VAJRA BELL Volume 6 Issue III
Ratnasambhava teaches dana Danamaya first became involved with the FWBO Bay Area at the end of 1992, and got ordained in 2002. She’s still at the SF Buddhist Center, sharing her love of chant, puja, art, dharma and ritual. She regards her day job as a nurse practitioner in a teen clinic as, “one of the best and richest places to practice awareness, kindness and bodhicitta on the planet!”. She also plays viola with the San Francisco Sinfonietta. By Danamaya
atnasambhava is one of the Five Transcendent Buddhas, sometimes known as the Five Jinas (Victorious Ones) who are depicted as a Mandala. The Five Buddhas Mandala is thought to have originated early in the Mahayana renaissance, perhaps in the 4th century CE. Amitabha and Akshobhya were the first to be portrayed as visualizations of Wisdom and Compassion. In the Sutra of Golden Light, two more figures became Amoghasiddhi and Ratnasambhava. Vairocana emerged as the central, unifying concept, although all five were regarded as aspects of the Dharmakaya. As archetypal figures, they are evocative of the deepest, purest qualities we all have, at least in seed-form, in the depths of the heart of our psyches. Contemplating the Jinas, dwelling in their mandala, it’s possible to reorient ourselves towards true refuge. RATNASAMBHAVA
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Aryaloka Buddhist Center 14 Heartwood Circle, Newmarket, NH 03857
From the Editor By Samayadevi What a lovely summertime issue this is turning out to be! We have Ratnasambhava and his consort Mamaki in the Southern realms, both symbolized by sunlight and warmth, for the benefit of all beings without exception or difference. Rather like the sunlight; we are all bathed in it. The articles are written by Order Members who have a deep familiarity with them both, and share their love and experience with us. Danamaya lives in San Franscisco and Samasuri lives in Devon, UK. The Order is wide and lovely! And while we are enjoying their light
and inspiration, Dayalocana invites us to explore the lives of the teachers of the past and the present….summertime reading, in the hammock or in the armchair. With lots of sunblock and a hat. And summertime ease. And for those with children, well, this IS the busy season. But may we all find those quiet times to follow our interests on this Buddhist path. The library at Aryaloka awaits you. However we choose to spend these long and sunny (and rainy) days, may we find delight in the sky and the sea, in our readings and our perusings, and our own dear sangha.
Musings from the Chair
I hope that you will take some time this summer to walk around the grounds at Aryaloka and appreciate the beauty of summer. Please feel free to take a flower from the garden to a shrine, either inside or out. While you are at the Center you might find time to look through the book or CD library or browse in the bookstore. A few weeks ago I was listening to a lecture given by Sangharakshita about the life of the great teacher Atisha who lived in India, Indonesia and Tibet in the 10th and 11th century of the Common Era. His story remains relevant to all of us. It is inspiring to listen to the journey of his life, his determination, his devotion, his wisdom and altruistic nature. It creates an opportunity for self reflection. Where is our journey taking us? Are we aware of the consequences of our decisions – both major and minor? How do we share the Dharma with others?
Contact Information Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 email@example.com www.aryaloka.org
Aryaloka Council Dayalocana firstname.lastname@example.org Saddhamala email@example.com Amala firstname.lastname@example.org Kemavassika email@example.com Sandy Bonin firstname.lastname@example.org
A Time for Exploration By Dh. Dayalocana
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This summer might be a time to take a journey into history by reading books or listening to talks about the lives of teachers in the past. I encourage you to think about armchair (or hammock) biographical exploration in the months ahead. Perhaps you would enjoy a talk by Sangharakshita about Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche, Great Buddhists of the Twentieth Century, his Eight Main Teachers or Padmasambhava. You could check out www.freebuddhistaudio.com to find talks of interest. In your exploration you might find biographies of Milarepa, Naropa, Kukai, Xuan Zang or stories of the disciples of the Buddha and the Theris (the first Buddhist nuns). With 2500 years of inspiring teachers and disciples there are many opportunities ahead this summer. And if you wish to remain in the present, look for interesting memoirs from our teacher Sangharakshita. Perhaps I will see you in the library at Aryaloka! Happy summer reading, listening and reflecting.
Vajra Bell Kula Samayadevi, Chair email@example.com Viriyagita firstname.lastname@example.org Sandy Bonin email@example.com Stephen Sloan firstname.lastname@example.org Eric Wentworth email@example.com
Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you!
