BOOKS: “Longing for Certainty: Reflections on the Buddhist Life”

During a retreat at the Bhavana Society Buddhist Forest Monastery in Hampshire County, W.Va., the prodigious library there is closed to the retreatant. This, I suppose, is to concentrate one on the lived experience of a silent Buddhist retreat instead of the often second-hand intellectual experience of the Dharma via books. But when I’m there off-retreat, the library is a jewel of a place. I’ve taken to reaching randomly off the shelves, then reading as much of the book that my reach produces during the hours or days of the visit. (You can sign the books out and take them overnight to your dormitory or kuti – the dozens of cabins sprinkled across the 50 acres of woodland property.) In this way, I’ve nabbed, out of the air, as it were, Buddhist books that have become a part of my life, often purchased off the Web upon returning home, like “A Still Forest Pool,” a collection of simply put, yet profoundly helpful talks and remarks by the wonderful Thai teacher Achaan Chah.

This last May while attending Vesak at Bhavana, my hand pulled down “Longing for Certainty: Reflections on the Buddhist Life” by Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano. A former actor and playwright, this American Buddhist monk melds walks in Nature and the back woods with reflections on the challenges and insights of the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence, craving and dukka. He has been described by esteemed Buddhist scholar and monk Bhikku Bodhi as “American Buddhism’s Thoreau.” As someone for whom regular walks in the deep woods are utterly essential to his mental hygiene, “Longing for Certainty,” written in lyrical, yet unsentimental, straightforward prose, came as a gift from the blue. Below is an excerpt that captures the monk’s style. This book is a follow-up to an earlier one titled “Available Truth: Excursions into Buddhist Wisdom and the Natural World,” both of which you can investigate further at Wisdom Books. (though I do like Amazon.com’s feature that allows you to read several pages of a book you’re interested in).

P.S.: Suggest Buddhist books that have become essential to you in comments to this post or write up a review and send it to douglas [at] hundredmountain.com.

EXCERPT (from pages 16 to 19) from “Longing for Certainty: Reflections on the Buddhist Life”” by Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano. As this reflection commences, he has been talking a walk off trail along a creek on a sunny winter’s day:

ALL CRAVING IS STRUGGLING ON A HILL OF SAND, which produces more weariness and suffering, not an ascent to peace; but we persist in spite of experience, because unexplained impulse drives us and because we simply do not see what else to do. Though we might even concede that the world is impermanent and liable to suffering, we wish to believe that, amid the boiling and subsiding of all phenomena, we at least have an indubitable stability, that we possess a self or ego which is superior to the surrounding flux and which we must exert all our strength to mollify, protect and entertain. In Buddhist teaching, however, this self is nothing but a baseless concept, a mere device of language. A human being, like other creatures, is a dynamic pattern of mental and physical events shifting through time, without any unchanging part. It follows then, that the ignorant compulsion to serve an imagined self can only deepen delusion and worsen error.

Now our hands and feet are getting cold. We hear no music in the waterfall and find no more beauty in the fantastic ice. Down here deep in the hollow, we see the sun vanishing behind the highest fringe of woods, and with it our rare sense of freedom is vanishing too. There is change happening and we do not like it. Shivering a little, rubbing our fingers, we look around at the way we have come with a sudden pang. Oh, let us turn back to home and warmth. Philosophy cannot stand the snow! But having come so far, having once made it to this strange place, we hold on for a minute, for the remembered, lovely smile on a statue yet haunts us. How could he, the Buddha, seeing impermanence and suffering and the emptiness of the idea of self, still smile? How could he walk, unhurried and fearless, through a hopeless world? But maybe the world is not hopeless. And maybe he had found the cure for these dire conditions that assail us. Continue reading BOOKS: “Longing for Certainty: Reflections on the Buddhist Life”

Meditation Circle Meets 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 30

The MEDITATION CIRCLE of CHARLESTON (W.Va.)

> NEXT MEETING: The Meditation Circle gathers next 6 to 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 30 (and every Tuesday) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va. Bring cushions or we have chairs available. Beginners are welcome. Basic instruction in meditation is available 5:45 to 6 p.m. or by arrangement. Come join the circle.

We sit in silent meditation for two rounds of sitting. The first round of 30 minutes is followed by questions or discussion, then we conclude that week’s circle with a shorter round of 15 or 20 minutes of sitting.

