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MEDITATION CIRCLE UPDATE | Oct. 17, 2020

NOTE: Apologies. A version of this post you may have just received (if an email subscriber to this site) did not include the password now required to enter the ZOOM meditations led by Bhante G. The pasword is listed below. | with metta, Douglas


AS IT APPEARS THE PANDEMIC continues unbated with no vaccine in the short term, The Meditation Circle of Charleston WV will remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future.

WE HIGHLY ENCOURAGE FOLKS INTERESTED in learning breath-centered meditation, or to deepen their current practice, to not miss the chance to join the guided meditation and Dhamma talks led by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Bhavana Society in West Virginia, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. on ZOOM.

The free ZOOM sessions are for anyone with a serious interest in meditation practice, as well as being a master class in the Buddha’s teachings. This is a rare opportunity to learn meditation from a master. You’ll also gain insights into the point of meditation and mindfulness practice in the Buddhist tradition, which is to gain deep understanding into how we cause ourselves suffering because of how we choose to focus our thoughts and live our lives. And, so, to attain liberation from all suffering.

This is also an opportunity not likely to present itself again. Bhante G, at age 92, remains at the peak of his prowess in being able to offer practical, straight-up instruction in how to meditate. That instruction is then deepened and enhanced by his discussions after the 30-minute meditation, which address why we meditate in the first place and deeper points of Buddhist teachings. Among other subjects, he has been discussing the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, and other core Buddhist topics.


BHANTE G ZOOM guided meditations and talks:
WHEN: 10 AM weekly on Thursdays, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us04web.zoom.us/j/668674778
DETAILS: Meeting ID: 668 674 778
PASSWORD TO ENTER MEETING (all lowercase): metta


Bhante G is author of the classic guide to starting a meditation practice, “Mindfulness in Plain English,” now translated into more than 25 languages, as well as many other books. A new 2020 Wisdom Publications book distills his answers to common questions from 50 years of teaching about meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. It is titled WHAT WHY HOW: Answers To Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully.” (Wisdom is featuring a free article series based on the book, at the link above.)

Just Pass This Life As Is

“Vitruvian Man, Toyed With,” original drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci | TheStoryIsTheThing.com illustration

Don’t seek fame or fortune,
Glory or prosperity.
Just pass this life as is,
According to circumstances.
When the breath is gone,
Who is in charge?
After the death of the body,
There is only an empty name.
When your clothes are worn,
Repair them over and over;
When you have no food,
Work to provide.
How long can a phantomlike Body last?
Would you increase your ignorance
For the sake of its idle concerns?

~ Tung-shan

QUOTE COURTESY: DailyZen.com

Errant Thoughts

After awakening, it is necessary to always observe and examine yourself. When errant thoughts suddenly arise, do not go along with them at all; reduce them, reduce them, until you reach the point of noncontrivance, which alone is the ultimate end. This is the ox-herding practice carried on by all illuminates after their enlightenment. Even though there is subsequent cultivation, they have already realized sudden enlightenment.

~ Chinul (1158-1210)
From the website DailyZen.com for aug12.2020


Image: From this link: This is one of a series of ten images, generally known in English as the Ox-herding (or Bull-herding) pictures, by the 15th century Japanese Rinzai Zen monk Shubun. They are said to be copies of originals, now lost, traditionally attributed to Kakuan, a 12th century Chinese Zen Master.

Bhante G’S ZOOM Meditation and Teachings

A HEADS UP. If you have not had the chance to join the daily ZOOM Buddhist teaching and guided meditation led by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Bhavana Society in West Virginia, we encourage you to do so. The ZOOM sessions are for anyone with a serious interest in meditation practice, as well as being a master class in the Buddha’s teachings.

This is a rare opportunity to learn meditation from a master. You’ll also gain insights into the point of meditation and mindfulness practice in the Buddhist tradition, which is to gain deep understanding into how we cause ourselves suffering because of how we choose to focus our thoughts and live our lives. And, thus, to attain liberation from all suffering.

This is also an opportunity not likely to present itself again. Bhante G, at age 92, remains at the peak of his prowess in being able to offer practical, straight-up instruction in how to meditate. That instruction is then deepened and enhanced by his discussions before and after the 30-minute meditation, which address why we meditate in the first place.

His daily ZOOM sessions run from 10 to 11 am, but get there about 10-to-15 minutes in advance, and hang around after the meditation, for the series of talks Bhante G has been giving. Among other subjects, he has been discussing the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, and other core Buddhist topics.


Bhante G daily ZOOM guided meditations and talks:
10 AM: Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us04web.zoom.us/j/668674778
Meeting ID: 668 674 778


Bhante G is author of the classic guide to starting a meditation practice, “Mindfulness in Plain English,” now translated into more than 25 languages, as well as many other books. A new 2020 Wisdom Publications book distills his answers to common questions from 50 years of teaching about meditation, mindfulness and Buddhism. It is titled WHAT WHY HOW: Answers To Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully.” (Wisdom is featuring a free article series based on the book, at the link above.)

