VAJRA BELL Volume 7 Issue IV
Amitabha and Reality Getting in Touch with Perfect Vision through the Buddhas By Saddhamala
he practice of Buddhism is the practice of following a path which leads to realization of the truth, a realization of Reality, a realization of one’s own Buddha nature, Enlightenment. The Buddha, after his Enlightenment, spoke of the Noble Eightfold Path in his first discourse. Understanding the Noble Eightfold Path helps us on our spiritual path. It is a guide and a map of our travels along the path which transforms us and helps us understand what an enlightened life is like. The steps of the Noble Eightfold Path include: 1. Vision - Vision of the nature of reality and the path of transformation. 2. Emotion or Aspiration - Right thought or attitude - acting from love and compassion, an informed heart and feeling mind that are free to practice letting go. 3. Speech - Clear, truthful, uplifting, helpful, harmonious and kind. 4. Action - With an ethical foundation based on kindness and nonharm. 5. Livelihood - Correct action with ethical principles. 6. Effort - Vitality, diligence - consciously directing energy toward the transformative path which fosters wholeness. 7. Awareness - Mindfulness of surroundings, oneself, feelings, thoughts, people and reality. 8. Samadhi - Concentration, meditation, absorption, onepointedness. Perfect Vision, the first of the “steps” on the path, represents our initial spiritual insight and experience and sets us on the path
of transformation - transforming our emotions and aspiration, our speech, our actions, the way we work, how we focus our effort, and our mindfulness of our surroundings, ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts, our relationships, and our understanding of reality. Often this insight comes from suffering and understanding that the mundane world does not offer us peace. This vision, this spiritual insight, comes about in different ways. Vision may arise when looking at a stunning sunset, or hearing uplifting music, or viewing a work of art - it may arise at the peak of a mountain top or in a kayak while surrounded by nature - it may arise through meditation. This vision is often experienced as a sense
Aryaloka Buddhist Center 14 Heartwood Circle, Newmarket, NH 03857
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From the Editor By Eric Wentworth For some time now we’ve been looking at the imagery and symbolic meaning behind the Five Jinas and their consorts archetypal reflections of the Buddha and his transcendent qualities. With this series completed, it is time to move from the Buddha, the first of the Three Jewels, to the second Jewel, the Dharma. In this issue we begin our next series, which will take an in-depth look at the Noble Eightfold Path. Saddhamala explains in the main article that after the Buddha’s Enlightenment, the first teaching he offered included the Eightfold Path. This first sermon began with the Four Noble Truths. Suffering is a part of our existence, the Buddha said. This suffering exists due to our cravings and aversions, and our difficulty in letting go of things which are here one second and gone the next, or were never there to begin with. But, he exclaimed, it doesn’t have to be this way. He then prescribed a practical remedy to cure this condition: The Noble Eightfold Path, the way to the end of suffering. A spiritual trail map guiding the way through the rocky,
long, and winding roads of samsara to the shining peak of Enlightenment. The first step on this path is Perfect Vision, and I think it’s a part of the path that we continually come back to, the gaps between our moments of clarity becoming narrower the longer we practice. In every life there are moments of crushing defeat and transcendent illumination in which we catch the tiniest glimpse that the neat and tidy world we have constructed for ourselves - that we know ever so much about - is still a complete mystery. We see that we have not been seeing. In our difficult moments, we see that the foundation underneath the castle that protects our little kingdom is always shifting, and can never be completely stable. In our greatest moments it becomes dramatically apparent how our universe is intimately connected and beautiful, defined by something we can’t even begin to grasp and hold onto. These visions are cumulative, and if we tie them together and see them for the calls to action that they are, the rest of the Eightfold Path becomes a natural outpouring. They become invitations to a flow of transformation in our lives that, by seeing truly, we cannot avoid. May you all find something in this issue that brings Perfect Vision closer and that spurs you forward on your path to the peak.
Musings from the Chair By Dh. Dayalocana This past summer I traveled to England to attend a ten-day meeting with members of the European Chairs Assembly. The meeting was held at Padmaloka, a men’s retreat center in Surlingham, UK. FWBO chairs and people working in centers around the world were invited as guests. Within a few days I had the opportunity to talk with Order members from many centers
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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 Khemavassika email@example.com Vihanasari firstname.lastname@example.org Samayadevi email@example.com Prasannavajri firstname.lastname@example.org
Vajra Bell Kula Eric Wentworth, Chair email@example.com Samayadevi firstname.lastname@example.org Vihanasari email@example.com
including India, Finland, Germany, Holland, Australia, Scotland, and England. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore ideas, assess needs, talk creatively about programs, and share our experiences. There was a deep sense of harmony and cooperation. We had much in common - all of us working to give the Dharma and create opportunities for Buddhist practice in diverse settings around the world. The European Chairs Assembly has contributed a great deal to centers. The past two years they funded Saccanama to create FROM THE CHAIR
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Stephen Sloan firstname.lastname@example.org Suzanne Woodland email@example.com Elizabeth Hellard firstname.lastname@example.org Daniel Bush email@example.com Ashley Bush firstname.lastname@example.org
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How Can You Contribute to the Vajra Bell? As a sangha, one of the most important things we do is to share our individual experiences of the spiritual life. By contributing our own stories to the richly-flavored stew of dharma life that surrounds our center, we create strong connections between each other and strengthen each others’ practices, sometimes without even knowing it. Just by telling another person about something you know or an experience you’ve had, you may provide the missing part to a puzzle that has been unfinished in their mind. You may bring them peace, simply in the knowledge that they are not the only one struggling with an issue. You might say the right word at just the right moment that will alter their lives forever.
With this in mind, if you’ve ever been interested in contributing to the Vajra Bell, this is the time to do it! Have you taken an amazing photo lately? We can use one! Trying your hand at poetry? We’re eager to share one of your poems. If you’ve attended a retreat or event at an FWBO center, we would love to have you write something about it for us. If you have a great website to share, a dharma movie you’re eager to talk about, or a pageturner of a Buddhist book that you have to let everyone know about, let us know! There are so many ways that you can enrich the pages of the Vajra Bell - let your imaginations run wild! So, you say that you’re not a great writer?
Well, now is the chance to challenge that self-view. The Vajra Bell kula has among its volunteers an excellent set of editors to help you on your way. Have an idea, but you’re not sure if it’s prime-time material? Let us know what you’re thinking - it may grow from a seedling thought into a solid story. The important part is to take the leap. You never know what will happen unless you give it a shot, and there may be someone out there just waiting for what you have to say. To contribute, or to suggest an idea for a future issue of the Vajra Bell, you can contact any of the kula volunteers, listed in the contact column on page two of this issue, by email or in person.
at Aryaloka, please contact Sheila Groonell, kula coordinator, at email@example.com. Several people have expressed an interest in joining the Aryaloka Council and are presently observing meetings as they move through the process. The Aryaloka Development Fund recently reported to the Council that last spring’s Mandala of Supporting Friends fund drive resulted in current pledges of $2367 per month to help pay for center expenses. There are 26 new donors and 21 who are continuing past pledges. During the past year, a total of 3,343 volunteer kula hours were donated to center upkeep, with the majority coming from maintenance, fundraising, housekeeping, and grounds. Many thanks to all who have (and continue to!) donated their time and energy to keep the center running smoothly! The recent Gala Italian Dinner fundraiser was a great success, grossing $610 for the center. More importantly, those attending had a wonderful time, sharing great food, great company, and beautiful music! Many thanks to those who worked so hard to make the evening, sponsored by the Council, such a sangha-building success! Look for a repeat next year! Speaking of repeats, a great time was had by all at our second annual end-of-the-
summer sangha picnic, also sponsored by the Council! Many thanks to a large number of folks who donated their considerable time and energy (and delicious food!) to make the day such an enjoyable one (see additional article elsewhere in this issue). Thanks, too, to the Bodhisattva of weather for the beautiful day! The Council voted to offer Dayalocana and Amala a stipend to attend the recent European Chairs Assembly meeting in the UK. This conference gave two of our leaders from Aryaloka a chance to share ideas and information with leaders from centers in the UK and several other world countries. Khemavassika has decided to retire as Aryaloka treasurer after many years and many hours of keeping Aryaloka’s financial records. Many thanks, Khemavassika, for establishing and maintaining such a professional accounting of the financials, developing yearly budgets, sharing your good counsel and advice, and having such a deep and abiding commitment to Aryaloka. You will be missed! Samayadevi has asked for a six-month leave of absence from the Council - she has most recently served as corresponding secretary. The Council will miss her creative ideas and good advice and wishes her well during this break.
