vajrabell SUMMER 2016
spreading the dharma keeping sangha connected
The Path of Practice: Where Love Meets Wisdom
by Dh. Kamalashila page 6
Developing Happiness and Wisdom by Dh. Amala page 9
Also in this issue: Pilgrimage to Kyoto, page 12 New Series: Sangha Connections, page 19
vajrabell VAJRA BELL KULA CO-EDITOR: Mary Schaefer email@example.com CO-EDITOR: David Watt firstname.lastname@example.org COPY EDITOR: Dh. Vihanasari email@example.com ARTS EDITOR: Deb Howard firstname.lastname@example.org WRITER: Bettye Pruitt email@example.com DESIGN: Callista Cassady firstname.lastname@example.org
SANGHA NOTES CONTRIBUTORS Gary Baker, New York Sangha email@example.com
Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 Info@Aryaloka.org · Aryaloka.org Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/Aryaloka ...or on the Aryaloka Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/AryalokaSangha Connect at The Buddhist Centre Online: TheBuddhistCentre.com/Aryaloka
ARYALOKA STAFF Dh. Shrijnana, Executive Director Vanessa Ruiz, Office Manager Dh. Bodhana, Kitchen Manager Dh. Lilasiddhi, Cleaning Coordinator Dh. Rijupatha, Web Master and Publicity Designer Dh. Shantikirika, Buddhaworks Manager
Paramita Banerjee, Vancouver Buddhist Centre firstname.lastname@example.org Susan DiPietro, Khanti Outreach email@example.com Peter Ingraham, Aryaloka Buddhist Center firstname.lastname@example.org Sabrina Metivier, Nagaloka Buddhist Center email@example.com Mary Salome, San Francisco Buddhist Center firstname.lastname@example.org Samatara, Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center email@example.com Mike Mappes, Khante Outreach firstname.lastname@example.org
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Dh. Arjava (Chair) Barry Timmerman (Secretary) Elizabeth Hellard (Treasurer) Dh. Amala Dh. Rijupatha Dh. Shrijnana Jean Corson Tom Gaillard Daniel Kenney Alisha Roberts
SPIRITUAL VITALITY COUNCIL Dh. Amala (Chair) Dh. Vidhuma (Vice Chair) Dh. Arjava Dh. Dayalocana Dh. Khemavassika Dh. Surakshita
© 2016 Aryaloka Buddhist Center page 2
table of contents summer 2016
04 Arts at Aryaloka 05 Path of Practice Introduction 06 Where Love Meets Wisdom, by Dh. Kamalashila 09 Developing Happiness and Wisdom, by Dh. Amala
12 Pilgrimage to Kyoto, by Neil Harvey 14 Sangha Notes, by Sangha Note Contributors 19 Sangha Connections, Interveiw with Dh. Narottama by Bettye Pruitt
22 From the Editors 24 Spiritual Vitality Council Board Notes 25 Poetry Corner 26 Upcoming Retreats 27 Upcoming Day Events and Classes
28 Upcoming & Ongoing Events COVER IMAGE: Neil Harvey neillharvey.com
arts at aryaloka The Voice in the Silence You have heard it, that silence that speaks of knowing. And you have found peace in doing, going, being where it led. Were you still listening last month, last night between the tears? Have you feared the answer, or forgotten once the meditation ended, then turned to the confusion, the book, the mistaken memory instead?
Becoming a Buddhist, a book of poetry published by Dh. Kavyadrishti In her new book of poetry, Becoming a Buddhist, Aryaloka’s resident poet Kavyadrishti says “poems have become a record of my becoming a Buddhist. So I offer this book of poems to express my gratitude to my teachers and friends who have helped me to grow, and to encourage others to listen to what comes in the silence.” Kavyadrishti first attended a Friends of the Western Buddhist Order class in the Portland area in 1989. She moved to New Hampshire shortly after that to be closer to Aryaloka, and soon found pleasure in sharing her poetry with people in the sangha. “I’ve been writing since an assignment in third grade,” Kavyadrishti says, “when I shared something with the class, and everyone laughed. It was supposed to be a ‘what I did this summer’ thing, but was all fiction. I began taking writing classes and workshops after raising four children, and then found a way to share my work.” Since then she has published poems and has read at workshops and open readings in Portland and at Portsmouth Poet Laureate events. The poems span more than 20 years starting before Kavyadrishti knew much about Buddhism and ending with where she is now. In page 4
You have heard it in the silence. —Kavyadrishti, Becoming a Buddhist, 2016
between – in chapters titled “Acorns,” “With Folded Hands” and “The Evolution of Silence,” she explores the many aspects of her path in becoming a Buddhist. The poems range from the two-line “Credo” to a complete sevenfold puja inspired by Sangharakshita and Shantideva. Each chapter starts with a short explanation of the origin of the poems included, when they were written and what inspired them, giving readers insight into the creative process as well as the spiritual backdrop for the poems. With simple lines calling forth clear visual images, she captures feelings and insights that are difficult to express in words. The poems express the joyful, painful, exhausting, inspiring, confusing, demanding, rewarding and ever-changing path of Buddhist practice. Kavyadrishti’s delight in the Dharma is evident and becomes contagious through her writing. This is a collection of poems that can speak to and inspire anyone at any stage on the path of “becoming a Buddhist.” Becoming a Buddhist is available in the Buddhaworks bookstore at Aryaloka now, and proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the center. — Deb Howard
Arts Study Group: Zen and Creativity “The creative process, like a spiritual journey, is intuitive, non-linear and experiential. It points us toward our essential nature, which is a reflection of the boundless creativity of the universe.” —Daido John Loori Some members of the Aryaloka arts kula and sangha are joining together to study creativity, meditation and their interconnectedness. The group meets every other week on Friday morning from 10:30 a.m.-12 noon in Exeter to discuss a chapter from Daido Loori Roshi’s book, The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life. With 14 chapters we have a standing schedule that will take us through November. All are welcome to join us on a regular or drop-in basis. We ask that you just commit to reading the current chapter and come with comments and questions to discuss. Contact Kiranada: email@example.com Deb Howard: firstname.lastname@example.org for dates, location and more information.
The Triratna Path of Practice
A Comprehensive Approach to Spiritual Development
Spiritual Receptivity No More Effort:
spontaneous compassionate action Just sitting meditation
Spiritual Rebirth Experiencing Freedom:
of heart and mind: a new way of being; Sadhana meditations, Buddhannussati
Integration Developing Peace:
getting to know oneself, bringing all oneâ€™s energies together behind spiritual purpose Samatha, mindfulness meditations
Positive Emotion Developing Happiness:
positive connection with oneself and others; skillful or postive emotion Metta and Brahma Viharas meditations
Spiritual Death Developing Understanding and Wisdom: direct knowing, transformation through insight, letting go Insight practices
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 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 continues its exploration of the Path of Practice with a deeper look at Positive Emotion/Developing Happiness, and Spiritual Death/Developing Wisdom and Understanding with articles by Dh. Kamalashila and Dh. Amala. â€” Editors aryaloka.org
Where Love Meets Wisdom by Dh. Kamalashila
continue and not fall back, we need to be convinced we don’t have to Love roughly sums up identify with some negative emotion. the second aspect of the This is tough. Identification seems Triratna Path of Practice. out of our control. That’s because it It’s the human need to concerns what we believe. Powerful be empathic, kind and views sit in our head, shoring up likes, generous, which in Buddhism is a key dislikes and opinions. They feel so quality to cultivate. To live alongside right. Indeed to us our opinions and others, we need to find ways to cut preferences seem, deep down, to be away the envy and fear that sepaactually who we rate us. Just to live with ourselves, are. for the sake of our mental health, it’s Delusion runs essential we have access to positive deep, but the emotions. Emotions are passionate Dharma is deeper. hopes and fears, the desires that Insight methods motivate us in helpful and unhelpful show us how fleeting are those things ways. Our behavior, our inner life and we identify with and how incoherent view of things get driven by what we is our identification with them. Seeing want, what we like, what we love and this cuts away at our attachments. what we don't. Through engaging in Yet such methods are subtle and they the Buddhist path, all this love-hate don’t immediately work for everyone. energy gets worked on, channeled Positive emotions can sometimes and refined. work better, undermining ego clinging So Buddhism is a path of love, we in their own way – partly through becan say, but it’s also one of wisdom. ing naturally selfless and freed from There’s always going to come a self-identity. crisis on the path where, in order to From different directions, the
methods of love and wisdom draw us into the same state of being. Wisdom works through mindfulness. We look carefully at our experience and see that the "me" we appease with an array of likes and dislikes is really a construct. It’s not anything solid and real. Once this is seen, the whole business of building ourselves up starts looking quixotic and irrelevant.
Delusion runs deep, but the Dharma is deeper.
