VAJRA BELL Volume 6 Issue III
A Vision of Amitabha By Saddhamala
t is the end of the day, all becomes quiet and on the horizon the brilliant sun sets. The red glow of the sun illuminates the sky and a palace appears – a palace with ruby walls - it is warm and inviting – it is a friendly place where you can completely relax. The palace is a place of magic where everything you long for is available. You only have to think of what you want and it appears. You are bathed in a golden glow of soft light and you feel happy and at peace. You rest in the bud of a golden lotus – you are in a pure land where the trees are made of jewels. Jeweled flowers are carried along by the rivers. You are caressed by gentle breezes that cause a rainfall of flowers. Everything is permeated with golden radiance. In all directions you see vast lotus flowers where Buddhas sit and teach the Dharma. And in the middle of this glowing scene is the Buddha Amitabha, seated on a great Lotus throne. You are in Sukhavati, a pure land in which you have ideal conditions for spiritual progress – you are bathed in the joy of hearing the Dharma and you will hear the Dharma until Amitabha leads you to perfect Buddhahood. Amitabha symbolizes attraction. His color is deep ruby red, the color of love and compassion, the color of the blush of delicate emotion, the color of fascination. Amitabha is the Buddha of love and compassion, always approachable, giver of unconditional love. Like the setting sun, Amitabha is warm and gentle – he guides our emotional energy to the quest of Enlightenment. Meditating, visualizing Amitabha, arouses our emotional energy and transforms worldly passion into discriminating wisdom, the wisdom that sees the uniqueness, the distinctive characteristics of phenomenon. AMITABHA
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Aryaloka Buddhist Center 14 Heartwood Circle, Newmarket, NH 03857
Illustration courtesy of Amitabha from “A Guide to the Buddhas,” Windhorse Publications
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From the Editor By Samayadevi The Pureland of Amitabha seems particularly inviting right about now… “a palace with ruby walls, warm and inviting, a friendly place where you can completely relax.” Instead I find myself caught in the anxiety of the melt down of our financial institutions and awash with negativity around the political campaign. Politics is a dangerous place for me as passions runs high and I lose a sense of a calm center. Mercifully there is Amitabha to invite stillness and safety. And a little book entitled ‘Mindful Politics’, edited
by Melvin McLeod and in our bookstore. It takes not only courage but trust to practice in these times, and that is actually a gift. Thich Nhat Hahn is very clear that the Pureland is not a far distant galaxy but possible in the here and now. And the tether to that reality is meditation, meditation, meditation. And we are not alone. We are sangha. As Saddhamala wrote: ‘We can look at the worlds we create; we can raise our level of consciousness; we can lovingly shape our world and the worlds of those around us, the worlds of all beings in which warm rays of love flow from the heart.’ May it be so.
This summer three mitras from Aryaloka were ordained in California. Their private ordination ceremonies were conducted on retreat and their public ordinations were held on the North American Order Convention. With happy hearts we welcome the new members of the Western Buddhist Order: Danakamala, Saricitta, and Vihanasari! Their names reflect qualities of generosity, compassion and joy that arises from contact with the Dharma. We look forward to practicing with all of them at
The following is a compilation of the minutes from the council meetings on August17th and September 14th. It was suggested that the Council establish a finance subcommittee made up of Khemavassika, Anastra, and Dayalocana to review financial issues before they are
Aryaloka Council Dayalocana firstname.lastname@example.org
Aryaloka. Their generosity, compassion and joy are echoed by friends, mitras and order members at Aryaloka. Our center is fortunate to have so many people with generous spirits. We depend on the help and kindness of volunteers who give their time and talents. Likewise, there is great benefit from the compassion, concern and care that is extended from sangha members to those in need, both at Aryaloka and beyond. And the joy that is experienced and expressed as we hear the Dharma and practice together creates an atmosphere of beauty and harmony.
Khemavassika email@example.com Vihanasari firstname.lastname@example.org Samayadevi email@example.com Anastra firstname.lastname@example.org
Vajra Bell Kula Samayadevi, Chair email@example.com Viriyagita firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council By Samayadevi
Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456
Musings from the Chair By Dh. Dayalocana
brought to the Council as a whole. It was voted to allow Khanti Outreach to establish a donation fund through Aryaloka for support for released inmates. Checks can be written to Aryaloka and the funds will be transferred to Khanti. The annual meeting of the Aryaloka Council is scheduled for October 13, 2008.
