VAJRA BELL Volume 8 Issue III
Perfection of Action
Looking at Ways We Can Make Ethical Decisions By Dh. Karunasara
ith Perfect Vision, we understand that absolutely everything is dependent on a myriad of conditions. As we begin to understand and experience this, our mind changes. We do not see beings as separate from ourselves. In the Dhammapada we read: Experiences are preceded by mind, See Also: led by mind and “Do and Don’t: produced by mind. Right Action If one speaks or and the Noble Eightfold Path” acts with an impure mind, suffering fol- Page 7 lows even as a cart wheel follows the hoof of the ox (drawing the cart). Experiences are preceded by mind, led by mind and produced by mind. If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows like a shadow that never departs. (1) A Perfect Action is based on a positive mind state that reflects the understanding that all of us are beings in a continual process of change, the result of a myriad of conditions. We are insubstantial. This is
our common basis. Also, we wish to be happy, as do all other sentient beings. Reflecting on this we see that a Perfect Action will bring happiness to both ourselves and others. This brings us to the question; how do we know what constitutes a Perfect Action? In Buddhism, actions are frequently classified as skillful and unskillful. A skill-
ful action results in a positive result. An unskillful action results in a negative result. The Precepts tell us what Perfect Action is: 1. We undertake to abstain from taking life and practice deeds of lovingkindness.
Aryaloka Buddhist Center 14 Heartwood Circle, Newmarket, NH 03857
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From the Editor By Eric Wentworth For the last several issues, we have been taking a look at the Eightfold Path, and in this issue we move from Right Speech into Right Action. We’ve glimpsed a vision of reality which has deeply and emotionally penetrated our understanding, and this in turn has affected how carefully we express ourselves. Now this understanding has an effect on not just our speech, but every other sphere of our lives, permeating all of our actions. Right Action is the realm of ethical behavior. For most Buddhists, this begins in earnest by paying close attention to adhering to the Five Precepts. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana compares this beginning stage of moral development to a parent’s warning not to touch a hot stove. The warning is needed at first, but later, “When the children grow up, they realize that their par-
ents’ rules existed to prevent certain kinds of harm.” We do seem to grow into ethics very much in this way. Over time, after many successes and failures in practicing the precepts fully, we begin to incrementally understand what kinds of harm and mental states they are meant to prevent. We start to see how deeply the implications of each precept go and how far-reaching they are. Our attention to them becomes refined and we may find ourselves naturally supplementing the actions we are abstaining from with their corresponding positive actions - moving from harm to loving-kindness, greed to generosity, and so on. After very long and strong practice, our understanding of pratitya samutpada would become so deeply rooted and intuited that we would find ourselves unable to act in a way that would break the precepts. Right Action would arise in us out of a fundamental understanding of what effect our actions truly have and eventually would blossom into Perfect Action. Enlightened action will finally align itself with reality.
On the full moon eve of May 2010, our sangha gathered to celebrate the Enlightenment of the Buddha Shakyamuni and the name change of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order to the Triratna Buddhist Community. The name Western Buddhist Order (ordained men and women) was changed to Triratna Buddhist Order. In English, Triratna means Three Jewels, referring to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The new name, first
Contact Information Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center 14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-5456 email@example.com www.aryaloka.org
Aryaloka Council Dayalocana firstname.lastname@example.org Saddhamala email@example.com Amala firstname.lastname@example.org Vihanasari email@example.com Candradasa firstname.lastname@example.org Viriyalila email@example.com Tom Gaillard firstname.lastname@example.org Arjava email@example.com
Musings from the Chair By Dh. Dayalocana
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proposed by our founder Sangharakshita, serves to unite centers and sangha members, East and West, throughout the world. Triratna reminds us that the Three Jewels are at the heart of our Buddhist practice. In June, during Friends Night at Aryaloka, our sangha rejoiced in Dharmacharini Amala who stepped down as Aryaloka’s Program Director after many years of dedicated service. Amala created programs for all of us that were rich in opportunities for learning the teachings of the Buddha and putting them into practice. She has served with a commitment that flows from her love for the Dharma, the value she places FROM THE CHAIR
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The Aryaloka Council minutes are now posted on the bulletin board at the foot of the stairs.
Vajra Bell Kula Eric Wentworth, Chair firstname.lastname@example.org Vihanasari email@example.com Stephen Sloan firstname.lastname@example.org Suzanne Woodland email@example.com Elizabeth Hellard firstname.lastname@example.org Daniel Bush email@example.com Ashley Bush firstname.lastname@example.org
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How Can You Contribute to the Vajra Bell? As a sangha, one of the most important things we do is to share our individual experiences of the spiritual life. By contributing our own stories to the richly-flavored stew of Dharma life that surrounds our center, we create strong connections between each other and strengthen each others’ practices, sometimes without even knowing it. Just by telling another person about something you know or an experience you’ve had, you may provide the missing part to a puzzle that has been unfinished in their mind. You may bring them peace, simply in the knowledge that they are not the only one struggling with an issue. You might say the right word at just the right moment that will alter their lives forever.