> QUOTE/UNQUOTE: In light of some recent notable deaths, a thought to ponder:

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?”

> ABOUT: We are a support group for people interested in learning breath and body-centered meditation in the Buddhist tradition, but you need not be a self-identified Buddhist to benefit from meditation practice. We welcome beginners who wish to learn Buddhist meditation or want to revive a sitting practice that may have lagged. If you’re a lone sitter who may benefit from a sangha, come by. We encourage everyone to seek out established teachers to deepen their practice. See the ‘About‘ page of our website – themeditationcircle.com – for more on the Meditation Circle of Charleston, including a map to our Charleston, W.Va., location in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation buidling. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to interested friends

> NOTE TO CIRCLE MEMBERS: Send us prospective blogposts, tips, quotes, events and other news for the Web site at douglas @hundredmountain.com. And let me know if you have problems signing up for the Meditation Circle e-mail newsletter a our website. Some have reported it took many tries.

SUBSCRIBE TO MEDITATION CIRCLE E-MAIL NOTICES: Click here
SUBSCRIBE TO RSS NEWS FEED: Click here
DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.

My best,
Douglas (on behalf of the Meditation Circle)

READINGS: ‘Is my meditation correct? When shall I ever make progress?

In “READINGS,” we pass on Buddhist talks and texts we’ve come upon that helped or inspired us.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

BUDDHA-NATURE
by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Is my meditation correct? When shall I ever make progress? Never shall I attain the level of my spiritual Master. Juggled between hope and doubt, our mind is never at peace.

According to our mood, one day we will practice intensely, and the next day, not at all. We are attached to the agreeable experiences which emerge from the state of mental calm, and we wish to abandon meditation when we fail to slow down the flow of thoughts. That is not the right way to practice.

Whatever the state of our thoughts may be, we must apply ourselves steadfastly to regular practice, day after day; observing the movement of our thoughts and tracing them back to their source. We should not count on being immediately capable of maintaining the flow of our concentration day and night.

When we begin to meditate on the nature of mind, it is preferable to make short sessions of meditation, several times per day. With perseverance, we will progressively realize the nature of our mind, and that realization will become more stable. At this stage, thoughts will have lost their power to disturb and subdue us.

Emptiness, the ultimate nature of Dharmakaya, the Absolute Body, is not a simple nothingness. It possesses intrinsically the faculty of knowing all phenomena. This faculty is the luminous or cognitive aspect of the Dharmakaya, whose expression is spontaneous. The Dharmakaya is not the product of causes and conditions; it is the original nature of mind.

Recognition of this primordial nature resembles the rising of the sun of wisdom in the night of ignorance: the darkness is instantly dispelled. The clarity of the Dharmakaya does not wax and wane like the moon; it is like the immutable light which shines at the centre of the sun.

Whenever clouds gather, the nature of the sky is not corrupted, and when they disperse, it is not ameliorated. The sky does not become less or more vast. It does not change. It is the same with the nature of mind: it is not spoiled by the arrival of thoughts; nor improved by their disappearance. The nature of the mind is emptiness; its expression is clarity. These two aspects are essentially one’s simple images designed to indicate the diverse modalities of the mind. It would be useless to attach oneself in turn to the notion of emptiness, and then to that of clarity, as if they were independent entities. The ultimate nature of mind is beyond all concepts, all definition and all fragmentation…

Read the rest of this piece here (along with a pitch or two for Tibetan incense)

Music Not to Be Missed and the Next Meditation Circle

The MEDITATION CIRCLE of CHARLESTON (W.Va.)

> HELP IS ON THE WAY: We could use help in pulling off the Thursday, June 25 musical benefit at UUC in Charleston, W.Va., from 7 to 10 p.m. E-mail offers of aid to  douglas [at] hundredmountain.com. This will be one of the coolest concerts in town next week and you’ll leave jazzed, uplifted and in tune with the cosmos. Kathleen is an amazing performer, quiet but intensely, beautifully and powerfully moving. Some spacey mood music will be provided beforehand by Casi Null, Albert Perrone and Douglas Imbrogno on guitar, hand-drum, digital effects and convivial feeling. Spread the word about the night to the four corners and the Six Directions…

> UPCOMING EVENT: Singer-songwriter KATHLEEN COFFEE of Princeton, W.Va., performs in a Meditation Circle of Charleston musical benefit, 7 to 10 p.m., Thursday, June 25 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va.  Admission is $5 though no one will be turned away for inability to pay. Sample Kathleen’s passionate, inspiring music at myspace.com/katcoffee. This will be a fine concert – children are welcome.  (And guitar players, take note of her offbeat alternate guitar tunings). Come out and help support the Meditation Circle. Click for more on this event.

