Vajra Bell newsletter - Spring 2016

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vajrabell SPRING 2016

spreading the dharma keeping sangha connected

Arts and the Dharma

Losing Self in Art, Poetry, Music and Movement

Also in This Issue: Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

The Triratna Path of Practice: Developing Peace By Dh. Surakshita and Dh. Vidhuma

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from the editors


Mary Schaefer David Watt

Co-editing the Vajra Bell, for me, is a very selfish venture. I love writing and editing (is that a form of grasping?), and planning and preparing each issue is a joyous work of creativity. My love of the Dharma deepens with every issue. If I am curious about ethics, karma, samadhi, wisdom, the lakshanas, the four noble truths or the eight-fold path, my co-editor David Watt and I just need to tap Triratna Buddhist order members from around the world and ask them for their reflections and teachings on these or other Dharma topics. This issue of the Vajra Bell again features a wealth of teachings and inspiration from order and sangha members. In editing the articles exploring the link between arts and the Dharma from order members Kiranada, Sravaniya and Kavyadrishti

along with New York mitra Sita Mani, I was encouraged to lose my “self “ in art, poetry, music and movement. I “fell in love,” as Kiranada talks about in her article, “appreciating the impermanence of life. I grew to note the simple beauty all around me.” What a joy and gift not only to be inspired by their practices, but to have the privilege and opportunity to spread their wisdom and experience to others. Order members Vidhuma and Surakshita shed greater light for me on the Triratna Path of Practice in the opening articles on the series we are starting in this issue. I have studied this system in retreats before, but I was uplifted in reading how, as we build up positive emotions and deepen our practice, we begin to “know our

Welcome to the latest incarnation of the Vajra Bell. Rijupatha, designer and former editor of this journal for many years, has moved on to (many) other projects. He has left us a wonderful legacy and huge shoes for to fill. We joyfully welcome our new designer, Callista Johnson, who brings creativity, energy, patience and a great sense of humor to the task. Without her, this issue would not have been possible. In this issue, we have two articles in a series about the five-stage Triratna Path of Practice. In his article on the first stage, integration, Vidhuma shows us what sets the stage for developing peace in our lives: mindfulness meditation, solitude and spiritual friendship. This is the foundation for realizing all of our other spiritual aspirations. For me the different aspects of my practice have often felt fragmented, touching different parts of my life. While reading his piece,

the connection between the different aspects of my practice became much more clear. As Vihuma says, “Our spiritual lives suffuse and permeate, nourish and inspire all the activities and ‘lives’ that we live.” Art is an important element of the spiritual life about which Sangharakshita has written extensively. Indeed much of the sangha life at Aryaloka arises from the arts in various forms: the monthly drawing group, the exhibitions in the yoga room, concerts, arts evenings, and the paintings, thangkas, and sculpture that are found throughout the center. This issue features pieces by four artists – Kirinada, Sita Mani, Kavyadrishti and Sravaniya – whose lives and experiences of the Dharma have been been shaped by their artistic gifts and conversely whose artistic lives have been shaped by the Dharma. All write movingly about the common purposes of art and meditation. As Sravaniya says,

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VAJRA BELL KULA CO-EDITOR: Mary Schaefer CO-EDITOR: David Watt COPY EDITOR: Dh. Vihanasari ARTS EDITOR: Deb Howard DESIGN: Callista Cassady

SANGHA NOTE CONTRIBUTORS Peter Ingraham, Aryaloka Buddhist Center Kay Jones, Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center Sabrina Metivier, Nagaloka Buddhist Center Paramita Banerjee, Vancouver Buddhist Centre Mary Salome, San Francisco Buddhist Center Susan DiPietro, Khanti Outreach

SPIRITUAL VITALITY COUNCIL Dh. Amala (Chair) Dh. Vidhuma (Vice Chair) Dh. Arjava Dh. Dayalocana Dh. Surakshita

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Dh. Arjava (Chair) Barry Timmerman (Secretary) Elizabeth Hellard (Treasurer) Dh. Amala Jean Corson Tom Gaillard Daniel Kenney Dh. Rijupatha Alisha Roberts

Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 · Find us on Facebook: ...or on the Aryaloka Facebook Group: Connect at The Buddhist Centre Online: Cover image: Yellow Buddha by Deb Howard Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

spiritual vitality council For the past months, the Spiritual Vitality Council (SVC) has devoted its energy to two large projects along with the usual reviews, problem-solving and planning that fall under the auspices of the SVC. The first project has been the careful consideration of the proposed “Friends of Aryaloka” (FA) initiative. This is a joint endeavor with the Aryaloka board of directors that has been under consideration since May 2015. The purpose of the FA is to identify those in our Aryaloka sangha who are part of our community on a regular basis but who, for a variety of sound reasons, have chosen not to become mitras.

board notes

By allowing these members to identify themselves in a more specific, deliberate way, the center will be able to better meet their spiritual interests. A more detailed copy of the proposal is available in the office for anyone interested. The SVC has reworked the original proposal and at the February meeting approved its version to be sent to the board for its review. The second major undertaking has been the review of the 2013 “Vision for Aryaloka” with amendments to make it current. The vision is a sweeping overview of future planning directions for Aryaloka. The updated vision will be presented to the board for their input. When the board has completed its work, the finalized document will be available to the Aryalo-

ka community. The vision will serve as a foundation for more specific goals and objectives. The SVC also has carried on its usual discussions of the well-being of the Aryaloka community. We review the activities and attendance at program events and explore possibilities for future programming. The SVC is always receptive to input. Ideas, reactions, suggestions and thoughts are welcome. Any communication can be made through the Aryaloka office. Dh. Shrijnana, the executive director of Aryaloka, attends SVC meetings and communicates any information the office receives.

Barry Timmerman

The Aryaloka Board of Directors (BOD) held its annual year-end meeting at which we reviewed the year’s accomplishments and challenges. We said sad farewells to two BOD members who stepped down. Dayalocana, after over two decades of service on the BOD, is focusing on other endeavors. Akashavanda also stepped down. She will continue to develop the SanghaCare initiative. The BOD elected two new board members: Daniel Kenney and Alisha Roberts. Daniel is a mitra who has asked for ordination. He has business experience, knows a lot about facilities management, has studied the BOD bylaws and wants to assist with fundraising. Alisha also is a mitra who brings quite a bit of business experience as an operations manager for a finance company. She is in charge of Aryaloka’s Children and Teen Sanghas. Since the BOD is responsible for the overall center operations, we

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

Dh. Vidhuma

need members who have the experience to fulfill that mission. The Spiritual Vitality Council (SVC) continues to work closely with the BOD to make certain we adhere to the core ethics and values of our spiritual mission. The BOD and SVC meet together several times a year. Members of the BOD sit on the SVC and vice versa. We recently moved the center office from the west to the east dome. We also have designated a room in the east dome as a community room. These changes allow us to be more energy efficient by only heating the west dome when it is in use. The BOD decided to support two new initiatives. First, the BOD approved the ongoing development of the SanghaCare initiative. The SanghaCare kula is meeting, planning and developing the infrastructure to launch the project that will provide assistance to sangha members in need. Second, the BOD considered a proposal by Arjava for the Friends of Aryaloka program, an initiative to improve the experience of anyone

who comes to Aryaloka regardless of their level of commitment. The BOD voted to continue to develop and implement this program. We head into the spring and summer with hope and new energy on the BOD. Things are looking up financially. We ended January in better shape than last year at this time. We have lots going on at our center with opportunities for all levels of practitioners. Do not hesitate to talk with anyone on the BOD with questions, concerns or ideas. We post the meeting minutes on the bulletin board so anyone can get more specific information about meetings and the topics discussed and voted on. The current board is: Officers: Arjava, chair; Elizabeth Hellard, treasurer; and Barry Timmerman, secretary Members at large: Amala, Jean Corson, Tom Gaillard, Daniel Kenney, Rijupatha and Alisha Roberts

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Friends’ Night Rolls Out Spring Series The winter series for Friends’ Night at Aryaloka wrapped up in February, and our teachers are rolling out the spring series. Arjava is leading the course on fundamentals with “The Noble Eightfold Path.” Tom Gaillard and Kiranada are leading “Tools for Living,” focused on techniques to keep you on the Buddhist path. Satyada is facilitating a look into the history of Triratna Buddhism with his course, “Sangharakshita and the Triratna Community.” Special Events and Retreats Aryaloka started the year off on the first of January with a Meditate for Peace Day. Visitors meditated every hour from morning until night and enjoyed food and each others’ company. Khemavassika officiated at Parinirvana day, our annual celebration of the life of the Buddha as experienced in his final moments and an appreciation of our own impermanence. The center hosted a single retreat this winter where members of the outlying sanghas (Portland, ME; Boston; and New York City) came together to study and practice the Brahma Viharas. Volunteers Recognized at Dinner Aryaloka hosted a dinner in late January in appreciation of the many volunteers who keep the center going. Aryaloka has at least 75 individual volunteers who teach, maintain the building and grounds, manage the shrine, and help out in multiple ways. In the last year, thanks to their efforts, there was a great deal of activity around the center: 21 retreats with 238 retreatants from 17 states and two provinces in attendance; 11 introductory classes, teaching meditation to a total of 106 people; 12 study days; five intermediate meditation classes; and nine showings of Buddhist-themed movies. There were five presentations to high school and college classes, three ongoing mitra page 4

study classes and four open meditaElbow-deep in fresh pasta at the tion sessions per week, every week. Aryaloka Volunteer Appreciation The generosity kula made donations Dinner are (left to right): Ralph to eight charitable organizations, Phipps, Dayalocana, Arjava, including the Newmarket food bank, Elizabeth Hellard, Bodhana, the Green Tara Trust and Cross Roads Vidhuma, Alisha Roberts. House. The center hosted three art exhibits and one stupa dedication. Notable Upcoming Events Sadhu! Kamalashila, a senior order SanghaCare Program Coming Soon member and author of Meditation, SanghaCare is a volunteer prothe Buddhist Way of Tranquility and gram that expands our Buddhist prac- Insight, will lead a week-long order tice in practical ways to help those retreat on compassion and emptiaround us. It is the Bodhisattva Ideal ness in April. Yashobodhi, another come-to-life in the here and now. order member from the UK, will SanghaCare provides an opportunity lead an intermediate level meditafor sangha members to give as well as tion retreat on compassion in June. receive practical assistance and spiri— Pete Ingraham tual friendship in a time of need. CONCORD SANGHA

