keeping sangha connected
Adhisthana: Triratnaâ€™s New Spiritual Home
Also in this issue:
Stupa-fied: Sacred Space Inspires by Barry Timmerman
Reflections on a Noble Silence Retreat by David Watt
Mary Schaefer & David Watt
One of my favorite parts of being coeditor of the Vajra Bell is the opportunity to learn about the Dharma and activities of the Triratna Buddhist Community from Order members, mitras and friends from New England and around the world. We think of a teaching or place we’d like to learn more about, and voila! – we put out a call for people to “enlighten” us (and our readers) on the topic. In this issue, we get a multifaceted view into Adhisthana, the home of Triratna and Sangharakshita in the UK, through photos and reflections of Order members who have been on retreats there and from a mitra who lives and works at Adhisthana. A visit or retreat to that beautiful place is now on my “must do” list. Thanks to Narottama, Satyada, Dayalocana and Hattie Johnson for sharing their experiences. I echo, too, David Watt’s thanks to all our contributors to this issue. We have a great kula and supporting team, and, of course, you are always welcome to join us! Another favorite part of this job is the chance to reflect on my own practice and experiences with the Dharma and the Triratna Buddhist Community. In reading Narottama’s reflections on beauty, I thought of my own “retreat” into beau-
ty this fall – hiking to the bottom (and yes, back up – that is mandatory!) of the Grand Canyon. That venture has been on my bucket list for years. Not only did the vastness of the beauty take my breath away, the physical challenge of the hike was an amazing practice in mindfulness. It was humbling to watch how my mind could be friend or foe, particularly when I maneuvered steep and rocky sections of the trail where one slip could provide a more direct, but less desirable, flight down. My mantra often was, “just one step at a time.” As soon as my mind started thinking of how far I had come, or worse – How long before I can take another break? How much farther to the campground? How long before this is over? – my anxiety arose along with my fatigue, my footing slipped, my hands sweated, and I found myself somewhere other than on the trail in the midst of this vast beauty. Right here, right now. That’s all I have. When I reminded myself that all I had to do was take the next step and be totally present, joy arose (or at least my anxiety would dissipate). I could handle anything on the trail then, including the fatigue, the thirst, the heavy pack on my shoulders, along with the warm sun, the endless ever changing vistas and the humor and camaraderie of my fellow travelers on this path. Hmmm, isn’t that what Buddhist practice is all about? ~ Mary Schaefer
This issue is inspired in part by four men on a road trip. In May of 2014 four of our Order members – Narottoma, Satyada, Surakshita and Vidhuma –made a kind of pilgrimage to go on retreat at Adhisthana, the recently opened home of the Triratna community in Coddington, England. This center has become a place for Order members from throughout the world to study and practice together. This issue introduces us to the beauty and importance of this place, seen through the eyes of four sangha members. We have Narottoma’s meditation on beauty, which arose largely from his retreat experience there. Satyada’s essay puts his visit to Adhisthana in the larger con-
text of Sangharakshita’s work to bring the Dharma to the west. Dayalocana provides a succinct introduction to the place. Finally, Hattie Johnson, a resident of Adhisthana, writes of life there and provides amazing photos that convey its beauty. I am also grateful to our other contributors: Barry Timmerman for his essay on his relationship to the stupa, Tom Galliard for his piece on the Dalai Lama, and Kavyadrishti for her poetry. My thanks go to the members of our kula: Pete Ingraham, Vihanasari, Lois Sans and Carolyn Gregsak for their work on sangha notes, upcoming events and arts reporting. Special kudos go to our farflung correspondents reporting from centers around North America – Bettye Pruitt, Khemavassika, Gail Yahwak, Padmatara, Viryagita and Kay Jones. ~ David Watt
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VAJRA BELL KULA CO-EDITOR: Mary Schaefer firstname.lastname@example.org CO-EDITOR: David Watt email@example.com ADMINISTRATION EDITOR: Dh. Vihanasari firstname.lastname@example.org ARTS EDITOR: Lois Sans email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS: Dh. Satyada firstname.lastname@example.org Carolyn Gregsak email@example.com Peter Ingraham firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN: Dh. Rijupatha email@example.com
Spiritual Vitality Council Amala (Chair) Vidhuma (Vice Chair) Arjava Dayalocana Karunasara Surakshita Board of Directors Arjava (Chair) Barry Timmerman (Secretary) Elizabeth Hellard (Treasurer) Dayalocana Akashavanda Amala Jean Corson Tom Gaillard
Aryaloka Buddhist Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 firstname.lastname@example.org · www.aryaloka.org Find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Araloka ...or on the Aryaloka Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/aryalokasangha/ Connect at The Buddhist Centre Online: http://thebuddhistcentre.com/aryaloka Cover art: Hattie Johnson
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from the spiritual vitality council The Spiritual Vitality Council (SVC) meets monthly to oversee the spiritual well-being of our Aryaloka community. The SVC was formed as part of changes to the organization and administration of our Aryaloka community. The Board of Directors is responsible for the legal and financial management. In accordance with the laws and regulations of the State of NH, the board makes certain we operate as a correct religious non-profit organization, and that we make sound fiscal decisions to ensure a solid future for us. This is itself a large job. Our spiritual well-being is our reason for existing; we are a spiritual community. The board decided to give the spiritual vitality of Aryaloka its proper emphasis by creating a special council to take responsibility for just that. The SVC has broad responsibilities. We work with the Shrijnana, the executive director, to develop program events. We
advise her on general themes for programs, and encourage and support events that develop those themes. We are concerned about every aspect of our community’s spiritual life from the person making his or her way down our driveway for the first time to Order members who have been part of Aryaloka for decades. At each meeting, we review the functioning of the Order and Order activities as well as mitras and mitra activities, friends and activities for friends, newcomers and the wider community who have not (yet) experienced Aryaloka. We work with the teaching kula to review who is teaching and what is being taught to make sure we are offering the Buddha’s timeless teachings in a way that is accessible, accurate, inspiring and appropriate for 21st century America. We are still in the early stages of understanding how to do our tasks well. We know that the spiritual well-being of our community depends on many people and has many aspects. Spiritual vitality is more than programs; it is also the people who are part of and touched by our Triratna Buddhist Community. We
from the board of directors As the transition from the Aryaloka Council to the Aryaloka Board has taken place, the new Board of Directors has met monthly. Having members of the former Aryaloka Spirituality Committee and the Aryaloka Council on the new Aryaloka Board of Directors has helped to maintain cohesion. To increase the effective collaboration and better understand the functions of both bodies, a joint meeting is planned for January. The goal is to share our respective missions and ensure that we are working in concert. It is essential that we maintain a balance of high quality administration in order to keep the Dharma and the highest ethical standards at the forefront of our ef-
Dh. Vidhuma are the measure of the spiritual life of our community. How do we live our basic Buddhist beliefs? Are we good living examples of Buddhist ethics? Are we kind and respectful in our actions? Are we compassionate in our relationships to others? How do we manifest our belief that nothing is to be clung to as mine, myself, me; that we are part of a great interconnected web of life? These are the questions the SVC is designed to wrestle with. Of course, we appreciate and invite your help and input to answer such questions. The SVC includes Amala, chair; Vidhuma, vice chair; Arjava, board chair; Dayalocana; Karunasara; Khemavassika, women’s mitra convener; and Surakshita, men’s mitra convener. We are committed to working hard to oversee the community’s spiritual well-being. Please contact any of us through the website with questions, suggestions or thoughts. Our ongoing connection with you makes possible and supports our work to keep Aryaloka an inspiring spiritual center.
forts. The board has focused on how to increase revenue and the visibility of Aryaloka to the community (e.g. marketing), reinstitute a strong fundraising plan, and enlist those with the talent and experience to succeed in achieving these goals. We have formed subcommittees devoted to marketing and fundraising. We have consulted with sangha members adept in these areas and are working to develop ideas and a plan with specifically targeted benchmarks. The board is in the midst of our yearly pledge drive. Our goal is to raise $50,000. We have focused on improvements to the building and grounds. We have celebrated the completion of the stupa, a major project carried out by the stupa kula. We are looking at what still needs to be done and how to get it done in a timely fashion.
With our new executive director, Shrijnana – and administrative assistant, Vanessa Ruiz – growing more skillful by the week, we are establishing and utilizing more upto-date systems for accounting and tracking. We are also working to develop more interfaith connections in the community. In addition there are personnel changes to the board. Surakshita is stepping down and Tom Gaillard is rejoining the group. The board nominated and elected this term’s officers: Arjava as board chair, Elizabeth Hellard as treasurer and Barry Timmerman as secretary. Other board members include Prasannavajri, Akashavanda, Dayalocana, Jean Corson, Amala and Shrijnana. The board welcomes questions and feedback. Please do not hesitate to contact any board member.