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Mamaki, embodiment of equanimity By Samasuri
Auras of golden light surround her and emanate from her body and, as you bask in Imagine an early summer’s day, bright her warmth, you begin to hear the sound of blue sky, warm mid-day sunshine. Around her mantra: OM RATNE SU RATNE MAM you, stretching in all directions as far as SVAHA (Om jewel, beautiful happy jewel, the eye can see, a field of bright yellow MAM svaha). sunflowers, heads bobbing in the gentle Hopefully this begins to give you a breeze. Each individual sunflower carries a sense of Mamaki and what she represents. mass of rich seeds surrounded by beautiful She is trying to show us the treasure trove yellow petals. that we all have: the riches of our minds, You have entered the Southern Realm our hearts, our experience. Mamaki’s of the Mandala- the realm where Mamaki, name can be translated as “mine-maker.” the female Buddha, lives. She sits on a She sees everybody and everything as yellow lotus flower in a posture of royal part of her. There is no yours and mine, ease, relaxed and serene. Her right arm you and me, self and other. Through her is extended towards you, palm upturned, wisdom of equality, samatajnana, she no holding a beautiful jewel that sparkles in longer experiences the duality of self and the yellow light emanating from her body. other. She treats all beings as she would She is smiling at you with a gaze of total treat herself because she sees all beings acceptance and love. Her left hand, three as herself. This isn’t ego-grasping as fingers pointing upwards, is at her heart Mamaki no longer operates from her ego. and she holds the stem of a pale blue lotus Her particular wisdom also shows us that flower which sits by her left shoulder. On all experience is just experience, no need the lotus, sits a moon mat, and a vajra bell to try and change it. Equally, whether symbolising the wisdom of equality. She pleasant, painful or neutral, she allows her wears necklaces and bracelets of amber and sensations and thoughts to just be - come other jewels and beautifully embroidered and go - experiencing it all as the everclothes of silk. On her head is a crown abundant, rich tapestry of life. With this with the five jewels of the Mandala. knowledge she can sit calm and relaxed, Ratnasambhava, her male counterpart, sits no tension or worries borne from trying in her top-knot, holding a jewel in his lap. to alter her experience, but feeling able to
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* Meditation Candles * DVDs from Pema Chodron and Lama Surya Das * Meditation Journals * CDs from Thich Nhat Hanh
* Singing Bowls * Brass Door Chimes from Nepal and India * Children’s Coloring Books * Lots and Lots of Great Books!
Your support brightens Aryaloka’s future. Buddhaworks is located at the Aryaloka Buddhist Center
respond to the needs of all beings, sharing her inner wealth. The jewel she holds in her right hand is the chintamani, the wish full-filling jewel. She is showing it to us, offering it to us, as she knows that if we could overcome our ego-grasping, our fixed view of our worlds as separate selves, we too could become happy. So Mamaki helps us deal with pride. Believing ourselves separate from others, we constantly compare ourselves- feeling better, worse or equal to others. This can be lonely and painful. By calling on Mamaki’s wisdom we can work on overcoming this view - that we are separate selves - and move towards a richer experience of life, identifying with everybody and everything as much as we identify with ourselves. If we can do this, we naturally become kinder, more generous towards others, freer with our time, energy and possessions. Mamaki is also associated with the earth element. One could think of the earth itself- the substance in which we grow our food - as what nourishes us, where our bodies come from and where they return to after death. The earth supports us under our feet, and makes no distinctions. It contains crystals/precious gems in its MAMAKI
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Sangha Notes - “What’s Happening?” By Sandy Bonin Save this date – Sunday, August 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. – for our “Thanks and Gratitude” picnic. The whole sangha is invited to a fun celebration (food provided) honoring all those who help out at Aryaloka in any way. More details TBA. Hope to see you there!…The lawn should be in great shape for our picnic since we now have a new, self-propelled mower that will make taming our grassy jungle a lot easier… Rita Holmes, Sandy Bonin, and Dino Papavasiliou will travel to California this summer to be ordained into the Western Buddhist Order. Anne Rugg will be traveling to Spain in the fall for her ordination as well. Sadhu!!! Sandy and Rita were recently given a beautiful and moving sendoff celebration by their fellow women mitras and Order members…A number of men and women mitras from Aryaloka will be attending Going for Refuge
retreats in California this summer… “Entering the Sublime Abodes,” the recent retreat on the Brahma Viharas led by Amala, was well-attended and “blissful,” as one participant described it… The celebration of Dhardo Rinpoche’s life on June 14th was also well-attended, and more than $800 was raised for the school he founded in Kalimpong that supports poor Tibetan refugee children and preserves traditional Tibetan culture. It’s not too late to contribute if you would like to – just contact the office…At the end of August, a small group of Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery, who are currently in exile in southern India, will visit and stay at Aryaloka from the 24th to the 31st. They will be sharing some of the sacred arts of Tibet – such as a sand mandala, chanting, discussion, and butter sculpture - with our sangha and with other folks in our area. More details coming soon…UK Order member
Ratnaguna will be visiting Aryaloka at the beginning of September to lead a weekend retreat for mitras and Order members, and to give a talk for the sangha on Tuesday evening, September 9…Karunadevi, an Order member from San Francisco, will make her annual visit to Aryaloka in midSeptember. She will be meeting with sangha members as well as leading two retreats… Looking ahead to October, a work day is scheduled for October 4, with two others following on November 15 and 16. Come to any of the sessions for as little or as much time as you can spare to help get the center ready for winter. Any contribution of time and energy is greatly appreciated and no special skills are necessary… Finally, Aryaloka President Nagabodhi will be making his annual visit from the UK later in October to lead two retreats, meet with sangha members, and lend his talents as auctioneer extraordinaire to our annual fundraising auction…
through the heating season? Members of the Aryaloka Management Team (AMT), made up of Amala, Karunasara, Sandy Bonin, Sheila Groonell, and Steve Cardwell, are gathering data and will make a recommendation to the Council by next fall... Several Center policies have been generated/ revised over the last several months. These deal with deposits for events, animals at the Center, and rates for visiting Order Members staying at Aryaloka... The presence of ants in the buildings was discussed. It was decided to use alternative methods to
discourage them whenever possible, such as sprinkling cinnamon near their trails. A nest of carpenter ants did need to be removed from the solitary cabin... It was decided to raise rates slightly for Center events beginning in January. This information will be included in the January program... The Council is working on a Center budget for the coming fiscal year and the Aryaloka mortgage has been recently renegotiated…The Council warmly welcomes Anastra Madden as our newest member. Congratulations and many thanks for joining us, Anastra! Sadhu!
