Invisible turmoil

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Withdraw now from
the invisible pounding and weaving
of your ingrained ideas.
If you want to be rid of this
invisible turmoil, you must just sit
through it and let go of everything.
Attain fulfillment and illuminate thoroughly.
Light and shadow altogether forgotten.
Drop off your own skin,
and the sense-dusts will be fully purified.
The eye then readily discerns the brightness.

~ Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091–1157)

Bhante G on meditating via ZOOM, daily mindfulness and facing death


This Q-and-A was featured in the April 2021 issue of WestVirginiaVille.com magazine


Bhante Henepola Gunaratana — better known as ‘Bhante G’ — co-founded the Bhavana Society Theravada Buddhist monastery and retreat center in Hampshire County WV in 1985

By Douglas John Imbrogno | WestVirginiaVille.com | april15.2020


It is not as well known as it should be that a much-beloved, 93-year-old global figure in Buddhism has called West Virginia home since the latter decades of the 20th century. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana — better known around the planet as “Bhante G” — is abbot of the Bhavana Society, a Theravada Buddhist monastery and retreat center near High View WV, in Hampshire County, which he co-founded in the early 1980s.

Bhante G, who was born in rural Sri Lanka, ordained as a monk at age 12 and took full ordination at age 20, as he recounts in his entertaining biography “Journey to Mindfulness.” He came to America in 1968 and earned a PhD. in world religions at American University in Washington D.C. where he also served as chaplain.

Long desirous of establishing a Buddhist forest monastery in America, Bhante G and supporters found and purchased a 60-acre plot of land about twenty minutes from Wardensville, WV. The seed of his idea took root and became the Bhavana Society, a monastery and retreat center that has attracted thousands of lay Buddhists, monks and nuns from around the world in the years since its establishment.


The Dalai Lama and a young Bhante G are seen in Sanchi in the Bhopal state in central India in 1956. The photograph is part of a collage of images from Bhante G’s life, on the wall of the hallway to the Bhavana meditation hall.

Bhante G has written a number of books, including the now-classic meditation manual Mindfulness In Plain English,” which has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and its companion “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness.” He regularly leads retreats on meditation, mindfulness , concentration, and other topics at the Bhavana Society and around the world. 

With the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, the Bhavana Society suspended in-person retreats. In March of that year, he began to lead guided meditations on ZOOM, followed by in-depth talks on Buddhist teachings. Bhante G spends the first two months of every new year in solitary retreat at Bhavana, which led to a pause in the ZOOM sessions. He recently resumed them. They take place promptly from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., on most Saturdays and Sunday.


TO ATTEND BHANTE G’s ZOOM MEDITATION SESSIONS: Log into the meeting at this link a few minutes before 10 a.m. on most Saturdays and Sundaythose days. Type in the password ‘metta,’ (a Pali word that signifies ‘loving-friendliness’). On Saturday, the half-hour guided meditation is followed by a talk on Buddhist teachings. On Sundays, people in the ZOOM session can ask questions on spiritual practice directly of him.)


To mark the recent resumption of the ZOOM meditations, I asked Bhante G to take part in WestVirginiaVille’s “5 Questions” series, which focuses on intriguing people in West Virginia doing interesting things. For more questions-and-answers with him, see the book I edited of highlights from 50 years of his responses to common questions he receives: “What Why How: Answers to Your Questions on Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully” by Bhante G”  (Wisdom Publications 2020) | PS: Thanks to Brian Chamowitz at Bhavana for his assistance in making this Q-and-A. happen.

Continue reading Bhante G on meditating via ZOOM, daily mindfulness and facing death

Why don’t you touch your nose?

Then spring now autumn,
the four seasons revolve.
Then young now old,
you see the hair turn white.
Then wealthy and nobility,
now a long dream.
Years and months go by,
Carrying ten thousand pecks of sorrow.
In the path of suffering,
The wheel of rebirth rolls endlessly.
In the river of passion,
We swim like bubbles
forming and popping.
Now coming to the right place
To learn the Way,
Why don’t you touch your nose?
See that this is your very good
Chance of a million lifetimes.

~ Tue Trung Thuong Si (1230-1291)

Step-by-Step

Photo by Max on Unsplash

“So, don’t be in a hurry and try to push or rush your practice. Do your meditation gently and gradually, step-by-step. In regard to peacefulness, if you become peaceful, then accept it; if you don’t become peaceful, then accept that also. That’s the nature of the mind. We must find our own practice and persistently keep at it.”

~ Ajahn Chah (from the book “Bodhinyana”)

Got breath?

“If we have presence of mind then whatever work we do will be the very tool which enables us to know right and wrong continually. There is plenty of time to meditate, we just don’t fully understand the practice, that’s all. While sleeping we breathe, eating we breathe, don’t we? Why don’t we have time to meditate? Wherever we are we breathe. If we think like this, then our life has as much value as our breath, and wherever we are we have time.”

– Ajahn Chah, from “A Taste of Freedom”
____________
IMAGE: @graesmagazine from unsplash.com

Observe & Notice

“When we practice, we observe how much peace, happiness, and lightness we already have. We notice whether we are anxious about accidents or misfortunes, and how much anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, or worry are already in us. As we become aware of the feelings in us, our self-understanding will deepen. We will see how our fears and lack of peace contribute to our unhappiness, and we will see the value of loving ourselves and cultivating a heart of compassion.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh⠀| Quote and image courtesy Tricycle

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