FROM THE CHAIR Continued from Page 2
on practice opportunities and her wish for all of us to have opportunities to grow, change and benefit from the teachings. For the next few months Amala will have some time away to attend a month-long meditation retreat in California and another at Akashavana Retreat Center in Spain. When she returns in November we are pleased that Amala will continue to teach and lead events at Aryaloka. We send her our thanks, our gratitude and wishes for her well-being and happiness in the months ahead. At the end of August, we will come together for a week-long celebration of Aryaloka and recollections of the changes over the past 25 years. The growth of our Center and spiritual community has come about through the determined efforts of many people. Touched by the Three Jewels, each individual has made a decision to generously give their energy, time, skills, or resources to create conditions for the Dharma to flourish and the sangha to grow. Thank you for all you have contributed and all you will contribute. May our efforts continue to be strong, our kindness deep and may clarity abound. ~ Dharmacharini Dayalocana Chair, Aryaloka Buddhist Center Triratna Buddhist Community
With this in mind, if you’ve ever been interested in contributing to the Vajra Bell, this is the time to do it! Have you taken an amazing photo lately? We can use one! Trying your hand at poetry? We’re eager to share one of your poems. If you’ve attended a retreat or event at an FWBO center, we would love to have you write something about it for us. If you have a great website to share, a Dharma movie you’re eager to talk about, or a page-turner of a Buddhist book that you have to let everyone know about, let us know! There are so many ways that you can enrich the pages of the Vajra Bell let your imaginations run wild! So, you say that you’re not a great writer? Well, now is the chance to chal-
lenge that self-view. The Vajra Bell kula has among its volunteers an excellent set of editors to help you on your way. Have an idea, but you’re not sure if it’s prime-time material? Let us know what you’re thinking - it may grow from a seedling thought into a solid story. The important part is to take the leap. You never know what will happen unless you give it a shot, and there may be someone out there just waiting for what you have to say. To contribute, or to suggest an idea for a future issue of the Vajra Bell, you can contact any of the kula volunteers, listed in the contact column on page two of this issue, by email or in person.
The Council By Vihanasari The budget has been completed for the present, shortened, fiscal year – June 1 to December 31. The Center is in the process of moving to a calendar year budgetary schedule. As in other years, the budget can be adjusted as necessary. The Council approved repairs to the roof over the bookstore in order to correct the leaks that have developed over time. Kitchen renovations were also approved and, as of this writing, almost complete. In addition, improvements were made to the tea service area and the laundry room. Additional work to the ceiling in the yoga room will be done if finances allow and all work will be completed in time for this summer’s extended retreats. The incorporation of the Aryaloka Buddhist Center in New Hampshire (transferred from Massachusetts) has been completed. Our bylaws have been amended and a dissolution policy has been developed as required by law. The Council will continue to work with Jean Corson on vision and mission statements as well as restructuring. Council members expressed much ap-
preciation for the wonderful job done by the pledge drive kula, led by Tom Gaillard – sadhu!! It was agreed to move forward with replacing Amala as program director and to further define the parameters of that position. In addition, ways to broaden and share Dayalocana’s current responsibilities will also be considered. Shantigarbha will be visiting Aryaloka from the UK from Sept. 21 to Nov. 20. Manjuvajra, Nagabodhi, Dhammarati, and Dayanandi will be our honored guests at our 25th anniversary celebration at the end of August and beginning of September. Sangha members are welcome to attend Council meetings. Please contact Dayalocana in advance at dayalocana@ comcast.net. The Council will next meet on July 14 at 6:10 p.m.
Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you!
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Sangha Notes - “What’s Happening?” By Suzanne Woodland “Meditate, meditate, meditate!” enthuses one of our senior Order members with some regularity. Such exhortation is gently delivered, accompanied by a smile and overflowing with encouragement. This spring there have been plenty of opportunities at Aryaloka for meditation practitioners of all experience levels. For those seeking an introduction to meditation, Vihanasari led day retreats in April and May to introduce the two foundational meditation practices: Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana. Amala led the Introduction to Meditation day offered in June and Narottama offered a six-week Wednesday evening introductory course combining meditation and Buddhism. In May, Sunada and Viriyalila welcomed weekend retreatants to explore Living with Mindfulness. Open to those of varied experience levels, the weekend offered the oppor-
tunity to explore the practice of mindfulness both on and off the meditation cushion. For those persons with meditation experience, Bodhipaksa led a four-week course on Wednesday evenings to explore Insight Meditation. He offered, as well, a weekend retreat devoted to the examination - through reflection, meditation and discussion - the flow of the elements in the ever-changing body. For yoga practitioners of all experience levels, the Open Heart Quiet Mind Yoga and Meditation Retreat, led by Michelle McComb and Arjava, presented another form of practice opportunity. Lily Sibley offered a yoga weekend in June. Tuesday night sangha activities continued to provide an opportunity for friends to gather for an evening of meditation, followed by Dharma study for those interested. Arjava continued to offer guided meditation/meditation support in the library as an alternative to the usual silent meditation in the shrine room. For the past two months, Amala has led an engaging study of ritual and devotion. Arjava and Suzanne explored the Noble Eightfold Path with participants. Complementing the meditation op-
portunities, the women’s mitra sangha has been exploring since early June the Four Mind-Turning Reflections (also known as the Four Reminders). This mitra study module invites reflection on the subjects of the preciousness of this human life, the transitoriness of life and the certainty of death, karma and consequences of action, and the dangers and defects of samsara. The men’s mitra sangha has been gathering on Monday evenings to investigate views: the views we hold of ourselves, the views we hold of others, the views we hold of reality itself. Both mitra programs are providing rich ground for investigation. For men of any level of experience, practice days continue to be held each month, the most recent practice day in June covering the topic of spiritual friendship. The most recent women’s practice day encouraged participates to explore how to work creatively with the hurdles and challenges of the spiritual life. The work weekend held in May was well-attended, with many hands helping to SANGHA NOTES
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How Teaching the Dharma at Aryaloka is Planned By Dh. Karunasara The Teaching kula is responsible for the curriculum and (overall) teaching at Aryaloka. Members of the kula coordinate with the program director and mitra
convenors to plan the program and guide educational offerings and study. The kula also interfaces with the Council regarding general oversight of our education and to ensure the continued focus of our mission to spread the Dharma as put forth by
Sangharakshita. A very important focus is to offer support, curriculum guidance, and resources for teachers. Members of the kula are, Amala, Akashavanda, Candradasa, Karunasara, Saddhamala, Vihanasari, and Viriyalila.
