Inspiration through myth

In this engaging podcast, best selling author and teacher Jack Kornfield reads stories from Buddhist texts and explores their meaning by asking simple questions of his audience. The result is a lyrical and thoughtful hour-long teaching, scattered with gems of inspiration and insight for anyone walking the path of awakening to their true nature.

Path on the park“Drawing from Buddhist texts, Jack tells the story of the last year of Buddha’s life, and the teachings he imparted to his followers and future seekers on the path. Guidance for practice, and instructions for building and sustaining wise relationships were the focus of these final offerings. The power of mythology is emphasized in appreciating its capacity to speak to the human imagination.”

You can subscribe directly to Jack Kornfield’s Heart Wisdom podcasts on iTunes. There are new podcasts uploaded 2-3 times a month.

(via MindPod Network)

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It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

Over at her website, much-loved teacher and author, Tara Brach, has hundreds of dharma talks available to stream or download free! As she sweetly says at the beginning of each episode, they are “offered freely, and your support matters.” I subscribe to her podcast directly through iTunes and enjoy listening while driving, walking the dogs or working out.

In her most recent offering, Three Attitudes that Nourish a Liberating Practice, Tara shares her experience and insights from a recent retreat. She begins with the line of inquiry that lead to her developing the talk: ‘what way of paying attention really wakes us up out of the dream of being a separate self?’ And then, throughout the hour, she answers this question by sharing stories and guiding brief meditations. Spoiler alert: the three special attitudes to bring to your spiritual practice that will yield results (regardless of your particular practice or faith tradition) are 1) relaxation, 2) interest and 3) friendliness.

While I’m at it, if you haven’t read it, Tara Brach’s book, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, is truly wonderful.

Blume

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Sunday morning sitting

LKP profile picLocal bookseller and long-time meditation teacher Ken Hood is offering a series of monthly Sunday morning sessions, suitable for everyone. Join him this weekend, October 19th at 10:30am at Living Yoga and Health, 105 Wyndham St. N., downtown Guelph. Be sure to mark your calendar for future sessions: November 16th and December 14th.

Read more about the sessions and take a bit of time to browse around Ken’s site at agoodheart.ca. It’s an excellent resource for Buddhist and other spiritual book reviews; digital and local meditation resources; poetry, quotes & inspiration. It is also home to The Lovingkindness Project — a challenge to bring a simple practice of lovingkindness into your life. (You can also find The Lovingkindness Project over on Facebook…go ahead, give it a try and give us a like!)

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Hello body! I’m home!

Thich Nhat Hanh is answering questions from his 1 million+ fans on Facebook. (You can like and receive updates from his FB page here.)

The first question he answered was, “How do I love myself?” Beautifully, he begins with, “Come back into your body and breathe.” Playfully he says, “Hello body! I’m home!”

The further instructions are basically, sit and be with your body, breathe mindfully, watch mindfully. Being with yourself mindfully IS loving yourself.

He goes on to say that when you understand your own suffering — when you can sit patiently, mindfully with yourself — then you will begin to understand the suffering of others. You will understand the suffering of your father, your mother, your ancestors. Implicit in this? You will stop blaming others for your suffering and see that they too suffer. No one is exempt.

Compassion arises naturally from this simple insight. Enjoy!

 

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Sharon Salzberg in Guelph

Renowned meditation teacher and best-selling author Sharon Salzberg will be giving a talk in Guelph. Come along Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 1 p.m. to St. George’s Church. Don’t miss this rare opportunity! Tickets $10, on sale now at the Bookshelf.

Here’s local teacher and bookseller Ken Hood with your personal invitation and some Salzberg book recommendations:

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Making friends with yourself

I’ve been going again and again to watching this clip of Pema Chödrön talking about authentically engaging with ourselves and our experience.

 She says, when you seek out teachings:

You do want to hear something that is genuinely going to be of value in your life. And the approach of Buddhism, and the approach that all the Buddhist teachers have been drawn to personally, and then end up teaching, is about engaging in your life fully. And having an attitude of kindness toward yourself and all things that might arise in you, such as: your rage and your addictions and your grief and your loneliness and your resentment, and all these different things. Some attitude of kindness towards your humanity. And a way of working with it, which is acknowledging it completely and fully, for what it is. Very conscious of what is going on with yourself. But with an attitude of kindness. Trungpa Rinpoche used to call it ‘making friends with yourself.’

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Visiting Chan (Zen) Monk to give teaching in Guelph

YouMinVenerable You Min, a monk of the Linji School of Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism will be visiting Guelph soon and has accepted our invitation to lead a meditation and give a teaching on mindfulness. The event will be Sunday, June 2 from 7-9pm at Sukha Yoga Centre, 42 Wyndham St (the same door as IF Footwear facing into St George’s Square). There are further details on the event’s poster, which can be viewed and/or downloaded below. Please feel free to cross-post and share and tell everyone you think may be interested.

Ven. You Min’s original connection to Guelph is through having lived here as an exchange student more than 10 years ago. In addition to his studies at the University of Guelph, he attended classes and a formal study program with a local Buddhist Sangha, which is where I first met him.

While organizing this opportunity for the meditation and teaching on June 2nd, I asked him to tell me a little about his path since his time in Guelph, as I thought some people might be interested to know more:

HAF: What is the name of your Buddhist tradition?

VYM: I am ordained under the Chinese Chan lineage (or called Zen in Japan or the West). There are 5 schools under this lineage, and the one I belong to is called the Linji School. Usually when we introduce our lineage to the general public, just mentioning ‘Chinese Chan Buddhism’ is sufficient.

Here is a good reading source on the lineage from  Wikipedia.

HAF: What does your ordained name mean? What exactly do you practice in your tradition?

VYM: I was ordained in 2007 as a novice monk under the name of You Min (有暋) in Chinese, which means ‘diligence’. Two years later (2009) I received the full ordination and became a bhikshu.

I spent the first 3 years in my monastery in Malaysia receiving training from my master, Venerable Zhen Fu. I started my formal studies in Buddhism in 2010, where I enrolled in the M.A. Program of Buddhist Studies at Dharma Drum Buddhist College in Taiwan. Currently I am doing a 9-month student exchange program at Institute of Buddhist Studies at Berkeley, CA.

The scope of Buddhist studies is quite comprehensive, which includes the history and sutra learning of the early Buddhism, as well as Chinese Buddhism. I am especially interested in Yogacara teachings (which is also sometimes called the Buddhist psychology), which is one of the three important philosophical schools developed in Mahayana tradition during 4th Century CE (the other two are the Madhyamika and the Tathagatabhadra).

Here is a link to more details:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogacara

Regarding the practice, we do meditation and sutra chanting twice daily (we call that morning and evening service). We usually do that with other sangha members while in the monastery. While meditation is the main practice, I also do the Buddha’s name recitation practice.

The reason I choose to further my study in Buddhism is so that I can be properly trained in my tradition in order to have dialogue with other religious representatives, buddhist scholars, as well as the highly literate public. I believe that practice and knowledge should be balanced for our generation of practitioners.

 

Everyone is welcome. There is no cost to attend, although we will be making a collection for the teacher and you are encouraged to give what you can/will. Making offerings is a Buddhist custom known as Dāna, the practice of cultivating generosity, which leads to the perfection of giving and letting go. In particular, it is considered powerful karma to practice giving alms to monks or spiritual teachers.

If you have one, please bring your own meditation cushion or stool. If not, don’t worry, just bring your curiosity.

For more information, to RSVP and to ask questions, there is a Facebook event page or feel free to email me at heather(at)merenamedesign(dot)com or phone 519.400.7862.

 

Mindfulness Meditation June 2 2013

 

You can download a copy of the above poster in pdf form, by clicking the green link below. Please feel free to print and post and/or distribute electronically.

Mindfulness Meditation Poster June 2 2013

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Escaping thoughts prison: ramblings from a dream interpretation

thedayyoudecideA buddhist teacher once told me, while describing samsara, that the most diabolical prison would be one in which the inmates were completely unaware they were in prison. Then not even the thought to escape would cross the prisoners’ minds. Whether the prisoner experienced relatively good conditions or terrible conditions, being completely unaware that she is held, she would simply accept and manage those conditions without even considering that she had an alternative — to leave the prison.

In a dream I had the other night, a puppy is drowning, its small body sinking under the surface. I lift it with both hands and it’s very heavy. At first I can’t get enough leverage from the lake bottom and my arms are not strong enough. But after the first time I’ve touched his small body, I realize he is seriously in trouble and I will myself to get a proper footing and lift with all my strength. This time the puppy surfaces, choking, limp and heavy. I put him down on the beachfront and he proceeds to throw up all of his internal organs. He does it neatly, in one heave. Everything from inside the dog comes out tucked into a bag of fur that now hangs from the dog’s mouth. It’s not just the contents of his stomach, it’s all the internal organs, all tissues, all blood. And I realize he is empty. I feel fear that he will die, but instead, the sac filled with his innards falls away from his mouth to the ground. He licks a little blood from his mouth and wanders off in the direction, presumably, of home. At the time, I was filled with the fear that he would die. Now I realize he was a dream dog and can never die.

In some circles of buddhist dream interpretation, water is associated with attachment. Dreams of your house flooding, feelings of grief as heavy and wet, puppies drowning: all symbolic of attachment.

What do you understand attachment to be? When you hear buddhists talk about giving up attachments, do you feel some pressure to quit what you might consider to be your bad habits? Do you think attachment is about your compulsive habits? For example, your attachment to chocolate, to wine, to cigarettes, to sex, to gossip? Does ‘letting go’ suggest to you some way to be a better you? A superior version of you that is not blown by the winds of craving. A you that experiences everything evenly, peacefully, serenely — free from nagging desires.

Attachment also lives much closer to the bone. Yes, you will live a lighter, happier life, the more you let go of your attachment to ‘good’ or ‘bad’ compulsive habits. And this freedom is worth striving for. Discipline, wisdom, effort in this direction is worth it.

But the root ties that bind you to suffering are more subtle, more difficult to see. For example, we are attached to our thoughts. We believe the content. Even if we step back and question it sometimes — ‘am I going crazy?’ — we never really let go of our belief that through our thoughts we can find a ground to stand on. That our thoughts represent some concrete phenomena.

Thoughts never stop arising in our minds continuously, day and night. This steady narrative is for the most part what we are referring to when we say ‘reality.’ What is your reality? Other than your direct sense perceptions, it’s your thoughts, isn’t it?

But what is the ‘reality’ beyond your thought-story about reality? What is there beyond our thoughts of this world? What is the world other than our thoughts about it? Although I write these as questions, it’s not best considered a theoretical topic for discussion, it’s not about creating a philosophy.

More thinking is not the way out of this prison.

To cross over and borrow wisdom from another liberation movement, I give you Audre Lorde:

“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

Freedom from the suffering of your thought prison is a matter of internal exploration. It is experiential. Only a direct experience will be of any use. Being told that your thoughts are a prison that bind you is one thing, seeing for yourself the walls of that prison, and planning an escape, is quite another.

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