The Council By Sandy Bonin On April 13, the Council met with members of the sangha for an annual dialogue of ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns, and comments. The lively discussion led to a list of 27 ideas that will be discussed and implemented, if doable, during the coming months... The proposed renovations were also explained and discussed, and the Council will be sharing updates as these are received from the architect and structural engineer... Is it cost-effective to keep Akasaloka open
Who can contribute to the Vajra Bell?
Submit an article, poem or picture for consideration, or simply share some information and we’ll do the writing for you. Just contact any of the Vajra Bell staff - see the “Contact Information” section on Page 2 of this issue.
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What’s Does Vajra Bell Mean? “The Tantric path to Enlightenment itself [has come] to be spoken of as ‘the Vajrayana’, in other words the path or the way or the vehicle of the vajra. So what does this mean? It means the path of Reality. And similarly with the vajra bell... It means that in the Tantric ritual everything that you touch,
everything that you handle, everything that you offer, everything that you do, is imbued with this sense of Ultimate Reality. You experience Ultimate Reality as existing in its very depth. You don’t just touch a bell, you touch the vajrabell.” (The Symbolism of the Sacred Thunderbolt, Sangharakshita)
Aryaloka Mission Statement and Policy Changes Aryaloka is a spiritual community of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order that provides pathways to the Buddha’s teachings by offering encouragement for spiritual growth through classes, retreats and other activities led by FWBO teachers and mentors, and the development of spiritual community,
guided by Buddhist ethical principles. As the Aryaloka Sangha has grown there have been some policy changes concerning how to register for retreats and the policy on having animals at the Center. Please do check the bulletin boards at the Center for notices on these and other changes. Many thanks.
Movie Review By Eric Wentworth “Wall-E” (2008) 97 minutes, Rated G In theaters Pixar, the animation studio that brought you “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story”, has hit a home run with their new offering, “Wall-E.” Now, I know what you may be thinking, “What would an animated kids’ movie have to say about the Dharma?” Actually, quite a lot, in a strange way - and I guarantee that whether you’re eight or eighty, the messages that “Wall-E” brings to the table will resonate with you strongly. Kids will eat it up like candy and adults will have reason to pause. The movie begins on earth, hundreds of years into the future. Everything you see is a wasteland of cities and garbage. Humans have long since left and gone somewhere else in the galaxy, and a small robot named Wall-E has been left behind to clean up after our mess. The last of his kind, he’s been doing the same thing, day in and day out, for 700 years. But, in that time he seems to have developed a sentient personality and a
reverence for life. Everything changes for him when one day a new robot, EVE, appears looking for remnants of organic life on Earth. Wall-E befriends this new robot and through an amusing chain of events, ends up hitching a ride back with the new robot to a spaceship where humanity has been hiding out all this time. Humanity’s future will seem all too familiar to anyone living in our highly consumer-centric society, and while very funny, it’s also deeply disturbing. We have become shadows of our former selves in this film, and I couldn’t help thinking throughout the movie that this is what the Hungry Ghost (Preta) Realm might look like personified. In a packed movie theater, there were countless numbers of adults shifting in their seats or shaking their heads with knowing smiles just out of sheer recognition of how dead-on the portrayal could be. This movie belongs to the robots, though, with Wall-E and EVE acting as messengers of a better life to the humans. They are the heroes, helping the humans WALL-E
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This issue’s featured websites Note from the Writer: In our last issue, I listed Wildmind’s web address as http://www.wildmind.com. This is NOT correct - the correct address is http://www.wildmind.org, not .com. My sincerest apologies to Wildmind for the mistake and to our readers as well for any inconvenience it may have caused. http://www.globalgiving.com With the focus of this issue on Ratnasambhava and his female consort Mamaki, both representative of dana and loving-kindness directed towards all beings, it’s fitting to feature a website that reflects those same values. GlobalGiving is an online charitable donation center that connects small projects worldwide with funding from individuals and corporations. It works in much the same revolutionary way that we are seeing in the election cycle this year, with individual donations being bunched together in a targeted and efficient way to create a wave of grassroots change. A donor simply goes to the website and finds the global causes that they would most like to see funded, searchable by topic or region. Topics cover a wide range, “from education and health care to economic development and the environment.” More than 500 projects are offered in over 100 countries at any given time, and most are directed in those areas where a small donation goes very far. Each project has been carefully vetted by GlobalGiving to be sure that the money will be used in a highimpact manner and not on operating expenses. And GlobalGiving guarantees speed and efficiency, making sure that at least 85-90% of the donaIN-SITE
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Kula Korner By Sheila Groonell, Kula Coordinator Yes! It is spring! And wonderful things are happening at Aryaloka thanks to the people who combine work and pleasure for the benefit of us all: Let’s see what’s up. Whoa! Have you noticed the Gardens lately? Joan Rochette, Steve Pittman, and newish Grounds Kula member, Diane Palancas, are transforming our Aryaloka gardens into a Pure Land of beauty. The new rupa, the rich perfume of the beach rose, the clematis all welcome us now each time we enter our Noble Realm. This kula gathers at Aryaloka every Wednesday (when it’s not raining) around five in the afternoon and works as long as they wish. They always welcome new helpers. No skill or knowledge needed, just a willingness to laugh and play in the dirt! Of course every spring the grass begins to grow again. But, fear not, Barry Timmerman is already on his lawnmower duty! He never misses a beat to help! I’m sure any help you could offer would be really, really helpful. Contact the Aryaloka office if you have time to help Barry keep Aryaloka green and groomed. And how about that Dana Kula??!! Their presention of the Dalai Lama movie surpassed all expectations of success! I wish you all had had the opportunity to be at the IOKA Cinema to view the Dalai Lama
movie! It was such a joyous event. The theater was filled almost to capacity with curious and enthusiastic people. The film had it all: dharmic lessons, good humor, interesting characters, beautiful scenery, the meeting of cultures, and the goodness, grace and inspiration of the Dalai Lama himself. Afterwards our fearless leaders, Dayalocana, Viduma, and Amala led a wide ranging discussion in which many participated and rejoiced in the opportunity to experience such grace together! Saddhu! Congratulations and Kudos to the Dana Kula. Our Dana Kula, under the leadership of Anne Rugg, needs many volunteers to keep such fantastic ideas coming. Remember no one needs to be a public relations genius to help this kula. All you have to do is show up at their not too frequent meetings and participate in some wide ranging, dream aloud discussions with friends and friends in waiting. On a much more mundane, but none the less important level, the Cleaning Kula, with Karunasara as the Queen of Clean, is always looking for new helper bees. With three buildings in almost constant use, there’s always some place that needs to be spruced up for the next activity. The beauty of this Kula is that you can do whatever tasks appeal to you completely on your schedule. The flexibility is a perfect match for any kind of schedule. Soap and friends provided free.
