You already are that

I listen to a lot of spiritual teachings by podcast. For me, it’s a great way to pass time while driving long distances or working out at the gym.

While searching up talks by Adyashanti, I recently discovered and enjoyed a fantastic discussion of Adya’s book Emptiness Dancing, presented by Lisa Natoli. Lisa is author of Gorgeous for God, and teaches in the tradition of A Course in Miracles.

In this hour-long podcast, Lisa reads from Adya’s book and gives commentary and her perspective on awakening. It’s a beautiful thing to see the truth of Ramana Maharshi‘s teaching: ‘you already are that which you seek,’ revealed in the paths of different spiritual traditions.

It takes a few minutes for Lisa to settle in on the topic, as she casually chats with her dog and sorts out a few distractions in this recording, which she made on the fly while traveling in Australia. But her presentation is straight-up and authentic, and it’s worth waiting for her to hit her stride.

If you are on a computer you can listen here (link will not appear on your mobile device):

Or you can download the podcast for free from iTunes (it’s the first podcast in the list ‘Adyashanti/Lisa Natoli Audio’).

You already are that

(audio stream embedded and available via Talk Shoe)

Who are you?

All About Nothing is a Dutch movie which invites you to transcend the daily rat race by taking a radically different view on life. This ancient Indian philosophy is called non-duality and has been embraced by the likes of Albert Einstein, Eckhart Tolle, Jim Carrey, Ramana Maharshi and Byron Katie. When this insight strikes, your whole life can change drastically… while nothing has to change.”

(via www.nondualiteit.nu)

 

Sky dancing

Thanks to my sweetie, Michael, and all the super-talented folks at Skydive Arizona, for making my first skydive a fantastic experience. What a thrill. So dream-like. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to fly like this.

Big, blue desert sky. Neat shot looking back up to the plane — I’m strapped to tandem master Josiah, and you can see Michael leaping out after us. Once we were under the parachute, enjoying the view, Josiah says: ‘Heather, welcome to my office!’ Lucky, lucky guy.

IMG_0044

Fill ‘er up

Graphic by Sam Gerrard, Shore Creative, UK

So this is awesome: Buddha at the Gas Pump — a show that explores enlightenment through a series of interviews with spiritual practitioners and teachers, many of whom openly discuss their experiences with ‘the awakened state.’ By its own description:

Many people are skeptical of claims of higher states of consciousness. They find it hard to believe that apparently ordinary friends and neighbors might be experiencing something extraordinary. Maybe they expect Enlightenment to look as remarkable on the outside as it is reputed to be on the inside. This show will attempt to dispel skepticism and misconceptions by week after week, allowing otherwise ordinary people to relate their experience of spiritual awakening.

Head over and check out the long list of nearly 300 guests — you’ll find some very well-known names. The interviews are sorted alphabetically by guest, or quite handily can be browsed categorized under a broad-range of traditions/schools/predilictions. You can watch episodes on YouTube or download them as podcasts — great for trips by car!

To get you started, I’m linking to just one of many that I’ve so far enjoyed. It’s a discussion moderated by the show’s creator and host, Rick Archer, between Adyashanti and Francis Bennett. Adyashanti, a long-time Zen practitioner, and Bennett, a former Trappist monk, talk broadly on the theme of the former’s book, Resurrecting Jesus, in which Adyashanti “reveals the man known as Jesus as an exemplar of the realized state and a model of enlightened engagement with the world.”

Good stuff. I’m excited to discover more.

You can subscribe to receive email updates of future interviews as they’re released. You can also follow Buddha at the Gas Pump on Facebook and Twitter.

Take a leap

I met someone yesterday who’s into BASE jumping and wingsuits. If you haven’t seen wingsuits, head over to youtube and search it up and be thrilled.

It put me in mind of meditations in which one imagines falling from a cliff in order to cause the inherently existing (and therefore non-existing) “I/ME/MINE” to arise. And, it put me in mind of fearlessness.

Then on my social media feed this morning, this…playful fearlessness! French bulldog puppy takes first leap off of couch. Whee!

 

Just look at ‘how easy it is the second time around!’

(via twistedsifter.com)

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

Willing to be

With the GrainI am the one who is willing to grow. Fresh, bright, blooming. From mud, from shit, from seed, then sprout. From sunshine and rain, cooling wind. From garden bed. From a beginningless past, a universe of conditions. Bumping and exploding through space and time.

I tell stories. Like, I am the yellowest flower on the table. Or, I remember a day that smelled like fresh cut grass. And O, Lordy, when they came to cut me down, you can’t believe the tears. Sit and let me tell you about how my petals are numbered, won’t be long before I wilt, then wither, then decompose.

Endless stories tell endless stories tell endless stories.

I am the one being grown. Life streams around me and through me. Regardless of how I feel about it. If I rail against it or if I dance with it. Doesn’t matter. It unfolds and unfolds and unfolds.

I am the one who is willing to change, to relax, to listen as much as I talk.

I am willing to be, lived.

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.