> NEXT MEETING: The Meditation Circle gathers next 6 to 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 16 (and every Tuesday) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va. Bring cushions or chairs are available. Beginners are welcome with basic instruction in meditation available 5:45 to 6 p.m. or by arrangement. Come join the circle.

Robin Wilson will facilitate the group the next couple weeks as we continue to try out some change ups in the group’s routines. We now sit in silent meditation for two rounds of sitting. The first and longer round of 30 minutes is followed by questions and discussion, then we conclude the session with a shorter round of 15 to 20 minutes of sitting. Let us know your thoughts on these and other changes, plus any questions about meditation practice in general.

Extended discussions are certainly still welcome and last week we never got around to the second sitting after a lively back-and-forth that followed a question from Jan on ‘How do you go about finding a teacher?’ Retreats are a good place to check teachers out. Here are the remaining 2009 retreats at the Bhavana Forest Monastery in Hampshire County, W.Va., including two ‘Introduction to Meditation Retreats,’ from Aug. 13 to 16 and Nov. 5 to 8.

How DO you go about finding spiritual teachers? Share your thoughts and tales at our next meeting or in the comments section of this blog below.

> MONEY MATTERS: The Meditation Circle is seeking a person who got a grade of B or higher in math in school and might be able to oversee donations to the group and help manage our account at a Charleston bank. I myself got a ‘D’ in Modern Algebra from Mrs. Bollenbacher at Forest Park High School.

> QUOTE/UNQUOTE: “You make yourself and others suffer just as much when you take offense as when you give offense.” ~ Ken Keyes, Jr.

> ABOUT: The Meditation Circle of Charleston (W.Va.) is a support group for people interested in learning breath and body-centered meditation in the Buddhist tradition. You need not be a self-identified Buddhist to benefit from meditation. We welcome beginners who wish to learn Buddhist meditation or want to revive a sitting practice that has lagged. If you’re a lone sitter who may benefit from a sangha, come by. We encourage everyone to seek out established teachers to deepen their practice. See the ‘About‘ page of our website – themeditationcircle.com – for more, including a map to our Charleston, W.Va., location in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building. Please forward this e-mail to interested friends

> NOTE TO CIRCLE MEMBERS: I encourage everyone to subscribe to the Meditation Circle blog to receive e-mails of our posts. Send prospective blogposts, tips, quotes, events and other meditation and yoga-related news to douglas [at] hundredmountain.com. Let me know if you have problems signing up for the Meditation Circle e-mail newsletter a our website. Some have reported it took many tries.

SUBSCRIBE TO MEDITATION CIRCLE E-MAIL NOTICES: Click here
SUBSCRIBE TO RSS NEWS FEED: Click here
DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.

With metta,
Douglas (on behalf of the Meditation Circle)

A thought for the day

“ONE ASPECT OF COMPASSION is to respect others’ rights and to respect others’ views. That is the basis of reconciliation. The human spirit of reconciliation based on compassion is working deep down, whether the person really knows it or not. Our basic human nature is gentleness; therefore, no matter how much we go through violence and other bad things, ultimately the proper solution is to return to human feeling and affection. So affection or compassion is not only a religious matter, but in our day-to-day life is quite indispensable.”

~ H.H. the Dalai Lama

Upcoming Buddhist Meditation Retreats at Bhavana

Bhante Gunaratana giving a dharma talk in the Bhavana Society meditation hall. He is currently traveling on sabbatical until April 2010. Photo by Douglas Imbrogno

THERE WAS SOME DISCUSSION at tonight’s Meditation Circle gathering about finding teachers and seeking out retreats where teachers may be encountered. Below is the list of upcoming retreats at the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist monastery and retreat center in Hampshire County, W.Va., near Wardensville, about five hours east of Charleston.