The first retreat of 2016 was held in January. The topic was the It was a busy and productive fall Wheel of Life. On Friday night, one and winter at the Concord men’s of the men presented each section sangha. Khanti Outreach provides of the wheel and how it relates to weekly Dharma mitra study in the his life. It was a powerful presentaConcord State Prison for Men on tion and created a wonderful segue Thursdays, open meditation sessions into the following day. Saturday on Saturdays and four retreats each continued with more meditation year. and study and concluded with a Kiranada joined the October rediscussion of what a modern wheel treat as a guest visitor. She presented might look like. Several participants an incredible talk and shared pictures were inspired to create a personal from her year of silence. There were wheel of life. many questions and a meaningful disThe dates for the remaining cussion about silence, meditation and retreats in 2016 are April 22–23, July meditating in a difficult environment. 22–23 and October 28–29. If you It was a truly special event. The men are interested in attending one of are grateful to Kiranada for taking the these retreats, please let Satyada time to share her experience. or Khemavassika know. They are nonresidential and begin with a (CONCORD, NH)

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016


Over the winter, Nagaloka was busy supporting Wednesday Friends’ Night. In January, we completed our book study of Life with Full Attention by Maitreyabandhu. Discussions were facilitated by Gail Yahwak, Janet Miles, Dharmasuri and Khemavassika. Amala and Viriyalila led a practice day for women who have asked for ordination. A four-week introduction to meditation and Buddhism class

also was held in January supported by Dharmasuri. We were fortunate in February to have the kind presence of Vimalamoksha visiting Maine from San Fransisco. He graciously facilitated a four-week series on Wednesday nights focusing on pleasure in meditation. Also in February, Bodhipaksa led a morning retreat on the art of the mindfulness and self-compassion practice entitled “How to stop beating yourself UP and be kinder to others, too.” Some 15 people attended.

Bodhipaksa offered another fourweek series in March on transforming suffering, exploring the Buddha’s teaching on dukkha. Our annual outlying sangha retreat took place again at Aryaloka over Martin Luther King Day weekend. For the last seven years we have joined with sangha members from Boston and New York to practice and celebrate the Dharma together. This year we were all inspired as we engaged with the Brahma Viharas meditation practice. ― Sabrina Metivier

The retreat for sangha members from Boston, Nagaloka and New York took place in February at Aryaloka. Attending were (front row, left to right) Beth Burham, Sunada, Sue Cross and Danakamala; (second row) Dharmasuri, Janet Miles, Linda Dillingham, Claire Reinelt and Michelle Boisvert; and (back row) David Johnson, Gail Yahwak, Farhana Stevenson, Steve Wade, Chris Johnson, Christopher Warnasch, Nancy Artz, Keith Godbout, Zoltan Molnar and Vajramati.

Friday session at 6:30 p.m. and pick up again on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Satyada and the men choose the themes for the Thursday study group and they never disappoint. To attend, a visitor must first get clearance by completing an application with the NH Department of Corrections at least six weeks before the visit. The Sangha is a jewel, no less important than the Buddha and the Dharma, and the strength of sangha is felt in Concord. The depth of discussion, and the respect and compassion that the members of the Khanti Sangha demonstrate exemplify the true meaning of sangha. — Susan DiPietro Vajra Bell, Spring 2016


We love our summers in Montana, and we have many outdoor enthusiasts who take full advantage of the conditions. This can mean that sometimes we miss each other on sangha night. However, when the weather chills a bit and schools start back up it seems that our energies refocus. The fall schedule started off with another introduction to Buddhism and meditation class that was well attended. Several of the attendees rolled over to Friends’ Night. In November, Zach Seligman and Danielle Lattuga became parents to a beautiful son, Gideon Wolff Seligman. A few weeks later, Gideon was in attendance to watch mom and dad (Zach and Danielle) take part in a

fantastically huge mitra ceremony. Many family members and friends celebrated as 10 –yes 10!– people became mitras. It was such a beautiful evening. Sadhu to the following new mitras: Amy Engkjer, Annette Puttkammer, Carol Matthews, Danielle Lattuga, Cyndi Stary, Hillary Wood, LeAnne McDonald, Tim Lawhorn, Zach Seligman and Alison Laundrie. Groups and classes meet three nights a week with two newly-formed chapters. One is a mixed chapter and the other is a women’s chapter. There is a lot of energy buzzing in Missoula, Montana. ― Kay Jones

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A lot has happened since our last report in the Vajra Bell. Perhaps the best way to approach an update is as if moving toward the San Francisco Buddhist Center from a great distance: a satellite view. What would be the first thing you would notice? It might be a large scorched scar about 135 miles north of the city where last fall a valley fire burned more than 76,000 acres and destroyed thousands of homes in the area. The San Francisco Buddhist Center owns property there in Lake County. While the fire came within a mile of the property, it did not burn. We were able to offer temporary shelter to two residents who lost their home. Dean and Lena Nicolaides own Dino’s Loch Lomond Market (which was not destroyed). They continued to run their store while living in our retreat center from September 2015 through this February. On the eve of their departure they wrote to send

The front door of the San Francisco Buddhist Center. their thanks: “Words cannot express how deeply grateful we are to you and all the other members at the San Francisco Buddhist Center for allowing us to stay here to heal and regroup after the fire. We loved and needed the utter quiet and contemplative feeling of your home and feel ready for our next step in our lives.” Zooming in to a close view of Bartlett Street, home of the San Fransciso Buddhist Cinter, the construction that started in late 2014 is ongoing. The City’s Streetscape Improvement Project is behind schedule according to their web site, but progress is visible, and a more accessible street will be great for the sangha. We recently concluded the annual rainy season retreat. Tejananda gave teachings focused on body/mind distinction, “single pointed maitre,”

working with samadhi and prajna, the three lakshanas, just sitting and pure receptivity. There were meditation reviews and extra sits throughout the month. The center reopened to the public in February with a series focused on friendship. From a satellite view, I imagine it shining brightly on the map. — Mary Salome

Recently, we had a mitra ceremony where we celebrated and witnessed the declarations of three new mitras who deepened their commitment to their spiritual journeys. Monday nights blend Buddhism and recovery, with activities primarily led by Vimalasara and a support team of mitras and Monday regulars.

An exciting new retreat – which now will be a yearly event – was a result of these Monday sits. The retreat will be held just prior to the holidays in December of each year. At the December 2015 retreat, we reflected on living ethically and bringing peace and harmony to our lives, families and communities in


Triratna Vancouver is enjoying growth, a vibrant sangha life and sharing of the Dharma. The Vancouver Sangha currently has five active order members – Vimalasara, Dayasiddhi, Upakarin, Shantinayaka and Satyavasini – plus a lively circle of more than 20 local mitras. Teaching the Dharma is the lifeblood of our sangha, and our order members are organizing a teaching workshop to help support newer mitras, to continue to share the Dharma, and to foster spiritual practice in our sangha. We are running two mitra study groups: years one and two of formal Dharma training. Teams of our mitras organize and coordinate the spiritual activities and Dharma study on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays. Monday night sits are a real hub of activity for spiritual friendships. page 6

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016


Bodhisattva Ideal in Practice

SanghaCare is a volunteer program that expands our Buddhist practice in practical ways to help those around us. It is the Bodhisattva Ideal come-to-life in the here and now. SanghaCare provides an opportunity for sangha members to give as well as receive practical assistance and spiritual friendship in times of need. Program details and how you can participate will be publicized soon. Here are a few ways you as a SanghaCare volunteer can help others: · Provide transportation. Drive someone to a doctor’s or therapy appointment. Pick up a prescription and deliver it. Take someone shopping. Bring an elderly or disabled person to Aryaloka for an event. · Arrange babysitting for a mom who has just returned home from the hospital and is experiencing complications.

A new retreat was held prior to the holidays. Attending were (front) Kim McLeod, (left to right) Farrel Janell, Paramita Banerjee and Anne Lavergne. anticipation of the holiday season. Due to our growing numbers, we are entering a new chapter with a move to a larger space. With high hopes for new beginnings, we leave our cozy basement suite with a beautiful garden – home for the past 15 years – for a new center, a second floor office space in a four-story building situated in a vibrant, multicultural Vancouver neighborhood. In our new home, we have the opportunity to grow and enrich our Buddhist practice by sharing the gift of the Dharma with more people. We started our growth journey in November with a day of visioning involving our wider Vancouver Sangha. It was well attended and generated a Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

· Send a card of support to someone who has been recently laid off. Offer a sense of support and empathy. · Bake cookies for a memorial reception. · Arrange meals for a couple who has just returned from an overseas adoption trip. Organize several volunteers to provide a week’s worth of meals for this new family. · Call an elder, ill, or shut-in person just to talk, get a sense of how things are going and be a connection to the outside world. · Welcome a new sangha member whom you know might be having domestic problems. Be aware of and make yourself available to those in distress. · Visit someone in the hospital who is ill or pre- or post-surgery. Offer spiritual support and reassurance to the patient through talk, meditation or whatever the person asks for.

lot of ideas for change. We are working toward increasing attendance in our drop-in classes and possibly offering weekday activities at lunch or after work. We are actively fundraising to meet our rent commitment and repay the loan for necessary renovations we made to beautify the new

· Call someone struggling with depression. · Visit an elderly member in their home to talk, meditate or do what seems appropriate and supportive. · Send a card of condolences, support or “just thinking of you.”

space. Please contact us with any innovative ideas for fundraising that have been successful for your local sanghas. ― Paramita Banerjee

Seattle and Vancouver sangha members come together: John Ricker (Seattle), Paramita Banerjee, Manuele Mayer (Seattle) and David Valentine.