The Council By Vihanansari A generous, anonymous donation has made it possible for the Council to authorize the updating of the Aryaloka website. Eric Wentworth will be taking on the project, and suggestions and ideas can be directed to Saddhamala at firstname.lastname@example.org. Financially, Aryaloka ended the past year with a slight surplus, thanks to a last-minute donation, and the Council recently fine-tuned the budget for 2009-2010. At the October meeting, the Council will address the need for some combination of more formal business/marketing/financial/spiritual plans. Examples of practical questions to ask at the beginning of this process could include: What do we want to accomplish? How can we grow our sangha? How can we continue to train teachers to lead classes? How can we best support mitras and those who have asked for ordination? What else can we be doing to meet the needs of those who call Aryaloka their spiritual home? The Council supports the establishment of a new Hospitality Kula whose members could be available to meet visitors/teachers staying at the center, welcome new people to Friends’ Nights, etc. If you are interested in being an important part of the hospitality here
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Sangha Notes - “What’s Happening?” By Suzanne Woodland I have been reflecting recently on the various means of communication that we employ: the written word, the spoken word, gestures and meaningful glances. Then there are the small acts of kindness that express care and concern. There is also regular attendance that demonstrates attention, engagement, and interest. There is that wealth of communication that happens in silence. My dilemma is to convey the richness of the happenings here at Aryaloka when I am limited to the written word. • How does one fully express the joyfulness overflowing the shrine room as three more students of the Dharma - Joyce Hill, Ashley Bush. and Dan Bush - become mitras? Perhaps one describes the roaring of the sadhus or the shower of flower petals. Perhaps one mentions the abundance of cards and gifts. • How does one express the preciousness of the opportunity men had to study the Bodhicharyavatara with Nagabodhi, a
senior Order member from England who has been studying and teaching that text for many years? The Bodhicharyavatara, rich in the poetry and teachings of the Mahayana, forms the basis of the FWBO’s sevenfold puja. Such a gift of teaching was offered over the July 4 weekend and accommodations were made for those who could not join for the entire retreat. • Can one capture in words even a small measure of the shared teachings and warmth that arose out of, and flowed from, the women’s practice day with Karunadevi in July? Simply explaining that the subject of the day was the development of lovingkindness for oneself and all living beings is insufficient. • Life stories shared among friends on warm summer evenings - such was the opportunity for self-exploration and deepening friendships available to the women mitras. Vulnerability and intimacy entwined. Men’s friendship with the mitra sangha deepened in the course of continued regular study of the Noble Eightfold Path in its many aspects. • Sudakani and Vajralila, Order members from England, energized the worship section of the August full moon puja with drumming and other accompaniment during the chanting
of the Green Tara mantra. The following day they explored “The Sacred Feminine” with reflection and movement. • The beauty of the body as it breathes in and out though the yoga postures - such beauty could have been witnessed in August during the yoga and meditation retreat led by Amala and Lily Sibley. Later, in August, there were four days of silence and extended meditation practice on the summer stillness retreat led by Amala and Suryadhamma, helping to further nurture the inherent beauty of the mind. • The enthusiasm and interest in the subject of karma and rebirth that has been studied during Tuesday’s Sangha evenings can perhaps be expressed by the good attendance of many of our Tuesday participants in spite of vacations and the usual activities of summer. Karunasara and Surakshita have been ably assisting Amala in her teaching responsibilities. So too has there been sustained interest in the Noble Eightfold Path that has been offered by Arjava and Suzanne also on Tuesday evenings. Please join us (or continue to join us) in practice here at Aryaloka so that you can have the full experience and not just this inadequate written summary.
News from Nagaloka By Gail Yahwak Once again the seasons are changing here in New England. We can see impermanence and change with our eyes on the colored leaves and feel the chill in the air with our bodies. Here at Nagaloka fall is coming as we are finishing up our study of The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path by Sangharakshita. Dharmasuri and Maitrimani have done a beautiful job leading us through each step on the path with open group discussions on how we can use these teachings to shape our practice and ultimately our lives. Thank you so much for all your hard work and gentle guidance. • Dharmasuri has just finished up another Intro to Buddhism and Meditation class with some wonderfully inspiring new faces.
Another new intro class will begin on October 13th at 7:00 p.m., continuing on Tuesday nights. • Nagabodhi came to visit us over the summer and led an informative evening on the topic of Sangharakshita’s forming of the FWBO and the WBO. Dayanandi was here in September to speak with us about mindfulness, what it feels like and how it can be useful to us in our daily routines. Thank you very much to both of them as it is so nice to welcome visiting Order members as they share their ideas and practices with us. • Our next Wednesday evening study, to begin soon, will be part of the FWBO Dharma Training Course. We will cover several of the topics in the course over the next several months, starting with ethics. We are looking forward to this topic as it
always opens up lively discussion as to what is “right” and “wrong” in a Buddhist outlook. Also in October we are looking forward to a day retreat led by Ashokashri on “Making Life Meaningful, From Survival to Joy” on Saturday, October 17th. • Sudakini and Vajralila (visiting from the UK) led a day retreat on Aug 15th on Sangharakshita’s “System of Meditation.” You can keep an eye out for more upcoming events on our website at www. Nagalokabuddhistcenter.org. Be sure to check out our calendar pages and our Special Events section. Our regular meditation sessions are Wednesday at 7:00 pm, Thursday at 12:15 pm and 6:30 pm, Friday at 6:00 pm, and Sunday at 9:00 am.
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News from the Concord Sangha Discovering the Magic of Imagination in Metta Bhavana Meditation By Richard Cormier The yard behind my parents’ house holds a special magic for me. Simply closing my eyes and remembering some of its various events can instantly change my mood. One of my favorite memories is of the time... ... I’m leaning against the gate of the fence that encircles the backyard. An ordinary doghouse sits to the rear of the lot. It appears empty, but I know that it’s not. Several weeks ago Goldie gave birth to four beautiful puppies. They are in the doghouse hiding from the afternoon sun. I feel a cool breeze brush my hair and then the distinctive sound of the rear door of the house being opened. My Mom comes out carrying a bag of dog food hugged tightly to her chest. When she closes the door, the sound of the dinner bell rings, and the puppies begin a frenzied escape from their quarters. This reminds me of a comical scene from the “Three Stooges,” where Moe, Larry, Curly, and Shemp are all trying to get through a door at the same time. These canine stooges scratch and wrestle their way free, then charge directly toward my mother. It’s all she can do to navigate her way through this horde of yapping, jumping, and nipping assailants. Trying not to step on them, she loses her balance and down she goes. The pups seize this opportunity. In a coordinated attack they jump on her, lick her face, and eagerly munch up the few morsels of food which have spilled from the bag. She tries to get to her feet - no chance. She tries to keep the bag closed and fight them off, an equally futile attempt, because during her useless struggles, she is laughing so hard she can barely move. The puppies continue to yap, paw, jump, and lick her face and eventually she gives up and opens the bag. My mouth hurts because my smile is so big. The Metta Bhavana contains the power of transformation. I became intrigued by the descriptions of its potential to create more
peace and happiness, not only personally, but in my relationships. Saying the phrase, “May I be happy, may I be joyful, may I be loving, may I be peaceful,” I began to seek its power. Day after day, week in and week out, for months, I said the words without much of a change. Was my method flawed? On reading Vision and Transformation, my understanding of the true spiritual practice changed forever. Sangharakshita says, “There really is no spiritual life unless the emotions are engaged.” Interesting. So how do I engage the emotions? The solution for me turned out to be mental imagery. Memories and emotions go hand in hand. Negative memories carry with them negative emotions, while positive memories bring positive emotions. First, I made a list of the happiest events of my life. Then, when I was seated in meditation and settled into breath, I brought up the memory of a positive event. I tried to remember every detail possible: what I saw, what I could hear, smell, or even taste, anything that would make the image become more and more alive. As I concentrated upon the picture I created, I could feel myself begin to smile. And, as I began to recite my phrase, I truly felt happy, joyful, loving, and peaceful. All because of a memory, a context which I had for these positive emotions. The scales began to tip, and soon my overall outlook began to change. The scowl I carried began to transform into a smile. My interactions with others became less stressful and aggressive. I was much more at ease, happier and peaceful. As with anything we experience, sometimes we lose the initial “flavor” we first experienced. In order to avoid that, I may change the image to keep it fresh. At times, I am the one being mauled by puppies. Or maybe I’ll remember a beach scene, feeling the peacefulness and openness come into my mind. The imagination is capable of anything. With effort and mindfulness, I can even carry these images in my “toolbox,” summoning them whenever I want. I am now able to transform feelings of stress, frustration, or boredom into a smile, just by remembering the joy upon my mother’s face. It’s magic!
