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Been there, done that


“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


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, .

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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:

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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.

Meditation Circle resumes, Monday Jan. 9

Happy New Year to all!
The Meditation Circle of Charleston will resume its weekly gatherings on Monday, Jan. 9. Please come and join the circle and start the new year off with mindfulness. We gather at 5:30 p.m. for discussion and any instruction for beginners or folks renewing a meditation practice. Sitting, standing and walking meditation takes place from 6 to 7 p.m.


The Buddhamas Carol (or ‘Ode of a Vipassana Yogi’)

There just aren’t that many Buddhist Christmas carols out there. Here is one by Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, a Theravadan Buddhist monk who recently made a visit to Huntington and Charleston, W.Va., as part of his worldwide perigrinations. For more on Bhante Rahula (who will be leading a retreat in April 2017 on vipassana meditation at the Bhavana Society in High View, W.Va.), check out his blog at

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Here are the lyrics to the song, which are a Dhamma discourse in themselves:

A Buddhamas Carol
Ode of a Vipassana Yogi
(Composed by Bhante Yogavacara Rahula)

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 good-will to the whole human race.


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.

Continue reading The Buddhamas Carol (or ‘Ode of a Vipassana Yogi’)

Being quiet


“Try to be quiet in every way. The body is sitting here quietly. The breathing is quiet, and as for the chatter of the mind, don’t get involved. There are two ways of dealing with it: one is to block it out, say, with a meditation word like buddho. You can just think buddho, buddho, buddho, very fast. It’s like jamming the circuits. Or try to immerse yourself in the breath as much as possible. The chatter may be in the background, but don’t pay any attention to it, don’t give it any importance. If you don’t feed it, you’ll find that it gets weaker and weaker. The mind really does get quieter. And only when the mind gets quiet can you begin to notice things.
Once when I was in Rayong a group of people from Bangkok came up the hill to where I was staying in the old ordination hall. They plopped themselves down in the hall and exclaimed how peaceful, how quiet it was there in the monastery. Then they pulled out their boom box and turned it on—all the better to hear the peace and quiet with.

That’s the way a lot of us are when we meditate. The body’s still, the breath is still, but the mind is like a boom box, broadcasting all kinds of thoughts and concerns. For many of us, meditation is the only time of the day when we get to sit and be with our thoughts without any interruption. But that’s not what it’s for. We’re here to watch, to observe. So, we have to do what we can to discourage the mind’s involvement with all that chatter…”

~Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Read the full talk, “Quiet in Every Way,”  at this link
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Quote courtesy of the Facebook page, “The Skillful Teachings of Thanissaro Bhikkhu”

Online Dhammapada resource

The Meditation Circle has begun reading “The Dhammapada,” in a translation by Gil Fronsdal.  (See post below.) But there is a free online version of this classic collection of the Buddha’s core teachings translated from the Pali by Acharya Buddharakkhita.

Comparing translations is always an educational and interesting exercise as different translations turn phrases differently and use different words that can add nuance and other shades of meanings to these teachings. You can find Acharya Buddharakkhita’s translation here to read online.  Or can download versions of it here in various formats.


This week’s Dhammapada verse



The Meditation Circle has begun to read verses from Gil Fronsdal’s translation of “The Dhammapada,” a collection in verse form of some of the Buddha’s core teachings. As we are not certified teachers, but just facilitators of the Meditation Circle, our goal is just to offer some food for thought for folks to ponder and not to “explain” or interpret these verses. In the next few weeks, we will be reading from Fronsdal’s introduction to “The Dhammapada,” which gives a good overview of the verses, which are among the most widely known of the Buddha’s teachings. If interested in the book, you can find it here: “The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic With Annotations.”

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Below are the verses  — verse 3-6 — we will be reading next  in the group:

He abused me, he attacked me,
Defeated me, robbed me!”
For those carrying on like this,
Hatred does not end.

She abused me, attacked me,
Defeated me, robbed me!”
For those not carrying on like this,
Hatred ends.

Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient truth.
Many do not realize that
We here must die.
For those who realize this,
Quarrels end.

Bhante Rahula to visit Charleston and Huntington, W.Va. Oct. 13-14-15, 2016


The Meditation Circle of Charleston (WV) is pleased to host a visit to Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., by the globe-trotting American-born Buddhist monk Bhante Yogavacara Rahula. (‘Bhante’ — BON-tay — is an honorific akin to ‘Reverand.’) Below is our tentative schedule for his visit, subject to modifications as we get closer. But we wanted to put the dates out there for people to reserve the time, if interested in attending. All events are free but we encourage people to show up before the starting time.

Bhante Rahula has a fascinating personal history, told in his autobiography, “One Night’s Shelter.” As described on one site:
“This candid and highly readable autobiography of the well-known American Buddhist monk describes his transformation from a GI and drug-dealing hippie to becoming an ascetic contemplative in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The unvarnished accounts caused some stir, as Bhante Rahula describes dealing drugs and getting arrested for smuggling a kilo of hashish from Afghanistan prior to his becoming a monk. He is now most well-known for integrating Hatha Yoga with Vipassana meditation.” He is also author of “The Way to Peace and Happiness,” “Meditation: The Mind and Body Connection” and “Breaking Through the Self-Delusion.”

DOWNLOAD: Read or download  pdf’s of Bhante Rahula’s books here.
BLOG: Visit Bhante Rahula’s blog here.
THURSDAY, Oct. 13:  6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr., Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Bhante Rahula will speak on “An Introduction to Meditation,” followed by meditation and Q-and-A.
FRIDAY, Oct. 14:  7 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd W, Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Meditation, Talk and Q-and-A.
3/ SATURDAY, Oct. 15:

11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr, Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Yoga session followed by meditation and then Q-and-A.

5 to 7 p.m.:
WHERE: Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Rd., Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Yoga session followed by talk on “Mindfulness in Daily Life”,  short meditation and Q-and-A.

Foundations of Mindfulness Practice: Attitudes and Commitment


” Seven attitudinal factors constitute the major pillars of mindfulness practice… They are non-judging, patience, a beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, and letting go. These attitudes are to be cultivated consciously when you practice. They are not independent of each other. Each one relies on and influences the degree to which you are able to cultivate the others. Working on any one will rapidly lead you to the others… together they constitute the foundation upon which you will be able to build a strong meditation practice of your own… ”

Jon Kabat-Zinn,   Full Catastrophe Living  (New York: Bantam Books, 1990, 2013), p. 21.