Tag Archives: Meditation

New Bhavana Society Social Media Resources


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.





A Meditation on Forgiveness


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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FROM http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/forgiveness.htm

Why is it so difficult to maintain a steady practice?


“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

Where is that Place of True Security?


“When we can be secure in our inner source for true happiness, we don’t expose ourselves to the devastation that comes when outside hopes for happiness and security are dashed. We have our shelter, our place of security, inside. And we needn’t be afraid that this is an escapist shelter. When the basis of our well-being is firm within, we can act with true courage and compassion for others, for we’re coming from a solid position of calmness and strength.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “What We’ve Been Practicing For”
From Tricycle.com. Read related article through Feb. 29, 2013

Guided meditations on the Anapanasati teachings on meditation

The Meditation Circle has been discussing “Getting to Know the Breath” as its theme for 2012. To that end, we have referred several times to the Anapanasati Sutta in which the Buddha describes the practice of breath-centered meditation. (Find a link to that sutta and other teachings about this kind of meditation at this link.) Thad, one of the co-facilitators of the Meditation Circle, also has played some talks on this sutta at past gatherings, drawn from the AudioDharma.org website. If you missed the meetings where that happened, here is a link to the talk and others related recordings of a Dharma Practice  series on Anapanasati Practice, offered by Gil Fronsdal. Look for the talks at the top of the page, dated May 30, 2008. These guided meditations will be very useful to those seeking to deepen their understanding of breath-centered meditation in the Buddhist tradition.

Excerpt: Breathing Life into the Suttas

Except from the article “From Thought to Stillness: Breathing Life Into the Suttas,” by Rodney Smith | TRICYCLE, Winter 2012 |
Read the whole article by becoming a Tricycle online member

By Rodney Smith
| Tricycle Winter 2012 |The constant inquiry among meditators is how to maintain awareness, but the question is being considered from the wrong end of the suffering continuum. The anxiety associated with the continuation of awareness is suffering, and becoming more worried about how we practice does not move us in a wise direction. We can begin to see how our personal struggle to be mindful is misplaced when we observe the sense of self arising within our effort to maintain mindfulness. The harder we try in this, the more forgetful we become. Since the sense of self is the embodiment of the absence of awareness, forgetting to observe is inevitable as we try harder to be aware. The problem of how to be mindful is actually resolved not through strenuous effort but by relaxing, allowing, and observing what is already here. Within the framework of relaxation, the sense of self has a diminishing power center, making space for awareness to be revealed.

If we place an emphasis on “me” entering the here and now, the here and now becomes a project, when actually the “me” is the real project. The “I” state is the unnatural component, but from the sense of self’s twisted logic the moment becomes the problem and needs “my” effort to enter it. This inherent contradiction— of trying to enter something that already is—limits access to the here and now and takes away what is naturally here already. An authentic spiritual practice begins to reverse this perception by abiding with the natural and dismissing the artificial.

If we think of ourselves as outside the moment needing to get in, this is working our practice from the wrong view, intention, and effort. If we want to move from thinking to stillness, we have to relax and see what was there before we created the storybased assumption that we were outside anything. It dawns on us that we are powerless to make freedom happen because our efforts only disconnect us from our intended goal. We exist as a thought believed, and it is not within the power of a thought to control awareness. When this is realized, we stop trying to be mindful and relax into the awareness that existed before thought instead of holding to the mindfulness driven by thought. One is eternal, the other temporal.

We give up the “doing” of mindfulness to fully participate in what mindfulness is attempting to do—that is, to allow a full abiding presence. Mindfulness has a way of both advancing and retracting that cause. It can maintain the observer and the observed and straddle the fence between these two. Mindfulness tries to have it both ways by proclaiming full participation in the moment even as it applies a fail-safe plan to pull out if the experience gets a little frightening. The observer or watcher is the part of our mind that likes to know what it is getting into, the contained and controlled part that maintains an escape route “just in case.” At a certain level of understanding our practice, this is all fine, but we soon tire of holding ourselves in reserve. The observer and the observed must eventually merge into a single abiding presence if there is to be spiritual fulfillment. | Read on (must be a Tricycle.com member)

It’s Meditation Month at Tricycle.com

For many people who desire to learn meditation, it’s a struggle. Having a community of fellow practicioners can be essential, which is why sitting groups like the Meditation Circle of Charleston can be helpful. Yet it’s also highly helpful in this interconnected day and age to have regular support and reminders a click away. Which is why we encourage any beginning meditators or folks trying to revive and revitalize their sitting practice to join the online community around the Buddhist magazine Tricycle.