Vihanasari email@example.com Stephen Sloan firstname.lastname@example.org Eric Wentworth email@example.com
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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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Pandaravasini, wise consort of Amitabha By Viriyagita Pandaravasini is the consort of the Buddha Amitabha in the mandala of the five buddhas and represents the female aspect, the prajna, of discriminating wisdom. She is a glorious red in color, dressed exquisitely in white, wearing a five-jeweled crown upon her jet-black hair. Rubies and other precious gems adorn her body. With hands folded at her heart, she holds the stems of two lotuses. One red lotus, blossoming at her right shoulder, carries a vase of immortality. On her left shoulder the pale-blue lotus holds a vajra-bell. To give you a flavor of her beauty and power, I will now quote from Vessantara’s Speech of Fire, a Puja to Pandaravasini. SALUTATION
Body of fire, Transcender of the world, Through the flames of meditation you have burned away All that was subject to birth and death. So your body of light is itself a vase of immortality. Undying love and wisdom of all the Buddhas, I pay homage to you. PANDARAVASINI
Illustration by Eric Wentworth
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Buddhaworks The Aryaloka Bookstore
* 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
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Greetings from Buddhaworks (the Bookstore) By Steve Cardwell Well summer is really over for another year and again we are wondering about the coming cold and windy weather in New England. What better time to sit in a comfortable chair by a warm fire reading something new and profound? Take a few minutes and check out the products in the bookstore, you might just see something you have not seen before. In fact there is a new printing of The Puja book, released in the UK and hopefully soon in the US… There are both paperback and hardback versions which we will stock when available… Thanks for your continued support of Buddhaworks. Your dana makes Aryaloka a possibility for all of us. Here are some new titles for the bookstore: “Buddha’s Teachings on Prosperity” By Bhikkhu Rahula We may have access to Buddhist teachings, but specific guidance on how to
conduct ourselves in the work-a-day world may be missing. This remarkable guide fills that gap, and directs “laypeople” toward a fuller, more spiritual life, by suggesting ways to bring skillful, spiritual practice to everyday responsibilities and concerns. From money to romantic relationships, office conflict-management to wise parenting practices, this book helps readers negotiate both the road to the Buddha’s wisdom and the many daily distractions that threaten to test one’s resolve along the way. “The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus” By The Dalai Lama In this landmark book of inter-religious dialogue, the Dalai Lama provides an extraordinary Buddhist perspective on the teachings of Jesus, commenting on wellknown passages from the four Christian Gospels including the Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the mustard seed, the Resurrection, and others.
“Razor-Wire Dharma: A Buddhist Life in Prison” (Paperback) By Calvin Malone Calvin Malone is nearing the end of a 20year prison sentence. He’s also a practicing Buddhist. Oddly enough, it was in prison that Malone learned about Buddhism, and it’s the one thing that’s kept him going. Some of the stories he tells in Razor-Wire Dharma are hilarious, some are harrowing, but all express Buddhist wisdom as vividly as any practitioner could hope to do. This is true Buddhism: Malone is living it, and in the unlikeliest of places. For him, the choice between staying true to his principles of altruism, compassion, and non-harming — or just choosing to cast a blind eye — often requires that he quite literally jeopardize life, limb, and the few small comforts available to him to try to do what’s right. If he can do it in jail, he can do it anywhere. And as his book in all its gritty beauty makes clear, so can we.
Sangha Notes - “What’s Happening?” By Suzanne Woodland Like a garden that flourishes when conditions are favorable, the conditions here at Aryaloka have produced three new order members Saricitta (formerly Rita Holmes); Vihanasari (formerly Sandy Bonin) and Danakamala (formerly Dino Papavasilliou). …In late July members of the men’s sangha held a GFR (going for refuge) retreat at the Jikoji Retreat Center, just south of San Francisco. Danakamala’s private ordination took
place during this retreat. …The women’s sangha also met at Jikoji including a post ordination retreat and a GFR retreat for women. …Later in July, the North American Order Convention was held in California. It was an opportunity for Order Members from the east coast, the west coast, Canada and Mexico to practice together, to renew friendships, and to rejoice in the great diversity and depth of the Western Buddhist Order. The public ordinations for the three new
Who can contribute to the Vajra Bell?
order members above were held at the convention (July 27th). …Later in the fall, the Vajra Bell should be able to report on three more ordinations as Anne Rugg, Anastra Madden and Nancy Lorraine will be journeying to Spain in October to be ordained. …Over the weekend of Thursday, July 31 - Sun Aug 3 the Open Heart, Quiet Mind Yoga and Meditation Retreat SANGHA NOTES
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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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Movie Review By Eric Wentworth “Heavy Metal in Baghdad” (2007), 84 minutes, Rated R, Available on Netflix When we turn on the television, we hear story upon story from the battlefields overseas - what strategy is working or not, how many of our troops were killed, which Iraqi politicians aren’t playing ball with U.S. interests - but how often do we actually hear what the average Iraqi has to say about what’s going on in more than a five-second sound bite, carefully crafted to win hearts and minds back home? While heavy metal music is not for everyone, “Heavy Metal in Baghdad” cuts through our reinforced delusions about what’s really going on and gives us an hour and a half of insight into what daily life is like for the citizens of Iraq. The documentary film follows the only heavy metal band in Iraq, Acrassicauda (Latin for “Black Scorpion”), from the early days of the war. With each successive visit to Iraq to see how the band is
faring, the viewer witnesses the slow decay of their dreams, their attitudes, and their safety. Perhaps because they are already so used to bucking what’s expected of them, they are refreshingly honest and open about their personal experiences and unafraid to make their frustration and anger visible. When we first meet Acrassicauda, they are upbeat, still playing what gigs they can get, but with some irritation they note that it was easier to actually play their music under the Hussein regime, as long as they played at least one “Saddam song.” Then their hard-won practice space is destroyed by a rocket blast, band members fade away as they escape the chaos and become Syrian refugees, and opportunities to play dry up completely because of death threats and dangerous situations. Eventually, two best friends are all that remain of the band in Baghdad, so afraid to go out of doors that for months they do not see one another, despite living only a mile or so down the street. The documentary itself faces never being completed, because for MOVIE REVIEW
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News from Nagaloka By Gail Yahwek As of October 11th, Nagaloka has moved! Our new spiritual home is in town, in the store-front space at 81 Oak Street. Stop by for a visit! Fall is upon us and our Sangha here in Maine is welcoming the change of seasons. Our Wednesday Sangha night group has been studying selected suttas from the Pali Canon. These are providing a nice opportunity for new and experienced members to get back to the word of the Buddha and explore how 2500 year old wisdom still applies today. So far we have read and discussed Buddhavagga, Kalama Sutta, Mangala Sutta, Bahiya, Meghiya, and the Karaniya Metta Sutta. We were happy to welcome Ratnaguna
for a visit in September. He attended our Wednesday night meditation and gave a touching and open account of his journey into Buddhism and experiences as teacher and order member. Thank you so much to Ratnaguna for sharing with us and for reminding us to go into our “pain” whatever it may be rather than run from it. Dharmasuri is leading a Monday night Intro group in the study of “Buddhism Tools for Living Your Life,” by Vajragupta. It is always lovely to welcome new faces and I have heard that this group is proving to be very inspiring. It is nice to have you all with us. Nagaloka’s regular meditation sessions are Fridays at 6:00pm, Sundays at 9:00am, and Thursdays at 6:00am. Sangha nights are Wednesdays at 7:00pm and Monday night classes are at 6:30pm.