Policy for Retreat Deposits: Retreats/Classes/Solitaries Those registering for retreats (including solitaries) and classes of any length will be asked to pay a minimum deposit of one-half of the total cost. If a registrant cancels two weeks or more before the event, s/he will receive a refund of the amount paid, minus a $15 processing fee. If the cancellation is received less than two weeks before the event, the registrant will forfeit the minimum deposit. Forfeited deposits may not be transferred to another event.
Yoga Retreats Those registering for yoga retreats will be asked to pay the full cost in advance in order to finalize the registration. If a registrant cancels two weeks or more before the retreat, s/he will receive a refund of the amount paid minus $35 that may be credited to another event. If the cancellation is received less than two weeks before the event, the registrant will receive a refund of $100. Thirty-five dollars ($35) of the remainder may be credited to another event, the rest will be forfeited.
* * * * * Note: In both categories above, special circumstances will be taken into consideration. * * * * *
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News from Nagaloka By Gail Yahwak Happy summer to everyone from the Portland, Maine sangha of the Triratna Buddhist Community. Nagaloka welcomed our movement’s name change in May with a Wesak celebration led by Dharmasuri. We have finished our study on wisdom from the Dharma Training Course. What a great study, as we covered topics of karma and rebirth, conditionality, the Spiral Path and more. This study inspired much discussion, reflection and cooperative learning as we all allowed the Dharma to sink in and shine out. Dharmasuri and David arrived back from a trip to Bhutan. Dharmasuri reviewed the highlights from their trip during a much-appreciated potluck dinner. Maitrimani led a Wednesday night on the Eight Wordly Winds, followed by a Wednesday night led by Dharmasuri on A Taste of Freedom, Stream Entry and becoming a true individual. Nagaloka had a very successful fundraising day doing face painting at the Old Port Festival. Thank you VERY
much to all who came out to spread joy by decorating the faces of the children. Our mitra study group has just finished The Nature of Existence from Year Two of the Dharma Training Course. Thank you so much to Prassanavajri and Karunasara for coming to Nagaloka to facilitate this very inspiring study for our growing group of mitras! What a great opportunity this was to go deeper into the Dharma while strengthening our spiritual friendships. This summer begins with our sangha starting a new ten-week study on Wednesdays of the book Life with Full Attention by Maitreyabandhu. We are looking forward to this practical book and all the exercises that will help integrate mindfulness into our day-to-day life. Dharmasuri will lead another Intro Class on Tuesdays beginning in August. Our regular meditation sessions are Mondays at 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. Check out our website for coming events at www.nagalokabuddhistcenter.org (now on Facebook too).
News from the Concord Sangha Feeding Wolves By Rich Cormier A boy became filled with anger towards someone who had done him an injustice. His grandfather noticed his grandson’s demeanor and sat down next to him. After the boy had related the events, his grandfather said to him, “Let me tell you a story... “Many times I have felt great hate and anger for those who take so much, with no sorrow for what they have done. But hate only wears you down, and does not harm your enemy. It is like taking a poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times. “It’s as if there are two wolves inside of me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him. He is
forgiving and will seek out a way to mend the fences. He does not take offense when no offense is intended. “But... ah!... the other wolf. The littlest things will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone all the time. He cannot think because he only sees anger and hate. It is a helpless anger because it will change nothing. “Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves, for they are both hungry for my attention. They are at odds, trying to dominate my spirit – my peace of mind.” The boy looked into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins?” His grandfather smiled and said, “The one I feed.” The above Cherokee parable of the two CONCORD SANGHA
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News from the Boston Sangha By Dh. Sunada We’re homeless! Remember the heavy rains we had in March? Our humble little basement room got flooded with about an inch of water, which took several weeks to recede. Luckily, nothing was damaged. We knew we were in a flood-risk room, so we had everything stored well above ground, especially the zabutons zafus. But still… It’s now June, and we still haven’t been able to move back in. We’ve been a roving nomadic sangha, meeting at each others’ houses and wherever we could find space. We’ve got a couple of leads for places that we might move to, but nothing for sure yet. By the time you read this, I’m hoping we’ll have found a new home, but it’s possible that we won’t. If you know of a possible rental space in the Somerville/ Davis Square area, please let us know! We could use all the help we can get. You can contact us at <ask@BostonTriratna.org>. By the way, we also have a brand new website reflecting our brand new name. We’re now the Boston Triratna Buddhist Community and our website is www. BostonTriratna.org. A huge thank you and sadhu goes to Robin Summerhill for doing all the work to make it happen.
For Your Information... FWBO Centers in the U.S.: Newmarket, NH Portland, ME Lubec, ME Somerville, MA New York City, NY Missoula, MT San Francisco, CA Seattle, WA -- Richland, WA.
