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New classes starting soon!

 

Correct!

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?

Deal!

 

Sign up for one of my classes (dharma art, meditation 101) by the end of the week, and get a free dharma book!

Contact me via the site, or email me.

By Friday night!

 

 

What book, you might ask? Could be…

Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Sun of Wisdom

Practice of Lojong

No Time to Lose!

 

"Science Friday" Recommendations

"Science Friday" Recommendations (Photo credit: LollyKnit)

Jots!

June's multi-colored eyes

June's multi-colored eyes (Photo credit: kakissel)

Okay, just a very quick post.

It looks like only two classes will be offered for now: Dharma Art, and Meditation 101. More info is located on the “classes” page.

If you were interested in “Intro to Buddhism,” please consider taking one of the other classes (or both!). I hope to teach another series of classes, in June. Maybe “Intro” will appear in June. We’ll see.

If you are interested, call or email. Two people signed up last night, and will probably confirm that I’m not great at giving driving directions via phone. I’ll try! There’s always mapquest, and then driving out and calling if you get lost! We’re basically on the corner of Boston road and Green street. That big barn you see on the corner, that’s us. Please park on the street/grass.

I talked to two store owners in Amesbury today about possible classes. So, welcome to the website!

If you want to show up on Sunday for meditation, too, let me know.

So that this post is not just practical announcements, I’ll share one thought that’s been bouncing around some in my mind.

I’ve written about the four thoughts that turn the mind before.

1. Precious human life    2. Change     3. Cause and effect   4. Suffering

 

As for that last one, here’s a fuller version of the contemplation.

“In the three lower realms and even in the three higher ones

there is not an instant of absolute happiness.

I will avoid the root cause of my samsaric existence

and practice the excellent path of peace to enlightenment.”

 

That’s a lot right there.

 

Look at the first half: in the realms, there’s not an instant of absolute happiness.

 

The realms refer to ways you can exist, psychologically, or physically. There are two meanings there. Physically, we’re humans. We are not animals right now. We’re humans. Psychologically, it’s a little more complex.

The “portrait” of the six realms is: hell beings, ghosts, animals, humans, giants, gods. (Counting to make sure it’s six, okay that’s six.)

Already it’s pretty complex. On one hand, there’s the idea of different kinds of beings in the world. Most Americans would probably buy into only humans and animals. The rest might seem like superstition or myth. That’s fine. I wouldn’t ask anyone to take this on faith initially. There are plenty of folks, however, for whom the idea of spirits or gods is real: not myth, not metaphor, as real as humans and squirrels and birds.

The psychological take is more comfortable for more Americans, and (more importantly) more useful. This means each “realm” or world of being, of those six, is related to a style of thought, perception, emotion, et cetera.

Here they are, super quick.

1. Hell beings- extreme aggression, anger

(everything seems to be attacking you, as if the world were on fire or very sharp)

2. Ghosts- extreme craving, desire

(you want so much and even when you get what you wanted, it turns out to be unsatisfying or painful, and you keep on wanting)

3. Animals- ignorance, stupidity, being habitual

(you’re serious about what you do, and you do it, in your style, over and over, you’re stuck, with no sense of humor)

4. Humans- desire and pickiness

(this is desire of a more refined sort: you really develop lots of ideas and preferences and systems built up around what you want, what will provide comfort and security)

5. Giants- competitiveness, jealousy, paranoia

(constant comparison, trying to outwit situations and people, constant battling, but not in the rough sense of the hell beings, trying to win or come out ahead)

6. Gods- pleasure, bliss, absorption, escape

(this might sound great, but the experience of extreme pleasure is merely an escape from reality: not only is it not totally satisfactory, it only lasts for a while, after which you move into more unpleasant states of being, like if you wake up with a hangover after “too much fun”)

 

Sorry about babbling on here. I’ll wrap up. So, those six realms are a psychological map of existence. Back to the “reminder.”

In the three lower realms (hell, animals, ghosts), which are intensely full of neurosis, suffering, and even in the three higher ones (humans, giants, gods), there is not an instant of absolute happiness.

Here it gets simpler.

The implications: there is not one instant of absolute happiness in those conventional styles of being. Not even one instant.

There is not one instant of absolute happiness. Why go after absolute happiness? I think we already do. Then people suffer. The instinct to really be happy, for absolute happiness, is a longing for sacredness in this world. We don’t get there through the six realms, or through being neurotically entranced with the world. We want absolute happiness. That instinct leads to suffering, but if followed out according to a path (not just Buddhism, but a path) the suffering could lead to the absolute.

Overall, being crazy (normal) won’t get you happiness. It will just make you suffer. Seeing that suffering exists could be a good reminder to work through said suffering, and find out what absolute happiness means. Of course there are no guarantees at all. It’s very dangerous. The question following could then be, how does happiness or becoming sane work, in terms of the six realms?

Representation of samsara in Budism (detail).

Representation of samsara in Budism (detail). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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