This issue’s featured websites http://zenhabits.net If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a couple of hours online, the Zen Habits blog will do the trick while making you feel that you have spent your time mindfully. The author is not a Zen teacher but, as he puts it, just “a regular guy, a father of six kids, a husband, a worker, and a freelance writer.” He began the blog as a way to set positive goals in his own life, reinforce them by putting them online, and then make them a daily habit. While Zen practice is not defined by goal-setting, the author’s process of becoming self-aware and making changes in his behavior are obviously very beneficial ideas that get to the core of what Buddhism is all about. What attracted me to this blog, as a person who generally doesn’t read them very often, is that the author’s thoughts and advice are very down-to-earth and practical without being preachy and humorless. He’s not afraid of revealing the difficulties and frustrations that he’s faced in dealing with his own obstacles, and writes in a way that is often very funny because you can completely relate to what he’s gone through. His writing style is conversational and a joy to read. As Buddhists, we can be fond of lists, and there are many wonderful lists to be had here. Examples of past blog entries include: “10 Benefits of Rising Early, and How to Do It,” “20 Things I Wish I Had Known When Starting Out in Life,” and “Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life.” The best place to begin on this blog is, of course, at the beginONLINE INSITE
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Kula Corner By Sheila Groonell, Kula Coordinator
events like our recent Festival of Gratitude Picnic, or run the office, or pay the staff, or answer phones, or pay for the electricity, This issue I need to talk with you about a or buy books for the library, and on and quite serious matter: The financial health of on, comes from our own community. The Aryaloka and the role of the Dana Kula. Dana Kula imagines, plans and implements Aryaloka, like all of us, needs to cope with activities to help Aryaloka pay these bills. soaring costs in the form of increased heating, And what are those activities? Members lighting, and the cost of all goods and services of the Dana Kula gather no more than once provided for and by our beautiful spiritual a month, sometimes less frequently, to dream home. Aryaloka is a self supporting non- up activities to raise the money needed to profit entity. We receive no outside funding. support Aryaloka and its activities. Remember The Dana Kula is responsible for planning the Dalai Lama movie? The Chocolate and implementing events that help support Buffet with entertainment provided by the Aryaloka financially. Every bit of money that Silktones? The annual Auction conducted by we use to pay the mortgage, or buy heating, Nagabodhi? These all started as dreams of or pay for repairs or construction, or support the Dana Kula. It is a team effort. The current
team is only five people, some of whom have been involved for quite a while. We need more members for the Dana Kula. We need new members. You could be one of the volunteers to help Aryaloka out in this critical way. It is not a big time commitment. And you would never be alone with any responsibility. So what stops people from volunteering for this critically important kula that helps Aryaloka exist. FEAR. Fear and reluctance to ask people for money. Do you cringe at the thought of asking others for money? Would it help relieve your fear if I tell you that you will not be required to ask anybody for money? Would that help you feel better about
spiritual community of the Friends of the Western Buddhist order (FWBO). FWBO teachers and mentors offer pathways to the development of spiritual community and Dharma teaching, with encouragement and support for spiritual growth. Retreats, classes, and other activities are guided by the Buddha’s teachings and Buddhist ethical principles.” Income was down for the first three months of the fiscal year. It was decided to request dana for local (as well as guest) teachers for retreats and day events. The Council finance subcommittee will meet to discuss modifications to the yearly budget. The AMT was asked to review the cost of keeping Akasaloka open during the win-
ter and to make a recommendation to the Council for the coming heating season. Vihanasari will send members the recommendations from the energy audits done on both buildings that have not yet been addressed. These will be considered at the next meeting. In order to bring all retreat registrations into alignment, it was decided to ask that those reserving Shantiloka or Akasaloka for solitaries pay an advance deposit of half the total registration cost. There will be a report from the teaching kula at the next Council meeting, including an overview of what is being taught.
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Members are asked to decide by then if they would like to continue on the Council. The “Promoting Other Organizations or Causes” policy was revised to read: “Aryaloka Buddhist Center will not provide permanent space for other organizations or groups to raise money by selling items at the Center. Aryaloka will not offer space to political groups to hold meetings on the premises. Brochures, fliers, and any other materials from other groups will be posted at the discretion of the Center administrator in a designated area.” It was decided that the Aryaloka mission statement would read; “Aryaloka is a
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And that’s it for now. The annual meeting will be held on October 13th, 2008.
New Policy for Retreat Deposits: Retreats/Classes/Solitaries Those registering for retreats (including solitaries) and classes of any length will be asked to pay a minimum deposit of one-half of the total cost. If a registrant cancels two weeks or more before the even, s/he will receive a refund of the amount paid, minus a $15 processing fee. If the cancellation is received less than two weeks before the event, the registrant will forfeit the minimum deposit. Forfeited deposits may not be transferred to another event.
