WORTH THE EFFORT

Readings

“SO, IN THE BEGINNING you have to take it on faith — that we’re not living in a totally deterministic world or totally random world, and that it really is worth the effort to try to develop a skill, particularly in the area of the mind. There’s enough orderliness in this world that the skills you learn today are going to help tomorrow. At the same time, things are not so deterministic in an iron-clad way that you can’t make any difference. You can make a difference by the choices you make, in the lessons you learn. And making good choices today will help you make better choices tomorrow. That’s something you take on conviction. That can help further your persistence in the practice as well.”

~Thanissaro Bhikkhu
READ FULL DHAMMA TALK: “Effective Self-discipline”

Meditation Gatherings in Huntington

Where To Meditate

Here are some places to meditate in the Huntington, W.Va., area:

WHAT: Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington Meditation Group
WHEN: The group meets every Wednesday from 7 to 8 p.m.  for mindfulness meditation at the Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington, 619 6th Ave., Huntington, WV.
ABOUT: The group’s  members come from a variety of spiritual traditions. The format includes two meditations along with short discussions.  Beginners are welcome. Cushions and chairs are available; however, you may bring your own cushion if you wish.  Donations are appreciated.
LINKS: Here is the group’s Facebook page

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WHAT: Huntington Studio 8 Meditation Group
WHEN:  The group meets every Sunday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., for a Dharma talk and 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. for meditation at Studio 8, 803 8th Ave., Huntington, WV.
ABOUT: The group’s members come from a variety of spiritual traditions and the Dharma talks are facilitated by different members of a team.  The meditations relate to the Dharma talk, and may include both sitting and walking meditation.  Join the group for the talk, the meditation or both.  Beginners are welcome. Cushions and blankets are available, or you may bring your own. Donations are appreciated.
LINKS:  Here is the group’s Facebook page

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RELATED:
The PeaceTree Center in Huntington, W. Va., at 5930 Mahood Dr. (about 10 minutes from the Huntington Mall)  is now hosting the PeaceTree Meditation Circle every Saturday, facilitated by members of Meditation Circle of Charleston, W.Va. The weekly meditation takes place from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday. More details here.

The Basic Pattern

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

“The important thing is that you look at your meditation in terms of action and result.
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So whatever level of practice you’re on, whether it’s simply day-to-day interactions with other people or working directly with your mind, this is the pattern the Buddha has you adopt all the time: Look at your intentions, look at you actions, look at their results, and then adjust things based on what harm you see your actions have done. If you see that the results aren’t as good as you’d like, go back and look at the intention, change the action. This requires two principles: integrity and compassion.
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These are the basic Buddhist values. These are the basic values of the practice. And they can be applied at any level: among students in a classroom, or just interacting with other people in general, or as you’re sitting here meditating. Remember, you’re doing something. The principle of karma, which is the Buddha’s basic teaching, underlies everything, reminding you that your actions are important, that they do have consequences, and that you have the freedom to change the way you act. If you see that the consequences are causing harm, causing suffering, you can change the way you act. You have that freedom. You can learn from your mistakes…

…So as we practice in our imperfect ways, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha himself started out imperfect as well. As we make mistakes, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha made mistakes, too, but he also pointed the way out of your mistakes. You can change the way you act, and it’s important that you do because your actions shape your life. The pleasure and pain you experience in life comes from your actions, not from anything you innately are. So when you notice that there are problems in your life, look here at what you’re doing. What are your intentions? What are your actions? What can you change?
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This requires that you be very honest with yourself, that you have the integrity to admit your mistakes, to see the connection between your intentions and the results of your actions, and the compassion, both for yourself and the people around you, not to want to cause harm. Once you’ve developed this integrity in your day-to-day life, then it’s a lot easier to bring the integrity into your meditation, because integrity lies at the basis of meditating well, too. This is why the precepts are so important. They develop this quality of integrity. If you can’t be honest with yourself on the blatant level, then it’s very hard to be honest with yourself on the subtle level of the practice…”
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Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Excerpt from “The Basic Pattern.”
Read full Dhamma talk here.