With love, the approach is developmental. We cultivate and deepen a heartfelt empathy and care for others. Eventually, in the light of compassion and kindness, concerns for ourselves don’t feel as urgent. They fade in the light of our desire to help and befriend the world. Delusion is woven into our social lives. It is part of how we are and live with others and in the state of the world. For example, consider the glob-
al tendency toward individualism. The quality and quantity of written and spoken Dharma available on our computers and phones are phenomenal, and so is the ease with which we can communicate about it. Yet, often the very convenience seems to degrade our sense of community. It doesn’t have to, but it often seems to end up as a purely solitary experience. Since on our own we can explore in depth the Dharma interests that appeal to us – and build up our own personal practices – why do we need to bother to keep up connections with a Buddhist movement which has a very particular history and teaching style? The value is in having something to grow in relation to. A movement like Triratna builds naturally over the years of constant exchange around the Dharma, a tradition which has integrity and a particular spirit that’s noticeable everywhere you look within it. This is valuable, but it does not come easily. The spirit of our tradition has evolved over years of communication and collective practice. Working with others is immeasurably more demanding than putting together a personal Dharma world. That, in some ways, is the appeal of opting out of collective practice, because it takes effort. Yet, it’s immeasurably more satisfying to co-create a culture based on the ethical principles of Buddhism that will help enormous numbers discover themselves and develop their humanity for others’ benefit. This brings us back nicely to the positive mind-states known as the four Brahma Viharas (named after the Brahma gods of mythology who dwell with their minds entirely pervading their world): good will (metta), compassion (karuna), appreciative joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha). Good will is like the sun shining equally on all without distinction or preference. Even if there were no one to receive its light, the sun would continue to shine as warmly and generously as before. Compassion is like the sun at nightfall, at the horizon when it is about to descend into the darkness and
The spirit of our tradition (Triratna) has evolved over years of communication and collective practice. becomes a beautiful display of many astonishing colors like peach, purple, gold, gray and crimson. Appreciative joy is like the sun newly-risen in the early morning ascending into the sky accompanied by ecstatic birdsong, its bright white light sparkling and creating rainbows in a thousand dew drops. Equanimity is like the sun’s light mysteriously reflected in the full moon, silvery white and coursing – isolated and magnificent – through the night sky. Of these, the original quality is good will or metta, a quality that’s expressed by the five ethical precepts of kindness, generosity, contentment, truth and mindfulness, which are cultivated through the Metta Bhavana meditation. In each of the meditation exercises that cultivate the boundless qualities, we most easily connect to our goodwill by previously practicing the ethical precepts and removing the conditions for the five hindrances. Here, one of the classic sources describes the process: A learned noble disciple leaves behind unwholesome bodily deeds and develops wholesome bodily deeds, leaves behind unwholesome verbal and mental deeds and develops wholesome verbal and mental deeds. Being … free from ill will and contention, discarding sloth-andtorpor, being without restlessness or conceit, removing doubt and overcoming arrogance, with right mindfulness and right comprehension, being without bewilderment, the learned noble disciple dwells having pervaded one direction with a mind imbued with compassion, and in the same way the second, third, and fourth directions, the four intermediate directions, above and
below, completely and everywhere. Being without mental shackles… [the learned noble disciple] dwells having pervaded the entire world. Then [the learned noble disciple] reflects like this: “Formerly my mind was narrow and not well-developed; now my mind has become boundless and well-developed.” — From the Madhayama Agama, a Chinese version of a Pali sutta from the Majjhima Nikaya as quoted by Analayo in his book Compassion and Emptiness It is interesting that according to the Pali Canon the practices are described as simply connecting with the positive quality and then radiating it out in all directions. In Triratna, we’re familiar with the method of stages, as when the quality is developed toward a friend, neutral person, etc. Full instructions for the Brahma Vihara meditations according to Buddhaghosa's commentarial instruction can be found in my book, Buddhist Meditation: Imagination, Tranquillity and Insight. This approach comes from a 5th century commentary by Buddhaghosa on the teaching that was written down from the oral tradition. Today we still find it a useful one. It’s likely that the method of stages came about through a need for a more detailed, comparative approach. Sakyamuni’s original method of radiation is similar to the ancient meditations, where a simple object of concentration like earth, or the color red, is spread out infinitely to encompass the totality of experience. Compassion comes to embrace everything, the sum total of all there is. As we know from the Metta Bhavana, this is what happens in the final - Love/Wisdom continued on page 8 aryaloka.org
- Love/Wisdom continued from page 7
Meditators know how this becomes a kind of meditative absorption. Once you get into it you can stay there happily a long time. In that way, radiation absorption is akin to the jhana that comes through one-pointed attention to a single object. There is similarly a satisfying immersion in the object, but in this case the object is everything. In the first case there’s a progression from the multiplicity of the sense world down to a single point of experience; in the second, the progress is from a single point – the positive quality – out into universal radiation. The texts describe a third kind of absorption that is, again, outwardfacing: the four arupas or formless jhanas. These spread out to boundless infinity like the Brahma Viharas, but their sense of boundlessness unites with insight into universal realities and the experiential spheres of infinite space, of infinite awareness, of no things being perceptible, and wherein neither perception nor non-perception can be said to arise. Compassion meets wisdom as it moves from a single point to infinity, in an intimation of insight into the insubstantial nature person. We then equalize them: of the self. We naturally identify with the memory of our more generous the self as the central point of our responses draw us up out of less gen- world. But in the Brahma Vihara medierous ones of which we let go, with tations we progressively dis-identify the result that in the final radiation from that center until there is no the feeling is purer and more certain center. without any obstructions, without any We tend to think of ourselves as enemy. being situated here in space (even Where the early texts describe rahere in our heart or head), which is diation, there’s no mention of others clearly no more than a habitual idea. receiving the quality. Love simply fills So to extend out from that single space. It is freely available to all who point of identification to the limit of are contained within space, but it raour imagination of space attenuates diates quite independent of anyone’s our natural self-sense to the point interest or even their presence. Metof transparency, even invisibility. It’s ta, karuna, etc., express disinterested an experiential, non-analytical and love, like the sun whose warmth is dis- very pleasant way to undermine the pensed impartially, without privileging illusion of a solid self. some favored area over another. The inner absorptions and the
radiation stage of all the Brahma Vihara meditations. There’s an infinite, non-specific radiation (anodhiso-pharana) of the relevant quality. In this there is no preference. The wish is for universal inclusion and impartiality, as illustrated in the Karaniya Metta Sutta as informally translated by Sangharakshita: Let his thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world, above, below and across, without any obstructions, without any enemy. This non-preferentiality is brought about by breaking down barriers, a sub-stage preparatory to the radiation, in which we look back on how the practice went and compare the responses evoked in relation to the friend, neutral person and opposed
outer radiation absorptions are worth cultivating, not only because they support insight, but because they’re so good for our mental health. Benefits that come from cultivating universal empathy include mental ease, patience and curiosity. Tradition says radiating metta confers an ability to sleep deeply. And as was pointed out at the beginning, the Brahma Viharas are in themselves states of decreased self-clinging. So if we practice the Brahma Viharas in relation to wisdom practices, empathy increases and self-identification decreases. Eventually they merge, so that love and wisdom become one awakened heart: Bodhicitta.
The inner absorptions and the outer radiation absorptions are worth cultivating, not only because they support insight, but because they’re so good for our mental health.
Kamalashila has been active for 40 years teaching meditation, establishing communities, writing and leading Dharma study. Among his writings is his book, Buddhist Meditation: Tranquility, Imagination and Insight. He founded the West London Buddhist Centre in 1976 and was a founder of the Vajraloka Meditation Centre and Vajrakuta in Wales. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order by Sangharaskhita in 1974. His website with his teachings and writings is DharmaDoor.org.