Here is the remaining retreat schedule for 2009 at Bhavana, which includes two ‘Introduction to Meditation Retreats,’ from Aug. 13 to 16 and Nov. 5 to 8.

For more on the experience of retreats and retreat guidelines, click here. With advance notice (e-mail or call ahead by a couple weeks) you may also just go up when Bhavana is not holding retreats and get a sense of the place and buttonhole a monk or nun (well, their robes don’t actualy  buttonholes) to ask about meditation and the teachings that surround the practice. Here’s a page about visiting Bhavana.

If one of these retreats interests you, you’d be advised to sign up soon as Bhavana gets visitors from across the continent and world and if you wait to the last minute, the retreat may be full. Bhavana supports itself in the traditional way, purely by donation, so there is no set cost for these retreats. But your support is what enables such monasteries to exist at all.

Meditation Circle meets 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 30

The MEDITATION CIRCLE of CHARLESTON (W.Va.)

> NEXT MEETING: The Meditation Circle gathers next 6 to 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, June 30 (and every Tuesday) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va. Bring cushions or we have chairs available. Beginners are welcome. Basic instruction in meditation is available 5:45 to 6 p.m. or by arrangement. Come join the circle.

We sit in silent meditation for two rounds of sitting. The first round of 30 minutes is followed by  questions or discussion, then we conclude that week’s circle with a shorter round of 15 or 20 minutes of sitting.

> QUOTE/UNQUOTE: In light of some recent notable deaths, a thought to ponder:

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)

> ABOUT: We are a support group for people interested in learning breath and body-centered meditation in the Buddhist tradition, but you need not be a self-identified Buddhist to benefit from meditation practice. We welcome beginners who wish to learn Buddhist meditation or want to revive a sitting practice that may have lagged. If you’re a lone sitter who may benefit from a sangha, come by. We encourage everyone to seek out established teachers to deepen their practice. See the ‘About‘ page of our website – themeditationcircle.com – for more on the Meditation Circle of Charleston, including a map to our Charleston, W.Va., location in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation buidling. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to interested friends

> NOTE TO CIRCLE MEMBERS: Send us prospective blogposts, tips, quotes, events and other news for the Web site at douglas @hundredmountain.com. And let me know if you have problems signing up for the Meditation Circle e-mail newsletter a our website. Some have reported it took many tries.

SUBSCRIBE TO MEDITATION CIRCLE E-MAIL NOTICES: Click here
SUBSCRIBE TO RSS NEWS FEED: Click here
DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.

My best,
Douglas (on behalf of the Meditation Circle)

KATHLEEN COFFEE featured at June 25 Meditation Circle musical benefit


Click flyer to enlarge and printout.

Singer-songwriter KATHLEEN COFFEE of Princeton, W.Va., is featured in an evening of inspiring music, performance and discussion from 7 to 10 p.m., Thursday, June 25 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building, 520 Kanawha Blvd., Charleston, W.Va. The evening is a fundraiser for the MEDITATION CIRCLE of CHARLESTON, to thank UUC for its generosity in hosting the group’s weekly meditation circle 6 p.m. each Tuesday. The group also hosts visiting meditation teachers and area meditation retreats. Admission is $5, but no one will be turned away because of cost.

Donations in support of the circle’s activities are welcome by those who cannot attend through checks made out to: ‘The Meditation Circle of Charleston.’ All proceeds benefit the offering of meditation events and support in the region. For more on the group, see themeditationcircle.com.

The evening marks the debut of an occasional performance and coffeehouse series at UUC, showcasing some of Appalachia’s finest rising performers along with original music theater and performance art.

The next evening on Friday, June 26, catch Coffee and other performers at Taylor Books, 226 Capitol St., in Charleston in ‘THE CLEMENTINES SONG CIRCLE.’ The music runs 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and admission is free. Styles will range from contemporary songwriter and traditional folk, to world music and ambient soundscapes. Other performers include Lori McKinney, Robert Blankenship and Albert Perrone (of Option 22), Casi Null, Douglas Imbrogno and maybe some people who wander in off the street. Like you.

KATHLEEN COFFEE is an indigo child and Cherokee Indian from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Athens, W.Va.  She sings for the good, the peace and the truth. She sings to heal. Offstage, Kathleen teaches songwriting, inspiration, voice and performance workshops for all ages and genres.

