keeping sangha connected
Going for Refuge Mean to You?
Also in this issue:
Sadhana Practice by Dh. Kavyadrishti
Surrendering to Diversity by Dh. Vimalasara
In the Pali Canon - some of the oldest know Buddhist texts - when you read stories about the Buddha teaching to someone, it’s not uncommon after the Buddha’s teaching for that someone to declare, out of their amazement and gratitude, that they will henceforth go for refuge to the Buddha. So what does this mean? Well, it’s a question that we may grapple with throughout our Buddhist lives, as the meaning continually takes on new forms and depths. In this issue we’re fortunate to have some wonderfully personal answers to this question from a variety of strong practitioners each one unique and fascinating, exploring different facets of Going for Refuge, with a mysterious central thread to them. On the recent Men’s ordination training retreat, in one of the evening talks, Vidhuma gave a little bit of the history behind the phrase “Going for Refuge” which I had personally never heard before. He explained that the wording actually predates the Buddha’s time, and was used when an individual or group sought out safety and protection from a stronger individual or group. For example, a village might have “gone for refuge” to a group of warriors or a ruler who would vow to protect them from danger. Knowing this history, for me, actually strengthens the statement all the more. The phrase was used for hundreds or even thousands of years before the Buddha as an expression of seeking safety from physical danger and uncertainty. I envision it as an expression of humility, desperate gratitude, hope, a relief from fear and anxiety, and total reliance on another’s gifts. And then the Buddha arrives on the scene, and the strength of what he has to offer the world is so immense that the people who encounter him are driven to use this same phrase to express their devotion to him and his vision, his teachings, and the community he has created. The phrase “going for refuge” transforms from seeking
sanctuary from physical threats, and becomes a powerfully deep response to what the Buddha has revealed about Reality with a capital “R,” along with a firm commitment to dedicate oneself to following the path that leads to the same vision, and to sharing that vision with others. There are those moments in life and practice when one can viscerally experience this natural response to truth and depth. For many of us, the most readily accessible one is walking through the doors of Aryaloka or another Buddhist Center for the first time. Or maybe you experienced it the first time you meditated. Perhaps you met a Buddhist in passing. But something in you knew you had “come home” - an expression I’ve heard many times when talking with people about their spiritual life. There was something inside you which heard the Dharma or resonated with the presence of another person, and naturally responded with, “This is it!” And maybe it was then that you made the decision to dedicate yourself to this path. The first steps in Going for Refuge. At other moments in your practice, Going for Refuge might take a different form. You may go through a period in which the suffering of life is more than you can easily bear, or you’re just really struck by the existential difficulty of it all. In those moments the aspect of Going for Refuge as a sanctuary may have more meaning, and you might find solace in the fact that change for the better is just as inevitable as the challenging realities of impermanence. You may find some measure of safety in the acceptance and wisdom that comes out of your practice as you simply take in your experience as it is. And you may discover hidden reservoirs of confidence and faith in your struggles. These are continuing steps in Going for Refuge. Whatever form your own Going for Refuge takes, pay attention to it and don’t walk away from opportunities to go deeper with it. Look closely at your experience and continually ask how it can help you to grow spiritually, and then commit to moving in that direction, with awareness, openness, and diligent effort. ◆◆
Would you like to contribute to 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 to the right. 2
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VAJRA BELL KULA EDITOR IN CHIEF: Eric Wentworth email@example.com ADMINISTRATION EDITOR: Dh. Vihanasari firstname.lastname@example.org SANGHA EDITOR: David Watt email@example.com FEATURES EDITOR: Mary Schaefer firstname.lastname@example.org ARTS EDITOR: Elizabeth Hellard email@example.com MEDIA EDITOR: Jaime Grady firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTOR: Dh. Satyada email@example.com
ARYALOKA COUNCIL MEMBERS COUNCIL CHAIR: Dh. Dayalocana firstname.lastname@example.org CO-TREASURER: Dh. Arjava email@example.com CO-TREASURER: Dh. Akashavanda firstname.lastname@example.org Dh. Surakshita email@example.com Dh. Vihanasari firstname.lastname@example.org Dh. Shrijnana email@example.com Barry Timmerman firstname.lastname@example.org Elizabeth Hellard email@example.com P.T. SECRETARY: Eric Wentworth firstname.lastname@example.org
Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 email@example.com · 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 on The Buddhist Centre Online: http://thebuddhistcentre.com/aryaloka Cover art: h.koppdelaney
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musings from the chair The European Chairs Assembly of the Triratna Buddhist Community held its summer meeting in August. Chairs from other Triratna Centers around the world were invited to join the group and I was fortunate to attend the meeting held at Adhisthana, the new central home for the Triratna Order and Community, situated in the English countryside in the village of Coddington. The meeting began with five days of retreat time with center presidents, mitra convenors, and members of the Public Preceptors’ College. The mornings were devoted to silence with several meditation sessions in the shrine room, and the days concluded with pujas. When 130 sincerely engaged Order members practice together,
from the council
the silence is deep and the devotion is strong. The Chairs meeting was filled with interesting presentations and many topics for discussion. We heard from The Buddhist Centre Online, Windhorse Publications, a proposal for ethical guidelines for centers, and projects for young people. It was inspiring to learn what Order members are doing to create conditions to offer the Dharma throughout the world. The Triratna Community is global - four center chairs shared work they are doing in Mexico, South Africa, Estonia, and Poland. Adhisthana is a jewel of a place. Since last fall a dedicated, hard-working team has transformed the former school for autistic children into a beautiful center for the Triratna Community. A large stone Buddha sits in the shrine room surrounded by three-inch Buddhas from Triratna
centers around the world (including Aryaloka). The kitchen, dining hall, and lounge easily accommodate large numbers, and study rooms and bedrooms are found throughout the buildings. Sangharakshita’s living area is connected to the men’s community and the women’s community is next to the library, which is still under construction. Beyond the buildings there are lovely fields with seventeen varieties of wildflowers waiting to bloom next spring, and a stone Buddha sitting in peace under a tree and waiting for the full moon to illuminate his face. Beyond the fields are hills dotted with sheep. Please take a look for yourselves at www.adhisthana.org. We can all rejoice at the depth and diversity of the Triratna Community and the harmony of people working together to bring the teachings of the Buddha to our world. ◆◆
◆ At the July meeting, Michelle Hart and Sue Ebbeson presented a proposal enthusiastically approved by the Council - to form a new Generosity Kula whose goals would be to help people in the community while at the same time provide an opportunity for the sangha to work together on generosity. They hope that sangha members will support this new kula and take their practice off the cushion and out into the world to help those in need. ◆ The Development Team reported that they will hold a pledge drive again this year, develop a revamped auction plan for discussion, and explore other fundraising ideas. ◆ According to the Finance Team, we have been in good shape for the first six months of 2013, but will need to be a bit more cautious with expenditures in the second half of the year.
◆ The Program Team explained the latest draft of the Aryaloka curriculum and the many flexible ways that it can be used by teachers at the center. The team would also like to revitalize the children’s program and start looking ahead to 2014 events. ◆ Those on the stupa project - the structure to house Dhardo Rimpoche’s ashes - will be soliciting donations worldwide. This is not an Aryaloka project per se, but support from individual sangha members would be happily accepted. ◆ Finally, Jean Corson led the Council in a discussion re: what to focus on for the coming year, and five areas were selected. In rank order they include 1.) strengthening the sangha by finding ways to help members get to know one another better and finding ways to bring the whole sangha together on a regular basis rather than meeting mostly in smaller groups (such as Friends’ Night, Mitra study, Order days, etc.). 2.) strengthening the Spiritual Vitality kula which works to support the spiritual aspect of our lives. 3.) “succession planning” and identifying
people to take on leadership roles. 4.) continuing automation of administration and marketing functions. 5.) carrying out renovations and other plans for the facility. ◆ In August, Dayalocana gave a report to the Council about what had transpired at the Chairs (of Centers) meeting at Adhisthana in the UK. ◆ The Facility Team reported that parking is still an issue with no extensive improvement likely at this time. Akasaloka will be getting a new roof in October and a team has been put together to work on Shantiloka (the cabin) on Fridays. ◆ The Program Team shared their vision for the 2014 calendar. The overall goal is to further bring together and strengthen the core sangha. This means that there will be many more events offered for intermediate and experienced practitioners, but fewer events planned for introductory students. For festival days, we’ll be inviting the entire sangha to take part, not just in the festivities, but also in the organization and preparation. ◆ Vihanasari reported on the white dog continued on page 23
The Aryaloka Council minutes are posted on the bulletin board at the foot of the stairs. AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
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sangha notes ARYALOKA SANGHA (NEWMARKET, NH)
◆ Our Tuesday evening Friends’ Nights include meditation and discussion groups and classes. The fall series includes three offerings: Lilasiddhi is leading Introducing Buddhism, an eight-week course for newcomers on fundamentals of the history, philosophy, and practice of Buddhism. Arjava is leading a discussion group called Spiritual Friendship: Thicker than Blood. Discussions are based on source materials from the book Thicker than Blood by Maitreyabhandu, as well as poetry and even some sitcoms. Amala is leading Unite the Body, Heart and Mind with Chanting. This class will examine chanting and mantras from various Buddhist traditions and how we can use these chants in our individual and collective practices. ◆ On Saturday, November 23rd we will join to celebrate Sangha Day, a festival day in the Triratna community that celebrates the Three Jewels and especially the Arya Sangha - the Enlightened Teachers of the Buddhist tradition. All are welcome to
NAGALOKA SANGHA (PORTLAND, ME)
Greetings from Portland, Maine! Fall is upon us here in the north, with temperatures beginning to fall and the daylight fading. Many a porch and front step are decorated with pumpkins and mums, a beautiful display of the season’s growth. Our Wednesday Friends’ Night has been doing something new for the last few weeks. We have split into two groups for study. Bodhana and Maitrimani are leading a group that is reading Change Your Mind by Paramananda. Dharmasuri and Gail are leading a group exploring different weekly topics covering Buddhist basics such as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Narottama continues to teach Introduction to Meditation classes at least once a month and Dharmasuri led a morning retreat in July entitled Self, No Self, True Individual. Will the real me please 4
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join us for this celebration with our local community. There will be cake and other refreshments. The celebration will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and will conclude with a puja in the shrine room. ◆ From October 8th through November rd 23 Aryaloka will host an exhibition of paintings by Neil Harvey entitled Mind the Gap. The exhibit will hang in the Yoga room at Aryaloka. Neil is a well-known visual artist and sangha member whose paintings are inspired by his mindfulness practice. ◆ Eric Ebbesson has organized a new Drawing Group, which grew out of the meditation and drawing class that took place in September at Aryaloka. The group will meet on Sunday, October 27th and Sunday, Nov 24th from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m, with further meetings organized at a later date. All are welcome. Bring your favorite art supplies! ◆ For the first time in several years, there will be a Women’s Practice Day on October 12th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The day will include meditation, fellowship, and a study of early women in Buddhism focused on Dhammadinna and portions of the Culavedalla Sutta.