The month of February is Meditation Month at Tricycle.com, so we pass on the e-mail note we got in today’s e-mailbox and encourage you to consider signing up and bolstering your practice. You can do so at Tricycle.com — you can join for free but joining for $25 gets you access to all the premium offerings on the website and $30 gets you the print magazine at your home, too. And, no, we are not being slipped free meditation cushions to thump for Tricycle. The online site has been a help to both Thad and I and may be an aid to your own practice. | Douglas

A Message to All members of the Tricycle Community:

People often say to us, “I’d like to meditate, but I don’t know where to start.” We’ve heard this from college students, business people, passengers on the subway, and family members. Usually, we might offer some words of wisdom, such as the old meditator’s saw: Start where you are. Good advice, to be sure, but perhaps a bit too cryptic for a beginner looking for specifics. That’s why this month’s theme on tricycle.com is establishing and maintaining a meditation practice. With this quarter’s e-book, Tricycle Teachings: Meditation, we offer you heart advice and practical tips that will help you to stick with your practice. It’s not meant for hermits and yogis, but for lay people like us who aspire to apply Buddhist wisdom in their busy everyday lives. For the beginner, this e-book will help explain what meditation is about and why you should bother to try it at all (there are more benefits than you might guess!). Experienced meditators will appreciate the depth and nuance of the various techniques and traditions presented here.

In addition to the meditation e-book, we have meditation and yoga teacher Jill Satterfield leading an online retreat (“Meditation in Motion”), Zen teacher Brad Warner taking questions as the “Meditation Doctor,” as well as guided meditations from Tricycle’s wisdom collection and retreat archives.

Links to the Buddha’s teachings on breath-centered meditation

“Getting to Know the Breath” is the ongoing theme for 2012 we’ll be considering in the weekly 6 p.m. Tuesday gatherings of the Meditation Circle of Charleston at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building in Charleston, W.Va. In past weeks. Thad and I have mentioned some of the core teachings of the Buddha on breath-centered meditation. We are not qualified to teach suttas, but we’re all qualified to absorb and discuss them as they relate to our ongoing lay meditation practice.

To that end, we encourage Circle members and others to take a dip into the Buddha’s direct teachings on meditation instruction in the following suttas (We’re borrowing these links and their descriptions with our thanks from the Washington D.C. Buddhist Studies Group).

Video: On Trying too hard to meditate

Bhikku Piyadhammo, a monk friend who resided recently at the Bhavana Society, told me about a rich collection of Buddhist-themed videos that he maintains on a YouTube channel called “Dhammatube.”  The channel, which features pithy short videos on useful topics to anyone interested in Buddhist practice, has a series of short interviews with a thoroughly charming young monk named Tan Dtoon.  I like what a commentator to the video above said about him:

I like Tan Dtoon because he doesn’t seem lofty and rehearsed. There’s wisdom in his honesty and spontaneity…..even if he’s searching for the answer himself. There’s something about knowing yourself without putting on an act. I find that more impressive then pretending you have authority.

In this video, the monk talks about what Ajahn Chah and other monks have had to say about trying too hard in meditation, always a good topic to consider for anyone who has ever tried to keep a regular meditation practice going. We’ll be e-posting more Dhammatube videos.



Introduction to Meditation Retreat, June 24-29, 2011

We’ve had a lot of new faces recently at The Meditation Circle, including many folks new to Buddhist meditation practice. If you’re a newcomer with a strong interest in deepening your  practice, we highly recommend you check out the Introduction to Meditation retreat at the Bhavana Society Buddhist monastery and retreat center in Hampshire County, W.Va., near Wardensville. This 5-night retreat takes place Friday, June 24 to  Wednesday, June 29, 2011, and will be led by the Buddhist monk Ven. Olande Ananda. IMPORTANT NOTE: Alas, after checking this out, I note that the retreat is currently full for men, but it is possible to get on a waiting list. There is still space for women.  If interested, sign up soon as may be. Bhavana retreats fill up quickly as you can see here at their full 2011 retreat schedule. The Bhavana website describes the Introduction to Meditation retreat this way:

These retreats are for those new to meditation or who want to learn about meditation. There will be instruction and assistance with sitting and walking meditation and a brief introduction to Buddhism. The schedule is less rigorous, and guided meditations will be given. People of all faiths are welcome to come to any of our retreats.  You should be aware, though, that the Bhavana Society is a Buddhist Monastery and you may see customs and traditions you are not familiar with.  Feel free to ask questions.  We want you to feel comfortable here.  We only ask that you behave in a respectful manner.