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Musings on Travel from Free Buddhist Audio By Dh. Viriyalila Free Buddhist Audio brings the Dharma to you digitally! Right here from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Free Buddhist Audio hosts over 900 audio talks on Buddhism and meditation on our website, as well as hundreds of seminar and lecture transcripts. Viriyalila started working for this dynamic team-based right livelihood project last fall, and is enjoying the work of doing a face-to-face, grassroots, ground-up fundraising tour. With two visits to the U.K. this spring, and presentations planned for the U.S. this summer, she’s been keeping very busy! She writes ~ “When my good friend Candradasa asked if I would consider taking the lead on Free Buddhist Audio’s fundraising campaign, my immediate thought was that I just wasn’t qualified. I have loads of experience working in management and bookkeeping, but none in fundraising. But, as we talked, I recalled how much of a fan I have been of the Dharmachakra tapes since I first became
PERFECT ACTION Continued from Page 1
2. We undertake to abstain from taking the not-given and practice generosity. 3. We undertake to abstain from sexual misconduct and practice stillness, simplicity and contentment. 4. We undertake to abstain from false speech and practice truthful communication. 5. We undertake to abstain from taking intoxicants and practice with mindfulness clear and radiant. These are general guidelines. We need to have a practical method to evaluate our actions. This brings us to the practice of ethics; the way we make decisions based on our beliefs. We all have a practice of ethics based on the beliefs we have incorporated from various aspects of our cultures. As Dharma practitioners we may change these beliefs as we view our interconnectedness. This will change our minds
a mitra. Had I not had access to listening to the lectures that Sangharakshita had given over the years, it is possible that I may not have become a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. And as I am comfortable with technology, love the internet, and am keen to learn new things, why not give it a try? We strategized for nearly six months, and as I faced a steep learning curve, I found myself coming back time and time again to a strong sense of faith, both in the project itself - representing the transmission of the Dharma - and also in the sangha, because without people to learn and live the Dharma, there would be no point! “As I began my training period and made my way through Google Analytics for the freebuddhistaudio.com website, I slowly began to take in just how many people we were contacting, which I found deeply inspiring. 150,000 users visited in 2009, from 180 different countries spread throughout the world. Here, at freebuddhistaudio.com, so many people from so many different cultures are coming into to contact
with our unique approach to the Dharma. I imagined all the individual people in Belarus, Slovakia, China, Bolivia and so on, tuning into our Dharma talks - to Bhante Sangharakshita, to my various mentors and teachers in the Order, to my friends. Oh, how my Metta Bhavana practice was transformed! “Once the training period was more or less complete, I made all the necessary detailed arrangements to embark on an ambitious U.K. centre fundraising tour. I stayed with the lovely Maitripushpa, who some of you will remember as Carol Bois, who worked here at Aryaloka for several years. From her place in West London, I got to know the U.K. public transport system very well as I made my way to eighteen centers and events around the country in two threeweek tours spanning the months of March through June. “Here are the places I’ve been during this tour….
to a positive focus. Some practical guidelines we can use to help us make ethical decisions are
• What are possible actions? We would not be thinking of this if there was only one possible action.
• Identify the problem clearly. Sometimes when it looks like another person’s actions are the problem, we see that the problem is actually our own perception of the situation.
• Which action will probably bring the most benefit and the least harm?
• Who does it affect? Our actions have effects like ripples caused by a pebble thrown into a pond. • What are your beliefs about right and wrong? • What precepts are involved? There are usually more than one because they are interrelated. • What is my emotional state that influences my perception of the situation?
FREE BUDDHIST AUDIO
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We don’t use all of these for every action. But as we work to make our actions positive and skillful in ways that bring happiness for us and others, we can stop and ask ourselves some or all of these questions at times. We may do this before, during, or after we take action. We are acting all the time. Our actions are always driven by our mind states which are influenced by our vision. As we keep ourselves aware of our actions and how they are based on our understanding of the Dharma, and as we practice skillful decision making, we become more adept at Right Action. (1) Dhammapada: the way of truth. Trans by Sangharakshita. P.13
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DO and DON’T: Right Action and the Noble Eightfold Path By Dh. Amala Right Action is the fourth “step” of the Noble Eightfold Path. Action is what we DO with our body, our speech, and even our mind. Action has intent and motivation behind it. Action is our views, values and motivations made visible, put out into the world where effects ripple out to connect us with others. As we practice Right Action we deepen our sensitivity to the effects we have on others and on our world. My mind asks, “How do I know what action is right in any given situation?” “Right” results in contentment, harmony, positive connection, and reduction in suffering and its causes. The “shorthand” for Right Action is stated in terms of the negative precepts, the DON’Ts. To abstain from killing or causing harm; from taking the not-given; and from sexual misconduct comprises Right Action. These simple strictures sound very easy. Simply don’t kill or intentionally hurt a living being. Simply don’t take property or take part in abusive exchanges. Simply don’t exploit, disrespect or misappropriate in intimate relations. Practice in this way constitutes a mind of renunciation and abstinence, both considered highly positive attitudes in Buddhist practice. As with all the precepts, action can be stated in positive form as well. Right Action is that which is love and compassion for beings; is generous giving to others; is simplicity and contentment in relationships. We become familiar with these words, with the beauty of the ideals. Of course we do not wish to harm, to take or to abuse! We want to be kind, open, responsible and content.
As action is our interior brought to the exterior, we must look inward first in this practice. The depth of our mind and sources of our motivation are in many ways not known even to ourselves, so we cannot be sure of always performing Right Action. We must get accustomed to asking and observing truthfully, “What is my state of mind?” Action stemming from wholesome and positive states of mind is “right.” Action stemming from the refined mind of a Buddha is “perfect.” This gives us a hint as to how to produce Right Action. We need to cultivate positive states of mind through mindfulness, through medi-
tation, through honest and harmonious communication, through managing the stimulus we subject ourselves to, through all the steps on the Eightfold Path! Every effort, every supportive context, every intention to be kind, will feed back to give us a happier mind. Acting the “right” way itself creates conditions for harmony in the mind. By doing the “right thing” (sharing, being respectful, helping someone), we are saved from regret or guilt. Our mind can be at ease. By appropriate action, we establish conditions for favorable future life outcomes; we are in good standing with our karma. Harmonious interpersonal relations follow from our right actions, making all of life easier and reducing cause for internal turmoil, strong emotions or discontent. Finally, if we are conscientious in our actions, a purification, or positive habituation begins which will support more inner stillness, a foundation for the arising of insight and wisdom. We gradually become less likely to succumb to distraction or envy, hatred, or other poisonous states. Then it is more likely that our actions will create beautiful, skillful ripples into the world. Thus there is a two-way conditioning of Right Action. The work we do to be honest within and to be fundamentally positive flowers into beneficial action. In mirror-like fashion the Right Action creates a world for us in which it is easier to maintain and deepen positive states. Action is supported by the whole Path. In the whole, inner and outer conditions work together to realize the loving, compassionate, freely shared and tranquil world of our ideals.
