Image courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_meditation
“In meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. The pith instruction is to stay….stay….just stay. So whenever we wander off we gently encourage ourselves to stay and settle down. Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay. Discursive mind? Stay. Are fear and loathing out of control? Stay. Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay. What’s for lunch? Stay. What am I doing here? Stay. I can’t stand this another minute! Stay. This is how we cultivate steadfastness.
~ Pema Chodron
from “The Places That Scare You”
“States of fear sometimes arise during meditation for no discernible reason. It is a common phenomenon, and there can be a number of causes. You may be experiencing the effect of something repressed long ago. Remember, thoughts arise first in the unconscious. The emotional contents of a thought complex often leak through into your conscious awareness long before the thought itself surfaces. If you sit through the fear, the memory itself may bubble up to a point where you can endure it. Or you may be dealing directly with the fear that we all fear: “fear of the unknown.” At some point in your meditation career you will be struck with the seriousness of what you are actually doing. You are tearing down the wall of illusion you have always used to explain life to yourself and to shield yourself from the intense flame of reality. You are about to meet ultimate truth face to face. That is scary. But it has to dealt with eventually. Go ahead and dive right in.”
~ Bhante Gunaratana
“Mindfulness in Plain English,” p. 101
“… That’s what we do when we meditate: We step back from all the influences inside our mind — ideas that this is good, that’s bad, you should do this, you shouldn’t do that. You have to stop and really take stock of these things, find a place within where you can be really, really quiet, and then look clearly at these voices to see what they are. Instead of identifying with them, you watch them. You watch to see what they’re coming from, where they’re going, seeing them as part of a causal process. What kind of mind state do they come from, what kind of mind state do they encourage? Are those the kind of mind states you want to identify with?
“This is essentially how the Buddha’s teaching on not-self works: seeing the things that have control over our lives, that have power over our minds, and in the course of the meditation stepping back a bit from them, gaining enough independence from them that we can look at them simply as events and see if we really want to identify with them. As the Buddha pointed out in one of his discourses, you can’t really look at these things as long as you’re identifying with them. You’ve got to step back. This applies not only to ideas in the mind, but also to the body, this form we’re sitting with here. The same principle also applies to feelings of pleasure and pain as they come and go, to perceptions, to thought-constructs, even to our consciousness of things. Meditation gives us a place where we can step back from these things and watch them to see the influence they have over the mind, to decide whether that’s an influence we’d like them to continue having.
“So as we practice it’s important to create this space where you can step back. The quietude and seclusion are important….”
~ Thannisaro Bhikkhu
(Read the full Dhamma Talk
“Rites of Passage”)
There are many metta or loving-friendliness meditations to be found on the web. Here is one from the Meditation Circle’s Resources page, adapted from a metta meditation taught by Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery near Wardensville, W.Va. Metta meditations can be a heartening and expansive way to begin or end a meditation session.
May I be well, happy and peaceful. May no harm come to me, may difficulties not last long, may I have a calm, centered mind. May I have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May my parents be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May my teachers be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May family members and relatives be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May friends and acquaintances be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May my enemies and those with whom I have trouble communicating be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May indifferent persons be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
May all beings, with form and without form, visible and invisible, near and far, born or coming to birth, from the highest realms of existence to the lowest, be well happy and peaceful. May no harm come to them, may difficulties not last long, may they have calm, centered minds. May they have patience, insight, courage and compassion in meeting and overcoming the inevitable challenges, difficulties and failures in life.
Bhante Seelanda gives a Dhamma talk on Day 1 of a retreat on Samatha and Vipassana meditation at the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Forest Monastery in West Virginia, from April 6-13, 2015. This is an illuminating talk on the relationship and role of these two types of meditation practices, that entail concentration and insight, respectively.
For more video Dhamma talks and instruction by Bhavana Society monks, visit the monastery’s YouTube Page.
“The purpose of meditation is not to concentrate on the breath, without interruption, forever. That by itself would be a useless goal. The purpose of meditation is not to achieve a perfectly still and serene mind. Although a lovely state, it doesn’t lead to liberation by itself. The purpose of meditation is to achieve uninterrupted mindfulness. Mindfulness, and only mindfulness, produces enlightenment.”
~Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, “Mindfulness in Plain English” (page 126).
NOTE: This excerpt and image comes from the Bhavana Society Facebook page, which we highly recommend following, full of daily quotes by the Buddha and teachings on meditation and Buddhist practice by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Therevadan forest monastery in eastern West Virginia.
Wanted to pass along this post below from the Bhavana Society Facebook page. Registration for the first retreat of 2015 at the Therevadan Forest Monastery in the woods of eastern West Virginia is now open. It’s a good one if you’re just starting a meditation practice as the theme is an “Introduction to Samatha and Vipassana Meditation.” It takes place March 23-29, 2015, and will be led by Bhante Seelananda. Here’s the link to the Bhavana site for more details on the retreat and to register:
Registration for the Introduction to Samatha and Vipassana Meditation Retreat is now open! This retreat is open to meditators of all levels of experience.
Since this is the first retreat for 2015, here are some reminders concerning the registration process.
First, if you’ve never been on retreat at the Bhavana Society, you’ll need to register for an account. It’s free and pretty simple. Fill in all the information and click “send.” Because of programming issues, it’s a good idea to send an email to the Main Office to make sure that you have an account. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second, register for the retreat you wish to attend. Registration begins 30 days prior to the scheduled retreat (you won’t be able to register months in advance).
Third, once you’ve registered, you should receive an email from the Bhavana Society confirming your registration. If you don’t, please contact the Main Office to see if it has been received.
I recently attended a retreat on Metta or loving-friendliness meditation at the Bhavana Society, led by the Buddhist monastery’s abbot, Bhante Gunaratana. You can experience that retreat for yourself, including all the great Dhamma talks and the very rich and fruitful Q-and-A sessions each evening with Bhante G, through the monastery’s YouTube channel video playlist devoted to the Metta retreat. Bhante G excels at off-the-cuff responses to a wide variety of Dhamma and life questions.
But I also wanted to point readers’ attention to the retreat’s closing talk (see video above) by a young American-born monk named Bhante Suddhaso, now in residence at Bhavana. It is a wonderful and inspiring talk on the importance of devoting oneself to Dhamma practice in one’s life and aspiring to make such practice central to one’s daily routines. In questions after the talk, he also speaks very movingly on working with self-hostility and self-forgiveness — when we don’t live up to the precepts or when we commit unwholesome actions. As he says, the entire ‘tone’ of the Buddha’s many teachings is about developing wholesome mental states and abandoning unwholesome ones. This talk is a great boon of encouragement to all of us in deepening our commitment to practice.
If you are just starting up a meditation practice or looking for a refresher course on breath-centered Buddhist meditation, here is a very good 15-minute, audio guided meditation by Bhante Gunaratana, abbot of the Bhavana Society Therevadan Buddhist Forest Monastery and Retreat Center in High View, W.Va.
Those of you who have visited the Bhavana Society Therevadan Forest Monastery in High View, W.Va., the first Therevadan forest monastery in North America, know what a special place it is. Led by internationally known abbot and Buddhist scholar Bhante Gunaratana, Bhavana is a rich source of Buddhist teachings rooted in the Pali canon and the Buddha’s original teachings. Within the past year, some lay followers have developed some social media sites that feature Dhamma videos of teachings by Bhante G and other Bhavana monks, Dhamma quotes and imagery.
BHAVANA FACEBOOK PAGE:
BHAVANA YOUTUBE PAGE:
BHAVANA GOOGLE+ PAGE:
BHAVANA TWITTER FEED:
A Meditation on Forgiveness,
A Guided Meditation by Ven. Ayya Khema
“Please put the attention on the breath.
“Have forgiveness in your heart for anything you think you’ve done wrong . Forgive yourself for all the past omissions and commissions. They are long gone. Understand that you were a different person and this one is forgiving that one that you were. Feel that forgiveness filling you and enveloping you with a sense of warmth and ease.
Think of your parents. Forgive them for anything you have ever blamed them for. Understand that they too are different now. Let this forgiveness fill them, surround them, knowing in your heart that this is your most wonderful way of togetherness.