◆ There will be a Men’s Practice Day on Sunday, October 20th from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The day will combine morning meditation and working on various projects around the center in conjunction with the Fall Work Weekend. ◆ Full Moon Pujas with Meditation will be held on three upcoming Fridays: October 18th, November 15th, and December 13th. The evenings consist of meditation followed by a Sevenfold Puja - a devotional practice that includes readings from the suttas, chanting, offerings, and meditation. All are welcome, though some familiarity with meditation enhances the experience. ◆ From November 9th to November 16th there will be an online, order-wide event entitled Urban Retreat 2013 - Blazing Like the Sun. This “urban retreat” includes online led meditations and dharma talks that address the questions, “How can our hearts be more overflowing with kindness, compassion, confidence, and love of life?” and “How can we find the freedom of heart that is loving-kindness?” Visit the Aryaloka website more information on the Urban Retreat. ~ David Watt
stand up? Louise and Dharmasuri are furthering Nagaloka’s outreach into the community by visiting the Cumberland County Jail and leading sessions at Birthroots. In August Dharmasuri visited Adhisthana (Bhante’s new home and a project of the Triratna Preceptors’ College Trust) in Coddington, England for two weeks, attending a special retreat with center chairs, mitra convenors, presidents, and Preceptor’s College members, and also the European Chairs Assembly meeting. She has returned home to us very inspired by our worldwide community and hopes to have some senior Order members from the UK come and share their practice with us here in the states. Louise will begin leading Young Children’s Creative Movement and Mindfulness classes beginning September 24th. A Children’s Storytime and Puja is scheduled for September 29th, and a Sangha Picnic at Vienna Farm (home to mitra Jim Jaeger) is also scheduled for the afternoon of the 29th. A video of Dharmasuri leading
a Sunday meditation at Nagaloka will be released to Youtube soon. It was filmed by a local Portland network, CTN. Be sure to check it out! A Women’s Holistic Health Day is scheduled for October 19th at Nagaloka. The program for the day is in development. Check our website for further updates at www.nagalokabuddhistcenter.org. Nagaloka will also be participating in this year’s Urban Retreat from November 9th to 16th. This year’s theme is “Blazing Like the Sun.” ~ Gail Yahwak
For Your Information... TRIRATNA CENTERS IN NORTH AMERICA: Newmarket, NH Portland, ME Somerville, MA New York City, NY Missoula, MT
San Francisco, CA Seattle, WA Portsmouth, NH Vancouver, BC
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sangha notes ROCKY MOUNTAIN SANGHA (MISSOULA, MT)
Greetings from Missoula, Montana! Our year started off with a retreat in March on beautiful Flathead Lake. Some of you may remember being on retreat at the wonderful Deep Bay venue. We are trying to facilitate yearly spring and fall open retreats. We will try to keep you posted with upcoming dates as we would love to see many more new faces attend. Deep Bay Retreat 2013 Dhammarati came for his annual visit in May and was able to attend a beautiful mitra ceremony for Eric Estes, Erik Leithe, and Stella White. While he was here he led a practice day which was thoroughly enjoyed. Since our summers in Montana are highly anticipated and usually jam-packed with activities the schedule at the Center was very light this year. As fall is now here we are expanding the calendar once again. Saramati will facilitate a five-week Sangha Night sequence starting this month to explore how we might all better rise to the challenge of communicating what we
PORTSMOUTH SANGHA (PORTSMOUTH, NH)
The Portsmouth Buddhist Center has moved into its new home, just in time to celebrate our two-year anniversary. After several months of searching for a suitable (and affordable!) space we moved the meditation gear, shrine, library books and ourselves to the second floor at 84 Pleasant Street, just at the gateway to South Mill Pond, City Hall, and the farmer’s market. We are grateful for the support given to us by Mark McNabb and the McNabb Group, who offered us vacant office space for the past two years while we established our program and services in the Portsmouth community. Our autumn Sangha Nights began with an eight-week exploration of the Foundations of Buddhist Practice using stories from the Pali Canon to illuminate AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
find helpful and useful in our practice of the Dharma. This will be followed by an eight-week course of Intro to Buddhism and Meditation which will take us to almost the end of the year. Sometime in the near future we’ll have another reason to celebrate as we welcome Vic Stampley to the mitra sangha. We are looking forward to joining the teachings of the Buddha. From the Four Sights to Pingiya’s Praises to the Buddha’s Discourse on Loving-Kindness we delved into practical teachings and how to apply them in our lives. Coming up in October, we will have a five-week series on spiritual friendship which will start with the story of Meghiya and evolve into looking at the importance of spiritual friendship in our practices - especially in light of becoming ethically sensitive and communicating to create harmony with one another. We will be celebrating a mitra ceremony in November and offering a program for the International Urban Retreat (http:// thebuddhistcentre.com/highlights/urbanretreat-2013-blazing-sun). More news on both will be published soon! If you’d like to stay up-to-date on our programs and offerings, follow us on thebuddhistcenter. com/portsmouth or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to join our email list. ~ Dh. Viriyalila
Seattle, Vancouver, and San Francisco again at the annual Sun Lakes Retreat, usually held around the end of September - a fabulous time of year to be there. If you have a chance to be in the area, please put it on your calendar. This year Bodhipaksa will be leading the retreat on “Exploring Self Compassion.” ~ Kay Jones
KINGSTON MEDITATION GROUP (KINGSTON, NH)
For the fifth year, Kiranada is leading an Introduction to Meditation group at the Kingston Community Library on Wednesday evenings. By popular request, a daytime sitting group was formed which meets weekly at the new library to meditate together from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on Wednesdays. Anyone who has an established meditation practice and may have missed coming to Aryaloka on Tuesday evening for Friends’ Night is most welcome. This is a small group of committed souls who meet to sit year-round at the library. They’re always happy to welcome newcomers. For more information, call Kiranada at 603-6423479 or log in to the library website for directions at www.kingston-library.org. ~ Dh. Kiranada VAJ R A BE L L
Upcoming Events You Won’t Want to Miss Bodhisattvas at Play! Fall Work Weekend October 19-20 (Saturday 9-4, Sunday 9-2) All are welcome to this semi-annual celebration of generosity and friendship in which we care for our center. Whether cleaning, putting the gardens to bed for the winter, or filling potholes in the driveway, we can all help prepare the Center for the active Fall and Winter seasons ahead. The customary delicious vegetarian lunches and snacks present an opportunity to commune with other sangha members. Come help for as much time as you can (even if it’s only for lunch). No experience is necessary. We welcome your family and friends - it’s a nice way to introduce them to Aryloka! Pali Canon Series: Teachings on civility, equanimity, and love During the next quarter, there will be two day-long workshops on teachings from the Pali Canon. On Sunday, October 6th, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Vidhuma will lead a discussion on the Quarrel at Kosambi described in the Kosambiya Sutta.
