December 29, 2011

This Sunday, January 1st at Alameda Sangha, 7-9 pm, Gratitude

Hello Everyone,

What better way to start the new year in silent meditation together and in cultivating and reflecting on the things that we are grateful for in our lives. The good news is that this is a real feel-good practice that is easy to do. The hard part is remembering to do it. So come and find out the tips and techniques for beginning and sustaining a gratitude practice and watch the positive changes start happening for each and every one who embarks on this journey.

"Cultivating an 'attitude of gratitude' has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behaviour toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, ....." from the NY Times article, A serving of Gratitude May Save the Day by John Tierney dated Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am definitely trying this and hope you will join me in formulating a simple and daily plan of action! See you all this Sunday........

with metta, Pauletta

December 28, 2011

Ten Paramis or Perfections of the Heart and Mind

In Theravada Buddhism, there are what is known as ten paramis, or perfections of the heart and mind that we can practice cultivating in daily life in order to reach liberation and become awakened.

In the Pali, para means other and mis means shore. Metaphoically, we ride over a turbulent river in the raft of our practice in an effort to reach the shore of liberation and awakening. The river symbolizes the dukkha (suffering and disease) described in the Second Noble Truth; the three characteristics of existence, dukkha (disease), anicca (impermanence, and anatta (non-self); and the eight worldly winds of praise and blame, gain and loss, fame and ill-repute and joy and sorrow. We strengthen our raft and further our journey to the shore of liberation by cultivating the ten paramis.

Over the past year, Pauletta Chanco has spoken on each paramis and posted a practice guide. Links to these talks are listed below in the order in which they are best practiced -- and the order in which Pauletta offered the teachings.

1) Dana (generosity) Dana Dharma Talk Dana Practice Guide
2) Sila (virtue) Sila Dharma Talk Sila Practice Guide
3) Nekkhama (relinquishment)      Nekkhama Dharma Talk Nekkama Practice Guide
4) Panna (wisdom) Panna Dharma Talk Prana Practice Guide
5) Viriya (energetic effort)  Viriyana Dharma Talk Viriyan Practice Guide
6) Khanti (patience)  Khati Dharma Talk Khati Practice Guide
7) Sacca (truthfulness) Sacca Dharma Talk Sacca Practice Guide
8) Aditthana (determination) Aditthana Dharma Talk Aditthana Practice Guide
9) Metta (lovingkindness) Metta  Dharma Talk Metta Practice Guide
10) Upekka (equinimity) Upekka Dharma Talk Upekka Practice Guide

December 26, 2011

10th Paramis: Upekka or Equanimity Practice For the Week

Hello Everyone
Thanks so much for coming last night. It was very nourishing to practice sitting in silence with all of you after the flurry of activity of the holiday weekend.  Such peace!!!!

So last night we talked about what equanimity is: as per Phillip Moffit, not being disturbed by the disturbances which as we can reflect from our daily life experiences, is not always easy to do.

What I did forget to offer last night were 2 situations in daily life in which many of us have already shown and experienced the potential to cultivate equanimity and these are:
1) that it is possible to have chaos and disturbances all around us externally but still remain equanimous because the energies of the mind, heart and body are all in balance.

and

2) Even if conditioned reactivity gets charged and we begin to move in that unwholesome direction with words and/or action, we come back to centered balance and stabitlity when we realize that we want to change course and this is when equanimity takes over.

It's important to notice whenever one of the 2 situations happen and appreciate the deep sense of peace and liberation that accompanies it as we see that we aren't caught by what we see and experience.

Also, remember that equanimity can help protect against the 8 worldly winds so that we aren't pushed around by them and the potential dukkha that can arise.
And these are praise and blame, success and failure, pleasure and pain and fame and disrepute.

And the equanimity phrases to practice with these categories: the neutral person, the benefactor, the friend, the difficult person, oneself, all beings and groups

1) You are the owner of your actions. Your happiness and unhappiness depends on your actions, not upon my wishes for you.

2) I will care fo ryou but cannot keep you from suffering.

3) No matter how much I may wish for things to be otherwise, things are as they are.

4) May I be undisturbed by the coming and going of events.

Use whichever phrase resonates for you and feel free to tweak the wording if necessary to fit your particular situation you are working towards not staying caught up in.

Also, last night, we launched right into the meditation sitting at 7 pm and did the check in after the 5 minute stretch break. I thought it worked quite well, and awas very restorative. I would like to do it again this coming Sunday, Jan. 1st when I speak about Gratitude and see how that feels. I would welcome any input that any of you would have about changing up the sequence of how things are presented on the nights I teach.

Have a peaceful and restful week,

metta, Pauletta

December 22, 2011

Reminder: This Sunday December 25 at Alameda Sangha, join me for Equanimity

Hello Everyone,
Hoping to see a few of you there to join me in some quiet and renewing meditation and a talk on Equanimity.