Aryaloka’s Children’s Kula is in high gear to develop programs and activities that will appeal to families and children. They have scheduled a Family Overnight for July 28. And Dharma Day, will also have activities specially designed to appeal to the smaller of us. All people interested in families and children are welcome on this growing kula. Finally, I would like to tell you a bit about the Prison Kula. Every week on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday members of Aryaloka, with the leadership of Bodhipaksa, Bodhana, Lori Seibert, and Steve Cardwell, travel to Concord State Prison to spend time with our Dharma brothers there. These activities are open to volunteers who have completed the applications that are hanging on the downstairs Bulletin Board at Aryaloka. However, the best way to have an initial contact, I think, is to attend one of the three yearly retreats that involve Friday evening and all day Saturday. I attended the last retreat and was stunned, literally, when I realized that I could NOT have guessed who was a prisoner and who was a visiting Aryaloka member, had I not known the visitors before hand. All preconceptions are off. Attending this retreat was truly a transforming experience for me, showing me once again, we are all the same. ONE TRULY AMAZING EXPERIENCE. I enKULA CORNER
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New England Premier of “Dalai Lama Renaissance” a Success Anne Rugg, Chair Dana Kula “Dalai Lama Renaissance”, a documentary film narrated by Harrison Ford, played to a full house on May 7th at Exeter’s Ioka Theater. Program Director Amala observed that it was exciting to see the theater fill up with so many people interested in His Holiness and experience the collective energy of the Aryaloka sangha. This fundraising and public awareness event organized by the Dana Kula
raised over $1,700 for Aryaloka. Part of the proceeds will also be donated to a Tibetan organization selected by the Dalai Lama. Following the film, Amala, Dayalocana and Vidhuma answered questions from the audience. “Dalai Lama Renaissance” is an 80minute documentary about forty of the world’s most innovative thinkers who travel to Dharamsala, India to meet with His Holiness to discuss many of the world’s most challenging problems. This film gives an intimate portrait of the Dalai Lama and what
happened was surprising and unexpected. In case you missed this screening, the film will be released in theaters and on DVD later this year. The presentation of this film as a fundraiser was a first for the Dana Kula and with the help of many it was a resounding success. Many thanks to all who attended this event and a special thanks to Amala, Dayalocana, Vidhuma, Steve and Deb Cardwell, Khemavassika, Jean Corson, Candace Copp, Sheila Groonell, Sandy Bonin, and Saddhamala.
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Hello from the Bookstore By Steve Cardwell Hello everyone……There are a number of great new books, CDs, and DVDs by the Dalai Lama in the bookstore. They were a very popular item on the night we showed the film “Dalai Lama Renaissance” in Exeter, so please take a look. We have a good stock of Sangharakshita’s books including many of his newer titles. Bhante Sangharakshita’s titles are on the left side bookcase when you enter the store and on the first table on the right. Please let us know if there are any titles we don’t have that you would like to see. There is bamboo stick incense from Nippon Kodo in lots of scents, some we haven’t seen before….like Orange and Peppermint…..sounds pretty cool……We also have some beautiful new candles from
Crystal Journey that you will want to check out for use on your shrine at home or as a gift for someone special. An item that has been a big hit at our home is the Coloring Mandalas book by Susanne Fincher……..These are so much fun to color that I can spend hours with them….I use washable colored ink markers but you can use whatever fits your fancy…….Let’s have a mandala coloring party! We have quite a few titles that you may not have seen before, have a look when you can. Here are a few of them……. “What the Stone Remembers: A Life Rediscovered” by Patrick Lane. He reentered the world at the age of sixty, after a lifetime of drug and alcohol addiction. Patrick spent his first tender year of sobriety working in his garden, gently exploring the life that led to his addictions,
and reacquainting himself with the truth of nature. “To read this book is to enter a state of enchantment.” Alice Munro “The Best Buddhist Writing 2007” edited by Melvin McLeod. Included in this year’s edition are pieces by The Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard, Dzongsar Khyentse, Thich Nhat Hanh, Charles Johnson, Natalie Goldberg, Thinley Norbu, Karen Maezen Miller, Pema Chodron, Norman Fischer and others. “Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart” by John Welwood. “This book skillfully and eloquently describes how our deepest longing for love is in fact the key to healing our personal wounds and the woundedness of the world at large.” Sharon Salzberg Please send your thoughts or comments about the bookstore to me anytime at info@ aryaloka.org
It was in Dapodi, India, that Sara came into contact with the Western Buddhist Order, and got her first glimpse of how friendship can be a spiritual practice. Her immediate response was to question what communication had to do with Buddhism. In the sutta in which Ananda , the Buddha’s companion and cousin, says to the Buddha that he thinks spiritual friendship is half of the spiritual life, the Buddha’s response is: Say not so, Ananda, say not so. Spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life. In the Western Buddhist Order, Sara discovered that those seeking ordination often choose two members of the community as spiritual friends (kalyana mitras), friends who share the same ideals and support one another along the path. It is not a relationship based on a common background or temperament or lifestyle, but solely on this shared ideal of transformation. Friendship becomes a fundamental aspect of the spiritual life. She shares with us the specific practices of reflective listening, insight dialogue, meditative communication and intentional
retreats at home with a friend. “There is no need to wait for somebody else to impose structure and silence.” She shares her own experiences with these practices and shows us what a spiritual friendship looks like, as well as the effort and the courage it requires. It is refreshing to sit with Sara as she unfolds these deep practices for us. Reflective listening is about “offering ourselves as mirrors for each other… (it)beomes a breathtaking act of love.” Sara’s exercises are elegantly simple and still profound. They begin in silence and solitude because we will never be secure in our friendships without knowing who we really are and seeing ourselves in others. Empathy is impossible without selfawareness. Hello At Last is a little gem of a book. It reads easily, and still conveys a profound practice. It is difficult not to like this woman who grapples with the koan her teacher gave her, and it is easy to trust her practices, as she shares them with us.