The sutta begins: “Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at Kosambī in Ghosita’s Park. Now on that occasion the bhikkhus at Kosambī had taken to quarrelling and brawling and were deep in disputes, stabbing each other with verbal daggers. They could neither convince each other nor be convinced by others; they could neither persuade each other nor be persuaded by others.” Here we find the Buddha’s followers at one another’s throats over matters so trivial that they aren’t even mentioned. This unfortunate state of affairs has afflicted communities of all kinds since before the Buddha’s time. From this unpromising beginning, the Buddha delivers a teaching on cultivating the conditions to live in community with love, respect, helpfulness, and unity. The workshop will examine the lessons learned from the resolution of the quarrel at Kosambi and the relevance of these lessons to our own times and our own lives. On Sunday, November 10th, Viriyagita will lead a workshop from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
entitled Cherish All Beings based on the Kakacupama & Karaniya Metta Suttas. The Cherish All Beings workshop will focus on the subjects of alleviating ill-will and the cultivation of deep love for all beings. The Kakacupama Sutta begins with a parable in which a woman with a kind outward demeanor acts with outbursts of rage and violence. The anger inside her emerges in response to petty aggravation. The Buddha uses this tale as a starting point for instruction on cultivating metta in the face of enormous provocation. By contrast, the Karaniya Metta Sutta is a lovely, brief, poetic teaching that focuses on the joy of developing a “limitless heart.” Thus, the workshop will examine the complementary practices of avoiding illwill and cultivating love. The Four Brahma Viharas Retreat October 3-6 Led by Arjava & Karunasara From Thursday, October 3rd to Sunday October 6th, Arjava and Karunasara will lead an intermediatelevel retreat for experienced meditators that will focus on the Four Brahma Viharas, the four profoundly virtuous qualities of metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion),
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. 6
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mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity). Just as one cultivates metta in the Metta Bhavana practice, there are also practices that help one cultivate karuna, mudita, and upekkha. This retreat is an opportunity to broaden your meditation practice beyond the usual metta and mindfulness practices into the other Brahma Viharas. The retreat will include instruction into the techniques of the Karuna Bhavana, Mudita Bhavana, and Upekkha Bhavana. There will be opportunities ask questions and discuss one’s experiences about the Brahma Viharas in general, and about their associated meditation practices. There will also be long periods of meditation. You are invited to spend the weekend expanding your love, joy, compassion, and sense of peace through meditation. Intensive Noble Silence Retreat November 15-22 Led by Bodhana, Karunasara & Lilasiddhi From Friday, November 15th to Friday, November 22th Bodhana, Karunasara, and Lilasiddhi will lead an intensive Noble Silence Retreat. The intention of this intensive retreat is to create an atmosphere conducive to extended meditation with the fewest external distractions. Retreat participants will have no rota jobs or responsibilities so they can focus completely on their meditation practice. An emphasis on the collective aspect of practice using the Five Precepts is woven into the fabric of this retreat. Participants will have the opportunity for daily, individual conversations with retreat leaders about their meditation practice. Meals will be light and snacks will be provided. After a brief introduction and a question and answer period the first evening, we will be in Noble Silence until the morning of the final day. Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery Training and Annual Winter Retreat Led by Vimalasara We are very fortunate to host Vimalasara for three weeks during the month of December. Vimalasara has AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
at least two other names - Dr. Valerie Mason-John and Queenie. She is a TEDx speaker and has a wealth of experience as a journalist, historian, novelist, life coach and practitioner in the arts of (among other things) resolving conflict, treating addiction and healing the effects of bullying. A more extensive and impressive biography can be found here http:// www.bullyvictimbystander.com/about/. She is, of course, also a Triratna Order member and meditation teacher and is the Chairperson and mitra convenor for the Vancouver Buddhist Center. During her visit, she will lead both a residential course on mindfulness-based recovery training and the annual winter meditation retreat. MindfulnessBased Recovery Training for Buddhists, Experienced Meditators or Mindfulness Practitioners runs from Friday, December 13th, to Sunday, December 15th. This course teaches the use of mindfulness-based techniques to support people in the addiction recovery process. The retreat will provide the skills to deliver an eight-week course on Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for addiction. This will be an intensive residential training retreat with a full daily schedule. Participants should have a thorough knowledge of meditation, an understanding of mindfulness, and be practicing the five traditional Buddhist Precepts. This is open to Dharma practitioners working in the addiction field or for people who have experience of growing up in addictive homes, or are connected to people with addictions. In the context of the course training, participants will deepen their understanding of addiction and compulsive behavior and how mindfulness techniques help with recovery from addiction. They also will become more confident in their existing skills in working with these behaviors. Participants will gain the knowledge to co-facilitate such a course at their institution. Winter Meditation Retreat: Heart Wisdom from December 20-30. The retreat is an opportunity to journey into the world of loving-kindness and cultivate the conditions to experience no-self with
openness of heart and stillness of mind. The retreat is offered in three parts. It will begin and end with three-day long metta weekends with a six-day integration retreat in between. The metta weekends will include more instruction, guidance and opportunities for reflection. The integration week will include long periods of silence and is suitable for experienced meditators. This is a wonderful opportunity to “connect to your heart’s whisper” during a hectic season. ~ David Watt
New York Sangha Retreat on the Four Noble Truths The New York sangha is hosting a retreat from November 8-15 in Sherman, Connecticut, focused on the theme of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are considered by many Buddhists to be the “briefest synthesis of the entire doctrine of Buddhism.” They present a powerful formula that can be applied to everything we perceive and experience. In practical terms, everything in life is in fact not in our control, and we learn how to surrender into that. The retreat is open to those who wish to practice for a short or long weekend or a full week. Those participating for the whole week will have an opportunity to move into a more meditative space by exploring the Triratna System of Practice. This will be an experiential exploration of our own seasons on the spiritual path, starting where we are with spiritual integration, deepening our appreciation and acceptance of our experience, and resonating with our natural capacity to connect with ourselves and others. In spiritual death, we allow parts of ourselves that are no longer useful to fall away, and in spiritual rebirth, we open to what is continued on page 22 VAJ R A BE L L
The Light of the Buddha Behind Bars By Khemavassika
I began volunteering at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord about seven years ago. Initially, I supported the Buddhist day retreats and then joined the Saturday meditation group and have been doing so ever since. In addition to the Concord Sangha, there is a Buddhist presence at the NH State Prison for Women in Goffstown, as well as the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin. I have been asked: ‘So what is a nice ‘old’ lady like me doing hanging out every Saturday morning with a group of inmates?” What do I get out of it? It’s simple. A committed men’s sangha that inspires and moves me to practice all the harder! The men I have encountered there never cease to fascinate. Yes, each man has committed a crime, period. Some are very experienced meditators who have practiced for more years than many of us have been Buddhists. Others are very new to meditation. They may attend a few Saturday sessions and come back every now and then, or they may be so inspired that they become serious regular attendees. Several men at the Berlin Correctional Facility are mitras, including Rich, who requested ordination last year. On Friday, September 27th, Dan became a mitra at the weekend retreat in Concord, the theme of which was: Minding The Gap: Exploring the Tibetan Wheel of Life, the Spiral Path, and Samadhi. The inmates themselves requested the themes of the Wheel of Life and samadhi. At the previous retreat last June, they wanted to learn more about karma and the relationship between karma and merit! They are very serious practioners: some have formed their own study groups engaging in Dharma study on a daily basis. One may wonder how did this kula, the Khanti Prison Outreach, begin? About twelve years ago, after becoming a “pen pal” to several inmates at prisons across the country, Bodhana began visiting jails in the area, starting with the Strafford House of Corrections. He then decided to visit the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord, beginning a decade of building a working and spiritual relationship between the Concord and Aryaloka sanghas. Bodhana began teaching a Dharma class 8
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every Thursday afternoon, periodically joined by other Order members, including Bodhipaksa, founder of Wildmind, which offers online meditation classes. The Thursday classes are now facilitated by Satyada who also travels once a month to the Berlin correctional facility. Back in Concord, several mitras have volunteered over time when the Saturday morning meditation class was added. Bodhana wanted to expand the program to a twoday retreat, which eventually grew to three retreats a year. Each retreat had a theme and Order members and mitras were invited to participate. Several months ago, Prasannavajri joined our team by co-facilitating and contributing to the June retreat, several Saturday meditation sessions since then, and the recent September retreat. Our little sangha within a sangha is growing, collectively expressing through the inmates the light of the Buddha behind bars. More recently, Bodhana decided to concentrate his efforts on helping men in the Concord sangha as they approach the end of their time there and are looking at creating a new life outside the prison. We celebrate the fact that this group is also growing – now five men have completed their time! The Concord sangha has contributed significantly to Aryaloka Buddhist Center and to our bookstore. The three-piece shrine upon which sits our beautiful Buddha in the shrine room was designed by a local mitra and built from scratch
by sangha inmates from the hobby craft woodshop at the Concord prison. Many of our meditation benches and wooden malas are also lovely products of the creative and talented men there. One may ask, “My time is limited, so how can I help?” There are several ways. First, and simplest, the men love to expand the Dharma library in Concord. Used Dharma books are appreciated as well as Dharma magazines, even Yoga Journal. Secondly, consider attending one retreat. The Friday night session starts at 6:00 p.m. and finishes at 9:00 p.m. The Saturday session begins at 8:00 a.m. and continues until 3:30 p.m. This includes two coffee breaks and vegetarian lunch provided by the prison. The non-residential retreat is free to volunteers. Another way to help is to join Satyada who travels to Berlin monthly on the third Saturday of every month. He would appreciate the support of sangha members on the trip there (more than three hours each way) and participation during meditation sessions with inmates. What else? There are two ways to become a volunteer: a one time visit, or ongoing volunteer privileges for a three-year term. To begin with one must complete a volunteer form which you can download from (http://www.nh.gov/ nhdoc/documents/citizen_involve_app. pdf) and send it in SIX WEEKS before the retreat. Mary Hagler, the State Department of Corrections Volunteer Services Coordinator, is hired for two days a week, so the sooner one completes and submits the application, the better. This application allows a background check and, once approved, permission is good for one visit (check off “one time visit” on the form). For ongoing multiple visits, Mary Hagler conducts a three-hour citizen volunteer class in Concord several times a month. Volunteers are allowed to go into the prisons for a period of three years after taking this interesting training. The Khanti Prison Outreach team is presently considering developing an additional orientation for sangha members interested in participating in whatever way that works for them. All contributions of time are very much appreciated. Our vision is to keep the light of the Buddha behind bars continued on page 22 AUT UM N 2013