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The Triratna Path of Practice A Comprehensive Approach to Spiritual Development

The Triratna Path of Practice is a comprehensive view of the whole of the spiritual life from a Buddhist perspective and represents the crystallization of a lifetime of teachings by Urgyen Sangharakshita. The Path of Practice describes the crucial elements that, taken together, compose a life of happiness, purpose, freedom, equanimity and inner peace. The Path includes a system of meditation, ethical precepts and how to live by them, a deep and sensitive awareness of oneself and others, and the development of insight that leads to a lasting inner peace. The Aryaloka Spiritual Vitality Council (SVC) has endorsed making the Path of Practice and Spiritual Development the general theme for the center’s 2016 programming. As part of that effort, the Vajra Bell will explore the Path of Practice in more depth in this and the following two issues. We start with an overview of the system by Surakshita and a closer look at the first stage of developing peace by Vidhuma. – Editors Living in this very complex world we often feel out of control and driven in directions that are not meaningful. Our society has enormous wealth, yet acquiring the next material thing never seems to satisfy. There is a gnawing feeling that there has to be more of “something” that leads to satisfaction, joy, beauty and peace. Some 2,500 years ago, the Buddha had the same feelings. Born into great wealth, he began to wonder what his life – this human condition – was all about. Do we just live until sickness, old age and death overtake us, or is there a state of living that brings lasting satisfaction in this lifetime? The Buddha went on a six-year quest for the truth. What he discovpage 8

by Dh. Surakshita, with contributions from the curriculum kula at Aryaloka; Dh. Amala, Dh. Dayalocana, Dh. Bodhana, Dh. Vihanasari and Dh. Shirjnana ered was revolutionary. He saw with great clarity that people believed that they are physically and mentally fixed in nature: solid and unchanging. The Buddha discovered this was not true. We humans are constantly changing based on conditions that affect our body, mind and circumstances. What a wonderful discovery! Because we can change, we can work with our body, speech and mind to address our fears and habitual tendencies. This enables us to move to a more stable state that leads to peace, joy and beauty. Based on his insight, the Buddha developed tools for change. He developed precepts to live by, mindfulness techniques to contemplate, meditations to work with, and suttas or teachings to study and live by. His goal for us was to see what he saw – the actual state of things as they are – which is called the enlightened view. These spiritual tools, employed in a logical and heartfelt fashion, develop the path that leads to meaningful change. The Triratna Path of Practice consists of five interrelating stages or aspects: Peace, Happiness, Wisdom, Freedom of Heart and Mind, and Spontaneous Compassionate Action. This path is not meant to be linear, but we usually begin by working on the development of mindfulness because most of us are novices in this area. In truth, we could start anywhere on our path of practice. But we start by working to achieve a level of peace and integration by learning how to meditate on mindfulness and by studying the teachings on which it is based (such as the Satipatthana sutta). We learn about the precepts for daily living that the Buddha prescribed to support our efforts, and we begin to understand conditionality through study of the Four Noble Truths and

the Noble Eightfold Path. All of this provides a firm basis on which to approach the other four aspects of the path of practice. After the development of peace and integration, we start working on happiness and positive emotion by learning to meditate on loving kindness. We build up positive emotions to work with in the varied life situations we encounter. We learn what the Buddha taught about these topics and about the high priority he placed on friendship. Likewise, as we become more integrated and more positive, we begin to understand our mind and the concept of wisdom. We then develop the capability to know our minds and, more important, to start controlling our actions in a positive way. Our mediation will move further into working with the mind itself to understand its great capacity to heal and to achieve great joy. Again, in this effort, we rely on and study the teachings of the Buddha. Finally, when we are comfortable, integrated, positive and able to control our minds to some degree, we work with practices to develop freedom for our hearts and minds as well as build compassion toward all beings. The Buddha found that utilizing different meditation techniques in these five areas and living a spiritual life through following the precepts would eventually lead to knowing the truth about humanity and bring freedom, joy, beauty and peace to our lives. Surakshita has been studying and practicing Buddhism for 35 years. He was ordained in 1998 into the Triratna Buddhist Order. He has been actively engaged at Aryaloka since 1989 and is a member of the Spiritual Vitality Council.

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

Developing Peace: No More Effort:

spontaneous compassionate action Just sitting meditation

getting to know oneself, bringing all one’s energies together behind spiritual purpose; integration Samatha, mindfulness meditations

Experiencing Freedom:

Developing Happiness:

of heart and mind: a new way of being; spiritual rebirth Sadhana meditations, Buddhannussati

positive connection with oneself and others; skillful or positive emotion Metta and Brahma Viharas meditations

Developing Understanding and Wisdom:

direct knowing, transformation through insight, letting go; spiritual death Insight practices

Developing Peace

A Natural Starting Point on the Spiritual Path by Dh. Vidhuma

These five are not necessarily linear and need not develop in a Spiritual life and pracstage-to-stage manner. They are tice in the Triratna Budpresent in differing amounts in peodhist Community (TBC) ple at different times. They support tradition is composed and reinforce each other. No spiritual of five inter-related aslife is complete without all five being pects or stages. These present. are the fibers that when Developing peace is a natural bewoven together make up the fabginning point to discuss this model of ric of spiritual life. The five aspects spiritual life and practice. It provides are described as developing peace a solid and basic foundation on which (integration), developing happiness the other components can establish (positive emotions), developing wisa nourishing root system, beautiful dom (understanding or insight into blossoms and sweet fruit. reality), developing freedom (creative A sense of peace depends on perception of self, others, the world) bringing together into a unified whole and developing spontaneous comall the various fragments of our passionate action. Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

experiences. As we move through a day, we experience a wide range of needs, desires, aversions and uncertainties. Navigating these is often confusing. Integrating the disparate experiences of our lives is no small task. Yet, without some sense of wholeness, our experience feels like a tangle, a jumble of random events without a solid core or direction. We become as a shapeless bag of conflict, confusion or both. The experience of peace begins with becoming familiar with who we are. What is our experience of ourselves physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially? The only way to - continued on page 10 page 9

developing peace

natural kindness. With ourselves and with others, we become more honest find answers is to pay attention to our and direct. experiences, our body, our feelings, Mindfulness in everyday life, simour thoughts, and our interactions plifying our lives, clarifying our values with other people. Paying attention and acting ethically in accordance requires a deliberate effort. with them, monitoring our sensory A basic tool for paying attention is input, and acting with honesty and mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness kindness are the essential prelimimeditations were taught as a spiritual naries to leading a spiritual life. They practice long before the time of the each and all are part of becoming a historical Buddha. But the Buddha whole person with a unified pattern emphasized mindfulness, and it has of direction and definition. Developing become a cornerstone of Buddhist peace in the Triratna system of spiriteaching in all traditions. Mindfulness tual practice and spiritual life means of breathing meditation has been becoming familiar with oneself, betaught as a central part of practice in coming a well-integrated person with Buddhist traditions for the past two clarity of purpose. and one-half centuries. The important tools for the work Mindfulness meditation encourof developing peace are three: mindages us to observe ourselves. We fulness meditation, seclusion and learn to develop a mind that can ob(in balance with seclusion) spiritual serve carefully, that can concentrate friendship. The TBC emphasizes the on observation without distraction. In development of mindfulness and meditation, we become familiar with concentration through teaching the our body, thoughts, perceptions and mindfulness of breathing in the forms emotions. We can use this mind that taught by the historical Buddha. Repays careful attention not only when treats and other periods of seclusion we meditate but as we move through away from the busyness of the world our daily lives. We become more faare strongly encouraged. Spiritual miliar with our experiences. We notice friendship is synonymous with Sangha our various actions and reactions. life, a natural part of going for refuge We become aware of feelings and to the Sangha Jewel. thoughts as they arise, as they are Developing peace, as with the present, and as they disappear. We whole of the spiritual life itself, is recognize the patterns of perceptions never finished. Perfect peace, perfect and behaviors that make up who we integration, perfect unity of purpose are. and behavior are some of the high This process of developing a ideals that inspire us to lead a spirgreater mindfulness in meditation itual life. A spiritual life is one that and in everyday life has several natu- is integrated and whole. We cannot ral consequences. We begin to act on have a spiritual life as only one part a deep tendency to bring these varof our life, a fragment separated from ious aspects of our experience into our work, our personal lives, our fama more unified whole being, moving ilies and the like. Our spiritual lives in a more steady and clear direction. suffuse and permeate, nourish and We recognize when we are more at inspire all the activities and “lives” that peace, more content, and when we we live. It is the great container that are more agitated by confusion, congives meaning, value and direction to flict, fear or remorse. We adopt clear all the components of living the one values or ethical guidelines that steer precious life that is ours. us away from agitation and toward inner peace. We seek less stimulation Vidhuma has been dedicated to and distraction in our experience learning Buddhism and living his of living. We experience a tendency life accordingly for nearly 30 years. toward simplicity of living rather than He was ordained in 1997 in the complexity or confusion. In our relaTriratna Buddhist Order, and is actively engaged in teaching and tionships with others, we find ourother activities at Aryaloka Budselves moving toward friendship and

