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vajrabell

WINTER 2014

keeping sangha connected

Round and Round We Go: The Wheel of

Karma Also in this issue:

Impermanence with Appreciation by Dh. Narottama

Stupa Project Update by Dh. Amala


editor's note

Eric Wentworth

The times, they are a’changing A new year is upon us, with all the wonderful fanfare that such an event brings to our beautiful little Buddhist center! The enormous bell in the shrine room resounded at midnight on January 1st, greeting 2014 and preparing the sacred space for the next morning’s stream of visitors for Meditate for Peace Day - an annual favorite that generates energy and love for all beings. It’s a true joy to be a part of this sangha - at all times of course, but especially at this time of year. We greet changes together with open hearts, and we revel in the opportunity to explore new horizons and exciting new potentials. We have a great issue in store for you! Continuing on the themes of change and impermanence, we have some excellent articles from Order members Narottama and Amala. As a preview of February’s upcoming Buddhist celebration of Parinirvana Day, Narottama has written us a beautiful piece on impermanence. Parinirvana Day is an important festival in the Buddhist calendar, commemorating the Buddha’s death. For us at Aryaloka, it’s also an honoring of those special people in our lives who have passed away in the previous year. Narottama’s poetic and personal writing reminds us that a deep experience of the impermanence of things, blended with an appreciation of the beauty of that process, can lead us into a more meaningful engagement with life. Amala also offers us a jewel of an article, bringing her considerable teaching and writing talents to bear on what can be a challenging topic - karma. Punctuated by quotes drawn from the earliest Buddhist texts, she skillfully navigates these waters

and brings us closer to a practical understanding of what karma is, and isn’t. We also have an update from the stupa kula, a group tasked with raising the funds to build what will be a very important landmark monument on the Aryaloka grounds - a stupa dedicated to one of Sangharakshita’s closest teachers, Dhardo Rinpoche. This sacred stupa will be a focus of practice and remembrance for our local community, as well as a destination spot for visiting Buddhists from other New England sanghas of all traditions. To carry on further with the theme of change, I report that in the coming year I’ll be stepping down as the Editor-in-Chief of the Vajra Bell to explore some of those new horizons myself, and to make room for some of the great potential inherent in our team to flourish and shine. The Vajra Bell is a project close to my heart, and in the time I’ve been with the kula I’ve seen the newsletter undergo many changes. It has grown into an attractive and informative quarterly offering continually excellent content. It has matured from where it began and has expanded its reach to include our other Triratna centers in North America, yet it still remains a publication sustained by the grassroots contributions of the familiar folks we know from our Tuesday Friends’ Nights, classes and retreats. Vajra Bell is you, and it’s beautiful! I’ll still be taking part in some ways, but after about four-and-a-half fun years leading the Vajra Bell kula it’s time to let someone else take the reins and have some fun too. I have every confidence that the others on our team will do amazing things at the helm and think up new iterations of our newsletter that I would never have dreamed of. They are all incredibly talented folks and I’ve enjoyed working with them thoroughly. Thank you, and Sadhu to you all! ◆◆

vajrabell www.aryaloka.org/category/vajra-bell

VAJRA BELL KULA EDITOR IN CHIEF: Eric Wentworth eric@wintercrowstudio.com ADMINISTRATION EDITOR: Dh. Vihanasari vihanasari@comcast.net SANGHA EDITOR: David Watt david.watt.1956@gmail.com FEATURES EDITOR: Mary Schaefer mbschaefer@comcast.net ARTS EDITOR: Elizabeth Hellard ekhellard@comcast.net MEDIA EDITOR: Jaime Grady jaimegrady75@gmail.com CONTRIBUTOR: Dh. Satyada satyada@stephensloan.com

ARYALOKA COUNCIL MEMBERS COUNCIL CHAIR: Dh. Dayalocana dayalocana@comcast.net TREASURER: Dh. Arjava havaughan@comcast.net Dh. Surakshita g.patenaude@comcast.net Dh. Shrijnana shrijnana@gmail.com Barry Timmerman barrystimm@comcast.net Elizabeth Hellard ekhellard@comcast.net

Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 info@aryaloka.org · www.aryaloka.org Find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Araloka ...or on the Aryaloka Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/aryalokasangha/ Connect at The Buddhist Centre Online: http://thebuddhistcentre.com/aryaloka Cover art: s myers

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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musings from the chair The past year at Aryaloka was filled with inspiration, positive energy, and acts of kindness. Thinking back we can recall moments and experiences, different for each of us, that opened our hearts, lifted our spirits, fueled our devotion, and helped us renew our efforts on the spiritual path! Inspiration ignited positive energy, expressed in acts of kindness, as sangha members gave wholeheartedly with

from the council

Dh. Dayalocana

interest, enthusiasm and support. Inspiration arose as we studied, meditated and practiced together. We might pause as the new year begins to think about how we find inspiration.  How does it help us with the challenges of the spiritual life? How do we remain open to the many opportunities that we have to be inspired? The Bodhisattva ideal is a particular source of inspiration for some. The desire to live ethically with energy, patience, generosity, wisdom, and compassion can be transformative. In the coming year, our Triratna community will build and dedicate a stupa

at Aryaloka in honor of Sangharakshita’s teacher and friend, Dhardo Rinpoche. Sangharakshita has referred to him as a living Bodhisattva and has shared his wise advice, “If in doubt about what to do next in the spiritual life, do something for other people.”  Inspiration can arise, both for ourselves and for others, as our spirit of generosity and kindness is shared within our sangha and then in the world. Inspiration arrives at unexpected times, in ways we might not have imagined.  I hope that we will remain open to experiencing inspiration and using it to transform ourselves and the world. ◆◆

Dh. Vihanasari

The Aryaloka Council is the governing body of our center. Members meet monthly to discuss and decide on issues that relate to vibrant and effective spiritual programs and practices, financial management, administration, publicity, and infrastructure maintenance and repair. ◆ During these past three months, the 2014 budget was approved - thanks to Arjava for all his hard work. ◆ The pledge drive is winding down, with most people renewing or increasing their current monthly pledge, or pledging for the first time. Many thanks to the donors, current and new, and to the pledge drive kula of Eric Wentworth, Shrijnana, Elizabeth Hellard, Tom Gaillard, Mary Schaefer, Sue Ebbeson, and Eric Ebbeson. ◆ Cabin repairs are progressing - the walls and 80% of the floor have been removed and will be replaced with new, water-resistant materials. Those who have donated their time and energy to this work (to-date) are Arjava, Vidhuma, Barry Timmerman, Wally Stevens, Ralph Phipps, Eric Wentworth, Mark Wompler, and

Frank Gladu. Many thanks to you all! ◆ Akashavanda, Surakshita, Barry Timmerman, Elizabeth Hellard, and Arjava are currently developing a plan of succession re: paid staff ’s job responsibilities and division of labor. ◆ Our program director, Shrijnana, has planned the upcoming 2014 calendar of events (classes, retreats, festival days, etc.) through a collective effort with input from Aryaloka teachers and has found this method very useful. 2014 will include more events for those who have been practicing for a longer time, and events that will provide more contact between mitras and Order members. ◆ Friends’ Night activities are running smoothly thanks to the excellent teaching team, and the finance team reports that Aryaloka ends the year with a positive balance. ◆ The Administrative Team sits at the hub of nearly all of the activities at Aryaloka, assisting with support, organization, scheduling, outreach, safety, security, and all of the practical details and challenges involved in running a very busy practice center/retreat center all-in-one. ◆ Arjava reports that the facilities

team has completed many needed repairs and upgrades on all buildings, and plans to replace some windows as well as take down one tree this winter. ◆ The hardworking development team ran a meditation marathon earlier in the year and is currently finishing up the pledge drive. New this year are the development of a successful Aryaloka Facebook group, the use of a credit card swiper for some donations and purchases, the beginning implementation of a new database for data collection and management, an upgrade of the Aryaloka website, and a marketing plan. ◆ 2014 saw the continued publishing and expansion of the Vajra Bell newsletter under the excellent leadership of Eric Wentworth, who is retiring from that post as of December 31, 2013. ◆ Council members who were unanimously elected for 2014 include Dayalocana -Chair, Arjava -Treasurer, Barry Timmerman, Elizabeth Hellard, Shrijnana, and Surakshita. The work of the recording secretary will be rotated among Council members. Eric Wentworth will be taking a oneyear leave of absence from the Council, and Akashavanda and Vihanasari are retiring. Sadhu all around! ◆◆