Strong Back, Soft Front

On your inhale, gather your attention;
on your exhale, drop into the body.
Shift attention to your spine.
Your back exemplifies equanimity,
being present for whatever is unfolding right now.
“Strong back.”
Shift your attention to your chest.
Rest in this willingness to open to compassion.
“Soft front.”
Strong back, soft front. Equanimity, compassion.

– Roshi Joan Halifax
_____________________
Roshi Halifax is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Founder, Abbot, and Head Teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  She and Frank Ostaseski will lead three online webinars on “Bearing Witness Together in Troubled Times” from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) on: April 27, May 4 and May 11. More information here 

Train Yourself in this Way

“You must bring yourself back to mindfulness wherever you are, all the time. Along with your regular meditation practice, add practices such as this one-minute meditation into your daily life. Train yourself in this way—as soon as some psychic irritant arises, stop and take care of it before you proceed with other activities in your day.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
(from “WHAT WHY HOW: Answers to Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, Mindfulness and Living Mindfully,” Wisdom Publications 2020. NOTE: See free article series based on this new book at this link)

IMAGE: Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

Bhante Rahula Offers ZOOM Meditations & Talks

NOTE: Apologies to TheMeditationCircle.com subscribers for the multiple posts on Bhante Rahula’s upcoming ZOOM talks. Because of issues regarding the security of posting ZOOM links publicly, we’ve taken down a post that listed the meeting links. To get the meeting IDs, e-mail Bhante Rahula’s retreat center at: info@lionwisdom.org 


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Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, who is tentatively scheduled to visit the Meditation Circle in Huntington and Charleston in August, is offering Dhamma talks and guided meditation via Zoom starting Easter Sunday, April 12 at 2 pm. He plans to continue these talks every Sunday until the current “stay-at-home” situation, due to the Covid-19 crisis, ends.

The talks will be followed by Q&A and guided meditations. He’ll also offer weekly sutta study sessions starting Wednesday, April 15 at 7 pm, also followed by Q&A and guided meditations. The first sutta to be explored will be the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta , the “Turning the Wheel of Dhamma” discourse, the first teaching the Buddha gave after his Awakening.


WEEKLY DHAMMA TALKS and GUIDED MEDITATION on ZOOM w/BHANTE RAHULA: Every week at 2 pm. Eastern Standard Time (U.S. and Canada), starting Sunday April 12, until May 31, 2020 (eight ZOOM gatherings in total):

        Apr 12: 2 pm
        Apr 19: 2 pm
        Apr 26: 2 pm
        May 3: 2 pm
        May 10: 2 pm
        May 17: 2 pm
        May 24: 2 pm
        May 31: 2 pm


WEEKLY SUTTA STUDY AND MEDITATION w/BHANTE RAHULA: Every week at 7 pm —Eastern Standard Time, US and Canada—starting Wednesday, April 15 ( seven ZOOM gatherings):


        Apr 15: 7 pm
        Apr 22: 7 pm
        Apr 29: 7 pm
        May 6: 7 pm
        May 13: 7 pm
        May 20: 7 pm
        May 27: 7 pm


A NOTE ON ZOOM:  If you’re unfamiliar with ZOOM, it’s a popular video-conferencing application. ZOOM meetings can have more than 100 people in an online meeting, with live interaction via video screens and audio for all who “attend.”

You can access ZOOM meetings via your desktop computer, laptop, iPad and smartphone. The first time you click a ZOOM meeting link (GET THE LINKS FOR THESE MEETINGS by e-mailing info@lionwisdom.org), your browser may require you to download and run the ZOOM app. Some notes:

  • IF YOU HAVE A SLOW WEB CONNECTION, consider joining the meeting via audio instead of video, as it takes up less bandwidth and may be less garbled.
  • ZOOM WILL ASK whether you wish to use your computer video and audio.
  • BE SURE YOUR COMPUTER video camera is on if you wish to join with video turned on.
  • WHEN BHANTE RAHULA IS SPEAKING be sure your audio is muted. A small red microphone icon in the lower left corner of your video window will show if it’s muted or not. The monk may have you muted already . Be sure to unmute to ask a question.
  • TURN ON CHAT WINDOW: At the bottom of the ZOOM screen there is a “Chat” option, which will bring up a chat text stream on the right-hand side of your browser. You can send a message to “Everyone” on the chat or send a “PRIVATE” message to anyone else on the chat. Consider typing your questions in the chat window first, so others can see it.
  • HERE’S A ZOOM SUPPORT PAGE on how to use the app.

