March 31, 2011

This Sunday: Buddhism and Self-care

Hi everyone,
This week, we'll be discussing the topic of 'self-care', and seeing what aspects of Buddhadharma may be useful.  Last semester, I wrote a paper for my Buddhist psychology class that was exploring co-dependency, self-care, and the teachings of Buddhism.  So, this Sunday I'll go through some of what I brought up in the paper, and also make it alive by allowing us to discuss these aspects in our own lives.  I think the issue of self-care is a huge one, and may be growing in importance as the speed and complexity of our lives continue to increase, so I'd invite you to reflect about this in your life; and if it's a new idea, what do you imagine it could mean?

I hope that you join us, and that you enjoy the beautiful weather until then.
With care,

March 28, 2011

6th Paramis: Khanti or Patience Practice Guide 2 (practices for the week and reminders)

Hello Everyone,
Happy Monday. It was great to hear your check-ins and listen to how many of you applied effort and sati this week. The Khanti recording of the dharma talk last night is on the blog if you'd like to review it or for those who were not there.
Remembering that there are three kinds of cultivation of patience:
1) Patient Perseverance,
2) Patience under Insult and
3) Patience as acceptance of truth.

It would be most skillful to focus on one of the three for the week. Here are some suggestions:
1) Patient Perseverance - despite some discouragement or unmet expectations in a particular endeavor that you set out to do i.e. sitting practice but there's lots of mental activity, researching and having to fill out millions of gov't forms in order to hopefully get some monthly benefit for an aging parent, etc. pause and set the intention to persevere, watching your potential external reactions in the beginnings of the internal reactivities that could begin percolating.

2) Patience Under Insult - when someone is unkind or disparages us, try not responding. Pause, breathe and wait it out. (this is where it can feel that one is being unduly  taken advantage of) remember......
"Things get worse by responding to anger with anger.
By not returning anger with anger one gains two victories:
One pursues the welfare of both oneself and the other
And, knowing the other is angry, one mindfully keeps one's own peace."
(SN 1.222)
With practice, patience under insult gets easier to cultivate and the rewards will be many.

3) Patient Acceptance of the Truth
Take it upon yourself to research and learn more about one of the three characteristics of existence: dukkha, anicca or anatta. Only pick one. Or, research and learn more about the Four Noble Truths or the Eight Fold Path. In learning about the Eight Fold Path, reflect on how making the intention to use it as a guide for living one's life, it will impact one's life and what might change as a result.

Even though I won't be back for a while, you can share your practice of khanti with me on the Alameda Sangha blog site. I will still be communicating from my laptop while I am away.
Don't forget to think about taking the Inner Critic workshop in May and talking it up to all whom you know that may be interested. I left cards under the Buddha in the church.

I will miss you all. Take care and I will carry your spirits on my travel, much metta,

March 24, 2011

6th Paramis: Khanti or Patience Guide lus 2 more Japan Earthquake Relief Links

Hello Everyone,
Thanks to Laurel and Tarrin, we have 2 more good choices of how to help Japan in their time of need. They are: and another is  Any questions please ask Laurel and/or Tarrin on Sunday.
Hopefully you have had some lightness in working to cultivate viriya this week. I have been struggling along because the constant rain makes it so difficult to do a simple task, like walking the dog and bagging his poop while balancing the umbrella, or walking across the street with both hands full of groceries and an umbrella in tow, or driving in blinding rain and hoping that the drivers alongside of you are mindfully going a little bit slower to be safer.........need I say more? But hey, what is the message here that we have been trying to pass on to all of you from our own direct experiences in our lives (Rebecca, Anthony and I)? It's our relationship to what is happening that we can practice with. So as I was walking the dog, I was feeling the irritation with the pelting rain, feeling the aversion in the body which really felt like a low grade grumbling in the chest area. It was not pleasant! I will let you all know on Sunday if there will be an improvement in my attitude towards the rain by the end of the week!!! We shall see!
So this Sunday, come and learn three ways to practice Patience or Khanti. This is my personal favorite Paramis because I have so little of it! Particularly when there is lots of aversion in a given moment in daily life.
Here is a wonderfully inspiring quote from "Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life" by Shantideva, translated by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Those who cause me suffering are like Buddhas bestowing their blessings. (ahem - this comment is mine and not part of the text)
Since they lead me to liberating paths why should I get angry with them?
'Don't they obstruct your virtuous practice?'
There is no virtuous practice greater than patience;
therefore I will ever get angry
with those who cause me suffering. (ahem ahem - me again)
If, because of my own shortcomings,
I do not practice patience with my enemy
it is not he, but I, who prevents me from practicing patience.
(it all comes down to our relationship to dukkha and what we do with it. Right, guys?  I found this to be such words of wisdom and so applicable to us, in the 21st century- my comments)
So come and hear more pearls of ways to cultivate patience - a much needed perfection that we can hopefully influence others by being ourselves in our life and times today!
Much metta,

March 22, 2011

Berkeley Bazaar to Benefit the Disaster Victims in Japan

Hello Everyone,

May this find you all well. So I had lunch with a friend today who is Japanese, has family in Tokyo (who are safe but worried) and is tightly connected to the Japanese community here. Attached is the flyer she gave me. She said that if you wish to donate money instead of shop at the bazaar, 100% of what you send to the Japanese Consulate will be sent over to Japan. They do not keep any percentage of the donation.