Book Review By Samayadevi “HELLO AT LAST, Embracing the Koan of Friendship and Meditation” Sara Jenkins Windhorse Publications, 2007 Sara Jenkins is a woman one would want to know, to have as a friend. In this little tome, she shares with us her experiences with the profound and perhaps surprising practice of spiritual friendship. We seem to grasp the importance of the Buddha and the Dharma in the Three Jewels in Buddhism, but it is the Jewel of the Sangha that often gets short shrift. Sara studied with the Zen teacher Cheri Huber for over twenty years, and Cheri is quite clear about maintaining silence and not socializing with others on retreat. On the other hand, her injunction is to ‘Deepen your relationships’. It is this conundrum, this koan, that Sara tackles. How is it possible to deepen relationships in silence?
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Words of Wisdom “One is pure from the beginning; pure, if you like, from the beginningless beginning; pure by nature; pure essentially. For anyone brought up in a guilt-ridden culture like ours in the West, this sort of statement must surely come as a great positive shock: that in the depths of your being you are pure of all conditionality; pure of the very distinction between conditioned and unconditioned, and hence you are Void.”
Remembering the Retreat by Sangharakshita
At the wood’s edge, a solitary hut; Sharing my quiet room, a single friend. Here on the table, two or three books of verse; There on the shelf, half a dozen frost-blackened violets. Hour after hour, we exchange only a few words; Day after day, I polish a single poem/ Who would have thoughts it? A whole world of content Found in these things!
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“You can’t really commit yourself to something that you know. To commit yourself to the known is a contradiction in terms. You always commit yourself to the unknown. At least there is always an unknown element in that to which you commit yourself.”
“If we could realize a hundredth part of what we understand we should all become Buddhas on the spot.”
“One does not feel compassion for beings because they suffer. One simply feels compassion.”
All quotes and poetry from“Peace is a Fire,” by Sangharakshita, Windhorse Press, the 1979 edition
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Hungary for Change Paramashanti gives a glimpse into the plight of Gypsies Hódmezövásárhely, Kiskunfélegyháza, Ágasegyházadulo and Hajduboszormeny. I thought this selection of Hungarian place names would catch your attention! Actually there is a village named Mád and another named Göd. So how is it that I am teaching English in an Ambedkar school for Gypsies in the small village of Hegymeg in north-eastern Hungary? We have to go back to the end of last year when I read a report on the FWBO news website about a visit to Hungary by Manidhamma, an Indian Order Member who was living in England. He and a mitra from India visited various Gypsy groups in Hungary, some of whom had previous contact with the FWBO. In the article Manidhamma described the conditions under which most of the Gypsies live. I found the report both interesting and disconcerting so I checked out the website he mentioned for more information. He also said they were looking for English teachers to work with the Gypsies. It is estimated that there are about eight million Gypsies living in Europe. Probably around half a million in Hungary out of a total population of ten million. Originally, they are thought to have originated in India and migrated to Europe via Egypt, hence the name Gypsy. The biggest areas of settlement are in central and eastern Europe: Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary etc. They have been discriminated against for centuries and usually have the most menial jobs, worst healthcare, atrocious living conditions, large scale unemployment and poor education. For example, 70% of Hungarian students attain the high school leaving certificate. For the Gypsies this a mere 1%. Generally, they also go to segregated schools if they go at all. Soon after my arrival in February I visited a Gypsy telep (settlement) in Sajókaza (Shayokaza) a town about half an hour from Hegymeg. The conditions
It is estimated that there are about eight million Gypsies living in Europe. I encountered there were on par with India: slum housing, no running water just outside taps, no sewage, no trash collection and for some, no electricity. However, just across the way in the Hungarian part of the town all these facilities are provided. The Gypsies are the Untouchables of Europe and this is the connection with Dr. Ambedkar, hence the name of the school. Clearly there are many similarities in the lives of the ex-Untouchables in India and those of the Gypsies in Hungary. Tibor Derdak, the principal of the school in Hegymeg, came across a book on Dr. Ambedkar and realised that Ambedkar’s blueprint for social change for the Indian Untouchables was applicable to the Gypsy situation in Hungary. Tibor has been working for Gypsy rights for many years along with Janos Orsos, who is president of the Jai Bhim Association here. A couple of years ago when Janos went on retreat in India with Subhuti, people thought that he was Indian as he is quite swarthy as are a lot of Gypsies and therefore, are easily recognisable. The project’s focus is education and thereby help Gypsy students attain the high school leaving certificate. Without this their job prospects are extremely limited and access to further education, non-existant. The small school in Hegymeg caters for mainly two villages in the locality. There are about twenty students who attend from 8 a.m. until midday. The main classes are English, mathematics, cultural studies and geography. The students are aged from about 16 to 20+ and are generally unused to being in an educational environment. Most