Library News By Samayadevi Ah, for summer days - lolling around on a beach, watching the waves lap the shore. Fireflies and moonlight on the flowers. Blue sky that never ends. Such lovely images. But don’t forget the rainy days - puddles like small ponds, the comforting sound of the rain tapping on the skylights in the Aryaloka library. Summer invites reading - on the beach or snuggled on the couch. And the library is a hidden resource for us all. This summer Hillary Kayser (daughter of Suzanne Woodland) will be our intern/ volunteer. It may be a happy first for us all (the library kula is thrilled)! There are new books to shelve, new categories to create, and all those books to return to their designated places. One of the new books (also in the bookstore) is Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and nutritionist Dr Lilian Cheung. It really is about not only savoring our food, but also savoring our life. A good read in any season. There has been a bit of a rethinking of the real purpose of our library and so you will notice a concentration on overtly LIBRARY NEWS
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Buddhaworks: From the Bookstore By Steve Cardwell Greetings and good wishes to everyone as we welcome summer to New England and look forward to Aryaloka’s 25th anniversary celebration, beginning at end of August. The bookstore is stocked with most of the books by Sangharakshita, our founder, as well as other titles by Order members from around the world. I would imagine that there is nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere where you will find as many books written by the authors of our worldwide sangha. Here is a sampling of what’s currently available: The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path By Sangharakshita - ($16.95) “Probably the best life coaching manual you’ll ever read. The key to living with clarity and awareness.” ~ The Sunday Times A Guide to the Buddhist Path By Sangharakshita - ($24.95) This accessible introductory guide explains the main features and principles of Buddhism in two parts. Part one explains the fundamentals, while part two tackles the practicalities.
Buddhaworks The Aryaloka Bookstore
* Meditation Candles * DVDs from Pema Chodron and Lama Surya Das * Meditation Journals * CDs from Thich Nhat Hanh
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* Singing Bowls * Brass Door Chimes from Nepal and India * Children’s Coloring Books * Lots and Lots of Great Books!
Your support brightens Aryaloka’s future. Buddhaworks is located at the Aryaloka Buddhist Center
Exploring Karma and Rebirth By Nagapriya - ($13.95) While appearing frequently in popular culture, the fundamental Buddhist themes of karma and rebirth are often misunderstood. In this guide, the author introduces and clarifies these complex concepts. Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life By Vajragupta - ($16.95) Listed as a top title in The Bookseller’s Religion Preview 2007. This is a guide for those seeking a meaningful spiritual path in busy and often hectic lives. Vajragupta provides clear explanations of the main Buddhist teachings, as well as a variety of exercises designed to help develop or deepen your practice. Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization By Analayo - ($24.95) This best-selling book offers a unique and detailed textual study of the Satipattahana Sutta, a foundational Buddhist discourse on meditation practice. “This book should BUDDHAWORKS
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Pledges to Aryaloka Increased for May! By Tom Gaillard Order members, mitras and friends stepped up this spring to support Aryaloka’s recent pledge drive. We’re pleased to report that in a year of economic uncertainty, support for Aryaloka reached fifty-nine pledges for a total of $2,978 per month! This was a nice increase from last year, when forty-six members pledged to Aryaloka. Pledges are an extremely important part of Aryaloka’s financial picture. The majority of our income comes from retreats and classes, which are subject to change due to weather, teacher availability and other factors. In contrast, the Center’s monthly expenses for the mortgage, heating, etc., never end! So, monthly pledges from our committed members are vital to continuing our mission of spreading the Dharma. This year’s campaign ran from March 23 to May 24, and in those two months we contacted members both near and far. We appreciate the outpouring of support, and are gratified that so many chose to join us with their dana. Thanks to you, Aryaloka steps into the future with firm support. Special thanks to the Pledge Drive kula of Elizabeth Hellard, Brian Jervis, Sheila Groonell, Prasannavajri, Tom Gaillard and Dayalocana for all their work. If you haven’t pledged yet, there’s still time: please call the office at 603-659-5456 or email@example.com.
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make Aryaloka cleaner, drier (some roof repair) and more beautiful. Thanks to all who participated. Rounding out Aryaloka’s spring offerings was a well-attended and inspiring Wesak celebration and two musical events. Heather Maloney shared her moving acoustic music in April, and in May, Sravaniya and his string quartet brought alive the music of Shostakovitch, Haydn and Mendelssohn. With great delight I report that our mitra sangha continues to grow with the addition of Shana Clark and Kathy St. Hilaire.
Kula Corner Kulas a Great Place to Practice Right Action By Sheila Groonell Right Action is the guiding principle for all Aryaloka’s kulas. Each person who joins a kula has some experience of Perfect Vision right here at Aryaloka. They imagine a more perfect community, a more perfect spiritual home that is possible here and now. Then they experience an upwelling of Right Emotion. They are drawn by the emotions of generosity, understanding and compassion to help create this more perfect spiritual home for all of us here at Aryaloka and the world beyond. At Aryaloka there are many who have operated with Right Vision, Right Emotion, and Right Action for years to create and grow our community. These include our long time program director, the members of the Aryaloka Council, and the members of the teaching kula to whom we owe our deepest gratitude. These are the people who have sustained and grown the vision of Aryaloka as a vital, warm, center of wisdom and compassion, dedicated to offering the Dharma to all beings. Who are these people to whom we owe so much? Firstly we embrace and thank our Programming Director Emeritus, Amala. She has been planning, scheduling, and running activities, instruction, retreats, and workshops here for many years. For so many of us, our first contact with the Dharma came through Amala, as did our inspiration, our encouragement, and our personal support. We owe her our deep and personal thanks for all she does for all of us. Her Right Action has conditioned all our experiences at Aryaloka.