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dhist Center.

from the editors, continued Mary Schaefer - continued from page 2 minds and, more important, to start controlling our actions in a positive way.” We can then begin to understand the mind’s “great capacity to heal and achieve great joy.” What an invitation! How can I not but give myself over as completely as I am able to this path. May you be as inspired by this issue. ― Mary Schaefer David Watt - continued from page 2 “Both invite us to lead a more beautiful life, more in accordance with how things are.” Each goes on to point out that that the benefits of artistic creation are open to us all. As Kirinada writes, “I have grown to believe that art/creativity is a birthright for all, not something to be indulged in only by the talented few.” As I write this, a battered sketchbook sits on my desk containing my own drawings that I awkwardly crafted in my living room, in cafes, on beaches, and at Aryaloka. I have just patted it and smiled. I am especially fond of the lovely essay by Mitra Dan of the Concord Sangha about teaching his children to meditate. It reminds me of why I became a Buddhist in the first place. As always, special thanks to our sangha correspondents: Pete Ingraham from Aryaloka, Susan DiPietro from Concord, Sabina Metivier from Nagaloka, Mary Salome from San Francisco, Kay Jones from Missoula, and Paramita Banerjee from Vancouver. ― David Watt

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

A Gift that Can Lead to Freedom

by Mitra Dan

Concord Sangha

As parents we have an obligation to best prepare our children for their current round of life. For me that task has been complicated by separation from my wife and two young children. However, I have managed to provide them with a gift that can lead them to the path of freedom; a gift they can keep for the rest of their lives; a gift that will never break, should never get lost, and can grow as they grow. That gift was to plant the seeds of meditation in the curious minds of my daughters – Gracie, age 9, and Katie, age 5. One day while talking to Gracie on the phone, she was very sad. I suggested she try to meditate and that meditation helps me when I’m sad. I told her to start by counting the breath going in and out of her nose. “Feel the cool air coming in and the warm air leaving. In…one, out… one, in…two, out…two. Concentrate on the nose and the breath. If you start to think of something else like what Skipper (the dog) is doing, or why do I have to clean my room, just realize that your thoughts have wandered, and go back to counting the breath. You can start where you left

book review

I responded, “Great honey. I felt your love, too. It made me tingle all over, too. Now teach your sister, and we can do it again tonight at 8 p.m.” The next day I talked to both of my girls. Gracie felt tingly, and Katie told me she felt the “one-thousand-hundred loves” I sent her, and she sent me back one-thousand-thousand loves. It’s been three years now, and my girls still do our “family love meditation.” My wife tells me that she finds them sitting “criss-cross applesauce” sometimes before bed. If one of them is having a bad day they sometimes ask me to meditate at the same time they will. And I meditate, and every time, I swear I feel “one-thousand-thousand loves!”

A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming review by Scott Hurley

Two years ago I read the book A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming by Dylan Tucillo and Jared Zeizel. Since then, I have gone from lucid dreaming a few times a year to at least once a week. I have built stupas and met archetypal Buddhas in my dreams, completed my meditation practice before I even woke up and cured lifelong sleeping issues by learning to consciously fall asleep and diffuse nightmares. I believe these benefits are accessible Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

off or start over. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a big deal. Continue counting until you’re really relaxed, then stop counting. “Next picture me, Mommy and Katie holding your hands making a circle. From our hearts we shine love on each other. Concentrate and feel the love, then shine it back. If you want you can tell me you love me. “Now honey, I want you to go to bed at 8 p.m., and I will, too. Sit in your bed with your legs crossed – ‘criss-cross applesauce’ the girls call it – and I will, too. I will meditate and try to send you love. See if you can feel it. Then you try to send me love, and I’ll see if I can feel it. I’ll call you tomorrow and see if it worked.” At 8 p.m., I practiced as promised. The next day I called home and asked Gracie if she meditated. She said quite enthusiastically, “Yes, and it worked, Daddy!” I asked, “Could you feel the love I sent you honey?” Gracie replied “Yes, Daddy, yes, it made me tingle all over!”

to anyone, and I am happy to share this book. Tucillo and Zeizel begin by putting context around lucid dreaming, explaining scientific views of how dreams work, looking at studies proving lucid dreaming, and reviewing some cultural history of dreaming. Many Buddhists aware of lucid dreaming in the Tibetan tradition might hesitate to adopt a practice that was traditionally reserved for advanced yogis. However, advances in techniques have made it easier to become lucid (Stephen Laberge

2011), and the authors emphasize that anyone can do it. They start by teaching to people who can’t remember their dreams. First, to remember your dreams, they recommend writing them down. Many find dream interpretation provides valuable insight, and strategies in this book go beyond common ones. With lucid dreaming they take us further, teaching first how to become aware of dreams while in them, then teaching how to interpret and deepen - continued on page 12 page 11

book review

I found this book easy and enjoyable to read. It’s organized into sections on theory and practice. Each chapter has subsections with side reading and art that makes it easier to read than continuous information. It is written in a style for people unaccustomed to abstruse thinking, distilling a lot of popular information on lucid dreaming in an accessible way. I think Triratna Buddhists can find plenty of valuable material. Sangharakshita in Living Wisely said that by expanding our limited sense of self, we can get closer to a sense of having no fixed self to free us from the source of our suffering, and that

- continued from page 11 awareness while in them and to do things like fly, shapeshift, teleport and make artistic creations. Ask yourself right now if you are dreaming; you’ll probably have increased awareness as a result. Tucillo and Zeizel recommend doing this regularly and checking things like your number of fingers and reflection in a mirror to tell if you are dreaming. When you eventually try it in a dream out of habit and receive the surprise of a lifetime to find that you are dreaming, you will have access to endless wonder and discovery.


connecting with our dream experiences can help. I look forward to seeing what the sangha could make of lucid dreaming! ― Scott Hurley

Dh. Shantikirika

Things are always shifting and changing in the bookstore so keep checking us out. Buddhaworks features cards created by sangha members Bodhana, Eric Ebbeson and Kavyadhristi. We have 2016 calendars that are the creation of artists in India. The lovely artwork is worthy of framing! There are two hand-made, one of a kind meditation benches made by Paul Dupre, as well as other benches and cushions. You also will find a wonderful selection of pottery by Sue Ebbeson, and numerous neck and wrist malas made by Bob Montgomery.

Our Latest Arrival of Books Include: No Self No Problem: Awakening to Our True Nature Self by Anam Thubten

The Hidden Lamp, Stories From Twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Women edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon Transforming Work, An Experience in Right Livelihood by Padmasuri A Guide to The Bodhisattvas by Vessantara The Mind and The Way: Buddhist Reflections on Life by Ajahn Sumedho Being Nobody Going Nowhere by Ayya Khema

The Sound of Silence, The Selected Teachings of Ajahn Sumedho with a preface and introduction by Ajahn Amaro Mindfulness with Breathing, A Manual for Serious Beginners by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu and Santikara Bhikkhukindfulness The Issue at Hand and Unhindered, A Mindful Path by Gil Fronsdal Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

* 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 * Malas and jewelry * Lots and lots of great books!

When logging in your purchases, please indicate the part number for each item you are buying (if available) as this helps us to track what items are selling and what items need to be reordered.

Buddhaworks the aryaloka bookstore

Your support brightens Aryaloka’s future. Buddhaworks is located at the Aryaloka Buddhist Center

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Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

vajrabell Always Changing and Focused on Building Sangha and Spreading the Dharma by Mary Schaefer Vajra Bell co-editor

Impermanence is one of the three marks of existence in Buddhism. All of conditioned existence is undergoing constant change. This is particularly true in the evolution of the Vajra Bell. You may notice a slightly different look to the Vajra Bell this issue after a brief hiatus from publishing. We welcome Callista Johnson as the Vajra Bell’s new designer who stays connected to the Aryaloka Sangha from her home in Montreal, Canada. Sadhu to Callista for a beautiful job on her first issue! We offer a huge bouquet of appreciation to Rijupatha who for several years transformed the newsletter into a work of art and masterful presentation of the Dharma. Since David Watt and I took over as co-editors a few years ago, we have been inviting more contributions from other North American Sanghas, and are delighted to have a growing network of contributors from the Portlands in Oregon and Maine; San Francisco, CA; Vancouver, Canada; Missoula, MT; New York; Seattle, WA; and Portsmouth, NH. This outreach has included inviting teachings and reflections from order members throughout the Triratna Buddhist Community (TBC). The publication – also found on Vajra Bell, Spring 2016 – is now seen and read around the world. This has all been in an effort to build Sangha and spread the Dharma at Aryaloka and across the TBC. In digging into the history of the Vajra Bell, I could see the evolution and change of the newsletter over the decades in its look, content and sangha member contributors. An early Aryaloka newsletter appeared in the 1980s, and another newsletter (Mandala) was published in the 1990s. It was in the 1990s that Viriyagita and Vidyavati, who had been Aryaloka’s center director at the time, launched the Vajra Bell to “impart information and inspire readers,” build visibility and “reach a larger audience.” Each issue of the Vajra Bell, as now, had a theme and featured teachings and reflections from order members. Then, too, TBC order and sangha members contributed articles on a range of Dharma teachings including going for refuge, meditation, ethics, widom, samadhi and dana. The articles gave readers an opportunity to dive more deeply into the teachings and get to know order and sangha members. Over time, the arts were added, including poetry. The growth of the sangha is evident

The look and content of the Vajra Bell has grown and evolved over the years, always with the purpose to build Sangha and spread the Dharma.

in the increasing number of activities in the calendars of events, the birth of the kula system and the reports on the changing, growing operations of Aryaloka. Vajra Bell, as in all conditioned existence, will continue to change. Yet, the original mission of the Vajra Bell continues – that of building sangha and spreading the Dharma. page 13

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.