Yoga Retreats Those registering for yoga retreats will be asked to pay the full cost in advance in order to finalize the registration. If a registrant cancels two weeks or more before the retreat, s/he will receive a refund of the amount paid minus $35 that may be credited to another event. If the cancellation is received less than two weeks before the event, the registrant will receive a refund of $100. Thirty-five dollars ($35) of the remainder may be credited to another event, the rest will be forfeited.
* * * * * Note: In both categories above, special circumstances will be taken in to consideration. * * * * *
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Concord Retreat a Success The Sangha at the New Hampshire Men’s Prison held its summer retreat on July 18th and 19th. Once again, the event was a success. The focus of the retreat was Skillful Speech. This engaging topic spurred some lively discussions that were informative, honest, and at times, very moving. Our time together ran out way too soon. We all left with an increased sense of Sangha, strengthening ties and making new friends. On Friday night, the Sangha welcomed Roger Jones. He took his Refuges and Precepts, an indication of his seriousness toward his practice. We enjoy his participation at our regular Thursday meetings. On Saturday, David Macklin became a Mitra. His expression revealed the peace and obvious thoughtfulness of his commitment to the practice and study of the Dharma. Sadhu to them both. During the retreat we had the
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once again provided a supportive and transformational environment featuring the practice of Kripalu yoga and Metta Bhavana meditation. These retreats are held regularly throughout the year. They fill up quickly, so check the schedule to see when the next one is. …On August 9 the men’s sangha here at Aryaloka came together for a day of meditation, discussion and reflection. The momentum arising out that day was carried through September 21 for an additional men’s practice day that attracted an enthusiastic crowd. Sunday October 12th is the next event. …Got Hindrances? Then Dh. Sunada’s workshop on August 16th was the place for you. The Working with the Hindrances Intermediate Practice Workshop focused on how to work with the difficulties we encounter in meditation - distraction, ill will, restlessness, sleepiness and self-doubt.
opportunity to meet and speak with friends from Aryaloka. In attendance were Debbie and Steve Cardwell, Candice Copp, Lori Seibert, Stephen Sloan, Bodhana, Saddhamala, and Khemavassika. They all shared some personal experiences with their practices, instilling a sense of determination and wisdom only achieved by honest effort. Thank you to all who came and also to those who could not. Your support and friendship is a cornerstone of our practice, providing enthusiasm for the Dharma. Our next retreat is scheduled for early November. We invite everyone to come and take part in this positive experience. Contact Bodhana for information and speak with those who have attended in the past. Metta, Rich Cormier …On Sunday August 24th Aryaloka held a picnic to celebrate the accomplishments of the sangha. There was great food and a chance to meet all sorts of sangha members. Recognitions were handed out to sangha members who have contributed to Aryaloka’s vitality over the years. …Late August saw the arrival of monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery for a week full of activities. The focal point for the week was the creation and dissolution of a beautiful sand mandala. The monks’ presence not only provided an opportunity for our own community to witness and connect with another Buddhist tradition, but also brought many outside of our community to our sacred space. During the week, Rimpoche Jamyang Chozin gave a well-attended talk on the Eight Verses of Mind Training, a text from Geshe Langri Tanpa (1054-1123). The monks also created and helped dedicate butter sculptures and performed a Green Tara puja.
News from the Boston Sangha By Sunada Our sangha may be small, but we like it that way. We have a handful of regulars that meets every Wednesday in Davis Square, Somerville. We’re currently studying Sangharakshita’s Living with Awareness, which has triggered some thought-provoking discussion on all the implications of bringing more mindfulness into our daily lives. With a smaller group, we have plenty of space for everyone to contribute their thoughts in a more personal way. We also recently decided that once a month, we’ll meet for a casual drop-in-ifyou-can burrito dinner at Anna’s Taqueria an hour before our weekly sangha meeting. We had our first get together in September, which proved to be a lot of fun! …In early September, Ratnaguna, a visiting order member from Manchester, England, led a weekend retreat for order members and mitras to explore teachings from the Sutta Nipatta (from the Pali Canon). On Tuesday September 9th, he gave an inspiring talk on the importance of reflection as told from the context of his personal experience. …Also on September 9th, Diane Palaces became a mitra. Sadhu. …Throughout the summer and early fall, Sangha night study sessions have been devoted to the topic of “Engaged Buddhism.” This topic has been explored through the framework of the noble eightfold path. It has engendered much discussion concerning the intersection of spiritual practice with society and its organizations. …Friday night meditation and puja continues to be available most Friday evenings at either Aryaloka or in the neighboring Akashaloka.
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Poetry Pages Random Musings by Samayadevi The only currency Not subject to devaluation Is kindness. If I hoard my treasures In the deepest caves of longing They disintegrate in the light of awareness. Like linen from the tombs of the pharaohs When once again they are bathed in sunlight. This treasure has no limits, Is not subject to time or space. It flourishes out beyond the limits of our grasping And makes a mockery of birth and death.
A word here, an insinuation there, And like a drop of vinegar in the cream I’ve created mistrust, A small crack in the foundation of sangha. For what? To be right in my indignation at a perceived slight, Or just for the perverse pleasure of spreading negativity, Like soot on tulips? There is a juice in quashing another – It is short lived and toxic. It will wilt goodness and leave me with only ashes for my soil. Be still as a log, Wait for the moment to pass, Seek the cream and let the vinegar go. Life is short and will end too soon. Do I really want to leave a barren landscape Destroyed by a word here, an insinuation there?
