creature, about three by three if I had to guess from memory.

Obviously everyone is on their own journey, with sidetracks, pit stops, crashes, and all the rest. For meditators, studying with others is a valuable part of that journey, and can be very interesting and surprising. Thanks for indulging me as I shared a little about my own trip. Here’s a little information about the Meditation Basics classes. They’ll be starting on the 11th of December.

Overall, there are three classes. I highly recommend that you take them in order, from one to three.

We start with sitting meditation, which focuses on the breath. This technique, sometimes called mindfulness, is the foundation of various sorts of practice. It’s the technique that all the others taught here are built on. In Basics 2, we learn walking meditation, and a kind of body-awareness meditation. Again, the mindfulness technique in Basics 1 is the foundation the things like walking and body awareness are built on. In Basics 3, we learn contemplative meditation, and some other forms too.

Of course, there’s also discussion. This is a time to talk about what’s on your mind, and to ask questions about the techniques we’ve learned. There are also some discussion topics. Basics Two focuses on the teaching known as the “four foundations of mindfulness.” Basics One is a little more general. We cover a lot of different ideas. Here a few:

Meaning

The meaningful life

Preciousness of life, and gratitude

Change

Letting go

Cause and effect

Discipline

The mind

Emotions

Overall, the three courses are a great introduction to meditation. I think they’d also be a great refresher for people who’ve been sitting for a while, and want a reminder. Classes held in Newbury MA, about forty five minutes from Boston.

Fall Classes 2012

Recycled Art

This class will be hands-on, and experiential. Learn to meditate, and explore concepts such as interconnection, and mandala. At the same time, we’ll spend lots of class time working with recycled materials to create new art. No prior artistic training required.

$75

.

Buddhist Psychology

Eastern and Western traditions offer sophisticated ways to understand ourselves. We’ll look at ways they intersect, and what to make of this. Topics will include ego, shadow, conditioning, the subconscious, and society and the individual.

$100

.

Bardo

This class will focus on a topic that combines complexity and simplicity at the same time. This concept comes from a body of teachings on the process of transitions within life, and from life to death. However, this model can also shed light on the changes that occur in our minds, as life shifts before our eyes.

$150

.

Writing the Ocean

For beginning or experienced writers. We will do a little meditating, but will spend most of our time on the writing process. A variety of written exercises will be presented, on basics such as plot, character, and emotion. Overall, our goal will be to discover new ways to bring out a voice, and how to work with this.

$100

.

Taking Up the Challenge

Recommended for more experienced meditators. Through a variety of traditional practices, we will both meditate in the studio, and out in the world, in a variety of locations. This class will work on “meditation in action” and bridging the gaps between formal practice and in the world practice.

$100

.

Dharma Talks

These weekly get-togethers will be chances to practice, enjoy the support of community, and hear teachings. These talks will happen on Tuesday evenings. Open to everyone. Five dollars or by donation. There will be time for discussion after each talk.

(free/by donation)

.

Sitting and walking meditation

Open to everyone. Free public sitting and walking meditation, with some instruction.

(free)

 

Discounts apply. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.

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?

June moon tune

 

The April classes approach. Woooo

This means that also, soon the April classes will be gone. Then June/August classes.

Here are some thoughts on what those months will look like:

– Poetry of the Sages (poetry, language, and the spirit of the dharma)

– Practice intensives (daylong retreats, or longer)

– Basic meditation 2 (building on Meditation 101, we’ll extend the teachings on mindfulness, and work with a few “new” meditation techniques)

– Communication, space, mind (communication is one of those big buzzwords- what does it mean, how does this relate to energy, what’s the line between skillful communication, gentleness, and manipulation, what’s the line between skillful communication and magic?)

– Practicing with nature (meditation and dharma in the context of the natural world)

I’m getting enthusiastic thinking about it! Good stuff. If you’re interested, let me know. If you’re tentative, maybe don’t let me know, or maybe you could. If cost is an issue, as always, just “start a conversation” as a teacher friend of mine used to say. I’d rather have more people in a class, and a little less moolah than a small class with everyone “paid up.”

One more thought- Recycling! The way I see it, these groups could extend way beyond classes. If there’s interest, we could spend some time outside, walking around, cleaning up trash from an area. Why not?

Lots fermenting…

 

Deutsch: Bodhidharma

Deutsch: Bodhidharma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rowley talk

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m giving a talk at the public library in Rowley, Mass. It’s on stress and mindfulness. It’s free!

It’s from 630-745. The more people who show up the better!

Let me know if you need directions to the library. Here’s the description:

Almost everyone today seems to be stressed out. Everyone seems busy,
and being so busy, it can be hard to relax. On one hand, work is not
optional. Having a full life can be very satisfying. On the other
hand, not only is stress unpleasant, it has clear health consequences.
Everyone seems to be stressed out, and it’s hard to know what the
solution might be.

In this talk, we will discuss how mindfulness, especially mindfulness
meditation, could be helpful. This is a technique drawn from Buddhism.
It may be useful to people from all backgrounds. Using the mind and
the body, we can work with the material our lives give us, and find
out more about stress, emotions, and reality.

Spontaneity through meditation

Meditation with Arms, a sculpture by Auguste R...

Meditation with Arms, a sculpture by Auguste Rodin. Located at the B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford University. Right side shown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Meditation somehow magically makes spontaneity more likely. This happens with perception, and with action. This means that when I practice enough, which is a lot for me, my senses clear up, like my nose clears up when I’m not suffering from allergies, and suddenly my breathing is better and I feel good. Also, what I say, the way I walk, how I open a door even, become less robotic, less clunky and the same as usual. This spontaneity is connected to the idea of dance. This kind of dance is spontaneous, at least a little bit.

 

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