of them have been failed by the Hungarian school system. Therefore, the school does not have a rigid approach to education as this would be counter productive. For example, it takes into consideration the students’ inability to sit for long periods and study, so there are frequent breaks when they play table tennis, table soccer, loud music or go outside for a smoke. It’s the loud music and smoking that I find the most difficult but my table tennis has improved! We also go to Sajókaza two days a week to teach the Gypsy students at the segregated state school there. At the present time I live, work and sleep at the small school in Hegymeg as we have no other accommodation. In June we will be moving to live in a house in Sajókaza that was purchased recently. This obviously will be a big improvement and also mean that we will be near the Gypsy settlement and therefore, more a part of the community. Family life is central in Gypsy culture and in a way they seem like one big family.They usually have large families and lots children. Although I cannot speak Hungarian (a very difficult language) when I meet the little kids in the settlement they are friendly and unhibited and we somehow get along and have fun together. Hegymeg is a bit isolated. However, Hungary is a small country and we are only two hours from the capital, Budapest which I’ve visited several times. It’s a very interesting city of two million people which still has lots of evidence of it’s communist past as the Soviets only left about fifteen years ago. We had a special visitor in April. Unfortunately, I missed meeting Jack Greenberg as I was in England at the time. He is an American lawyer now aged 85 who was directly involved in the civil HUNGARY
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Located in the south of the Mandala, in his Pure Land Srimat, the Glorious, the Harmonious, Ratnasambhava is the great jewel-becoming, jewel-producing Buddha of generosity and beauty. Incandescent golden yellow as the noon sun on midsummer’s day, he sits on a yellow lotus in the vast blue sky of boundlessness. And yet, he is Earth Element purified. He purifies the skandha of vedana (feeling/ emotion). He transforms the addictive poisons of arrogant pride, avaricious greed and the three conceits. These become Ratnasambhava’s wisdom of the equality, the boundless sunya nature, of all things. His left hand holds the Wish-Fulfilling Gem, the Chintamani. His right hand stretches out over his knee, palm outwards. This is the mudra varada, the infinite giving of the greatest gift, which is always just the very thing that’s needed, with no holding anything back. My friend Srivati once said that what she finds so compelling is that Ratnasambhava’s hand is tipped so far forward that nothing could ever stay in that hand—something I have found immensely beneficial to reflect on. If I want to become that—become the perfection of generosity—how could I give so completely that nothing could ever stay in my hand? There are sometimes said to be four types of generosity. You can give material objects/aid such as food, money or items. You can give your time and energy. You can give the Dharma. And you can give the gift of fearlessness. The perfection of such giving is manifest when there is no difference experienced between the giver, the receiver or the gift! It’s the act itself, spontaneous, selfless. Dana paramita is also a wonderful antidote to craving. Looking at the world, all the catastrophes, all the suffering, it is so easy to slip into thinking that there is never enough, there are too many wants and needs. This is a hazard in the spiritual life— this mentality of poverty. It’s delusion, of course, and our challenge is to see
through these confusions. Although there are so many resources of so many types, (strewn around, right under our noses) we can easily get stuck on the material aspects of how little time or energy we think we have. We forget that there are those two other types of generosity! Think of it— truth and fearlessness--how far those could take us! I also think there is such a thing as ‘unskillful generosity’. The second precept encourages us to abstain from taking the not given. But I’ve been thinking about how unskillful it is to try to give the unwanted and unneeded. Selfless open-handedness is far from mindless! Awareness is our friend in so many ways. After I was ordained in 2002, and came home from Il Convento, I set about finding out how to integrate this whole experience of ordination, of taking on Ratnasambhava’s saddhana practice, of now being Danamaya and not this other person I had been, but not different, exactly. Choosing, or being chosen by, a transcendental figure, is not your everyday experience. What remains with me now, from that magical time when I was formally ‘introduced’ to my Ratnasambhava, is that there’s just an awful lot a human can’t really know. It’s not straightforward. For one thing, I’ve never seen his face in meditation—and I think that’s him teaching me not to get conceptual about it. But then, he will ‘appear’ as the light between the cracks in the world, between one thing and another—expanding my heart from the center outwards. Relaxing into how things are, their essential nature, right now: boundless, endless, free. How I came to choose Ratnasambhava is another story, for another time, but that I have been changed (and continue to be!) by my experience of this beautiful and immense Jina is a continually unfolding delight for me. I am content to be ‘under the influence’ and also under the protection of Ratnasambhava.
rights movement in the States. Amongst other things he defended Martin Luther King and opposed George Wallace in Alabama. Jack is now involved in working for human rights for Gypsies in Europe. Please do check out the website I mentioned ambedkar.hu and if you would like to contact me my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to hear from you.
