This week’s Dhammapada verse

 

namaste

The Meditation Circle has begun to read verses from Gil Fronsdal’s translation of “The Dhammapada,” a collection in verse form of some of the Buddha’s core teachings. As we are not certified teachers, but just facilitators of the Meditation Circle, our goal is just to offer some food for thought for folks to ponder and not to “explain” or interpret these verses. In the next few weeks, we will be reading from Fronsdal’s introduction to “The Dhammapada,” which gives a good overview of the verses, which are among the most widely known of the Buddha’s teachings. If interested in the book, you can find it here: “The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic With Annotations.”

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Below are the verses  — verse 3-6 — we will be reading next  in the group:

He abused me, he attacked me,
Defeated me, robbed me!”
For those carrying on like this,
Hatred does not end.

She abused me, attacked me,
Defeated me, robbed me!”
For those not carrying on like this,
Hatred ends.

Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient truth.
Many do not realize that
We here must die.
For those who realize this,
Quarrels end.

Note on change in meditation schedule

 

two blooming white water lilies (lotus) close up

two blooming white water lilies (lotus) close up

This Monday Sept. 26 , the gathering of the Meditation Circle will feature an annual visit from students in the world religions class at Charleston Catholic High School. As a result, much of the gathering will be devoted to a Q-and-A about meditation and basic instruction in sitting meditation.

Also, the Meditation Circle will temporarily be suspending the Qigong instruction due to some scheduling issues caused by the move to the new Monday meeting format, which is in the process of being tweaked.

We will continue to meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Except for this Monday’s visit from the students, we will us the 5:30 to 6 p.m. time for basic instruction in sitting, standing and walking meditation, discussion about maintaining a regular practice and a weekly reading from the Dhammapada, a collection of core Buddhist teachings.

As ever, your feedback is most welcome.

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Please also note the upcoming visit by Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, who will be in Charleston and Huntington form Thursday, Oct. 13 through Saturday, Oct. 15. He will make two Charleston appearances: from 7 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building where the Meditation Circle meets, and from 5 to

Below is the full schedule of his visit. For more, see our previous post about Bhante Rahula:

DOWNLOAD: Read or download  pdf’s of Bhante Rahula’s books here.
BLOG: Visit Bhante Rahula’s blog here.
_______________________________
THURSDAY, Oct. 13:  6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr., Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Bhante Rahula will speak on “An Introduction to Meditation,” followed by meditation and Q-and-A.
_______________________________
FRIDAY, Oct. 14:  7 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd W, Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Meditation, Talk and Q-and-A.
_______________________________
3/ SATURDAY, Oct. 15:

11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr, Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Yoga session followed by meditation and then Q-and-A.

5 to 7 p.m.:
WHERE: Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Rd., Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Yoga session followed by talk on “Mindfulness in Daily Life”,  short meditation and Q-and-A.

Studying the Dhammapada: Verses 1-2

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The Meditation Circle of Charleston has a new schedule that began this week, moving our regular Tuesday meeting to every Monday. We’ve also expanded the meeting time, adding an optional half-hour session from 5:30 to 6 p.m., featuring Qigong moving meditation and a new weekly study of verses from the Dhammapada, a book of the Buddha’s essential teachings. Meditation follows from 6 to 7 p.m., with two rounds of sitting meditation, with a short period of standing or walking meditation in between.

So, we begin with our Dhammapada study during the 5:30 to 6 p.m. timeframe on Monday, Sept. 6. We’lll be using Gil Fronsdal’s book “The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic With Annotations.”

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We will start with verses 1-2 for our Sept. 6 meeting:

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a corrupted mind,
And suffering follows
As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.
All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind, Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never-departing shadow.

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For a little background on The Dhammapada, here is a portion of Jack Kornfield’s introduction to the Fronsdal translation:

These verses of the Dhammapada sum up in the simplest language the core teachings of the Buddha. Memorized and chanted by devoted followers for thousands of years, these words remind all who hear them of the universal truths expounded by the Buddha: Hatred never ends by hatred. Virtue and wise action are the foundation for happiness. And the Buddha’s teachings offer the possibility of a thoroughly unshakable peace and liberation of heart for those who follow the way of the Dharma and free themselves from clinging.

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And here is an excerpt by Fronsdal himself, from his preface to his translation:

The Dhammapada was first introduced to the non-Buddhist modern world during the second half of the nineteenth century. It has come to be recognized as a great religious classic, one bearing an uncompromising message of personal self-reliance, self-mastery, and liberation.

The major audience for the Dhammapada historically has been the ordained Buddhist community. Thus a number of the verses understandably address issues of monastic life. However, many of these verses can apply to anyone who seeks a life dedicated to dharma practice.