News from the Boston Sangha By Sunada August was a busy month for visitors at the Boston sangha. First, we had Vajralila and Sudakini, two women from the UK who are spending several months in the US. They gave a thought-provoking talk on Sangharakshita’s “System of Meditation,” which came just as we were about to launch into our study series on meditation. Thank you, Vajralila and Sudakini! Then we had Bodhana and Khemavassika come two weeks in a row. Bodhana talked on the first week about his work with the Khanti Outreach Project, giving us a sense of how the movement works to spread the dharma outside of the context of typical centers and retreats. The following week, they led the study on meditation. Thank you, Bodhana and Khemavassika. We always appreciate it when you come down! Since then we’ve been exploring more deeply into our practice of the Metta Bhavana. While it’s always good to read about and discuss meditation, it helps to stop and work more directly on our practice from time to time. We’ll do more of that, interspersed with our reading and study, in the future.
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.
A Perfect Summer Picnic at Aryaloka with Thanks to Many By Jean Corson A Festival of Celebration and Gratitude held on Sunday, August 30th, from 1 pm to 3 pm, found many of our sangha brothers, sisters, families, and friends enjoying a beautiful end-of-summer afternoon together. The lawn party was sponsored by the Council. This wonderful potluck BBQ filled the tables with delicious summer treats, salads, noshes, and drinks. Veggie dogs and burgers with all the trimmings flew off the grill as fast as Brian could cook them! Vidhuma served as “air traffic controller,” making sure everything was ready. And by coordinating the potluck, Saddhamala made sure there were good things for us to eat. Vihanasari and others led games for the children (big and little) including three-legged races, sack races, apple bobbing, and an egg and spoon race. The colorful decorations were created by Kiranada and Debby. Dayalocana announced the names of those who served on Kulas throughout the year, expressing her gratitude for all who have given time and effort to take care of our wonderful “Noble Realm.” The 250 bejewelled award ribbons made by Sheila and Amala adorned our shirts after the ceremony. A big thanks to all who helped organize the day. And when it was all done, Prasannavajri and crew cleaned up and made sure our beautiful picnic spot was perfect again.
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Kula Corner By Sheila Groonell Fall has always been a season of new beginnings for me. Spring, of course, brings a giddy renewal of life to so many things. The cold releases its grip. Trees bud. Animals have their babies. Flowers poke through the earth. Joy abounds. Fall is its own time of crisp awakening. The riot of New England color seems to signal, “Attention! Another turn of the wheel at hand! Time to recommit to internal growth.” When I was young the beginnings centered on school, new books, new teachers, new configurations of acquaintances. But, there was always anxiety mixed with the excitement. Now the fall awakenings are more peaceful. Now, knowing some Dharma, the awakenings are more internal. Now, with our spiritual teachers and friends, we recollect at Aryaloka to go deeper, deeper into our selves, deeper into the Dharma, to awaken to deepest reality. We prepare ourselves for our individual meditation with our own selection of signals - candles, incense, chants, readings - whatever works. Thus, we demonstrate to our bodies, minds, and hearts, “This is important for me. I value this practice. I am committed to going deeper. Here and now I sit for my own benefit and the benefit of the world.” Similarly, by working with sangha members on an Aryaloka kula, we signal
to our bodies, minds and hearts, “Aryaloka is important for me. I value my spiritual home. I am committed to going deeper. Here and now I offer my service for my own benefit, the benefit of my sangha, and the benefit of the world.” Thus, we EMBODY our commitment to awakening in the here and now. Please consider taking advantage of this opportunity for internal renewal and commitment that the fall brings. Could you demonstrate to yourself your own commitment to the Dharma, to your own growth and to Aryaloka by offering an hour or more a month to an Aryaloka kula? The kulas that are currently in serious need of your help include: the Garden Kula (for putting the garden to bed for the winter, but no time needed during the winter), the Cleaning Kula, the Special Events Kula (the auction is coming up fast and needs many hands to make this work light!), and for those technologically aware, the Technology Kula. Please contact me, Sheila Groonell, in person, by phone (603-778-7522), or by email (email@example.com) to offer your commitment to Aryaloka and the Dharma. We exist through the generosity of your efforts. I am honored and grateful to be able to offer you this opportunity. LOVE to all, always, and may all beings be happy. Your friend in the Dharma, - Sheila
Invitation to Join Other Practitioners on Puja Evenings By Stephen Sloan
In the Dhammapada the Buddha says, “He who reveres those worthy of reverence, the Buddhas and their disciples, - who have transcended all obstacles and passed beyond the reach of sorrow and lamentation — he who reveres such peaceful and fearless ones, his merit none can compute by any measure.” Dhp 195196
Once a month, on the Friday evening closest to the full moon, we have the opportunity to join with others in our sangha to “revere those worthy of reverence.” It is difficult to understate the potential benefits to be gained by this activity. In Ritual and Devotion Sangharakshita says, “[In the Puja] we are recognizing that the ideal is something very much higher than we are. We see the gulf that
exists between us and it, a gulf we will have to cross if we want to realize that ideal.” Bhante suggests that puja is one way to help bridge that gulf. If Bhante and the Buddha have inspired you to try out the benefits of puja, please join us for puja and meditation starting at 7:00 PM on the Fridays each month closest to the full moon. Coming up, those include October 2nd, November 6th and December 2nd.
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Buddhaworks: From the Bookstore
By Stephen Sloan
By Steve Cardwell
“Kundun” (1997), 135 minutes, PG-13, Available on Netflix
There is a new book in the bookstore that you might find inspirational. It was published in April of 2008.
This is the story about his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who was forced into exile in India in 1959, nine years after China’s invasion of Tibet. The film is brilliantly directed by Martin Scorsese who brings real warmth and feeling to a biographical account of the Dalai Lama’s early years, culminating in his leaving Tibet. We see the young Kundun (an affectionate address for the Dalai Lama) selecting the implements of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama, as he is identified as his successor. As the film progresses, Kundun matures both in age and learning. Later we feel the growing tension as the Chinese invade Tibet putting the Dalai Lama’s life at risk. The film is marked by its gorgeous cinematography and excellent score. The closing scene is especially poignant as we share the Dalai Lama’s sadness at leaving Tibet, recognizing that all who helped him escape from the Chinese government would probably be killed for their efforts. This is an important film for anyone wishing to understand the situation in Tibet.