Equanimity can sound so very cool, so rational, so devoid of passion. Yet, what is it but an unbounded, indiscriminate loving concern For all beings; saints and rapists, Betrayer and betrayed, Snakes and kittens. It is a fierce passion that burns away preference and aversion, A flame fueled by profound insight into how things really are.
Enlightenment isn’t the flash of insight Shattering world views, But the ho-hum of washing toilets, And drinking tea.
Denying yourself is still about ‘self’. In the light of the profound acceptance of insubstantiality, The ‘self’ doesn’t come up. Life is lived in the context of the confluence of all beings Without distinction or discrimination.
There is no security in groundlessness, Only the buoyancy of sangha.
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Meditation by Sangharakshita Here perpetual incense burns; The heart to meditation turns, And all delights and passions spurns. A thousand brilliant hues arise, More lovely than the evening skies, And pictures paint before our eyes. All the spirit’s storm and stress Is stilled into an nothingness, And healing powers descend and bless. Refreshed, we rise and turn again To mingle with this world of pain, As on roses falls the rain.
The Fragrance of Compassion by Sangharakshita
Artwork by Betsy Sterling Benjamin
Seeing this world, this hapless world, With all its store of woes, Compassion in the Buddha-Heart Bursts open like a rose. And from that flower, that wondrous flower, There came at once to birth A breath whose perfumes even now With fragrance fill the earth.
Annual Aryaloka Auction - October 28, 2008! Mark your calendars! No Tricks – Just Treats! The gala Annual Aryaloka Auction comes your way on Tuesday, October 28! The auction will start at 7:00 p.m. with previewing time beginning at 6:00 p.m. Nagabodhi – as always – will be our guest auctioneer. This year we will feature a dessert table to sample while you bid. We need contributions of auction items. Perhaps you have a special bread recipe that others will love and pay for. Or maybe you can donate two hours of raking leaves – we know there will be bidders for that at the end of October! Or maybe you would like
to host a dinner at your home for several lucky bidders. Do you have a favorite shop or café willing to donate a gift certificate to Aryaloka? Maybe you have a wonderful necklace that you do not wear any more. The possibilities are endless. We will have sign up sheets at Aryaloka where you can list your donation. Knowing early helps our committee to prepare the auction booklet early. But most of all – we need YOU and your friends and family to attend. Anyone who has attended will attest to the fact the Auction is a fun event! There will be silent auction items for bid starting October 18
and bidding will conclude mid-way through the live auction. The Annual Auction is the major fundraiser for Aryaloka. Last year we raised over $6,000. Please be a part of the gala evening. Even better – be a volunteer. We need bidding clerks, several Vana Whites and help with set-up and clean-up. Contact Khemavassika, Stephen Sloan or the Office team if you can help us the night of the Auction. Thank You! The Auction Committee
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Self View and the Tibetan Monks By Stephen Sloan Okay, so this all started on the day the Tibetan monks started their visit to Aryaloka. We had a meeting of the Vajra Bell kula. I was sitting with my fellow kula members, planning the next issue of the Vajra Bell. The subject of the monks’ visit came up. Someone suggested that we do an interview with them and all eyes fell on me. Almost immediately I felt resistance to the idea. So I said: “I can’t do that, it conflicts with my self view.” No sooner had the words left my mouth than I knew I would be doing the interview. Quick word of advice: never tell your spiritual friends that you can’t do something because of a self view. This story combines my experience following the monks’ visit and an interview with Geshe Jamyang Chozin, the tour leader (Geshe is a term in Tibetan Buddhism that refers to an individual who has studied extensively. It’s akin to a PhD in Buddhism). It all began Monday night. The tour coordinator and translator, Nima Nedup, had a laptop computer that was acting up. I was recruited to assist him. We got him up and running, and soon it was time for Mitra class, where our group was joined by Nima and the Geshe, Rinpoche Jamyang (Rinpoche is a term of respect and affection). Following meditation, we had an opportunity for questions. Rinpoche Jamyang left Tibet at age 18 following the Chinese invasion. He moved to a monastery in southern India, where he continued his extensive education. As a member of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, his education focused on several major subjects, including a strong meditation practice. In this meditation practice, he focused on developing and maintaining
compassion, metta and Bodhicitta. He has received several initiations from his teachers. Following many years of study he underwent six years of examinations. The examinations comprised at least 15 days per year and were both written and oral. He was responsible for memorizing thousands of pages of Buddhist texts. Following this, he attended a tantric university where he mastered about
twenty practices in two years. And of course there were more examinations. Now he is the resident teacher at a Tibetan center in Los Angeles. Nima Nedup grew up in Bhutan where he attended Catholic school and learned to speak English. He joined the same monastery as Rinpoche Jamyang in the 10th grade. After studying for many years circumstances required his return to Bhutan and he was unable to complete his studies.