The Aryaloka Council minutes are posted on the bulletin board at the foot of the stairs. W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

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sangha notes ARYALOKA SANGHA (NEWMARKET, NH)

◆ Our Tuesday evening Friends’ Nights included meditation and discussion groups and classes. The fall series included three offerings:   Lilasiddhi led Introducing Buddhism, an eight-week course for newcomers on fundamentals of the history, philosophy, and practice of Buddhism.   Arjava led a discussion group called Spiritual Friendship: Thicker than Blood.  Discussions were based on source materials from the book Thicker than Blood by Maitreyabhandu, as well as poetry and even some sitcoms. Amala led Unite the Body, Heart and Mind with Chanting.  This class examined chanting and mantras from various Buddhist traditions and how we can use these chants in our individual and collective practices. ◆ On November 23rd we joined together 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.  The event

was very well-attended with excellent dharma segments offered, cake and other refreshments served, and folks enjoying the company of other sangha members. The celebration concluded with a puja in the shrine room. ◆ From October 8th through November rd 23 Aryaloka hosted an exhibition of paintings by Neil Harvey entitled Mind the Gap.  The exhibit hung in the Yoga room at Aryaloka. Neil is a well-known visual artist and sangha member whose paintings are inspired by his mindfulness practice, and he also gave an artists’ talk during Arts Evening in November. ◆ 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 met in October and November, with further meetings organized for the coming months (check the website for more details!).  All are welcome to these days.  Bring your favorite art supplies! ◆ For the first time in several years, there was a Women’s Practice Day on October 12th. The day included meditation, fellowship, and a study of early women in Buddhism focused on Dhammadinna and portions of the Culavedalla Sutta.  

Aryaloka Cares: the Generosity Kula By Sue Ebbeson

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” ~ Sally Koch The donation boxes continue to do well and we have helped so many people. All the organizations we give to are in awe of our generosity. The need will continue and actually grow as the winter sets in. We still need nonperishable foods that are wholesome and warming, personal care items, women’s needs, cleaning items, toilet paper, paper towels, and anything else that you can think of. We also are still collecting gently-used coats, sweaters, blankets, and throws. Again, we thank you for all the support you have given to this endeavor. We had our first sangha group activity cleaning up Jenness Beach for the Blue Ocean Society. It was a beautiful late fall 4

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day and about a dozen or so people showed up. It was fun for the children and adults alike who came for this event. In short, with the other groups that were there, we picked up 1,110 items of litter, which amounted to thirty-two pounds. Of the thirty or so different kinds of items, most of it was cigarette butts, plastic, dog waste, and foam. We hope to do this again in the spring and maybe summer as well. If you have other ideas for group activities, please

◆ There was a Men’s Practice Day on Sunday, October 20th. The day combined morning meditation and working on various projects around the center in conjunction with the Fall Work Weekend - including some much-needed renovation work on the solitary cabin, Shantiloka, a project that the men’s community has gladly taken on. ◆ Full Moon Pujas with Meditation were be held in October, November, and December.  The evenings consisted of meditation followed by a Sevenfold Puja - a devotional practice that includes readings from the suttas, chanting, offerings, and meditation. This is a monthly event and all are welcome to attend, though some familiarity with meditation enhances the experience. ◆ From November 9th to November 16th there was an online, Triratna communitywide event entitled Urban Retreat 2013 - Blazing Like the Sun. This “urban retreat” included online led meditations and dharma talks that addressed 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?” ~ David Watt

Pledge Drive Giving Will Help to Sustain Center Our annual Pledge Drive to benefit Aryaloka’s Mandala of Support at the end of 2013 managed to bring in enough funds to help Aryaloka sustain itself through 2014. With existing pledges and new pledges (including a VERY generous pledge from one sangha member of $10,000) we’ll have nearly $35,000 to help support the center next year. Thank you to all of our generous supporters! The Mandala of Support is our central dana resource at Aryaloka outside of fees for events and giving to the dana bowl. It’s an incredibly important part of our funding and stability at Aryaloka. Just because the Pledge Drive is over doesn’t mean that you can’t still make a pledge! Call the office today to set up your gift! ◆◆

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The Stupa: A Most Auspicious Project By Dh. Amala Auspicious: adj., attended by favorable circumstances. Further meanings of auspicious are: favorable, propitious, promising, and encouraging. These are the qualities that have marked the project to build a sacred stupa dedicated to the late Dhardo Rinpoche, one of the eight spiritual teachers of Sangharakshita, the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order. From the inception of the idea several years ago, momentum has gradually built as one step after another has been met with success and loving goodwill. Stonemason for the Stupa The most recent auspicious event has been the signing of a contract to build the stupa at Aryaloka in the Spring of 2014. We have engaged the services of Sonam Lama, a Tibetan stonemason who has expertise in Tibetan traditions. He has built several stupas and has a deep understanding of the spiritual significance of the project. He was educated as a novice monk in Ganden Monastery in Tibet, where he studied the art of dry stonemasonry. After graduating from his four-year apprenticeship under a master stonemason, Sonam immigrated to the United States, where he has been practicing his craft since 1986. Our contact with Sonam Lama has been a series of propitious moments. Sonam was happy to hear of the project to honor Dhardo Rinpoche and considers it a work of special meaning, not just another stonebuilding job. He means it when he says the “stupa will be here for thousands of years to benefit beings everywhere.” Members of the stupa kula traveled to meet Sonam in Deerfield, MA, where we shared pictures of various aspects of the stupa project. The photo of the late Dhardo Rinpoche really captivated him. We stopped talking while he gazed at the photo and stated, “What a Tibetan face; he reminds me of my father!” Crowns and Blessings In Deerfield, we viewed the stupa Sonam has built on his own property. We asked about the sun and moon or disc and droplet, metal shapes at the top of the W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

Stonemason Sonam Lama meets with Stupa kula and Order members Shantikirika, Kiranada and Viriyagita in front of the stupa he build in Deerfield, MA, at his home and place of business, Tibet Plaza.

structure. He had brought from Tibet two of these “crowns” made in Lhasa; one was there in Deerfield and the other “must be for you,” he said without hesitation. Other auspicious conditions were apparent during a recent visit by Sonam to Aryaloka. We in the stupa kula had a strong feeling that the sloped clearing below the domes where a beautiful perennial garden used to be, was the right place for the stupa. However, we did not know whether it would be suitable from the stonemason’s perspective. When Dhardo Tulku Rinpoche

came to Aryaloka in the summer of 2013, he blessed this particular spot. Still, we weren’t sure this site was practical. When Sonam surveyed the site, he proclaimed it to be perfect as it is to the east of the domes, exactly as needed for a stupa which should not be sited to the south of a temple. Stone and cedar Another encouraging moment occurred while we were strolling the grounds and looking at stone walls. Happily, Sonam will continued on page 10 VAJ R A BE L L

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Upcoming Events You Won’t Want to Miss RETREATS

INTRODUCTORY

CLASSES/WORKSHOPS

Nordic Nirvana Retreat February 15, 9am to February 16, 3pm Led by Akashavanda and Arjava

Introduction to Meditation & Buddhism Series Wednesdays, Jan. 8 - Feb. 12, 7pm - 9pm

Ancient Wisdom Series Study Days with Aryaloka’s Senior Dharma teachers

Pack your cross country skis or snowshoes to experience the awe of Aryaloka’s winter stillness and beauty. Scheduled to fall on the full moon, this one night retreat (Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon) will be a delicious mix of playing in the snow, meditation, periods of noble silence, and small group discussion – all in the context of cultivating mindfulness and gratitude. Akashavanda will share her favorite (secret!) place for a moonlit excursion in the woods and Arjava will share his culinary gifts in the kitchen.

On these six Wednesday evenings we will learn traditional Buddhist meditations and also explore basic Buddhist teachings. Meditations taught will include the Mindfulness of Breathing, development of loving-kindness (Metta Bhavana) and walking meditation. These forms have been found to be supportive and helpful to most everyone by helping us to focus, to become more at ease, and to know our own minds more fully. Buddhist teachings shared will include the five ethical precepts, the principle of conditionality or interconnectedness, and the Four Noble Truths. The course emphasizes how the Buddhist tradition applies to our lives and the world as we know it now.