Green Tara, by Tom Gaillard

Freezing a moment in the face of impermanence and change is, to me, one of the fascinating things about photography. The challenge is to choose a moment, a composition, a perspective that captures the imagination and pleases the eye. My photograph “Green Tara”, one of several from an upcoming exhibit at Aryaloka, was taken using a handheld flashlight, colored glass used as a filter, and an exposure lasting several minutes. In a way, this Green Tara never existed; in “real time” she was shrouded in darkness as my flashlight painted first one area, then another. In a world of impermanence she never existed at all but is somehow real. ― Tom Gaillard

“Visions of Impermanence,” an art exhibit featuring photographs by mitra Tom Gaillard and oil paintings by mitra Deb Howard will be on display at Aryaloka from April 19 through May 26. All are invited to attend the opening reception with the artists on Sunday, April 24 from 4 to 6 p.m. Artwork will be on display weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. or by appointment (603) 659 5456.

We surely know that to be alive among things is a gift; yet it’s a gift we so often fail to unwrap. To defamiliarize it is to unwrap it, so we no longer see what we already know or believe but rather see directly, or less indirectly.

Yellow Buddha, by Deb Howard

― Henry Shukman

For me, painting, like meditation, is about learning to really see clearly. Instead of painting what I think I know, I try to see what is in front of me here, now, in the gift of this fleeting moment. The world is so much more than we normally perceive in our limited habitual way of looking at it. Through making art, I try to expand my perception, see things anew and recognize the freshness in every moment. When I paint on site, I am thinking, “what does it feel like to be here in this moment, unwrapping this gift of life?” This is true in meditation as well; the object is just to be in the moment with what is there. In The Zen of Seeing Frederick Frank writes, “I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle: the branching of a tree, the structure of a dandelion’s seed puff.” page 14

This is true for me as well. Through art, the most familiar things can become a source of wonder. So both creating art and meditating can become sources of deep joy and gratitude. ― Deb Howard

poetry corner Emily Dickinson Heard a Fly Buzz by Dh. Kavyadrishti

On the day that I die what else will I do? After breakfast I will brush my teeth. I will give a stranger an extra quarter for his parking meter. I will use real maple syrup. I will postpone telling you what I’ve always wanted you to know. Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

Exploring Art, Poetry, Music & Movement as Part of One’s Spiritual Practice Bhante Sangharakshita, our Buddhist teacher and a poet, often talked and wrote about how art can challenge our perceptions, awareness and experience of truth and reality. In this issue, four artists and Buddhists share how, by applying a similar kind of awareness to their art that they develop in meditation, they have discovered a path to transform how they see themselves and the world.

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

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‘Losing Self’ Exploring the Connection Between Art and Meditation by Dh. Kiranada I came to meditation through art. The first time I sat with meditation instructions, I went into a deep pristine place where “self” was gone, where there was no separation, where I merged into that inner space. I knew I had been there before many times with my artwork. There was no “me” on the cushion as there had been no “me” at the end of the brush, no ego even working with the judgment of what color should come next, where the line should go, whether this was worth doing. I became as hooked on meditation as I was on art, on moving materials around on paper, canvas and cloth. For years I looked for breadcrumbs of experience, droppings from others who could share with me their knowledge about art and meditation. I searched the work of psychologists, meditation teachers, page 16

Kiranada went off for a year of silence to a small hut on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand. the writing of fellow artists thirsty for an explanation of what I experienced. I asked in art workshops that I led if anyone had ever experienced “losing self,” of merging. I was thrilled when up to 75% of the advanced students said yes. We shared something – ineffable, yes – but there. Many of us know this experience from childhood but have forgotten it. We now watch our children or grandchildren lost in play and can remember that place. I was encouraged to find the writings of psychoanalyst and pediatrician D.W. Winnicott who spoke of a clear interrelationship between art, psychotherapy and meditation. “All three disciplines thrive when the curious, in-between state of bare attention is allowed to become dominant,” he said. In that in-between state, that transitional space, that formless experience, a bridge can be kept open

between imagination and everyday experience. A 2004 Tricycle magazine article cited Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of “flow,” the optimum experience of happiness when people are so involved in an activity that nothing else matters, an experience so enjoyable that people do it at great cost to themselves for the sheer sake of doing it. I learned that flow experiences dominate the lives of artists, athletes, musicians, chess masters and even surgeons. This I knew: that place in my meditation that I could drop into where nothing else was more important, when I could stay seated, unmoving, even if the ceiling fell in, a feeling that I was sitting with what really mattered. Even concentration was gone. Everything outside was just unreal, not true reality. Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

I had found this in the art process, too. I wondered if the “absorptions” – as Ayya Khema, a Buddhist teacher, calls the jhana states of ecstasy, calm, contentment and

From these musings we have the Triratna Buddhist Community where Dharma study is entwined with the emotional positivity of the arts and ritual. Both can be paths

birthright for all of us. I carried all of this with me into seven solitary retreats, until it seemed imperative that I take a longer quiet time of contemplation to follow my reflections and the dropped breadcrumbs of others and explore further the connection between art and meditation. So in July of 2014, I went off for a year to a small hut on a windy precipice on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand to discover, to awakening. Increasing our expoto explore silence, to know myself sure and appreciation of art and the better, to be quiet and reflective, and natural world around us can have to investigate all of this. Art is done some definite impact on the life of a in silence. I had been drawn to this Bodhisattva. idea of silence, of a solitary life and Like Sangharakshita, I, too, had its possible fruits, for decades ever questions about the paths to ensince I saw a film in my teen years lightenment that were not the usual. about the Birdman of Alcatraz and While some young people show early his solitary confinement. artistic talent, that discovery and inI asked myself what would tense focus can separate them from happen if I sat alone in a confineothers. I have grown to believe that ment of choice on a ridge for 360 art/creativity is a birthright for all, not days. Would any art come from it? something to be indulged in only by Any insights? With many questions I the talented few, those gifted in art sat, meditated, immersed myself in areas. To truly “see,” to increase our clouds, took my tea into the bush, awareness of line and color in our and asked to learn what it had to environment, our awareness of bal- continued on page 18 ance and repetition is not something only gifted artists can do or should do. I grew to believe that the joy Appreciating beauty in impermanence, and bliss that comes from this is a Kiranada watched leaves transform from green to gray to yellow.

. . . Dharma study is entwined with the emotional positivity of the arts and ritual. Both can be paths to awakening. stillness – were a link. I wanted to understand where my art experiences fit in with these Buddhist studies of self and the bliss of transcending. I am still researching this. Could these art experiences be first or second jhana? Is there a connection between what artists and meditators experience, between art and meditation? Something that we are still discovering? Are the contemplative arts in some way a stepping stone to awakening as the Zen arts tell us? Moving to Japan I learned of The Way (Dō). I heard monks encourage western practitioners to study enlightenment through following the Zen arts rather than the arduous 18 hour zazen sits that were usually proscribed. Could this be true? Could studying Sho-dō (the Way of the Brush) or Cha-dō (The Way of Tea), even Aiki-dō (The Way of Ki Energy), be ways to transcend and reach the ineffable? Different routes? Returning to the USA after 18 years abroad and still on the trail of art and meditation, I found more connection to this ineffable route in the work of our Triratna founder Bhante Sangharakshita, a poet himself. I learned of his struggles early on while training in India, the struggles he experienced between time on the meditation cushion and Dharma writing, the work of the intellectual and the joy he found through participation in and appreciation of the arts. He asked himself if involvement with the arts could lead to enlightenment or was it only indulgence. Through personal explorations he found a deep and valuable integration between these two aspects of head and heart. Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

page 17

‘losing self’

- continued from page 17 teach me. I asked if I could live more fully in the moment. Could I wake up to being grateful, appreciative? Through my life in the arts I knew that to be creative is to let go. I wanted to find silence. I listened and watched and took it in, creating with what I had. I opened my ears and my eyes in new ways, remembering again and again a refrain from a favorite poem, “Mind Set Free” by the 14th century Zen master and poet Shutaku (1308-1388) who lived at Nanzen-ji Temple in my beloved Kyoto: Mind set free in the Buddha realm I sit at the moon-filled window Watching the mountain with my ears, Hearing the stream with open eyes. Each molecule preaches perfect law. Each moment chants a true sutra. The most fleeting thought is timeless. A single hair is enough to stir the sea. With eyes wide open and ears receptive, I took in that landscape before me. Thoughts bubbled up, and I remembered how to let them go and become the landscape: a leaf, a piece of bamboo. I remembered how to transfer that to art, to paper. I remembered the ancient Japanese wisdom about “The Way to Draw Bamboo.” First, draw bamboo for ten years. Then become bamboo. Then forget all about bamboo When you are drawing. Become a bamboo! I knew that when you focus and really look at something, you actually can fall in love. I remembered a one-inch crack in the tile floor at a Java monastery that I noted every day on my walking meditation and how it became a tiny fish, a vertebrae in my mind that was transferred to a cut stencil, that worked into four pieces of rozome/wax-resist art work. I remembered a leaf I passed everyday on my meditation path in New Zealand that I fell in love with. I watched and noted it over 11 months. I saw its transformation, watched the insect bites enlarge, its glossy green color dull, blemishes and stains enlarge from green to gray to yellow. I realized that this leaf was aging just as I was aging. Falling in love, appreciating the impermanace of life, I grew to note the simple beauty all around me. I remembered others in a solitary life and how even when all was taken away, when all was destroyed, there was beauty to see. I found page 18

