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Only when…

Only when the mind
Is settled can it become quiet.
Only when the mind
Is quiet can it become still.
Only when the mind
Is still can it see.
And only when the mind can see,
Can it reach the mystery of mysteries.
This is the process
That anyone who
Practices has to go through.
How long it takes
Is up to the individual.

– Yen-ch’eng
(Quote courtesy of DailyZen.com)

Details on Meditation Group Meeting Times

DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.
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NOTE: We recently revised the set-up of our meeting times for the Meditation Circle’s “About” page and wanted to share that with members of the circle and those interested in attending. | Thad and Doug 

WHO WE ARE:

Welcome. The Meditation Circle is a meditation group in the Buddhist tradition, practicing vipassana or insight meditation. We’re based in Charleston, West Virginia, and meet every Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd.

Those wishing instruction in basic, breath-centered Buddhist meditation  are welcome to arrive from 5:30 to 6 p.m., along with seasoned meditators who may wish to sit longer or for whom that time period is better for their schedules.

We’re a lay support group for people interested in meditation or who wish to deepen their practice through the support of a meditation sangha. Our members come from a wide variety of spiritual traditions and backgrounds. You do not need to be Buddhist to enjoy the benefits of a meditation practice. The circle’s facilitators are not teachers and we encourage people to seek out seasoned teachers to further their practice. Cushions, meditation benches and chairs are available or you are welcome to bring your own cushion, if you wish.

WHAT WE DO:

The time from 5:30 to 6 p.m. p.m.. is set aside for basic instruction in sitting, standing, and walking meditation for those new to meditation, along with discussion about maintaining a regular meditation practice. Regular meditators are also welcome to come and sit during this period.

From 6 to 7 p.mtime is set aside for seated meditation. The format consists of two rounds of meditation, each lasting about 20 minutes, with a  5 minute period of standing or walking meditation between rounds.  We close the evening with a short Metta meditation. (Metta is the Pali term for loving-kindness or friendliness.) There is an opportunity for questions or discussion about practice at the end of the meditation period. Feedback welcome!

Those new to meditation practice may visit our Resource page for more information about the type of meditation we practice at the Meditation Circle.

There is no cost to join the circle. We do accept donations in a box titled ‘dana’ to offer to the Unitarians to cover the costs for their kindness in letting us  use the space and also to help defray the costs of occasionally bringing Buddhist monks to town.

Come join the Circle! (Although sometimes it resembles an oblong or parallelogram, but the Meditation Parallelogram of Charleston didn’t have quite the right sound.)

Recognizing awareness

Now, the word ‘ignorance’ as used in Pali means ‘not knowing the Four Noble Truths with their three aspects and twelve insights’ (that is the formula of the Four Noble Truths). And the path is in terms of being eightfold (the Eightfold Path). But the Eightfold Path is really just awareness. Awareness is the path, and the eight parts are more or less positions for reflection rather than actual steps on an actual path. It is not a matter of taking this whole conception of a path too literally, thinking that one step leads to the next ― first you do this and then you do that.

Taken in personal terms, you might start wondering, ‘Do I have right view? Is my speech really right speech all the time?’ And then maybe thinking, ‘Oh, I’m not on the path! I said something the other day I shouldn’t have said.’ If you start thinking about yourself in that way, you just get confused. My advice is not to make a problem of yourself. Give up making a problem about yourself, or how good or bad you are, or what you should or shouldn’t be. Learn to trust in your awareness more, and affirm that; recognize it and consciously think, ‘This is the awareness ― listening ― relaxed attention.’ Then you will feel the connection. It is a natural state that sustains itself. It isn’t up to you to create it. It isn’t dependent on conditions to support it. It is here and now whatever is happening.

Every moment we recognize awareness ― and really trust and learn to appreciate it ― joy comes, compassion comes, and love. But it isn’t personal; it isn’t based on liking, preferences, or kammic attachments. The dhamma is not the destruction of conditioned phenomena, but the container of it. All possibilities of conditioned phenomena arise and cease in the dhamma; and there is nothing that can bind us once we see that, because the reality of the dhamma is seen rather than the forms that arise and cease. Mindfulness reflections are skilful means the Buddha developed for investigating experience, for breaking down the illusions we hold, for breaking through the ignorance we grasp at, for freeing ourselves from form, the limited and the unsatisfactory.

Rather than teaching too many techniques now, or giving too much structure, I prefer to encourage people just to trust themselves with mindfulness and awareness. Often meditation is taught with this sense that one has to get something or get rid of something. But that only increases the existing idea of ‘I am somebody who has to become something that I am not, and has to get rid of my bad traits, my faults, my defilements.’ If we never see through that, it will be a hopeless task. The best we will ever do under those circumstances is maybe modify our habit-tendencies, make ourselves nicer people and be happier in the world ― and that isn’t to be despised, either ― but the point of the Buddha’s teaching is liberation.