Join Aryaloka’s senior Dharma teachers for study of suttas, sutras, and stories from throughout the Buddhist tradition.

Introduction to Noble Silence Weekend Retreat March 13 - 16   Led by Bodhana On this weekend retreat we will be exploring the practice of Noble Silence – stillness of body, speech, and mind – and learning how to bring stillness into our daily lives. If you are considering attending a longer, multi-day Noble Silence retreat, this event would be an excellent introduction. It will give you an idea of what to expect on the longer retreat and also what you may encounter as you go deeper within your practice. 6

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Song of the Yogi’s Joy Sunday, January 12, 9am - 1pm Led by Dayalocana Milarepa, a celebrated spiritual teacher, lived in the mountains of Tibet in the 12th century. His amazing songs of liberation offer guidance in overcoming mental obstacles and gaining insight. Join us for a morning of exploration of his fascinating life and an exploration of his teaching from the Song of a Yogi’s Joy.

Introduction to Meditation Day Workshops Jan. 26 & Mar. 8, 9am - 1pm

Going Forth: Teachings from the Sutta Nipata Sunday, March 30, 9am - 1pm Led by Nagabodhi

These monthly introductory workshops alternate between the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana (lovingkindness) meditation practices, so join us each time to explore another practice! Saturday, January 26 - Mindfulness of Breathing Saturday, March 8 - Metta Bhavana

Before gaining Enlightenment and becoming the Buddha, Siddhartha was just like one of us, a seeker after truth and freedom. So what was he like in those days? How did he appear to others? And why did a king offer to share his kingdom with him - based on just catching a glimpse of him in the marketplace? With the help of a text from WI NT E R 2014


the Sutta Nipata, Nagabodhi will guide us towards an imaginative meeting with Siddhartha, the archetypal ‘spiritual seeker.’ The Heart Sutra Saturday, July 19, 9am - 1pm Led by Amala    At the heart of the Buddha’s teachings is an opening, a gateway to freedom and a radical way of seeing and living. One of the most direct and engaging expressions of this dimension of the teachings is the famous Heart Sutra, dating from around the first century B.C. In this mini-retreat we will encounter the opportunity, the great opening that is the Heart Sutra, with recitation, discussion, contemplation, and reflection. Meditation Tune-Up Series Ideas and Inspiration to Help Your Meditation Practice Thrive This workshop series will help revitalize your practice, focusing on various aspects of meditation and provideing practical tips to help you move into a more deeply concentrated state of mind. Working with the Hindrances February 9, 9am - 1pm Led by Satyada Our distracted, wandering minds are not a product of modern existence, they are an aspect of human nature. The Buddha discussed these hindrances frequently and gave sound advice on how to deal with them. This workshop teaches the antidotes to the five traditional hindrances, and provides an opportunity to practice them during meditation as well as to discuss our experience of them. Moving into the Dhyanas Saturday April 26, 9am - 1pm   Led by Lilasiddhi The dhyanas, concentrated states of mind characterized by calm, presence, and W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

joy, are attainable by everyone. This workshop, led by Lilasiddhi, will explore these refined mental states and provide tools to help us experience them more readily during meditation. Keeping It Real Series Practicing the Dharma Off the Cushion In the “Keeping it Real: Practicing the Dharma off the Cushion” workshop series we will investigate how our everyday lives can express our Dharma practice. Changing Oneself, Changing the World: Engaged Buddhism Panel and Discussion January 25, 9am - 1pm Led by Akashavanda This workshop kicks off the Keeping It Real series with a panel of several Aryaloka sangha members discussing their work in social and humanitarian fields, including social justice, recovery, end-of-life, and prison advocacy. Each will share how their Dharma practice influences their work, and how their work inspires and informs their Dharma practice. Dealing with Difficult Emotions March 9, 9am - 1pm Led by Vidhuma In this workshop, we look at difficult emotions in the context of Buddhist practice. Emotions are a natural part of our human experience. They enrich our experiences, but they can also lead us to actions, words, and states of mind that can be the most difficult to work with. We’ll look together about how to use our emotions as a resource, not a dangerous liability.

ARTS & SPECIAL EVENTS Where Do Poems Come From? Feb 8, 10am - 3pm   Led by Kavyadrishti Sangharakshita has encouraged all of us to use the arts to enhance our practice, especially poetry. He himself has been a poet for most of his life and leaves us the rich heritage of his poems. In this workshop we will look at his writing, as well as that of others, and will explore the mystery of poetry using image, observation, memory, and silence in order to “record emotion in tranquility” and explore where poems come from. Lunch will be included. A Path of Regular Steps: Introduction to the Triratna System of Practice Men’s Practice Day January 26, 9am - 3pm Led by Satyada & Eric Wentworth On this day we’ll introduce the Triratna System of Practice - the foundation of how we practice the Dharma in the Triratna Buddhist Community. Whether a newcomer or an experienced practitioner, this day promises to both strengthen your understanding of the Triratna approach and give you a valuable perspective on how to pursue your own spiritual path effectively. Parinirvana Day Celebration Feb 22, 9:30am - 2:30pm   Led by Karunasara On Parinirvana Day we will gather to embrace the truth of impermanence and to celebrate the Buddha’s gift of that truth with readings from the Parinibbana Sutta, that describes the Buddha’s death and entrance into parinibbana. We will also honor the lives of loved ones we’ve lost. ◆◆ VAJ R A BE L L

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Impermanence with Appreciation By Dh. Narottama One word that might begin a discussion about Buddhism is “impermanence.” One word that might point to a more meaningful life is “appreciation.” How often in our busy lives do we stop and blend these two concepts together? By seeing deeply into the ever-shifting and transitory nature of conditioned existence – pratitya samutpada – with an eye to the appreciation of that process, we can bring forth a richer, more meaningful world for ourselves and others. Perhaps you are deepening your understanding of the concepts, symbols, and teachings that attempt to convey the meaning behind the word “impermanence” and the transient nature of all things. 8

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There are no higher teachings only deeper understandings. Perhaps you have slowed down a bit - reflecting more, relaxing more, enjoying more. Perhaps you are actively practicing methods that give rise to a deeper mindfulness and a warm regard for all beings as well as broadening and expanding your sense of positivity. Buddhism is a positive path of individual human development. It can expose and dissolve the negative habits that keep us veiled from the truth. We might try to practice mindfulness each day on – and off – the cushion, becoming more and more aware of our physical body, feelings/sensations, mental states and those objects of mind that arise and pass away as we anchor to our transient breath. As we become more mindful of impermanence, we can use it as a beautiful space to skillfully grow. Being mindful and appreciative of impermanence allows us

to grow with clear comprehension on the spiral path, one stage augmenting the next. Examples of the ever-flowing nature of existence are everywhere, in all things. There is an old abandoned house nearby that was built in the late 19th century – a classic, four-square Cape with four rooms downstairs, one on each corner wrapped around a center chimney. Up the narrow stairwell are two rooms with two small closets. In the murky kitchen, a peeling white door leads into an attached summer kitchen/work area, and then into what was once a proud barn holding a livelihood of milk cows, a work horse and a pig or two. Now, old cracked leather straps hang on wooden pegs frosted with spider and dust creations. Clutter and debris swirl about, continuing their movements of becoming. The floors are giving in, soft in places where water seeps and pours through a dilapidated roof. A bit of the barn cellar shows itself in one corner, allowing an continued on page 9 WI NT E R 2014


impermanence Continued from Page 8

updraft of cold dank air. Warm sunlight enters through a missing window that leads to space and sanctuary for all manner of beings. Evidence of birds, raccoons, skunks, mice, rats, cats, bats, and the “ten thousand” insects abide here along with the seeds that have rooted and given rise to the grasses and trees which abound both inside and outside this decaying structure. Rising from the earth, Resting on the earth, Back to the earth, Only phenomena rolls on. This once graceful building is returning from whence it came - helped along by the earth, tunneling rodents, water in its many forms, heat from the sun, and flowing air that continually shifts and moves. This house is no longer captured and held static with the intentions of upkeep and the general maintenance of human volitions. Gravity and the heavy New England snows force the roof down. Shingles that have blown away have allowed the rains to enter, promoting the growth of various trees and shrubs as the old house and barn collapse in on themselves. All things that have a beginning also will have an end. Many reactive, opinionated voices have asked, “Why doesn’t someone tear that down?” or, “What an eyesore. Don’t the owners have any pride for their property?” I see it as an ongoing reminder of impermanence, a form of natural art and beauty that is offering a teaching every moment. I imagine the day when the oxenpowered wagon dropped the first load of locally-sawn hemlock timbers to the building site. Form is no other than emptiness. The cellar hole was dug with pick and shovel, and from the earth a home arose. Whose intentions were these? What energy sparked this endeavor? Now with falling ceilings and dangerous floors it returns to the beginning, continuing to become. Emptiness only form. One small discarded stained shoe points to time’s passage and those who have gone before as a stout birch tree reaches for the W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