Event Announcement:
Baruch Golden and I will be leading a 4 week course on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
For more information click here.
Or register here.

with metta, Pauletta

December 19, 2011

Steps of Liberative Dependant Origination

Dear Friends,

It's practically impossible to listen to a talk about 12 different things and come away with the list clear in your mind.  I think these 12 "steps" are a joyful progress to note, though, so here's the list and a few of my explanatory notes to remember how they work:
  1. Suffering -- acknowledge
  2. Confidence -- that the path works & you can do it
  3. Delight -- in seeing the practice reduce stress in your life
  4. Joy -- in the practice; directly proportional to your absorption in it
  5. Tranquility -- When steps 2-4 dispell anxiety & agitation, a clarity remains after the exuberance of joy
  6. Happiness -- a deep sense of well being, more satisfying than joy
  7. Concentration -- the capacity to stay focused on the present moment
  8. Knowing what is -- dukkha, change & no separate selfhood + the 4 Noble Truths (suffering & its end)
  9. Disenchantment with clinging -- seeing that wanting is not fun
  10. Dispassion -- letting go
  11. Liberation -- having let go
  12. Knowledge -- that you are free and how you got there
Hope this is helpful.  See you next year!
Rebecca

Reminder for the Holidays - Equanimity Dharma Talk on Dec 25

Hello Everyone,

May this find you all well and remembering to breathe and direct metta to yourselves whenever stress occurs this week. I am sending our weekly email out early so you may be able to plan ahead before getting too enmeshed in the fray of the holidays and to know that there will be a quiet and calm refuge that you can come to on Christmas Day evening if you wish to meditate and hear about cultivating Equanimity, the last on the list of the 10 Paramis that we have been exploring together this year since January 2011,

Come and learn about this more advanced practice of Equanimity. From a respected dhamma teacher, Phillip Moffit, he offered that there is a difference between tranquility (calm) and equanimity and that one doesn't have to be calm or tranquil in daily life in order to be equanimous. Tranquility or calm is when there are no internal or external disturbances present. Equanimity is when we are not disturbed by the disturbances. Isn't this a great mental quality to aspire to? Come and find out more on Sunday. May you all have peaceful and restful holidays,

with metta, Pauletta

Event Announcement
Baruch Golden and I will be leading a 4 week course on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
For more information click here.
Or register here.

December 15, 2011

Glad Tidings! Liberative Dependent Origination

Dear Friends,

This teaching is a mouthful, but it means that there are mind states that automatically work to free us from suffering, and for the most part, they're very enjoyable states of mind.

So come hear this list of pleasant ways to grow spiritually.  Bring a friend! 

To those of you unable to come this week, I send my best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Fondly,
Rebecca

December 11, 2011

Follow up to 'devotion' subject tonight

Hi all,
There was a request for the questions that I brought up tonight, so I thought I would email them out to the group while it's still fresh in my mind.
Here they are:

  -  What are you spending and being spent for?  What commands and receives your best time, your best energy?
  -  What causes, dreams, goals or institutions are you pouring out your life for?
  -  As you live your life, what power or powers do you fear or dread?  What power or powers do you rely on and trust?
  -  To what or whom are you committed in life?  In death?
  -  With whom or what group do you share your most sacred and private hopes for your life and for the lives of those you love?
  -  What are those most sacred hopes, those most compelling goals and purposes in your life?
         (taken from James W. Fowler, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning, p. 3)

It was great to be with you tonight, and I hope you all have a great week and holidays.
With care,
Anthony

December 8, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011: Where Does Devotion Fit In?

Hi everyone,
I hope many of you will be able to come this weekend.  The topic will be devotion, and I'll explore some ways to incorporate this idea in a meditation practice.  But, if you're coming this week (or not), you may want to just think about this word, 'devotion'.  What does it mean for you?  Does it have any associations?  Are those associations good?  Bad? Neither?  Etc.  It would be great to hear some of your perspectives on devotion.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and I'll look forward to seeing those of you who can come on Sunday evening.

With care,
Anthony

December 1, 2011

Alameda Sangha, this Sunday, Dec. 4th, 7-9pm

Hi everyone,
This week the topic will be 'kalyana mitta'.  This is a phrase from Buddhist writings and culture that expresses the idea of 'good friends', 'spiritual friends', 'admirable friends', etc.  It's an integral part of the practice of dhamma, or you could say it is integral to getting along well in this world, period.  We can't do it all alone; and if we have supportive, admirable people around us, things can only be made easier.  I know it is one of my intentions around sanghas (Buddhist communities) that they be real-life examples of this Buddhist concept.  Maybe if people want to, we can explore how that functions in the Alameda Sangha.

So, this will be the topic for this week.  If you so desire, and if you're planning on coming this Sunday; it may be a useful reflection to think about the relationships in your life and how they support you and support your ability to engage in the world; whether through practice or in whatever way is deeply important to you.  And, of course, reflect on the opposite as well.  How are you supportive/admirable for those around you who are also engaging with the world every day?

Hope to see you Sunday, May you be well,
Anthony