When I think of Nima, I feel a lot of gratitude. None of the monks spoke much English, and without Nima communication would’ve been difficult. But beyond that, Nima demonstrated a deep connection to the Dharma. When he was translating for the Geshe, the words and phrases he chose reflected the depth of this practice. Throughout our question and answer period Monday night, both Nima and the Geshe demonstrated great patience and compassion. The answers to our questions provided much material for future reflection. For the rest of the week, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend many of the monks’ functions. On Tuesday night, there was a stimulating talk held in the shrine room (attended by 75 people) on the Eight Mind Training verses. Wednesday brought a dedication ceremony for the butter sculptures that had been constructed by the monks for our Aryaloka shrine. On Thursday, I attended the puja opening the day’s work on the sand mandala that the monks constructed in Aryaloka’s yoga room over the week long visit. Friday night saw over 60 people gather for a Green Tara puja. Another large crowd gathered Saturday for the dissolution ceremony where the sand mandala was swept up and thrown into the river (a lesson on impermanence). My interview, which follows, was conducted shortly after lunch on Saturday. So back to my self view. The prospect of this interview was a bit intimidating. I had spent the week pondering what questions to ask. I decided the interview should have a mix of lighthearted questions as well as serious ones on Buddhist practice. I started with the lighthearted ones. TIBETAN MONKS
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TIBETAN MONKS Continued from Page 10
VB: How is your visit to New Hampshire going? RJ: (Rinpoche Jamyung as translated by Nima Nedup) We’ve had a great visit. We would like to extend a hearty thank you to Aryaloka and all of the sangha members especially Amala. We really appreciate the warm welcome and have enjoyed staying in such a beautiful place. VB: So what do you do for fun? RJ: At the monastery, there really is not too much entertainment. For some of our festival days, there are holiday games, always linked to the Dharma. VB: I’m a big Red Sox fan, how should I act towards the Yankees? RJ: In such matters, equanimity is a good practice. This can start with compassion, especially for someone close to you. Generate a strong desire to free them from suffering, from any problems that they may be facing. Next try to generate those same feelings for a neutral person. Finally work on enemies. Try to equalize your compassion amongst all three groups. VB: How do you deal with doubt? RJ: I have not experienced doubt. I maintain a strong motivation to achieve the highest state of enlightenment. I focus on putting the teachings to work. It is important to keep this on a practical level, and not be too intellectual. First I listen to the teachings and meditate on them. Then I am able to share my experience with others. If I do get off track, guidance from others can help me to correct any wrong views. VB: I’ve noticed that you use both a Vajra and a bell in your ceremonies. Could you comment on their significance?
RJ: There are many different explanations of the Vajra and bell and many practices that employ them. In the ritual, they are employed as a way of generating Bodhicitta. In this method, the Vajra, which is held in the righthand, represents compassion, while the bell, rung with the left hand, represents wisdom. In the Tantric practices the sound of the bell reminds us of the lack of intrinsic nature.
that underlies all of the chants. First we begin with the refuge formula. Then there is contemplation of the merits of giving followed by transference of merit. There is a part dealing with the generation of Bodhicitta and the four immeasurable thoughts. There may also be other parts of the chant that are specific to the occasion at hand. While the chanting may sound foreign at first, many have learned this style of chanting.
VB: I’ve been fascinated by your chanting, could you comment more on it?
VB: Thank you so answering my questions.
RJ: The chanting used in our rituals is not just words and melody, but a form of meditation. There is a basic framework
And that was it. Turned out to not be as difficult as I’d thought. One small chip away from my self view.
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San Francisco Hosts North American Order Convention By Suvarnaprabha The San Francisco Buddhist Center FWBO hosted the North American Order Convention this year in July, at a retreat center in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a short distance south of San Francisco. The Convention began with a ceremony marking the entry of three people from the Aryaloka sangha into the Western Buddhist Order: Saricitta (“Heart-Mind Like a Waterfall”), Vihanasari (“Thrush at Dawn”), and Danakamala (“Lotus of Generosity”). The ceremony was beautifully and jointly led by public preceptors Dhammarati and Dayanandi. The Convention was attended by 25 of the 70 or so Order members in North America, who traveled from Washington State, Vancouver (Canada), Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, Boston, New York City, plus two from the UK, and the delightful Saddhajoti from Mexico City. For 5 days we met, caught up with each other, and focused on meditation, especially Order practices (“mula yogas”) such as the Bodhicitta practice. Khajit also got some of us to give our kesas a much
Danakamala, Saricitta, and Vihanasari were welcomed as Order members at the 2008 FWBO North American Order Convention. needed wash! As often happens at FWBO gatherings, we had a cultural evening on the last night, which is a chance for people to share themselves in a more creative way, adding a little spice into the mix. And it must be said, we outdid ourselves! We witnessed Karunadakini transform into a diner waitress falling in love with a logger, and with our own eyes we saw Vajramati and Naganatika’s heads on a plates in a fit
of hilarious Beckett-esque high drama in the dining room. Not to mention poems and stories, an a capella song, Argentinian guitar, an original blues song, and a cello solo. It was all very beautiful and I felt a very strong connection to the Order, such a deep sense of sangha. Many thanks to Sangharakshita for making that connection possible. May he and his Order thrive for many years to come.
Men’s GFR Retreat - Jikoji Retreat Center
The Practice of the Perfections
This year’s retreat was led by Dhammarati, a senior order from the UK. The theme of the retreat was the Eight Verses on Mind Training. Along with study there was plenty of time for meditation and reflection. Several attendees spoke about the excellent atmosphere, “I’d go back there in a second.” Get the full story at http://web.me.com/aapaine/Site/Movie.html
The Aryaloka men’s sangha is in the middle of a series of practice days focusing on the six perfections. Beginning on August 9th Stephen Sloan led a discussion on the dana paramita (generosity).This was followed on September 21st by Narottama who led the discussion on the sila paramita (ethics). On October 12th Arjava lead the event on the kshanti paramita (patience). More events will be following in December and next year.