She’s a founding member of a collective of artists in Princeton, W.Va., known as The Riff Raff Players based out of The Room Upstairs, and has performed in such shows as Annie, Wizard of Oz, Godspell, Camelot, Smoke on the Mountain, and, most recently, Songs for a New World.

Kathleen performs for non-profits and other organizations involved with revolutionary change in the world to procure creativity and peace. She likes to sing on front porches with the crickets and birds. She likes a good cup of coffee. Hear her music at: myspace.com/katcoffee.

RETREAT: Swami Vidyadhishananda leads West Virginia retreat

Charlotte Pritt, who has hosted past Meditation Circle sessions at her Better Balance office in Charleston, W.Va., passes on word of the following event in West Virginia, coming up soon and featuring a renowned Indian teacher. Her e-mail notes: “People from all over the world are flying into West Virginia to experience this retreat, and I want those of us who are close enough to drive to Moundsville to have the opportunity to experience this as well. My fear is that someone will say, ‘Why didn’t someone tell me?  I have been praying for something like this.'”

Swami Vidyadhishananda Giri, recipient of “The Great Ordained Teacher” award/decree given by the Indian Government for exceptional knowledge of Sanskrit and the Vedic heritage, will be offering some of the highest spiritual teachings from June 4-9, 2009 in the New Vrindavan Golden Temple, near Moundsville, West Virginia.

Although Swami Vidyadhishananda Giri has been teaching at International retreats for more than a decade, this is the first time he will be offering this body of teachings.  There are only 200 spaces set aside and devotees from all over the world will be attending. The SāmkhyaTriveni Retreat (mostly silent) is an opportunity to explore the subtler aspects of philosophy, meditation and spirituality.

COST: The cost of the retreat, including meals and lodging for 5 nights, is $395 if registration is completed before May 29th and $450 after that date.

HOW TO SIGN-UP: Registration is open to the first 200 participants. To pre-register and tentatively reserve your spot, please email self.fellowship@yahoo.com with your full name, address, phone number and email. You will be emailed a Registration form to fill out and mail back with a check. Unfortunately, the organizers are unable to accept credit cards at this time, but will let you know if this becomes possible.

ACCOMMODATIONS: All rooms in the main lodge and cottages at New Vrindavan are shared. Private bedrooms are not available on-site. Those participants who absolutely need a private room can book hotel accommodation in Wheeling, WV (15 minutes from retreat site), upon approval by His Holiness. Please note that staying off-site will not change the registration donation.

In a letter about the retreat, the Swami writes in part:

Essential principles of creation, sustenance and dissolution through mutation, latency and cognition along with the deeper inquiries about God and consciousness will be explored. What is the conscious entity? Are we evolving? Is our self-awareness eternal? Have we always been around? If we are many how are we all one? Does God have a mind? Are there many overlords for multiple universes? Where is the place for love? Is the path of love connected with service to God? These are some of the inquiries waiting to be resolved.

P.S. Here is an article about the Swami from the Santa Barbara Independent.

P.S.S. Click here for some photos of the must-see “Palace of Gold” in northern West Virginia where the retreat takes place.

Meditation Circle meets 6 p.m., Tuesday May 26

The MEDITATION CIRCLE of CHARLESTON (W.Va.)
http://hundredmountain.com

NEXT MEETING: The Meditation Circle gathers next 6 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 26 (and every Tuesday) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va. Bring cushions or we have chairs available. Beginners welcome with basic instruction in meditation available. Come join the circle.

> THOUGHT for the DAY

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

~ Dalai Lama

> ABOUT:

See the ‘About‘ page of our website – themeditationcircle.com – for more on the Meditation Circle of Charleston, including a map to our Charleston, W.Va., location in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation there. We begin each meeting with a short session of simple yoga, followed by a 30-minute sitting, then discussion. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to interested friends.

> BEGINNERS WELCOME:

We welcome beginners who wish to learn Buddhist meditation or who want to revive a sitting practice that may have lagged. If you’re a lone sitter who may benefit from a supportive group to deepen your practice, drop by. We encourage all to seek out established teachers to deepen their practice.

> NOTE TO MEMBERS:

Send us prospective blogposts, tips, quotes, events and other news for the Web site at douglas @hundredmountain.com. And let me know at this e-mail if you have problems signing up for the Meditation Circle e-mail newsletter a our website. Some have reported it took many tries.