The Aryaloka Council and Board minutes are posted on the bulletin board at the foot of the stairs. W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
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sangha notes process as well as Autumn Joy: A Weekend of Mindful Hiking and Biking (if outdoor pursuits interest you, look for the Nordic Nirvana retreat in February), and the Intensive Noble Silence retreat.
ARYALOKA SANGHA (NEWMARKET, NH)
Tuesday Friends Night at Aryaloka Akashavanda and Barry Timmerman have been guiding new friends through an introduction to Buddhism. They’ve covered fundamental topics such as ethics, meditation, wisdom, devotion and Buddhist history. Arjava has been leading discussions of Dharma stories and how to bring their lessons into everyday Buddhist practice. Using Sangharakshita’s book Living with Kindness, Satyada has been leading discussions on the Karaniya Metta Sutta, the Buddha’s poetic sermon on loving-kindness.
Fall Work Weekend During the October fall work weekend volunteers worked on projects ranging from repairs to Shantiloka (our solitary retreat cabin) to yard work and cleaning. Unfortunately, not all of the planned projects were completed, so any additional help to clean and maintain our center would be greatly appreciated in the coming months. Also, please consider sharing your time and talent by volunteering or joining us at the upcoming spring work weekend in May.
PORTSMOUTH SANGHA (PORTSMOUTH, NH)
The Portsmouth Buddhist Center (PBC) is thriving! ◆ In the fall of 2013 we moved to our first rental space at 84 Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, NH. Having our own space (our first three locations were generously donated) has provided the conditions for our sangha to grow. ◆ We have four new mitras and a lively Monday night mitra study class, and there has been an increase in depth of practice
Stupa Completed and Ready to Welcome Dhardo Rimpoche If you’ve been to Aryaloka recently, you have seen the new stupa, which is now complete. Plans to host Dhardo Rimpoche, the next incarnation of the stupa’s dedicatee, are in the works. Look to hear more about his visit in the spring. Path of Practice Group
On January 1, 2015 (New Year’s Day) Aryaloka hosted its 9th annual Meditate for
Starting Sunday January 11, Amala and Khemavassika will hold monthly meetings of the Path of Practice group. These sessions are for practitioners looking for depth and consistency in their practice and who are ready to make a one-year commitment to the group. For more information on these and other upcoming events please visit www. Aryaloka.org. ~ Peter Ingraham
and commitment to Triratna. ◆ A full program slate includes Wednesday sangha night, Thursday introductory class (in the winter there will be a series of four-week classes): the recent Eight-Step Recovery meeting on Friday nights; the Sunday morning open meditation; and various workshops, practice days and introductory classes on weekends. ◆ The PBC Council and the management team meet regularly. As a council member, I enjoy seeing the principles of consensus in decision-making and harmonious communication practiced.
I also appreciate the emphasis on a danabased sharing of the dharma and on seeking radical transformation of self and society. ◆ In November, Amala presided over a welcoming ceremony for the new PBC chairperson Suddhayu and the two new mitra conveners, Viriyagita and Narottama. The ritual marked a significant step for the center, and included rejoicing in the merits of and an inspirational talk by the new chairman. He expressed his vision for the center evoking wonder, mystery and the power of the dharma to transform our lives. ~ Dh. Viriyagita
Peace Day Started the New Year
After a busy month of Order retreats in September, Aryaloka hosted the annual retreat for Women in the ordination
Peace Day from 7 a.m.to 7 p.m. Meditation sessions were held every hour on the hour.
(CONCORD STATE PRISON FOR MEN)
Winter is upon us in the northern woods. Snow came early in November this year and it seems that it is likely to stick around for awhile. In the midst of it all, we find warmth in spiritual friendship and gathering together. ◆ At Nagaloka we have started a new book study, Not About Being Good, by Subhadramati. This book gently and practically leads us into Buddhist ethics. The book offers many suggestions for reflections and practice and ways to apply ethics in our daily life. Our discussions have been lovely and open with sharing of
The Concord men’s sangha is alive and well, although some of our regular attendees are in the process of being released or reassigned to other locations in the correctional system. Khanti Outreach provides weekly dharma meetings for men in the Concord State Prison for Men on Thursdays (dharma/ mitra study) and Saturdays (open meditation). Satyada makes the monthly trip to Berlin, NH to visit several mitras. Both Khemavassika and Satyada would be delighted to have additional sangha members join a meeting with them.
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sangha notes SAN FRANCISCO SANGHA (SAN FRANCISCO, CA)
When I wrote this, we had only two weeks of courses and classes to go before our winter meditation retreat began, led this year by Viveka and Padmadharini. ◆ In January our order and mitra sangha takes a break from most of our public events to focus on practicing together. This is our ninth rainy season retreat. The theme this year is communication, specifically, how we communicate with each other about our experience of ethics, meditation and wisdom. ◆ Meanwhile, our center at 37 Bartlett Street is surrounded by construction: two doors down eight floors of expensive, bright orange and gray condos are nearing completion; next door an Alamo Drafthouse is progressing slowly, producing incredible amounts of debris; and the street in front is being jackhammered to pieces to prepare for a new sewer line. I keep expecting to find our little house buried under the weight of the diggers, cranes, cement and garbage that gather every day outside the door. ◆ In other ways this year has been
quiet. We introduced a new mindfulness course based on Life with Full Attention, which was popular with new people, Order members and mitras. We experimented with combining mitra study and sangha night, studying views and sangha. Otherwise our program didn’t change much. There still are many who want to learn how to meditate here, despite the increasing range of options in San Francisco. Our drop-in classes have been well attended. ◆ On the Day of the Dead in November about 15 of us shared a picnic at Suvarnaprabha’s grave, remembering and celebrating her life and the lives of many friends and family who have died over the last year, including our dear friend Vince Nosal, a mitra who died suddenly in July. It felt really good to be there. ◆ Up in Lake County, our retreat land is getting more comfortable with a new floor, bathroom and tile in the kitchen. Our Order/mitra sangha in the spring planted a garden, resulting in a some mindfulness and some of the biggest zucchini I’ve ever seen. ◆ In 2015 we’re looking forward to visits from Dhammarati, Paramananda and Paramabodhi, Kamalashila, Yashabodhi,
NEW YORK CITY SANGHA (NEW YORK, NY)
NYC Sangha members, with two Portsmouth Order members, came together on retreat in October at Fire Island. They are (top to bottom on stairs) Alyssa Fradenburg, Viriyalila, Padmadharini, Meike Schuetzek, Heideh Matterson, Bettye Pruitt, Susan Michael, Syma Afia, Danakamala, Vajramati, and (left to right on ground) Lara Nahas, Fay Simpson, Josh Heath, Nick Matterson, Gary Baker; and Russ Davis.