~ Ajahn Sumedho
Read more articles by Ajahn Sumedho

Cut it off from the start

quote/unquote

Image from this website talk on papanca

The important thing is to sustain moment to moment awareness of the mind. If you are really caught in mental proliferation, then gather it all together, and contemplate it in terms of being one whole, cut it off right from the start, saying, “All these thoughts, ideas, and imaginings of mine are simply simply thought proliferation and nothing more. It’s all anicca, dukkha, and anatta. None of it is certain at all.”

Discard it right there.

~Ajahn Chah

Summer issue of “The Forest Path” now online

“The Forest Path,” The Summer 2017 newsletter of the Bhavana Society Monastery and Retreat Center in High View, W.Va., the first Theravadan Buddhist monastery in North American, is now online.

The issue features the fourth and final part of a series on the Four Noble Truths, written by Mangala Bhikkhu. This series seeks to explore the Buddha’s powerful teachings on the nature of suffering in a way that clarifies and engages the reader, asking one
to question why we suffer in the first place. The second article is from the ‘Ask Bhante G’ series, in which Bhavana  abbot Bhante Gunaratana answers questions posed to him during interviews and retreats. The third article is an excerpt from The Sedaka Sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

View in your browser or download a .pdf of the issue at this link:

http://bhavanasociety.org/newsletters/issue/summer_newsletter_2017

PS: One of Bhavana’s monks, Bhante Jayasara, recently led a day-retreat in the Charleston-Huntington area. Here is one of his recorded Dhamma talks.

DHAMMA TALK: Ajahn Sumedho on mindfulness and meditation

https://soundcloud.com/douglaseye/ajahn-sumedho-on-mindfulness-and-meditation

If the Soundcloud player does not show, click here

HERE IS A PORTION of a talk given by Ven. Ajahn Sumedho on a recent visit to Washington, D.C., his first trip ever in his long life. Ajahn Sumedho talks on mindfulness and meditation. The talk was given July 1, 2017,  and was  co-sponsored by the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., and the Thai Embassy. Ajahn Sumedho is the senior Western representative of the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism.

FOR MORE TALKS by Ajahn Sumedho, click here.

DHAMMA TALK: Making meditation one’s livelihood

DhammaTalk

Bhante Jayasara, a Theravadan Buddhist monk from the Bhavana Society in High View, W.Va., gives a Dhamma talk on “making meditation part of one’s livelihood.”

The talk was part of a day retreat on May 27, 2017, at the Peace Tree Center for Wellness in Huntington, W.Va., sponsored by PeaceTree and The Meditation Circle of Charleston WV. For more on the Bhavana Society Buddhist monastery and retreat center, visit bhavanasociety.org

DHAMMA TALK EXCERPT: Ajahn Sumedho

DhammaTalk

HERE IS AN EXCERPT of a talk given by Ven. Ajahn Sumedho on the occasion of a recent visit to Washington, D.C. The talk, given July 1, 2017,  was co-sponsored by the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., and the Thai Embassy. Sample: “What is it that’s aware of inhaling and exhaling?… Through this kind of investigation, this awareness or mindfulness, we begin to have the insight knowledge into consciousness knowing itself.” Ajahn Sumedho is the senior Western representative of the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism.

Bhante Jayasara talk on Mindfulness

DhammaTalk

Bhante Jayasara, a Theravadan monk from the Bhavana Society in High View, W.Va., gives a talk on mindfulness in daily living at Unity of Kanawha Valley in Charleston, W.Va., on May 26, 2017, as part of a visit sponsored by themeditationcircle.com and the PeaceTree Center for Wellness (www.peacetreecenter.com). For more on the Bhavana Society, visit bhavanasociety.org. For more on Bhante J, visit bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com/author/bhi…hujayasara

Bhante Jayasara to visit Charleston and Huntington in late May

PLEASE NOTE: The Saturday, May 27 day retreat with Bhante J is full-up.

We are glad to announce a visit to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by the Theravadan Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Jayasara (Bhante J) on Friday, May 26; Saturday May 27; and Sunday, May 28.

Below is the schedule for his visit. We encourage folks who have a meditation practice to sign up early for the Saturday day-retreat as space is limited at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness and we will be limiting registration to the first 30 people who sign up through EventBrite, in order not to overwhelm the room. There is also a sign-up for the Studio 8 meditation on Sunday, May 28 because of the size of the room.

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FRIDAY, May 26:  ‘Mindfulness in Daily Living’
LOCATION:
Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Rd., Charleston, W.Va.
TIME: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
DETAILS: Bhante J will speak on bringing more mindfulness and awareness into our daily lives and then take questions.