Think of your nearest and dearest people . Forgive them for anything that you think they have done wrong or are doing wrong at this time. Fill them with your forgiveness. Let them feel that you accept them. Let that forgiveness fill them. Realizing that this is your expression of love.
Now think of your friends. Forgive them for anything you have disliked about them. Let your forgiveness reach out to them, so that they can be filled with it, embraced by it.
Think of the people you know, whoever they might be, and forgive them all for whatever it is that you have blamed them for, that you have judged them for, that you have disliked. Let your forgiveness fill their hearts, surround them, envelope them, be your expression of love for them.
Now think of any special person whom you really need to forgive. Towards whom you still have resentment, rejection, dislike. Forgive him or her fully. Remember that everyone has dukkha. Let this forgiveness come from your heart. Reach out to that person, complete and total.
Think of any one person, or any situation, or any group of people whom you are condemning, blaming, disliking. Forgive them, completely. Let your forgiveness be your expression of unconditional love. They may not do the right things. Human beings have dukkha. And your heart needs the forgiveness in order to have purity of love.
Have a look again and see whether there’s anyone or anything, any where in the world, towards whom you have blame or condemnation. And forgive the people or the person, so that there is no separation your heart.
Now put your attention back on yourself. And recognize the goodness in you. The effort you are making. Feel the warmth and ease that comes from forgiveness.”
May all beings have forgiveness in their hearts!
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“The key to maintaining your inspiration in the day-to-day work of meditation practice is to approach it as play—a happy opportunity to master practical skills, to raise questions, experiment, and explore.”
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu,
from “The Joy of Effort” (read related article at Tricycle.com through July 30)
“Meditation is not just a rest or retreat from the turmoil of the stream or the impurity of the world. It is a way of being the stream, so that one can be at home in both the white water and the eddies. Meditation may take one out of the world, but it also puts one totally into it.”
~ Gary Snyder from “Just One Breath”
Read the entire article in the Tricycle Wisdom Collection through May 28, 2013
“The best way to deal with excessive thinking is to just listen to it, to listen to the mind. Listening is much more effective than trying to stop thought or cut it off.”
~ Ajahn Amaro, from “Thought Like Dreams” at Tricycle.com
Read the entire article in the Wisdom Collection through May 18, 2013 For full access at any time, become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member
“Now if the practice is so good for us, why is it so difficult to maintain a steady practice? It may be that the notion that practice is ‘good for us’ is the very impediment—we all know how we can resist what is good for us at the table, at the gym, and on the Internet. This mechanical notion of practice, ‘if I practice, then I will be (fill in the blank),’ leads to discouragement because it is not true that practice inevitably leads to happiness or anything that we can imagine. …
How, then, to put our minds in a space where practice is always there, whether tumultuous or in the doldrums? It requires a completely radical view of practice: practice is not something we do; it is something we are. We are not separate from our practice, and so no matter what, our practice is present. An ocean swimmer is loose and flows with the current and moves through the tide. When tossed upside-down in the surf, unable to discern which way is up and which is down, the natural swimmer just lets go, breathing out, and follows the bubbles to the surface.
And so it can be with our practice. Seeing our practice as our life, we just let go and do it. We just practice a steadiness in our daily meditation. Without expectations of any kind, we just practice, day in and day out, through the high points and the low. “I really doubt this practice is helping me. Okay, still, it is time to sit, right through this doubt.” Or, “Oh, I didn’t sit all week! Okay, right now I’ll sit for twenty minutes.” And each time we come back to our practice, we experience it as more inherent to our life. Maezumi Roshi, based in Los Angeles, would often use the Spanish expression for “little by little” to indicate this patient quality of practice: “Being one with the practice, you are transformed, poco a poco.”
This understanding of our practice is expressed by the great thirteenth-century Japanese Zen teacher Dogen, when he says that our meditation practice “is not step-by-step meditation; it is simply the dharma gate of peace and joy. It is the practice-enlightenment of the Ultimate Way….When you grasp this, you are like a dragon in water, or a tiger in the mountains.”
~ Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, “Like a Dragon in Water”
Read entire article at Tricycle.com through May 10, 2013