September 26, 2015

Total eclipse included in tonight's sangha meeting

Dear Ones,

Like some of you, I've been wishing to see the rare eclipse tonight, and then realized there need be no conflict. Tonight, after the sit, we'll have a lunar break! Then back for the dharma talk & discussion and out in time to see the last half hour of the eclipse's end. For those not interested in traipsing outside, it will just be "a break."

Best wishes,

September 17, 2015

Sun 7-8:30 pm Coming Back to the Breath

Dear Friends,

If there's one single teaching or activity that can be said to characterize Buddhism, it's coming back to the breath. It's the mainstay of Vipassana meditation, and it's much more.

As our practice grows and we learn more about the teachings, we can lose the immediacy of this simple but extremely powerful action. As we go through our lives, remembering it can bring the present moment and our intentions into sudden, meaningful focus. Bring your stories, and a friend.

Join us this Sunday, Sept. 20, 7-8:30 pm, as we explore the benefits of coming back to the breath.

With metta,

September 11, 2015

ASL Interpreted Video, "Signs of Mindfulness"

Dear Ones,
In case you missed this link on the weekly sangha email, here it is again!

This is a video project I participated in along with other volunteers from Alameda Sangha, Judi Fruge, Steve Lowery, Lauren Zane created by Geoff Geiger and filmed by Jampa Thinlay.


With metta and peace for the weekend,

September 10, 2015

Healthy Shame and Intention this Sunday at Alameda Sangha September 13, 2015

Dear Ones,

Come and explore with me what Buddha taught about Healthy Shame and Intention. First we will explore, the Guardians of the World, or the twin emotions known as, in the Pali, "Hiri-Ottapa". Bhikkhu Bodhi, an American monk, Pali scholar and acclaimed teacher explores these two qualities in a wonderful article he wrote:

Buddha refers to these two qualities as the bright guardians of the world and Bhikkhu Bodhi says, "He gives them this designation because as long as these two states prevail in people's hearts the moral standards of the world remain intact, while when their influence wanes, the human world falls into unabashed promiscuity and violence, becoming almost indistinguishable from the animal realm." I will offer how awareness of these two qualities can really shift the way in which we think about our intentions before acting and additionally, the impact that the action could potentially have out in the world. Therefore, it is not enough to have good intentions, rather we also need to go the extra mile to consider how what we say, do or think will land on the person(s) or situation. Hmmm. Important stuff to reflect upon and remember to try to do!

Then we will explore a short sutta, entitled, Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone which is a discourse given to Rahula, the Buddha's son when he was only 6 years old.

Of particular interest in this teaching is how Buddha emphasizes to Rahula, the importance of extensive reflection on verbal, bodily and mental actions (this is where the intention comes in). Reflection needs to occur when the desire arises to do these actions, and then reflection once again, during the doing of any of these actions and reflection once again, after the action is completed. By this instruction alone, one can see how active our practice can really be in daily life off the cushion, and that it takes some effort in order to reverse the effects of the defilements of the mind in order to let our beautiful and innate Buddha nature come through. When this happens, of course we will have less suffering. I personally, have been working with the mental actions a lot, and seeing my own responsibility whenever my unique conditioning bumps up with someone else's in an unpleasant and usually unskillful way. It is hard to move beyond the tunnel vision that our own conditioning encourages so that it tricks us time and time again to create stories and assumptions that may or may not be true. Remember that Mahasi Sayadaw, Buddhist meditation master said that the mind creates 98% of our suffering!

Let's explore these together!

Don't forget the chanting!

Also, please check out this wonderful YouTube video that our own talented and creative Geoff Geiger initiated with the help of many wonderful volunteer gifted sangha members! It was created for the Deaf community. The title of it is Signs of Mindfulness in case this link doesn't work and you would like to view it. Enjoy.

​with metta,

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September 3, 2015

September 2, 2015

This Sunday, Shame and Spiritual Bypassing at Alameda Sangha

Dear Ones,

Come and join me in exploring how such an aversive emotion like shame is spiritually bypassed so that we avoid this shadow side that could otherwise instruct us in practicing in an open and honest way with our unresolved wounds.

Shame is the inner critic in disguise and then we can have a tendency to project this unresolved wound on others, which can pollute any relationship we have in which it appears.

We will also discover the goodness of healthy shame or hiri-ottappa in the Pali which are "conscience and concern" or moral shame and moral dread. These are twin emotions, aka the guardians of the world and are associated with all skillful actions. More about these twin emotions will be discussed in Part 2 of this talk on shame, next week - Shame and Intention: a teaching for Rahula (the son of the Buddha)

We will see how shame manifests as spiritual bypassing, how to work with shame and how to sit in the fire of shame.

Hoping that it will be a purifying experience for all of us in this journey together!

Don't forget the chanting!

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with gratitude and respect for your practice,