This evolution of becoming is everywhere within and without. We need only let go of our reactive, grasping minds to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of change... light through a hole in a crumbling wall. All things are by nature void, which is not born nor destroyed, nor is it stained or pure nor does it wax or wane. This evolution of becoming is everywhere within and without. We need only let go of our reactive, grasping minds to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of change as we reduce our ego-clinging. We let go of sense of “This is me, I am this, this is mine.” We celebrate Parinirvana – a Buddhist celebration marking the death of the Buddha – as a perfect liberation and an honoring of the Buddha’s life and teaching. We call to mind those who have handed us a gift so radical and rare that it is often referred to as a “thunderbolt” or a precious jewel. The gift of Dharma, of practice, of friendship is passed down through the centuries for us to study, practice, and realize. Perhaps we celebrate with others in the sangha who share our Buddhist views. But why celebrate death? Is that not a mournful time of shared loss and grief? The moments surrounding passing on, passing away, or death are powerful when they happen to someone or something close to us. A loved one’s demise can be as debilitating as a severed limb that is swathed in an aching hollow cloak of despair. These moments point to our deepest attachments. The people and objects destroyed or lost seem to leave us incomplete, lacking, lost, and fumbling for solid ground. But what of all the many deaths that happen around the globe each minute of each day? Are we saddened by each of those? When death occurs it reminds us that we too shall die. Impermanence will have its way. These complex physical bodies

that we inhabit will one day cease to be as a living, breathing being. And, after death, we might reflect, these bodies do not stop they continue to return to the elements. Because things are impermanent they can be taken away from us; what can be taken away from us is not our own; and what is not our own cannot be regarded as our self. And s/he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. Earth, water, air, and fire. We borrow and give back these elements continually, from the moment of our conception and upon cessation of the body they are returned back to the world fully. So if the Lord of Death is indifferent to what has been done or not done And like a thunderbolt He strikes me down In health as well as sickness, Why do I waste one more moment in the defilements of craving, all forms of ill will and the many delusions of ‘I’ that continue to cling and grasp to ‘this is me, I am this, this is mine.’ We celebrate the Buddha’s gift with renewed energy, dedicated to his edict “with mindfulness strive on!” We celebrate and appreciate that which has been passed down to us by those who have gone before. The foundational teaching of the Buddha, pratitya samutpada, is at play in the concept of impermanence. All things arise and pass away in dependence on the conditions that support them. What I love will cease to be What I hate will cease to be I will cease to be And all will cease to be Night and day my life Advances towards destruction One day I Will surely die. So, This very day I go for my refuge. Many thanks to Sangharakshita, Shantideva, Buddhagosha and Free Buddhist Audio in providing the quotes in this article. ◆◆ VAJ R A BE L L

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be able to utilize some of the fieldstone from the property in the stupa, knitting together the land and history of this place with the enlightened intent of the stupa. Sonam also noticed a lovely straight cedar tree, dead but hugged by a living cedar trunk right next to it within yards of the stupa site. Of the many symbolic items that are built inside of a stupa, one of the most important is the trunk of a cedar or juniper tree. It forms the core of the structure covered by mantras and wrapped in silk. Several cedar trees can be found on the property, but this one, closest to the stupa site, is perfect. Dhardo Rinpoche These most recent events have come about in the wake of many auspicious moments over the last several years. As Sangharakshita said to the New Zealand sangha on building their Dhardo Rinpoche stupa, “The whole project will be like one great puja from beginning to end.” As we dreamed and envisaged the possibility of a stupa in our region, it took on deeper importance as a spiritual practice. Early obstacles needed to be overcome, however. We had been told there were no more ashes of Dhardo Rinpoche - nothing to enclose in a stupa. Through word of mouth we discovered this might not be the case. In 2012 we were fortunate to receive ashes from Jampel Khalden who worked with Dhardo Rinpoche. The ashes in a solid form were mailed from Kalimpong, India, to England and then carried by hand to the United States. They have since been safely kept at Aryaloka. With this tangible connection with the late Dhardo Rinpoche in hand, we knew the stupa would be built. We also knew that the incarnation of the late Dhardo Rinpoche was now a young man studying

For Your Information... TRIRATNA CENTERS IN NORTH AMERICA: Newmarket, NH Portland, ME Somerville, MA New York City, NY Missoula, MT 10 VAJ R A BE LL

San Francisco, CA Seattle, WA Portsmouth, NH Vancouver, BC

in a monastery in India, and we hoped at some point to let him know of our intent to build a stupa in honor of his predecessor. The opportunity came unexpectedly in early 2013. Viriyagita, a member of the stupa kula, was travelling in India following the International Triratna Order Convention. She wrote, “When I arranged for our accommodation in Kalimpong, little did I know that I would get a chance to personally meet Dhardo Tulku, the incarnation of the late Dhardo Rinpoche. It was incredibly fortuitous that he happened to be visiting Kalimpong on the exact few days that we were there.” A meeting was arranged easily, as the lodgings happened to be owned by Dhardo Tulku’s parents. The vague idea of making contact had come about effortlessly. Friendly contact with Dhardo Tulku having been made, the kula hoped that he might someday come to the United States and visit Aryaloka to give his blessings to the stupa. We had no idea how or when that might happen. Dhardo Tulku had not yet visited the United States or any place in the West. Thinking that a trip might be arranged much later, at the time of the stupa being built, we made an open invitation for him to visit. Amazingly, a friend of his from India was financing his trip to the States that very year. Dhardo Tulku agreed to spend some of his time with us. His visit last summer was an inspiring and lovely time for both him and us. At that time, he gave to us several relics from the personal collection of the late Dhardo Rinpoche to be enclosed in

the stupa along with the ashes. This gift was unexpected and magical. The relics include items that may have been handed down through the lineage of the Dhardo Rinpoche for many incarnations. The stupa project was beginning to traverse time and space in more and more unexpected ways. With all these auspicious signs the stupa project has momentum and significance that reaches around the world. We proceed as stewards of a spiritually significant project that needs to be brought to fruition. The ground is blessed. The objects endowed with enlightened intent are gathered. The stonemason bearing wisdom and experience is engaged. Our major task now is to raise the funds necessary to complete the stupa. Some of us feel such a strong connection, sense of service and commitment to this project that we are joyfully piecing together whatever funds we have available. It is a rare opportunity and privilege to be a part of bringing a Bodhisattva to dwell in our midst. According to Sangharakshita the late Dhardo Rinpoche is a Bodhisattva, and once the stupa is built here with his ashes and relics, the stupa is Dhardo Rinpoche. The stupa is the arising of the Bodhicitta, radiating blessings to all beings. You can help make this happen. To be a part of the stupa, through donations of money or in-kind service, please go directly to http://www.aryaloka.org/getinvolved/the-stupa-project/ or contact one of the stupa kula members – Viriyagita (viriyagita@gmail.com) or Singhatara (seafilly@live.com). ◆◆ WI NT E R 2014


Reflections on Greed, Hatred, and Delusion By Scott Hurley I recently took an online mitra study course led by Karunasara called An Interconnected World: Buddhist Ethics and Contemporary Issues. Looking back, it seems to be summed up well by a quote at the beginning if the study materials: “To transform yourself, you transform the world, and when you transform the world, you transform yourself. They are not two.” One day, when I was attending to my student loans online, I used the ideas from the course - fresh in my mind - as well as some from Joanna Macy’s book World as Lover, World as Self, to fortuitously free myself from what would have been an otherwise isolating experience of anguish. The loan company I was dealing with is not as forgiving compared to others when it comes to things like late payments and financial difficulties, and on this occasion, I was late on my loan. I didn’t have the money to pay and knew it would cost more money to avoid it. Anguish and discomfort set in. I would have liked to escape the situation - somehow - but it seemed there was no escape. Reflecting on the fact that many other people suffer around student loans, I knew my suffering was not confined only to my own present experience. When I reflected further on the widespread suffering in the world related to the prioritization of money over the well-being of humans and the environment, I experienced solidarity and unity with others. That slight opening up of perspective