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Dharma books instead of shelves of ‘world literature’. Of course the Dharma is everywhere, but space is limited and there are so
Next we express our deep gratitude to the Aryaloka Council, who have set our course for realizing the Dharma in our lives. There have been many over the years whose presence on the Council have provided the leadership Aryaloka has needed. These include Amala, Arjava, Dayalocana, Saddhamala, Vihanasari, and Council Member Emeritus, Vidhuma. More recently, Candradasa, Tom Gaillard, and Viryalila have joined and added their valuable skills to the Council. Finally, we thank the teaching kula, those who have continually provided Dharma instruction so that we all may grow in wisdom and compassion. Senior members of this kula include the ubiquitous Amala, Dayalocana - who founded the teaching kula so many years ago Karunasara, who has taught in both the West and East coast Triratna Communities, and Saddhamala, who has inspired and guided generations of mitras into the Aryaloka sangha. This year Akashavanda and Vihanasari have joined the teaching kula to our great benefit. So, in this edition of the Kula Corner, I call our attention to those whose Perfect Vision and Perfect Emotion have drawn them to Perfect Action; to creating, guiding, and maintaining our spiritual community so that we all may know, practice and realize the Dharma. Sadhu, one and all. Please take the time to express your personal thanks to these precious sangha members to whom we owe so much. May their dedication and action inspire us all to offer ourselves to the service of the Dharma, our Aryaloka community, and thus to all beings. many other places we can access the classics of literature. Please come see the changes, and let your curiosity lead you to discover new books and new categories. Most of all, enjoy summer in all its weathers.
By Eric Wentworth
By Dan Bush
In what seems a very short period of time our experience using the Internet has become dramatically different. The Web has become a social sphere. Millions of times a minute people across the world are sharing their photos, posting their thoughts in blogs, tweeting on Twitter, updating Facebook, sharing news stories, uploading videos to YouTube, and sending emails back and forth. As many people as there are creating content online, there are many more who are viewing it. And there are a multitude of ways to consume this information. We spend more and more time online, and it’s changing the very fabric of our culture. Like most dramatic cultural changes, this change has potential for positive as well as negative effects. On the positive end of things, we have access to just about any information we could ever want or need. There is always someone out there who knows how to make or fix something and puts it online, or whose collection of personal resources have been shared so that others might benefit. Instant communication between parties has also been surprisingly effective as a tool in activism, as was demonstrated by the use of Facebook and Twitter during the 2009 Iranian election and during thencandidate Barack Obama’s presidential bid. Social networking can be used to keep families and friends in touch when other communication is difficult, and it can revitalize or create new connections between people. In this next phase of the Internet, what began as a free flow of information has become a community. This tempers one of the earlier criticisms of the Internet - that it pushes
“The Buddha” (2010), 120 minutes, Unrated Available on Netflix or at http://video.pbs.org/video/1437891739
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Psychedelic is not a word that I’d typically use to describe documentaries about the Buddha, but this one-hour new release by director David Grubin is not only experimental but mind-expanding. Ashley and I watched the free version of this movie on the PBS website (one short clip after one short clip) and we just loved it! The storyline is simple and chronologically ordered. The downloadable web version is divided into nine segments. Beginning with Birth & Youth, the story continues with Seeking, Enlightenment, Teachings, Community, Meditation, Compassion, Miracles, and Death and Legacy. The story is told in a way that is eminently watchable, even for the non-Buddhist. David Grubin tells the life story of the Buddha by weaving in video from modern day India, narration by Richard Gere, animation set to music and interviews with scholars, monks and poets. The first segment of the Enlightenment story (6:23 minutes) is typical of the movie’s flavor. It begins with the simple imagery of animated brown and tan stripes across the screen. Quickly, they become furrowed, rolling hills and Indian dancing girls are seen in the distance. Bells and music play as a narrator be-
gins to tell a story: “Years before, when Siddhartha was a small boy, his father, the king, had taken him to a spring planting festival. While he watched the ceremonial dancing and seeds being sown, he looked down at the grass. He thought about the insects and their eggs, destroyed as the field was planted. He was overwhelmed with sadness.” As we watch the dancers grow ever larger on the screen, they begin to turn and the view shifts to that of a bird. The dancers, now spinning discs, merge with the ground and become anthills scattered across the surface of the earth. Suspenseful percussions and bells continue to set the mood as black ants scurry between the hills and we are now beneath the earth, moving amidst eggs and tunnels when suddenly, a boot comes. It crushes the anthill and the particles of earth begin to move, slowly forming a rope of earth that twists into a spiral. As we watch tiny black ants re-enter the spiral path, we hear the voice of the poet, Jane Hirshfield: “One great tap-word of Buddhism is compassion, which is the deep affection that we feel for everything because we’re all in it together.” And as the story continues we are joined at key points by the psychiatrist, Mark Epstein, the monk Venerable Metteyya Sakyaputta and then the scholar D. Max Moerman. Later in the movie the Dalai Lama, as well as other practicing Buddhist monks, offer their own insights. This movie is a trip - a kaleidoscope of imagery, insight and history that not only brings the Buddha’s path and work to life but enunciates the Dharma and gives us a visual perspective on the origins of our Sangha ancestors. PBS advertises the DVD for $25 and this consciousness-expanding documentary is well worth it.
Please be sure Aryaloka’s windows stay closed in winter and remember to close them when leaving the center in warmer months. Thank you!