 

Confidence building

Readings

Have faith in the Buddha’s path to happiness that so many people have followed to enlightenment. Faith, in Buddhist terms, means confidence–confidence based on what you have seen so far, and confidence in what you can project to be true based on what you have seen. For example, you have personally observed that whenever you were full of negative mental states, you suffered. You recall that whenever you were full of positive states of mind, you felt happy. When all these states changed you saw their impermanence. These are facts. You can have confidence in this. This kind of confidence keeps you on course until a deep realization of truth leaves no more room for doubt.

~Bhante Gunaratana
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness” pp. 154-155 (Wisdom Publications)

Peacetree Meditation Circle now meets 11 a.m. each Saturday

Places to Meditate

The PeaceTree Meditation Circle takes place 11 a.m. Saturdays

Starting this week, the PeaceTree Center in Huntington, W.Va., has teamed up with the Meditation Circle of Charleston WV to offer weekly meditation gatherings form 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday, at the center at 5930 Mahood Dr. The center is about 5 to 10 minutes west of the Huntington Mall just off East Pea Ridge Drive.

We meet starting 11 a.m., every Saturday with sitting and standing meditation, followed by a metta (loving-friendliness) meditation , Dhamma quotes and brief discussion. Beginners are welcome and basic instruction is offered in breath-centered Buddhist meditation inspired by the Theravada Buddhist tradition. All are welcome and you need not be a Buddhist to enjoy the benefits of Buddhist mindfulness and meditation practice.

Come join the PeaceTree Meditation Circle.

QUOTE/UNQUOTE

“The mind captivated by a state of craving has no clue as to what pain and pleasure really are. When we hanker after objects, do we experience peace and bliss? Are we in control? Do we feel at ease? Or do we feel restless? Stressed and worried? Insecure and desperate? The slippery thing about attachment is that, in our bewilderment, we can’t tell the difference between pleasure and pain, love and desire, happiness and sorrow. The craving mind can mistake anything for pleasure—even pain! It’s like an addiction.”

~Dzigar Kongtrül
from “Light Comes Through:
Buddhist Teachings on Awakening to Our Natural Intelligence”

Ordinary attention is not enough

Quote/Unquote

“We may like to believe that all we have to do to progress on the Buddha’s path is pay attention. Paying attention certainly sounds easier than making strong effort. But the hard truth is that simple, ordinary attention is not enough. We must learn to pay mindful attention–both when we are engaging in meditation or other spiritual practice and when we are going about the activities of our everyday lives. The Buddha knew that unless we make the mindful effort to eliminate negative states of mind and cultivate positive ones in every aspect of our lives, our minds will never settle down enough to allow us progress.

About now you might be thinking, “I knew there was a catch! This sounds like a lot of work.” Of course, you’d be right. It’s certainly easier to bury our negative qualities deep in the unconscious mind than to let them go. Greed, anger, hatred, sloppiness, arrogance, snobbishness, spitefulness, vindictiveness, and fear may have become our familiar everyday habits. We’d rather not make the effort to give them up. Yet, at the same time, we want to be happy and to move toward our spiritual goals.

Skillful Effort is the stick-to-it quality that makes the whole path possible. It is the gumption to say, “These unwholesome habits of thought and behavior must go, now!” and the wisdom to see that only by cultivating positive and wholesome ways of thinking, acting, and speaking can we hope to achieve happiness.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness” pp. 150-151
(Wisdom Publications)

Steps along the way

Quote/Unquote

“When we have the opportunity to sit quietly and watch ourselves, new insights about ourselves may arise. We are the prototype of impermanence. But when our mind veers toward the past and starts rehashing old movies, it’s time to turn it off. The past cannot be changed. The person who experienced the past, no longer exists, is only a fantasy now. When the mind strolls to the future, imagining how we would like it to be, we can let go by remembering the future has no reality either. When it happens, it can only be the present, and the person planning the future is not the same one, who will experience it. If we stay in this moment, here and now, during meditation, we can use that same skill in daily life.