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
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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“A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture.’ Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy? “When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave - ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’ - wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others,
of seizing every moment (because ‘time is all you have... and you may find one day that you have less than you think’). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. “In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and gave it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.” - Editorial review We also have some wonderful new journals from Paper Blanks that are quite beautiful. Some of the journals have lines and some are unlined for the artists among us. There is also a beautiful 2010 calendar with pictures from Tibet that you will enjoy and can use now as there are some 2009 months included. You will see some of the amazing pictures of the calendar on the upstairs bulletin board. More calendars will be coming in November, and we have many books by our teacher, Sangharakshita, available in the store. As always, we forever appreciate the support you deliver to the bookstore which benefits programs and facilities at Aryaloka.
Library News By Samayadevi
in solitary retreat and then was convinced to “teach and transmit to others the precious There is something about libraries that just teachings you have received.” He married, invites browsing. It seems to call for curling became the father of two daughters, and up on a comfy couch, perhaps with a cup of went to live in Bhutan after fleeing Tibet in tea, and perusing this book and then that book, the 1950s. He was known and beloved for before actually choosing which one (or ones) his unfailing kindness and compassion and to take home for a while. That may be hard to wisdom. His life is inspiring, even today, for do in a public library, but it is an invitation in those of us living in the West. But enough! Please go have a look for our loft library. I am often amazed at the depth of our yourself… and discover the other new books collection, and still happy to see it growing. up there. I know the Kindle is gaining in We have been given two gift certificates to popularity, but there is nothing like holding a Barnes and Noble from groups that have real book in your hands and quietly, mindfully come to Aryaloka and we are beginning to put opening to what is offered there. And who them to use. One of the additions is a lovely knows - after having the book at home for a autobiography of one of Sangharakshita’s few weeks, there is always the possibility of “teachers of the present,” Dilgo Khyentse buying it and having it in your own library. Rinpoche: Brilliant Moon. He spent 20 years Some books are simply worth keeping.
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Online In-Site - This Issue’s Featured Website By Eric Wentworth
Generally when we hear the word “online” we think of websites, but the internet has become such a ubiquitous driving force in so many varied areas of our lives, that “online” now means much more than that. Most of the media that we are connected to on a daily basis has some online component. This issue, I’d like to focus on one form of media in particular, the podcast. With the rise of the iPod, podcasts have become a popular way to receive all kinds of audio content that is specifically geared towards niche interests, and Buddhism is no exception. Search for Buddhism in your iTunes store podcast section, and you’ll turn up a hefty number of podcasts from many different traditions and Buddhist subgenres. Many of them offer a weekly dose of Dharma from popular teachers. Some, like the Tricycle Magazine podcast, add to the material available in their publications. And some others are simply groups of Buddhists conducting interviews and discussing the Dharma from their own perspective. Here are a few that I have found to be particularly interesting.
Buddhist Geeks available on iTunes
The Interdependence Project available on iTunes
As a bit of a Buddhist geek myself, I appreciate the perspective that this podcast takes in weaving Buddhism and modern life together, seeing where they can blend and where they don’t work. Their self-professed goal is to combine “ancient wisdom with modern technology.” We exist at this strange nexus point in time where both western Buddhism and the digital age are in their infancy. How these two often polarized pursuits will settle out is still unknown, and it’s important to address what it means to be Buddhist in a perpetually tunedin consumer culture like ours. This podcast is also particularly geared toward young Buddhists, their unique questions, and how they experience the Buddhist tradition from their own worldview. It asks the question, “As yet another generational wave of dharma practitioners begins to take the stage, how should ancient traditions and teachings be carried smoothly into yet another culture and time?” Some of the talk titles include, “Enlightenment 2.0,” “Dharma Music Can Sound Like Anything,” and “Reflections on 21st Century Dharma.” The website connected to the podcast is at http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/236buddhist-geeks
If you’re the kind of person who really works with questions of how to bring your practice into your life, this podcast is for you. The Interdependence Project podcast grew out of a wider-reaching, New York City-based organization that works to apply Buddhist practice to arts, ecology, activism, and community service. The audio content explores “meditation practice and Buddhist-inspired philosophy in the context of being alive, creative, and politically conscious in the 21st century.” Topical issues and fundamental Buddhist concepts are met with a relaxed approach, and the talks look at how we can put forth effort to make our practice seamlessly work within the context of our lives. The website connected to the podcast is at http://www.theidproject.org/
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
Free Buddhist Audio available on iTunes That’s right! Free Buddhist Audio has a podcast too! For those of you not familiar with the Free Buddhist Audio site, it’s an excellent resource ONLINE IN-SITE
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Sharing Life Stories with My Mitra Sisters By Ashley Bush They came to my home bearing brownies, smiles, and hugs. On the night that I was to share my life story with my mitra sisters, I was a bit nervous. I had never actually sat with a group of women (or any group for that matter) and recounted my life from birth to present. It felt a bit daunting, actually. But this is what we had been doing throughout the summer. Ten of us had volunteered to share our stories – about half of us on the porch at Aryaloka and the other half of us in our own living rooms. Some focused on the thread of the spiritual journey or the thread of relationships. Others used turning points, unforgettable moments, or chronological highlights to guide the process. Many of us shared photographs from times long ago. There were tears . . . and laughter . . . and nods of understanding. And as each story unfolded, we as listeners sat mesmerized, honoring the journey, deepening the friendships. So when my turn came, though I felt slightly nervous, I was excited to share myself with this extraordinary group of women. I wanted to recount with others on the same dharmic path the truth of my joys, struggles and lessons. I knew that I could be safely transparent. And so it was. As I spoke and as they listened attentively and completely, I felt a lightness in being. As I revealed myself, I felt a comfort in being received with radical acceptance. The details of our lives so different, and yet our human experiences so universal. I was touched both by the gift of listening and the gift of telling. What a marvel, our disparate lives woven into the gentle web of summer’s shared life stories. We are all enriched.