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courage everyone to attend at least once. The next Concord Prison Retreat will be held on July 18 and 19. You may attend either day or both. There is so much to rejoice in: the beauty of our environment, the joy of friendship, the truth and liberation of the dharma. And there is a way for each of us to to express our gratitude, joy, and friendship. That way is service to all sentient beings and to our precious corner of this tender Earthraft, Aryaloka. To find your sweet place in the Aryaloka family of service and your perfect kula, Call me at 778-7522 or email me at email@example.com. I promise you, your heart will grow. Love and metta, Sheila Groonell
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to wake up from their self-concerned slumber (a very Buddhist sentiment) and realize the value of life in general, but especially as it’s lived in the moment. They inspire mindfulness and respect for responsible effort and action, and an awareness that those actions have farreaching consequences. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, whether you bring family or go by yourself. It has an excellent message, you’ll love the liberal smattering of cultural references that coalesce into a rich background for the story, and it’s just thoroughly enjoyable all around.
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Dana and the Concord Sangha By Stephen Sloan “With open handed generosity” is the positive phrasing of the second precept. Generosity (Dana) is a practice that paradoxically has perhaps more benefit for ourselves than it does for the object of our generosity. The same can be said of serving as a volunteer with the Concord Sangha (NH State Prison for Men). It is a common experience for volunteers to come away from a visit to Concord (generosity of time) feeling like they’ve gotten more out of the time there than they’ve given. Part of the benefit may lie in confronting the fear of the prison environment, the clang of the prison door closing can be a daunting experience. Ayya Medhanandi, a Buddhist nun from
New Zealand, has written about bringing generosity into our everyday practice. “Practicing with these qualities of generosity and goodness in the heart, you let go what has been unbearable and what you have judged and defended against and resisted. This leads to a ripening of the spiritual faculties, pure listening, pure attention in the moment, giving yourself more and more fully to the silence of the mind. You train the restless mind, the wanting mind, the tired mind, the angry mind or the confused mind to settle and to see clearly, to see things as they really are and not as you think they are.” “You are no longer caught in the energies of fear, fantasy, obsession, anxiety and emotional debris. You no longer believe
that what appears to be real is real, that the world with all its fleeting sights and sounds and experiences is permanent, that what is false is true. As it turns away from the tides of distraction, restlessness and aggression, the mind can no longer wander out but instead, inclines to its centre, towards wholeness and goodness. Right there in the silent mind, well-concentrated and at peace - mindfulness creates a seal, an energetic field of protection around you to stop the flow of the mental rivers of greed, hatred and delusion.” These words capture the spirit of my visits with the Concord Sangha. If you have an opportunity, perhaps you too can find a way to realize the practice of Dana with a visit to Concord.
News from Nagaloka By Gail Yahwek Nagaloka Buddhist Center Nagaloka has had a busy spring. Our Wednesday night sangha group has been studying and is about to finish Vajragupta’s “Buddhism, Tools for Living Your Life.” It has been a good book to engage us all and allow us to think about how we really are living our lives. Are we really using what we are learning? Our Monday night Advanced/Mitra study has come to a close after 13 weeks. Thank you so much to Anne Rugg for
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SEPTEMBER (cont.) 13 14 15 17 18
Intro Day Council meeting Men’s mitra class Intro evening class Women’s mitra class
leading us in our study of “What is the Dharma?” by Sangharakshita. We truly appreciate Anne coming to Nagaloka to share her skillful teaching, her inspiring stories and openness to experience. Our sangha had its annual picnic recently at beautiful Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, Maine. The weather was wonderful, the food was delicious and the company simply lovely. The osprey’s nest was close by and the horseshoe crabs were out. Thank you to Nancy for organizing this for us to enjoy. Dharmasuri has started a four-week
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Introductory to Buddhism and Meditation Course on Monday evenings from 6:30 pm. to 8:30pm. We have seen quite a few new faces through the spring. We warmly and happily welcome them to our sangha. Nagaloka is newly open for meditation on Thursday mornings at 6:00 am. for all of our early birds. There couldn’t be a better way to start the day! Other regular meditation sessions are Fridays at 6:00 pm., Sundays at 9:00 am. and our Wednesday evening sangha nights from 7:00 pm. to 9:00 pm.
Meditation and puja Order or preceptees with Karunadevi Men’s event Men’s mitra class Intro evening class Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Mitra/Order retreat with Karunadevi Men’s mitra class
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Boston Sangha regulars and visitors pose for a cheerful group photo.
The FWBO’s Boston Contingent By Sunada There’s a small but faithful band of dharma practitioners that meets every Wednesday night in the hip neighborhood of Davis Square (240-B Elm St., Suite B-10) in Somerville, MA. We meet in a building that houses mostly alternative and liberal groups -- like Greenpeace, Grey2K (a group that protects greyhound dogs from
racetrack abuse), and the Massachusetts Go Association (club for players of an ancient Japanese board game). Sometimes our sits are punctuated by shouts and laughter from the improv theater group across the hall, and during the week before the Massachusetts primary, the halls were crawling with Obama volunteers on cell phones. But it’s our home, and we’re very fortunate to have a space to call our own.
Our members include mitras and friends who have been coming regularly for many years, and others who have just started. We recently finished studying Sangharakshita’s Bodhisattva Ideal, and are now working our way, verse by verse, through the Dhammapada. We love to have visitors, so if you’re ever in the Boston area on a Wednesday night, please stop by!
For Your Information ... • FWBO Centers in the U.S. - Newmarket, NH; Portland, ME; Belfast, ME; Lubec, ME; Somerville, MA; New York City, NY; Missoula, MT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Richland, WA.