Making Art a Part of Your Life and Daily Practice by Dh. Kiranada

When I gave a talk for Triratna’s Urban Retreat this past fall on “Arts and Beauty,” I was asked to include some suggestions on what we might do in our own urban and rural environments to make art part of our lives. I share these ideas with you: · Simplify. Clean your space for new views. · Take an art class, a drawing class or a design class, not to become proficient, to produce masterpieces or become an artist, but to learn to see, to appreciate what surrounds you. Learn to see line, color, pattern, texture, variety and contrast and to feed your emotions. · Encourage others and appreciate what they have created. Buy art. Give it away. · Note the beautiful in each day, not only when the glorious sun shines through the fall leaves, but also when it is deliciously rainy, damp and full of puddles, moving gray clouds or mist. Yummy. Nourishing. · Celebrate the changing seasons. Create from the bounty. Cook a new dish for friends. Create a collage of found materials. Build a shrine to the season, a woodland stupa of found rocks. · Have a weekly “art date” as Julia Camerons’s book, The Artist’s Way, suggests. · Go to a museum and spend time with just one or two paintings only, alone. Take them in. · Go to a concert or listen to a fine recording and absorb all the subtle levels of melody and rhythm. · Go to the woods, to an urban park, to one tree, a blade of grass or twig and see what it has to tell you. In the inner city, even a bit of odd machinery, a jumble of trash or a smudge of graffiti has a message, beauty.

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

solace in my research about others confined in the harsh conditions of solitary confinement:

While on retreat, Kiranada stitched cloth and painted mantras on a chair.

· Nien Cheng, who fell in love with a small spider and its miraculous web, connecting with it daily during her six years in solitary confinement in Shanghai. · Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), who discovered a small bird nest in the exercise yard and made it his life work over 43 years of silence in prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, and in Alcatraz, California.

Away from her usual art materials while on a yearlong retreat, Kiranada created a Buddha collage of the tiny stickers collected from the fruit she ate.

· Dr. Edith Bone, who translated poems she had memorized into the six languages she knew over the seven years she was held in a frigid, dark cell in Hungary. All three found beauty in their environment and creative ways of handling the most severe conditions and survived – whole – because of it. I reflected on finding that creativity in my own environment. What floated into my consciousness was a trip with my teenage daughter to the Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand years ago. After days of tromping through jungle-like thickets, crossing rivers, meeting tribesmen with guns on their backs, feeling echoes of a long-gone Vietnam War, we arrived in a high village. After a little unpacking, we each went our own way to explore. I soon circled round and discovered my daughter (who disavows any art talent herself) there on her knees surrounded by a gaggle of small children, working the earth, smoothing the brilliant red, iron-soaked dirt, making lines and patterns in it. Each child pressed a vibrant green leaf from nearby shrubs into the earth patterns creating an amazing abstract painting there on the ground with available materials. No shared language, no pre-planning, yet a cooperative project. It was a dazzling piece of art that still so Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

many years later I see in my mind’s eye as a glorious environmental painting in the hills of Thailand. And I, there in New Zealand, away from my usual art materials found my own ways to express creativity. Collecting tiny stickers from every piece of fruit that came into my hut over the year, I created a Buddha collage from it in the last weeks. I painted mantras on rocks. I painted mantras on a chair. I stitched cloth, pulling up threads, recording. I watched. I listened. I wrote of this in my journal, Notes from a Year of Silence: “A year on a precipice in the wilderness of New Zealand. Alone, I look, listen and explore silence. Working with needle and Ahimsa (non-harm) silk, I consider how to ‘record’ silence, how to make silence visible. I look at the capacity of cloth to absorb, to mute, to hold sound between the tines of thread, silence woven in and held. “I look at the work I have created with silk and dyes and see the ruffles and ridges of silence embedded in the weave; silence – quiet and pristine, yet articulated. Woven, stitched,

pulled, marked with plant essence, with plant residue, with dyes; silence in my hands; silence in my fingers, listening – hearing with my eyes, watching with my ears.” And so I went to a mountain with questions, with years of research and study, with observations of art processes and my own mind. I went to a hut on a precipice with all of these thoughts, there to watch and consider, to let go, to dissolve into the rising mist, to transform into the waning moon, to fall in love with a tattered leaf on a meditation path. Art. Buddhism. Samsara. The jhanas. Impermanence. Joy and bliss.

Kiranada, artist, lecturer and author, found Buddhism after arriving in Kyoto in 1981. Returning to the USA she was ordained in the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2009. Kiranada has exhibited her art in more than 50 exhibitions worldwide and delights in coordinating the Contemplative Arts Program at Aryaloka. page 19

Music, Meditation, and the Nature of Existence by Dh. Sravaniya

Meditation teacher and writer Kamalashila says that all our meditation practices should be aimed toward realization. That is, our efforts at various kinds of meditations – mindfulness of breathing, metta bhavana, the six element practice, visualizations and so on – should have one ultimate goal: the understanding of how things are. Looked at from one point of view, our meditation practices (and anything in life itself!) can be tools to unveil more and ever more completely the three lakshanas, the three marks of conditioned existence. Meditation deepens both our ability and resolve to constantly look into the nature of existence: that it is impermanent (anicca); that it is replete with suffering (dukkha); and that it is devoid of permanent selfhood (anatta). The more we penetrate these three lakshanas, the more we are able to live life creatively, appropriately and happily. As someone who spends a great deal of time thinking about and playing music, I often have contemplated the connections between music and various aspects of the Buddhist path, and meditation in particular. page 20

On a practical level there are several obvious commonalities. To learn an instrument and advance at it require the same things meditation does: discipline, patience, flexibility, receptivity, commitment, energy, good teachers whom you trust, and the help and support of friends. Preferably, you have a daily practice. Even if you reach an advanced level, to maintain that still requires effort and more discipline. There’s no letting up. At the same time, with advancement comes a certain ease. What you once found challenging no longer is; you are on to more refined hurdles. So it is in meditation, particularly on retreat. The gross hindrances have been met and handled quite readily, and we are working at a higher level and dealing with more subtle states of mind. As well as these arenas where music and meditation have much in common I have wondered: Can music, like meditation, point us to a deeper understanding and penetration of the three lakshanas? Can music point the way to a truer, more real way of perceiving the world, and thus living better within it? The great Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache said, “Every art has

one single goal: freedom,” and that “beauty is just a stage on the path to truth.” For Celibidache, the sense of beauty we feel and respond to in a great music performance is all very well, but it’s only the bait leading us to something deeper and profoundly more important: freedom. For him this freedom was both palpable and mystical: “Music is the shortest route to human revelation . . . and the existence of the central cosmic vibration.” It is easy to see that music, particularly when it is heard live (which may be one of the values of hearing live music!), can stand as a great metaphor for the three lakshanas, the more potent because it is, or can be, a lived metaphor. As metaphors are devices to aid in a deeper understanding of the thing described, then music is indeed a tool, like meditation, for seeing more deeply into the lakshanas. Anicca (impermanence). More than all other art forms, except possibly theater, music is temporal by its very nature. It’s unretrievable, experienced moment by moment. Its temporality demonstrates its impermanent nature. The advent of recorded sound began to give us an Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

illusion of reversing this temporality. But, try as we might, however many times we play our favorite track, song or CD, we are still bound by time flowing, by things changing and ending. Perhaps one of the reasons music is so viscerally powerful is that by its very nature it is giving us a taste of reality. We know we can’t hang on to it. We actually appreciate its impermanence as something profound and real, and we are grateful for that. Dukkha (suffering). Can music give us any deeper understanding of the suffering that characterizes conditioned existence? Hmm. Surely music is wonderful and pleasing! Otherwise we wouldn’t listen to it, would we? Through its identifiably impermanent nature we are able to more easily see that clinging to the experience is futile and brings suffering. Think of a time when you’ve listened to a favorite piece of music, one that you really love and that you know brings certain responses of joy, gratitude and delight or perhaps a sweet melancholy and nostalgia. You love this experience, this deep and easy emotional connection. It may well be that you want to hang on to the feeling, the experience. That’s quite natural. But you know perfectly well that it’s a double-edged sword, and that you have to let it go. In this regard, too, the experience of music is always pointing to something real:

Sravaniya (far right) plays violin in the Aryaloka Quartet with (left to right) Beth Welty (violin), Noralee Walker (viola) and Sandi-Jo Malmon (cello).