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Lots of positive happenings to report in the New York sangha. The overarching theme in our community this fall and winter was metta. ◆ In October, 14 sangha members gathered at Fay Simpson’s spacious family cottage on Fire Island for a weekend retreat on metta bhavana. Viriyalila and Danakamala from Portsmouth, NH, joined our resident Order members Vajramati and Padmadharini in leading the retreat. We had a thought-provoking talk on metta, some strong led meditations and a beautiful puja, self-reflection exercises led by Viriyalila and two session of lucid body work led by Fay. Danakamala helped us practice metta in the kitchen while cooking up some excellent grub. ◆ In early November, we had the benefit of a visit from Karunagita and Amaragita, UK Order members, who are
and last but not least, Vidyamala, who is coming to lead a Breathworks teacher training retreat at Jikoji from June 19 to 26. More details to come, but let me know if you’re interested. We are also hoping our president, Dhammarati, will be here more than usual when he has handed over some of his responsibilities in the UK. A very happy new year to you all! ~ Dh. Padmatara in a virtual chapter with Padmadharini. They joined us for sangha night and helped launch an ongoing discussion series of Sangharakshita’s book, Living with Kindness. ◆ Amaragita also led a weekend communication workshop, attended by the council and several sangha members. She shared a framework that she had developed to support organizations working with atrisk youth, emphasizing the importance of inquiry and listening. Her one-on-one and group listening exercises helped us apply the framework to our own communications. ◆ Two new mitra study groups started in New York this fall, one in Brooklyn and the other in Manhattan. A teaching kula has formed and is determining what the sangha can offer in addition to our weekly sangha night. This is possible because we have found a new space to rent for one or more days a week. So there is a lot of excitement about what our calendar might look like in 2015. ~ Bettye Pruitt VAJ R A BE L L
sangha notes ROCKY MOUNTAIN SANGHA (MISSOULA, MT)
Winter started early in this neck of the woods. Cold temperatures, snow on the ground for most of November and lately a foggy inversion. One of the beautiful things about living in the Northwest is experiencing all four seasons and everything that comes with that. ◆ The Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center had a robust 2014. We started with a committed group from the previous Introduction to Buddhism and Meditation class that wanted to move forward with the Foundation Year from the mitra study course which we offered on our Wednesday sangha night. It has been fun watching our experience deepen and the support for each other grow. Out of that committed group arose a new mitra, Helena Vlasto. We had a wonderful ceremony in the spring. She
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◆ Want to attend a retreat for free? Consider joining Satyada and Khemavassika for one of the four upcoming retreats scheduled for 2015: January 30-31, May 8-9, July 10-11 and October 30-31. These retreats are nonresidential (!) beginning with a Friday session starting at 6:30 pm. Satyada and the men together, Satyada and the men decide on the retreat themes. Lunch and
nagaloka sangha Continued from Page 4
our personal experiences. This study will likely take us through the largest part of the winter. ◆ We have just wrapped up a mitra study on What is the Sangha?, facilitated by Narottama. Together we explored the third jewel of sangha and what it means in our lives. We discussed and were able to go deeper into how spiritual friendship is “the whole of spiritual life.” Thanks to Narottama for his generous support of our mitra community. ◆ Coming soon – January 16-19 – we will come together with the New York and Boston sanghas for our annual Outlying 6
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brings such a positive energy to our sangha. ◆ We started half-day practice days every couple of months. It is lovely to meditate together for three hours and then share lunch, catch up and address questions that come up along the way. ◆ A new order member is among us! Karunakara, formerly Peter Kurisoo, was ordained in Spain in June. It has been a busy year for him. Home from his threemonth ordination retreat for a few weeks, he went off to Aryaloka for the retreat for Men in the Ordination Process and the Order convention. He was home for a couple of weeks before he was off to the Sun Lakes retreat in Washington with several other local sangha members. ◆ Dhammarati also attended the Sun Lakes retreat and then spent a lovely week with us in Missoula. We had a day retreat with him and it was fun for all the new sangha members to meet this very experienced senior Order member with
that soft, Scottish brogue. ◆ We had another Introduction to Buddhism and Meditation class this fall which generated several new friends looking to dig into the Foundation Year study. So exciting to see and feel the energy when sharing the Dharma. ◆ Missoula enjoyed hosting Shantinayaka from San Francisco for a week. He led us through a day retreat on the Brahma Viharas which was well attended, much appreciated and enjoyed. It is a treat to have Order members from outside our sangha visit. ◆ We wrap up our year taking a couple of weeks off as several members are on retreat and out of the area. We will start another Introduction to Buddhism and Meditation class in March and look forward to a year of positive momentum in sharing the Dharma and building sangha. ~ Kay Jones
snacks are provided. To attend, a visitor must get clearance first by completing this application from the NH Department of Corrections http://www.nh.gov/nhdoc/ documents/cit_involv_app.pdf and forwarding it to Laura Hardwick, NH Department of Corrections, Shea Farm THU, 60 Iron Works Road, Concord, NH 03301. Please allow at least six weeks for processing before the retreat. ◆ The men appreciate outside visitors to come for a visit or retreat. See the letter from Dan, a Mitra at Concord, in this issue
of the Vajra Bell. Recently, Neil Harvey visited a Saturday session to talk about how the Dharma informs his art which he shared with a small, but enthusiastic, group. We enjoyed one of Neil’s paintings displayed at a recent arts night at Aryaloka. ◆ If you are unable to visit Concord, there are opportunities to extend the hand of spiritual friendship by serving as a pen pal to one of the men incarcerated. Please contact Khemavassika (Khemavassika@ gmail.com) for more information. ~ Dh. Khemavassika
Sangha Retreat held at Aryaloka. This is always a great time for celebrating, seeing current spiritual friends and nurturing new bonds. Nagaloka also will host the monthly mens’ practice days on one Sunday in January, February and March. ◆ Dharmasuri will teach a four-week week Introduction to Buddhism and Meditation course starting January 6. Our Friends Night continues Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Led mediation and discussions are held Sunday mornings from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. Regular open sits continue Monday evenings and Thursdays at noon. See our website at www. nagalokabuddhistcenter.org for more details. ~ Gail Yahwak
Would you like to contribute to the Vajra Bell, or do you have feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact any of our kula members listed in the box on the right of Page 2. WI NT E R 2015
Aryaloka Welcomes Four New Women as Mitras By Dh. Khemavassika Good news! Aryaloka’s circle of women mitras at Aryaloka has expanded. Four women made their declarations at Friends’ Night in December. Our newest mitras are Vanessa Ruiz (who also works in the office at Aryaloka), Tricia McCarthy (a Dover resident who has been coming to Friends Night for five years), Jillian Wilay of Portsmouth (who is studying to be a yoga teacher) and Valerie O’Keefe of Barrington (who decided to be a mitra months ago and waited patiently for a group to be ready to take this step with her). Sadhu to these women who join our group of more than twenty local women practicing together! A group of about ten women have been meeting this fall, studying the Vimalakirti Nirdesa on Thursday evenings. We are delighted to have Lilasiddhi co-teaching this class with Khemavassika. The group consensus is that this study is among the most interesting and lively ones we undertaken. In January, the women mitras will study great Buddhists from the Triratna Refuge Tree, followed by Amala’s return from Spain and a study entitled Creative Symbols of Tantric Buddhism in the spring.
New women mitras at Aryaloka, from left to right, Tricia McCarthy, Vanessa Ruiz, Valerie O’Keefe and Jillian Wilay.
Please remember to register with the office if you wish to participate. The Path of Practice Sunday sessions, beginning in January, are open to all women mitras, Order members and friends who are practicing seriously and deeply. The addition of these sessions
provides mitras with another great study opportunity. Interested in learning about what it takes to be a mitra? Please contact Khemavassika at khemavassika@gmail. com, and we will find a time for a cup of tea!
Your Generosity to the Food Pantry is Appreciated By Dh. Vihanasari Have you ever noticed the small flag on the side of the Newmarket Community Church on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon? It announces that the Newmarket Food Pantry is open to distribute food to those in the community who might otherwise go without. Men, women, and children wait patiently beneath the flag to go inside and choose food items to take home to prepare nourishing meals for their families. They include those who are handicapped, elderly, single moms and dads scraping by, unemployed – all are welcome at the Pantry. Warm, friendly volunteers greet everyone with kindness, and take care to find people the items they need. Aryaloka has a box in the entryway to collect nutritious, nonperishable food items that The New Market Food Pantry. Many thanks to those who have donated items to this bo. If you could only see the smiles on people’s faces as they take away what you have generously provided! To those who have not yet had the opportunity, please deposit your food contributions in the box so that those in need have the fixings for a meal. The Newmarket Food Pantry depends wholly on donations. Thank you for whatever you are able to contribute. W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
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The Dalai Lama, Live in Boston By Tom Gaillard I was happy to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Boston on November 1st and hear his talk “Educating the Heart and Mind.” It seemed incongruous to see this famous monk at the home of the Boston Bruins; those of us on the “floor” in front of the stage sat in folding chairs placed atop rubber mats covering the Bruins’ ice. The chilly air wafting up from under our feet was warmed by His Holiness’ inspiring words and frequent, deep-throated laughter. In typical arena fashion, a large video screen above the stage broadcast the proceedings. As we awaited his arrival, a camera showed him proceeding through a crowd of Tibetans and Westerners backstage. It was moving to see him bowing and exchanging blessings with the people, many of whom wept in joy as they greeted him. Once onstage, he sat next to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as Tibetan children in native garb sang folk songs. The Dalai Lama reached over to hold the senator’s hand; they held hands for at least 10 minutes. I’d wager it was the longest she’s held hands with a world leader! His Holiness spoke without notes for 45 minutes in strongly accented but fluent English before replying to written
questions collected from the audience. He touched on how, at a basic level, all seven billion humans are the same; many of us are filled with anxiety and seek happiness. Using anecdotes and personal stories of people he’d met, he asked us to consider in turn whether money, education or material comforts would alleviate our anxiety. In the end, he counseled that we can find lasting happiness only through working with our minds. His firm opposition to evangelization was surprising. Asked if he ever got angry, he responded by telling a story of meeting with Christian proselytizers in a Buddhist land. He’d told them very firmly (perhaps angrily!) that they should not seek to convert others. He then related the story of a Polish woman he knew who’d converted to Buddhism after working in India, but who on her deathbed reverted to God and her original Catholic faith. He used this story to urge that Westerners not change their religion; only after serious deliberation and study, he said, should it be considered. I thought this an interesting position by one who, more than anyone, has made Buddhism visible in the West. What I’ll remember most about the talk, though, was his warmth and lack of pretense. This was wonderfully illustrated just a few minutes into his talk when he began blinking into the spotlights. He
photo from www.sportskings.com, credited to Lenny Clarke
paused, walked to his seat, picked up a Boston Bruins cap and fit it onto his head. The crowd roared with laughter and applause. But this was no ploy to curry local flavor! No, he needed a cap, and he wore it for the duration of his talk with no apparent thought to how silly it might make him look. He is the rare leader who seems completely at ease with himself, who is comfortable holding hands on stage and pauses to laugh with genuine enjoyment. In closing he said, “If I consider myself to be a simple Buddhist monk, we can communicate very easily. If, instead, I consider myself to be the 14th Dalai Lama, I separate myself from others, and it is very lonely and promotes anxiety.” This “simple Buddhist monk” powerfully demonstrated, in his speech and presence, how the mind has the power to shape the world.