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Setting the Stage for Aryaloka’s 25th Anniversary By Shir Haberman The year was 1985. The life expectancy in the United States was less than seventy-five years, an average new home cost $100,800 and the median household income was $23,618. Gasoline cost $1.20 a gallon, a dozen eggs were eighty cents and a gallon of milk was $2.26. It was a tumultuous time. Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term, and 8,000 people died in an earthquake that shook Mexico City. Thousands of college students protested apartheid in South Africa, thirty people died as a result of rioting at European soccer games and AIDS was the pre-eminent health concern, with the military beginning the testing of all its personnel and actor Rock Hudson announcing that he had contracted the disease, from which he subsequently died. International terrorism was rampant. TWA Flight 847 bound for Rome from Athens was hijacked to Beirut and the infamous takeover by armed Islamic fundamentalists of the Achille Lauro cruise ship resulted in the death of an American. In the midst of this national and international turmoil something amazing was happening in the small town of Newmarket, New Hampshire, that would change the lives of hundreds - if not thousands - of people over the course of the next twentyfive years. Manjuvajra, a member of the Western Buddhist Order, had come from the United Kingdom to teach classes in Jamaica Plains, Mass., three years earlier. He was looking for a place that would house a retreat center here in the U.S., and came across a flyer that advertised what he and Bob Ebberson (now Thiradhamma) thought sounded like an interesting property in southeastern New Hampshire. The two visited the location off Shady Lane on Heartwood Circle in Newmarket, viewed its interesting geodesic domes and decided it fit the bill. What made the property even more interesting was that the owner was willing to finance the purchase, since neither Manjuvajra nor Ebberson had
Calendar of Events Saturday, Aug. 28th Opening Ceremonies and Picnic Noon to 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29th Open House All Day Monday-Friday, Aug. 30th - Sept. 3rd Meditation - 7:30 & 8:15 a.m. daily Evening Activities - 7:00 p.m. daily Saturday, Sept. 4th Concluding Ceremonies and Puja Noon to 4:00 p.m.
the necessary money. On July 26, 1985, the mortgage papers were signed. On Aug. 3, Manjuvajra, Ratnapani and Dharmabandhu moved in, and just a few days later, on Aug. 9, Aryaloka’s first two-week retreat was held. Over the next 25 years, much has changed. The structures on the property have been repaired and made more comfortable, and programs aimed at teaching and practicing the Dharma have been developed and held. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people from across New England and from further away have journeyed to Newmarket to get a taste of Buddhism as practiced by the Order. Some have come for a program or two, some have made Aryaloka their spiritual home and others have chosen to deepen their commitment to the Buddhist life by becoming mitras and then Order members. As Buddhists, we understand that time is simply a convention. The past is gone, the future is unknown and all that we have is this present moment. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment,” the Buddha said. However, as with all creations of our minds, how we think about time - what has gone before and what will be in the future - can either be a source of suffering or imbue this present moment with a sense of purpose and meaning. Knowing and re-
spectfully honoring the past can be a tool to increasing awareness. In recognition of the opportunity for cultivating awareness the 25th anniversary of the founding of Aryaloka provides, a kula has been formed to plan a celebration of that event. While plans are still somewhat in flux, the following outline of events set to honor that anniversary has been established that will involve both members of the Aryaloka sangha and interested people from the greater Seacoast community: Saturday, Aug. 28: 12 noon until 2:30 or 3 p.m. - Opening ceremonies - procession and unfurling of celebratory banners followed by a picnic for friends and families of Aryaloka Sunday, Aug. 29: Open House Aryaloka open to all and to special invited guests from the community. A good time to come have a tour and hear about what goes on at Aryaloka, experience a short guided meditation and enjoy the grounds. Monday through Friday, Aug. 30-Sept. 3: Join us for meditation each morning at 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., hosted by Surakshita and others. Come for an evening activity at 7 p.m. each day. Daily evening programs include talks from senior Order members who have been part of Aryaloka, a practice evening of meditation and puja, and a panel reminiscence and sharing from members who were involved at Aryaloka during its first decade. Special guests include Nagabodhi, president of Aryaloka since the beginning, and Manjuvajra, founding Order member of the center. Saturday, Sept. 4: 12 noon - 4 p.m. - Concluding ceremonies and special puja dedicated to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, followed by a tea. It promises to be a week of learning and deepening. All members of the Aryaloka sangha, at whatever their level of commitment, are invited to come for some or all of the above events. The members of the Anniversary kula are: Viriyagita, Surakshita, Viriyalila and Amala. They can be reached through the Aryaloka office.
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Arts at Aryaloka
“Dharma Dyeing Day” Arts Event Planned for August By Dh. Kiranada Spring moves into summer, the Aryaloka garden blooms and overflows. Our desire to stay present and mindful increases as we watch the depth of summer’s colors displayed on our mind’s canvas. The arts are alive at Aryaloka in so many ways! Bhante Sangharakshita reminds us of what these arts can bring to our lives - invigorating our practice, refining our emotional lives and opening new ways of experiencing our meditative states. We are committed to sharing contemplative arts events with the sangha on a regular basis through music, poetry, visual arts, meditation, and participatory activities. In August we will join hands in contemplative art practices at the Dharma Dyeing Day on August 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Wear old clothes, bring your enthusiasm, a bag lunch and rubber gloves as we gather to ‘resist dye’ (shibori in Japanese) twelve 12-foot banners for Aryaloka under the direction of Kiranada. We will spend the day preparing, binding, and clamping cloth, mixing dyes, washing and immersion dyeing yards of white cotton cloth in brilliant colors, preparing our ‘Bali’ banners to be erected on our forest road for the anniversary festivities. Mindfulness will be remembered at each step as we reflect on Buddha’s seminal teaching: “It is only the white cloth that takes instantly the color of a dye; only the purified mind that takes the truth of the Dharma.” It will be a lovely, exciting, purifying contemplative day! Call the office now (659-5456) and say you are coming. Limited participation.