Support Our Center During the Pledge Drive! By Eric Wentworth Coming up in the next month we’ll be readying for our annual Pledge Drive to benefit Aryaloka’s Mandala of Support, which kicks off in mid-November. For those unfamiliar with the Mandala of Support, it’s our central dana resource at Aryaloka outside of fees for events and giving to the dana (generosity) bowl. It supports so much of what we do here - from keeping the lights on to paying for staff, and developing our excellent programming, among many other
important aspects of running a vibrant Buddhist center. The folks who give to the Mandala every year are offering such a huge gift to our sangha, as they commit to a monthly or yearly pledge of support for the place they love. Giving to the Mandala is an incredibly important part of not just our funding and stability at Aryaloka, but also our spiritual vitality as a sangha. By taking an active part in a culture of giving generously we expand our own sense of community and we put a real, tangible value on what we
do together when we practice the Dharma. We commit to sustaining our community with the resources it needs in order for it to return its support for our spiritual growth. So what is Aryaloka’s role in your own spiritual life worth to you? What’s the value of what Aryaloka offers in providing outreach to schools and prisons? What does it mean to you to have a spiritual home that runs efficiently and beautifully? If you’ve never pledged your support, please consider making this your first year, and encourage others to do the same! ◆◆
A New Generosity Kula: Aryaloka Cares By Sue Ebbeson
After months of meeting this winter and spring, Sue Ebbeson and Michelle Hart are co-chairing a new kula approved by the Aryaloka Council to provide an opportunity for the sangha to practice open-handed generosity with our surrounding communities through volunteering and donation of goods. Finally our new kula is up and running. You may have noticed that we have three donation boxes in Aryaloka’s entryway: one for school supplies, one for personal care items, and one for nutritious non-perishable food items. Already, your generosity is being felt in the community. Our focus this quarter is on children and families in need. We have lists on the boxes of the needs of the organizations. Through announcements on Friends’ Night and other forms of communication, we will continue to update you on their needs. We hope the boxes will become a fixture at Aryaloka. For all of us it inspires awareness and gratitude for what we have and what we can give. We realize that all of us have family commitments, jobs, and volunteering work in your communities and at Aryaloka, and that your time is already pretty well spoken for. What we would like to do is have group activities for you and your families a couple of times a year. For instance, we will have a date for beach cleanup through the Blue Ocean Society in early November. Hopefully there will be many other opportunities for kula members to AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
work in teams or pairs with agencies within our focus. We invite all sangha members and their families to work on any and all projects that we sponsor. We were happy to be asked to participate in Café Night in September. We had enthusiastic people with wonderful creative ideas. I would like to expand on a couple of suggestions that came up. One concern was that if we shifted focus, we would not be continuing with children’s needs. To answer that, we are actually expanding the focus. Today’s families often include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and single-parent families struggling to fulfill many people’s needs. Senior citizens especially are becoming the childcare providers to their children and grandchildren and are at the same time caring for their own health, their partners, and trying to feed themselves and their children. So, if our focus is the elderly, it is the whole family that we are caring for. As an aside, as a yoga teacher to seniors, I now find that they are often more stressed than my younger classes, sometimes overdoing things at their own health and welfare’s expense. The second idea that we found helpful was the idea of a “skill set list”. Basically it would be a list of what you like to do that might be helpful to others. For instance, if you like to paint, knit, cook, garden or landscape, rake, etc., this would be helpful to know if we were going to help a family or senior to maintain their home and yard. This list would be a good resource for Aryaloka as well.
Needs out in the communities are huge. Funding for assistance programs is constantly being cut. However, everything that we do makes a difference. As Buddhists we know we are all interconnected - it’s not “them or us” as we are being told by the media. One tube of toothpaste, one can of food, will help one person at a time. Already you have made quite a difference in a lot of lives. I wish you could see the joy on the faces when I distribute the goods to the agencies. We realize the need is big and that can be daunting. What we are suggesting is that we start small with excellence as our goal and not over-committing ourselves (as we all struggle with balance in our own lives). We are trying to ascertain the real needs out there and break away from only giving at holidays. Do what you can, when you can. It is our hope that sangha members have the opportunity to be generous in their communities under the Aryaloka banner. We want to promote awareness of Aryaloka and also provide the opportunity for sangha members to develop deeper spiritual friendships through the experience of working together in the community. Again we would like to thank all of you who have called, emailed, and spoken to us with your grateful approval and ideas to make this kula work. Please keep these ideas coming and join us in this endeavor. You can reach us at : Sue (email@example.com) Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) ◆◆ VAJ R A BE L L
Sadhana Practice in the Triratna Order Kavyadrishti Shares her Connection with the Heart Sutra By Dh. Kavyadrishti When I was asked to write something about my sadhana practice for this issue of the Vajra Bell, it was mentioned that the theme of the issue would be Going for Refuge, and it was suggested that I might talk about my sadhana in terms of my Going for Refuge. And that is, indeed, the essence of sadhana practice. Kamalashila has defined sadhana as, “a means of accomplishment of Enlightenment, Reality, Awakening. It is the focus of our practice surrounded by all the other practices, in order to deepen our Going for Refuge from effective to real.” In our Order, when one is ordained he or she is given, by one’s private Preceptor and often after some consultation, a sadhana practice - a practice that is expected to be a focus for the rest of one’s life. It certainly doesn’t eliminate the practice of meditation. If anything it expands it. Until recently all sadhanas were visualization practices, associated with a Buddha or Bodhisattva figure such as Tara, or Avalokitesvara, or Padmasambhava - each representing an aspect of Enlightenment, or the Enlightened mind itself. More recently this has expanded to include teachings as well, those that express an element of insight. Mine is not a visualization, it is the Heart Sutra, and it has come to encompass for me my refuge in the Three Jewels and also a shift in emphasis from my individual practice to a progression towards Bodhicitta, that will to find enlightenment not just for oneself, but for all beings. Of course we all go for refuge, even before we know anything about Buddhism. We go for refuge to something – money, success, family, photography, mountain climbing, alcohol, food (as in the new term Foodie). There is some paradigm that we are guided by, trust, and often see as what will save us in our struggle with day-to-day life. Sangharakshita has called these false refuges, and as Buddhist practice becomes 10 VAJ R A BE LL
The sutra was not written by the Buddha, but in it I find the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment, and even his attainment... more and more the focus and inspiration of one’s life, we can come to see them as false. But we can also come to see another refuge in the example of the Buddha’s life and teachings, as well as the teachings of enlightened ones since his time; in the Dharma that has been recorded for us to learn from; and in the Sangha, our Protectors, as they are called in the puja, those figures that represent some or all aspects of Enlightenment - a refuge in The Three Jewels. So how do I use the Heart Sutra to foster my Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels? The sutra was not written by the Buddha, but in it I find the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment, and even his attainment, as it ends with the mantra gate, gate, paragate, (... gone, gone, gone
beyond) bodhi, svaha. And when I recite it I remember it is my goal, that it’s an attainable goal, and that as the sutra also points out “attainment too is emptiness”. Here I touch the mystery, and something touches me. The sutra is also Dharma. There is more recorded of this spiritual journey we call Buddhism than any individual could read through in a lifetime, and the Heart Sutra is often pointed to as the shortest expression of the Perfection of Wisdom. And then there is my refuge in Sangha - those who have given us this teaching and many others, from the oral traditions of more than 2,500 years ago to the present day. From Shakyamuni to Sangharakshita, to the teachers we can sit and have a cup of tea with, “all Buddhas of past and present, Buddhas of future time (however distant that time may be)” using Prajna wisdom. Again the mystery. So I take refuge in my sadhana, The Heart Sutra, just as others find refuge in other sadhana practices, in whatever aspect of Enlightenment that sadhana represents, in the enlightened mind itself. And my journey continues, towards what’s real, towards Reality itself, from effective to real Going for Refuge. ◆◆ AUT UM N 2013
Unknow Yourself and Surrender to Diversity By Vimalasara Vimalasara currently resides in Vancouver, B.C. She was ordained in India in 2005, and is the Chairwoman and Mitra Convenor for the Vancouver Buddhist Centre. She was part of the Order team who led the Women’s GFR retreat at Aryaloka in August. This essay is an edited version of the talk she gave at that retreat. When I came across the sangha at the London Buddhist Centre in the 1980s, I was so involved with all my identities that I saw most people around me in a fixed way. I was so blinkered to diversity that all I could see was the story of the illusion I had created about the people I met there. I confess I painted the whole sangha with the same brush. So I separated myself the moment I walked through the door. I was so identified with my labels that all I could see when I first walked into the shrine room at the Centre was this white male dude of a rupa towering over me. I couldn’t even bow to it. The irony is that my life has become more diverse since I came across the sangha. I was twenty-seven then and having fun in my close-knit social community that was lesbian separatist predominantly black and white lesbians. So what changed? What happened to my labels? Well, of course, the practice of metta. My first turning around happened twenty years ago. A few years after meeting the sangha, I went to an event for AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
Sangharakshita. I was on my own, away from the group of women of color I usually attended my retreats with. I experienced an awakening moment during this celebration for Bhante. We were chanting the White Tara long life mantra when an energy arose in me and a flow of thought unfolded without identification. It unfolded something like, “How great is this? All these people are reflections of Bhante. Oh, that includes me, too. Oh, and India too.” I was no longer at the center of my thinking. It was no longer about me, about whether as a black person I could be part of the sangha. There was no black, no person, just something that I could not label that wanted to go for refuge. In that moment I knew that I could be part of this sangha no matter the “isms” that existed there. If I had identified with the first thought that arose and then got stuck on it, I would have gone on the gravy train of “Oh yeah, it’s all white... blah... blah.” Yes, these stories did come back, but that moment was the beginning of my letting go of a black female self that I had clung onto so dearly to survive in the world where I lived. I became a mitra with my African American friend Zenobi, which was comforting. However asking for ordination was not on my friend’s radar then, and so it meant I would have to become an individual in my group of friends and go for refuge alone. The reality was, I was on my own now. I was almost always the only person of color on a GFR retreat. However, something in me began to surrender and open up to the transcendental myth of the Three Jewels and not to the fixation of selves in others that I had created in my mind. It was challenging. There was racism and sexism in the sangha and in the publication of Dh.
