“To those of you who are suffering immediate and omnipresent hardships, my heart goes out to you. At my age, I’m well acquainted with pain. But the monk wants you to know that pain is a gateway to understanding. When it’s time to suffer, you should suffer; when it’s time to cry, you should cry. Cry completely. Cry until there are no more tears and then recognize in your exhaustion that you’re alive. The sun still rises and sets. The seasons come and go. Absolutely nothing remains the same and that includes suffering. When the suffering ends, wisdom begins to raise the right questions.”
Here is an excerpt from a wonderful essay, “A Holistic Mindfulness,” by Ajahn Amaro on the Buddhist context of the word “mindfulness,” which is so much the rage these days. The whole essay is worth a read, but the segment below gives a wonderfully nuanced explanation of the Buddhist term ‘dukkha,’ often translated as ‘suffering’, but which has a far more nuanced and complex meaning.
“It is also significant, in this same vein, to consider the etymology of the word dukkha (according to Analayo 2003, p. 244):
Dukkha is often translated as ‘suffering’. Suffering, however, represents only one aspect of dukkha, a term whose range of implications is difficult to capture with a single English word. Dukkha can be derived from the Sanskrit kha, one meaning of which is ‘the axle-hole of a wheel’, and the antithetic prefix duḥ (= dus), which stands for ‘difficulty’ or ‘badness’. The complete term then evokes the image of an axle not fitting properly into its hole. According to this image, dukkha suggests ‘disharmony’ or ‘friction’.
“Thus, when things are not attuned or balanced (sammā), the result is disharmony or friction (dukkha), like the wheel of a bicycle being out of kilter. The understanding of these terms, and their application in practice, lends a somewhat different tone to an individual’s appreciation of experience. They help the practitioner to reconfigure the customary absolute judgments of “good” and “bad,” right and wrong, and to reflect on what needs to be adjusted in a less personal and more practical way…”
Bhante Seelanda gives a Dhamma talk on Day 1 of a retreat on Samatha and Vipassana meditation at the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Forest Monastery in West Virginia, from April 6-13, 2015. This is an illuminating talk on the relationship and role of these two types of meditation practices, that entail concentration and insight, respectively.
“The purpose of meditation is not to concentrate on the breath, without interruption, forever. That by itself would be a useless goal. The purpose of meditation is not to achieve a perfectly still and serene mind. Although a lovely state, it doesn’t lead to liberation by itself. The purpose of meditation is to achieve uninterrupted mindfulness. Mindfulness, and only mindfulness, produces enlightenment.”
NOTE: This excerpt and image comes from the Bhavana Society Facebook page, which we highly recommend following, full of daily quotes by the Buddha and teachings on meditation and Buddhist practice by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Therevadan forest monastery in eastern West Virginia.
Click on this link to get to the new Bhavana Society Supporters and Friends Facebook page. The page was created to provide an environment where supporters of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Monastery and retreat center near High View, W.Va., in Hampshire County, West Virginia, can meet and share their meditation and Dhamma experiences. If you’d like to join, just click on the link and feel free to participate.
PS~You can also find on Facebook the Bhavana Society’s main page, maintained by lay followers. It includes daily quotes from the Buddhist canon, excerpts from Bhavana abbot Bhante Gunaratana’s teachings and some really wonderful Buddha statues, images and photos from around the Buddhist world.
“One abides pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, likewise the second, likewise the third, likewise the fourth; so above, below, around, and everywhere, and extending to all, one abides pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving-kindness, abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill will.”
“Awareness is your refuge: awareness of the changingness of feelings, of attitudes, of moods, of material change and emotional change. Stay with that. because it’s a refuge that is indestructible. It’s not something that changes. It’s a refuge you can trust in. This refuge is not something that you create. It’s not a creation. It’s not an ideal. It’s very practical and very simple, but easily overlooked or not noticed. When you’re mindful, you’re beginning to notice, it’s like this.
“Nibbana is not a location or condition somewhere outside of us. Rather, it is within. Nibbana is the total destruction of all defilements. The very moment our greed, hatred and ignorance are destroyed, nibbana arises. The key to overcoming defilements and reaching nibbana is cultivating (or training) the mind. As the Buddha said, “As rain does not get into a well thatched house, so craving does not get into a well trained mind.”
So how should we proceed? First, we must understand what we are trying to accomplish and develop some skill in mindfulness both during meditation and in life. We use this mindfulness to prevent external defilements from entering the mind by carefully guarding the senses. We also use it to prevent latent tendencies that exist as traces within the mind, such as craving, hatred, greed, jealousy and pride, from arising. If, in spite of these efforts, latent tendencies do arise or reach the stage of manifestation in words and deeds, we apply additional mindful efforts to overcome them.
Then, instead of worrying over past unwholesome thoughts, we arouse wholesome thoughts, such as generosity, patience, and loving-friendliness and use effort to strengthen the wholesome thoughts. In addition we use mindfulness to guard the senses against external sensory experiences that might stimulate any unwholesome tendencies. As we have said, mindfulness is in essence vipassana or insight meditation. Only insight meditation can train the mind to watch and discipline itself in order to purify it, eventually destroying all the defilements, including their latent tendencies.”
“It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view.
When you flip the switch in the attic, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades.
The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before.
“Awareness is aware of doubts about our ability to meditate, about being aware. Awareness is aware of wondering what stage we are at or… what we have attained, or whether we are just hopeless cases. It’s simply that thoughts are thoughts — they arise and cease.”
Wanted to pass along this post below from the Bhavana Society Facebook page. Registration for the first retreat of 2015 at the Therevadan Forest Monastery in the woods of eastern West Virginia is now open. It’s a good one if you’re just starting a meditation practice as the theme is an “Introduction to Samatha and Vipassana Meditation.” It takes place March 23-29, 2015, and will be led by Bhante Seelananda. Here’s the link to the Bhavana site for more details on the retreat and to register:
_____________ Registration for the Introduction to Samatha and Vipassana Meditation Retreat is now open! This retreat is open to meditators of all levels of experience.
Since this is the first retreat for 2015, here are some reminders concerning the registration process.
First, if you’ve never been on retreat at the Bhavana Society, you’ll need to register for an account. It’s free and pretty simple. Fill in all the information and click “send.” Because of programming issues, it’s a good idea to send an email to the Main Office to make sure that you have an account. Simply email email@example.com.
Second, register for the retreat you wish to attend. Registration begins 30 days prior to the scheduled retreat (you won’t be able to register months in advance).
Third, once you’ve registered, you should receive an email from the Bhavana Society confirming your registration. If you don’t, please contact the Main Office to see if it has been received.
Because of the voluminous amount of snow that fell today, we are canceling this Tuesday night’s weekly Meditation Circle gathering. Join the circle the next time we meet, starting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24. Beginners always welcome!
A meditation group in the Buddhist insight tradition, based in Charleston, W.Va.