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