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Details on Meditation Group Meeting Times

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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.)

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 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.

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.

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

 

Mind habits

Quote/Unquote

“Although we have the potential for liberation, our awareness is not able to reach it, because we are concerned with what we already know. We are habit-formed and habit-prone and every meditator becomes aware of the mind habits with their old and tried reactions to outside triggers. They have not necessarily been useful in the past, but they are still repeated out of habit. The same applies to our moods, which are arising and passing away and have no other significance than a cloud has in the sky, which only denotes the kind of weather there is, without any universal truth to that. Our moods only denote the kind of weather our mind is fabricating, if it believes the mood.

“The four supreme efforts are, in the first place, the avoiding of unwholesome, unskillful thought processes. If we look at them as unskillful, we can accept the fact of learning a new skill more easily. Avoiding means we do not let certain thoughts arise, neither reactions to moods, nor to outside triggers. If we find ourselves habitually reacting in the same way to the same kind of situation, we may be forced to avoid such situations, so that we can finally gain the insight which needs to be culled from it…”

~Ayya Khema

from “Supreme Efforts”

 

Been there, done that

Quote/Unquote


“The Buddha’s sense
of irony, the arahant’s sense of irony, is simply seeing that the world is so dumb: The things that people want most
are the very things that make them suffer most. For a long time, before their awakening, the arahants had been doing that sort of thing as well. This is why when they laugh at this tendency, it’s not a harsh laugh. They know what it’s like; they’ve been there themselves. But they were able to step back and see the foolishness. And in seeing the foolishness, that’s when you let go.”
~Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Read full Dhamma talk: “Infinite Good Humor”

The Basic Pattern

Thanissaro Bhikkhu

“The important thing is that you look at your meditation in terms of action and result.
~
So whatever level of practice you’re on, whether it’s simply day-to-day interactions with other people or working directly with your mind, this is the pattern the Buddha has you adopt all the time: Look at your intentions, look at you actions, look at their results, and then adjust things based on what harm you see your actions have done. If you see that the results aren’t as good as you’d like, go back and look at the intention, change the action. This requires two principles: integrity and compassion.
~
These are the basic Buddhist values. These are the basic values of the practice. And they can be applied at any level: among students in a classroom, or just interacting with other people in general, or as you’re sitting here meditating. Remember, you’re doing something. The principle of karma, which is the Buddha’s basic teaching, underlies everything, reminding you that your actions are important, that they do have consequences, and that you have the freedom to change the way you act. If you see that the consequences are causing harm, causing suffering, you can change the way you act. You have that freedom. You can learn from your mistakes…

…So as we practice in our imperfect ways, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha himself started out imperfect as well. As we make mistakes, it’s good to remind ourselves that the Buddha made mistakes, too, but he also pointed the way out of your mistakes. You can change the way you act, and it’s important that you do because your actions shape your life. The pleasure and pain you experience in life comes from your actions, not from anything you innately are. So when you notice that there are problems in your life, look here at what you’re doing. What are your intentions? What are your actions? What can you change?
~
This requires that you be very honest with yourself, that you have the integrity to admit your mistakes, to see the connection between your intentions and the results of your actions, and the compassion, both for yourself and the people around you, not to want to cause harm. Once you’ve developed this integrity in your day-to-day life, then it’s a lot easier to bring the integrity into your meditation, because integrity lies at the basis of meditating well, too. This is why the precepts are so important. They develop this quality of integrity. If you can’t be honest with yourself on the blatant level, then it’s very hard to be honest with yourself on the subtle level of the practice…”
❀❀❀
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Excerpt from “The Basic Pattern.”
Read full Dhamma talk here.

 

Meditation Circle moves from Monday to Tuesday nights starting Tuesday, March 21

Schedule

Starting on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, The Meditation Circle of Charleston will move its regular weekly gathering from its current Monday night to Tuesday nights at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Building, 520 Kanawha Blvd W., in Charleston, WV.

The time remains the same, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Beginning meditators and folks restarting a meditation practice are encouraged to arrive at 5:30 p.m., for basic instruction and some guided meditation. We sit in two 20 to 25-minute rounds of sitting, standing or walking meditation, followed by a short period of discussion.

For anyone coming to the gathering, it’s OK to arrive at 6 p.m. or later, if 5:30 p.m. is too early for your schedule. All are invited who are interested in meditation and establishing a meditation practice with a supportive group. We practice breath-centered meditation in the Buddhist tradition, but you need not be Buddhist to enjoy the benefits of meditation practice.

Come and join the circle!

Looking Inward

Below is an excerpt from a rich and rewarding page on mindfulness and meditation practice  titled “Looking Inward”, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/kee/inward.html .

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buddhahead

Normally the mind isn’t willing to stop and look, to stop and know itself, which is why we have to keep training it continually so that it will settle down from its restlessness and grow still. Let your desires and thought-processes settle down. Let the mind take its stance in a state of normalcy, not liking or disliking anything. To reach a basic level of emptiness and freedom, you first have to take a stance. If you don’t have a stance against which to measure things, progress will be very difficult. If your practice is hit-or-miss — a bit of that, a little of this — you won’t get any results. So the mind first has to take a stance.

When you take a stance that the mind can maintain in a state of normalcy, don’t go slipping off into the future. Have the mind know itself in the stance of the present: “Right now it’s in a state of normalcy. No likes or dislikes have arisen yet. It hasn’t created any issues. It’s not being disturbed by a desire for this or that.”

Then look on in to the basic level of the mind to see if it’s as normal and empty as it should be. If you’re really looking inside, really aware inside, then that which is looking and knowing is mindfulness and discernment in and of itself. You don’t need to search for anything anywhere else to come and do your looking for you. As soon as you stop to look, stop to know whether or not the mind is in a state of normalcy, then if it’s normal you’ll know immediately that it’s normal. If it’s not, you’ll know immediately that it’s not.

Take care to keep this awareness going. If you can keep knowing like this continuously, the mind will be able to keep its stance continuously as well. As soon as the thought occurs to you to check things out, you’ll immediately stop to look, stop to know, without any need to go searching for knowledge from anywhere else. You look, you know, right there at the mind and can tell whether or not it’s empty and still. Once you see that it is, then you investigate to see how it’s empty, how it’s still. It’s not the case that once it’s empty, that’s the end of the matter; once it’s still, that’s the end of the matter. That’s not the case at all. You have to keep watch of things, you have to investigate at all times. Only then will you see the changing — the arising and disbanding — occurring in that emptiness, that stillness, that state of normalcy. | READ ON

Winter 2016-17 Newsletter of Bhavana Society Now Available

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The Winter 2016-17 edition of “The Forest Path,” the quarterly of the Bhavana Society Theravadan Forest Monastery in High View, W.Va., is now available for free download from this link: www.bhavanasociety.org/newsletters/issue/winter_newsletter_20171

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Here is an overview of the issue from its introduction:

The Winter 2016 edition of the Bhavana Society’s quarterly newsletter, ‘The Forest Path’,  features the second part of a series on the Four Noble Truths, written by Bhante Mangala. 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. Our second article is a review of “The Mindfulness in Plain English Journal,” a new publication by Bhante G and Wisdom Publications. The third article is from our ‘Ask Bhante G’ series, in which Bhante G answers questions posed to him during interviews and retreats. We hope you enjoy this issue of The Forest Path. May you be well, happy, and peaceful, and may you find freedom from suffering.