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be in touch. Lastly, we sent out a survey which many of you were kind enough to fill out. We ascertained that the kula is important to you all. We thank you for that. Many said they would volunteer to join the kula and that would be most welcomed. There were a large variety of skills in our sangha that were also offered. We appreciate that as well. Right now, we could use help driving donations to other locations, such as the Newmarket, Exeter, or Rochester areas. I

seemed to release my own suffering and serve as a sort of answer to the suffering of the world. Inspired by the experience, I picked up my journal and wrote these words, deciding that this, unlike my other journal entries, should not be forgotten. I thought to myself that this little piece was all I need to remember: “Because I contain pieces of the conditioning that has led to the global environmental crisis, I can feel the suffering of the world in myself when I suffer from this same conditioning. “Greed, hatred, and delusion cause suffering within us. It’s a common adage that money cannot buy happiness and that it comes with more problems. We know that rage and fury are linked with misery - and that confusion, bewilderment, and ambivalence are painful states to be in. “When we interact with others out of greed, hatred, and delusion we promote suffering. Stealing or hoarding some shared commodity decays relationships and social stability. Physical and verbal abuse discourages people from expressing themselves, embracing their lives, and loving. In telling ourselves that others deserve to have less than we do, we prevent not only their basic needs from being met but also the opportunity for them to be happy. “When we interact with the world with greed, hatred, and delusion, we contribute to suffering. Exploiting the environment can destroy habitat for wildlife or deplete resources for local

and future people. Verbal or physical violence from activists directed towards politicians and corporations increases polarization and leads us away from solving problems. Expecting continuous economic development that depends on finite natural resources promotes the decay of the environment and the civilizations that depend on it. “The mental poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion keep me from interacting with the world in a positive, happy, and helpful way. Instead, they contribute to suffering for myself, those around me, and the world at large. Ultimately, they keep me from seeing the world in an interconnected, holistic way. “If I can overcome the mental poisons enough to open to the interconnectedness of things I can take on suffering with bravery - every part of myself, every part of life, every challenge, every pain, every longing. “I wish to live a life of opening to the interdependent web of the world. I believe within that opening can be found the meaning of and the solution to suffering. “By opening up to the world I become a part of it that has been able to heal from its own suffering. I open up for myself, for others, and for the world.” It is a blessing to be able to write this, thanks to the activities that make this newsletter possible. And it is a blessing to know the Dharma, thanks to all the teachers who generously make themselves and the invaluable teachings available. ◆◆

am usually at Aryaloka on Tuesday and would be happy to sort things out, put them in bags, and give you the name and addresses of the places we are partnering with. It is very rewarding and does not involve a lot of time. Thank you for considering this. We do not have a lot of meetings, but we thought that sometime in January would be a good time to meet and discuss the way forward. We would love to have anyone attend who has an interest or ideas for this kula. We thought that possibly a Tuesday night before Sangha night would

be a good time. Keep your eyes open for an announcement with the date and time. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your generosity. “If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing nothing for nobody.” ~ Malcolm Bane You can reach us at : Sue (ericsueebbeson@comcast.net) Michelle (prettyheart1@gmail.com) ◆◆

The Aryaloka Council minutes are posted on the bulletin board at the foot of the stairs. W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

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Karma: Round and Round We Go, Where it Stops, the Buddha Knows... By Dh. Amala

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et’s begin with some basic definitions: “Karma” refers to willed or intentional actions. “Karma vipaka” is the term that refers to the results of our karmic actions. Everything we do with some motivation and intent, is karma. Karma is not the only conditioning influence in our continued on page 14 lives, but it is a very important one... WI NT E R 2014


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karma

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To define the territory a bit more, the factors of life that are not karma include all kinds of things we can do nothing about: the weather; the laws of physics like heat and cold and gravity; the basic interactions of chemistry; the fundamental needs of our biological form; the developmental processes of being human. Achoo! A sneeze is not karma - it is allergies or a bit of dust in the nose. These are things that “just happen,” in the sense that we are not directly affecting them, though our lives are strongly influenced by them, even controlled by them. My brother, who has extreme allergies in some regions, used to pull the car over to the side of the road or even ask someone else to drive when he was having a sneezing fit, for fear of causing a crash! The karma was his choice to stop driving, the sneezing was just sneezing. While we can’t do anything about pollen or the weather, karma is how we respond to their effects on us. It is how we take responsibility for our responses to the weather, to our biology, to being a human and social animal on this planet. Karma is the dimension of our lives where what we think and do matters. It is also the dynamic that keeps life interesting, and keeps us hooked into its play. If I do this, that might happen – a very enticing promise! There is kusala karma and akusala karma, or skillful and unskillful, respectively. We usually speak of skillfulness as those thoughts and actions that are based in generous, contented, kindly, compassionate, and clear states of mind. Unskillful thoughts and actions have their roots in greedy, craving, irritated, hateful and confused states of mind. When we want to live skillfully, in hopes of happy outcomes, we look to our states of mind and endeavor to cultivate the positive ones and to eradicate or prevent the less helpful ones. There are countless images and expressions of this basic principle throughout the Buddhadharma. Traditionally, as shown in the Tibetan Wheel of Life (shown in the illustration at right), our karma, the tenor and direction of our thoughts and actions, lands us in one or another realm of life: a hell realm, a blissful deva realm, the competitive realm of the titans, the instinct-driven realm of animals, that of hungry ghosts who

are unable to be nourished, or the more balanced human realm. One or another of those realms becomes the world we live in moment to moment. And the whole thing goes round and round – actions: results, actions: results - as we attempt to manage our self-concerns and the ups and downs of life. The rounds of existence continue until we learn to go beyond the realms of karma altogether.

“Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind, and produced by mind.” 1 Karma refers to the aspects of our lives that are in our minds. Much of it is unconscious, yet we perceive things according to our own attitudes, desires, preoccupations and expectations. We feel good or bad about ourselves and our life according to our inner measures and definitions. Just as the character of our actions originates in mental states, the nature of our received experience, as though external to us, is also largely a matter of mind. Very little is “objective.” Much of our personal experience, illustrated by the six realms, is vipaka, the results or fruits of our actions and intentions which we have laid down over countless moments prior to the present situation. The hell we find ourselves in is, from the karma point of view, of our own making. Addictions – and the suffering we experience because of them – place us in the realm of the hungry ghosts: never fulfilled, never having enough. Or a devalike perception that life is a bowl of cherries is a charmed outlook that we maintain with some will, conscious or not. Karma speaks back to us in the language of emotion. For the most part we know which realm we are in, or evaluate our experience, based on how we feel emotionally. If I am feeling frightened, sad, angry, and depressed for an extended time, I am in hell. This feeling and emotional bandwidth of experience is just one of the things going on in us and in the world, but it is one to which we tend to give a high degree of credence and weight when deciding what to do or reflecting on how we are doing. I interpret the realm as real, rather than an effect of karma, and act out as though the hell I am in can affect me, and so it does. The effects of karma vipaka swirl

around in us and become part of the web of factors we deal with and on the basis of which we decide what to do. Let me offer a made-up example to illustrate how karma seems to work in us. Say, for example, that as a child at a new school I was scared and to avoid feelings of uncertainty I did not respond when another student spoke to me. My apparent unfriendliness to a classmate may not have had a direct or straightforward result at the time – in my being snubbed or teased, for example. But a tendency to keep to myself may have become a habitual strategy or attitude of mind and emotional pattern which affected my relationships indirectly, resulting in a particular tone or quality in my social life. I may have become a loner or lonely, or perhaps happily independent. We cannot say that the situation – new school, being approached by a classmate, uncertainty – caused anything directly. Rather, the circumstances and interactions, combined with the complex inner conditions I already carried, acted upon, and perpetuated, created for me a particular kind of social milieu and way of behaving – created my social life. I could have told the story differently, with delight in how I had thought and acted and viewed myself in the world in such a way that I now enjoy a peaceful and successful lifestyle, how I live in a network of kind and interesting friendships. The story could be spun differently; it does not matter. The paradox or conundrum is that while we do create our world through karma, and are very much affected by its results, it is still just paths worn by the cycle of mind – action – response. No permanent realm or self is there. As long as we believe our stories to be creating something real and substantial we will be moving around the wheel of life, moving in action and reaction, attraction and avoidance.

