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“The Buddhamas Carol” or “Ode to the Vipassana Yogi”

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SO, BHANTE YOGAVACARA RAHULA, an American Buddhist monk, stayed at my house earlier this year. We lodged him downstairs in a guest room that shares space with my home rehearsal and recording space. I came back from work to find he’d written and recorded on my BR 600 notebook recorder what he called “a Buddhist Christmas carol.” It’s about a yogi who sits down and attains enlightenment one silent night. My monk friend titled it “The Buddhamas Carol or Ode to the Vipassana Yogi.” Since monks aren’t supposed to become the next Myspace web stars, I recorded the song with harmonies by The Clementines, which would be Casi Null and myself. It’s a rough recording with a lot of ambient noise in it. (I recorded Casi at her kitchen table in a drive-by visit to her new digs in Princeton, W.Va., near the Riff Raff Art Collective. I think at one point, you hear Hendrix the Dog skittering across the linoleum kitchen floor). One day, we’ll do a proper recording in a real live studio with a sound engineer who knows his stuff. The lyrics are below. Let us know what you think. For more on Bhante Rahula, see here and here.

NOTE ON USAGE: Feel free to republish the song on your site, use the lyrics for your own version of the song (or slideshow). Or get the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to cover the tune. If you do record your own version, let me know (contacting me here) and I’ll post it here. If you republish it somewhere, it would be appreciated if you listed the web address: bhavanasociety.org.

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A Buddhamas Carol
or Ode of a Vipassana Yogi

1.
Silent Night, Peaceful Night,
All is calm, Stars are bright,
Round the hall Yogis sitting still,
Keeping their backs straight, exerting will,
Enduring pain without any ill-will,
Pervading Metta all throughout space,
Wishing goodwill to the whole human race.

2.
Silent Mind, Peaceful Mind,
Thoughts are few, Pain is slight,
Focusing mind at the tip of the nose,
Knowing each breath as it comes and it goes,
Perceiving the light that steadily glows,
Feeling the Rapture from head to the toes.

3.
Silent Mind, Tranquil Mind,

Thoughts are stilled, Body feels light,
All the Five Hinderances have died down,
The Ego no longer is spinning around,
Mind is one-pointed not moving a bit,
Enjoying at long last the Jhanic Bliss,

CHORUS: Sitting in Joyful Peace, Sitting in Blissful Peace.

4.
Silent Mind, focused Mind,
Awareness is strong, Mind is bright,
The Spiritual Faculties are prepared,
Vipassana-Insight has Mara scared,
Scanning the body from head to the toes,
Anicca, Anicca, each moment goes,
Anicca, Anicca, Impermanence flows,
The Five Aggregates appear empty as foam,
The Truth of No-Self is readily shown,

CHORUS:
Sitting in insightful Joy, Sitting in insightful Joy…

5.
Silent Mind, Equanimous Mind,
Awareness is clear, Wisdom is fine,
The six sense-impingements arise and pass,
No desire, no clinging, no ego to grasp,
No holding to present, future or past,
Mara has vanished he took his last gasp,
This body-mind house is empty at last,
Sitting and walking the whole night through,
Greeting the dawn completely anew.

6.
Silent Mind, Wisdom Mind,
Now is the time, Conditions are prime,
The Enlightenment Factors are developed well.
The Four Noble Truths become clear as a bell,
The Eye of Dhamma is opened wide,
The three lower fetters are broken in stride,
Tonight the Yogi enters the Stream…
Tomorrow Nibbana no longer a Dream.

~ “BUDDHAMAS CAROL” (or “ODE to the VIPASSANA YOGI”)
WORDS: By Bhante Yogavacara Rahula | bhavanasociety.org
MUSIC:
By The Clementines and the RiffRaff Choir

A meditation on recycling…

I liked Meditation Circle member Craig Wilger’s letter to the editor (below) in the Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 “Reader’s Forum” of the Charleston Gazette. Isn’t the way we systematically plunder and gobble up the planet’s resources and places a spiritual malaise? (Or in a memorable line about voracious humanity from Bruce Cockburn’s “If a Tree Falls”: Busy monster eats dark holes in the spirit world…” Recycling may take only a sliver of the trash back from the torrent we vomit out daily because of the way we like to live. But along the way we role model a more sustainable and truer way of living. The letter below Craig’s makes an equally salient point — why must recycling pay for itself when it’s OK to toss out as much trash as you wish, while everyone pays the same  fee for pickup? (P.S. Don’t you like the way newspaper letters still begin with ye olde “Editor:” salutation? Can you imagine blog comments beginning that way? Many are more likely to start “Dolt!”)

Editor:

I applaud South Charleston’s Frank Mullens and city council for standing strong with recycling. The very act of recycling is symbolic of a willingness to turn away from a way of living that considers only the immediate and insatiable need to consume. Rather it looks toward a future for our children based on a respect for ourselves and for the land’s limited resources. Continue reading A meditation on recycling…

NEXT MEETING: Meditation Circle at 6 p.m. Tues, Dec. 9

Need some down time from the holiday hustle (not mention bustle)? The Meditation Circle of Charleston will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregration, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va. See the ‘About‘ page for more on the group. Newcomers to meditation are welcome.

