relaxing from THE intensity of fear & ignorance

Simon Migaj photograph |

“In meditation we can begin to tune in on this universal level through letting go of the conditions, of this blind holding to conditioned phenomena. It isn’t annihilation or a rejection of anything; it is just releasing, relaxing from this intensity of fear and ignorance. We try to control and hold on to conditions without realising how painful and miserable it makes us.

“The Buddha advised us to see ‘letting go’ as opening, receiving, and nothing to fear. Space and consciousness, the sound of silence — you don’t create these; they are here and now. But we may never notice or observe them. As we recognise them, we begin to have perspective on conditions.

“In terms of living in society, we do good and refrain from doing bad. We can work for people’s welfare, if we wish, help the educational system, the health system, try to promote harmony between nations and harmony between religions — we can still do all these things. It isn’t that we’re too ethereal for dealing with anything practical. But we recognise conditions for what they are, and we are no longer coming from idealism.”

~Ajahn Sumedho
“The Sound of Silence” | free download at this link

READINGS | The Way It is with desire

The cause of suffering, the Second Noble Truth, is desire (tanha)—attachment to desire out of ignorance. Here we’re not trying to rid ourselves of desire, or become somebody who doesn’t have any desires. We’re recognizing desire: desire is like this, it’s an object. So you begin to notice the desire to have something, desire for sense pleasures. Desire is a kind of energy, it takes us over. If we’re not aware of it, if we don’t recognize or understand it, we become slaves to it.

Continue reading READINGS | The Way It is with desire

Kalyana Mitta meeting

A reminder from the Meditation Circle. This Tuesday, September 3rd, is our monthly Kalyana Mitta group meeting.

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-five 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.

Seeing the Story of “Me”

Image by Charis Gegelman |

Excerpt from “The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople” blog by Lynne J. Kelley for July 23, 2019. Read whole post here.

The Pali word most often translated into English as mindfulness is sati, and here’s something important Anālayo Bhikkhu has to say about it:

Another aspect of the early Buddhist conception of sati is that mindfulness is a mental quality that we have to bring into being. Mindfulness has to be established; it is not just a quality that is present anyway in any type of experience. This marks the difference between mindfulness and consciousness. Consciousness … is a continuously present process of knowing [which allows us to register experience]. … Whether we are mindful of a meditation object or caught up in a dream or fantasy, the flow of consciousness is always there. The same does not apply to mindfulness.

This is a point that is often overlooked or ignored. Mindfulness includes a clarity about the context of our experience, and there’s a vividness to engaged attention that keeps us planted in the here and now.

When we are not attending fully, we often experience events through a filter we’ve developed over time. We may be looking for ways in which we are being ignored, or treated unfairly, or noticed when we don’t want to be, or even that we’re being appreciated and admired. There tends to be a story about “me” that we reinforce with our observations. So of course, what stands out in our memories are the instances that confirm our ready-made attitudes. Mindfulness with clear comprehension can cut through this way of experiencing our lives.

Ven. Anālayo suggests that we can view sati as our good, supportive, pleasant-to-be-with friend, available whenever we turn towards her (female, as the word sati in Pali is feminine). We may not notice her company for periods, but she is always there for us to share our experience with. 

Excerpt from “The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople” blog by Lynne J. Kelley for July 23, 2019. Read whole post here.

NOTE: For an interview with Anālayo Bhikkhu and a link to his books, some of which are avaialble for free download, see this link.

Let the Meditation Teach You

Photo by Simon Migaj |

“DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING. Just sit back and see what happens. Treat the whole thing as an experiment. Take an active interest in the test itself, but don’t get distracted by your expectations about the results. For that matter, don’t be anxious for any result whatsoever. Let the meditation move along at its own speed and in its own direction. Let the meditation teach you. Meditative awareness seeks to see reality exactly as it is. Whether that corresponds to your expectations or not, it does require a temporary suspension of all our preconceptions and ideas. We must store our images, opinions, and interpretations out of the way for the duration of the session. Otherwise we will stumble over them.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
from “Mindfulness in Plain English”

So, Be Aware

Swirled planet photo by DAVID IMBROGNO |

AJAHN SUMEDHO: “The first ordination for bhikkhus (monks) at the time of the Buddha, before it got all complicated, was simply ‘ehi bhikkhu,’ which means ‘Come, bhikkhu‘ and that was it. Now we have to go through a whole procedure … But according to the scriptures the original was just ‘Come, bhikkhu.’ Just like that. You know the kind of immediacy. So ehipassiko: come and see. There is always this sense of ‘wake up, pay attention.’

Sometimes meditation can seem like a cop-out. A lot of people think we are just contemplating our navel or our breath, not facing the real world. ‘You should be out there, trying to make everything right in society, and here you are sitting at Amaravati all these days watching your breath. What good is that to anybody??’

On the worldly level there are all kinds of things that need to be done. There are so many problems at this time, it is overwhelming. You just have total collapse and burnout when you think about it—the problems that face humanity on this planet. And so this is not to dismiss this, but trying to make the world right is an endless process. You are not getting to the source of what is wrong: the delusion, the ignorance, the cause of the suffering.

And now we are looking here, not blaming the government anymore but looking at the cause; we are not blaming someone else, but recognizing the ignorance in our lives, the illusions we create and operate from. We are learning to recognize that which isn’t deluded. That takes a willingness to be patient with yourself, and being receptive and open to whatever you are feeling, whatever results you are having from your practice, whether you feel calm or confused, peaceful or angry. I’m not asking you to become anything, but—this: ehipassiko—come and see, trust this awareness more and more, recognize it. This is the real Dhamma. This is the refuge that I can always be, because I trust it more and more, I tend to be this way more and more. So be aware.

~Ajahn Sumedho
from “The Sound of Silence: Volume 4,” p. 87
NOTE: Book available for free .pdf or e-book reader download here

Peacetree Silent Retreat, May 11, 2019: Morning Talk and Meditation | Part 1

Bhante Jaysara gives a short talk and leads a guided meditation in this audio.

Bhante Jayasara (‘Bhante J’), of the Bhavana Society Theravadan Buddhist Forest Monastery and Retreat Center in High View, WV, gives an introductory talk and leads a guided meditation in the morning of a day-long silent retreat at the PeaceTree Center for Wellness in Huntington, WV on May 11, 2019. | NOTE: This is Part 1 of audio from the silent day retreat.

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