Developing Happiness and Wisdom: No More Pandemonium! by Dh. Amala In this article I aim to outline two of five great stages of the spiritual path. They can be called “Developing Happiness” and “Developing Understanding and Wisdom.” The same aspects are termed “Positive (or Skillful) Emotion” and “Spiritual Death,” respectively, in the Triratna Path of Practice as described by Dharma teacher extraordinaire, Urgyen Sangharakshita. Happiness and wisdom sound good! I’m ready to experience and to develop both of those qualities. Where do I start? You’ve got to accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative And latch on to the affirmative Don’t mess with Mister-In-Between You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum Bring gloom down to the minimum Have faith or pandemonium’s Liable to walk upon the scene —Lyrics of the song “Accentuate the Positive;” music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, 1944 Many of you may know this upbeat song, made popular by the likes of Johnny Mercer and Bing Crosby decades ago. While the words don’t exactly express the Dharma teachings on cultivating positive emotions, they
make a good start for a discussion. For our purposes, let’s say that Mister-In-Between is apathy or indecision and lack of mindfulness, and that pandemonium is the ever-present wheel of samsara bringing confusion, unsatisfactoriness and disappointment into our lives. To either side of these are the poles of the positive and negative, joy and the blues, faith and pandemonium. What is the positive in a Buddhist context? That which conduces to greater love and care, greater contentment and generous exchange, greater clarity and understanding both within us and among those around us, and that which leads to enlightenment. Positive emotion does not mean being always smiley-happy and feeling good. It does not refer to passing moods or sentiments. It refers to emotion as motivation, as the deeper undercurrents in our mind and heart that flow toward clarity and real appreciation of what is actually happening in life. The positive is not some thing, an object to be acquired or adopted into our psyche and our life. We can’t go out and get it somewhere, nor can we manufacture a potion of the positive. It is attitude and approach. It is application of attentiveness to unfolding moments, thoughts and actions every day. It is a sifting or selecting among sometimes confusing choices and motives for ways to greet and engage
with the world with respect and kindness through acts of body, speech and mind. It takes practice to prioritize the skillful-leaning (positive) tendencies within our minds that are so jumbled and full of conflicting impulses. Some of us, who tend to wear a negative bias like glasses that tinge everything with a cloud of gloom, need to find ways to recognize love and care when we see it. We need to learn how to accept kindness and feel its soothing effects while looking for ways to be kind to others. We need to put aside the gloomy glasses and learn how to feel joy. We need to allow ourselves to feel connection and to feel touched in the heart. Others of us, who tend to wear a generally happy bias like cool sunshades, also need to open to the truth of things. We need to let ourselves feel the cool gray of an impending storm or a sad and awkward moment between friends. We need to sit with sadness and not jolly it away, to discover that difficulty walks side by side with happy. Then we will feel greater depth of connection and let ourselves be touched deep in the heart. A foundational skill for learning how to embody the positive is curiosity, which can be described as open observation of things without jumping too quickly to assessment, judgment or conclusion. With curiosity we ask - Happiness continued on page 10 aryaloka.org
- Happiness continued from page 9
and significant in relation to me. With this set of blinders on, we act and think and speak with continual self-reference. We all do this. It is called spiritual ignorance, and from it comes all manner of unsatisfying experience (dukkha). We suffer as we grasp greedily after things and experiences that we think will make us happy. We suffer as we separate the world into people and things we
(1) to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states; (2) to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen; (3) to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen; (4) to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen. What does this mean? 1) To make sure that hateful, jealous or complaining thoughts do not rise in my mind, I remain actively mindful, aware of the tiny beginnings of thoughts, ready to turn away from anything unhelpful. This requires vigilance and training myself to recognize mental hindrances. 2) If hateful, jealous or other unhelpful thoughts arise in my mind, accompany experience. If the path like and don’t like. We suffer when our I find a way to stop them. Just stop. is stony and rough, the landscape is hopes and expectations are dashed Why dwell on a train of thought that dry and the plants all around have time and again. If this is the negative, makes me feel bad about myself, puts thorns, we note just that. If the path is then yes, please – as the song says – someone else down or seeks to take soft underfoot, covered deep in pine let us eliminate it! advantage? needles, and the trees around are tall The negative is not just what we 3) To encourage mental states that and lush, protecting us from bright don’t like, find difficult or do not bring ease, contentment and focus, sun, we note just that. Trees, thorns, enjoy – like a bad mood. It is whatI actively set out to cultivate mindfulsoft, stony – we aim to approach all ever keeps us entangled in samsara, ness, metta, energy, concentration, landscapes with appreciation and whatever keeps us unaware of how tranquility and more; again through respect. things really are, whatever does not meditation and in activity. To be open and attentive – to enlighten. 4) Once positive states of mind a friend, to our own feelings and To lean away from the negative, are present, I recognize and support thoughts, to aches and pains, to a openness and curiosity again are them and allow them to expand. This situation at work – is already positive. important. Open, unflinching obrequires letting myself have new kinds Mindful attention is already kind. servation of what is happening in of experiences, going beyond habitual Awareness without haste or cut-off a moment and over time shows us thought patterns and understandings is already generous. Our attitude or that grasping behavior and hateful of myself. approach of open curiosity paves the thoughts contribute to our unhapThe Five Precepts are recited in the way for skillful and positive tendencies piness. We begin to see that if we Triratna Buddhist Community in both to proceed. connive to get our own way, believing their negative and positive forms – What is the negative in a Buddhist we must protect our self-importance, things to abstain from and things to context? That which conduces to we are likely to damage relationships cultivate. The positive qualities can ill-will, greed or unawareness and along the way. The deep-down satisbe thought of as a description of the spiritual ignorance; that which perfying sense of connection with others natural states of enlightened mind. As petuates stress, unsatisfactoriness may be lost to the extent we are we get to know ourselves, drop some (dukkha), and leaves us none the locked in self-reference. It requires of our self-limiting views and learn to wiser as to how to attain happiness or steady resolve to develop the kind of pay attention to things around us, we wisdom. fearless open attention that shows up naturally become more kind, generThe negative is not a thing. It, too, is our own unskillfulness. ous, content, truthful and mindful. an approach, a way of being, thinking The Four Right Efforts, guided by The precepts are a framework for our and acting, a habit, even. The negative the Five Precepts, are essential for efforts. is rooted in views that hold us to be this stage of developing happiness In the process of strengthening posseparate beings in some definitive, and eliminating the negative. The itive tendencies, weakening negative enduring way. If I am me and this me efforts are undertaken in meditation habits and creating conditions for has some ultimate significance, then and at all times off the cushion. They happiness to arise, faith is a helpful you are other and all things are other are: partner. Faith can mean many things, simply, “What is this?” and wait to hear the answer before speaking. On the way to positivity we proceed with our eyes open, honestly looking within ourselves and all around, at just what there is in front of us with a minimum of embellishment or embroidery. We learn to suspend the habitual running commentary, interpretation and editorializing that
The negative is not just what we don’t like, find difficult or do not enjoy like a bad mood. It is whatever keeps us entangled in samsara...
and appear to us in different ways. To some, faith will center on the example of the historical Buddha, a man who, through determination and focus, broke through spiritual ignorance to find the roots of enduring happiness, wisdom and equanimity. If he can do it, we can, too. Faith also means confidence: confidence in the path and the Buddha’s teachings, in the practices we are doing, in ourselves. Faith can be a coming together of our heart and mind with our experience. We start to believe what we see; that being truthful makes communication more satisfying, for example. Faith can be a trust in ourselves. We are able to change unhelpful habits, experience joy and withstand sadness, and survive when these states change. The work – or practice – of the stage of developing happiness and positive emotion involves being more mindful; knowing ourselves deeply; paying attention to the thoughts, motivations and patterns behind our behavior. In this stage we make a real connection among our inner mental states, our actions, what happens and how we feel. For example, if I make the effort to practice Metta Bhavana meditation and to listen to others with metta during the day, I experience greater clarity and fulfillment. I also may experience strong shifts in how I understand myself. I may have some
rude awakenings. I may realize – in the difficult person stage of a metta meditation or in a meeting – that the other person is just being who they are. I am the one who is perceiving and perpetuating the difficulty. My mental framework and attempt to make myself look good often sour an otherwise perfectly friendly situation. Repeated awakenings of this nature can shake us deeply. We find we are not any more or less important than the other person. We all act in a dance of inconceivable complexity, responding to situations and conditions, and, in turn, contributing to situations and conditions. Boundaries of me and other blur. Perhaps we begin to see there is no need to look through the lens of me all the time. We realize that the way we’ve thought of situations has been colored and distorted by self-reference. It can be scary to remain open and curious as we recognize our own delusion, and a new way of looking emerges. This kind of experience is called “Developing Understanding and Wisdom” or “Spiritual Death.” This phase of spiritual life is indeed both of these. Wisdom is seeing reality more clearly as well as a profound letting go of former or limited views, particularly regarding the sense of selfhood. Wisdom, or clear seeing, goes hand in hand with mindful attention, active abandonment of the negative and
cultivation of the positive. It is natural that we start to recognize our own agency in the life we experience, and we begin to change. As the main reference point moves away from me, it becomes not a point at all, without periphery and center, vast like all of space. At this stage we need a strong base of positive emotion, skillful habits and faith behind us. While we may be elated and relieved to experience the release of a limited self-view, we also may be disoriented. It is more important than ever to stand firmly in the ethical practices of kindness, generosity, contentment, truthfulness and mindfulness. It is vital to develop our confidence in the depths and universal reach of loving kindness and compassion, joy and equanimity. It is helpful to look to the Buddha for the way to live after wisdom strikes. Glimmers of a radiant, confident and clear way of being will emerge for us, mingled with the processes of cultivating what is skillful and positive, letting go and even breaking down. Stages of the spiritual life unfold in sequence as our practice deepens, but are not discrete. Peace and integration will deepen as the next stages develop. Happiness and positive emotion contribute to the arising of both wisdom and spiritual death, and are refreshed and deepened by the new perspectives that come from deep letting go. A continual overlapping process moves us forward along the path. While every phase and every effort is integral to the journey, for many of us, the stage of developing happiness and positive emotion is one that deserves dedicated attention. The emerging wisdom and understanding, infused with love and compassion, will flower readily into radiant freedom. Amala began her journey with Buddhism in the 1970s and with the Triratna Buddhist Community in 1991. She was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2000 and is active at Aryaloka Buddhist Center, where she is currently chair aryaloka.org of the Spiritual Vitality Council. page 11
Pilgrimage to Kyoto: Where Kindness is the Natural By-product of Being Alive by Neil Harvey
support tons of decorative roof tiles at temple after temple, as if they were A man sails to Chilight as feathers. At each gate we turn na to find out more around to pop off our street shoes, about what the monk back up onto the clean wooden step, Bodhidharma brought slip on temple slippers and scuff our from India: the teachway onto polished broad-planked ings of Gautama, the teachings of an floors – creaking by design – and then enlightened one. He sits at the feet abandon the slippers and rise again, of masters for some years and wakes in stocking feet, to tatami grass mats. up. He hurls a three-pronged dorje in The thresholds we enter, from soto the direction of his island home. He to ushi – outside to inside – mirror sails back to see where the dorje has our pilgrims’ path. We pass through landed, and there begins teaching great guardian pillars to gliding paper what he learned. walls, to the shadowy world of the The man was Kūkai, a Japanese interior alcove. There we discover a monk born in the 8th century, and poem upon which calligraphy silently we are meditating on the mountain dances on a scroll and an earthen (Mt. Koya in Japan) where the dorje vase holds a spare stem/leaf/flower he threw was found; where sincere arrangement. It is a shrine to beaupeople have meditated, studied and ty, impermanence and wisdom that prayed since 819 AD; where it is said seems to whisper, “Be welcome to Kukai side-stepped death and still sits leave your armor out at the gate, and in perfect samadhi under the ancient please join us within this precious trees which shade monasteries and moment.” 120 temples. Two of Kiranada’s life-long colWe are Triratna Order members, leagues opened their home art mitras, meditators, artists, photograstudios to us. These kimono artists of phers and poets – 12 pilgrims who the highest tradition presented their were guided by our leader Kiranada, silks – bright color fields shaped by fresh from a year-long solitary retreat, wax resist – conducted a formal tea on a 14-day pilgrimage in April 2016 ceremony, and offered sweet treats to backstage Kyoto, Japan. We are and so much laughter! Brits, Americans, a Swede, a Finn, and At the Pure Land Honen-in Temple, a New Zealander, and we are a long devoted to Amida Buddha, the screen way from home. We journeyed to Mt. to the Abbot’s private quarters and Koyasan and Kyoto, the heart-mind moss blanketed garden was pulled cultural treasury of Japan. back for us. We had an exclusive Massive pillars of cedar and pine audience – a great privilege – at a low page 12
photo: Neil Harvey
table on cushions just down the hall from the emperor’s personal rooms. Our schedule was full but perfectly punctuated with free time to explore museums, meet pottery artisans, watch traditional dance, try calligraphy and flower arranging or shop for gifts. This pilgrim returned to 17th century Haiku master Basho’s preserved hut to meditate, write Heart Sutra mantras on native paper and sit alone for hours watching the soft Kyoto rain. How could one not write poetry? At the Daisen-In temple I encountered these words of Zen Master Soen Ozeki: A Song of Gratitude The whole family, harmonious and devout Aware of debts to our parents and ancestors. Revering Nature, grateful for society. Always humble, learning from others. Able to give, demonstrating kindness. Making one’s motto: “A bright life.” Overlooking others’ faults, correcting one’s own. Moderate in speech, not getting angry. Gentle, kind, honest. Let’s appreciate the joy of life… Where kindness is the natural by-product of being alive.