This Friday, the 25th, I will be dropping over some works on paper of mine that I will be donating and all the proceeds of the sale will go to Japan. I will be there at the bazaar after 12:30 pm. If you are interested in acquiring any of my work I advise you to get there early as I'm sure they will all be gone. I hope that you will consider coming to buy what they are offering. My friend Masami told me that they have some really cool T-shirts about Japan on it.
I also received an email from Yoshii's in Oakland/SF and they are having a series of concerts with famous chefs in their restaurant to benefit the victims in Japan. Visit their website to learn more about this series of musical and sumptuous events.
Thanks for your attention. This bazaar and also donating money to the Japanese Consulate in SF appear to be the most direct forms of getting help over to the victims of this most unfortunate tragedy.

Much gratitude and metta,

March 21, 2011

5th Paramis: Viriya or Energetic Effort Practice Guide 2 (Practices for the Week)

Hello Everyone,
Happy Monday. May this find you well. So no word back yet from Pastor Michael about what we can do to help this church help Japan, but anyone is welcome to try calling the Buena Vista United Methodist Church weekday mornings between 9 and noon as that is when people are in the church office working. If I hear back from him by Thursday, I will send out any information I get through the weekly email that announces and describes the topic for Sunday the 27th upcoming.
SO here are the practices in attempting to cultivate Viriya this week:
1) Sit a little longer (during sitting meditation)
2) Eat a little less food.
3) Be willing to be with the hindrances in either sitting or daily life without trying to fix it, or push it away.
4) Sit and vow not to move no matter what.
5) Try sleeping less.
6) Change a familiar habit, especially if the mind feels like there is too much efforting.
7) Persistence Exercise: when engaging in an activity as we go through the day, practice paying attention to the quality of our mids, especially in just beginning the activity. This exercise touches a bit on mind training techniques. Another book I highly recommend is The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. In it, his interviewer who is a Western psychologist from Arizona, at the beginning of the book, asked him point blank, "What can you do to have happiness in your life?" and the Dalai Lama responded by saying, "Mind training" It's a quick and inspirational read and when it first came out, it was number one on the NY Times Bestseller list for months!
Have a great week, much metta,

March 16, 2011

5th Paramis: Viriya or Energetic Effort

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all faring well despite these gray and wet days............

If it is important to offer as a teaching once, it's worth offering again! Come and find out why the Buddha conveyed the significance of the quality of Viriya by including it on many lists in the Buddhist teachings! Last week, you heard it as part of the 7 Factors of Enlightenment, this Sunday you will hear about energetic effort as it manifests as the 5th Paramis on the list of 10 Paramis, Viriya is also one of the 5 Faculties and one of the 8 ways to practice on the Noble Eight Fold Path.

This Sunday, you will be offered how we experience viriya in our practice and daily life and how it functions with particular emphasis on balancing the forces so it's neither too strong and heavy handed as far as effort or too light. Lastly, you will be offered ways to practice with viriya in daily life. With the grayness of the days, I bet it has been challenging to unleash viriya in both our sitting practices as well as in our moment to moment experiences. I am looking forward to your check-ins this Sunday to see how you all fared. I know it has definitely been challenging for me.

Looking forward to sharing with all of you, much metta,


March 10, 2011

Energy! Sun 7-8:30

Dear Friends,

We started last week with the 7 Factors of Enlightenment, which develop in our practice to bring us liberation, and saw how the first factor, mindfulness, relates to all the others and balances them, and the mind.

This Sunday we'll look at how viriya ("effort," "vigor," "diligence," "zeal, and "energy") moves us along in our practice.  What is this application of the heart & mind, how is it generated and how do we use it to our benefit, to end suffering?

You might want to bring with you the chart & cartoon I handed out last week.  I will have just a few extras with me.  It won't be necessary, though, for the evening's discussion.

See you then,

March 4, 2011

Factors of Enlightenment

Hello again, dear friends,

I'm looking forward to seeing you all again.  Hope you can join us Sunday from 7-8:30pm.  The evening's topic will be the Seven Factors of Enlightenment.

These are the mental factors that come into play during meditation and can so alter the mind's activities that we become free from suffering.  With a chart I made several years ago and a highly instructive cartoon from the Fall 2010 Inquiring Mind, we'll see how the first factor, mindfulness, balances and uses the other 6 to liberate us.

Share the dharma, bring a friend!  I'll see you there,