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SATURDAY, May 27: Silent Day Retreat: Deepening Your Meditation Practice/Dealing with the Restless Mind
LOCATION: PeaceTree Center for Wellness,
5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington, W.Va.
WHEN:
Morning Session: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Lunch break: 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Vegetarian Lunch provided.)
Afternoon Session: 1 to 4 p.m.
DETAILS: This will be a silent retreat with several sessions of guided and quiet sitting meditation, with a chance to ask questions during the retreat. Cushions and chairs will be available and you are welcome to bring your own cushion. Because of space limitations, the retreat will be limited to the first 30 people who sign up. Some experience with quiet sitting meditation is encouraged though not required.
SIGN UP: This retreat is full-up.

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SUNDAY, May 28:
Meditation & Dhamma Talk
LOCATION:
Studio 8 Yoga and Wellness, 803 8th Ave, Huntington, WV 25701
TIME:
12:30 to 2 p.m.
DETAILS:
Bhante J will give a Dhamma talk and lead a meditation
SIGN UP: Click on this link to register for this Dhamma talk and meditation.

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More on Bhante J:

Bhikkhu Jayasāra (“Bhante J”) is an American-born Buddhist monastic who currently resides at Bhavana Society of West Virginia near High View, W.Va. He was born in 1978 and raised Catholic. He came to Buddhism in his late 20s and officially took refuge and precepts to become a practicing Buddhist lay disciple on Vesak in 2008. In 2011 he took the Eight Lifetime Precepts with Bhante Gunaratana and was given the name Jayantha.

By this point the practice had instilled in him a desire to become a monastic. Bhante J began to regularly attend retreats and weekend visits to Bhavana and learned all he could about the monastic life. He began living at Bhavana Society in September 2014, became an Anagarika (postulant) in March 2015, became a Sāmaṇera (novice monk) in October of 2015, and a Bhikkhu (fully ordained monk) in October 2016

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For more on Bhante J, visit his personal blog at:
bhikkhujayasara.wordpress.com

For more on the PeaceTree Center for Wellness, visit this link.  PeaceTree is a growing wellness development and training center. It is designed to connect individuals, families, and communities to activities that support our mission and vision of peace, wellness, and hope.

Spring 2017 edition of ‘The Forest Path’ now online

The Spring 2017 edition of the Bhavana Society’s quarterly newsletter, ‘The Forest Path’, features the third part of a series on the Four Noble Truths, written by Mangala Bhikkhu. This series seeks to explore the Buddha’s powerful teachings on the nature of suffering in a way that clarifies and engages the reader, asking one to question why we suffer in the first place. The second article is a reflection by Michael Summers, a member of Bhavana’s Media Team, who recently gave a presentation on Buddhism at a local West Virginia community college. The third article is from our ‘Ask Bhante G’ series, which focuses, in this issue, on answering questions concerning metta and vipassana meditation.

Click here to read the issue.

How the path unfolds

Through engaging in mindful attention both during meditation sessions and as we go about our everyday activities, we begin to see how the Buddhist path unfolds. Where is the path, and what is the path? It is within us—within, we might say, the mind and its activities. We will never find the path anywhere else— not in books, not in a shop, not in temples. It is within us. Mindfulness is the key that opens the gate to this road.
 
~Bhante Gunaratana
“Meditation on Perception”
www.wisdompubs.org/author/bhante-gunaratana
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(Quote courtesy of www.facebook.com/BhavanaSocietyWV)

not overlooking the breath

It’s surprising that in our lives we often overlook the breath and that in our meditation practice we are sometimes bored by it. Not only is each breath sustaining our lives, but being aware and mindful of the breath was also the basis for the Buddha’s own awakening. It can be for our own awakening as well:

“Bhikkhus, if wanderers of other sects ask you: ‘In what dwelling, friends, did the Blessed One generally dwell during the rains residence?’—being asked thus, you should answer those wanderers thus: ‘During the rains residence, friends, the Blessed One generally dwelt in the concentration by mindfulness of breathing.’ . . . “If anyone, Bhikkhus, speaking rightly could say of anything: ‘It is a noble dwelling, a divine dwelling, the Tathāgata’s dwelling,’ it is of concentration by mindfulness of breathing that one could rightly say this. “Bhikkhus, those Bhikkhus who are trainees, who have not attained their mind’s ideal, who dwell aspiring for the unsurpassed security from bondage: for them concentration by mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, leads to the destruction of the taints. Those Bhikkhus who are arahants, whose taints are destroyed, who have lived the holy life, done what had to be done, laid down the burden, reached their own goal, utterly destroyed the fetters of existence, those completely liberated through final knowledge: for them concentration by mindfulness of breathing, when developed and cultivated, leads to a pleasant dwelling in this very life and to mindfulness and clear comprehension.”  (Bodhi, “The Connected Discourses” 1778)

from “Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening” by Joseph Goldstein