Subhuti’s book, Men ,Women and Angels, which did not speak favorably about women. Once I began to let go of my hard, ingrained stories, I was left with the experience of pain and sadness. As I allowed myself to sit and not be overwhelmed with a narrative, my mind became calmer. These days I experience a mind-heart that is not so easily triggered by my own thinking or by others. I can hear people say, “I had such a black awful day,” or “When you are purified by Vajrasattva, you will become white and pure.” A pin-prick of sensation, at times perhaps, but nothing more. Once upon a time I would have had a huge reaction or a small reaction and inflict the second dart of pain causing myself to suffer unnecessarily. Part of my path has been to see through the illusions of my black, female, and queer selves that I had created in my head which separated me from a diverse society out there in the world. It is a journey that continually brings me closer to insight, closer to the diversity of the Order. What I mean by this, though, is that I have not joined the Order because there is no Order to join. I have entered into the mythical realm that we label the Order. If you look for the Order, you will not find the Order. You will find a collection of diverse individuals. When we enter the Order, we get to unknow people. We think we know people, but all we know is our stories. Hopefully, at the point of effectively Going for Refuge, we will be aware of this, drop the stories, unknow people and see the diversity of the Order. We will begin to recognize the many individuals practicing in their unique and diverse ways, each continued on page 22 VAJ R A BE L L 11
Image by h .kopp del ane y 12 VAJ R A BE LL
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Vajra Bell asks:
Going for Refuge Mean to You?
angharakshita makes clear in his teachings and in his book The History of My Going for Refuge that the fundamental act of Buddhism is Going for Refuge. Taking refuge in the Three Jewels, he points out, is not an act done once and for all time, but something which grows with oneâ€™s understanding and practice of Buddhism. The Vajra Bell asked several members of the Aryaloka and Triratna community to chart and reflect on their history and practice of Going for Refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha... continued on page 14
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going for refuge Elizabeth Hellard Sangharakshita talks a lot about how one’s understanding of Buddhism grows as one’s Going for Refuge becomes more effective and more real. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. But as I read Bhante’s History of My Going for Refuge, it became a bit clearer. I believe it’s a turning away from the lower, more mundane, way of life to a higher, more spiritual, path of evolution. That prompted me to ask myself the questions: Am I setting up the conditions in my life for my Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels? What am I doing to make the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha of central importance in my life? I thought about this a lot before and during the Women’s Going for Refuge (GFR) Retreat in August at Aryaloka. Commitment, I believe, is the first step; that primary decision that there is a way of living and moving in this world that is centered around the Three Jewels and not
Dh. Surakshita Sitting in a Kuwait City hotel room in 1983, I was lightning struck with the idea that I was a BUDDHIST. I was reading the book The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen - an American Zen Buddhist. It was a very poignant book about dealing with the death of a loved one and metaphorically searching for meaning and peace. The author was trekking in the Himalayas and was surrounded by Buddhist culture, monasteries, and images. He was dealing with death, his Buddhist beliefs and the elusive snow leopard. About a hundred pages in, he and his 14 VAJ R A BE LL
around me. The topic for the GFR Retreat was “A Vision of the Order.” In reading the material beforehand, it became clear that Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels is central to Sangharakshita’s vision for the Order and for Buddhism. The retreat was a living example of setting up the proper conditions for my Going for Refuge. First, during the retreat, I put down the books and sat with my feelings and reflections. I thought about what I needed to do in my life to help this transformation happen. Certainly the practice of mindfulness and positive emotions as outlined in Bhante’s stages of spiritual practice are the gateway to the spiritual path, along with leaving sufficient space and time for this integration to happen. During the week, we enjoyed silence which allowed everyone to live in community and also be present with our own feelings and awarenesses. Our morning silence was broken as twenty-four strong women’s voices were raised up in reverence to the Three Jewels as we recited the Refuges and Precepts together. The beauty of the early morning voices actually brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the importance of silence in my life.
Another example of setting up the conditions for awareness was the gentleness with which we came out of silence. It was like a symphony. First, the string section came in very quietly with soft voices. As the day progressed, the wind section entered as conversations and group discussions took place. Later in the day, the percussions entered with laughter and sharing, meal preparation and private walks. Then, the entire orchestra of women celebrated a Sevenfold Puja each evening with chanting and devotion. We consciously set up the conditions for connection, acceptance, and selflessness – the conditions for Going for Refuge. With these conditions in place it was easy to sit with an open heart in Metta Bhavana meditation. It was just as easy to feel the connection and devotion to our teachers of the past and present during Prostration practice and pujas. It was a thing of beauty, and I’m looking forward to gently unfolding every memory of devotion and friendship as the weeks and months go by.
guide accidentally discover that they both are wearing amulets in honor of the great bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Matthiessen explains both the myth of this great being and his accompanying mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. At that moment I knew that I was a Buddhist and always had been. For eight years I had been traveling towards that moment. Wow, what an experience! It meant that I had accepted the experience and teachings of the Buddha as being rational and true, and his experience as repeatable. I was euphoric that I had found a spiritual path to follow for the rest of my life. This was my first step of Going For Refuge, although I was not familiar with that concept. Fast forward to 1988. I came in contact with the Triratna Buddhist Order (then the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order) in Portsmouth, NH and started studying with Dharmachari Manjuvajra. We studied the The Buddhist Vision by
Dharmachari Subhuti and it was then that I came in contact with the concept of Going For Refuge to the Three Jewels. The Buddha and Dharma Jewels made immediate sense to me. The Sangha Jewel in the mythic dimension made sense to me but as an expression of real-time friendship it was a big leap for me. Why, I don’t specifically know, but probably it had something to do with wanting a path that was “mine” and not influenced by other people or institutions. My early religious conditioning was in play here. Now the fact that this was a central teaching of my teacher Sangharakshita set up some (a lot) of spiritual tension for me. Then I studied Sangharakshita’s book The History of My Going For Refuge. The book was a tour de force on the subject. When he wrote that “one’s actions, especially one’s communication, became spiritually meaningful - became “Sangha,” continued on page 15
“One did not Go for Refuge because one was a Buddhist; but, was a Buddhist because one went for Refuge.” ~ Sangharakshita from The History of my Going for Refuge
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going for refuge I intellectually finally understood the Sangha Jewel. The issue became how to understand the Jewel with humility and compassion in my heart as well as in my mind. There was no doubt I was Going For Refuge to Buddha and Dharma but
Dh. Lilasiddhi For me Going For Refuge to the Three Jewels has been like falling in love at an older age – slowly, cautiously, knowing from experience how much it can hurt if trust proves misplaced. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche likened us Westerners attracted to Buddhism as “spiritual refugees.” That’s how I felt before I found the Dharma. A refugee, alone and wandering, looking for a home, culture, and family. I tried many branches of Christianity; none won my trust. Eventually I found Buddhism and the Three Jewels. Was it really my good karma earned over many lifetimes? I first took refuge in the Dharma. As my first teachers – Shrijnana, Amala and Saddhamala – explained it, the Dharma made sense. It was logical, rational and practical. “Do this,” it said, “and life won’t hurt so much.” It required no declaration of belief or leap of faith - just testing, which I did rigorously for years. Thank you, my teachers, for your patience with me. I came to believe, trust, and have faith in the Dharma. I didn’t yet see it as precious - rather I saw it as strong, reliable, and trustworthy. Still, my heart was under lock and key. My rational mind was satisfied, but couldn’t seem to get emotionally engaged. Sangharakshita described my dilemma precisely: “For most of us the central problem of the spiritual life is to find emotional equivalents for our intellectual understanding.” The BIG words of Buddhism, Enlightenment, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or Nirvana could not be grasped rationally. I had to find the heart’s way. AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
the challenge was to embrace the Sangha. I needed to overcome my self-absorption and to effectively Go for Refuge to my friends, and indeed to all beings. I struggled for several years, but in the summer of 1996 at a Going For Refuge
For me Going For Refuge has been like falling in love, slowly, cautiously at first, but finally without restraint and with abandon. I am no longer afraid of devotion, religion, or veneration. It was the small “s” sangha that first opened my heart to big “S” Sangha – the Arya Sangha of Enlightened Beings. I looked around one Friends’ Night at Aryaloka and realized that here with these people, for perhaps the first time, I did not have to watch my back. Everyone, whether we acknowledged it or not, was at least slightly disappointed with conventional truth, conventional lives and religion as I was. Everyone was looking for meaning, hoping to find that kinder, gentler, more honest, and less selfish world. I trusted this common yearning, and figured this was my last best chance to find a spiritual home and fellow travelers. In his book about spiritual friendship, Dh. Subhuti wrote: “Indeed, the sraddha that we feel for our actual spiritual friends is arguably of more immediate practical importance than the higher (but for most of us largely theoretical) sraddha for the enlightened Sangha... There is a sense in which our greatest benefactors are the ‘ordinary human beings’ who become our spiritual friends at the beginning of our spiritual career. Such unenlightened friends... can help us to set our feet on the path, whereon we will eventually encounter wiser ones.” Aryaloka is my sangha. I’ll start love here with real live spiritual friends, like me, imperfect, but on the path
retreat, at the end of a dear friend’s life story talk, I had a revelation of the beauty of that friend and indeed all beings. I was effectively Going for Refuge. I had placed the Three Jewels in the center of my heart and my life. I would revere them forever.