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

the constant dissatisfaction that arises through grasping for permanence. Anatta (non-self). Can music help us realize the empty nature of phenomena? The abstract, non-conceptual nature of most music is one of the strongest indirect methods we have of perceiving the fact that things don’t have a permanent, non-changing self. We hear a piece of music, but what actually is that? We have been stimulated through the sense door of the ear, but what really has been doing the stimulating? It’s a congeries of sounds organized in a certain way that’s familiar to us, but which is very hard to grasp or describe. Unlike a chair, a table or a book, or indeed ourselves, which we latch onto as solid entities, mistaking our experience of them for the thing itself, all we can really point to in music is the experience itself. One aspect or outcome of anatta is the universal interconnectedness of things. Through the infinite web of conditions we are all connected. Though much of the time, trapped by our tendency of “selfing,” we fail to see this. One afternoon in Philadelphia I was sight-reading string quartets. I’d never met the violist, Tom, before. I believe we were playing Mozart. Somehow, both through the music and our playing, it became clear and completely known to both of us that we were connecting on a deep level, that we were appreciating that we

were not bound by self but transcending it, and, furthermore, that a future good friendship was being cemented then and there as we played. This did indeed become the case. My interpretation of such events is that when we open the door to the three lakshanas through music we can be richly rewarded. We are able to do so, because music is that door. The next time you listen to music, see how readily you can appreciate its impermanence, the fact that by its very nature of change and movement, it’s impermanent. Recognize any tendency to grab onto and hold the experience and know that it’s contrary to the very nature of music to do this and that this will bring suffering. See that there’s no inherent existence in this music. It is just an experience in the immediate moment, nothing more, nothing less. See if this leads to a more expansive relationship with the music and the experience. As with meditation, so with music. Both invite us to lead a more beautiful life, more in accordance with how things are. Can we embrace this beauty? Can we enter the realm of the cosmic vibration? Can we contemplate and realize what the Buddha said to Subhuti: Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream; Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream. So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

Sravaniya has been practicing music since about age 6, and Buddhism and meditation since 1978. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2003. He plays violin in the Aryaloka String Quartet, is music director of the NH Philharmonic Orchestra and conducts and teaches at UMass, Lowell. page 21


Indulge in the Arts

by Dh. Kavyadrishti

Bhante Sangharakshita’s poetry is accessible. For me, that’s what makes his writing valuable. Just as Bhante’s commentaries on traditional writings of the Buddha Dharma can help us understand meaning, so his poems can touch an emotional chord to awaken deep meanings beyond words. This, of course, is the value of all poetry, as well as good prose. It is what’s valuable about all the arts, as Sravaniya tells us of music and Kiranada and others of the visual arts – painting, drawing, sculpture and photography. All art captures a moment, points to a meaning that can so easily be lost as we engage in our everyday lives. Just as we can lose something when we leave a retreat, we can easily lose those moments, our own experiences in those moments. But moments captured in words or music or images by others are there to be retrieved, thanks to the artist and the Buddhist teachers who continually point us back to those moments that are so easily lost. They are not forgotten, just painted over by the sounds of traffic, by the clutter of plastic in Walmart, and by our own sloth and torpor. I encourage you to indulge in the arts whenever you can snatch a few moments from your busy life. I also encourage you to capture your own moments, spiritual moments for lack of a better word. It’s interesting that poets talk of images. A good poem uses concrete images. In music, we talk of images that a piece of music evokes. Let us all capture those images. If you’re too shy to share them with others, then hide them away in a bottom drawer. But cherish them, capture them and appreciate those who have the skill to make the images alive for others. Kavyadrishti attended her first meditation class in Maine more than 20 years ago, where she helped organize a local sangha, and later moved to New Hampshire to be near Aryaloka. She has had a long-standing interest in the gardens at Aryaloka as well as a passion for writing, especially poetry.

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Movement is Life:

Practicing in a Living Body by Sita Mani

I have been a practicing Buddhist for 15 years and a physical theater artist (dance and movement) for 25. Exploring “movement practices” has been part of my life since I was a child, starting with the yoga class my mother taught in our living room in Bangkok when I was 11. I went on to tae kwon do and then dance. I fell in love with dance and studied western forms – ballet, jazz, modern. It became my profession. I still couldn’t have enough. I took up contact improvisation in my 30s, and aerial arts in my 40s. To earn a living, of which I have done very little via my dance career, I followed my curiosity to learn about my “instrument” for movement: the body. I studied massage therapy, shiatsu, reiki and finally the Feldenkrais Method. Feldenkrais is a neuro-muscular re-education method often used by theater artists, athletes and musicians for injury Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

rehabilitation and enhancement of performance skills. I eventually became a Feldenkrais teacher and practitioner. I don’t know where my life as a physical theater artist, teacher or Feldenkrais practitioner would be without my Buddhist practice. Nor do I know how far my Buddhist practice could have gone without my exploration of movement. I believe we begin on the spiritual path with the intent to improve the quality of our lives, and also, for some of us, to improve the quality of life for other sentient beings. We begin to transform, moving one layer at a time, from what Buddhism refers to as conditioned existence into the unconditioned. We practice, experience, interpret and respond in and through the vehicle of a living, breathing, moving body. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the method, was a physicist, engineer and judo black belt, and, one could say, a movement

expert. He said, “I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think.” This view profoundly changed my practice. One of the major tasks of our practice is to look at our habitual, conditioned “re-actions” and find how we can let go of, or at least loosen our grip on, habits that perpetuate our suffering, that don’t serve us in the pursuit of an ethical life and that congeal us into our sense of being fixed selves, making change seem impossible. This self-examination, as Buddhist practitioners know, is a daunting undertaking on the cushion. In our living moving bodies, though, we have our greatest ally. According to Feldenkrais, “All behavior is a complex of mobilizing muscles, sensing – feeling and thought. Most of what – continued on page 24 page 23

movement is life

– continued from page 23 goes on within us remains dulled and hidden from us until it reaches the muscles. We do not become aware of what is happening in our central nervous system until we become aware of changes that have taken place in our stance, stability and attitude, for these changes are more easily felt.” Even sitting still on a cushion, there is constant movement. There is breathing, blood flow, nerve impulse, muscular contraction and release, and more. All these biological functions are tempered by our current experience. So, as Feldenkrais points out, our experiences come to our awareness first through the physically-felt sense. It is this aspect of awareness I have found helpful in my practice. As my precious friend and guide, Amala taught me to do, I anchor my attention to the moving, felt-sense aspect of my experience as distinct from the thought aspect of it and I allow it to play. This practice not only frees me from the tyranny of thought, habitual interpretation and reactive responses, but also provides a natural doorway to the possibility of no longer being held in the captive grip of conditioned, learned thoughtbased response. When an experience is too overwhelming for me to contain on the cushion (I am, after 15 years a Buddhist, still a beginner), I have found movement improvisation to be an effective tool. Improvisation is a practice many artists use expressly to enter the creative state. I will refer specifically to movement improvisation below. Anyone can practice movement improvisation. It involves moving freely within a comfortable and healthy range in a private space or group environment. The range or ability of an individual is not important; the practice is one of cultivating awareness of our impulses and exploring freedom and spontaneity. Even the smallest movements provide a vehicle for exploration. Movement allows one’s page 24

Sita Mani, a physical theater artist and Buddhist, took up aerial arts in her 40s. energies to manifest, express and move without the trap of interpretation, until whatever feels damned up gets freed back into its natural flow. I also have found my energies or the felt-moving aspect of experience can be channeled effectively through ancient movement practices such as qi gong or yoga. These practices are based in a philosophy of life force energy (or prana in Indian philosophy and ki or chi in Chinese philosophy). In these ancient philosophies as well, the mind and body are not considered separate fractured entities. Asana practice is a limb of yoga that cultivates and shifts an individual’s awareness gradually from grosser to subtler consciousness. I find when practicing with concentration and mindfulness, and without force, yoga asanas encourage the attention away from mental activity toward physical experiencing. They move and redistribute stagnant energy, harness and redirect excess energies. The result is not subtle! When I practice yoga before I meditate, most of my preoccupations vanish; my mind is quieter and in a more energized state. I sit more comfortably, am more physically present, and the number and forms of hindrances I encounter are fewer; they are clearer, more easily identifiable and far less seductive. When I learn new movement forms that are challenging in their unknown quality, in order to trust that I will be ok, I am forced to practice the

invaluable art of turning my attention away from the “mental chatter and feel sensation.” Feeling my body and breath, attending and responding with one pointed focus to the finely timed instructions, I find, for a brief moment, the freedom to which I aspire in my spiritual life. I viscerally experience what complete presence and shraddha (faith) can be like as we “step off the precipice of concepts,” as Sangharakshita once said, into nothing. Movement is a gift to my Dharma practice and helps me be gentle with my incessantly chattering mind. It provides me with experiential proof that this undertaking is possible, and gives me hope for accomplishing the seemingly overwhelming objective of transformation. The gift exchange flows both ways. As a creative artist in theater, a performer and creator of original work, Buddhist practice has been a cornerstone in my development. The practice of mindfulness, keeping attention on one thing at a time, has allowed me to slowly shed what is a primary obstacle for many artists: the personal storyline, the perpetual inner monologue critiquing the self and work as it is happening. This is a common trap and hinders any real work from being produced. I don’t think I was able to identify and separate out this aspect before I came across Buddhism. If I was aware of it, I had no means to work Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

around it. My mindfulness practice offers a vehicle for me to embark more deeply and effectively on my quest to further my artistry. In Blood Memory, Martha Graham wrote, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. . . You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.” Dharma practice and the teachings are what started me on a real creative journey, perhaps for the first time, by teaching me to loosen, just a little, my death grip on my sense of a self to be protected at any cost. I am not far along in this, but even the little ungrasping I am able to do allows me to put the art and process first. Another big challenge for an artist is letting go of one’s fixed ideas to allow inspiration to come

designer’s note

through. One has to be receptive for true creativity to come forth. What better practice for this than to let go of thought, return to the breath and patiently soften around failed expectations over and over. Teachings on compassion give me the courage and a useful context in which to look at myself, my strengths and weaknesses, abilities and limitations in a more realistic, less polarized way. Through countless grueling hours on the cushion, humbling, unskillful interactions with sangha (despite my good intentions), and with the wise and compassionate guidance of those ahead of me on the path, I am developing a deeper understanding of and compassion for myself and the human condition. This gift allows my work to be more sincere, compassionate and more consciously crafted with the intention of transformation toward a more skillful creative existence for all involved – the artists and the audience. I end by celebrating what is the natural marriage of my movement