SUBSCRIBE TO MEDITATION CIRCLE E-MAIL NOTICES: Click here
SUBSCRIBE TO RSS NEWS FEED: Click here
DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.

My best,
Douglas (on behalf of the Meditation Circle)

RETREATS: Around the region

Robin Wilson passes along word of this meditation retreat in the region:

The Mid-Atlantic Vipassana Network is hosting a retreat with Shinzen Young from May 22 – 31, 2009, outside of Richmond, VA. As a religious scholar and ordained monk at Mt. Koya, Japan, Shinzen is a westerner with decades of knowledge and experience in Buddhism and many other contemplative traditions.  He leads retreats throughout the U.S. and Canada and is involved in the growing interface between meditation and neuroscience.  Shinzen brings a scientific rigor to his system of mindfulness meditation that is very accessible to the western mind.

For more information on Shinzen and this retreat (including scholarship information), please visit www.shinzen.org and click on “Shinzen’s Retreats” or click on this link for a pdf file of the retreat registration form. Or you may call Nancy Elizabeth Nimmich at 301-334-4445.

Next Meditation Circle: May 5

The MEDITATION CIRCLE of CHARLESTON (W.Va.)
http://hundredmountain.com

Please note: Doug will not be at Tuesday’s meeting as I have a rehearsal for the “West Virginia: Words and Music” show later this month at the Clay Center’s Walker Theater. Any volunteer meeting facilitator candidates for this Tuesday?

> NEXT MEETING: THE Meditation Circle gathers next 6 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 5 (and every Tuesday) at the Unitarian Universalist Congregration, 520 Kanawha Blvd., in Charleston, W.Va. Bring cushions or we have chairs available. We sometimes undertake a few minutes of light yoga before sitting for 30 minutes. Beginners welcome with basic instruction in meditation available. Come join the circle.

> THOUGHT for the DAY

I explain to you matters
Pertaining to enlightenment,
But don’t try to keep
Your mind on them.
Just turn to the ocean
Of your own essence
And develop practical accord with its nature.

– Yangshan (quote courtesy of www.dailyzen.com)

> TOPICS:

We’re currently considering Right Concentration as part of an ongoing look at the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. What are examples from your own life of wholesome and unwholesome concentration? Why should it make a difference? What blocks concentration from coming into focus?

Right Concentration: The eighth principle of the path, right concentration, refers to the development of a mental force that occurs in natural consciousness, although at a relatively low level of intensity, namely concentration. Concentration in this context is described as one-pointedness of mind, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object.

Right concentration for the purpose of the eightfold path means wholesome concentration, i.e. concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions. The Buddhist method of choice to develop right concentration is through the practice of meditation. The meditating mind focuses on a selected object. It first directs itself onto it, then sustains concentration, and finally intensifies concentration step by step. Through this practice it becomes natural to apply elevated levels concentration also in everyday situations.

Click here for more on the Noble Eightfold Path, from the website we are using to help stir our discussions.

> ABOUT:

See the ‘About‘ page of our website – themeditationcircle.com – for more on the Meditation Circle of Charleston, including a map to our Charleston, W.Va., location in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation there. We begin each meeting with a short session of simple yoga, followed by a 30-minute sitting, then discussion. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to interested friends.

> BEGINNERS WELCOME:

We welcome beginners who wish to learn Buddhist meditation or who want to revive a sitting practice that may have lagged. If you’re a lone sitter who may benefit from a supportive group to deepen your practice, drop by. We encourage all to seek out established teachers to deepen their practice.

> NOTE TO MEMBERS:

Send us prospective blogposts, tips, quotes, events and other news for the Web site at douglas @hundredmountain.com. And let me know at this e-mail if you have problems signing up for the Meditation Circle e-mail newsletter a our website. Some have reported it took many tries.

SUBSCRIBE TO MEDITATION CIRCLE E-MAIL NOTICES: Click here
SUBSCRIBE TO RSS NEWS FEED: Click here
DIRECTIONS TO MEDITATION GROUP: Click here.

My best,
Douglas (on behalf of the Meditation Circle)

A meditation group in the Buddhist insight tradition, based in Charleston, W.Va.