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 | unsplash.com

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 | unsplash.com

“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 | cowgarage.com

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 Long-term Project

John Fornander photo | unsplash.com

“So keep reminding yourself that meditation is a long-term project. When you have a sense of that long arc of time, it’s a lot easier to sit back and work very carefully at the basic steps. It’s like learning any skill. If, in one afternoon, you want to gain all the skills you’re going to need to play tennis, you end up doing them all very sloppily and won’t get the results you want.

“But if you realize that this may take time, you can work on one skill at a time: How do you keep your eye on the ball? How long is your backswing? Take the skill apart step by step by step and be willing to work on small things like this, bit by bit by bit. So, that you really understand them deep down in your bones.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu | “Judicious vs. Judgmental” (Meditations1)

Whether Sitting, Walking, Standing or Lying Down

Bhante Jayasara, a resident monk at the Bhavana Society Theravada Buddhist Forest Monastery and Retreat Center near High View, W.Va., recently posted this meditation meme to his Facebook account. ‘Bhante J,’ as he is called, recently visited Huntington and Charleston and spoke about “the Ember of Mindfulness.” Click on his link below to learn more. PS: If you are on Twitter, follow him at: @BhikkhuJayasara

BHANTE JAYASARA: Remember to carry the Ember of Mindfulness (https://maggasekha.com/ember). The practice doesn’t stop when you get off the cushion, and if your practice IS just the cushion, then you are missing out on the full practice and it’s benefits.

The Best Thing You Could Be Doing

“This is the best thing you could be doing right now: getting the mind to settle down, getting a sense of being at home with the breath, being friends with the breath. Don’t think of the meditation as a struggle. If you regard your breath as your enemy, you’re really in bad shape, because wherever you go, there it is.

Learn to be friends with it. Listen to it. Work with it. Play with it. Learn how the breath and the mind can cooperate with each other. This requires paying careful attention. As with any friendship, it takes time. But that length of time can be shortened if you’re really attentive, if you really watch.”

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu | “Friends with the Breath”

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