subsequent issue I make, I’ll get more proficient and will be able to I don’t expect to have bring the articles to life with greater the luxury of half a page confidence. I would like to stretch of space to fill often, so my capabilities and draw illustrations I thought I would take for the compositions, to more clearly this opportunity to say represent the writer’s voice and hello to everyone. My thoughts. name is Callista JohnI hope you enjoy the work I’ve son, and I’m a writer, artist, designer done. Rijupatha left enormous shoes and graphic novel maker based in for me to fill and I want to continue Montreal. I don’t consider myself a to deliver a quality newsletter that Buddhist, so when the offer to work isn’t merely informative, but on the Vajra Bell came to me, I was beautiful as well, something curious but hesitant. Choosing to that you will be proud to share accept the position has been life-alwith your friends and family, or tering. display on the coffee table at Creating this issue has been Aryaloka for Friends’ Night. wonderfully instructive, more than a bit stressful and hugely satisfying on Uncomfortable a personal level. I made a plethora resistance will of mistakes in the last months, and change you. spent hours – days, at this point Take yourself a – correcting them. I can tell that I little further. will learn and grow so much from working on this project. With each Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

and Buddhist practices by drawing attention to one of my favorite Buddhist teachings: the three lakshanas. The three marks of conditioned existence are suffering (or unsatisfactoriness), impermanence and insubstantiality (no fixed self). I place these enlightened offerings in the compassionate and wise basket of Feldenkrais’ words uttered, remarkably, many hundreds of years after the Buddha: “Nothing is permanent about our behavior patterns except our belief that they are so. Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process, and you improve the quality of life itself.” Sita Mani has been a practicing Buddhist and mitra with Triratna for 15 years. She is a physical theater artist who performs, creates movement based original work and teaches in New York. She also is a licensed and practicing massage therapist and Feldenkrais practitioner.

I’d like to thank Mary and David for their support and compassion as we transition into a cohesive team. Starting a new project of this scale can be intimidating and they helped me find my feet. I’m looking forward to facilitating future issues and am grateful for having the chance to provide this service. ― Callista Johnson

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upcoming retreats

Retreats give us an opportunity to slow everything down and spend time reflecting on what is most important. Aryaloka offers frequent weekend and periodic weeklong retreats. To register for a retreat, please visit

April 15 — 17 Living With Mindfulness: Introductory Retreat Led by Dh. Sunada and Dh. Viriyalila What does it means to live mindfully? How do we bring more calm and inner clarity into our daily lives? How can we stay confident and purposeful when times get rough? This gentle introductory retreat is open to all, especially those with no prior experience of meditation or Buddhism.

We will explore the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness in a down-to-earth, practical way through meditation, discussion, and hands-on exercises. We’ll also investigate how to live with greater awareness and contentment with ourselves, and in turn, how to live in harmony with the world around us. There will be detailed instruction for those who are new to meditation, and periods of silent practice for those with experience.

April 29 — May 1 After the First Bite: Mindful Eating Led by Megrette Fletcher Bring the power of mindfulness into your life by engaging in the practice of mindful eating. To transform your mind, health and life, learn how to use a three-step interaction with food and the act of eating using 2500-year-old wisdom from the Buddhist tradition. The three steps include checking in, noticing aspects of our experience, and bringing kindness to whatever arises. These three steps can transform any meal into something that goes beyond the nutrients on the plate. The act of eating mindfully can change neural pathways, allowing new behaviors to emerge. This weekend retreat will also discuss three common obstacles to mindfulness and mindful eating and three helpful tools to overcome them. The retreat is open to anyone interested in cultivating mindfulness in daily life, or around food and eating in

particular. Some prior experience of mindfulness meditation is helpful but not necessary for participation. If you have specific allergies, issues, or conditions relating to food and eating, please inform the Aryaloka staff when you register. All meals will be prepared on-site and staying in residence at Aryaloka for the weekend is recommended. Special note: This workshop has been approved for 20 CEU for Registered Dietitians.

Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed, RD, CDE is an internationally recognized expert on mindful eating who helped co-found The Center for Mindful Eating, www. Megrette is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. She is the author of two books including Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, believes that mindfulness practice is an essential part of health, and has maintained a daily meditation practice since 1999. For more information, visit page 26

At Aryaloka, we strive to make our programs available to everyone regardless of their financial circumstances. Our fee structure allows you to pay according to your means. The Sustaining price is for people comfortably paying their rent or mortgage, and who can afford the occasional meal out and movie. The Sustaining price level also helps Aryaloka offer lower prices to those who otherwise could not afford to attend. Any payment above this price is a tax-deductible donation. Mid-Level prices are for those who have a regular income and are paying their mortgage or rent. Prices at this level contribute to the range of Aryaloka’s operating costs. The Base-Level price is for those without an income or with an income low enough that making ends meet is a challenge. Those whose circumstances are not included above can call the office to arrange alternate pricing. Retreat participants are asked to work together to prepare and clean up after meals and to help with general cleanup at the end of the retreat.

Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

June 3 — 5 Opening to the Heart’s Wisdom Meditation Retreat Led by Dh. Yashobodhi An intensive meditation weekend inviting the heart to be open and listening deeply to what it is trying to tell us. Just sitting with the wisdom of the heart, we are breathing in the world and breathing out our influence on the world, allowing the mysterious process of the bodhichitta to manifest in our experience. Come

along and find out where your heart will take you. This meditation weekend retreat is open to those with previous experience of meditation.

June 17 — 27

of practice using the five precepts is Noble Silence Intensive Retreat Led by Dh. Bodhana, Dh. Karunasara woven into the fabric of this retreat. Participants will have the opporand Dh. Lilasiddhi tunity for daily, individual conversaThis intensive retreat creates an tions with retreat leaders about their atmosphere conducive to extended meditation practice. meditation with the fewest external Meals will be light and snacks distractions. Retreat participants will will be provided. After a brief introhave no responsibilities during their duction and a question and answer time here so they can focus comperiod the first evening, we will be in pletely on their meditation practice. Noble Silence until the morning of An emphasis on the collective aspect the final day.

July 21 — 26

Summer Stillness Meditation Retreat Led by Dh. Amala

Several days of stillness, silence, and meditation can be an important means to deeper understanding of ourselves and the Dharma. Through reading and study, classes, and participation in sangha life, the Buddhist way of life gradually permeates. Retreat time helps our learning soak through to our core, so that we are Vajra Bell, Spring 2016

more consistently and fully expressing kindness and wisdom in our lives. On this retreat we will have several formal meditation sessions each day, including the practice of Mindfulness of Breathing, Metta Bhavana, open ‘formless’ meditations, and walking meditation. There will also be time during the day for personal contemplation, yoga practice, or deep rest. Over the course of five days there will be one or two optional private meditation “reviews” for each participant. There will also be optional smallgroup check-ins twice during the retreat for those who find sharing their experience helps them to be conscious of the patterns and processes they are experiencing. We will hear short poems of inspiration and will have chanting of mantras and/or offering of puja as we find them helpful.

We will be in silence for the duration of the retreat apart from these supportive sessions. In silence we can hear our inner voice more clearly. In stillness we can see the ripples of our patterns and reactivity more distinctly. In meditation we can see ourselves holding on and letting go. In the simplicity of retreat we can set aside commitments and activities; we can let go of whatever hinders our way to peace and happiness and wisdom. Enjoy sitting in the shrine room with the sounds of summer birds and insects. Discover the freedom of letting go into silence and stillness, within and all around. This retreat is open to those with some meditation experience. Introductory meditation instruction is not offered on this retreat; however, guidance and support are available through the small group sharing sessions and the one-to-one reviews.

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upcoming events

All events are subject to change. For the latest information and more details on events, check our web site at or call the office at 603-659-5456.























Led by Kamalashila



Retreat – Living with Mindfulness (introductory)

07 08

Retreat – Compassion and Emptiness (order members)

Led by Viriyalila and Sunada

Visions of Impermanence (art exhibit opens) Six-week Intermediate Meditation Course begins Led by Lilasiddhi Ancient Wisdom Study Day: Lighting up the Gosinga Sala-tree Wood Led by Vidhuma



Silent Auction and Fundraising Dinner




Order Day



Drawing Group


Deepening Practice Group



Retreat – Noble Silence

Buddha Day



Work Days

RETREATS More details on the upcoming retreats are located on pages 26 – 27. To register for a retreat, please visit

Drawing Group











Young Sangha Hangout



Visions of Impermanence (art exhibit closes)




Led by Yashobodhi




Young Sangha Hangout




April 19 – May 22



Retreat – After the First Bite: Mindful Eating



Retreat – Open to the Heart’s Wisdom (meditation retreat)

Aryaloka will have the “Visions of Impermanence” art exhibit on view featuring the art of Tom Gaillard and Deb Howard.

Led by Megrette Fletcher

More details on the exhibit and articles from the artists:

arts at aryaloka page 14

ongoing events Friends’ Night at Aryaloka

Open Meditation Practice

Every Tuesday evening 6:45 – 9:15 p.m.

Monday Morning Sessions 7 – 8 a.m. and 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

• Led by Amala, Arjava, and other sangha members. • Open to all • Suggested donation $10 per class • No registration necessary

Tuesday and Thursday Sessions 9 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Typically, our Tuesday night activities include: • 6:45 – Gathering, tea and announcements • 7:00 – Meditation and shrine room activity • 7:45 – Study, discussion or a talk on the evening’s topic • 9:15 – End

spreading the dharma

With these activities, you are free to participate or to just sit and listen. Nothing is compulsory. If you have any questions, please ask!

Are you looking for more opportunities to meditate with others or for help maintaining a regular meditation practice? Join us on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings for open meditation sessions, followed by time for discussion. Everyone is welcome to attend. Some guidance will be provided for those new to meditation. The open meditation sessions will not be held when retreats are in session. There is no fee for these sessions, but donations are appreciated. No registration required.


keeping sangha connected

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