“Although the fruits of “good” karma might be pleasant and beneficial, all karma keeps one entangled….” 2 What if I can recognize that much of what I seem to experience as emotion and mood is karma vipaka making itself felt? With an appreciation of karma and karma vipaka I can begin to adjust my continued on page 22

Image right: The Wheel of Life - symbol of the cyclic nature of samsaric existence. (courtesy of Wonderlane) 14 VAJ R A BE LL

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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.

Arts Evening Review

Contemplative Arts through Painting, Music, and Poetry On Sunday, November 10th a group of about fifty sangha members and friends gathered to enjoy Aryaloka’s fifth annual Arts Evening, a celebration of visual arts, poetry and music. The evening coincided with an exhibition of abstract paintings by Neil Harvey, a sangha member who divides his time between the New Hampshire seacoast and northern California.  An experienced radio producer and photographer, Neil began painting relatively recently, exhibiting primarily in California.  The exhibit was entitled Mind the Gap and was inspired by his mindfulness practice which focuses on seeing reality in the unfiltered gaps between thoughts, or the gap that arises between feelings and emotions.  His paintings have a number of facets, incorporating bits of his past such as dress patterns found in his grandmother’s attic, ornamentation with written mantras, and the application of paint in way that accesses his right brain.  In response to a very direct question, he gracefully explained the joy he finds in creating abstract art, in the interplay of texture and color that exist outside of conventional forms. Kavyadrishti, our poet in residence (and talented gardener) at Aryaloka, read a poem called After Rain, which appears in this issue of the Vajra Bell, and a longer poem in six parts entitled Spirit Visitors, inspired by the Six Element practice. Although she professed not to believe in spirits, they were a convenient vehicle

to describe her personal experiences of the insubstantiality of the elements of earth, air, water, fire, space, and consciousness. Read in the quiet of the yoga room, these poems simultaneously evoked the bittersweet quality of impermanence and the beauty of the present moment.  The collection is available in our Buddhaworks bookstore in the coming weeks. We were also lucky to view four short videos produced collaboratively by Dawn Kramer - a movement artist and faculty colleague of Kiranada’s at the Massachusetts College of Art - and Stephen Buck, a well-known video artist working in Boston.  The first piece was a kaleidoscopic montage generated from fractured video images of Ms. Kramer in a tree.  I found this piece mesmerizing to watch.  The segmented images streamed towards a center point and I found myself searching for continuity and symmetry among the different segments; they always felt a little out of reach. The second was a series of movements set in  a small one-room cottage (called Cottage); the third and fourth, Burren Bagattelle and Departure were set in the Burren, a spare rocky landscape in Ireland. These last pieces were accompanied by Celtic folk music.  Even as  a complete newcomer to this type of video art, I was drawn into these pieces.  Burren Bagatelle is a whimsical piece in which Ms. Kramer appears in different locations in continued on page 18

Aryaloka Drawing Group News: How We Draw Learning to draw is much like learning how to ride a bicycle. Think about when you learned to ride one as a kid.  No one can explain just how to balance on one.  It isn’t something that can be put into words.  So you got on the bike, your parent (friend, neighbor, sibling, etc.) gave you a push and... you fell down! Then you tried again, fell down, but maybe went a foot or two.  After a time, you learned what it feels like to be balanced on a bike (and what it feels like to fall over) and, at some point, without actually getting it explained in words to you, something clicked and you were riding! At that point you could go anywhere! At the Aryaloka drawing group we learn drawing the same way.  The right16 VAJ R A BE LL

brained meditative state that lets us see objects the way they actually appear cannot be explained in words. However, using exercises that give us the feeling of what it is like to be in that right-brained meditative state will let us eventually be able to achieve this whenever we want to draw. There maybe some “falling off the bike” occasionally, but eventually we will “get it” and when that happens we can draw anything we want. It is a subtle shift in perception that happens, much like when we look at an optical illusion (like the classic one of the vase and the two faces).  Sometimes we see one thing, then sometimes another. The object we are looking at does not change, just our perception of it.  When continued on page 18 WI NT E R 2014


Poetry Workshop

Kado-Ikebana: Stillness and Simplicity A Look Back at Last Summer’s Flower-Arranging Workshop

Last summer Antoinette Drouart led a well-attended workshop on Ikebana, where “living flowers and the spirit of the person arranging them are united to create beauty and form.” Ikebana originated in the 6th Century when monks began offering flowers to the Buddha. Every aspect of the arranging has a specific meaning, and every movement has significance. Flowers, always an odd number, are seasonal and colors have symbolic meaning. The arrangement must have Wa, or harmony, and be asymmetrical to create movement. The empty spaces are as important as the filled ones, representing the unknown. Flowers are not replaced, but wither and die, reflecting the transience of life. The height of flowers and greenery signify heaven, earth, and man connecting them. Antoinette led us through each step of choosing, measuring, cutting, and placing. The container used and placement of the frog (the pronged disc that holds the stems) are important aspects of the arrangement. Despite using the same materials, each W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

participant created a unique piece of art with the mark of the arranger within it. There is peaceful contemplation for the arranger as well as for the viewer. Antoinette, or Hoshi, her official Japanese flower name meaning “Purple Iris,” studied at the Ikebana Sogetsu School in Tokyo. The Sogetsu School’s philosophy is rooted in Japanese tradition, yet encourages contemporary design with “any material, displayed anywhere, under any circumstances.” The arranger creates a work which has a reason for being “here” at this moment. This belief takes Ikebana out into the world where we all can enjoy its beauty. As well as flowers, arrangements may contain withered branches, driftwood, stones or cloth.    Antoinette has designed arrangements in Tokyo, New York, Paris and Boston. She owns Ikebana Flower Boutique in Nashua, NH where she teaches classes and creates arrangement for clients. On her website, www.ikebanaflower.com, you can view her beautiful creations. She will return next June or July to teach another class. ~ Lois Sans

Sangharakshita has encouraged all of us to use the arts to enhance our practice, especially poetry. He himself has been a poet for most of his life and leaves us the rich heritage of his poems. In a workshop on February 8th, from 10 am to 3 pm, we will look at his writing, as well as others’, and will explore the mystery of poetry - using image, observation, memory, and silence in order to “record emotion in tranquility” and explore where poems come from. You may find a poem you want to share on this day, or keep for yourself to learn from after the retreat. I expect you will find a poem, but nothing is required. Please come to just listen if you wish. All are invited to participate. No prior experience with writing or knowledge of poetry required. However, please bring a favorite poem if you have one - yours or someone else’s. ~ Dh. Kavyadrishti

String Quartet Concert in April Aryaloka String Quartet Dh. Sravaniya and Company      Sunday, April 6, 6:30 – 8:30 pm   We are exceedingly lucky to have a group of musicians that love Aryaloka’s enthusiasm for music and great acoustics. Dh. Sravaniya, from our Boston sangha - a fine violinist, composer, and conductor - will be joined by Beth Welty on violin, Noralee Walker on viola, and SandiJo Malmon on cello for a remarkable string quartet concert that you will not want to miss. Sravaniya writes: “We will likely be playing works by Haydn, Shostakovich, and Brahms, and possibly Benjamin Britten. We formed a quartet simply because we love the quartet literature, and we cherish the rich musical dialogue and conversation that we have when we play…  and we all love to perform at Aryaloka!”                                                                                                                                      ~ Dh. Kiranada VAJ R A BE L L 17


poetry corner After Rain

By Dh. Kavyadrishti That night after the rain a white rose bloomed. Only the dew dared touch it. Man’s fears and fury faint before such fragile beauty. Yet its fragrance poured across friend and fiend and foe alike, a selfless gift. In day’s bright light many may claim it – a bride’s bouquet a child’s casket a lover’s apology, and with all it will wilt and brown. Beauty dies, and at night after rain blooms.