An Open Letter from Mitra Dan, Concord Men’s Sangha Hello Vajra Bell Readers, My name is Dan and I’m a mitra in the Triratna Buddhist Community. I am also a prisoner at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men. I would like to let you all know that Satyada and Khemavassika have done an admirable job representing the Triratna Community in sowing the seeds of the Dharma in the fertile plain of the small sangha of Buddhists and the curious within the prison population. I wish to thank each and every one of you who have helped in their practice of Right Effort: the spreading of the Dharma to the imprisoned here and elsewhere. I thank you! In addition, I would like to encourage those of you who are capable but who have not exerted your own effort to help 8
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to do so. I understand that prisons and prisoners are viewed through the lens of suspicion, apprehension and even disgust, sometimes for valid reasons. However, as a Dharma practitioner myself, I would like to encourage you to see the opportunity for practice and use the fulcrum of Right Effort to lift the lens that colors one’s perception, fogs one’s view and hinders one’s energies in order to sow the seeds of Dharma yourself. Once the lens is lifted, the doorway to cultivate metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity) will open wider, offering a unique opportunity to elevate one’s practice. All of us are subject to the premature judgments and preconceptions that are born out of and fostered by the general
society. As Dharma practitioners, use this in practice and examine the aggregates. Notice the immediate experience of the arising of the defilement of aversion. Feel the unpleasant tone attached. Experience the way this defilement twists and contorts cognition. Watch as volition emerges. And become conscious of the ever-changing effects these have on one’s views. Sit with them and see the cause of suffering. Then come here and experience the Concord Sangha. Meet us. Talk to us. And recognize the brush stroke of prejudice. Finally, sit with us in practice and realize the opportunity to watch that prejudice melt into the sea of Dharma, adding one more step on your path to freedom. I thank you all, the Vajra Bell readers, for your time. ~ Mitra Dan WI NT E R 2015
Stupa-fied: Inspiration arises from sacred space By Barry Scott Timmerman Aryaloka has a new stupa. It began as the dream and vision of Bodhilocana, an order member with a strong connection to Dhardo Rimpoche, one of Sangharakshita’s main teachers in Kalimpong, India. Bodhilocana passed away before her vision was realized. Other ordained women in the order formed a stupa kula, raised the needed funds and carried out her dream. Serendipitously, they located Sonam - a Tibetan stonemason who also had a strong connection to Dhardo Rimpoche - to build it. Work began this past summer, and with contributions of money, time, materials and labor, the stupa was completed by the fall. Stupas have been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia, “A stupa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation. The W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
shape of the stupa represents the Buddha, crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire; his head is the square at the spire’s base; his body is the vase shape; his legs are the four steps of the lower terrace; and the base is his throne.” Although not described in any Tibetan text on stupa symbolism, the stupa may represent the five purified elements: • The square base represents earth • The hemispherical dome/vase represents water • The conical spire represents fire • The upper lotus parasol and the crescent moon represents air • The sun and the dissolving point represent the element of space. I periodically spent time observing the stupa building - Sonam and his crew worked slowly, methodically and meditatively, chanting while they worked. Each person had a specific task. The stupa took form as each level was completed.
Ceremonies were held at various stages. In the first ceremony, objects of samsara were placed in a lower chamber. These objects symbolize suffering and impermanence. After that chamber was sealed, the building resumed. A higher chamber contains many sacred objects including relics of Dhardo Rimpoche, some of his ashes, mantras written by Triratna Buddhists from all over the world and other symbolic offerings. A ceremony was held at this stage, too. After this chamber was sealed, the stupa was completed. The stupa’s ornamental top was made for Aryaloka in Lhasa, a city in the Tibetan region of China, along with the grille that is mounted on the east face of the stupa, enclosing a Buddha rupa. Observing the building process was an intellectual exercise. Being involved in construction earlier in life and having worked with stonemasons, I enjoyed the “technical” aspects of the build. Little did continued on page 11 VAJ R A BE L L
Reflecting on an Introduction to Noble Silence By David Watt It was with trepidation that I arrived November 11 at Aryaloka for the seven day Noble Silence retreat led by Bodhana, Karunasara and Lilasiddhi. I was unemployed and in the midst of a job search; my partner was busy, both with her full-time job and side business; and all of this was renting space in my head. Although I have been meditating regularly for about six years and had recently become a mitra, my normal solo practice was 20 to 40 minutes at a time. I had never sat for more than an hour. On the few occasions when I had done two one-hour sits back-to-back, the second hour was a mess with intruding thoughts, planning, remembering and every other manifestation of monkey mind. I found the prospect of meditating for eight hours a day daunting. Members of the sangha that formed around this experience came from across the country. I was the only Aryaloka regular, aside from the leaders. The group included two New York sangha members, a meditation enthusiast from Nova Scotia, a psychiatrist who flew in from Dallas, a musician from Pittsfield, a philosopher living in Durham and me. All but me had previous meditation retreat experience, and all but me knew what to expect, more or less. The first evening and morning included meditation and discussions of the retreat logistics and our meditation plans. My plan basically was to wing it – alternate mindfulness of breathing with metta bhavana and hope for the best. What little preparation I had done consisted of digging up some old notes on the Anapanasati Sutta about In and Out Breathing. We got to know one another well enough to know that we’d like to know one another better. Our discussions ended at 1:30 p.m. that first afternoon when we took the vow of silence, the vow not to speak until 7 a.m. six days days later. The daily schedule for the next five days started with two and half hours of meditation beginning at 5:30 a.m. Breakfast followed, then meditation from 9:30 to noon, lunch, and a single 90-minute meditation from 2:30 to 4. We had dinner followed by two more hours of meditation to conclude the day. 10 VAJ R A BE LL
The logistics of running this retreat are daunting, particularly the meal preparation. The retreat is designed so that the attendees take as little mental clutter – such as meal preparation and chores – into the meditation sessions as possible. Consequently, the Order members do everything, and they were in constant motion. Bodhana was the soul of efficiency in the kitchen and always seemed to be lugging groceries or prepared food up the stairs. Wearing his hoodie and carrying bags of food, he could easily have stepped out of a 14th Century Chinese woodcut of a monk carrying a bundle of sticks or pails of water. Karunasara gave the appearance of total serenity as she moved from setting tables, serving food and doing dishes. After completing her chores, Lilasiddhi would crash on a couch for 10 minutes before heading back to the shrine room to sit for two and half more hours. During the meditations of the first day or so, I made a couple of discoveries. First, sitting for eight hours a day is painful. I found myself wishing that I’d brought a yoga mat and more Advil. Second, while everyone appeared to be resting in the second Dhyana, I struggled with all the usual monkey mind stuff – lists, things that I forgot to do, fear that I would never work again, guilt about leaving so much on my partner’s plate; on and on it went. The unstructured meditation was disorienting, and my usual posture, which is fine for 40 minutes, became uncomfortable when done for hours. Over time this changed. I changed posture, learned to relax my back, and became more comfortable. Reading the first two tetrads of the Anapanasati sutta was very useful in focusing on process rather than
milestones of time – being aware of breath, body, pleasure, rapture, mind, and using the breath to calm the body and mental processes. I was reminded of things I’d been taught: examining the vedanas and the hindrances. My breathing became softer, more organic, less mechanical. I began to experience extended periods, perhaps 10 minutes or more, of unhindered meditation. Off the cushion, living in silence became easier. It took me a while to break the habit of reading peoples’ faces for a greeting as I passed them. The retreat is a place to be alone together, and the blank looks, staring out the window, and walking meditation are part of the effort to enter a persistent meditative state. There was a feeling of kindness and togetherness at meals or stretching in the yoga room prior to sitting. I believe that a retreat such as this could only happen in silence. In the shrine room, we needed the energy and intentions of the sangha, not their stories, jokes, personalities and ideas. It was wonderful to spend an extended period of time around the center. I walked the loop path four or five times a day, noticing something new each time. I sat by the stupa for five minutes every night after the evening sit to look at the stars. I took particular delight in noticing that Orion, Taurus and the Pleaides were rising over the stupa in the evening and that they were later visible from my room in Akashaloka when I woke up at 5 a.m. Once, I meditated in the Akashaloka shrine room at three in the morning when I couldn’t sleep. One poignant moment occurred on the second to last day at about 10:30 a.m. The retreat had been very emotional for me and, at that moment, nothing was working in my meditation, and my back hurt. I moved to a chair and began silently reciting the mantras from the seven-fold puja, counting them out on my mala. It was raining hard, and I thought of the Buddha with his bhikkhus during the rainy seasons. I stopped to ponder the alignment of conditions that had produced this moment for me, and I felt extraordinarily grateful. The second to last day included a threehour sit that was both wonderful and excruciating. The final morning produced continued on page 21 WI NT E R 2015
poetry Avalokitesvara Was Born With Two Arms By Dh. Kavyadrishti
Avalokitesvara was born with two arms. He worked on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at the local food pantry, but when the economy got bad and the line there grew, he needed two more arms so he could work every week. When he overheard an elderly woman who’d been a regular there for some time talk about how her roof was leaking, he needed a few more arms to get volunteers together to patch the spot where shingles had blown away. When the pale young woman with the three pale young children came in for the third time with bruises on her face, he needed at least two more so he could take her aside and gently tell her about the women’s shelter. When the mill in the next town closed, the lines at the pantry were just too long and people were using too much gas to get there, so he needed a few more arms to start another pantry across the river. When the young couple adopted two babies from Somalia he remembered all those left behind, and suffered the knowledge the best he could. He needed more arms to do something about the overcrowded schools downtown and found a few grandmother arms to read with the youngest ones every week. When he heard more and more about what was happening in the war, he knew he could just never do enough. And a man was dying of AIDS all alone, the woman so ill from the chemotherapy needed to cry with someone, the kid who was so very bright might not get the scholarship without help with his application, the woman who started the community garden plots needed spades and a load of manure, the local Buddhist center needed a new roof, a few inmates at the state prison wanted to learn to meditate. So Avalokitesvara now has a thousand arms and still needs yours.