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An Offering of Gratitude to the Venerable Dhardo Rinpoche On Saturday, June 14th, we came together to celebrate the life, death, and rebirth of Dhardo Rinpoche, one of Sangharakshita’s eight main teachers. Despite the fact that he died in 1990, his presence was felt by several of the participants on that day. Here is one person’s expression of gratitude to Dhardo Rinpoche: An offering to Dhardo Rinpoche - a shrine of reverence, prepared by the hands of my sisters and brothers, wrapped in white cloth, and sent with metta upon the windhorse. .. Dear Dhardo Rinpoche, I once was a lamb/goat/horse/being of your teachings. I was born again in this
life, able to comprehend the integrities of your teachings and able to understand, amid Western conditions, their message of unconditional love through the works of your disciple and my teacher, Sangharakshita. My teachers of the West are lamps in the darkest hallways. The arms of Avalokitesvara, your extensions, have been my blessing through millions of rebirths. I have fallen in love with you, my teachers, and need not anything more. Born a woman in the West, I want to travel to the mountains of the East, but my conditions in this time realm do not permit this. The Dharma knows no such boundaries; the lotus takes its first breath from the mud. In meditation I enter a dark-blue, starfilled sky. Dhardo Rinpoche, I pray to you
that I may carry your windhorse upon the earth to all who follow the Three Jewels, to all sentient beings. I pray to follow Sangharakshita to clear vision What did I experience one short day in the month of June from my sister Viriyagita - “The Song of Energy” - but a deeper love for Sangharakshita . He is a being with imperfections, but his light moves me forward in the spiritual life. Sangharakshita’s teacher, Dhardo Rinpoche, said that he is also my teacher. He is our teacher. He gives us the understanding to individually live the Three Jewels. “Cherish the Doctrine, Live United, Radiate Love!” With Metta, Marianne
ties on projects around the world. Another dyed-in-the-wool grassroots organization, Global Vision has many creative ways for individuals to volunteer that intersect with many of the same projects that GlobalGiving supports. We all support Aryaloka in so many
ways with the knowledge that every little bit helps. For no more than the cost of a lunch or a birthday gift, organizations like GlobalGiving make it easy for us to spread dana beyond our doorsteps and to extend loving-kindness to the rest of our global family.
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tion is “on-the-ground” within 60 days. Each project’s listing gives extensive information on where your donation is going and what it will be used for, with an overview of the project’s details, how money will be allocated, and an explanation of the overall and long-term importance of the project. You can view pictures of your donations at work, view regular updates on progress, and keep an eye on how much money has been donated and is still needed, which allows donors to directly see the effect their generosity has on changing things for the better. As an added bonus, GlobalGiving has gotten extremely creative with the ways you can donate. If you don’t want to give money directly, they offer many options. There are registries for weddings and other occasions, gift cards where the money on the card goes to the recipient’s favorite charities, and a gift shop where a portion of the gift proceeds go to specific projects. GlobalGiving doesn’t stop at donations of money, they are also strong on individual action. GlobalGiving is partnered with Global Vision International, an organization that provides volunteer opportuni-
Illustration by Eric Wentworth
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hidden depths. We all come from the earth, and are dependent on it; all human beings, animals, plants. We as individuals are not
separate, not isolated, however much our wrong views try and tell us so. By spending time with Mamaki, by relaxing into the beauty of our experience we can learn to let go more and more. We
can release our fingers one by one from the tight grasp we have on our fixed views of separateness and slowly become more like those sunflowers- gently, regally swaying in the warm breeze, as if one.
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Upcoming Events (Akasaloka events are listed in italics)
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JULY 20 20 24 25 26-27 31
Order Day a.m. (times TBA) Dharma Day p.m. (1-4 p.m.) Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Family overnight (times TBA) Yoga and meditation retreat
Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Intro Day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Sangha Picnic (2-4 p.m.) Celebration of Gratitude Sacred Arts Monks’ Tour Men’s mitra class Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Order Day
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Yoga and meditation retreat continues Meditation and puja Meditation and puja Women’s overnight Men’s event Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Meditation workshop on Hindrances – Sunada Council meeting Men’s mitra class
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Men’s mitra class Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Order/Mitra retreat with Ratnaguna Men’s mitra class Ratnaguna talk for Sangha Night Intro evening class begins – Bodhipaksa – 7-9 p.m. Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja UPCOMING
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Ongoing Sangha Night at Aryaloka
Friday Night Puja
• • • •
The rich devotional practice of meditation and puja is shared most Friday nights by those who find devotion an important part of their practice.
Every Tuesday evening, 7:00-9:15 p.m. Led by Amala and Khemavassika Open to all who have attended an introductory class at Aryaloka Fee: Suggested donation $10 per class No registration necessary
Typically, our Tuesday night activities include: • • • •
7:00 - Gathering, tea and announcements 7:15 - Meditation and shrine room activity 8:00 - Study, discussion or a talk on the evening’s topic 9:15 - End
With all of the activities, you are free to participate or to just sit and listen. Nothing is compulsory. If you have any questions, please ask!
Friday evenings as scheduled. See the Aryaloka web site for dates and locations. 7:00 p.m. meditation, followed by puja.
“When we celebrate the Sevenfold Puja, which combines faith and devotion with poetry and sometimes an element of visual beauty, we find that our emotional energies are to some extent refined. When this happens, it becomes possible for the vision and insight of the higher thinking center to act through these refined, sublimated emotional centers directly on the moving center. In this way, the whole of life is completely transformed.” Sangharakshita ~ Ritual and Devotion
Published on Jul 1, 2008
* "Ratnasambhava Teaches Dana" by Danamaya * "Mamaki, Embodiment of Equinimity" by Samasuri * "Hungary for Change" by Paramashanti * Book Re...