leading to the big S Sangha. Much to my amazement and delight, my meeting with Sangharakshita melted my cold, protected heart. He affirmed my efforts, motivation, and commitment and enabled me to drop my selfprotection. Thanks to his warmth, I threw my heart in the river of Dharma, with my own sangha, and with the potential of encountering the Big “S” Sangha, come what may. But what about the Buddha? I had faith in the Dharma and a growing love for my sangha and trust in the Arya Sangha. I felt enormous respect and even awe for the Buddha. But love? I didn’t think so. Why was I still withholding my love and devotion from the person who was the Dharma and taught the Dharma? I was wary of a cultish devotion to the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, because it smacked too much of old religion, the “opiate of the people” type religion. This shifted, too, again to my surprise. As I was ordained last September in Spain by my dearest, darling Preceptor Ashokashri, I thought, “Today, I am born into the family of the Buddha. Today, I am the Buddha’s daughter.” My heart flooded with joy, delight and amazement. Even as I write this, tears come to my eyes. For me Going For Refuge has been like falling in love, slowly, cautiously at first, but finally without restraint and with abandon. I am no longer afraid of devotion, religion, or veneration. All are my avenues of the heart, irrational, and liberating. I now find protection, shelter, and love in the wisdom of the Buddha, the ocean of the Dharma, and the community of the sangha. Of course, this is not one uninterrupted bliss binge. There are hours at a stretch when I feel lonely, shaken and vulnerable. The difference is I now know these chilling winds will pass. I no longer need to feel the high emotion of love to know I love and am loved. This is a mature love, trustworthy and true. VAJ R A BE L L 15
going for refuge Dh. Vidhuma “Buddham Saranam Gacchami. Dhammam Saranam Gacchami. Sangham Saranam Gacchami.” “To the Buddha for Refuge I go. To the Dharma for Refuge I go. To the Sangha for Refuge I go.” This statement of Going for Refuge, repeated three times, usually in Pali as above, is the Buddhist statement of commitment to follow the teachings of the Buddha. No matter what tradition, no matter what country, this commitment is the common denominator among Buddhists. This is what “makes one a Buddhist” according to Sangharakshita. But, as Sangharakshita and other Buddhist leaders are quick and firm to point out, it is not the repeating the words that make one a Buddhist. It is how one puts the Buddha’s teaching into action, how one lives this commitment that makes one a Buddhist. The idea of “Going for Refuge” is an ancient one, predating the Buddha. It is probably as old as human fear and human superstition. Asking for protection from powerful forces (human, natural and supernatural) has been part of human life as long as there have been people. We ask for help from a power greater than ourselves when we are confused, insecure, unsure what to do, or simply helpless. “They go to many a refuge, to mountains, forests, parks, trees, and shrines; people threatened with danger. That’s not the secure refuge, that’s not the highest refuge, that’s not the refuge, having which, you gain release from all suffering and distress. But when, having gone for Refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, you see with discernment the Four
Going for Refuge means more than confidence; it means you commit yourself to actions consistent with that truth. You commit yourself to learning the Buddha’s teachings (excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the last). Noble Truths – human distress, the cause of this distress, the transcending of this distress and the Noble Eightfold path, the way to the stilling of human distress: That’s the secure refuge, the highest refuge, that is the refuge, having gone to which, you gain release from all suffering and distress.” ~ from the Dhammapada So something is different about Going For Refuge as a follower of the historical Buddha. We are not asking for protection in a material sense. The Buddha was not (and is not) a god, not a supernatural force that is going to bring rain or stop rain, cure an illness or bring wealth or provide the next meal. The Buddha is not going to intervene on anyone’s behalf in a particular situation. Yet the Buddha taught a way beyond fear and human distress, a way to peace and equanimity. The Buddha taught a basic truth about human suffering. All things arise from conditions. Your mental state is the result of conditions. You can (and do) create conditions that give rise to your mental state. Craving and aversion will invariably give rise to the experience of unhappiness. Their opposites, letting go and accepting, are the conditions for a state of peace and well-being. Going for Refuge to the Buddha means having confidence that this is true.
And Going for Refuge means more than confidence; it means you commit yourself to actions consistent with that truth. You commit yourself to learning the Buddha’s teachings (excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the last). You commit yourself to following them. The historical Buddha comprehended fully the truth of conditioned existence. He committed his life to teaching this truth to the whole variety of human beings he encountered. His life became a living example of these truths. His compassion, peace, and wisdom became a living example, not just for his lifetime in India but through 2,600 years right down to today and throughout the planet. Going for Refuge to the Buddha is a way of expressing our acceptance of his life as a model for us, and a commitment to live accordingly. Going for Refuge to the Dharma is a commitment to understand the breadth and depth of the truth of conditioned existence that the Buddha taught. It means reminding yourself of this truth continually, reflecting on how it affects your mental state every moment. You absorb it to your marrow. Every moment. Every action. Every thought. Your palate is stung by the Dharma; you savor the taste of it. Mindfulness and peace wrap you; you become them. Going for Refuge to the Sangha is a commitment to the realization that you cannot live a spiritual life as a separate being. The followers of the Buddha’s teachings become as a guiding light. The historical women and men who have lived the Buddha’s teachings, and the mythic embodiments of the spiritual life (the pantheon of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas) breathe into you. You carry them with you, and they carry you. Going for Refuge is the initial commitment, and it is also a continually renewing commitment. Buddhists of all traditions are united by their daily restatement and the renewed living of their commitment to Go for Refuge to the Buddha, to the Dharma and to the Sangha.
Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you! 16 VAJ R A BE LL
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going for refuge Dh. Shantikirika In preparation for writing about what Going for Refuge means to me I reread Going for Refuge and The History of My Going for Refuge by Sangharakshita. I then looked up the traditional definition of the word “refuge.” Before I thought of refuge in Buddhist terms the word refuge meant sanctuary, shelter, protection and safety. A refuge was a place to go to; in others words, a noun. As I reflected and gathered my thoughts regarding what Going for Refuge means to me personally, I realized my history of Going for Refuge started when I was quite
Dh. Satyada Since joining the Triratna Buddhist Order (TBO), increasingly my Going for Refuge that is a realization that the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha represent my only hope for true happiness - has increasingly been defined by my relationship with Sangharakshita (the founder of the TBO) and the system of practice he has given to me, the Triratna Buddhist Community (TBC), and the world as a whole. But that wasn’t always the case. When I first began to be attracted to Buddhist principles in the 1990s, it was the Dharma that drew me in. I was reading books written by the Dalai Lama and over and over I found myself thinking: “Yes, this matches the way I’ve always seen things.” In a way it felt like coming home, finding concepts expressed in words that I could find present in every part of my adult life. Of course when I began to actually try to practice the Buddha’s teachings, I quickly found out that it can be very challenging to AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
young, probably between the ages of ten and twelve. I was brought up Protestant and even at a very young age felt there had to be more than what I observed about how people lived their faith in their day-to-day lives. When I was a teenager I was introduced to and joined the Episcopal church. This was the first step onto the path of my spiritual journey. The Episcopal church brought ritual into my life as well as my first experience of devotional practice which satisfied a need in me. But I still knew there had to be more, and so my journey continued. Thinking of my quest in Buddhist terms I realized that I was looking for something that I could place my heart upon (sraddha) and for a way of living my faith in my daily life. When my journey brought me to the Buddha, I knew I had found what I
had been searching for all those years. My understanding of the word “refuge” changed from being a place of sanctuary to becoming a commitment at deeper and deeper levels at every phase of living life as a Buddhist until I reached enlightenment. I had placed my heart upon the Buddha. I had made a commitment to study the Buddha’s teachings and to apply them to my daily life and relationships. I made a commitment to be a member of a spiritual community of people who were striving to live an ethical life according to Buddhist precepts. I found my home, my family and my refuge! It is very important to me that Going for Refuge has become a personal commitment. It is my responsibility to reach my highest potential as a spiritual being and to develop the fullness of wisdom and compassion for the benefit of all beings.
try to act alone. For instance, meditation wasn’t something that I took to easily and so one day in 2005 there I was coming down a bumpy, winding driveway to a meditation class at Aryaloka. One thing led to another and I soon found myself to be a member of the Aryaloka sangha. Sangha represented an experience that had been missing from my life, a community of people with a shared spiritual direction. So of the Three Refuges - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - I found the Dharma and Sangha to be quite approachable. My relationship with the Buddha is still evolving. I feel extremely grateful not only for the teachings themselves, but also for the Buddha’s decision to teach the Dharma. Had he not cared to share the Dharma I would probably never have come into contact with a force that has changed my life. And of course without Sangharakshita I might never have been able to take the Buddha’s teachings and put them into practice to the depth I have today. My relationship with Sangharakshita started slowly. While I had read some of his books and listened to his talks, I didn’t feel like I knew him very well. In my Metta Bhavana practice (the Development of Loving-Kindness), I would often place him in the third position, someone we
don’t know very well. One day I read his book A History of My Going For Refuge and it changed everything for me. In the book he describes a series of experiences that had formed his spiritual journey. Much later, when I had a chance to meet Sangharakshita personally, I told him what an impact the book had had on me and he said the book was quite personal. Perhaps that’s what struck me about the book, here Sangharakshita is relating his own personal experience with Going for Refuge in a way that for me had a much more direct impact than some of the more intellectual discussions in some of his other books. Since joining the Triratna Order my connection with Sangharakshita has only deepened. It has been such a blessing for me to participate in the community of his disciples. And with deeper practice has come an ever-deepening appreciation for the great gift that his teachings represent. Within the context of the TBO, I experience the benefits of spiritual friendship that support me as I face the challenges of following the Buddha’s path and help me to get back on track when I lose my way. In my life I’ve looked for happiness in many false refuges. Going for Refuge in the context of the Triratna Community is a true refuge to which I intend to devote the rest of my life. ◆◆ VAJ R A BE L L 17
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.