Here is a Kyoto pilgrim’s recipe for awakening: At 7 a.m. sit in a circle of Order members and mature meditators. Enjoy a slow breakfast of exotic vegetarian tastes and textures. Be led to sacred shrines and delicate gardens where, for generations, aspirants before you have prayed for your enlightenment. Purify your hands and mouth at ancient stone basins where shining water flows. Offer incense and candles for those to come. Breathe. Wander carefree among foreign but friendly faces who bow and laugh with you at the slightest invitation. Step mindfully, honoring the social restraints of politeness and community. All are designed to support the truth that your individuality is a playful illusion, and harmonious unity with everyone equally is where you will find home. And “everyone” includes the frogs calling down in the bamboo forest creek; the purple iris briefly blooming; the startling Buddha statue that penetrates your being, bringing tears; the evening bath that loosens your bones; the yukata (sleeping kimono) cotton on your shoulders; the fired clay cup that holds your tea; the thin rice membrane walls that wash away the impulse to trivial speech; and the new bamboo brush in your hand. To all these, you softly offer thanks as to dear relatives. As my airliner taxied away from the gate for the return flight home, out the window I noticed two impeccably-uniformed ground crewmen wearing white helmets. As our jumbo jet passed them, in unison they deeply bowed to the plane and waved us on our journey. This moment rang with so many other moments in Kyoto: the enthusiastic “Arigato Gozaimasu!” to every passenger from the white gloved bus driver, chanting quietly together beneath the Okaeri Ami-
Kiranada (second from left) led a pilgrimage to Kyoto, Japan, with 12 pilgrims from around the world including (left from bottom) Dayadharani, Kiranada, Taramani, Alexandra Suffolk Maitriprabha and Victoria Fahey; and (right from top) Warren Moeller, Robbin Smith, Neil Harvey, Lisa Kelly, Visshudhimati, Susan Carragher and Sanghadevi. Photo: Ito-san tabha rupa looking over his shoulder, receiving the precise kyosaku, awakening stick, blow from the Zen master in zazen, the all-universe-this-moment look from the begging monk as we drop small change into his bowl, the Koyasan priest’s invitation to focus on the seed syllable “ah.” Some 1200 years after Kūkai’s heroic journey, this contemporary woman flies far away to find out more about what is pulling at her heart. She learns about the teachings of Gautama, an enlightened one. She sits at the feet of masters for some years and wakes up. Lucky us. She throws fabric art, paintings and calligraphy in the direction of her home. She receives the name Kiranada which means “she who gives or radiates moonlight.” She organizes the trip of a lifetime, and more make the journey with her. This is our small song of gratitude. May all benefit. Neil Harvey is an award-winning artist, photographer and writer. A student of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, he has been practicing meditation at the Aryaloka, Portsmouth and New York sanghas since 2011.
photo: Neil Harvey
sangha notes Keeping Sangha Connected ARYALOKA SANGHA (NEWMARKET, NH)
Aryaloka offered and hosted a range of retreats, celebrations, practice days and classes this past spring. Highlights of recent activities and ongoing events follow. Ongoing events Bodhana continues to lead open meditation sessions for all levels of experience Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Rijupatha leads a monthly Young Sangha Hangout for friends in their 20s or 30s (or thereabouts). These gatherings offer young folks with an interest in Buddhist practice to meet and practice together. Alisha Roberts leads monthly Children’s Sangha classes for children up to age nine. In each class there is a short talk, gentle meditation and an arts and crafts activity related to a Buddhist theme. Special events Satyada and Amala hosted Aryaloka’s Buddha Day Celebration with readings, talks and quiet contemplation to help deepen our relationship with the Buddha and enlightenment. To celebrate the founding of our community, Khemavassika led meditations and a puja as part of Triratna Day.
Order members from the northeast gathered for a practice day, “The Big Picture,” with Kamalashila, an Order member from the UK. They studied and meditated upon the relationship between compassion and emptiness. This was Kamalashila’s third retreat at Aryaloka in three years, and discussions have already begun for an Order retreat with him in 2017. Aryaloka’s Fundraising Dinner and Silent Auction in May raised more than $1,800 of much-needed funds. Many thanks to those who contributed artwork, crafts, gift certificates and other items to the auction, and to the crew who prepared a delicious Thai dinner. More than 30 Order members, mitras and friends attended this year’s Spring Work Days in May. One group cleared a spot for a memorial garden while another group cleaned out the barn in preparation for some upcoming renovations to Akashaloka. Retreats In April, Sunada and Viriyalila led “Living With Mindfulness,” an opportunity for folks to try a gentle introduction to weekend retreats. Megrette Fletcher led “After the First Bite,” a retreat on mindful eating that took a deep look at habits around food to transform mind, health and life.
Friends’ Night As part of the late winter Friends’ Night series, members of the teaching team led a session called “What is the Buddha?” – our introductory session on the Buddha, his history and enlightenment. A second session, “Ego and the Idea of a Fixed Self,” was facilitated by Arjava and Akashavanda. It explored the fiction of self and how we cling to it. The discussion looked at how ego grasping affects mindfulness, compassion and awakening in daily life. During the spring series, Satyada is leading an introductory session on the The Noble Eightfold Path. Arjava is leading “No Self, No Problem,” a follow-on to the winter series session. Tom Gaillard and Khemavassika’s group are studying stories from the Jataka Tales. These fables are some of the oldest texts describing the Buddha’s remembrances of his past lives and express Buddhist values, such as kindness, generosity and truthfulness. — Pete Ingraham Sangha members Elizabeth Hellard (below) and Tom Gaillard (left) joined more than 30 others in May for work days at Aryaloka.
sangha notes ROCKY MOUNTAIN SANGHA (MISSOULA, MT)
We are pleased that two new Order member chapters have been established in Missoula. Beginning in December 2015, a mixed chapter began meeting weekly and has continued with steady attendance and enthusiasm. Members are Abhayanaga, Karunakara, Saramati, Sarananda, Sthiradasa and Varasuri. A newly-formed women’s chapter began meeting in January this year. We have met every other week by Skype because of the distances between us. Montana isn’t called big sky country
for nothing! The chapter has managed also a few in-person meetings on some weekends. It’s been great that all four Dharmacharinis in western Montana can attend this chapter: Shuddhabha, Tejavani, Varada and Varasuri. We look forward to having our newest Dharmacharini Samatara, ex-Kay Jones, join us this summer. We gave Kay a send-off to Akashavana, the women’s ordination retreat center in the mountains above Valderrobres, Spain at the end of March, and are holding a place for her when she returns! During the second week of May, the Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center
hosted a visit by Karunadevi and Taraprabha. Karunadevi led the Wednesday Sangha night with a discussion of the Brahma Viharas. She also led a women’s practice day with 12 women in attendance on the theme of spiritual friendship – a lovely, lively event. Karunadevi and Taraprabha then joined the other Dharmacharinis for a women’s Order meeting. Everyone appreciated having these two wonderful women visit our Sangha! — Dh. Varasuri
Kay Jones, now Samatara, was sent off to be ordained in March by her newly formed women’s chapter: (left to right front) Tejavani, Samatara, Varada and (standing left to right) Shuddhabha and Varasuri.