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What Happened A Year Ago? I Was Be-Side Myself... Part One in the Story of Prasannavajri’s Ordination By Prasannavajri Ordination is the culmination of thousands upon thousands of moments of ever-deepening levels of commitment. It is a dramatic, profound, and inspired leap outside one’s conditions into a realm of saying a resounding yes! Like Goethe, we have come to know first hand that, “Until one is committed there is the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness.” Like Goethe, we have long since crossed that invisible line into a transparency and freedom within ourselves. “Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans! - that the moment one commits oneself, then providence moves too.” Providence provided me with Akashavana, the WBO Women’s Retreat Center in the hills of Spain. My journal chronicles the events of what happened a year ago.... On October 15th, we four flew through the night into tomorrow, landing at the Barcelona International Airport in mid-afternoon. The
following morning we met with others traveling to Akashavana at the train station - a great little reunion that ignited one’s anticipation and excitement. The train traveled along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for a while before heading inland to Tortosa, where we disembarked and caught a bus to Valderrobres. At Valderrobres we were met by the Support Team who packed us all in two large sturdy 4x4 vehicles and off we went. We travelled through Penarroya, the last little town before our five-mile gravelly isolated climb into the hills to Akashavana. The higher we went, the more awe-inspiring was the scenery, with staggering monoliths of bare rock piercing the sky. We disembarked and rounded a bend in the road on foot, and there it was: beautiful, breathtaking, Akashavana. The entire 270 acres blanketed the top of a rugged mountain where one experienced vastness in every direction. All around one, inside and outside, was the element of extraordinary spaciousness and beauty. In the realm of Akashavana, I could ORDINATION
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Upcoming Events with Ashokashri By Dh. Dayalocana
1985, along with Sanghadevi and Vidyasri, she began the women’s ordination process, Dharmacharini Ashokashri will be which resulted in Tiratanaloka Retreat Center staying at Aryaloka from September till being set up. mid-December. This is a gift for all of us. Ashokashri is arriving in time for the Ashokashri was ordained by Sangharakshita Dharmacharini retreat, the Private Preceptors’ in 1980. She has taught meditation and retreat and the retreat for women who are Buddhism for over 30 years! She has had a preparing to join the Order. She has been broad experience of centers and possibilities involved in the women’s Going For Refuge in the FWBO. Just to mention a few things process in the US since 2000. After the - she lived in communities and was involved retreats are finished - October 4th - she will in team-based right livelihood for 16 years, be enthusiastically participating in events at in Croydon, then with Windhorse: Evolution. Aryaloka. She will stay at Aryaloka for three For many years she was a mitra convener and months and then spend two months in San was involved with organizing and leading ASHOKASHRI retreats for women nationally in the UK. In Continued on Page 16
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Arts at Aryaloka Presents “Faces of Buddha” By Kiranada Arts at Aryaloka is exceedingly pleased to welcome a stunning exhibition to our center this fall. “The Faces of Buddha,” by Lowell artist Virginia Peck, will hang at Aryaloka from October 8th to November 30th. Thirteen giclée prints on canvas of the meditating Buddha will be included. Surprisingly full of patterned texture, they show a patina of age that speaks of impermanence and Virginia Peck timelessness, while glowing like an antique artifact from an Asian temple. “Virginia Peck is an artist whose work engages the viewer at a strongly visceral level. Her paintings are vividly colorful and luminous with an underlying texture.....with a haunting, surreal quality to many of them … [called] startlingly beautiful, they do not easily release your attention,” Cliff Hauptman, editor of the Brandeis Review, reported. “The Faces of Buddha” exhibition has been presented at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Alpers Fine Arts Gallery, Andover MA and throughout New England; and reviewed in the Boston Globe and Artscope Magazine. Peck is the “Official Kripalu Artist” with a permanent display of her work at Kripalu Yoga and Health Center in Lenox, MA. Speaking of her work, she says, “I’m a very spiritual person… and Buddhism speaks to me the most of the different religions. One day… sitting in meditation, the proverbial light bulb went off. I could paint the face of the Buddha! An electric shock went through me. It was like being called. That’s what I was meant to do.” While “struggling to find purpose and meaning” in her life, she had it. Educated at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Virginia worked as a freelance illustrator for years, exhibiting her landscape paintings and book arts, before finding her recent focus. She exhibits
with Newbury Fine Arts in Boston and is represented by Keeping Still Mountain Press, Andover MA. We look forward to meeting Virginia Peck at an Arts Evening, November 20th, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., when we will have an opportunity to speak with this special artist and enjoy some music and poetry by our talented Aryaloka community. The works are available for sale and benefit Aryaloka. A selection of smaller paper prints will also be in Buddhaworks for those interested.
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Photo by Gabriel Branbury
The 2009 Men’s GFR Retreat attendees (left to right): Gabriel Branbury, Stephen Parks Bell, Shantinayaka,Viradhamma,Vajramati, Zoltan Molnar, Steve Wade, Vidhuma, Narottama, Chris Eyer, Mike Osgood, Stephen Sloan, Ethan Davidson, Surakshita, Alokadhara, Peter Kurisoo, Tony Paine, Dhammarati, Tom Allyn, Doug Chan, Danakamala, and Eric Wentworth (also Buddha, who oversaw the picture-taking from the rock in back). Not pictured are Candradasa and Suddhayu.
Reflections on the Men’s GFR Retreat By Eric Wentworth
This being my first Going for Refuge Retreat, and honestly my first retreat of any length whatsoever (really!), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived at Aryaloka for ten days. I worried about the amount of time I would spend in meditation and whether I would be up for it. I was unsure if I’d be able to take the intensity of discussion and practice, surrounded by so many seasoned practitioners. I didn’t know if I could handle being away from my wife and daughter for so long - would we all survive a week away? But there was nothing to do but jump in, so I plopped my backpack down on my bunk, took a deep breath, and said to myself, “Away we go!” Turns out I had the time of my life. It took a couple of days for me to come down from the hectic pace of daily life, but seriously, it was like Disney World for this Buddhist. Toward the end of the retreat, when I had completely forgotten what day it was and the outside world seemed a distant memory,
it reminded me a bit of the accounts of Shangri-La in the book Lost Horizon that I read as a boy - a mystical, happy place in the Himalayas where time stands still. I found that I love the rigor of heavy practice and experiencing the Dharma with serious practitioners, and I even adore facing my own demons. Given the mental space to look at life - I mean really look - my days turned into weeks and the tiniest flourish of the world around me captured meaning. This is not to say that everything was easy, but it was just the right bit of difficult. The theme of the retreat this year was “With Loyalty to my Teachers,” based on one of the acceptance verses taken during Ordination. We were lucky to have Dhammarati, a member of the Preceptors’ College, leading the retreat, with the help of many Order members who were kind enough to share their wisdom and experience with all of us. The program focused on the nature of our relationship to our Buddhist teachers, specifically the lineage of teaching and tradition passed down to us from
Sangharakshita. It was a comprehensive discussion about what our particular tradition of practice encompasses, why it is laid out in this way, working the relationships between ourselves and those we learn from, and our own place in the lineage of teaching. Twenty-seven men were in attendance at one point in the retreat. Quite an amazing crowd, it included Order members and GFR mitras from all over North America and from overseas. Twelve Order members were there to support our practice, including Dhammarati, Viradhamma, Vidhuma, Bodhipaksa, Surakshita, Narottama, Shantinayaka, Vajramati, Danakamala, Alokadhara, Candradasa, and Suddhayu. Many GFR mitras came from our centers in New Hampshire, San Francisco, New York, and Montana. Of these, there were three new additions to the Ordination process: Zoltan Molnar, Peter Kurisoo from Montana, and myself, for whom this was a first-time event. MEN’S GFR RETREAT
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Our days were straightforwardly scheduled with breaks interspersed. Wake up in silence for a double sit in the morning. Then breakfast. Morning discussion focused on the prostration practice. Then we went to the shrine room to put prostration into practice, followed by a walking meditation and another sit before lunchtime. Later, we split up into groups to cover topics in a smaller setting. Finally, dinner, then individual Order members would give a talk on the theme. Then we would end the evening with a Seven-fold Puja, followed by overnight silence. The routine provided a very balanced backdrop for practice, exploration of the topics, and getting to know each other. There were many chances to build strong friendships along the way. All of us worked in the kitchen at some point, and for those of us who love to cook, it was a great opportunity to spend time with our master chef, Danakamala. With his calm demeanor and sparkling sense of humor, he churned out delicious delectables and
Dharma for all of us. I spent time with him making Irish Soda bread at the beginning of the retreat, and because I was moving too fast, I unmindfully misread the recipe, forgetting important ingredients like salt, baking powder, and baking soda. You know, just the things that make bread rise and taste good. Danakamala just grinned and said, “Don’t get excited.” It was his words I heard in my head for the rest of the retreat as I struggled with the ingredients of my meditation practice. Even with many people in the kitchen at a time, things ran smoothly and efficiently. As Stephen Sloan said at one point, “The Buddha would approve. We’re blending like milk and water.” I also had many opportunities to really visit with some of the other Order members, particularly those that are local, which was a real joy. Talks with Narottama yielded wonderful ideas on balancing family and practice, Vidhuma’s kind advice helped me to see how to strengthen my meditation practice and get it out to where the rubber meets the road, Surakshita inspired me with discussions about mythic imagery and the experience of being ordained, and Viradhamma drew for