Continued from Page 9
I know what an emotional impact this sacred monument would have in my life and daily practice. I can’t explain how and when this emotional connection took place. It was spontaneous and surprising. I experienced the emotional equivalent of an intellectual understanding, as Sangharakshita has written. While on the retreat for men in the ordination process this summer, I found myself at the stupa every day, circumambulating, chanting the refuges and precepts, reciting the Heart Sutra, making offerings of incense and reflecting on the life and lineage of Dhardo Rimpoche. I did not plan this, I just found myself falling into it. I began to have strong emotions when I approached the stupa. I felt tenderness, compassion and a W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
strong draw to tend to the stupa. Karunakara, an Order member on that retreat, is a geologist. He taught me about the stone used in the stupa, and it opened new realms of significance. The primary stones are schist stones, named for their prominent or perhaps unusual mineral constituents such as mica, garnet and tourmaline. Schists are frequently used as dimension stones selected and fabricated to specific shapes or sizes. As you examine the stupa closely, you can see the myriad of sizes and shapes that make up the whole. The mineral grains in schist, drawn out into flaky scales by heat and pressure, can be seen by the naked eye. That means you see jewels embedded in the schist stones, particularly when damp. There are hundreds of thousands of tiny garnets and mica flakes in the stupa. Schist stone is flexible because of the way it was formed. This adds to the stupa’s structural
integrity, particularly during winter when the stone is subjected to ice. The stone will flex rather than crack. As I pondered this, it occurred to me that as we practice the dharma, we too will flex rather than crack. After the retreat, I found myself at the stupa every night on my way home from work. I continued my “stupa practice” and thought of how I could help maintain the site. I often clean the stupa and its steps. I visualize monks all over the world tending to stupa sites as they reflect and practice. There is a powerful, palpable energy of compassion that the stupa radiates. This may seem unscientific to some. I do not question it. It is as real to me as my breath. I invite you to experience it for yourself, or join me in paying tribute to a Bodhisattva and a lineage that connects us directly to the Buddha. I have been Stupa-fied.
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dhisthana, located in the rural English countryside, is the central home for the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community and of our beloved founder and teacher, Sangharakshita. We asked Sangha members, including someone who lives there, to talk about their experiences at and with Adhisthana. Here are their reflections and photos...
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A spiritual life-giving source for our Buddhist community By Dh. Dayalocana When Sangharakshita began teaching the Dharma in London upon his return from India almost 50 years ago, he had no idea how rapidly the Triratna Movement (then known as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) would spread throughout the world. Today, the Triratna community practices in more than 60 centers in Europe, India, North America, Latin America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
Members of the Triratna Order live and teach in urban areas, rural areas, and on mountaintops and islands. Thanks to those with vision, dedication and generosity of time and energy, there is now a central spiritual home for the Triratna community. It provides a place for people to visit and connect with Sangharakshita and what our Buddhist movement brings to the world. Sangharakshita chose to call it Adhisthana, a Sanskrit word meaning â€œgrace waves.â€? Adhisthana is often described as the power emanating from Buddhas and other great spiritual beings. Adhisthana is the tangible influence that arises from their presence.
Image by s myers
A New Home for the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community
continued on page 14 VAJ R A BE L L 13
life-giving source Continued from Page 13
Adhisthana is a place of gentle beauty, peace and fascinating energy. Located in Coddington, in the quiet countryside of England, Adhisthana has space to accommodate large retreats and both a men’s and women’s community, as well as to provide a home for Sangharakshita and his extensive library. Adhisthana is a place for people from throughout the worldwide Triratna community to meet, study and practice together. If the Triratna Buddhist Community
is a body, Adhisthana is the heart. It pumps the spiritual life blood out to the community, keeping a steady and strong pulse. Sangharakshita’s library brings together his books, archives, thankhas and images. His presence is a strong element of the Adhisthana experience as well. Gathering in numbers, large and small, the Triratna community is reminded of our roots and our gratitude to Bhante Sangharakshita. Inspired by the Dharma we move together into the future. Photos and information are available at www.Adhisthana.org and on www.TheBuddhistCentre.com.
Bhante’s Blessings: A personal account of an odyssey to Adhisthana by Dh Satyada While I don’t remember just when it began, as I learned more about the Triratna Community’s decision to purchase the property now known as Adhisthana, I felt a call to visit what has become to me the heart of our movement. That feeling grew through the spring of 2013 and became a regular discussion topic with my friend, Dh. Narottama. By the time of the retreat for Men in the Ordination Process in September 2013, the idea was taking shape. Narottama and I asked two fellow Dharmacharis – Vidhuma and Surakshita – if they’d like to join us on a trip to Adhisthana. We all agreed – although we still didn’t know when or how – that the four of us would undertake a “mythic journey” to Adhisthana. Thus, the band of four was formed. In a post to the BuddhistCentre. com in March 2013, Lokabandhu says: “Adhisthana is situated in quiet rural land near the Malvern Hills, south of Birmingham, UK. It will be a centre for the whole Triratna Buddhist Community and Order, a place where people from all over the world will meet, study and practice together, sometimes in small retreats, sometimes in large numbers. It will be a place where people can visit to connect with Sangharakshita and what he represents, a permanent home for his library and archives, his images and thankhas, and, in time, his final restingplace.” Further: “From its literal meaning of a site, residence, or position, the word ‘Adhisthana’ is then applied to the power pertaining to such a position. It can 14 VAJ R A BE LL
A journey to Adhisthana with the Five Amigos: (above, left to right) Dh. Narottama, Dh. Paramashanti, Dh. Surakshita, Dh. Satyada and Dh. Vidhuma. Left: Adhisthana’s buildings have been returned to most of their former majesty with the efforts of many dedicated individuals in the Triratna Community.
therefore mean the power which belongs to divine forms, and in this sense comes near to the conception of ‘grace.’ It can also refer to the power that is experienced in meditation or through the recitation of mantras. In that it may be transmitted by a spiritual teacher to his disciples, it may also be translated as ‘blessing.’” Adhisthana is a place, but it also could be thought of as the blessings Sangharakshita has given us. Those
blessings were immediately apparent to me as we drove up the driveway on a May morning this past spring. Our band of four had chosen a weeklong Order retreat in early May 2014 as the context of our visit. After an all-night flight from Logan Airport in Boston, we landed at London’s Heathrow airport and piled into a rental car for the drive. As we turned into the property, I sensed something special continued on page 15 WI NT E R 2015
bhante’s blessings Continued from Page 14
about the place. The natural beauty of the surroundings combined with the scope of the intentions behind the dedicated group who helped this place come into being produced an experience bordering on the transcendental, truly something bigger than any mere conception of “me” could explain. Fortunately, we built a day of “arriving” into our schedule so we could explore and settle in before the retreat began. The retreat focused on finding beauty in the spiritual life, and was led by Subhuti and Padmavajra. At our first meeting, Subhuti spoke of the “Bhante energy” which suffused Adhisthana. I knew what he was talking about. Even though Sangharakshita was not well enough to meet with us, his energy was always with us. He was a strong presence throughout the retreat. The retreat was a profound experience
that I am still processing and am not ready to comment on here. Being with a large group of Order members from around the world, though, had a strong effect on me. Joining fellow retreatants and the Adhisthana community each morning and chanting the Tiratana Vandana before meditation brought to life for me a sense of being part of a worldwide movement dedicated to practicing the Buddha’s teachings based on Sangharakshita’s presentation of those teachings. That sense of connectedness grew stronger during the celebration that week on the anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment that happens on the full moon in May. A special seat had been put together in the shrine room composed of grasses picked from the fields surrounding Adhisthana. Spread over that seat of grass was one of Bhante’s old brown robes. During the puja that full moon night, we made offerings. I kept hearing a voice within me saying: “Bhante is my teacher; the Buddha is Bhante’s teacher.”