Karunadevi (back right) from San Francisco led a women’s practice day with (left to right front) Varasuri, Kelley Willett, Kathleen Stachowski, Amy Engkjer, Ashly Roberts, and (left to right back row) Annette Puttkammer, LeAnne McDonald, Cynthia Stary, Varada, Tejavani and Carol Matthews.
sangha notes TRIRATNA VANCOUVER (VANCOUVER, BC)
The annual spring Triratna retreat was held in early May at Samish Island Camp in Washington. Organized by the Vancouver Sangha with some help from the Seattle Sangha, the retreat was attended by people from Seattle, Vancouver Island, San Francisco and Tacoma. More than half of the 40 attendees were from Vancouver. The location was picked for its beauty, centrality and affordability. The retreat ― “Four Reminders: A Tiny Splash of a Raindrop” ― was led by Order member Nagapriya. The following are reflections from Seattle Sangha member Gary Derry who attended the retreat. Our human birth is precious I wasted time; now time wastes me. Cultivate a sense of blessedness as you use your three conditions of opportunity, capacity and motivation. How can I make the most of my favorable conditions? How can I bring more gratitude into my life? As our small group met outside to discuss these questions, several owls carried on their own conversations in the nearby trees. After a refreshing day of sits, small group discussions, and delicious food, we went into silence after our evening meal. We walked along the bay draped in the pink orange of sunset in twilight. I reflected on living in gratitude rather than moaning over my struggles.
and I will die. Karma and consequences I have the significant responsibility of always being between inheriting the consequences from my past actions and creating my future. Be careful about the stories I reinforce. Own my part. In the middle of the night, an owl announced my comings and goings with one hoot for each time I went outdoors. Can I see how my past actions have created my current life? What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind in this lifetime?
The annual spring Triratna retreat was held in May on Samish Island, in Washington State.
SAN FRANCISCO SANGHA (SAN FRANCISCO, CA)
Spring brought more sunny afternoons to San Francisco, a pattern that lasted until the summer fog started rolling in. The construction on Bartlett Street – where the San Francisco Buddhist Centre is located – is complete, and the street is open to traffic again. The limitations of samsara Down the street from the center Samsara is the opportunity. Sufferis the San Francisco Police Departing is the beginning of the real path. ment’s Mission Station, where activists We live in samsara – the wheel of camped out and fasted for 17 days the wholeness of life. Recognize and in April and May to bring attention accept the stories I create. Create a space between an event and the sto- to patterns of police brutality in San Francisco’s communities of color. This ries I create about the event. Watch peaceful protest raised awareness of how I tend to find fault with others institutionalized racism, already on and myself. How do I create my own many minds due to police/community suffering? I have a choice. Death and impermanence As I rowed a canoe on the brackish dynamics around the country, and the Never be too overjoyed when climate of intolerance fostered on a lake, blue herons flew overhead on someone arrives, nor too distressed national level by the rhetoric used in their way to their rookery. I smelled when someone leaves. It is challengthe presidential race. ing to let go of our attachments to the the fresh air and felt the breeze on The center hosted a Sangha night future. If this is our last time together, my cheeks. On shore, people swam series in May on “Transforming and others sunbathed. Radiate love all I want is to be present. Rejoice in Intolerance and Racism: Training our and place your heart on the Dharma, personal merits. Hold them lightly. Hearts and Minds.” The series was remembering that others suffer just Embrace death as part of the karmic intended for anyone interested in usas I do. In my heart I wished, “May we rebirth process. be happy, may we be well and may we ing Dharma training tools to respond While rediscovering the labyrinth, creatively to the persistent problem of be free of suffering.” I noticed swallows squeakily vie for racism, including rising Islamophobia, — Gary Derry, Paramita Banerjee in our world. a place to rest in three nests at the with edits by Reg Johanson apex of the roof outside the shrine - SF Sangha continued on page 18 building. I love you, and one day you page 16
sangha notes NEW YORK SANGHA (NEW YORK CITY, NY)
The Triratna New York Sangha has been my spiritual home for more than eight years, and I am happy to provide an update from us for the Vajra Bell. In late March, the New York Sangha took a major step forward: its council decided to sponsor and hold a spring retreat. More than two dozen of us gathered at The Grail, a Jesuit women’s retreat center in the Hudson Valley, just an hour north of New York City, for an inspiring weekend of meditation, study and fellowship. This was the first time we have organized a retreat of our own at a retreat center and enlisted the other Northeast Triratna sanghas for support. The weekend brought together Triratna members from New York, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, including several members who do not have the benefit of a local sangha and were particularly happy for the opportunity to participate in our community. The theme was “Love meets Wisdom: Compassion, Impermanence and Insight.” The retreat was led by Kamalashila, an Order member from the UK and one of our movement’s most experienced meditation teachPORTSMOUTH BUDDHIST CENTER (PORTSMOUTH, NH)
Recently Candradasa became cochair of the Portsmouth Buddhist Center, supporting Suddhayu who has taken on a demanding new job. These two Dharmacharis are longtime friends and will be a dynamic duo at our council helm. New program offerings will build both our Sangha and our connection to the Portsmouth community. The Sunday morning meditation has expanded into a more substantial community gathering and is our main event of the week. Join us from 10 a.m. till noon any Sunday. A weekly level two Buddhism class led by Narottama and Khemavassika has gelled into a lively group in recent
ers, along with Order member Amala from Aryaloka in New Hampshire, another experienced meditation teacher. One highlight was some amazing chanting led by Amala who also taught several sessions. Many of us enjoyed a trip across the Hudson by ferry as one leg of our journey to the retreat. What a great way to get things started. The Grail itself is a fantastic place for a retreat, a classic Victorian estate house with plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, an expansive property and a stone labyrinth, whose spiral path is designed to foster contemplation and insight. Having made the long trek to Aryaloka many times in the past, it was our pleasure to be able to reciprocate and offer hospitality to our many friends. Special thanks to Savanna Jo Luraschi for organizing the retreat. Of course, it took a village, so thanks also to: Padmadharini and Singhatara for all the wonderful food, Josh Heath for serving as shrine keeper, Gary Baker for coordinating transportation, Vajramati for handling publicity, and Alyssa Fradenberg and Liesl Glover for helping with preorganization support along with many others, including Jon Aaron and Elaine Smith. In other NY news, we are continuing
to slowly build our sangha’s foundation of leadership. Padmadharini, an Order member originally from the UK who has been with us for about two years, has provided a wonderful supplement to Vajramati’s long-time leadership. Samayasri joined us earlier this year and has led some insightful Sangha night teachings. In September, New Zealander Tejopala will be joining us. We started a weekly drop-in meditation class for beginners, and are launching a training program to enable mitras and other sangha members to lead the group. At the main Sangha night, we have enjoyed many inspired teachings from our leaders and visiting Order members, as well as programs developed by other sangha members, including Savanna and Alyssa. Josh always brings amazing creativity and spirituality to our shrines, which he sometimes pulls together beautifully in just a few short minutes. If you are in New York City on a Tuesday night, come visit us, or if you have friends in the Big Apple that could benefit from our spiritual community, send them our way. We are online at triratna-nyc.org.
weeks, offering a bridge for newcomers to get more involved with the Sangha. We also will launch a series of occasional Buddhism and the Arts events this summer. These will take place in a studio at Portsmouth’s Button Factory, giving people a chance to bring their creative side into their Dharma practice. Details of the program can be found online at TheBuddhistCentre.com/Portsmouth. Candradasa and Rijupatha are leading weekly meditation classes at the Portsmouth Public Library as part of a collaboration with other local meditation and mindfulness teachers. Sessions are on Mondays from 6 – 6.45 p.m., and Wednesday lunchtimes, 12:15 – 1 p.m.