“When we handle each moment with mindfulness and clear comprehension, everything functions well, nothing goes amiss, our mind is content and inner peace can arise. Keeping our attention focused on each step on the way will eventually bring us to the summit.”

~Ayya Khema

from “Steps On the Way”

 

 

Meditation Circle moves from Monday to Tuesday nights starting Tuesday, March 21

Schedule

Starting on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, The Meditation Circle of Charleston will move its regular weekly gathering from its current Monday night to Tuesday nights at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Building, 520 Kanawha Blvd W., in Charleston, WV.

The time remains the same, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Beginning meditators and folks restarting a meditation practice are encouraged to arrive at 5:30 p.m., for basic instruction and some guided meditation. We sit in two 20 to 25-minute rounds of sitting, standing or walking meditation, followed by a short period of discussion.

For anyone coming to the gathering, it’s OK to arrive at 6 p.m. or later, if 5:30 p.m. is too early for your schedule. All are invited who are interested in meditation and establishing a meditation practice with a supportive group. We practice breath-centered meditation in the Buddhist tradition, but you need not be Buddhist to enjoy the benefits of meditation practice.

Come and join the circle!

Free the Mind

READINGS

“We must always remember that our highest goal is to free our mind from all greed, all hatred, all confusion. The greatest impact we can have on the world is to face every circumstance with a mind of clarity, compassion and love .

“From a place of calm and equanimity, we act or decline to act, doing whatever most skillfully cultivates and expresses our loving-friendliness and compassion.”

~Bhante Gunaratana

“Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness” (Wisdom Publications)

When mindfulness is present

READINGS

… Hindrances cannot arise when mindfulness is present. Mindfulness is attention to present-moment reality, and therefore, directly antithetical to the dazed state of mind that characterizes impediments. As meditators, it is only when we let our mindfulness slip that the deep mechanisms of our mind take over–grasping, clinging, and rejecting. The resistance emerges and obscures our awareness. We do not notice that the change is taking place–we are too busy with a thought of revenge, or greed, or whatever it may be. While an untrained person will continue in this state indefinitely, a trained meditator will soon realize what is happening. It is mindfulness that notices the change. It is mindfulness that remembers the training received and that focuses our attention so that the confusion fades away. And it is mindfulness that then attempts to maintain itself indefinitely so that the resistance cannot rise again. Thus, mindfulness is the specific antidote for hindrances. It is both the cure and the preventive measure.

~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
“Mindfulness in Plain English” (Updated and Expanded Edition), p.146. (Wisdom Publications, 2002)

Train yourself

Bhavana Society forest Buddha

Words of the Buddha

Train yourself in doing good
that lasts and brings happiness.
Cultivate generosity, the life of peace,
and a mind of boundless love.

Puññameva so sikkheyya
āyataggaṃ sukhudrayaṃ.
Dānañca samacariyañca,
mettacittañca bhāvaye.

Itivuttaka 1.22

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NOTE: The Buddhist Pali canon, the collection of the Buddha’s teachings, is written in the Pali language (as seen above), which was recorded in Sinhala script some 500 years after the Buddha died. There remains uncertainty of the exact language in which the Buddha taught and whether it was a variant of what came to be Pali. See this thread about the subject for more and this one.

Change your life

“Putting the Buddha’s discovery into practice is no quick fix. It can take years. The most important qualification at the beginning is a strong desire to change your life by adopting new habits and learning to see the world anew.”

~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness,” pg. 3 (Wisdom Publications, 2015)

Quote and image courtesy of the Bhavana Society Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BhavanaSocietyWV

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