My offerings were for both my teacher and the Buddha who have blessed me with the opportunity to practice the Dharma. After the retreat was over, we had another day to soak up everything that had happened. That day of integration coincided with preparations at Adhisthana for the International Retreat. We had a chance to meet some of the Buddhafields group setting up tents and other infrastructure, preparing for the 400 people who came to Adhisthana to celebrate the international nature of the Triratna Community. What a blessing to see the energy in those young people. All conditioned things come to an end when the conditions that give rise to them fade away. The time to leave Adhisthana came way too soon. One thing was clear to me as we drove away: I will be back. I will be back to connect further with Sangharakshita and the blessings of his legacy that he has given to all of us in the Triratna Community.
Adhisthana - A place of great grace, beauty and blessings By Hattie Johnson Adhisthana Administrator and a mitra in the process for ordination Adhisthana is Triratna’s new spiritual home in a quiet, rural village near the Malvern Hills in Herefordshire, United Kingdom. It is also home to Triratna’s founder, Bhante Sangharakshita, and a growing community of 18 men and women. Importantly, it is a place for the whole movement to gather, study and practice together. The Adhisthana resident community is made up of Order members and mitras who work for Adhisthana, others who hold positions of responsibility in central Triratna institutions, as well as with Bhante and his support team. The Public Preceptors’ College and the Order Office are based there. Right at the heart of Adhisthana is the Sangharakshita Library – a collection of books and artifacts collected by Bhante over his lifetime, plus a wealth of letters, papers, photos and images connected with him and his life. One of the most important roles of Adhisthana is caring for this precious legacy. It will be a way for future generations to have a tangible continued on page 22 W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
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buddhist film series
Monthly Movie Night at Aryaloka Buddhist Center
That’s right! Aryaloka will be showing monthly movies beginning in 2015! This Buddhist film series offers a mix of classic favorites and perhaps some Dharmic films you’ve never seen before. So bring your friends and family, grab some refreshments, and enjoy a film with us.
All films begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 10:
Kundun The epic biographical film based on the life and writings of the 14th Dalai Lama, the exiled political and spiritual leader of Tibet.
Filmmaker Rick Ray asks the Dalai Lama ten key questions during the course of an interview, which is inter-cut with a biography of the Dalai Lama, a history of modern Tibet, and a chronicle of Ray’s journey securing the interview. (Not rated, 2006)
Journey to the West
Based on one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature of the same name, Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West is a contemporary remake of the misadventures of the Buddhist monk Xuanzhang as he makes a pilgrimage from China to India. (PG-13, 2014)
Ten Questions for the Dalai Lama
Samsara Samsara explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of humanity’s spirituality and the human experience. Samsara takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation. (PG-13, 2011)
The Dhamma Brothers An overcrowded, maximum security prison becomes the first prison in the United States to hold an extended vipassana retreat. The Dhamma Brothers follows the stories of several inmates who participated in this program. (Not Rated, 2007)
ARYALOKA B U D D H I ST C E N T E R
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14 Heartwood Circle, Newmarket, NH 03857 603.659.5456 | email@example.com
More online at:
www.aryaloka.org WI NT E R 2015
Men's Day at the MFA
arts at aryaloka
Aryaloka has a deep commitment to the contemplative arts - supporting the art process, creativity, and artistic expression as tools for communicating spiritual insights and, in the process of creation, dropping the self.
An Enchanted Evening at November Arts Night By Lois Sans You may have noticed a new piece of artwork at Aryaloka, a beautiful painting in tints and shades of blue by artist Virginia Peck. A collection of Peck’s work was shown this past October and November in Aryaloka’s Art Gallery/Yoga Room. The painting, “Buddha with Lotus,” was acquired with donations received at an Arts Evening event November 2 at Aryaloka and a matching gift from Peck’s son. Virginia joined sangha members for the event in November. Even though it was a windy, chilly Sunday evening, the turnout was plentiful. We warmed up with delicious snacks and good conversation before adjourning to the yoga room for the arts. Kavyadrishti started out by reading two of her poems, “November Ballet” and “Avalokitesvara Was Born with Two Arms,” both featured in this issue. Barry Timmerman played guitar and sang some traditional songs as well as his own compositions. Some were nostalgic, some humorous, and all were highly engaging. Mary Koon, who has taught contemplative dance for the past 15 years, entranced the audience with pieces from the Sacred Circle-World Dance. Although participation was not mandatory, everyone danced, whether seated or moving with grace around the circle of light. Koon currently teaches a class at the Unitarian
Church in Milford, NH, where all are welcome. Virginia Peck, who works at her studio in Lowell, Massachusetts, spoke about her art and how, through meditation when the “light bulb went on,” she came to paint the Buddha with a unique technique. She covers a canvas with an under-painting of abstract colors, draws the head of the Buddha in charcoal, and then layers over the abstracts with complementary colors. Each Buddha is unique, luminous and serene. Peck also showed a video on how she works and the step-by-step process she
uses. You can view her work through her website at www.facesofbuddha.com. As the evening wound down, the power went out, a fitting way to leave the evening in quiet contemplation. Arts Evenings are held every autumn, this being our sixth year. We hope you can join us for the next event in 2015. Thanks go to the contemplative arts kula – Eric Ebbeson, Tobbie MulroyKrantz, and Jean Corson for a very successful event, as well as to Sue Ebbeson for her on-going support.
A forty watt bulb replaces the hundred.
Oil trucks come back from their summer migration.
Wind moves leaves into hidden places like relatives sent to institutions.
The milkweed pods made barren by the wind hold fast like lonely grandmothers.
poetry November Ballet By Dh. Kavyadrishti
There is the cold, and the smell of skunk, and the sound of one car passing. Ballerinas rise from broken milkweed pods, some caught again by thistles. Candidates’ signs sprout overnight on lawns like dandelions. W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
Joggers put on sweat pants; chrysanthemums succumb. Jack-o-lanterns shrivel at doorways like the old men who sleep on church steps.
A few stubborn crabapples wait to add to the splatter on the ground. There is the cold and the wait for one car. VAJ R A BE L L 17
What’s New in the Bookstore - by Dh. Shantikirika
You may have noticed the bookstore has undergone a transformation over the past few months. You can expect more changes in the future! If you wish to purchase a gift certificate for Buddhaworks, please see Vanessa Ruiz in the office or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are books you would like to special-order, please contact Bodhana at email@example.com. For items you would like to see us offer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking for new Dharma-related items to add to our inventory. We recently purchased several copies of the Triratna Buddhist Order puja book. The 108-bead skull malas are popular, and there is also an adjustable skull wrist mala. Buddhaworks features handmade, one-ofa-kind mala or kesa bags that can be used to store anything, made by our own sangha member Akashavanda. Please check these lovely items out the next time you are in the bookstore. In this issue of the Vajra Bell, Buddhaworks features selections from Sangharakshita’s vast body of work that represents the breadth of his writings on Buddhist practice. These classic texts cover core Triratna concepts and practices such as the Three Jewels, going for refuge, ethics and metta in Sangharakshita’s unique perspective and style.
