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Bhante Jayasara to visit area May 19-20 and 21, 2018

The Meditation Circle is pleased to announce a return visit to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by the Theravadan Buddhist monk Bhante Jayasara (Bhante J), from the Bhavana Society Theravadan Buddhist Monastery in High View, W.Va. He will be here:

Saturday, May 19 (Huntington: day-long quiet retreat); Sunday May 20 (Huntington: guided meditation, talk and questions)
Monday, May 21 (Charleston: guided meditation, talk and questions).

Below is the schedule for his visit. We encourage folks interested in attending the Saturday day-long quiet retreat to sign up early as space is limited at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness and registration is limited to the first 45 people who sign up through EventBrite, in order not to overwhelm the room. There is also a sign-up for Studio 8 in Huntington because of the size of the room.

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SATURDAY, May 19: Silent Day Retreat: ‘Deepening a Meditation Practice’
LOCATION: PeaceTree Center for Wellness, 5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington, W.Va. 25705
WHEN: Morning: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Lunch break: 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Vegetarian lunch provided.) Afternoon: 1 to 3:30 p.m.
WHO: For people familiar with sitting meditation, wishing to deepen their practice. There will be several sessions of guided and silent meditation and walking meditation. We ask that folks who sign up stay for the entire day if possible. The day will be conducted in Noble Silence, except for talks by Bhante J and question and answer sessions.
COST: Admission is free with donations accepted at the door, to pay for travel costs, and to offer donations to the Bhavana Society and PeaceTree.
SIGN-UP: Click on this Eventbrite link

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SUNDAY, May 20: Guided Meditation, Talk and Questions
LOCATION:Studio 8 Yoga and Wellness, 803 8th Ave., Huntington, WV 25701
WHEN: 12:30 to 2 p.m.
WHO: For anyone interested in meditation
DETAILS: Bhante J will give a Dhamma talk, lead a meditation and answer questions
COST: Admission is free with donations accepted at the door, to pay for travel costs, and to offer donations to the Bhavana Society and Studio 8.
SIGN UP: Click on this Eventbrite link to register.

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MONDAY, May 21: Guided meditation, talk and questions
LOCATION: Unitarian Universalist Congregation building, 520 Kanawha Boulevard, Charleston, WV
WHEN: 5:15 to 6:45 p.m.
WHO: For anyone interested in meditation
DETAILS: Bhante J will give a Dhamma talk, lead a meditation and answer questions

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MORE on Bhante J:

Bhante Jayasāra (“Bhante J”) is an American-born Buddhist monastic who currently resides at Bhavana Society, a Theravadan Buddhist Monastery and retreat center 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 Bhavana Abbot 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. NOTE: Bhante (BON-tay) is an honorific that refers to Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition. Bhante literally means “Venerable Sir.”

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

What’s a Kalyana Mitta Group?

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sakyans. Now there is a Sakyan town named Sakkara. There Ven. Ananda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, “This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.”

“Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.  

more here…

The Meditation Circle is starting a Kalyana Mitta group which will meet the first Tuesday of each month, beginning April 3, 2018.

What is a Kalyana Mitta group?

Kalyana Mitta is a Pali term which means “spiritual friend.” Often used to describe someone in the teacher role, it can also refer to anyone on the path of Dhamma, monk or layperson, who is a guide, support or merely co-traveler. A Kalyana Mitta  group  makes it possible for sangha bonds to grow strong as well as providing an intimate enough setting for true exploration of Dhamma topics. This deepens the development of daily life as practice.

Since none of the members of the Meditation circle are teachers, as such,  we all fit the definition of “co-travelers”.  On the first Tuesday of the month, at the usual start time of 6:00, we will sit one twenty minute round of meditation instead of the usual two rounds. That meditation period will be followed by a time for conversation, questions, discussion of problems or experiences encountered in our practice, and occasionally, sutta study. The format will be flexible. Refreshments will be available. All are welcome.

Independent happiness

Ajahn Sumedho

With mindfulness, we can be independent of the positions other people are taking. We can stand on our own two feet and take responsibility for acting in a virtuous way, regardless of what the rest of society is doing.

I can be kind, generous, and loving toward you, and that is a joy to me. But if I make my happiness dependent upon your being kind to me, then it will always be threatened, because if you aren’t doing what I like—behaving the way I want you to—then I’m going to be unhappy. So then, my happiness is always under threat because the world might not behave as I want it to.