me the parallel between my creative process and meditation. There were also plenty of chances to challenge myself and my self-views. The second day I was there, Dhammarati sidled up to Zoltan and I and asked us if we’d be up for telling our life stories the next night. Well, for a guy who has a hard time keeping a clear head and relaxed composure when speaking in front of people at all, this was a horrifying prospect to me. But, I certainly wasn’t going to say no. I got even more nervous when the next morning Dhammarati came up again and said, “By the way, I know it’s an almost impossible task, but if you could stretch it out to about twenty minutes, that would be great.” So, with my short chicken-scratch notes and another deep breath, that night I stepped up to a podium in front of all those guys and winged it as best I could. And it wasn’t so bad! Score one against self-views. The talks each night were spectacular and very rich. Dhammarati started off the series with a look at the Cetokhila Sutta and the Five Wildernesses of the Heart, which MEN’S GFR RETREAT
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The Cetokhila Sutta and the Wildernesses of the Heart By Vidhuma Studying the teachings of the historical Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha, is an important aspect of living the life of a serious Buddhist practitioner. All the Buddha’s teachings and discourses are instructive and inspiring. Many hundreds of episodes of the Buddha teaching his followers, giving discourse, and meeting a variety people are described in the Pali Canon, the writings that have been passed down to us describing the Buddha’s life and teachings of twenty-five hundred years ago. Order members and mitras regularly read and study these teachings, or suttas, as they are termed in Pali, the ancient language in which they were written. At the recent retreat for women Order members, and also at the retreat for men mitras who are preparing for ordination, one particular sutta was the focus of study: the Cetokhila Sutta. Cetokhila has been translated as “wilderness of the heart.” By wilderness is meant a place where cultivated crops cannot
be grown or harvested. Another translation is barren place. And by heart is meant a combination of mind and heart. Thus, this sutta is using the metaphor of a barren place in the mind/heart where nothing beneficial to spiritual growth can take place. What are these barren places or wildernesses in the heart? The Buddha explains five of these. He describes them as places in one’s heart that are that are “doubtful, uncertain, undecided, and unconfident” in the Teacher, in the Teachings (the Dharma), in the spiritual community (the Sangha), in the training (methods of practice), and a powerful fifth “wilderness” of anger and displeasure “with companions in the holy life, resentful and callous towards them.” He states that for anyone who has not abandoned these five qualities, significant spiritual progress is impossible. As he customarily does in the suttas, the Buddha goes on to explain in more detail just why this is so. Leading a spiritual life is incompatible with these four doubts and with resentment toward companions because
they make it impossible to incline the heart or mind toward ardor, toward devotion, toward perseverance, and toward striving. A heart filled with doubts and resentment cannot be a heart that can come to spiritual growth, spiritual increase, and fulfilment. A spiritual life cannot sustain itself without ardor, without devotion, without perseverance, and without striving. This is a crucial understanding. Unresolved doubts can limit us, hold us back. They rob us of energy and enthusiasm. Living out our spiritual beliefs requires great effort and energy, and steady perseverance. The message here is the importance of examining these kind of doubts and resolving them. The same is true of resentments toward our companions in our spiritual life. Attempting to live with these doubts and resentments unresolved will work against our spiritual growth. If we do not work to assuage our doubts and transform our resentments our hearts become barren wildernesses where nothing fruitful can grow.
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12-Step Recovery and Buddhism A Comparison Between Two Systems for Conquering Craving By Barry S. Timmerman I have been in recovery from addiction for 27 years. The path I have followed has been diverse. Many elements, influences and serendipitous events have been part of this journey, which will continue for a lifetime. Two primary paradigms have provided the basis for ideas and actions that make up my daily practice - traditional 12-step recovery, specifically the 12 steps as developed by
the founding fathers of AA, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith - and Buddhism, specifically the ecumenical approach practiced by the FWBO and developed by its founder, Sangharakshita. As my practice and study has deepened, I have come to recognize many similarities between 12-Step recovery and Buddhism. The primary purpose of these writings is to make a more in-depth exploration of these commonalities. As a substance abuse
counselor, I am committed to helping others discover the path to recovery that works best for them. It is important, in doing this work, not to make the assumption that what works for one will work for another. I want to have a well-stocked toolbox, so to speak - a menu of options that those for whom I provide support for can take for a test drive. The metaphor of a vehicle as a means 12-STEP
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of transformation and generativity is useful. Buddhism is sometimes thought of, metaphorically, as a raft that carries one from conditioned reality to unconditioned reality or enlightenment. Once one becomes enlightened, the raft is left behind. In 12-Step recovery, there are metaphorical references that allude to movement from addiction to sobriety, which may, in some measure, be a bit like going from conditioned reality to enlightenment, but in a less encompassing sense. Expressions like, “You have to walk your talk” and “You have to use the steps, the elevator is broken,” refer to the difficult work of obtaining recovery through the actual practice of the 12-Steps. Buddhism is certainly about practice and about putting the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path into action in daily living. And so begins the comparison. Let’s start with the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha taught these truths 2,500 years ago: • • • •
We all suffer The cause of suffering is craving and attachment Suffering can end Practicing The Eightfold Path is the way to the end of suffering and the attainment of enlightenment
AA says the root of the problem is addiction. The way to recovery from addiction is following the 12 steps. The first simple comparison is a recognition that there is a path to follow to move from a place of suffering. For Buddhists this means suffering caused by craving and attachment. For 12-step programs, this means, more specifically, addiction to alcohol or other drugs. One may argue that, ignoring what we know about the physiology of addiction, use of addictive substances is one more example in a long list of ways in which we beings attach to and crave physical and/ or mental phenomena. To be more specific
As is often said in AA, “Keep coming, it works if you work it.” In Buddhism, often heard is, “Keep sitting and just notice what happens.” in the commonalities, the Fifth Precept in Buddhism states, “We shall abstain from the use of intoxicants.” The idea being that a clouded mind cannot obtain enlightenment or even effectively practice the elements of meditation, reflective thinking, Right Concentration, and Right Awareness. 12-step programs are abstinence-based. The first step states, “We admitted that we are powerless over our addictions and that our lives have become unmanageable.” Bill Wilson wrote in the 12 and 12, a book which lays out the 12 steps, “Half measures will avail us nothing.” This same concept is expressed in many Buddhist texts, going all the way back to the Buddha himself. AA refers frequently to the idea that alcoholism causes the person suffering from it to experience a delusion that their situation is unique, nobody understands me, nobody feels this pain as intensely as I, and no one has these thoughts. This state is also characterized by grandiosity, blaming others, severe resentments, self-loathing, and a constant search to fulfill unfullfillable needs. The “ISM” in alcoholism is often referred to as “I, Self, Me.” Much of recovery is about confronting this delusion of uniqueness, developing humility, and doing service for others, what AA calls “Becoming right sized.” Buddhism refers to the delusion of self, the idea that our perceptions of separateness are part of a conditioning that keeps us from experiencing unconditioned reality. From
a Buddhist perspective there is no “self.” There is only conditioned co-production, a metaphysical phenomena of energies that manifest in thoughts and actions, which most humans define as self, self that is separate from other, self that suffers due to attachment and craving. AA says it is a program of attraction, rather than promotion. The basis for this wisdom is an understanding that the motivation to seek this path of recovery must come from within, not from the external influence of others. The technique of Motivational Interviewing, currently a best practice in addiction counseling, is rooted in this understanding. An external higher authority may have influence initially, but in the long run, changes made from an internal self-directed value system tend to be more profound and longer lasting. Buddhism subscribes to a similar concept. The challenge for any person seriously pursuing a Buddhist practice is to realize, through mindfulness and insight, that no external higher authority is responsible for the path of transformation. This transformation is entirely the responsibility of the individual, who may be on the path of enlightenment. As is often said in AA, “Keep coming, it works if you work it.” In Buddhism, often heard is, “Keep sitting and just notice what happens.” Some folks have issues with other folks who devote time to just sitting and meditating. What is the merit in such an action-less activity? Many folks take issue with AA members who attend AA meetings on a daily basis. They often claim AA members are just trading one addiction for another. Most addicts drank and or drugged every day. Going to a 12-step meeting every day is certainly less harmful to self, family and society than the alternative. Meditating every day may seem like a waste of time to the uninitiated. The transformational benefits of a daily meditation practice are often subtle, and ultimately profound. Practicing the 12steps produces similar subtle and profound changes as well.