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Festival of Celebration and Gratitude By Sheila Groonell On Sunday, August 24, about 60 sangha members, families, and friends gathered in Aryaloka’s back yard with the happy presence of Kuan Yin, to play, eat, laugh, give thanks, and rejoice in each others’ merits. Our primary intent was to thank all the kula members who, over the past year, have donated so many hours out of their very busy lives to the care, love and improvement of our beautiful spiritual home, Aryaloka. After a monsoon summer, the weather for Festival day couldn’t have been better: sunny, but not hot or humid. The mosquitoes must have gone for a weekend on the Cape, ‘cause they were no where to be found! There was much yummy food, most provided by our Council, with Saddhamala’s guidance, and lovingly prepared by sangha members. Lots of other treats were brought by generous guests. So many friends came to give thanks and rejoice! So many new friends, people we’d never met before, happy to be in our
friendly environment. Many tours around the buildings and grounds were conducted for them to see beautiful Aryaloka more closely. Many friends we hadn’t seen in ages made time to come and reconnect. And so many children were there! Their laughing and squealing sounded like bells ringing. So joyous, and happy! The games, organized by Vihanasari, were great, simple fun for little kids and us big kids too: bag races, three legged races, (plastic) egg races, bobbing for apples. Things some of us hadn’t done for decades kept us hopping! Everyone whooping and cheering, laughing to be so happy and free. Dayalocana, Chair Person of the Council, was the perfect presenter, a most precious hoot! With her unique brand of crystal pure sincerity and ego-less silliness, she kept our hearts full of gratitude and laughter as she recognized the contribution of each kula and each sangha member. As I looked at everyone throughout the afternoon, there were smiles all around. A relaxed, casual, joyful atmosphere
prevailed. With all our jobs done, all our thanks expressed, there was nothing else to do, but relax, catch up with each other, and rejoice in each other’s company and merits. We are all so fortunate to have Aryaloka as our spiritual home, a home of love and appreciation. We are fortunate for every single person who offers service through kula to our home. We are fortunate to have these opportunities to serve, learn, grow, rejoice, and experience forgiveness and gratitude. We are fortunate for our friends, fortunate for the Dharma, fortunate for this precious life. My heart is full of gratitude and affection for you all. If you have not yet offered kula service to your precious spiritual home and to your sangha family, please consider joining us in the very, very near future. We need and appreciate all the help we can get. Your friend and fellow dhamma farer, Sheila
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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KULA CORNER Continued from Page 6
volunteering for the Dana Kula? Because it is true - you will not be required to ask anyone for money. We need you simply to gather with other members of the Dana Kula at their occasional meetings, discuss the various activities that people dream up for fund raising, discuss their pros and cons, and, when a program is chosen, help implement that activity. That’s it. Helpful qualities include friendliness, energy, organizational skills, and enthusiasm. Please seriously consider donating your time to the Dana Kula and thus to the Aryaloka community. Aryaloka needs this help and you are a crucial part of the Aryaloka community. Make a commitment to try the Dana Kula for one year. If you feel after one year that you have done your share for Aryaloka, you can move on. But you then will have the satisfaction of knowing you answered Aryaloka’s call for help in this time of real financial need. Please open your hearts and minds to this important service for your spiritual community. Without you, there is no us. Thank you very much for considering this important topic. Please call me at 7787522 or email me at sgroonell@comcast. net if you could possibly help Aryaloka in this way.
MOVIE REVIEW Continued from Page 5
an Iraqi to be seen talking to a foreigner or even speaking English on the street would make them a target. The pain, frustration and sorrow of the men is overwhelming. They are unable to live peaceably in their own country, or do something as simple as express themselves through music, and everyone they know is either dead or living in terror from all sides. Yet, their story is a testament to perseverance. Throughout it all, they maintain their smiles, their love for their families, and their dedication to living a life of freedom as heavy metal musicians. The film draws no judgments or conclusions about the rightness or wrongness of the war. From a Buddhist perspective, however, it solidifies how unskilful war is.
Practicing With the Dana Bowl By Stephen Sloan About two years ago I was asked to hold up the dana bowl on Tuesday nights. Dana is the Sanskrit word for generosity. The dana bowl is where contributions for Aryaloka may be placed. While I was never told why I was chosen for this task, I accepted it as something I was trying to do to help out. Generosity is an important concept in Buddhism. It is said that when the Buddha came to a new place, generosity was the first practice he taught. One of the most important considerations in practicing generosity is the state of mind of the giver. It can be very easy to give for the wrong reason. Looking back I can see that, initially, giving my time to hold up the dana bowl may not have been for the most skillful reasons. Perhaps I saw standing up on Tuesday nights as some sort of recognition of the depth of my Buddhist practice. There was more than just a little bit of ego involved. Of course ego can have its way of sticking out a foot to trip us as we try to follow the path of the Dharma. For while I may have craved the recognition, I also feared making myself look foolish in front of the Tuesday night crowd. For the first six months, I had a set script that I repeated
every week. This afforded me a bit of protection, I wasn’t likely to slip up if I said the same thing each week. It was one of those screens that the ego sets up to keep us apart from others. One day someone parroted my speech back to me, and I knew things would have to change. It was time for me to come out from behind the mask and practice generosity with more skillful motivation. I decided that I would try to offer something back as part of each of my presentations Tuesday nights. This would take the form of some piece of dharma that I would read. The transition wasn’t easy. At first, I would write everything down and read it to avoid the opportunity for slipping up. The ego was still whispering in my ear: “What are you doing?” As I went along, I realized that reading the message wasn’t going far enough. I had to learn to share myself, to share my practice of generosity. These days, I offer a short dharma reading and frequently some reflection. I’m working on opening my heart and really connecting with the people I’m talking to. I try to maintain compassion and increasing metta as the motivations for my actions. Mostly I’m grateful for the opportunity that my Tuesday night activities with the dana bowl offer me to work on my practice of generosity.