Our current discussion theme is Right Action. The second ethical principle of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path, Right Action involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind… Read on.

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Discussion Theme: ‘Right Action’

The December theme for Meditation Circle discussion is Right Action. Here’s a definition for this element of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path, from the website we’re using to guide us:

The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently, 2. to abstain from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty, and 3. to abstain from sexual misconduct. Positively formulated, right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others. Further details regarding the concrete meaning of right action can be found in the Precepts.

Article: Measuring meditation’s effects

Science is catching up to what meditation masters have taught for a long, long while:

For thousands of years, Buddhist meditators have claimed that the simple act of sitting down and following their breath while letting go of intrusive thoughts can free one from the entanglements of neurotic suffering.

Now, scientists are using cutting-edge scanning technology to watch the meditating mind at work. They are finding that regular meditation has a measurable effect on a variety of brain structures related to attention — an example of what is known as neuroplasticity, where the brain physically changes in response to an intentional exercise…

Read the rest of the article here. (Thanks to Robin for the link).

November Discussion: Right Intention

OUR NOVEMBER 2008 discussion theme is ‘Right Intention.’ Here’s a definition from the website we’re using as we guide ourselves through regular discussions of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Have the intention of sharing your thoughts on this topic in the ‘Comments’ above or at Tuesday’s gathering:

RIGHT INTENTION: While Right View refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion. ~ from www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html

Loving-kindness Meditation

We’ve had a couple of requests for the metta (loving-kindness) meditation we do at the Meditation Circle of Charleston. It is adapted from a metta meditation done by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot at the Bhavana Society.

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. Continue reading Loving-kindness Meditation

Resources

> BEGINNING MEDITATION |

– Good starting place: “Mindfulness in Plain English” by Bhante Gunaratana
Some suggested authors (by Patrick Hamilton)
Questions about meditation.
Loving-Kindness Meditation.

> BUDDHIST TEACHINGS |

The Big View: A clearly written, cleanly designed website about Buddhist teachings. The Meditation Circle has used the site’s pages for an ongoing discussion of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Wisdom Publications. Leading publisher of Buddhist titles.
Snow Lion Press: Vipassana and a full range of Buddhist title.
Pali Text Society: Original translations of the full range of Pali literature

> AREA CENTER |

Bhavana Society: A Therevadan Buddhist forest monastery and retreat center near Wardensville, W.Va., founded by the internationally known Buddhist meditation teacher and author Bhante Henepola Gunaratana and others. They have a year-long schedule of retreats, including ones for beginners and youth. But be sure to register months in advance as people from form around the world and retreat spaces fill up fast.

> GOOD WEBSITES |

See our blogroll on the homepage

> OTHER WISDOM |
The Tao Te Ching

Quotes

Suggest new quotes in the ‘Comments’ section above.

“Whenever we get angry we should realize that the strength we feel is not the strength of the charioteer. It is the strength of the runaway horse. We should immediately try to put the charioteer back in control. If we can do this, we are masters. If we cannot, we are slaves.

~ Ananda Pereira from “Escape to Reality: Buddhist Essays,” Wheel Publication No. 45/36

“The wisdom that shatters craving and release the mind from suffering is not some esoteric, fortuitous inspiration but the gradual, built-up, practical understanding of the experience that flies through the senses. Liberation is obtainable – so taught the Buddha. There is a means, a path available to all who will exert themselves properly. We have head of such a thing, have heard that it lasted down through the riotous, forgetful centuries and survives even now, powerful and free.

~ from “Longing for Certainty: Reflections on the Buddhist Life” by Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano. See longer excerpt here

Even if, bright as a flash of lightning,
Death were to strike you today,
Be prepared to die without sorrow
Or regret, giving up attachment to
What you are leaving behind.
Without ever ceasing to recognize
The authentic view of the real,
Leave this life like the eagle
That soars into the blue sky.

~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991). See related post: ‘Is My Meditation Correct?”

“AS WE WILLING ENTER each place of fear, each place of deficiency and insecurity in ourselves, we will discover that its walls are made of untruths, of old images of ourselves, of ancient fears, of false ideas of what is pure and what is not. ~ Jack Kornfield

“IT IS MY EXPERIENCE that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up…release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast true nature.” ~ Joanna Macy from “World as Lover, World as Self

“MANY YEARS AGO IN THAILAND the local villages surrounding our monastery held a party. The noise from the loudspeakers was so loud that it seemed to destroy the peace of our monastery. So we complained to our teacher, Ajahn Chah, that the noise was disturbing our meditation. The great master replied, ‘It is not the noise that disturbs you, it is you who disturbs the noise!’ ~ Ajahn Brahm, from “Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond: A Meditator’s Handbook” (Wisdom, 2005) Continue reading Quotes

Welcome to the Meditation Circle

DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.
SUBSCRIBE TO E-MAIL NOTICES: Click here
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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.m, time 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 for their kind use of 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.)