The challenge for lay practitioners is to discover how to appropriately incorporate into lay life the renunciation and purity that characterize monastic life. I have taken them that way for myself. When verses 9 and 10 state that the monastic form is useless unless the monk or nun is virtuous, self-controlled, and honest, I translate that for myself as saying that the lay life is similarly worthless without these qualities. Anyone who lives in this way may figuratively be called a monastic, as is done in verse 142.

The second issue—whether the text has a world-rejecting message—is more challenging, perhaps because the text was meant to challenge our relationship to the world. An initial reading of a number of the verses seems to reveal a negation or an aversion to the world (in fact, some English translations seem to translate the entire text based on this impression) …

While initial appearances may sometimes suggest a world-negating message, I believe that the issue in the Dhammapada is neither negating or affirming the world. The issue is becoming free of clinging to the world. For those who take on this challenge, the resulting freedom helps us live in the world as wisely as possible, which includes experiencing joy.

The Meditation Circle is moving: From Tuesday to Monday nights

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We’re moving! Starting, Monday, Sept. 12, the Meditation Circle of Charleston (WV) will be moving from its long-time Tuesday evening session to a weekly Monday evening session. We are staying in the exact same place, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on the West Side of Charleston, W.Va. But we are slightly expanding our gathering time, in order to include more instruction in Qigong, the ancient Chinese moving meditation practice,  as well as time to talk about your sitting practice and instruction for beginners to meditation. (We’d also like to now and then share tea and discussion, too, and get to know one another better).

HERE IS OUR NEW SCHEDULE: Please note that the new 5:30 to 6 p.m. additional time is optional. If all you wish is to sit quietly, as we have been doing, then please arrive for the 6 to 7 p.m. time frame. And as ever, if you are physically leery of undertaking Qigong or walking or standing meditation, we invite you to sit and enjoy the peacefulness afforded us by the Unitarian’s use of their lovely space.

5:30 – 6 p.m., every Monday:

This period is designed to be flexible. It is primarily used for Qigong practice and instruction, although if the need arises it can be used as either a question-and-answer period to address issues that arise from practice or for instruction in basic meditation techniques for newcomers.

6 to 7 p.m.:

This time is set aside for meditation. The format consists of two rounds of meditation, each lasting 20 to 25 minutes, with a short 5 to 10 minute period of standing or walking meditation between rounds. The sitting period ends with a Metta or loving-friendliness meditation.

We welcome your feedback on the changes and look forward to everyone getting to know one another better as we create the space for a supportive group of folks interested in deepening their meditation practice.

Thad and Doug

P.S.: Please also note details about the upcoming visit to Charleston and Huntington of the globe-trotting, American-born Buddhist monk Bhante Rahula from Thursday, Oct. 13 through Saturday, Oct. 15. He has a fascinating personal history and is a wonderful meditation and yoga instructor who has taught worldwide for decades. See more details here.

Bhante Rahula to visit Charleston and Huntington, W.Va. Oct. 13-14-15, 2016

Bhante-Rahula-Tiergarten-6_2011-

The Meditation Circle of Charleston (WV) is pleased to host a visit to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by the globe-trotting American-born Buddhist monk Bhante Yogavacara Rahula. (‘Bhante’ — BON-tay — is an honorific akin to ‘Reverand.’) Below is our tentative schedule for his visit, subject to modifications as we get closer. But we wanted to put the dates out there for people to reserve the time, if interested in attending. All events are free but we encourage people to show up before the starting time.

Bhante Rahula has a fascinating personal history, told in his autobiography, “One Night’s Shelter.” As described on one site:
“This candid and highly readable autobiography of the well-known American Buddhist monk describes his transformation from a GI and drug-dealing hippie to becoming an ascetic contemplative in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The unvarnished accounts caused some stir, as Bhante Rahula describes dealing drugs and getting arrested for smuggling a kilo of hashish from Afghanistan prior to his becoming a monk. He is now most well-known for integrating Hatha Yoga with Vipassana meditation.” He is also author of “The Way to Peace and Happiness,” “Meditation: The Mind and Body Connection” and “Breaking Through the Self-Delusion.”

DOWNLOAD: Read or download  pdf’s of Bhante Rahula’s books here.
BLOG: Visit Bhante Rahula’s blog here.
_______________________________
THURSDAY, Oct. 13:  6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr., Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Bhante Rahula will speak on “An Introduction to Meditation,” followed by meditation and Q-and-A.
_______________________________
FRIDAY, Oct. 14:  7 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd W, Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Meditation, Talk and Q-and-A.
_______________________________
3/ SATURDAY, Oct. 15:

11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr, Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Yoga session followed by meditation and then Q-and-A.

5 to 7 p.m.:
WHERE: Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Rd., Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Yoga session followed by talk on “Mindfulness in Daily Life”,  short meditation and Q-and-A.

Summer 2016 “Forest Path” Newsletter Online

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The Summer 2016 edition of “The Forest Path,” the online newsletter of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Monastery and retreat center in High View, W.Va., in Hampshire County, is now online at this link.