Join the Portsmouth Sangha as part of Triratna on the Seacoast. We look forward to seeing new faces and bonding with old friends as the summer progresses. — Bettye Pruitt
— Gary Baker
Order members Suddhayu (left) and Candradasa recently became co-chairs of the Portsmouth Buddhist Center. aryaloka.org
sangha notes share. We started Saturday with a guided Metta Bhavana meditation. We followed that practice with further analysis of the Five Spiritual Faculties. We discussed vigor, the energy that motivates our practice. Although we chose many different words to describe it, the theme was the same: vigor fuels our practice. We then changed gears and gave Susan DiPietro the floor. The men were eager to hear about her recent trip to Nepal. She shared pictures and highlights of her journey. The men were moved when she told them she made a dedication to the Concord Sangha at Everest Base Camp as an expression of her devotion to the Sangha and a tribute to the men who share her spiritual journey. After lunch we picked up the discussion of the remaining faculties. Concentration was introduced as the counterpart to vigor. With meditation we quiet the mind by reducing distractions and narrow the focus of our
attention, typically to the breath. We work to hold this state for increasing amounts of time. Concentration allows us to focus the boundless energy of the mind. We then put our knowledge of concentration and mindfulness into practice. One of the men taught the basics of Origami as a way to exercise mindfulness. He led us through the creation of a swan and a frog. Watching this group work together to fold paper into a sculpture was a testament to the richness contained in each moment. We concluded the retreat with a round of reflection and gratitude and the recitation of the refuges and precepts. If you are interested in attending a retreat, please contact Khemavassika or Satyada. There are two more retreats scheduled for this year ― July 22–23 and October 20–21. Friday sessions begin at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. — Mike Mappes
The center’s land in Lake County is once again available for retreats The series was well attended and and individual rentals. A “Beginner’s brought newcomers to the center. Mind” weekend retreat in early June Order member Viveka led meditations each evening that were followed was scheduled along with a weeklong summer immersion retreat led by impressive teachings from guest by Parmananda on the “Alchemical speakers on breaking down and clarifying what is meant by racism, the Heart” in mid-July. — Mary Salome different ways it expresses itself, and how we all find ourselves in places of The Start of a Young Sangha privilege and disadvantage. In the summer of 2014, a bit overIn June, a series of activites were of- whelmed by from the San Francisco fered for Buddhist Action Month, the hustle and bustle, a few young mitra Triratna-wide invitation to get involved friends met at a bar. Sharing unin practical actions to express our certainty about careers, we all were care and concern for the planet, its pondering a similar question: “How people and other beings that inhabit can I align my livelihood with my true it. Activities include an evening on the and deeper intentions?” ethics of housing, and talks by Sangha From those initial get-togethers, we members engaged in various forms saw the potential for group discusof activism. Among other things, we sion and support among millennials will look at the psychological dilemma facing similar questions and with lives of feeling disempowered by the mass marked by transitions. Right livelihood scale of suffering in the world, and was only one facet of living in our managing our internal dynamics as modern culture. All the choices we part of a process of engaging. make in society have an impact on
us and the wider world. What about consumerism, awareness of the environment, our fears, discovering paths that lead to more freedom and even online dating? This was the start of our Young Sangha group. We opened it up to the larger Sangha by formally creating a half-day retreat on the first Saturday of every month. Each retreat day has a friendly and inclusive space with a mix of group discussion, meditation and sharing of personal experiences. The gatherings have been a way to check in on personal intentions and have been a heartfelt ongoing support for all the organizers. For future events we are excited to get involved with Buddhist Action Month, try outdoor practice and expand to other creative and playful events. We look forward to more mitras taking a lead role as our core group expands. — Brad Schwagler
CONCORD SANGHA (CONCORD, NH)
The Khanti Outreach Sangha Retreat at the Concord State Prison for Men in New Hampshire was held in late April. The theme was “The Five Spiritual Faculties.” The retreat opened Friday night with the refuges and precepts. We reflected on our intentions for the retreat and meditated. The Dharma study started with discussion about the faith we establish in ourselves and our practice. We discussed the belief that this path is the right one, and that our investment in it will lead to the elimination of suffering, and ultimately, enlightenment. We discussed wisdom as the counterbalance to faith. The pursuit of wisdom opens a window into seeing reality and allows us to increase our understanding of life, its purpose and how our conduct shapes that reality. It was a rich dialogue, and, as always, the men embraced the opportunity to - SF Sangha continued from page 16
sangha connections Conversations with Triratna Order Members Dh. Narottama: Supporting Others in a Helpful, Mindful Way With No Expectations Writer’s Note: I proposed writing a series of profiles of Triratna Order members for the Vajra Bell, because it allows me to do two things in my work that I most enjoy: interviewing people about their lives and careers and supporting – in my professional jargon – a “global learning community.” The glue holding together a network as far-flung as Triratna is stronger when people have a sense of who’s out there and can imagine them as they go about their lives. Moreover, as a mitra who has asked for ordination, I naturally am curious about the group I am joining and the experiences of those who have gone before me. This is the first in a series of interviews with Order members on three broad topics: their first encounter with Triratna, the changes they experienced with ordination and their practice now. My first subject, Narottama, is someone I see frequently around the Portsmouth Buddhist Center and am able to speak to in person. I found our conversation inspiring. I hope you will, too.
Narottama had carved out of driftwood. At a more recent meeting in his studio, he had a painting-in-progress on an easel – a landscape with dark blue mountains in the background – and a well-used copy of In the Buddha’s Words on the table nearby.
Connecting with Triratna Triratna came to Bill Horton at a time of crisis. In 1991, while working on a construction site, he fell from a ladder and broke his leg in two places. “At that time I had six children and a farm with 30 cows, and we were raising 30 acres of organic vegetables . . . I found myself going from 150 miles per hour every day to a dead stop, in a recliner with a cast on my leg.” At the time, there were only 600 Triratna Order Members in the world (today there are more than 2,000) and one of them lived a mile and a half from Bill’s house in Maine. “I knew this person, but I didn’t know anything about the Order or anything. He came over and visited and said, ‘I’m starting a meditation class in Belfast, would you like to come?’ I said, ‘Yes, as soon as I can walk!’” by Bettye Pruitt The Order member was Dayaratna. “I still feel a very strong sense of The Button Factory is appreciation and gratitude for that a big red brick industrial connection on many different levels; building in Portsmouth, one being that he taught me the NH, that houses artists’ Mindfulness of Breathing and showed studios. Narottama me that, yes, you can slow your mind welcomed me into Studio 321, a down.” Narottama recalled his state cluttered space on the third floor of mind at that time: “You reach a sort where he lives and creates a couple of a crisis in your life and say, ‘Is this of days a week. In December last year, all there is? There must be something I came to the holiday open studios at more.’” The Button Factory and had admired The quest for more led him deepthe beautiful whale and other figures er into meditation, the Dharma and
Narottama lives and creates a few days a week in Studio 321 in The Button Factory in Portsmouth, NH. Triratna. He became a mitra in 1994 and in a few years began teaching classes in the Belfast sangha after Dayaratna returned to Cambridge, U.K. At times, he drove well over two hours each way from Maine to New Hampshire to attend mitra classes at Aryaloka. “I didn’t do that very often, but there was a very strong desire to experience community, approach the truth, wake up, whatever you want to call it. Along the way there were a lot of people who were very helpful, and I’m here today because of those connections.” Experience of ordination Bill Horton became Narottama at Guhyaloka in southeastern Spain in 2007. “So I was a mitra for 12 years. Whoever was in charge probably figured I was going to be too old if they didn’t ordain me and just said, ‘We’d better get this guy done.’” In fact, at one point he had become - Connections continued on page 20 aryaloka.org
sangha connections - Connections continued from page 19 frustrated with the ordination process and even considered dropping out. Someone suggested he think more about helping other people get ordained and less about his own process. That proved to be helpful advice, which he has carried forward as an Order member. His Sanskrit name, Narottama, means "a man who is upright, capable and dependable in the Dharma." Narottama was in Spain for more than four months – a significant going-forth in itself. He had three teenaged children still at home, a business to run and no extra money. “So how do you leave for four months? The rational, logical side said, ‘You don’t.’ And when I talked to people in my family, they said, ‘You don’t!’” Reflecting on that experience, he realized that it “sort of touches on the Dharma niyama. I don’t want to reify anything or make the abstract concrete,” he said. “But when I committed, when I made the decision that I was going to go to Spain and stopped the internal conflict, it just opened up. It was like the doors opened and there were helping hands – these invisible helping hands. I don’t want to be mysterious and strange about it, but it was almost as if someone said, ‘Let go, and just go with it.’ Oh, what a powerful experience that was.” The friendships that developed over the four months were “incredibly powerful. I’m still in contact with a lot of those men and in different ways. It’s not just a text, a phone call and an email. You can connect with people internally and wish them well, and I think that’s also a meaningful form of contact.” In a way, Narottama said, “It’s a question of what’s really pulling you along? And when you allow that expression to come out, it starts moving into the realm of spiritual energy, which is in everything all the time. We kind of screw it up, because we put labels on this pull or energy and try to page 20
understand it. The intellect gets in the way.” But in the case of the synchronicity surrounding his ordination, he said, “I think it was a very strong reminder that there are things going on that we don’t necessarily need to know about from the intellect.”
not feeling a sense of metta when I run into someone who’s suffering, there’s no room for compassion to arise. So I have to keep it mindful, keep it positive, and be open and curious about what’s next.”
If I start to worry about a finished product, I’m going to ruin it. It’s like the spiritual life in general: you have a direction and here’s the canvas. What are you going to do with it, and where’s it going to go? How did ordination change him? “What changed for me in ordination is still happening,” he said. “It’s not so much an event as a process. I think ordination has just given me recognition that what I’m doing is meaningful, has merit and is worthy. And to be recognized as such gives it validity, permission almost. That’s both an internal and an external component in that. At some point, what’s happening inside manifests itself outside. Things are just flowing in a certain way.” The work of an Order member, Narottama said, is to “continually lessen your ego clinging. That’s going to take place internally, as well as in classes and everywhere else. And there sure as heck is a lot of opportunity to lessen the ego. It comes up all the time.”
Being open to what’s next is a practice in itself. “I’m moving towards zero,” he said. “I don’t want to know. I don’t need to know. I don’t need to figure everything out. It’s just what’s the next step, the next thing to do, while trying as much as possible to experience as clearly as possible what’s going on, paying more attention to the raw data and not the interpretation, the narrative that we tell ourselves. That’s what we’re caught up in. It can be useful, but it can also be a wicked hindrance.” More than anything, Narottama focuses on “just participating in life” and supporting others in doing the same. About a year ago, his son died of cancer. Now he takes his three-yearold grandson to the library one day a week, finding pleasure in helping the boy get over his shyness and fear of Current practice: mindfulness new situations. and metta “If you can help another human Narottama’s practices these days being navigate this challenging world focus on basic mindfulness and metta. that we’re in, help them build con“I’ve realized recently that a lot of us fidence in themselves and listen to talk about compassion, and compastheir own heart, not what other peosion is conditional,” he said. “There ple are telling them – within reason – I are certain things that have to be in think that’s one of the best gifts you place for compassion to arise. If I’m can pass on to people. We all need it
in some way.” Narottama is a mainstay of the class offerings at the Portsmouth Buddhist Center. He also teaches at the Nagaloka Buddhist Center in Portland, ME, and participates in the men’s ordination trainings at Aryaloka. He doesn’t think of himself as a teacher, though, and prefers to be thought of as “hosting.” Recently, he signed up to cook at the men’s ordination training retreat next summer, still following that advice about helping others get ordained. “To me the richest experience in life is being involved in other people’s worlds – my 98-year-old mother, my three-year-old grandson, intro classes, whatever it is – just being engaged in a helpful, mindful way. Not expecting anything back. It sounds all altruistic and warm and fuzzy but I get a hell of a lot out of it.” For Narottama, these connections are what keep it all together. Down the rabbit hole of art Since attending a retreat at Adhisthana in England, “Beauty, Eros and the Spiritual Life,” led by Subhuti in May 2014, Narottama’s quest to lessen ego clinging “moved into the realm of seeing beauty everywhere.” For him, beauty has become “another avenue into seeing reality. If you can step away and stop judging and comparing and all of that,” he said, “you can enter into the realm of seeing conditioned existence, and by seeing that you are participating in beauty, with a capital B. Then that opens up into creativity, and where can you express that – in a conversation, in a class, in a painting, in a poem and everywhere!” Part of being in the Order, Narottama says, is being encouraged to be oneself. “Often when we’re ordained, we think, ‘Oh, I’m doing it for these reasons.’ But there’s always some deeper level to be explored. And this way of creativity and seeing beauty is really a path to waking up.”