It’s clear that I would spend the rest of my life being terribly disappointed if I expected everything to change—if I expected everybody to become virtuous, wars to stop, money not to be wasted, governments to be compassionate, sharing, and giving—everything to be just exactly the way I want it! Actually, I don’t expect to see very much of that in my lifetime, but there is no point in being miserable about it; happiness based on what I want is not all that important.

Joy isn’t dependent on getting things, or on the world going the way you want, or on people behaving the way they should, or on their giving you all the things you like and want. Joyfulness isn’t dependent upon anything but your own willingness to be generous, kind, and loving. It’s that mature experience of giving, sharing, and developing the science of goodness.

Virtuousness is the joy we can experience in this human realm. So, although what society is doing or what everyone else is doing is beyond my control—I can’t go around making everything how I want it—still, I can be kind, generous, and patient, and do good, and develop virtue. That I can do, and that’s worth doing, and not something anyone can stop me from doing. However rotten or corrupted society is doesn’t make any difference to our ability to be virtuous and to do good.

Ahahn Sumedho, from “The Mind and the Way: Buddhist Reflections on Life.” pp. 158-159

 

Brief Instructions for Loving-Kindness Meditation

METTA MEDITATION

The practice of Metta meditation is a beautiful support to other awareness practices. One recites specific words and phrases evoking a “boundless warm-hearted feeling.” The strength of this feeling is not limited to or by family, religion, or social class. We begin with our self and gradually extend the wish for well-being happiness to all beings.

There are different descriptions of the practice. The following is a basic set of instructions from the book “The Issue at Hand” by Gil Fronsdal written as a gift to the community. It is freely given.

To practice loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable and relaxed manner. Take two or three deep breaths with slow, long and complete exhalations. Let go of any concerns or preoccupations. For a few minutes, feel or imagine the breath moving through the center of your chest – in the area of your heart.

Metta is first practiced toward oneself, since we often have difficulty loving others without first loving ourselves. Sitting quietly, mentally repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases:

May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.

While you say these phrases, allow yourself to sink into the intentions they express. Loving-kindness meditation consists primarily of connecting to the intention of wishing ourselves or others happiness. However, if feelings of warmth, friendliness, or love arise in the body or mind, connect to them, allowing them to grow as you repeat the phrases. As an aid to the meditation, you might hold an image of yourself in your mind’s eye. This helps reinforce the intentions expressed in the phrases.

After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Then slowly repeat phrases of loving-kindness toward them:

May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

As you say these phrases, again sink into their intention or heartfelt meaning. And, if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases so that the feelings may become stronger as you repeat the words.

As you continue the meditation, you can bring to mind other friends, neighbors, acquaintances, strangers, animals, and finally people with whom you have difficulty. You can either use the same phrases, repeating them again and again, or make up phrases that better represent the loving-kindness you feel toward these beings. In addition to simple and perhaps personal and creative forms of metta practice, there is a classic and systematic approach to metta as an intensive meditation practice. Because the classic meditation is fairly elaborate, it is usually undertaken during periods of intensive metta practice on retreat.

Sometimes during loving-kindness meditation, seemingly opposite feelings such as anger, grief, or sadness may arise. Take these to be signs that your heart is softening, revealing what is held there. You can either shift to mindfulness practice or you can—with whatever patience, acceptance, and kindness you can muster for such feelings—direct loving-kindness toward them. Above all, remember that there is no need to judge yourself for having these feelings.

Excerpts gratefully reprinted from the book The Issue at Hand by Gil Fronsdal, guiding teacher of Insight Meditation Center. 

click here to view the full text or download a pdf format

Working with the body

Following the Buddha’s instructions, you can work with the body and body awareness as part of your own spiritual path, most fundamentally as a means for learning to stay present. This is called mindfulness of the body, which the Buddha taught as the First Foundation of Mindfulness practice. When you first begin to meditate, it becomes immediately obvious why the Buddha started with the body-you continually get lost in your thoughts.