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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not separate the interrelationship between inner and outer - they were one and the same. From beginning to end, the depth and spiritual diversity of the ordination program was more than exquisite. I loved the double morning sits, the six-element practice, and the sound of gravel underfoot as we silently walked the path to and from the shrine framed by beautiful vistas to one’s side. The path had its own ethos that created a palpable feeling of continually “going forth.” I came to feel, as never before, the literal “leap” into authentic liberation afforded by the confession process. Every talk given by Order members was
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Francisco. I know you will enjoy getting to know Ashokashri. You will see her at events at Aryaloka - at evening classes, Tuesday Friends’ Night where she will be giving three talks, and she will also lead two retreats: Sangha Night Talks - Ways to Insight November - Open to all
Insight in Buddhism is not just a cognitive experience. It can arise in meditation and also in the midst of our everyday life. I shall explore three different ways to develop our insight, using different faculties and experiences. All lead us closer to the Buddha’s Perfection of Wisdom and Compassion. Talk 1 - The Nature of Existence - Nov. 10 Talk 2 - Imagination and Myth - Nov. 17
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dharmically filled with personal witness and inspiration. Every puja was so exquisitely and creatively sculpted in the pristine rock of the Three Jewels. The puja to Bhante Sangharakshita was outstanding. And, I must admit, I loved the Spanish coffee... and the meals... and the sweet treats... beautifully served by our beloved cook! And, the renderings of service from the support team were true acts of generosity and benevolence. I carry in my heart’s mind a seventh element (which I just made up), the etheric chemical substance of gratitude. With profound thankfulness I acknowledge the retreat leaders with their spiritual brilliance that permeated our sacred time from beginning to end.
I am ever so grateful to my private preceptor and the many aeons we have walked in this experience of commitment and joy to the Buddha and his teachings. With much happiness, I give thanks to my public preceptor whose hand led me over the top into the realm of the Western Buddhist Order. With a gratitude I can hardly describe, I bow in reverence to my sadhana, to my beloved Vajrasattva, and to the wonder of my new name. Etched in memory are the courageous and precious women with whom I was ordained. In truth, I shall never forget the entirety of this mythic journey. At Akashavana we were able to touch the sky. We felt the wind of vastness transforming us. Finally, we had come home.
Talk 3 - Friendship and Communication - Nov. 24
a Dharma discussion, a meditation review, a practice review, a drive to the beach, etc. And I understand that she is making a trip north to visit Gunopeta. I hope you will be able to spend some time with her. She is a delightful, warm and interesting woman. And she is looking forward to getting to know us - as a teacher and as a friend. Ashokashri will be staying at Aryaloka and will not have a car. So please keep her in mind regarding two practical matters of life: transportation and food. During her stay at Aryaloka it will be helpful if we could check in with her about her need for rides, perhaps invite her over for a meal, cook a meal or two for her and drop it off at Aryaloka or bring over groceries so that she can prepare a meal. I know she would appreciate our thoughtfulness and care. And we will certainly appreciate all she is bringing to us.
Making Life Meaningful October 23-25 - Open to all
A chance to reflect and meditate on a traditional Buddhist teaching: the four “reminders” that help turn our mind towards the Dharma, increasing our enthusiasm to live a fruitful and engaging life. Songs of Milarepa November 6-8 - Order members & Mitras
Exploring one or two songs of Milarepa, the great 11th Century Tibetan cave dweller, meditator and teacher. Ashokashri will be happy to meet with anyone in the sangha for a cup of tea, a walk,
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 event, 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 into consideration. * * * * *
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Poetry Corner The Call of the Forest By Sangharakshita
What does the forest whisper With every wind-stirred leaf, From many-centuried oak tree To hour-old blossom-sheaf? What does the forest whisper When nightingales are dumb And cicadas fall silent? The forest whispers, ‘Come.’ What does the forest whisper In sunshine and in shade, Down every moss-hung alley, In each deer-haunted glade? What does the forest whisper When full or crescent moon Steeps nodding crests in silver? The forest whispers, ‘Soon.’ What does the forest whisper From depths primeval, where A sound is lost in stillness As clouds dissolve in air? What does the forest whisper When from the darkling bough Drop one by one the dead leaves? The forest whispers, ‘Now.’ But the whisper’s a dream-whisper, For years on years have flown Since oak and ash and holly Could call the land their own. The whisper’s a dream-whisper, For Cities of the Plain Usurp the once-green kingdom Of forests they have slain. The whisper’s a dream-whisper, For ‘forest’ is a dream Of days when Man through Nature Had sense of a Supreme. The whisper’s a dream-whisper Of a time when he could feel In the pressure of the actual The touch of the Ideal. The whisper’s a dream-whisper, But dreams are of the Soul And Soul itself a forest.
In the Woods Are Many More By Sangharakshita Selling wild orchids at my door one day A man said, `In the woods are many more... Deep in the gloom, high on the thickset trees, Wild orchids hang like clouds of butterflies, Golden and white, spotted with red and black, As huge as birds, or tiny as a bee, Wild orchids which no eye has ever seen Save ours, who wander in these rich green glooms All day throughout the year.’ I bought his sprays, Paid him, and bore them in; and as I went My eyes by chance fell on a shelf of books The Buddha’s Teachings - and thereafter glanced Up to the Buddha’s image as He smiled Above them from the alcove. Strange it was That, as my eyes from book to image passed, Dwelling an instant on that calm, pure Face, There, with the frail cold blossoms in my hands, The words that man spoke at my door should ring Through my stilled heart again and yet again Like music - `In the woods are many more...’
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revolves around the need for confidence in the Three Jewels, your training, and your companions to make progress on the spiritual path. Viradhamma followed up the next night with a talk on lineage. A musician himself, he used a metaphor that compared the lineage of Buddhist teachings to an original manuscript by Bach. The manuscript and the teachings are both passed down through the centuries, practiced as closely as possible to the original, preserved because of their importance to the people passing them on, and yet every time the manuscript is played or the teachings undertaken, they are expressed slightly differently depending on the musician or the practitioner. Shantinayaka discussed our own lineage, and what practices are emphasized in the FWBO. Vidhuma talked about the qualities
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of stillness, peace, expansiveness, tranquility and wholeheartedness. Sangharakshita, in his talk on the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path, Lecture 47: The Nature of Existence: Right Understanding, says, “When the mind has been deliberately calmed, when thoughts have been abolished, but when clear consciousness, awareness, still persists, then there may arise under those conditions the Path of Vision.” This vision helps us to understand our mundane existence where we are constantly reacting from insatiable self-indulgence - the constant desire for more of what we want and less of what we don’t want - and delusion, the misunderstanding of what is true and truly satisfying to our hearts and minds. Most of us have tried many means of diversion from the suffering of desire, ill will and delusion and when we realize that these diversions don’t bring us happiness, our faith in Buddhism, in the Noble Eightfold Path flourishes. We see the vision of the way to true happiness, tranquility and joy. Our vision of what is real moves us from the way we think things are, or want things to be - getting what we want or don’t want, our perception of what we dislike because it fails
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of kalyana mitrata, or spiritual friendship, and why it is so important. There were talks on the meaning of the word disciple - someone who commits to a discipline and tradition, life stories from a few longtime GFR mitras and Order members, and a detailed outline of the ordination process and how the program is progressing to help GFR mitras strengthen their practices as much as possible in preparation for ordination. Puja each night was a wonderful time, especially later on as the group became more close-knit. We showered the shrine with offerings from the kitchen and from our walks. The mantras in between sections of the puja were creative and evocative; one evening even including some drumming. The energy of so many men, so serious and joyous about their practice, left the shrine room humming - a truly bonding experience. At the end of the retreat, what I was left
with was a very strong sense of sangha and a connection to this amazing tradition that we all are a part of. The tradition of practice that the FWBO offers is something that cannot be found anywhere else - it is something very unique that reaches into the core of the Buddha’s teachings and what it is to be a Buddhist in these times and in this culture. Our sangha is an enormous part of that, it’s the driving force behind it all. So many teachers have come before us, lending their blood, sweat, and tears to make it possible for us to even have a chance to be Buddhist this way. And, it’s a tradition that does not end here. It’s not static. It involves each of us. That same effort is required from every Buddhist today to pass down what we have to the next generation of Buddhists. It requires us to be there to support each other, to learn from each other, to love and laugh with each other, to be a spiritual friend and not just to have one.