Buddhaworks the aryaloka bookstore
Your support brightens Aryaloka’s future. Buddhaworks is located at the Aryaloka Buddhist Center
work by Eric Ebbeson. Several additional book titles in the used book section! If you plan to weed out your collection of DharYou will find: A nice selection of cotton medita- ma or poetry books, please keep us tion shawls and cotton Om scarves in mind for donations. in lovely colors. A display of the long awaited book of poetry by Kavyadhristi titled BeA silver and turquoise pendant coming A Buddhist. This is a collecwith matching earrings in the jewelry section that can be purchased tion of poems by Kavyadhristi that touch the heart and warm the soul. as a set or separately. The jewelry When logging in your purchases, section also has both neck and adjustable wrist skull malas, adjust- please indicate the part number for able copper Om Mani Padme Hum each item you are buying (if available) as this helps us to track what rings and one spinning Om Mani items are selling and what items Padme Hum ring. need to be reordered. A supply of Nag Champa incense – by Dh Shantikirika and several sweet Jizos for your home or garden. The bookstore is geared up for the summer!
A fresh selection of cards with photography by Bodhana and artFor example, he suggested one can approach each day creatively, whatever it entails: “You can paint it with dark moody colors, or bright shiny colors, or boring colors – however it is, it’s up to you. And that’s a way of living that really adds a lot more richness.” I asked if his carving and painting began after the 2014 retreat or had he always done them. “It’s like coming back to something,” he said. "Recently I’ve fallen into the rabbit hole of art. It’s everywhere. I was up way too late last night dabbling, and I realize it’s all just a practice. If I start to worry about a finished product, I’m going to ruin it. It’s like the spiritual life in general: you have a direction and here’s the canvas. What are you going to do with it, and where’s it going to go? So you’re opening yourself up to a higher form of guidance in some way. And
your self falls away, and you become more open to what there is and let it happen – the painting or the conversation or whatever.” “It’s nice if you were encouraged as a child," Narottama said, "but sometimes when you’re not encouraged as a child you do it anyway – carve your initials in trees and whatnot. But it’s in everyone, and I’d like to turn the Button Factory 321 into a space for art. What can we do in here?”
Bettye Pruitt joined the Triratna community through the Portsmouth Buddhist Center in 2011. She became a mitra in 2012 and asked for ordination in 2013.
from the editors
Making Space: You Can’t Think Your Way to Wisdom by Mary Schaefer Co-editor, Vajra Bell
Opening to the heart’s wisdom does not require effort, Yashobodhi said. Our minds are always so busy. In early June I attended She likened our careening thoughts a retreat led by Yashoto a bull in a china shop, and we often bodhi, an Order member bring that busyness and effort to the from London. I landed at cushion. Aryaloka Friday evening coming off an Keep a light touch in your mediintense and stressful few weeks. As I tation, she encouraged. Open the settled in for the opening dedication space. Breathe in the world – whatevin the shrine room, my body vibrated er you are experiencing – and breathe while my mind still actively picked out your influence on the world. through details of the week and work And may that influence be light, easy not yet done. and kind. Play, don’t plow, your way In those opening moments, Yasho- through meditation, she said. bodhi invited us to take the weekend As I breathed in and breathed out, to “rest your brain” and “give your litlistening to her quiet thoughtful guideral mind a holiday.” At that invitation, ance, my mind and body eased. Make my shoulders dropped slightly and I the space. No effort. How simple (how wanted to ask, “can I give my body a hard!) is that?! I felt lighter, more crerest, too?” But my mind just wanted ative and playful. the details on what steps I needed to The retreat was an important take to achieve this brain rest. reminder with a large dose of perThe retreat theme was “Opening to mission to take time to just sit and the Heart’s Wisdom,” described as an breathe and give the mind a holiday. “intensive meditation weekend invitGo light on the effort. Meditation is ing the heart to be open and listening not something on my to-do list to be deeply to what it is trying to tell us … worked at under the heading “things allowing the mysterious process of to do to be a better Buddhist.” It is an the bodhichitta to manifest in our invitation to breathe in and breathe experience.” out, watch, listen deeply and wait. “How ambitious,” Yashobodhi said, Only then can I open to my heart’s warning us that there are no short wisdom. cuts to wisdom. Try as I might, particularly in our western, mind-centric world, I can’t think or study my way to wisdom. I instead – as Yashobodhi suggested – need to create the conditions for wisdom to arise. It requires space and spaciousness in my life so that I can open my heart for listening deeply and allowing wisdom to show itself. As I started to rest my brain, my body followed suit. I then started to become keenly aware of how tired my body and brain were with all the effort they were putting forth in the world. Not the conditions of space and spaciousness. If wisdom was there, no way was I going to hear it with all that clutter and clatter. page 22
Deepening Friendship In 2010, I asked for ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order. These past few years I have been on a path of deepening commitment to the Buddha, deepening practice of the Dharma, and deepening friendships within the Sangha. In May, surrounded by my fellow mitra sisters in the Dharma, I took another step to deepen my friendships. In a sweet and affirming ceremony with Amala, Khemavassika and Lilasiddhi became my Kalyana Mitras (KM) – a term that means beautiful friend. Spiritual friendship, said the Buddha, is the whole of the spiritual life, and that is particularly true in the Triratna Buddhist Community with the emphasis on Sangha and friendship.
Amala, as a private preceptor, led the kalyana mitra (KM) ceremony at Nagoloka in Portland, ME, where Khemavassika and Lilasiddhi became Mary Schaefer’s spiritual friends.
from the editors
Sorrow: Gateway to Action, Compassion, Joy by David Watt Co-editor, Vajra Bell Four times a year, we have the privilege of publishing the Vajra Bell, and I have the opportunity to write in this space. I generally reflect on the quality of the writing we receive and the joy and comfort I experience at Aryaloka. While this issue is filled with wonderful essays, articles and poetry (please read them), world events have drawn my attention to why I practice in the first place. Several years ago after the Sandy Hook massacre, Shrijnana led a simple memorial ceremony in the shrine room. She placed the large gong in the center of the dome and rang it 27 times – once for each of those killed. We then meditated. As I meditated on compassion, I was engulfed by sorrow. Soon I was choking back sobs. I stayed until everyone left so that I could weep openly. In the wake of the recent tragedy in Orlando, I had a similar experience while meditating.
The idea that one man, acting out of his own anger and despair, could destroy so many beautiful lives is disturbing enough, but the reality of it again opened up a well of sorrow. Trying to develop wisdom in the face of these tragedies that strike so close to home – not to mention the countless other daily tragedies in the world – I can feel like I’m living in denial. How is it possible to reconcile the anger I feel with the desire to be compassionate to all beings? How is it possible to believe that my practice and what little acts of generosity I and my fellow practitioners do can somehow blunt the momentum of the evil that exists? If I have learned anything from the Dharma, it is to take a long, expansive view. The suffering of the victims and their families and those who grieve with them will diminish and transform over time. Acting with compassion, we can help with that process. Those who were killed did not live in vain. Our world and our lives are richer because they were here. If we act
skillfully, we can help the world learn to celebrate the gay community and, by extension, ourselves. We can celebrate their courage and vitality and realize that maybe we have those qualities, too. One realization I had during these experiences of sorrow is that I tend to use anger to avoid sadness, because sadness is so much more painful. Just as aversion is a hindrance in meditation, it is also a hindrance in life. Using anger to avoid sadness means that I also avoid the skillful states that can arise as it passes – appreciation for the good things in life, opportunities for reconciliation, and acceptance of the path forward. The Dharma teaches me to value, if not love, these moments of sorrow. These are moments for transformation, not despair. Sorrow is not permanent. It is a gateway to action, compassion and joy.
spirituality vitality council by Dh. Khemavassika Aryalokaâ€™s Spiritual Vitality Council (SVC) meets monthly to review all aspects of the center's efforts to provide for the spiritual needs of our community. Members are Amala (co-chair), Vidhuma (co-chair), Dayalocana, Surakshita, Khemavassika, Arjava and Shrijnana, who recently joined our group. Our crowning achievement over the past few months was the updating of "A Vision for Aryaloka" that was drafted several years ago to guide the work of the board and the SVC. This document describes what Aryaloka will look like in five years, and the goals the center hopes to achieve by the end of that time. The vision looks
at all aspects of our operation, from facilities to the ideal composition of our Sangha. Aryalokaâ€™s Board of Directors will review and add to the document. The council reviewed ways in which it can promote cooperation with other Triratna centers in the area, particularly Boston, Portland and Portsmouth. Coordinating programs with other centers will prevent scheduling conflicts and allow for greater sharing of teaching resources. We also reviewed the possibility of working with other centers to share in the celebration of festival days. The council created procedures to address concerns about teachers that may come from sangha members. We reviewed the program for the second half of the year to ensure that we have a balanced program for members at all levels.
