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Does the self get convinced?

crematorium at karme choling retreat center in...

crematorium at karme choling retreat center in vermont, where tibetan lama chögyam trungpa rinpoche was cremated. this stupa like structure is in the upper meadow. picture was taken by laura ross and she released it under this creative commons license. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’m going to write a very short one about a thought I had today, or yesterday, I can’t remember.

The idea of a self, which is separate in some way, experiences, relates to world, and others-

The idea of habits as a way we keep from experiencing new, surprising, challenging things-

The idea of some sort of realization or progress on the path-


Here’s my thought- the mesh of habits we use to avoid being spontaneous, being in the world, this seems to create stasis. All of our habits and set ways seem to create stability. This is an illusion in a real sense, because things are always changing. The ground shifts under our feet, continually. No matter how stuck we are in the mud of habit and routine, we’re approaching that big surprise.

[remembered from a note tacked up on the wall at a certain meditation center I used to frequent, a quote from Chogyam Trungpa, at a teaching about the dying process… a student asked something like “How would you talk to someone who is passing away?” VCTR- “Well, you see, you are dying…”]

So being set in our ways is like a film over the eye of present, always changing experience. The self loves being set in its way, it loves habit, loves addiction, even. Working on that, is it about convincing the self, eventually, that things are, really, the way they are? Is it about getting the self to accept the nature of change?



Love to hear your thoughts





New class- Jan. 8th, nine Wednesdays from 4-5pm, “Selfless Self Help”






The next four weeks


Just quickly, here is an overview of the next four weeks of Tuesdays. Each week, we’ll meditate and then discuss a text called the “Dhammapada.”

Photocopies will be available.

Jan. 8- Mind training

Jan. 15- Mistakes to avoid

Jan. 22- The goal

Jan. 29- Good and bad


Dharma talks are Tuesdays from 4-530pm. Meditation instruction is offered. By donation.

Xmas eve

christmas 2007

christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)

Come chant Buddhist texts at the barn on Christmas eve.

It’s a nice way to celebrate this time, enjoy the company of others, and relax. Chant is also a good way to familiarize yourself with the teachings, practice your breathing, and rouse your energy.

It will be on Monday the 24th, from 5-6 pm. There will be no dharma talk this week, but we’ll start up again next week.

This will be by donation, pay what you can. All profits for this event will be donated to a charity in Boston.

(Note: this is not a performance. Come and chant! Don’t come just to listen.)


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)



About the “Meditation Basics” program


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:


The meaningful life

Preciousness of life, and gratitude


Letting go

Cause and effect


The mind


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.

Excerpt from “108 Reflections”


from the short text, 108 Reflections on Practice:

  1. Practice is a way to connect the highest aspirations, hopes, dreams and so on, with the actual practical realities of reality. It can be easy to not have these two things meet- dreams and reality. Often, it’s easy enough to read about high concepts, but also too easy to allow this to stay in the realm of concept and not shake the foundations of everyday living.
  2. Practice is a way to protect your mind. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, it’s said that shunyata, or “emptiness” is the best protection for the mind. Why even protect your mind? Because if you don’t, it gets chaotic, dirty, unpleasant to live with. You can get what one teacher called “mental halitosis.” Emptiness can refer to wisdom beyond concept, or the fact that reality is never quite concept. Reading this is one thing, experiencing somewhat something else. Practice allows for “tuning in” to this kind, or way of experiencing more directly, away from labels and ideas.
  3. Then again, concepts are powerful and useful, and inescapable. Again, it can be hard to connect the deep philosophy written by people in the past, and moment to moment experience. This doesn’t mean that words or ideas are garbage, though. They have a huge impact on what we do, and how we do it. So practice doesn’t just let you experience and understand emptiness, it lets you work with ideas in different ways, seeing them from different angles. In a way, an idea is like a vivid mandala manifesting in empty space. It’s like a colorful cloud, or rainbow. Your mind is full of these clouds.
  4. Practice lets you see your own limitations and issues. Sometimes it’s easy to know your own limitations, sometimes it’s not. Having a routine of practice involves some discipline. There’s really no way around that. If you can do a practice regularly, every day, then you’re doing it. If you can’t, then the discipline isn’t there. In terms of issues, again, everyone has some idea what is “wrong with them,” but practicing shows you your own mind, from a slightly different perspective. If there’s a problem, you’ll see it there.
  5. We may never become completely fearless, but fear is something you can work with. It can become part of your path. It’s a very basic, profound experience. It would be strange to ignore it, if emotions are part of your process.
  6. Practice accomplishes things. There’s no promise it will make you pretty, or perfectly happy, or wise, but it does process you. People who have practiced are different. This is one highlight of being part of a community of practitioners: you get to see others who’ve “been there before.” They probably won’t be perfect, and many won’t be easy, but they should have some qualities of having grown.
  7. Practice has implications for the entire world. This is as personal as what is accomplished for practitioners. It’s not just about going to a temple, or praying at home, but also about what you do once you’re interacting with the world.text by Jacb Karlins 2012

New things on the horizon


I’ve been busy with regular work, part of which was  temp job. That having finished, I’ll be back here a little more, at least, for a little while.

New classes are on the way. These will start in a week or so. The lineup may change, but here is a sketch of what’s being offered in late Fall.


Deepening Your Meditation

An hour or so of group sitting practice, and talking about how to deepen practice.


Addiction and the Buddhist Teachings

Connections between overcoming addictions and Buddhist ideas.


Sane for Holidays/Compassion for the Holidays

Two classes on (believe it or not) finding some sanity during the holiday madness, and finding some compassion too.


PADMA Technique

A new technique based on traditional meditation and Buddhist frameworks. Work with your issues, habits, and learn to meditate.

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.



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.




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.



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.



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.



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.



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

Milarepa Friday 13th part 2



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.




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.





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.


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.


Sharing my translations of the teachings of a great Tibetan teacher

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Photography by Manos,

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@meditationstuff (Since 2013; 100+ posts; 50,000+ words and counting...)

Meditation and transformative practice vis-à-vis rationality, phenomenology, neuroscience and {clinical, developmental, evolutionary} psychology because humans.

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