Fifth Annual Arts Evening
Contemplative Arts through Painting, Music, and Poetry Perhaps you noticed... it’s cooler, the trees are changing color and it’s fall. Time for our always highly-anticipated Annual Arts Evening! This will mark the fifth year of this event in which we spend an evening focusing on the lively arts program at Aryaloka. Feedback and suggestions from the sangha often request “more arts,” so we know there is an appreciative audience out there. Arts Evening is also an easy opportunity to share Aryaloka with family and friends, so bring them along on Sunday, November 10th, from 6 to 9 p.m. This year will be a special one, since we will focus on a number of our own sangha artists as well as some very special invited guests. We always begin the evening at 6 p.m. with food and drink - a reception for the artists and a chance to visit and chat with each of them. Following on from there, at 6:30 p.m. the lively speaker and artist Neil Harvey, whose Mind the Gap exhibition will be showing at Aryaloka, will share some background on his work - his motivation and insights, as well as information about some specific paintings in the Yoga Room Gallery. Our wonderful sangha member Kavyadrishti, sponsor of the poetry group, will read some of her work, including a very recent poem on the six elements entitled Spirit Visitors. She has a uniquely accessible style and I always come away wanting to know
more when I hear her read. A special treat! Sangha member Scott Hurley, of Spofford, NH, will come back to Aryaloka to share meditative piano with us this evening, focusing on some Bach Preludes and Chopin’s Polonaise. Scott is a deeply generous musician, a long-time Aryaloka mitra, and very involved in interpreting music as a way to go deeper into Buddhist practice. And finally, our special guests - dancer/movement artist Dawn Kramer and video artist extraordinaire Stephen Buck from Boston. This very talented duo was with us for an exciting movement workshop two years ago and have agreed to return, this time to share some of Stephen’s contemplative video work including projects with Dawn filmed during sabbatical in Ireland, France, and Italy last fall. A colleague of Kiranada’s at Mass. College of Art and Design in Boston, Dawn is highly engaged with video productions that span the worlds of dance and visual arts in most engaging ways. Both artists are in high demand in the metropolitan area, and are coming north this evening to share their unusual talents with the Aryaloka Community. All of these offerings - intriguing images, insightful words, and sublime music and video - promise a very special evening of contemplative arts at Aryaloka. Please come and bring others along with you! ~ Dh. Kiranada
Informal Drawing Group Begins at Aryaloka Last July we had a very successful Meditation and Drawing workshop at Aryaloka run by Eric Ebbeson and Amala. Many people in the workshop and many others who could not make it asked if there could be an informal Aryaloka drawing group that might meet at regular intervals to expand and deepen the connection between art and meditation. We have started this group and we have three dates so far this fall. We will meet on September 29th, October 27th and November 24th. All these meetings will be at Akashaloka from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (all on Sunday mornings). While we will have emergency art supplies available you should bring, at the minimum, something to draw with 18 VAJ R A BE LL
(like a pencil) and something to draw on (like a pad of paper). You may also bring any other art supplies that you have and want to work with. These can include watercolor paints, pens, ebony pencils, pastels, colored pencils etc. You do not have to be a member of Aryaloka to attend. No art experience is required. Some experience with meditation would be helpful. If you know anyone who might enjoy this experience please tell them about this. There is no need to sign up ahead of time, and no set fee. There will be a dana bowl out for contributions, all of which will go to Aryaloka. If anyone would like more info please contact Eric Ebbeson at ericsueebbeson@ comcast.net ~ Eric Ebbeson AUT UM N 2013
Work of the Heart Made Visible
“Mind the Gap” Contemplative Painting Exhibit Now Showing Mind the Gap: Contemplative Paintings by Neil Harvey is a collection of fifteen paintings - large 36” x 48” canvases as well as intimately small 4” x 4” pieces. These are the fruit of a recent personal inquiry into the perennial questions of what it is to be human, how the mind works, and how to find the gap of awareness in the midst of challenging times. The Mind the Gap exhibition title is familiar to travelers on the London tube; a warning to be mindful as they step onto the train, alert to the space between platform and train. As Neil puts it, “This series of paintings is a call to be alert - alert to how the mind works, to the gap between objects and word, and the endless steam of thoughts” that he contemplates as he puts brush to canvas. The exhibition has two dominant themes - seeds and mantras. Seven of the larger paintings delve into visual allusions to seeds of ephemeral thought, seeds of wisdom, seeds as metaphor, and even seed syllables of sacred Buddhist deities. This series includes paintings titled, Seed to a New Home, Seed - Rise and Fall, and On the Wind. The strong contemplative phase of Neil’s work is seen in the recent mantra pieces, created with the repetition of 108 mantras, penned on thin paper or the unique substrate of Simplicity sewing pattern pieces and later “embedded or submerged below beneath trowels of thickened white paint.” Neil writes that “the small mantra paintings excite me. They are becoming more like tablets,” inspired by stories of sacred texts and relics of the masters embedded in the body of a stupa. The practice of mantra writing continued during a summer solo retreat on Mt. Shasta in California – what he calls “the Heart Sutra at 10,000 feet” - and has preoccupied him for months. In the past, with a BA in Visual Arts/ Communications in hand, Neil traveled the world as a sound engineer and cameraman. Since 1991 he has been a public radio producer and is well know as the host of the radio series The Bioneers: Revolution From the Heart of Nature. Earlier in his career, he produced The Synthesis Dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, recorded AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
in Dharamsala, India. He hosted and coproduced over fifty programs of The Love of Wisdom With Alan Watts. With these inspiring contacts, he was led to study Buddhism in more depth, and discovered Ridzin Ling, a Tibetan retreat center, near his California home. It was just five years ago that Neil’s life dipped into painting in a serious way. He says that “it was on a Rigdzin Ling retreat in 2008 that I experienced a transformative dream: I witnessed my arm painting wild blue grids... I dove into art that summer and started showing in galleries that fall.” With this auspicious start, Neil has exhibited in more than seventeen shows in the past five years, predominantly in northern California. These include exhibitions at the
Shasta College Art Gallery in Redding, CA and Northcoast Environmental Center at Arata, CA. After living in San Francisco, New York, and Paris, Neil now works part-time from his home studios in the seacoast NH area and in the mountains of Hyampom, California. You can find more about his work at www.neilharveyart.com. Neil first came to Aryaloka in 2010, attending arts workshops and Friends’ Night. We are delighted to be the host of his first east coast exhibition, Mind the Gap, and look forward to hearing this very articulate artist speak about his work during our Arts Evening on Sunday, November 10th, when he joins others in a focus on the contemplative arts. ~ Dh. Kiranada VAJ R A BE L L 19
Online Reading Apps as Skillful Means
By Jaime Grady In the spirit of honest communication I must inform you of a few small blemishes on my resume. I read books with paper pages. My phone has buttons and an IQ of fifteen. I’ve never read a “tweet” nor seen an “instagram” and I have no idea what Tumblr is. I don’t even have a Facebook page. Yet here I am writing an article in a column called Online Insight - a subject that I admittedly know very little about. With all that in mind, allow me to recommend a web resource and mobile device resource that I have found beneficial. Other People’s Smart Phones
and/or misuse of communication devices. Rather than pass judgment on others I can thank them for bringing me back to the present moment. Aryaloka.org One challenge in effectively utilizing online technology is combing through the overwhelming abundance of information available. Hours, if not days, and more can be spent bouncing from questionable source to questionable source of information without much real benefit. Aryaloka.org, however, is a very welldesigned site that combines ease of navigation with a wealth and breadth of useful information. On the home page are two
links that you may find especially useful: “Links” and “Programs.” On the “Programs” link you can easily navigate to the calendar of events to learn what is going on in our local sangha and at the Center. Click on “Links” and you will find a wonderful resource for deepening your understanding. The Aryaloka site provides a valuable editorial service by providing on its “links” page a wide variety of resources to learn more about the larger Triratna sangha, audio-visual material, journals, scholarly analysis, activist organizations, and more. The time spent exploring the web resources linked to Aryaloka.org will be time well spent. ◆◆
Considering that I struggle to simply turn most smart phones on, I can’t offer any specific details on particular products. However, I do have experience using other people’s phones to explore spiritual depths. This idea is based on a mindfulness app for smart phones that a few sangha friends utilize. The app works by sounding a virtual bell at random times throughout the day. When you hear the bell it is a reminder to connect with what is going on in that instant (https://itunes. apple.com/us/app/mindfulness-bell/ id380816407?mt=8). I think it’s a wonderful idea that can be applied to other people’s phones. When you hear any phone ring consider it your mindfulness bell. Stop. Notice. Breathe. I find this practice prevents me from my judgmental instinct regarding the overuse
Audio-visual resources exploring Buddhism
www.clear-vision.org 20 VAJ R A BE LL
AUT UM N 2013
Samsara and Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day (1993), 101 minutes, PG Available on Netflix This issue’s review regards the classic 1993 Columbia Pictures film Groundhog Day, directed by Harold Ramis and featuring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an egocentric weatherman who works for a local news channel. On the day the story begins, he is given the loathsome job of covering the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is sent on assignment with his painfully positive producer, (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman (Chris Elliott). After covering the festival, Connors wants nothing more than to leave Punxsutawney. Unfortunately, the blizzard that he had earlier predicted would not affect the region strikes and traps the news crew in both space and time. As the film progresses, Phil Connors relives the same day over and over. Connors spends lifetime after lifetime trying to escape the unending cycle of his experience. Groundhog Day is part of our collec-
tive cultural consciousness. Even those who have not seen this archetypal film, probably understand what your friend means when they say, “I just don’t know what to do with myself... every day just feels like Groundhog Day.” You know your friend is not troubled by the predictive abilities of a large rodent from Pennsylvania. You can relate to your friend’s feelings because you are familiar with the particular transcendental crisis that your friend’s cinematic reference is hinting at. In Buddhist terminology, the “Groundhog Day Experience” is like the condition of suffering that arises from being caught up in the attractive and repulsive forces that keep us turning around and around on the wheel of samsara, the ongoing cycle of suffering that is conditioned existence. Rather than draw out all the parallels between the film and particular teachings on samsara, I recommend reading and reflecting upon the following excerpts from the Assu Sutta as translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu and then watching or re-watching this classic film.
shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time…
“...Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying and weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?
The full text of this Sutta can be found at: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn15/sn15.003.than.html
“Long have you (repeatedly) experienced the death of a mother. The tears you have shed over the death of a mother...the death of a father... the death of a brother... the death of a sister... the death of a son... the death of a daughter... loss with regard to relatives... loss with regard to wealth... loss with regard to disease. The tears you have shed ...are greater than the water in the four great oceans. “Why is that? From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating and wandering on. Long have you thus experienced stress, experienced pain, experienced loss, swelling the cemeteries — enough to become disenchanted with all fabricated things, enough to become dispassionate, enough to be released.” ~ SN 15.3
~ Jaime Grady
“... this is the greater: the tears we have
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 continued on page 21 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
VAJ R A BE L L 21
surrender to diversity Continued from Page 11
bringing their own flavor to the spiritual community. Space for diversity of practice is a thorny issue, but there have been changes in my lifetime. Pure awareness was once controversial and is now part of our practice. Chod practice has crept into the Order, and Order members were openly blowing their horns and banging their drums under a tree at our gathering this year. The Buddhafield festival is another example of diversity. Diversity is all around
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already there, waiting to be discovered in our experience of reality. The retreat will be led by Vajramati and Padmadharini - both members of the Triratna Buddhist Order. Vajramati has more than thirty-two years of experience teaching meditation
buddha behind bars Continued from Page 8
alive and well! For your consideration, the 2014 Retreat Schedule is as follows: • Friday, March 28 & Saturday, March 29 • Friday, May 30 & Saturday, May 31
Diversity is often not visible so don’t be fooled. You will be pleasantly surprised at who you may bump into in the Order. When we open up to true diversity, our heart is open to all sentient beings. We must surrender to unknowing our beautifully-constructed multifaceted selves. Take away the narratives of your stories, unstick the labels, let go of the black, white, female, or male self and see what you find in your experience. True diversity is unknowing what we know. It is part of the path, the first fetter, anatta, non-self. See through this and Buddhism. He is passionate about the Dharma and marvels at the transforming effect it has on all those who practice. Padmadharini has a deep love of meditation and teaches from an embodied and experiential perspective. There are three options available for attending this retreat: Friday to Friday (Nov. 8-15) •
Friday, August 29 & Friday, August 30 After the three-hour training session, consider joining the Saturday morning meditation class which begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 10:30 a.m. You may wonder about the women’s prison in Goffstown. Two women affiliated with Aryaloka visit and teach there on a regular basis. Please
illusion, and you will find diversity all around you in the sangha and in the Order. Unknow yourself and a whole new world will emerge without your controlling or orchestrating it. Go back to basics, and reread the section in the puja on Transference of Merit and Self Surrender. I end with a quote from the late June Jordan, writer and activist: “First, you remember I am black, and second, you forget I’m black.” Even if you are unable to do this, what I can do is, first, I remember you are white; second, I forget you are white. Then nothing you try to fix on me around race and culture can stick. ◆◆ Fee: $480/400/320 Friday to Monday (Nov. 8-11) Fee: $310/245/185 Friday to Sunday (Nov. 8-10) Fee: $222/185/145 For more information contact Elaine Smith at email@example.com or register at triratna-nyc.org. ◆◆ contact me directly to be placed in contact with them. The Khanti Prison Outreach kula looks forward to keeping Aryaloka up-to-date on Concord sangha activities. Please contact me (Khemavassika@ gmail.com) if you have any comments or questions regarding the Outreach program. All are welcome! ◆◆
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. 22 VAJ R A BE LL
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 writ-
er? 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 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. ◆◆ AUT UM N 2013
poetry corner The Bittersweetness of Late Blooming By Bettye Pruitt
Vimalasara shared a poem: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand That this, too, was a gift.” So many years it has taken me To find that understanding, Open the box And let in the light. I look back on my young self with regret and compassion. I see that young woman as a bud of possibility, But tightly closed, Sleeping inside, Dreaming the dreams of others And suffering their suffering. I look back on myself at fifty with regret and gratitude. I see in that crazed and wounded workaholic The elemental urge to survive and thrive, Which led her through physical pain To confront the emotional pain her body was holding. I look at myself now with regret and joy. I see in the Buddhist I am becoming a still-tender bud. What the flower will look like I cannot know, And the growing season may be short. But the seeds I will release into the ground of existence
from the council Continued from Page 3
at the end of our driveway who has been acting aggressively toward people who are out walking. If you encounter him on a walk, we recommend that you retreat safely and notify the police. ◆ At the September meeting, the
Ashokashri shared a poem: “I want the light locked inside to awaken: Crystalline flower, Awake as I do.” This has become my mantra.
Finance Team reported that it is optimistic that we will finish the year in good shape. ◆ The Facilities Team shared the latest plans for the upcoming roof work at Akasaloka, repairs at Shantiloka, and tasks to be done on the upcoming work days. ◆ The Development Team reported that they will soon start spending the grant money they recently received for publicity
upcoming events Continued from Page 24
10 11 11 13-15
Hold the possibility of a beautiful garden.
Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (class #5) Aryaloka Council Annual Meeting Mindfulness-Based Recovery Training – led by Vimalasara – 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday
15 16 17 18 20-30 31
materials for the Aryaloka Outreach Project - distributing information about the center to offices of health care professionals. ◆ The next Council meeting will be held on October 23 at 6:15 p.m. All sangha members are welcome to attend Council meetings - please just contact Dayalocana in advance. ◆◆
Introduction to Loving-Kindness Meditation – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – led by Lilasiddhi and Vikasashri Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (last class) Heart Wisdom: Winter Meditation Retreat – led by Vimalasara Bell ringing for New Year’s Eve
Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you! AUTUMN 2 0 1 3
VAJ R A BE L L 23
(All events are subject to change. For the latest, up-to-date information, check our web site 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.
OCTOBER 6 7 8 10 12 12 13 14 15 17 18 19-20 20 21 22 23 24 25-27 27 28 29 30 31
Triratna Order Day – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mitra classes – Foundation and women’s Women’s Day – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – led by Khemavassika Domes closed for rental Pali Canon study – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – led by Vidhuma Men’s Mitra class (?) Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mitra classes – Foundation and women’s Full-moon puja and meditation – 7 to 9 p.m. ARYALOKA WORK DAYS – Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Men’s Day – open to all men in the sangha Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Aryaloka Council meeting Mitra classes – Foundation and women’s Domes closed for rental Drawing group – 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. – Eric Ebbeson Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (class #1) Mitra classes – Foundation and women’s
NOVEMBER 1 2 3
Order evening/overnight Mixed Order/Mitra Day and overnight for women training for ordination Day for women training for ordination
4 5 6 7 9 10 10 11 12 13 15 15-22 16 18 19 20 23 24 27
Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night Café – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (class #2) Online women’s Mitra class Introduction to Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pali Canon Study – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Viriyagita Arts Evening – 6 to 9 p.m. Men’s Mitra class (?) Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (class #3) Meditation and Full-Moon Puja Noble Silence Retreat - Led by Bodhana, Karunasara, Lilasiddhi Truckloads of Dung and Other Fertile Buddhist Stories – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – led by Arjava Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (class #4) SANGHA DAY – All are welcome! Drawing group – 9:30to 11:30 a.m. – led by Eric Ebbeson NO Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism class
DECEMBER 2 3 4 6-8 8 9
Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism (class #4) Women’s Mitra weekend – all women Mitras invited Triratna Order Day Men’s Mitra class
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 AUT UM N 2013
Published on Oct 1, 2013
What Does Going for Refuge Mean to You? -- Sadhana Practice in the Triratna Order --- Updates from North American Triratna Buddhist Centers...