Bhante Rahula is director and principal teacher at the Paññāsīha Lion of Wisdom Meditation Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He was born Scott Joseph DuPrez in Southern California in 1948. After following the hippie trail to India, he eventually discovered Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where he ordained as a novice monk in 1975 at Gothama Thapovanaya, Kalupaluwawa.

He received his bhikkhu upasampada ordination at Wat Thai Los Angeles in May 1979. After returning to Sri Lanka for some years, he came to help Bhante Henepola Gunaratana establish the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in rural West Virginia, where he served as vice-abbot from 1986 to 2010. Now, after seven years of teaching Dhamma and leading retreats around the world, he has taken on the role as director and chief meditation teacher at Lion of Wisdom .

The rural meditation retreat facility is a branch of the Washington Buddhist Vihara. The center offers Days of Mindfulness, Afternoon Intensives and two- and three-day retreats.

Wise Reflection on the Body

“We don’t meditate to hate our bodies. Unsatisfactoriness depends on clinging to impermanent objects. A mindful meditator should remind himself or herself an attractive object has triggered sense desire. One should then develop wise reflection or mindful reflection.”

~Bhante Gunaratana
(from “WHAT WHY HOW: Answers to Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, Mindfulness and Living Mindfully,” Wisdom Publications 2020. NOTE: See free article series based on this new book at this link)

Don’t Make a Big Deal Out of It

“My advice is to not let yourself get wrapped up in doubts and questions. Let them go and directly contemplate whatever you are experiencing. Don’t make a big deal out of any physical pleasure or pain you experience. When you sit in meditation and start to feel tired or uncomfortable, adjust your position. Endure as much as you can, and then move. Don’t overdo it. Develop a lot of mindfulness—that’s the point. Do your walking and sitting meditation as much as you can; the aim is to be developing mindfulness as much as you can, knowing things fully. That’s enough.”

~ Ajahn Chah, from “Everything Is Teaching Us”

Working With Fear

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“In practising Dhamma, we will meet with many sorts of experiences, such as fear. What will we rely on then? When the mind is wrapped up in fear, it can’t find anything to rely on.

“This is something I’ve gone through; the deluded mind stuck in fear, unable to find a safe place anywhere. So where can this be settled? It gets settled right at that place where it appears. Wherever it arises, that is where it ceases. Wherever the mind has fear, it can end fear right there. Putting it simply: when the mind is completely full of fear, it has nowhere else to go, and it can stop right there. The place of no fear is there in the place of fear.

“Whatever states the mind undergoes, if it experiences nimitta, visions, or knowledge in meditation, for example, it doesn’t matter—we are taught to focus awareness on this mind in the present. That is the standard. Don’t chase after external phenomena. All the things we contemplate come to conclusion at the source, the place where they arise. This is where the causes are. This is important.

“Feeling fear is a good example, since it’s easy to see; if we let ourselves experience it until it has nowhere to go, then we will have no more fear, because it will be exhausted. It loses its power, so we don’t feel fear anymore. Not feeling fear means it has become empty. We accept whatever comes our way, and it loses its power over us.

“This is what the Buddha wanted us to place our trust in; he wanted us not to be attached to our own views, not to be attached to others’ views. This is really important. We are aiming at the knowledge that comes from realization of the truth, so we don’t want to get stuck in attachment to our own or others’ views and opinions. But when we have our ideas or interact with others, watching them contact the mind can be illuminating. Knowledge can be born in those things that we have and experience.”

~ Ajahn Chah, excerpt from “Everything Is Teaching Us.”

The Challenge of Skillful Speech

“Skillful Speech is not something you practice on the cushion. It happens in dialogue, not silence. During formal meditation, however, you can think about your habits of speech and try to convert the thoughts that arise to skillful thoughts—those motivated by generosity, loving-friendliness, and compassion. You can analyze your past actions and ask yourself : “Did I speak correctly yesterday ? Have I spoken only gently, kindly, meaningfully, and truthfully ?” If you find that you have erred in some way, you can pledge to improve your mindfulness of Skillful Speech.

“The most important resolution you can make is to think before you speak. People say, “Watch your tongue !” But it’s more important to watch your mind. The tongue does not wag by itself. The mind controls it. Before you open your mouth, check your mind to see whether your motivation is wholesome. You will come to regret any speech motivated by greed, hatred, or delusion.

“Also make a strong determination not to say anything that might hurt another person. this pledge will definitely help you to think carefully before you speak. When you speak mindfully, you automatically speak truthfully, gently, and kindly. Mindfulness will keep you from using verbal daggers that can pierce people to the marrow. If the intent to speak in a harmful way occurs to you, immediately use mindfulness and Skillful Effort to prevent these thoughts from continuing.”

~ Bhante Gunaratana, from “8 Mindful Steps to Happiness”


EDITOR’S NOTE: We chose the photo of the singer (above) to illustrate this Bhante G excerpt since what we say is broadcast far and wide, if only to our immediate circle of family, friends and strangers we encounter.