Illustration by Eric Ebbeson

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various outfits among the boulders within the frame. The bright sunshine and lively music energize the piece, giving it a joyful feel. By contrast Cottage and Departure have a more meditative feel to them, with slow movements, muted colors, and melancholy Irish music that seemed to resonate (at least to me) with the themes of impermanence found in Kavyadrishti’s poetry.  Burren Bagatelle, Cottage,  and Departure can be viewed at http://dawnkramer.info/Recentwork/ Recentwork.html). The evening concluded with a piano performance by Scott Hurley of some Bach Preludes and Chopin’s Polonaise.  As

in past musical performances in the yoga room, we witnessed a skilled musician produce beauty from the resident piano that we’ve come to love. Since his performance, I have reflected on all the places in which Bach and Chopin must have been performed on instruments much less sophisticated than the Aryaloka upright and how much joy the listeners must have experienced during these performances.  It is very rare for a group of fifty people to gather in a room together for a performance on an unamplified musical instrument, bringing mindful attention to the music, the performer, the instrument, and the space in which it was performed.  I’m glad I was there to experience it. ~ David Watt

Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you! 18 VAJ R A BE LL

drawing group Continued from Page 16

we can let go of our preconceived ideas of what something is supposed to look like, we open ourselves to the actual appearance of what is before us. From there, the drawing part is easy! If this seems weird, strange, counterintuitive, or just a bit “out there” please stop by and join us for a class (or two... or three...) and try it yourself. It really is fun, there is usually food involved, and no artistic skill is necessary. And you don’t have to worry about falling off anything!  It is amazing how closely connected drawing and meditation are.  We meet one Sunday morning a month from 9:30-11:30 am.  The schedule for the next four meetings is: Jan. 5th, Feb. 2nd, March 23rd, and April 27th.  You will need to bring something to draw with, and something to draw on.  Any drawing medium is acceptable, and I will have emergency drawing supplies available.  Please contact me at 603-926-3775 for more information. ~ Eric Ebbeson WI NT E R 2014


buddhaworks

New additions to the bookstore

Thanks for another wonderful year! The books, candles, incense, t-shirts, and statues you have purchased over the years have provided much-needed support for Aryaloka programs. The bookstore has a new look with a big display of “compassionate Buddha” wall plaques. These beautiful Buddhas are made from medium-density wood fiber and copper. The carving is done on the wood by hand and then copper sheet is fitted onto it. The purchase of this plaque directly helps “Adhivasis” (poor Indian Buddhist artists living in India) for a great price of only $49. From Dharma Publishing we have a new stock of prints, books, and sacred items. We have 1,000-Armed Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, Blue Medicine Buddha, and Milarepa travel altar cards for $6.95. You can also find three new large prints which are suitable for framing. You will find Longevity Tara, 1,000-Armed Avalokiteshvara, and Blue Medicine Buddha at $49 each. Plus we have a new stock of children’s storybooks and coloring books with CDs. These children’s books are very colorful and full of great stories. Here are some other great books you might enjoy from the bookstore: Not About Being Good: A Practical Guide to Buddhist Ethics By Dh. Subhadramati “While there are numerous books on Buddhist meditation and philosophy, there are few books that are entirely devoted to the practice of Buddhist ethics. Here Subhadramati, an experienced teacher of meditation

and ethics, communicates clearly both their founding principles and the practical methods to embody them. She begins by stating that Buddhist ethics don’t see human nature as something to be beaten into submission, tamed, or domesticated. Buddhism is not trying ‘to cure life of itself.’ Buddhism is about fulfilling our human nature, not diminishing it, and its ethics are both the means and the expression of this fulfillment. In Buddhism, being ethical means being truly human.” ~ Comments by the publisher Great Disciples of the Buddha: Their Lives, Their Works, Their Legacy Edited by Bikkhu Bodhi “The remarkable spiritual achievements of these early disciples illustrate the relevance and power of the Buddha’s teaching. Through their encounter with India’s most influential sage, these determined men and women transformed their minds while discovering how to attain internal peace and equanimity. In this inspiring book, twenty-four of the Buddha’s most distinguished disciples, including eight women, are brought to life in ten chapters of rich narration.” ~ Comments by the publisher Living Without Regret: Human Experience in Light of Tibetan Buddhism By Arnaud Maitland “Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is a major life challenge. In this

moving book the author, a longtime practitioner and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, reveals how his grief over his mother’s death, who had been an Alzheimer’s patient for many years, deepened his ability to apply the Buddhism and Skillful Means teachings in his own life.” ~ Comments by the publisher World as Lover, World as Self: Courage for Global Justice and Ecological Renewal By Joanna Macy “A new beginning for the environment must start with a new spiritual outlook. In this book, author Joanna Macy offers concrete suggestions for just that, showing how each of us can change the attitudes that continue to threaten our environment. Using the Buddha’s teachings on Pratītyasamutpāda, which stresses the interconnectedness of all things in the world and suggests that any one action affects all things, Macy describes how decades of ignoring this principle has resulted in a self-centeredness that has devastated the environment. Humans, Macy implores, must acknowledge and understand their connectedness to their world and begin to move toward a more focused effort to save it.” ~ Comments by the publisher

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.

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online insight

ClearVision: Dharma Via Video

By Dh. Satyada What if you could actually hear and see the Buddha delivering one of his teachings? Would it change your experience of the teaching? Would it make it easier to accept the teaching? Unfortunately we don’t have a way-back machine that could transport us back to the time of the Buddha. Actually we don’t even have any contemporaneous accounts of what the Buddha actually said. But when it comes to the Triratna Community, we are fortunate to have ClearVision (http://www.clear-vision. org), a repository of audio-visual materials dealing with Buddhism. Scientists tell us that different parts of our minds are activated depending on whether we see someone, just hear them, or read their words. Thanks to ClearVision we can watch Sangharakshita, the founder of the Triratna Community, deliver a talk on video. We can then listen to the same talk on FreeBuddhistAudio.com. And finally we can read Sangharakshita’s words in books. Of course this isn’t the case for all of the talks Sangharakshita has given, but one for which this is the case is The Taste of Freedom. You can find video at http:// vimeo.com/27006320 , audio at http:// www.freebuddhistaudio.com/audio/ details?num=139 and text at http://sangharakshita.org/_books/taste-freedom. pdf). Try experiencing this fascinating talk in all three ways and see which one works best for you! ◆◆

Audio-visual resources exploring Buddhism

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WI NT E R 2014


movie review

The Crazy Wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Crazy Wisdom: The Life & Times of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (2011), 88 minutes, NR Available on Netflix I was an itinerant roofer staying in a campground on the Florida coast in the early 2000’s when I first encountered the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The book introduced me to the practice of sitting meditation and the principles of fearlessness and basic goodness. These seeds took root and started me on the Buddhist path; however, I had no interest at the time in the sower of the seeds. Slowly, my dharma library grew and I began to connect the dots of the many teachers, teachings, traditions, and histories that form the tapestry of Buddhism in the west. As my reading list grew it was clear that this guy, whose name I could never remember (Rinpoche Trungpa something or other?), was really on the ball. His teachings were sharp, relevant, clear, and most importantly, they rang true. I had very little interest

in the man himself until I learned that he effectively drank himself to death. The more details of Chogyam Trungpa’s life I learned about, the more fascinated - and confused - I became. He was recognized as an incarnate lama in Tibet at eighteen months old, then raised and trained in a monastery. By the age of twenty he was the abbot of Surmang monastery in eastern Tibet. When the Chinese invaded, he escaped through the Himalayas on foot and horseback into India. From India he soon traveled to Scotland and co-headed the first Tibetan meditation center in the west. He then traveled to the United States and continued his teaching. He also openly drank, smoked, and slept with many of his students while being married to a sixteen-year-old. Sometimes, the spiritual path can feel like a list of shoulds and should-nots. You should not lie, you should be generous. You should meditate, you should not cheat on your spouse with your students. Yet, there’s Chogyam Trungpa, who seems to be breaking the rules on purpose just to bewilder us. So what’s the takeaway? Was he a fraud? Are the precepts outdated and unnecessary? Was he a bodhisattva doing it all on purpose to teach us an important spiritual lesson? In the end we are left scratching our heads saying “yes” and “no”

and coming up empty. The film was directed by Johanna Demetrakas, and featured Pema Chodron, Ram Das, Allen Ginsberg, Diana Mukpo, Gesar Mukpo, Sakyong Mipham Mukpo, and Robert Thurman. This synopsis is taken from the film’s website: “Crazy Wisdom is the long-awaited feature documentary to explore the life, teachings, and “crazy wisdom” of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a pivotal figure in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Called a genius, rascal, and social visionary; ‘one of the greatest spiritual teachers of the 20th century,’ and ‘the bad boy of Buddhism,’ Trungpa defied categorization. Raised and trained in the rigorous Tibetan monastic tradition, Trungpa came to the West and shattered our preconceived notions about how an enlightened teacher should behave - he openly smoked, drank, and had intimate relations with students - yet his teachings are recognized as authentic, vast, and influential. Twenty years after his death, with unprecedented access and exclusive archival material, Crazy Wisdom looks at the man and the myths about him, and attempts to set the record straight.” ~ Written by Lisa Leeman, Producer ~ Jaime Grady

Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you!