The Three Jewels: The Central Ideals of Buddhism “Three precious jewels lie at the heart of Buddhism, radiating the light of awakening into the world: the Buddha Jewel, as symbol of Enlightenment (the figure of the Buddha); the Dharma jewel, the path to Enlightenment taught by the Buddha; and the Sangha jewel, the Enlightened followers of the Buddha down the ages who have truly devoted their lives to his teachings. This book illuminates these precious gems in a clear and radiating light.” ~ WindhorsePublications.com A Guide to the Buddhist Path “The Buddhist tradition, with its numerous schools and teachings, can understandably feel daunting. Which teachings really matter? How can one begin to practice Buddhism in a systematic way? This can be confusing territory. Without a guide one can easily get dispirited or lost. “Profoundly experienced in Buddhist practice, intimately familiar with its main
schools, and founder of the Triratna Buddhist Community, an international movement, Sangharakshita is the ideal guide. In this highly readable anthology he sorts out fact from myth and theory from practice to reveal the principal ideals and teachings of Buddhism. The result is a reliable and farreaching guide to this inspiring path.” ~ WindhorsePublications.com The Ten Pillars of Buddhism “In a world marked by rapid changes, shifting lifestyles and values, how can we be sure that we are making the best choices for ourselves, others and the world? This small book explores 10 basic Buddhist ethical principles and the liberating view of ourselves contained within them. Buddhist ethics are not a list of laws imposed from outside, but guiding principles we can apply to ev-
Buddhaworks The Aryaloka Bookstore
* Books by Sangharakshita * DVDs from Pema Chodron and Lama Surya Das * Meditation Journals * CDs from Thich Nhat Hanh
* Singing Bowls * Brass Door Chimes from Nepal and India * Meditation Candles * Lots and Lots of Great Books!
Your support brightens Aryaloka’s future. Buddhaworks is located at the Aryaloka Buddhist Center
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buddhaworks eryday situations. Emphasizing personal responsibility and choice, not blind obedience, the Buddhist path of ethics leads us into a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. To apply them is to put to the test the promise of the Buddha: that by our own efforts we can transform our actions, emotions and thoughts to allow our compassion and wisdom to shine through all that we do.” ~ GoodReads.com Living with Kindness: The Buddha’s Teaching on Metta “Kindness is one of the most basic qualities we can possess, and one of the most powerful. In Buddhism it is called metta – an opening of the heart to all we meet. Any friendly feeling contains the kernel of metta. It is a seed that is waiting to be developed, right here amidst the conditions of our daily life. “Living with Kindness is a pithy commentary on the Buddha’s teaching of metta in the Karaniya Metta Sutta. In it, Sangharakshita, a teacher of Buddhism for over 50 years, shows us how to cultivate many of the facets of kindness in ordinary, everyday life. Outlining the nurturing conditions the seed of kindness needs to grow, he encourages us to follow the path that
leads to a warm and expansive heart – and beyond. And with that heart, we can be happier and more fulfilled in ourselves and empathize with the joys and sufferings of all living beings.” ~ WindhorsePublications.com The History of My Going for Refuge “The act of committing one’s life to Buddhism and its three central tenets, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha is known in many traditions as ‘going for refuge.’ “Tracing his own path of discovery, Sangharakshita shows the importance of
commitment to these three spiritual ideals and how this commitment provides a basis of unity among all Buddhists. In so doing he also tells the story of the founding of the Triratna Buddhist Community, an international Buddhist movement. . . The History of My Going for Refuge makes essential reading for anyone interested in the history and development of Buddhism in the West.” ~ WindhorsePublications.com
Audio-visual resources exploring Buddhism
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Aryaloka Classes & Retreats You Won’t Want to Miss INTRODUCTORY Introduction to Meditation Course Wednesdays, Jan. 14 - Feb. 4, 10am - 12pm Led by Bodhana This four-week course provides a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of sitting meditation practice. During the course, two different meditation practices will be taught: the mindfulness of breathing and meditation on loving-kindness. These are traditional Buddhist meditation techniques dating back to the time of the Buddha. Introduction to Meditation & Buddhism Course Wednesdays, Feb. 11 - Mar. 18, 7pm - 9pm Led by Vihanasari & Rijupatha On these six Wednesday evenings we will learn three traditional Buddhist meditations and also explore central Buddhist teachings - including the ethical precepts, conditionality or interconnectedness, and the Four Noble Truths - in a way that is appplicable to daily life. Introduction to Meditation: Mindfulness of Breathing January 25 Led by Lilasiddhi This workshop is an intensive introduction to the foundational meditation practice of mindfulness of breathing. Basic methods of setting up our meditation and the 20 VAJ R A BE LL
traditional Buddhist meditation form will taught. INTERMEDIATE COURSES Path of Practice Group Monthly Sunday meetings from March 2015 - March 2016 9am - 1pm Led by Amala & Khemavassika This course is open to those who want to deepen their practice in 2015, with monthly sessions on Sunday mornings. While each meeting will differ, shrine room practice will be an important focus. Some mornings will feature sutta or sutra study, others may have a talk. There will be the opportunity to share your experiences with others in the program. RETREATS Kalyana Mitrata Retreat for Portland, Boston & NYC Sanghas January 16-19 Led by Sunada, Vajramati, Padmadharini & Dharmasuri As the Buddha explained to Ananda, spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life. We will explore through talks, study, discussion and small groups how friendship impacts our practice and how it relates to our everyday lives. We will connect with each other through meditation, open discussion, and devotional practice.
Nordic Nirvana Retreat February 6-8 Led by Akashavanda & Arjava Pack your cross country skis or snowshoes to experience the awe of Aryaloka’s winter stillness and beauty. Scheduled to fall on the full moon, this weekend retreat will be a delicious mix of playing in the snow, meditation, periods of noble silence, and small group discussion – all in the context of cultivating mindfulness and gratitude. Introduction to Noble Silence Weekend Retreat March 12-15 Led by Bodhana & Lilasiddhi On this weekend retreat we will be exploring the practice of Noble Silence – stillness of body, speech, and mind – and learning how to bring stillness into our daily lives. If you are considering attending a longer, multi-day Noble Silence retreat, this event would be an excellent introduction. Awakening to Spring: Yoga & Meditation Retreat March 20-22 Led by Judy Wall, Shrijnana & Arjava Just in time for spring- open your heart and rejuvenate your body with a weekend retreat in peaceful surroundings. Yoga sessions will include both active sessions that promote strength and flexibility and restorative sessions that foster relaxation WI NT E R 2015
and mindfulness. Meditation sessions will focus on the metta bhavana (loving-kindness meditation), which deepens our loving connection with ourselves and others. The instruction will be tailored to your level. Mindful Eating Retreat: After the First Bite March 27-29 Led by Amala & Megrette Fletcher Bring the power of mindfulness into your life by engaging in the practice of mindful eating. Transform your mind, health, and life, learn how to use three steps with food and the act of eating, using 2,500-year-old wisdom from the Buddhist tradition. This weekend retreat will also discuss three common obstacles to mindfulness and mindful eating and three helpful tools to overcome them. CLASSES/WORKSHOPS Men’s Practice Day: Spiritual Rebirth January 10, 9am - 2pm Led by Vidhuma & Tom Gaillard This men’s day will explore the aspect of the spiritual life that is, in the TBC’s definition, termed “Spiritual Rebirth.” The
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the most wonderful meditation experience of my life with prolonged periods of pure
day will include practice, exercises and discussion to help us move beyond the small, selfcentered, agitated self and learn to see and express a wise, loving, vast, indefinable you. Mindfulness and Health February 28, 9am - 1pm Led by Vidhuma Dr. Paul Shagoury (Vidhuma) will review the impact of mindfulness meditation on physical and emotional health. The presentation will include a working definition of mindfulness along with a look at research on mindfulness and stress, depression, cancer, anxiety and well-being. Ancient Wisdom: Shantideva’s Perfection of Patience March 28, 9am - 1pm Led by Candradasa Join Aryaloka’s senior Dharma teachers for study of suttas, sutras, and stories from throughout the Buddhist tradition. This month’s Study is from Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
concentrated joy. We broke silence at 7 a.m. to talk with those with whom we had shared silence. After breakfast, we reflected on our time together, closing with the three-fold puja. Winding down
(Bodhicaryavatara), led by Candradasa. Living Joyfully, Dying Peacefully Workshop Series In three separate workshops led by Karunasara we will be focusing on Death and Dying from a Buddhist perspective and within a Buddhist context. Each workshop will explore a different aspect of death and dying, ranging from the philosophical to the very practical. Living & Dying the Buddhist Way January 24, 9am - 1pm This workshop will explore the Buddhist view of death and dying, showing us how a greater understanding of the meaning of death helps us live our lives more fully. How to Benefit Those Who Are Dying and Those Who Have Died February 14, 9am - 1pm This workshop will help participants learn how to support someone facing a life threatening or terminal illness, and how to help ourselves when we are grieving. The Practical Aspects of Dying March 21, 9am - 1pm This workshop will guide participants in clarifying their wishes for end-of-life care, and help them navigate the medical environment of the end-of-life stages.
the experience by cleaning the center and eating leftovers together was bittersweet, but I left with a mind more calm, a heart more open and a faith more steadfast.
