Impermanence is relentless

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The Buddha’s supposed final words are given in many forms in different places. But this version, really cuts to the heart of his teachings:

“Impermanence is relentless, decay inevitable. I have taught you all that is needed. Work diligently for your own salvation. Mindful you should dwell, clearly comprehending. This I exhort you.”

Issue 1 of New Monastery Newsletter Now online

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Download a .pdf of  Issue 1 of The Forest Path, the revamped newsletter for the  Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in High View, W.Va. The debut issue features an inspiring article on why the longtime Bhavana  cook decided to ordain, with photos from Bhante’s Pannaratana’s recent novice ordination ceremony. There’s a new, regular feature called “Ask Bhante G,” featuring questions posed to Bhavana abbot, Bhante Gunaratana. He answers the question “How much effort should we apply in our meditation practice?” Plus guidelines on visiting the monastery and more:

Look again

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“If the breath seems an exceedingly dull thing to observe over and over, you may rest assured of one thing: you have ceased to observe the process with true mindfulness. Mindfulness is never boring. Look again. Don’t assume that you know what breath is. Don’t take it for granted that you have already seen everything there is to see. If you do, you are conceptualizing the process. You are not observing its living reality. When you are clearly mindful of the breath or of anything else, it is never boring. Mindfulness looks at everything with the eyes of a child, with a sense of wonder. Mindfulness sees every moment as if it were the first and the only moment in the universe. So look again.”

~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
from “Mindfulness in Plain English” (pages 106, 107). Wisdom Publications (2002). http://wisdompubs.org/author/bhante-gunaratana

Note: This quote comes from the very active and rich Facebook page of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in the mountains of West Virginia. If you have an interest in Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation, you can follow the page here.

Acknowledging the problem

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“We carry addictions. The first step is acknowledging that. The acknowledgment itself is the purpose of the First Noble Truth. If you really look at the Buddhist tradition, the First Noble Truth is to understand the truth of suffering, which means acknowledge the problems we face, the addictions we have. If drinking coffee makes you sick, you have to cut the coffee out—and likewise when you recognize the addictions of attachment, anger, hatred. The Second Noble Truth is to find out what it is that causes these addictions and then to separate yourself from it. There are many causes of suffering created by individual karma—anger, hatred, jealousy, and, above all, ignorance. Ignorance is the most important one, the one which really creates all other negative emotions, such as anger, attachment, hatred.

“The Third Truth is cessation of ignorance. And the Fourth Truth is the Path, which is the medicine. If you have too much acid in your stomach, you take Pepto-Bismol. The practice, the path, is the antidote to whatever your problem is. If you’re too angry, you deal with the passions. If it’s laziness, you deal with diligence. If it’s ignorance, you use wisdom. If you’re wandering or thinking too much, you use meditation. These are the methods that automatically bring us to Buddhist ethics.”

~ Gelek Rinpoche
(from a very rich interview, “A Lama for All Seasons,” in Tricycle. Read the whole thing here.)

Understanding Cause & Effect

 

Bhante Gunaratana

Bhante Gunaratana

“Once we understand that everything we think, say or do is a cause that leads inevitably to some effect, now or in the future, we will naturally want to think, say, and do things that lead to positive results and avoid those thoughts, words, and deeds that lead to negative ones. Recognizing that causes always lead to results helps us accept the consequences of past actions. It also helps us focus our attention on making choices that can lead to a happier future.

“Skillful actions are those that create the causes for happiness, such as actions motivated by loving friendliness and compassion. Any action that comes from a mind not currently filled with greed, hatred, or delusion brings happiness to the doer and to the receiver. Such an action is, therefore, skillful or right.”

~ Bhante Gunaratana

from “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness”
p. 27-28

Five Minutes of Dhamma: Are You Enlightened?

In the first of a series of short videos on a single Dhamma question, Bhante Seelanada answers a retreatant’s query: “Bhante, are you enlightened?” The question was posed during a March 2015 retreat at the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in the West Virginia mountains.

For more video Dhamma talks, visit the Bhavana Society YouTube channel.

For more on the monastery, visit http://bhavanasociety.org

When Fear Arises WITHIN OUR MEDITATION

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Image from WikiMedia

When fear arises within our meditation, we apply an antidote. Recognizing what is happening at each instant as mind, we remain in the present. It is important to remember that patterns don’t have to repeat themselves. Through remaining in the present, we can let go of the past and the future—the headquarters of our fears. We recognize and then we let go, whether coming back to the focal point of our meditation—posture, breath, visualization—or non-conceptual space. Through motivation, honesty, and confidence you can practice with your fears and go beyond them in a way you never thought possible.

Lama Tsony
Read full excerpt

Loving-friendliness Meditation

There are many metta or loving-friendliness meditations to be found on the web. Here is one from the Meditation Circle’s Resources page, adapted from a metta meditation taught by Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery near Wardensville, W.Va. Metta meditations can be a heartening and expansive way to begin or end a meditation session.

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May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me, may difficulties not last long, may I have a calm, centered mind. May I have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May my parents be well happy and peaceful.  May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May my teachers be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May family members and relatives be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May friends and acquaintances be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May my enemies and those with whom I have trouble communicating be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May indifferent persons be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

May all beings, with form and without form, visible and invisible, near and far, born or coming to birth, from the highest realms of existence to the lowest, be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.

To those of you who are suffering

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“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.”

~ Seido Ray Ronci
from “The Examined Life,” Tricycle, May 15, 2015

Defining ‘dukkha’

bikeImage from globalcool.org/lifestyle/top-cycling-apps

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.

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“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…”
~ Ajahn Amaro (Read on)

Samatha and Vipassana Meditation

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.

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For more video Dhamma talks and instruction by Bhavana Society monks, visit the monastery’s YouTube Page.

The purpose of meditation

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“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.”

~Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, “Mindfulness in Plain English” (page 126).
http://wisdompubs.org/author/bhante-gunaratana

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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.

New Bhavana Society Friends page on Facebook

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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.

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