You can do it, too

Quote/Unquote

“Whatever you’re experiencing in your mind, other people are experiencing the same sorts of things. And what they’re experiencing, you’ve experienced before. This can help with compassion and empathetic joy. There’s that passage where the Buddha talks about seeing people who are extremely wealthy and realizing you’ve been there before. When you see people who are extremely poor or ill, you’ve been there before as well. This helps to equalize things to counteract resentment or pride.

But this reflection can equalize things in another way. You can think about people who are faced with the same mental problems that you have: the mind when it’s depressed, the mind when it’s scattered. All the great meditators of the past and the present have had just exactly the same kind of problem. Yet they were able to get past it.

In the same way, when you’re sitting with pain, realize that other people have sat with pain, too, and yet they were able to keep sitting with it. What did they have that you don’t have? They had persistence. Where did they get that from? It wasn’t that they were born with it. They developed it. You can develop it too.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
READ MORE: “Bodies & Minds Outside”

A mind imbued

Quote/Unquote

Photo by Dingzenyu Li.

“Here a bhikkhu dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with lovingkindness, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with mind imbued with lovingkindness, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. He dwells pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with compassion… with a mind imbued with altruistic joy… with a mind imbued with equanimity, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, and everywhere, and to all as to himself, he dwells pervading the entire world with a mind imbued with equanimity, vast, exalted, measureless, without hostility, without ill will. This is called measureless liberation of mind.”

7 Godatta. Cittasamyutta.
Part IV: The Book of the Six Sense Bases. http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/connected-discourses-buddha

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(Quote courtesy of www.facebook.com/BhavanaSocietyWV)

Mind habits

Quote/Unquote

“Although we have the potential for liberation, our awareness is not able to reach it, because we are concerned with what we already know. We are habit-formed and habit-prone and every meditator becomes aware of the mind habits with their old and tried reactions to outside triggers. They have not necessarily been useful in the past, but they are still repeated out of habit. The same applies to our moods, which are arising and passing away and have no other significance than a cloud has in the sky, which only denotes the kind of weather there is, without any universal truth to that. Our moods only denote the kind of weather our mind is fabricating, if it believes the mood.

“The four supreme efforts are, in the first place, the avoiding of unwholesome, unskillful thought processes. If we look at them as unskillful, we can accept the fact of learning a new skill more easily. Avoiding means we do not let certain thoughts arise, neither reactions to moods, nor to outside triggers. If we find ourselves habitually reacting in the same way to the same kind of situation, we may be forced to avoid such situations, so that we can finally gain the insight which needs to be culled from it…”

~Ayya Khema

from “Supreme Efforts”

 

What’s important

Quote/Unquote

If we’re not reflecting on the impermanent nature of life, then there are a lot of unimportant things that seem important. Our jobs seem important. Money seems important. But if we’re really reflecting on impermanence then we can see that the important things are compassion and loving others—giving to others and taking care of others.

—Allison Choying Zangmo,
Living and Dying with Confidence

Been there, done that

Quote/Unquote


“The Buddha’s sense
of irony, the arahant’s sense of irony, is simply seeing that the world is so dumb: The things that people want most
are the very things that make them suffer most. For a long time, before their awakening, the arahants had been doing that sort of thing as well. This is why when they laugh at this tendency, it’s not a harsh laugh. They know what it’s like; they’ve been there themselves. But they were able to step back and see the foolishness. And in seeing the foolishness, that’s when you let go.”
~Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Read full Dhamma talk: “Infinite Good Humor”

Dealing with frustration

Readings

“Greed and hatred and delusion or confusion are not coming from outside. They all come from within, in our own minds. So, when we meditate we can see how greed arises in us, how hatred and confusion arise in us. And then immediately we try not to cultivate them, not to let them grow. On the one hand, we can prevent them from arising. Or we can see in our unmindful moments these mental states arise and then immediately we try to nip them in the bud.

“For instance, when greed takes over there is a space in our mind to cultivate generosity — letting go of greed. When hatred fades away there is room in our mind to generate loving kindness — metta. When delusion fades away there is room in our mind to develop wisdom. So, we will be able to remove these things a tiny little bit at a time Not the whole lot. But slowly and gradually they become weak and eventually they will fade away. And this is how we learn to neutralize frustration and eventually get rid of frustration.

“Friends, there are thousands of occasions and moments every single day to become frustrated. Therefore, it appears to be very difficult. But through constant, persistent, diligent practice, it becomes easy. So, it is possible to neutralize our frustration.”

~Bhante Gunaratana

This Breath

Readings

“Don’t tell yourself you’ve got a whole hour to sit here. Just tell yourself you’ve got this breath: this breath coming in, this breath going out. That’s all there is: this breath. As for the breaths for the rest of the hour, don’t even think of them right now. Pay attention to them when they come. When they go, you’re done with them. There’s only this breath.
~
Your meditation needs that kind of focus if you’re going to see anything clearly. This attitude also helps to cut through a lot of the garbage at the beginning of the meditation. You may have experience from the past of how long it takes for the mind to settle down. But by now you should have a sense of where the mind goes when it settles down. Why can’t you go there right now?
~
Once you’re there with the breath, and you can get your balance, try to maintain balance. Again, it’s just this breath, this breath. See what you can do with this breath. Welcome it as an opportunity for making things better. How deep can it go, how good can it feel? How much of your attention can you give to it?”

~Thanissaro Bhikkhu
READ REST OF DHAMMA TALK: “Just This Breath”

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.
~
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?
~
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…”
❀❀❀
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)

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