VOLUME 6, ISSUE III
who wallow in, and who devote their lives to craving. Hungry ghosts have large stomThe passionate lover wants to be with one achs and tiny mouths – they are frustrated and person, aware of that person’s distinctive qual- desperate, unloved and unlovable and so they ities which are seen as endearing, special and grasp at life. Amitabha’s meditation soothes lovable. The discriminating wisdom of Am- their restlessness and brings them to a deep itabha sees and loves the differences of all be- state of peace. Amitabha is the meditating ings without the sense of self and other – there Buddha, the central image of Buddhism, repis no exclusive attachment, there is loving ap- resenting the Buddha’s attainment of Enlightpreciation of all beings. Amitabha teaches us enment while in deep meditation under the about non-duality and ego-lessness that can bodhi tree. Amitabha’s hands are in the meditating lead us to insight and to the pure land, Sukhavati. From the passionate lover of one person, mudra, the mudra that expresses the union of we become the loving presence for all beings. opposites: activity and receptivity, the middle Amitabha’s emblem is the lotus – the sym- way, a constant awareness of balanced spiribol of gentleness, openness and receptivity. tual development. It is through the process His element is fire, which consumes and cre- of meditation on Amitabha’s infinite love and ates space. His animal is the peacock which, compassion combined with wisdom which according to legend is capable of swallowing creates a pure land in which we make spiritual poisonous snakes without being harmed. This progress. Contemplating Amitabha, meditating in symbolism of being open even to poison, and transforming it to beauty (the snake nourishes Sukhavati we can look at the personal worlds the peacock’s beautiful plumage) illustrates we create; we can raise our level of consciousthe transformative power of Amitabha’s love ness; we can lovingly shape our world and the worlds of those around us, the worlds of all and compassion. In the realm of the wheel of life, Amitabha beings in which warm rays of love flow from transforms the hungry ghosts – those beings the heart.
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ning. On the top right of the homepage you can browse entries by category and popularity, and it includes a “Beginner’s Guide” link for Zen Habits newbies. There’s some great advice in these entries, and it just may inspire you to make some simple changes in your own life that could have far-reaching effects. Happy browsing! *****************************
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Saddhamala encountered Buddhism at Aryaloka in the summer of 1992. She became a mitra a year later and was ordained in Tuscany, Italy in 2000. Saddhamala is the Women’s Mitra Convenor; she has taught mitra study since she returned from her ordination retreat; she is a member of the Aryaloka Counsel and the Teaching Kula. She has recently offered Dharma Teaching workshops at Aryaloka. When Saddhamala is not at Aryaloka, she offers workshops to Corporations and teaches at Granite State College. Saddhamala is mom to two sons, Adam, who practices law in New York, and Zach, who works in Higher Education at the University of Arizona.
Intro Day Order Day Council meeting Men’s mitra class Women’s mitra class Meditation and puja Solstice celebration
We’ve covered the great offerings at Wildmind in issues past, but the big news this issue is Wildmind’s revamped website - spectacular! Aside from being beautiful design work, the navigation is easy and intuitive, with all the information you could want at your fingertips. Be sure to check out the interactive graphic at the bottom of the home page, which allows you to pick a search term from a rotating globe of words - very cool. Kudos to Wildmind!
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Men’s mitra class Winter Retreat Meditation and puja Men’s mitra class Gong-Ringing and Purification (11:30-a.m.)
JANUARY 1 Meditate for Peace Day
PANDARAVASINI Continued from Page 3
Speech of fire, namer of the world, You bring light to all beings through symbols and doctrines. Yet you only produce the concept ‘All living beings’ In order to love them all. Perfect communication of all the Buddhas, Homage to you. Heart of fire, burning up all craving With the blissful flames of your great love. Your steepled fingers express your ardent devotion For truth itself. Great heart of all the Buddhas, Homage to you. Mind of fire, knower of the world, In the empty crucible of mind’s true nature You mould each individual moment. Yet you bring into existence Nothing at all. Pure perception of all the Buddhas, homage to you.
VOLUME 6, ISSUE III
Upcoming Events (Akasaloka events are listed in italics) OCTOBER 20 24 24-26 27 28 29 31
Men’s mitra class Meditation and puja “From His Greater Lamp” retreat with Nagabodhi Men’s mitra class ANNUAL AUCTION with Nagabodhi Intro evening class begins (7-9 p.m.) Meditation and puja
NOVEMBER 1-2 Order retreat with Nagabodhi 2 Sangha Day (1-4 p.m.) 3 Men’s mitra class 5 Intro evening class 6-9 Yoga and Meditation retreat 6 Women’s mitra class 7 Meditation and puja 8 Intro Day 10 Men’s mitra class 12 Intro evening class 13-15 Non-Violent Communication advanced class 13 Women’s mitra class
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Meditation and puja WORK DAYS Men’s mitra class Intro evening class Women’s mitra class Prison Sangha retreat Meditation and puja Council meeting Men’s mitra class Thanksgiving Potluck Get-Together Meditation and puja
DECEMBER 1 Men’s mitra class 3 Intro evening class 4 Women’s mitra class 5-7 Retreat for Rest and Renewal 5-6 Women’s GFR overnight 7 Men’s event 8 Men’s mitra class 10 Intro evening class 11 Women’s mitra class 12 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 Oct 1, 2008
* "A Vision of Amitabha" by Saddhamala * "Pandaravasini, wise consort of Amitabha" by Viriyagita * Movie Review: "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" by...