to support our ego - to true reality, wholeness, calm, tranquility, freedom, wisdom, and compassion. As a way of moving towards our vision of Reality, we can sit with, and get in touch with, aspects of the Buddhas, who are examples of Enlightened beings. Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light and compassion, is an example of an Enlightened being. His qualities are qualities we can emulate to become kinder and gentler, to allow our Buddha nature to shine forth. Amitabha, sitting in meditation on a lotus, with the moon above, represents love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The moon symbolizes the cooling of the heat of desire. Amitabha’s warm red light shines forth to all beings. He holds a bowl filled with wisdom nectar. Amitabha’s deep ruby red color symbolizes attraction - he is the color of love and compassion, and he represents the emotional aspect of life. He is totally approachable, gentle, open, and receptive. He sits in meditation that, like the setting sun, represents the withdrawal of consciousness from the world of the senses and external objects, as it turns within to higher states of meditative concentration. When all of our emotional energy is integrated we can be
gently led, by Amitabha, on the quest for Enlightenment. Amitabha (whose symbol is a peacock) transforms and refines passion which attaches to a particular object into discriminating wisdom. He sees the unique characteristics of all phenomena; he sees and loves minute differences in things. Amitabha’s wisdom is the wisdom of non-duality - there is no self/ other dichotomy. Loving appreciation is not a basis for exclusivity but loving appreciation for all beings. The peacock, according to myth, is capable of swallowing poison and transforming it into beauty. Even our darkest aspects can be transformed by practicing the dharma. The hungry ghosts, found within the wheel of life, are beings whose lives are spent in frustrated craving. They are represented with large stomachs and tiny mouths; they never get enough. Amitabha’s unconditional love dissolves away the feelings of desperation and being unloved and unlovable which cause one to grab at life. And meditation takes us away from restlessness and feeling unfulfilled into a deeper and more satisfying state. Held gently by Amitabha, our spiritual potential blossoms like a lotus and brings us closer to our vision of Enlightenment.
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FROM THE CHAIR Continued from Page 2
an updated four-year mitra course. They employ Lokabandhu to run the FWBO centre Support website, and Siddhisambhava as a fundraising consultant. The ECA planned and organized the International Urban Retreat., and Candradasa has been commissioned to create a new FWBO website to communicate FWBO teachings online. Sometimes, caught up with our lives and experiences around our own centers we can forget the international aspect of our movement. I encourage you to explore and experience the larger world of the FWBO. Right from home you could look on Free Buddhist Audio to listen to talks
by Order members from abroad or visit the FWBO&TBMSG News website (http:// fwbo-news.org) to learn about activities around the world. On the resources page you will find photos along with audio and video resources. At Aryaloka you have the opportunity to meet with visitors from other centers or you might consider attending a retreat in California or the UK, Mexico, India or Australia! Connecting with other parts of our movement with interest, friendship, and practice brings strength and energy to our sangha. It is a contribution we all can make. With gratitude to Sangharakshita, Dharmacharini Dayalocana
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Introduction to Buddhism evening class 7-9 p.m.
ONLINE IN-SITE Continued from Page 9
for Dharma study, hosting hundreds of audio talks by our teacher, Sangharakshita, and many other FWBO members on a wide variety of topics. A subscription to the podcast will keep you updated with a direct link to the latest featured talks and news about the website. Some of the most recent podcasts cover the “Just Sitting” practice with senior Order member Subhuti, and a talk by Dhammadinna entitled “What is Mind.” The web page connected to the podcast is at http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/ blog.
Sangha Night “Communication and Sangha” with Ashokashri Men’s mitra class
5 Women’s mitra class 6 Meditation and Puja 7-9 p.m. 6-8 Retreat for Order members and mitras on Milarepa with Ashokashri 9 Men’s mitra class 10 Sangha Night 6:45-9 p.m. “The Nature of Existence” (the 3 lakshanas) with Ashokashri 11 Introduction to Buddhism evening class 7-9 p.m. 12-15 Open Heart,Quiet Mind - yoga and meditation retreat 14 Introduction to Meditation 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Metta 15 Men’s Day 16 Men’s mitra class 17 Sangha Night 6:45-9 p.m. “Imagination and Myth” with Ashokashri 18 Introduction to Buddhism evening class 7-9 p.m. 19 Women’s mitra class 21 (evening) to 22 (day) Retreat with the Concord Sangha 22 Order Day 23 Men’s mitra class
2 3 4 4-6 6 7 9 10 12 13 14 17 19 21 25-31 28 31 31
Introduction to Buddhism evening 7-9 p.m. Women’s mitra class Meditation and Puja 7-9 p.m. Rest and Renewal retreat Men’s Day Men’s mitra class Introduction to Buddhism evening class 7-9 p.m. Women’s mitra class GFR Men’s Day in Portsmouth Order Day Men’s mitra class Women’s mitra class Practice Day Men’s mitra class Winter Meditation Retreat – TBA Men’s mitra class Meditation and Puja 7-9 p.m. Women’s mitra class
Meditate for Peace Day 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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Upcoming Events (All events are subject to change. For the latest upto-date information, please call the office or check our web site: http://www.aryaloka.org) (Akasaloka events are in italics.) OCTOBER 1-2 2 3 4 5 6 10-11 12 13 15 17 18 19 20
Women’s GFR Retreat continues Meditation and Puja 7-9 p.m. Rental Men’s Day Men’s mitra class Sangha Night 6:45-9 p.m. DANA (WORK) DAYS (both buildings) Men’s mitra class Sangha Night 6:45-9 p.m. Women’s mitra class – What Makes You a Buddhist? Introduction to Meditation 10 a.m.-4:p.m. - Mindfulness Order Day Men’s mitra class Sangha Night 6:45-9 p.m./ Sangha meeting with the Council
23 23-25 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Women’s mitra class Making Life Meaningful: from Survival to Joy retreat with Ashokashri Council annual meeting/all-day meeting Men’s mitra class Sangha Night 6:45- 9 p.m. – guest speaker Dhammarati Introduction to Buddhism evening class begins (six weeks), 7-9 p.m. Women’s mitra class Through Nov. 1 Abundance Yoga and Meditation Retreat, begins at 7 p.m. GFR Men’s Day in Portsmouth
NOVEMBER 1 1 2 3
Abundance Yoga and Meditation retreat continues Order members meet with Dhammarati for supper, 6-9 p.m. Men’s mitra class ANNUAL FUNDRAISING AUCTION! UPCOMING
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Ongoing Sangha Night at Aryaloka
Full Moon Puja
• • • •
The rich devotional practice of meditation and puja is shared on these special Friday nights by those who find devotion an important part of their practice.
Every Tuesday evening, 6:45-9:00 p.m. Led by Amala, Arjava, and Suzanne 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: • • • •
6:45 - Gathering, tea and announcements 7:00 - Meditation and shrine room activity 7:45 - Study, discussion or a talk on the evening’s topic 9:00 - 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 website or Vajra Bell events schedule 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
* "Amitabha and Reality "by Saddhamala * "Sharing Life Stories with My Mitra Sisters" by Ashley Bush * "What Happened A Year Ago? I Was Be-S...
Published on Oct 1, 2009
* "Amitabha and Reality "by Saddhamala * "Sharing Life Stories with My Mitra Sisters" by Ashley Bush * "What Happened A Year Ago? I Was Be-S...