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 W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

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karma

Continued from Page 14

efforts according to what is truly skillful, rather than according to what my emotions tell me. An emotional tone may simply be the smoke of prior actions burning off. No matter if it is acrid or pleasantly fragrant, if I let it pass, the whole cluster of prior actions and effects may finish and no longer drive me to keep trying harder, doing more to make more of my self. The practice of mindfulness helps us develop the metaphorical muscles to let life’s effects simply pass on by. We don’t need to give them another spin. With mindful attention we simply notice experience without judging or pushing away or perpetuating or acting on what we feel. The bindings of our karma begin to unreel and unravel.

“We bear the consequences of the karma we create, but everyone around us is affected by our intentional acts as well, just as we are affected by theirs.” 3 Karma is individual or personal, interpersonal, and collective. We influence other people via karma, though we cannot determine what they will experience or do 22 VAJ R A BE LL

or say. They will respond with their karma to the situation we have influenced with our own. Each of us pours the drops of our karma into the great sea of experiences. Collectively we create trends, cultures, and atmospheres that become part of everyone’s global experience. If mindfulness is a key practice in allowing our individual karma vipaka to reel out without re-stimulating ourselves to create new effects, then communication is the key practice for the interpersonal realm. It is no accident that the precepts - guidelines for how to navigate karma with the least disturbance to all concerned - include several parameters for speech. We get ourselves into sticky situations – whether sweet like honey or messy like pitch – with our speech. The principles of skillful communication guide us to be truthful, gracious, kind, helpful and harmonious. However the purpose of these skills is not to just make nicer interpersonal environments for us to live in. It is to create sangha, a collective that supports us to awaken, to become disentangled from all things sticky.

“Actions free from desire, hate and delusion do not create karma. The enlightened being ceases to create

karma and thus is liberated from rebirth.” 4 Reflect on this: do you think it is possible to cease creating karma? Do you think it possible to move through this complex mix of inner and outer conditions without landing in one of the six realms? Should our effort be to have “good karma” and achieve happiness? The Buddha is sometimes referred to as the “trackless one.” This means that he leaves no residue to create a past and no vested motivation to create a future. There is nothing unfinished or unclear; no extra thought or emotional reaction attached to whatever presents itself, whether a wild tiger, a troubled villager, a storm, or fatigue and illness. The happiness of the Buddha is not dependent on external conditions or on states of mind oriented around “self ” experience through feeling and emotion. Our own habitat is still within karma’s reach, where we are tossed about by our own causes and effects. Understanding that we need to pass beyond karma we might usefully try to be more conscious about it. We might ask ourselves: What is the karma of this moment? What state of mind, views and attitudes are present? continued on page 23 WI NT E R 2014


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.

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. ◆◆

karma

karma we may begin to glimpse its release.

develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed.” 5

Continued from Page 22

What actions will I make? In any given situation we are moving forward with “new” choices and actions, new karmas – and also responding to, or being informed by, vipaka, the residues from the past. We are in a conditioned external setting and experiencing it through our state of mind that has arisen, conditioned by all that has come before and all we have done before. If we practice letting go of self-importance in this and if we truly take on the law of

“A disciple of the noble ones considers this: ‘….all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.’ When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path,

upcoming events Continued from Page 24

MARCH 1 1-2 3 4 6 7 8 9

Mixed Order/Mitra Day Women’s GFR overnight Men’s mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1 Practice Night, 7-8:15 p.m. Intro to Meditation: Loving-Kindness, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Lilasiddhi Keeping it Real, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

For Your Information... TRIRATNA CENTERS IN NORTH AMERICA: W I NTE R 2 0 1 4

Newmarket, NH Portland, ME Cambridge, MA

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1 The Dhammapada, 1.1, Sangharakshita, translator. 2, 3, 4 http://buddhism.about.com/od/ abuddhistglossary/g/karmadef.htm 5 Anguttara Nikaya, 5.57, Upajjhatthana Sutta

Men’s mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Noble Silence Weekend, Bodhana Full moon puja and meditation, 7-9 p.m. Men’s mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1 Practice Night, 7-8:15 p.m. Drawing Group, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Eric Ebbeson Men’s mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 2 begins Practice night, 7-8:15 Ancient Wisdom, Nagabodhi, time TBA

New York City, NY Missoula, MT San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA Portsmouth, NH Vancouver, BC VAJ R A BE L L 23


upcoming events

(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.

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

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Drawing Group – 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Order Day Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Intro to Buddhism and Meditation, 7-9 p.m., Vihanasari (class #1) Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m., Part 1 Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Intro to Buddhism and Meditation, 7-9 p.m., Vihanasari (class #2) Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1. Center Closed – Retreat for Portland, Boston, NYC centers Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Intro to Buddhism and Meditation, 7-9 p.m., Vihanasari (class #3) Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, part 1 Engaged Buddhism – Keeping it Real, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Men’s Practice Day - Triratna System of Practice, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Satyada & Eric Wentworth Introduction to Meditation – Mindfulness of Breathing, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Lilisiddhi Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Intro to Buddhism and Meditation, 7-9 p.m., Vihanasari (class #4) Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1 Order Weekend

Order weekend continues Drawing Group 9:30-11:30 a.m. Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Intro to Buddhism and Meditation, 7-9 p.m., Vihanasari (class #5) Rental Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1. Practice Night, 7-8:15 p.m. Poetry workshop, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Kavyadrishti, lunch included Meditation Tune-Up – Hindrances, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Intro to Buddhism and Meditation, 7-9 p.m., Vihanasari (last class) Full-Moon Puja and Meditation, 7-9 p.m. Nordic Nirvana Retreat, 9 a.m. Sat. to 3 p.m. Sun, Arjava and Akashavanda Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1. Practice Night, 7-8:15 p.m. PARINIRVANA DAY– 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Karunasara Men’s Mitra class Friends’ Night – 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. – All are welcome! Mixed mitra Foundation class, 6:15 p.m, Part 1 Practice Night continued on page 23

ongoing events Sangha Night At Aryaloka Every Tuesday evening, 6:45-9:15 p.m. • Led by Arjava, Akashavanda, Amala, Satyada, Lilasiddhi, and other sangha members. • Open to all • Suggested donation $10 per class • No registration necessary Typically, our Tuesday night activities include: • 6:45 - Gathering, tea, and announcements • 7:15 - Meditation and shrine room activity • 8:00 - Study, discussion, or a talk on the evening’s topic • 9:15 - End With any of these activities, you are free to participate or to just sit and listen. Nothing is compulsory. If you have any questions, please ask! 24 VAJ R A BE LL

Full Moon Puja Friday evenings as scheduled (unless noted). See the Aryaloka website or Vajra Bell events schedule for dates and locations. 7:00 p.m. meditation, followed by puja. The rich devotional practice of meditation and puja is shared on these special Friday nights by those who find devotion an important part of their practice. When we celebrate the Sevenfold Puja, which combines faith and devotion with poetry and sometimes an element of visual beauty, we find that our emotional energies are to some extent refined. When this happens, it becomes possible for the vision and insight of the higher thinking center to act through these refined, sublimated emotional centers directly on the moving center. In this way, the whole of life is completely transformed. Sangharakshita ~ Ritual and Devotion WI NT E R 2014

Vajra Bell newsletter - Winter 2014  

"Karma: Round and Round We Go, Where it Stops, the Buddha Knows" by Amala -- "Impermanence with Appreciation" by Narottama