From the introduction to this newsletter:

The Summer 2016 edition of the Bhavana Society’s quarterly newsletter features an excerpt from Bhante Seelananda’s new book, “Our Buddha, His Life and Teachings In His Own Words,” a book rich in Dhamma drawn straight from the Buddha’s direct teachings. There’s also an article from Bhavana’s newest fully ordained monk, Bhante Pannaratana, titled “The Walking Dead,” with advice on avoiding the zombie virus of heedlessness — pamada — by understanding its opposite, appamada. Abbot Bhante Gunaratana is featured in another installment of “Ask Bhante G,” in which he talks about how long laypeople should meditate in their daily lives. This issue also introduces a new feature, “Bhavana Moments,” where visitors recall special moments during visits to the Therevadan monastery deep in the West Virginia hills.” | READ ON

 

Where we take our mindfulness

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“We take our training in mindfulness with us into our everyday lives and apply it in all circumstances: on the bus, at work, when we are feeling ill, when we are out shopping. Otherwise, what’s the use of so many hours on the cushion?” P.85

-Bhante Gunaratana
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the path of the Buddha.” Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications (2001).
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Quotebox courtesy of the Facebook page of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in Highview, W.Va.

Foundations of Mindfulness Practice: Attitudes and Commitment

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” Seven attitudinal factors constitute the major pillars of mindfulness practice… They are non-judging, patience, a beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go. These attitudes are to be cultivated consciously when you practice. They are not independent of each other. Each one relies on and influences the degree to which you are able to cultivate the others. Working on any one will rapidly lead you to the others… together they constitute the foundation upon which you will be able to build a strong meditation practice of your own… ”

Jon Kabat-Zinn,   Full Catastrophe Living  (New York: Bantam Books, 1990, 2013), p. 21.

Introduction to Meditation Retreat sign-up

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The main meditation hall at the Bhavana Society.

For those interested in a formal introduction to meditation in  a retreat setting, the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Monastery and retreat center in High View, W.Va., is offering an “Introduction to Meditation” retreat for beginners, led by Bhante Seelananda, from Thursday, Aug. 18 to Sunday, Aug.  21.

Registration for Bhavana retreats opens 30 days before they begin, which should be Monday, July 18. Bhavana retreats fill fast, so if interested consider registering as soon after midnight as July 18 dawns as possible.

Bhavana retreats are offered in the traditional fashion of Buddhist teachings— free. But as the monastery survives entirely on donations (or ‘dana‘ to use the Pali term), donations are welcome to help keep the place going.

Here is more on this and other Bhavana retreats for 2016.
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Here is more on the concept of ‘dana.’

 

A discourse on Anapanasati Meditation

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Ven. Buddhadàsa Bhikkhu

In 2016, The Meditation Circle has been focusing on the Buddhist meditation known as Anàpànasati (the development of mindfulness of breathing)  To learn more about this meditation technique, we encourage you to download this .pdf of a teaching on Anàpànasati by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.

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As the introduction to this document notes:

Originally published in Thai, this manual is one of the major works of the Ven. Buddhadàsa Bhikkhu and delivered in 1959 in the form of a series of lectures to monks of Suanmokkha Monastery, Chaiya, Thailand.

Ven. Buddhadàsa Bhikkhu, a major voice in the Buddhist world, is an accepted master of Buddhist meditation. In constructive positive language, the manual guides the meditator through the 16 steps of ânàpànasati. Every difficulty that the meditator is liable to face as well as the benefits of practice is examined at length. All that remains is for the aspirant to the noble path to get on with the job.

Spring 2016 Bhavana Society Newsletter

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If you have never checked out the newsletter of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Forest Monastery in High View, W.Va., the Spring 2016 quarterly newsletter of “The Forest Path” would be a good place to start. It has a long excerpt by Bhavana abbot Bhante Gunaratana on “Meditation: Why Bother?” It’s drawn from his international bestselling guide to meditation, “Mindfulness in Plain English,” which has been translated into more than 20 languages. You can download a .pdf of the Spring issue and past issues of The Forest Path at: bhavanasociety.org/newsletters/issue/spring_newsletter_2016

(NOTE: The Meditation Circle has a limited number of copies of “Mindfulness in Plain English” for your use for free, or you may order your own copy at this link.) Below is an excerpt from the Spring newsletter.

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meditationMeditation is not easy. It takes time and it takes energy. It also takes grit, determination, and discipline. It requires a host of personal qualities that we normally regard as unpleasant and like to avoid whenever possible. We can sum up all of these qualities in the American word gumption. Meditation takes gumption. It is certainly a great deal easier just to sit back and watch television. So why bother? Why waste all that time and energy when you could be out enjoying yourself?

Continue reading

A meditation group in the Buddhist insight tradition, based in Charleston, W.Va.