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 onehalf of the total cost to finalize registration. If a registrant cancels two weeks or more before the retreat, s/he will receive a
credit of the full amount toward another event. If the cancellation is received less than two weeks before the event, the registrant forfeits half of the retreat fee, and the remainder may be credited toward another event.
Note: In all situations, special circumstances will be taken into consideration. W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
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grace, beauty, blessings Continued from Page 15
connection with Bhante, offering a sense of him and his life’s work. All provide a multi-faceted foundation for an everwidening international sangha. I joined the community in November 2014, after having spent five months here earlier in the year on the Young Women’s Dharma Life course. Taking part in the course was a blessing. I found it deeply transformative to live in conditions that supported immersion in a “Dharma life,” in community with seven other young women, studying and working together, developing close friendships and participating in the wider resident community. We spent the five months studying five papers written by Subhuti, Bhante’s teachings from What is the Western Buddhist Order to A Supra-Personal Force, as well as a rich variety of other related teachings. We received training in skills ranging from non-violent communication to group facilitation to creative writing. We benefitted from the practice and experience of the Dharmacharinis who joined us each week. It was, at the time, the happiest, most intense and supportive five months of my life. I left with a deeper appreciation of and confidence in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and a profound gratitude to Bhante for offering such a wealth of teachings, creating a sangha and keeping the Dharma alive and vital. Part of the Adhisthana vision is to offer training courses such as this, alongside a full program of different events to preserve, explore and communicate Bhante’s presentation of the Dharma. The events include retreats and training, colloquia, Order weekends, local sangha retreats and many other groups who come and practice together such as ordination reunion and right livelihood team retreats. With this variety, and sometimes with different events happening at the same time, Adhisthana is alive as the heart of the Triratna community and a meeting place for the whole sangha. It’s inspiring to observe the different constellations of people arising and passing, surprise meetings between old friends, and new
connections building between people. Many people say how much they love the atmosphere here, and come back again and again. Adhisthana is set in a beautiful landscape that I’ve particularly enjoyed over the last few months. Watching leaves changing and falling; sunlight filtering through morning mist hanging over the field carpeted with frost; a brilliant blue kingfisher playing by the pond; golden light streaming onto the red brick buildings; a white owl at dusk flying low over the abundant natural wetland; an amber moon suspended over the Malvern Hills; and, as always, richly-coloured and expansive skies at sunrise and sunset. I was fortunate to attend talks at the two Eros and Beauty retreats held this year. Adhisthana seemed the appropriate setting to explore the relationship between beauty and the spiritual life. Subhuti described how aesthetic experiences can break down normal perception, entering into what Bhante describes as the “greater mandala of aesthetic appreciation” where the distinction between self and world become less clearly defined. Inhabiting the mandala, one experiences the world in an appreciative rather than a utilitarian mode, as a beautiful expression of reality that brings delight and joy, freedom and creativity.
Living at Adhisthana encourages sensitivity to beauty and gives rise to a deeper aesthetic appreciation, delight in simplicity and an experience of fluidity and connectedness. From one perspective, Adhisthana exists as a retreat centre; a community; a place for meeting, study and pilgrimage; and a central institution of the movement. As a team, those of us who live here work together to ensure this all functions and runs as smoothly as possible, and with that comes challenges. From the perspective of the greater mandala there is mutual delight and playful creativity in sustaining something that expresses our deepest shared values in the service of the Three Jewels. This is Bhante’s Adhisthana, alive and manifest in the world, the flowing forth of a lineage, Adhisthana as “blessing.” I hope that I have communicated something of Adhisthana and its beauty so that you – and as many people as possible – come visit us, either for study, gathering in large numbers or just as a pilgrim. Our offering of 2015 retreats can be found on our website at www. Adhisthana.org, on The Buddhist Centre Online (www.TheBuddhistCentre.com/ Adhisthana), on Free Buddhist Audio (www.FreeBuddhistAudio.com), and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ Adhisthana) where you can follow us.
Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you! 22 VAJ R A BE LL
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The Buddhist Centre Online
www.TheBuddhistCentre.com The Buddhist Center Online is the main website for the Triratna Community. The site offers more than could possible be covered here in this space, continuing an overview of the TBC, a history of the movement and background on Sangharakshita and his teachers. You will have to discover it for your-
self. Sections give an introduction to Buddhism, instructions on how to meditate and more. For anyone already familiar with the Triratna Community, the Buddhist Center Online offers a wealth of opportunities to connect with the wider movement. Once you register with the site, “My Sangha” is a space where you can learn what is happening around the Triratna
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Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Practice night, 7-8 pm Mindfulness and Health, 9 am-1 pm, led by Vidhuma. Please register
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Drawing group, 9:30-11:30 am, led by Eric Ebbeson Open meditation session, 9 – 10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm. Everyone is welcome! Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Film Night: The Dhamma Brothers, 7-10 pm Path of Practice Group, led by Amala and Khemavassika, 9 am-1 pm Children’s sangha, 2-4 pm, led by Alisha Roberts Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana
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world. A new feature is the ability to create a news digest that can deliver snippets of news to your inbox. Whether you’re an old hand with Triratna or just getting started, turn your browser to www.TheBuddhistCentre.com and discover the opportunities that await you. ~ Dh. Satyada
Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Introduction to Noble Silence weekend retreat, led by Bodhana and Lilasiddhi. Please register Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Yoga and Meditation retreat, led by Judy Wall, Arjava, and Shrijnana. Please register Death and Dying Series, workshop 3: The Practical Aspects of Dying, 9 am – 1 pm, led by Karunasara. Please register Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends Night, 6:45-9:15 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana After the First Bite: Mindful Eating weekend retreat, led by Megrette Fletcher and Amala. Please register Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm
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 among 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. W I NTE R 2 0 1 5
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 Triratna 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 page-turner 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 chal-
lenge 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 primetime material? Let us know what you’re thinking - it may grow from a seedling thought into a solid story. The important thing 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. ◆◆
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(All events are subject to change. For the latest, up-to-date information, check our website at http://www.aryaloka.org or call the office at 603-659-5456.) Events in italics held at Akasaloka. Mitra classes & Order days not included.
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Meditate for Peace Day Order weekend, Led by Narottama. Order members only Drawing group, led by Eric Ebbeson Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Practice Night, 7-8 pm Men’s day. All men are welcome. Please register Film night: Kundun, 7-10 pm Path of Practice Group, Led by Amala and Khemavassika 9 am-1 pm. Please register Children’s sangha, 2-4 pm, led by Alisha Roberts Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm Four-week Introduction to meditation course begins, 10 am- 12 pm, led by Bodhana. Please register Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Outlying centers retreat for members of sanghas other than Aryaloka. Please register Open meditation session, 9 – 10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm. Everyone is welcome! Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Practice night, 7 -8 pm Death and Dying Series workshop 1: Dying: The Buddhist Way, 9 am-1 pm, led by Karunasara. Please register Introduction to meditation workshop, 9 am-1 pm, led by Lilasiddhi. Please register Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends Night, 6:45-9:15 pm.
Drawing group, 9:30-11:30 am, led by Eric Ebbeson Children’s sangha, 2-4 pm, led by Alisha Roberts Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm. Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Nordic nirvana weekend retreat, led by Arjava and Akashavanda. Please register Practice night, 7-8 pm Path of Practice Group, led by Amala and Khemavassika, 9 am-1 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm. Six week Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism course begins. 7-9 pm, led by Vihanasari & Rijupatha. Please register Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Practice night, 7-8 pm Film Night: Journey to the West, 7-10 pm Parinirvana Day, 9 am-3 pm, led by Karunasara Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Friends night, 6:45-9:15 pm Open meditation session, 9-10 am, led by Bodhana Practice night, 7-8 pm Death and Dying Series, workshop 2: How to Benefit Those Who Are Dying and Those Who Have Died, 9 am-1 pm, led by Karunasara. Please register Ancient Wisdom Study: Patience from the Bodhicaryavatara, 9 am-1 pm, led by Candradasa. Please register continued on page 23
ongoing events Sangha Night At Aryaloka Every Tuesday evening, 6:45-9:15 p.m. • Led by Arjava, Akashavanda, Amala, Satyada, Lilasiddhi, and other sangha members. • Open to all • Suggested donation $10 per class • No registration necessary Typically, our Tuesday night activities include: • 6:45 - 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 any of these activities, you are free to participate or to just sit and listen. Nothing is compulsory. If you have any questions, please ask! 24 VAJ R A BE LL
Full Moon Puja Friday evenings as scheduled (unless noted). See the Aryaloka website or Vajra Bell events schedule for dates and locations. 7:00 p.m. meditation, followed by 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. 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 WI NT E R 2015