This is an except from a longer piece by Laurie Anderson about her partner, Lou Reed. It speaks to the precious work that may be done in our lives in preparing for the inevitability of out deaths, via our meditative and spiritual practice.The couple were students of Yonge Mingur Rinpoche and had studied Buddhist teachings on how to prepare for death — and how to live when one spouse has a terminal illness. After Reed became sick with liver cancer and then other diseases, Anderson writes:
“We tried to understand and apply things our teacher Mingyur Rinpoche said — especially hard ones like, “You need to try to master the ability to feel sad without actually being sad.” As his death approached, he came home from the hospital: As meditators, we had prepared for this — how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world.
“Life — so beautiful, painful and dazzling — does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love. At the moment, I have only the greatest happiness and I am so proud of the way he lived and died, of his incredible power and grace. I’m sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives.”
“Make no mistake about it; if you do not find it now, you will repeat the same routines for myriad eons, a thousand times over again, following and picking up on objects that attract you.
“We are no different from Shakyamuni Buddha. Today, in your various activities, what do you lack? The spiritual light coursing through your six senses has never been interrupted. If you can see in this way, you will simply be free of burdens all your life.”
Consciousness is an ice pond: Though it is all water, It needs the energy of the sun to melt. When ordinary people are awakened, They are Buddhas; But they rely on the power of Dharma for cultivation. When ice melts, Then water flows and moistens; Only then can it perform its Irrigating function. When delusion is ended, Then the mind is open and penetrating, Responsively manifesting the function Of the light of spiritual powers.
As concern and uncertainty about the continued spread of COVID lingers, The Meditation Circle of Charleston WV will continue to hold off on resuming our regular Tuesday night, in-person gatherings at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building in Charleston WV.
We do hope you continue keeping up with your meditation and mindfulness practice. We highly encourage folks to check out the free 10 to 11 a.m. meditations, Dhamma talks and Q-and-A sessions hosted most every Saturday and Sunday by Bhante Gunaratana (Bhante G), abbot of the Bhavana Society, a Theravadan Buddhist Monastery and retreat center in High View WV. These offer a priceless way to deepen your practice along with one of the world’s most esteemed Buddhist teachers, meditation guides, and Buddhist scholars. If you cannot make those hours, the sessions are recorded and posted to Bhavana’s website for you to access at your leisure.
TO ATTEND BHANTE G’s ZOOM SESSIONS: Arrive a few minutes before 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at the ZOOM link below. 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 session can ask questions on spiritual practice directly of Bhante G.) LOG-IN ZOOM SITE: Log into the meeting at this link a few minutes before 10 a.m. on most Saturdays and Sundays.
BHAVANA YOUTUBE Archives
TO VIEW THE MANY RECORDED SESSIONS of these guided meditations and talks, visit the Bhavana Society’s YouTube page for an archive of them. The page is regularly updated with new recordings. LINK to BHAVANA YOUTUBE:BhavanasocietyOrg/videos
“The mind that is not always caught up in details is your only treasure. Stop chasing details and become still to feel it. The mind that sees details clearly, but is not caught up by them, is like a vast borderless mirror.”
The Buddhist magazine Tricycle published on its website today a blog article that Meditation Circle co-founder Douglas John Imbrogno wrote 20 years ago, about being on retreat led by Bhavana Society co-founder Bhante Gunaratana right days after 9-11:
“An airplane buzzes across the sky as we sit in strange silence. The monastic retreat center lies in the flight path to the airports of Washington, DC, several hours due east. Usually, planes pass one right after the other. But the planes come only intermittently this night, and the single engine poses a greater challenge to concentration than mere noise … We are guided to direct metta, a loving-kindness meditation, to the tens of thousands of shattered family members. The haunted survivors. The Ground Zero eyewitnesses up and down the land. Not to mention the shocked millions upon millions of us who followed along on TV around the planet.”
People may look at you and feel your way of life, your interest in Dhamma, makes no sense. Others may say that if you want to practise Dhamma, you ought to be ordained as a monk. Being ordained is not really the crucial point. It’s how you practise. As it’s said, one should be one’s own witness. Don’t take others as your witness. It means learning to trust yourself. Then there is no loss. People may think you are crazy, but never mind. They don’t know anything about Dhamma.
Others’ words can’t measure your practice. And you don’t realize the Dhamma because of what others say. I mean the real Dhamma. The teachings others can give you are to show you the path, but that isn’t real knowledge. When people meet the Dhamma, they realise it specifically within themselves. So the Buddha said, ‘The Tathāgata is merely one who shows the way.’ When someone is ordained, I tell them, ‘Our responsibility is only this part: the reciting ācariya have done their chanting. I have given you the Going Forth and vows of ordination. Now our job is done. The rest is up to you, to do the practice correctly.’
Teachings can be most profound, but those who listen may not understand. But never mind. Don’t be perplexed over profundity or lack of it. Just do the practice wholeheartedly and you can arrive at real understanding; it will bring you to the same place the teachings are talking about.
AJAHN CHAH (Excerpt From ‘The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah’)
“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. And finally, there is an intense delight in abandoning faulty states of mind and in cultivating helpful ones in meditation.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
A meditation group in the Buddhist insight tradition, based in Charleston, W.Va.