board notes by Barry Timmerman
to the right of the stupa. There is a grove of trees and in the center, a large glacial boulder serves as the In May, the Aryaloka focal point of the garden. Venera Board of Directors and Gattonini, a skilled craftsperson, is the Spiritual Vitality Council held their annual working on designs to hold Ayakejoint meeting, an oppor- maâ€™s ashes. There will eventually be tunity to review our progress and our benches in the area for meditation shared mission. Each entity reported and reflection. on initiatives, progress, challenges The July to December and a shared vision for the future of Programming Aryaloka. The Aryaloka events calendar for The board shared specifics on a the second half of 2016 is nearly variety of projects: finalized. We have a full schedule of workshops and retreats of varying The Stupa Landscaping Plan lengths, as well as days scheduled to We will need to raise funds for major landscaping around the stupa, celebrate Buddhist events that are but in the meantime, we will continue acknowledged all over the world. to groom the stupa area and begin to The Friends of Aryaloka plant flowers in strategic areas. This program is intended to create more connections in the community The Memorial Garden and for people to learn more about During the work weekend much us. We have a registration form in the progress was made on designating works. and clearing an area for a memorial garden, a lovely area just off the trail page 24
Sangha Care The development of this kula is moving along nicely. Rack cards and flyers are ready to be printed and the process of interviewing and selecting volunteers is under way. We also will be providing training for volunteers. Pledging We are reaching out to current pledgers to ask for an increase in their commitments and to encourage those who have not yet pledged to do so. A generous Sangha member will match any and all pledge increases. All board minutes are available for review on the bulletin board downstairs at Aryaloka. Feel free to speak with any board member about ideas or concerns. It is a gift to have the opportunity to be exposed to the Dharma and to have such an emphasis on Sangha.
poetry corner Kyoto Pilgrim Moments by Neil Harvey
This body and thought brush the radiant moment in empty space. A snap shot in ink: Heaven to Earth a man sweeps the rocks with dry twigs. Pink petals rain on the path. Pure Land chanters arch toward the after heaven while Zen men, open-eyed dare the cosmos to inform this umeboshi plum in an ochre dish.
Thoughts on Now
Away, beyond the branches, the voices of children chirp like a flock of ecstatic birds in a fruit filled tree.
We all have a limited number of trips around the sun. At the end of our last trip, we become a body in a box under six feet of earth, or a bag of ash for loved ones to scatter.
Dripping cedars anointed with rope, the worship of fox and dragon, rice and water, tea. From across the ancient garden, the bamboo water dipper goes "clack." Three turtles wearing mud coats sun on a ledge shelf moored to the edge of the temple pond. A grandmother carp glides past, stirs the surface and disappears. We snap photos. Happy to brush this radiant moment in empty space.
photo: Neil Harvey
by Leslie Myers Strong
I will be no different. This I cannot change. No one has survived this realm we call life. But now? Now as I sit in solitude by the window, bathed in midwinter light, my cat by my side – I hear a dove coo, a neighbor slicing my quiet with his gun. I see the snow sparkle in the light. Now is infinite in possibility! Now is peace. Now is pain free. Now is the chickadee practicing his spring song, giving the blue jay permission to join in. Now is worry free. Now is filled with reflection and gratitude for all the “nows” that have guided me to this moment, this now. Now is malleable. Now can and will change in a breath.
upcoming retreats ing meditation. There will also be time during the day for personal contemSummer Stillness plation, yoga practice or deep rest. Meditation Retreat Over the course of five days there Led by Dh. Amala will be one or two optional private meditation reviews for each particiSeveral days of stillness, silence, pant. and meditation can be an important There will also be optional smallmeans to deeper understanding of group check-ins twice during the reourselves and the Dharma. Through treat for those who find sharing their reading and study, classes, and participation in sangha life, the Buddhist experience helps them to be conscious of the patterns and processes way of life gradually permeates. they are experiencing. Retreat time helps our learning soak We will hear short poems of through to our core, so that we are more consistently and fully expressing inspiration and will have chanting of mantras and/or offering of puja as we kindness and wisdom in our lives. find them helpful. On this retreat we will have sevWe will be in silence for the dueral formal meditation sessions each ration of the retreat apart from these day, including the practice of Mindsupportive sessions. fulness of Breathing, Metta Bhavana, In silence we can hear our inner open formless meditations and walk-
July 21 — 26
July 29 — 31
Yoga and Meditation Retreat Led by Molly Schlangen Dh. Satyada
In yoga we seek to find suitable grounding and remain aware of the transitions we make through shifting poses, all the while keeping the breath alive and vital in our practice. So, too, in meditation we must stay grounded while being open to our changing experience, perhaps anchored by the sensations of the
August 25 — 28 Introduction to Noble Silence Weekend Retreat Led by Dh. Bodhana Dh. Lilasiddhi
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.
breath. For this weekend retreat we will blend the approaches of yoga and meditation to reach a deeper expression of each. All the while cultivating both inner and outer awareness. The retreat leaders, Molly Schlangen and Satyada, appreciate the chance to work together to bring these opportunities for the integration of mind and body to the community. Please join us for this rejuvenating weekend.
On this weekend retreat we will be exploring the practice of Noble Silence – stillness of body, speech, and mind – and learning how to bring stillness into our daily lives. If you are considering attending a longer, multiday Noble Silence retreat, this event would be an excellent introduction. It will give you an idea of what to expect on the longer retreat and also what you may encounter as you go deeper within your practice. The Noble Silence retreats are open to people who have already learned
the mindfulness of breathing and Metta Bhavana or other meditation practices. Those brand new to meditation are recommended to attend our Living with Mindfulness weekend retreat or our Introduction to Meditation workshops and classes before registering for a Noble Silence retreat. This retreat will be led by Bodhana and Lilasiddhi, members of the Triratna Buddhist Order who have led several Noble Silence retreats at Aryaloka. Simple vegetarian food will be served.
upcoming day events and classes Introduction to Meditation and Buddhism
Silence and Stillness Day Retreat
July 6 to August 10 Wednesday evenings 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
On these six Wednesday evenings we will learn traditional Buddhist meditations and also explore basic Buddhist teachings. The three basic meditation forms taught will include the Mindfulness of Breathing, the Metta Bhavana or development of loving-kindness meditation, and walking meditation. These forms have been found to be supportive and helpful to most everyone by helping us to focus, to become more at ease, to know our own minds more fully. Buddhist teachings we’ll explore will include the five ethical precepts, the principle of conditionality or interconnectedness, and the Four Noble Truths. The course emphasizes how the Buddhist tradition applies to our lives and the world as we know it now. Led by: Meditation Teaching Team
Come and experience a day of quiet meditation on a long summer’s day. The Silence and Stillness retreat is a one day retreat dedicated to building a meditation practice. We will provide the time and space for growing a meaningful personal practice. This retreat is suitable for all levels, although most beneficial for anyone who has taken an introduction to meditation class. After the introductory portion of the day, we will be in silence, with light instruction, until the concluding discussion at the end of the day. There will be opportunities for individual meditation review meetings in the afternoon. Lunch and snacks will be provided. To register for a retreat, day event, or a class, please visit aryaloka.org/programs/ registration
Led by: Dh. Khemavassika
upcoming retreats September 23 — 25 Sublime Composure: Yoga and Meditation Retreat Led by Lona Kovacs Dh. Suddhayu With yoga and meditation we can cultivate a beautiful tranquility in the body and heart. We will explore how each practice enriches the other, contributing to a sustained calm that can change the way we live and our perception of the world around us.
Suitable both for beginners and experienced practitioners, we will learn the ancient Buddhist meditation practice of mindfulness of breathing, and the subtlety of practicing Ashtanga Yoga, focusing on pranayama, the Ashtanga asana sequence, modifications, and a period of learning about adjustments – both personal and hands on. There will be several sessions of each practice throughout the day, with plenty of breaks and time for discussion.
upcoming events JULY 09 10
Introduction to Meditation: Mindfulness of Breathing Children’s Sangha Led by Alisha Roberts
Deepening Practice Group Led by Dh. Amala and Dh. Khemavassika
Path of Practice: The Importance of Wisdom Led by Dh. Amala
Mindfulness and Health Presentation Led by Dh. Vidhuma
Summer Stillness Meditation Retreat Led by Dh. Amala
Introduction to Meditation: Metta Bhavana Led by Dh. Lilasiddhi
Children’s Sangha Led by Alisha Roberts
Deepening Practice Group Led by Dh. Amala and Dh. Khemavassika
Silence and Stillness Day Retreat Led by Dh. Khemavassika
Introduction to Noble Silence Retreat Led by Dh. Bodhana and Dh. Lilasiddhi
Men’s Going for Refuge Retreat Led by Men’s Ordination Team Introduction to Meditation 6-week Course Led by Meditation Teaching Team Sublime Composure: Yoga and Meditation Retreat Led by Lona Kovacs and Dh. Suddhayu Deepening Practice Group Led by Dh. Amala and Dh. Khemavassika
Ancient Wisdom Study Day: Teragatha Led by Dh. Surakshita Yoga and Meditation Retreat Led by Molly Schlangen and Dh. Satyada
Information on the upcoming retreats, day events and classes are located on pages 26 – 27. To register for a retreat, please visit aryaloka.org/category/retreats
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 Dh. Amala, Dh. 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
In this issue: The Path of Practice