~NewBuddhist.com comment

Seeing life

In vipassana meditation we cultivate this special way of seeing life. We train ourselves to see reality exactly as it is, and we call this special mode of perception mindfulness. This process of mindful- ness is really quite different from what we usually do. We usually do not look into what is actually there in front of us. We see life through a screen of thoughts and concepts, and we mistake those mental objects for reality. We get so caught up in this endless thought-stream that reality flows by unnoticed. We spend our time engrossed in activity, caught up in an eternal pursuit of pleasure and gratification and eternal flight from pain and unpleasantness. We spend all of our energies trying to make ourselves feel better, trying to bury our fears, endlessly seeking security. Meanwhile, the world of real experience flows by untouched and untasted. In vipassana meditation we train ourselves to ignore the constant impulses to be more comfortable, and we dive into reality instead.

~Bhante Gunaratana, “Mindfulness in Plain English”

http://www.wisdompubs.org/author/bhante-gunaratana

Mindful Breathing

Ancient Pali texts liken meditation to the process of taming a wild elephant. The procedure in those days was to tie a newly captured animal to a post with a good strong rope. When you do this the elephant is not happy. He screams and tramples, and pulls against the rope for days. Finally it sinks through his skull that he can’t get away, and he settles down. At this point you can begin to feed him and to handle him with some measure of safety. Eventually you can dispense with the rope and post altogether, and train your elephant for various tasks. Now you’ve got a tamed elephant that can be put to useful work. In this analogy the wild elephant is your wildly active mind, the rope is mindfulness, and the post is our object of meditation– breathing. The tamed elephant who emerges from this process is a well trained, concentrated mind that can then be used for the exceedingly tough job of piercing the layers of illusion that obscure reality. Meditation tames the mind.

Bhante Gunaratana
“Mindfulness in Plain English”

HOW TO DO IT
The most basic way to do mindful breathing is simply to focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale.

Find a relaxed, comfortable position. You could be seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Hands resting wherever they’re comfortable. Tongue on the roof of your mouth or wherever it’s comfortable.

Notice and relax your body. Try to notice the shape of your body, its weight. Let yourself relax and become curious about your body seated here—the sensations it experiences, the touch, the connection with the floor or the chair. Relax any areas of tightness or tension. Just breathe.

Tune into your breath. Feel the natural flow of breath—in, out. You don’t need to do anything to your breath. Not long, not short, just natural. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel the sensations of breath, one breath at a time. When one breath ends, the next breath begins.

Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it is not a problem. It’s very natural. Just notice that your mind has wandered. You can say “thinking” or “wandering” in your head softly. And then gently redirect your attention right back to the breathing.
Stay here for five to seven minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you’ll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.

After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body, seated here. Let yourself relax even more deeply and then offer yourself some appreciation for doing this practice today.

http://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Kamma

“We live a life full of the power of kamma — old kamma and new. You can’t do anything about old kamma. You have to accept it like a good sport. That’s why you practice equanimity. But as for the new kamma you’re creating right now, you can’t practice equanimity with that. You have to be very concerned about what you’re putting into the system because you realize that this is the only chance you get to make the choice. Once the choice is made and it gets put into the system, then whatever the energy — positive or negative — that’s the sort of energy you’re going to have to experience. So pay attention: What are you putting into the system right now? This is the important thing to focus on.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu “Skills to Take with You”, Meditations1,

Read more:

https://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings/CrossIndexed/Published/Meditations/961112%20M1%20Skills%20to%20Take%20with%20You.pdf

The Most Important Issue in Life

“This is why the Buddha says that uncertainty is overcome by looking at skillful and unskillful qualities in the mind. To begin with, you’re focusing your attention on the most important issue in life, which is what sort of impact your actions are having, and particularly what kind of impact your mind states are having. After all, the source of action is in the mind. If you’re uncertain about different mental qualities, then watch. Try developing goodwill; try being generous; try observing the precepts. See what kind of impact these qualities have on your life.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu “Virtue Contains the Practice”| Read full Dhamma talk

 

Patient endurance

When the Buddha was giving his very first instructions on monastic discipline, and this was to a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 of his enlightened disciples at the Bamboo Grove, his first words were: “Patient endurance is the supreme practice for freeing the heart from unwholesome states.”

So when someone would come to Ajahn Chah with a tale of woe, of how their husband was drinking and the rice crop looked bad this year, his first response would often be: “Can you endure it?” This was said not as some kind of macho challenge, but more as a way of pointing to the fact that the way beyond suffering is neither to run away from it, wallow in it, or even grit one’s teeth and get through on will alone—no—the encouragement of patient endurance is to hold steady in the midst of difficulty, to truly apprehend and digest the experience of dukkha, to understand its causes and let them go.

~From “Food For the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah”