Open to nature, open to gratitude

File this one under B for BLISS!

Nature’s Beauty Inspires Gratitude is a must-see 20 min TEDx talk featuring the stunning filmwork of Louie Schwartzberg. It starts as simply jaw-dropping time lapse nature photography and builds into a compelling vision for why and how to be grateful when we open our eyes each morning.

On the bio page of his website — aptly named “Moving Art” — beside the picture of his peaceful smile and super-clear eyes, it reads:

As the only cinematographer in the world who has been shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for well over three decades, Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

If you pay attention right around the 5 min 50 sec mark, you might audibly gasp, as I did. But you must watch this one all the way through. Then be grateful you did.

And for fans of non-narrative documentaries, in 1982 he provided additional cinematography for the film Koyaanisqatsi.

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

Woman mauled by bear, drives herself to safety — a page-turning Reddit AMA

Last week Reddit hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Allena Hansen, who in 2008 was savagely attacked by a bear while walking alone with her dogs on her ranch in Kern County, California. With her face torn apart and believing she would not likely survive, she drove herself 4 miles to a mountain fire station and was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center. She retells the story with gripping detail and a refreshing offhand humour — answering questions from and holding her own with curious Redditors.

After it had gnawed my head awhile, I decided to open my eyes and look at what was killing me. It’s expression was so bland and businesslike it enraged me so I managed to jab my thumb into its piggy little eye and it let go of my face long enough for me to yell for my dogs. Once the dogs came running, it was diverted long enough for me to get up and try to escape down the creekbed.

Allena has recently written a book about her experience, Chomp, Chomp, Chomp; How I Survived a Bear Attack and Other Harrowing Tales. She also has a Facebook page. Hopefully, the sale of her book and general publicity around her story will bring in enough money for her to cover her outstanding medical bills.

Apparently, the cosmetic and dental portions weren’t covered by her insurance, and a great amount of the damage was done to her face and mouth (WARNING this next quote is not for the faint of heart):

Basically what happened is that the bear charged, grabbed me by the ears and bit into my face. In doing so, it destroyed the bridge of my nose, tore off my ears, chewed out fourteen teeth and much of my upper gums and palate. It also ripped off my lips and tore apart my face and scalp.

Of course, as you would expect from someone with this much courage and moxy, Allena had already lived quite a life before the attack. Raised in the 60s, according to the description given with her book, she had a “stint as Playboy’s token intellectual bimbo.”

Why my morbid interest? Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s going to be like when you’re staring your own death in the face?

SIDENOTE

I also very much enjoyed and laughed heartily when I clicked through on the link contributed by /u/PasswordLost, who pipes up not too far into the Reddit thread, and tells Allena:

You made it to the end of this chart!

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.fi/2010/02/boyfriend-doesnt-have-ebola-probably.html

10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.