String Quartet Evening Stunning By Dh. Kiranada Nectar for the ears! That’s how the astoundingly beautiful concert by the Aryaloka String Quartet was described on May 12. It was a wonderful evening - festive, highly informative, deeply emotional and celebratory. The Aryaloka Strings feature musicians Mark Latham (Sravaniya) on violin, Beth Welty on violin, Noralee Walker on viola, and Sandi-Jo Malmon on cello - all renowned musicians from the Boston area - organized by Sravaniya, of the Boston Sangha. Cheers of Sadhu were heard following the very rousing rendition of Shostakovich’s “autobiographical” Eighth Quartet. We learned that it was written in 1960 during a moving visit to the city STRING QUARTET
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Vajradaka Leads UK Workshops on Meditation and Creativity From Triratna Buddhist Community News
“My own take on what helps creativity is to firstly find ways to help the mind be flexible and adaptable. This is an ongoing Vajradaka writes with some news about process of discovering and dealing with the his work with meditation and creativity. ways the mind has become rigid and unVajradaka is one of the longest-ordained yielding. Another way of describing this is unblocking the mind so it can flow and be members of the directed in a full and focused way. Order and was for “Second is to nourish the seeds of cremany years chairativity, by tapping into the explicit and imman of Vajraloka plicit inner-knowledge and resources which Meditation Retreat Centre in North give the mind richness and authenticity. This includes stimulating the imagination, Wales. He says, intuition and clarity of thought. “For many “Thirdly is the whole area of triggering years I have been combining my experience as a meditator and catalysing the potential of creativity by and being actively creative with arts, crafts exploring how the various levels and facand writing. The relationship and combi- ulties of the mind can come into relationnation of meditation and creativity seems ship with each other in a fresh and dynamic way. very natural to me.
“My experience is that when I am paying attention to these areas as an ongoing process I can be creative in any form, including solving problems and the generation of new ideas. These three areas can all be developed by meditation and inner-work exercises.” During May and June Vajradaka offered three workshops at the London Buddhist Art Centre on the themes of: “Clear a Space” - Coming into a flowing and adaptable state of mind. “Nourish the Ground” - Exploring explicit and implicit inner-knowledge and resources. “Trigger the Potential” - Entering the frame of mind from which creativity can emerge. You can find Vajradaka online at http:// creativengagement.wordpress.com
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Poetry Corner Wesak Joy The swiftest, sweetest pen could ne’er indite What joy Thou hadst upon that Wesak Night; And though a voice such as the stars may have Should breast all music as a swan the wave And bear on to the utmost verge of sound, They could not utter forth Thy joy profound. And this I know; for now, by following Thee With first weak steps to Perfect Purity, I bear within my heart a mite of bliss, And bearing, cannot even utter this.
The Unseen Flower Compassion is far more than emotion. It is something that springs Up in the emptiness which is when you yourself are not there, So that you do not know anything about it. Nobody, in fact, knows anything about it (If they knew it, it would not be Compassion); But they can only smell The scent of the unseen flower That blooms in the Heart of the Void. All poems by Sangharakshita
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of Dresden, destroyed by the fire-bombing of fifteen years before. The inspiration, major themes, and various movements were explained during a short lecture by Sravaniya with the musicians demonstrating -- greatly adding to the understanding and enjoyment of the piece. Amazingly so, Sravaniya was able to screen actual video footage of the night bombing of Dresden during this moving rendition. Some of us
were on the edge of our seats, so full of admiration and appreciation for this gift of music played in a dome in the woods and not a major concert hall. Described as a “profoundly moving work” by Shostakovich, this one piece was an amazing tour de force by the Aryaloka String Quartet; however, the program was completed with the contrasting works by Haydn and Mendelssohn. We expect (hope) that this superlative group will play again at Aryaloka. Make a
note. It is an evening NOT to be missed. Sravaniya is also composing a piece for our Aryaloka 25th Anniversary event later in August. It is a brass fanfare based on portions of an Avalokitesvara mantra and promises to be something quite special. We are exceedingly fortunate to have so many talented members of the Triratna Buddhist Order who willingly share their knowledge and talents, enhancing our lives in beautiful ways. Thank you. Thank you.
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Engaging Oneself - Body, Speech and Mind - in Puja By Stephen Sloan
titioners in the West have difficulty with ritual. “Only too often in the West our approach to Buddhism is too one-sided. We pick and choose what we feel suits us, and the result is that part of us is simply never engaged in our practice. We may meditate and study, but if we miss out on devotion and ritual, part of us is not involved. We need a Buddhist tradition in the West which provides not only for the head, not only for the heart,
but even for the body and speech.” - Sangharakshita from The Essential Sangharakshita, pg. 458 So, engage all of yourself in your practice. Each month on the Friday nearest the full moon there’s an opportunity to join together at Aryaloka for an experience of devotion and ritual. Please join us and feel the blessings of this collective expression of respect for the Three Jewels - through body, speech and mind.
wolves relates to our habits and how we encourage their continuation through our own actions and choices. This may be done consciously, or for some, unconsciously, but ultimately the responsibility for which wolf we choose to feed lies within ourselves. Paying attention, staying on our toes, is a necessary step towards recognizing our tendencies, our feeding habits. For it is in our ability to notice our thoughts and discern their skillfulness that we find a choice. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, feeling, mental phenomena and truths of the laws of experience (Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, Shambhala 1987) are just the grounding or centering tools I need. At any time, I can choose to recognize, to
be mindful of what I am experiencing in the body or mind. What am I feeling right now? What are my thoughts, my experiences? How is my body doing? Do I feel tension? If I can notice and switch off the autopilot, I will be able to steer myself back on course using any or all of the Foundations. How do I recognize when the wolf of stress or anger has come to feed? I can honestly say that sometimes this wolf begins to feed and eats quite a bit before I notice. But, that’s not the point. Just noticing that the wolf is feeding is an accomplishment. When I am able to notice, the second I do notice, the perpetuation of the mental state has stopped. Yet, the best defense is always a good offense. By this I mean, that by cultivating and maintaining skillful mind-states I develop a habit of skillful action and I am
better able to notice when I am feeding the angry wolf. I feed Wolf of Mindfulness in several ways. One way is by chanting a mantra or repeating a phrase. Sometimes I visualize an image of the Buddha, who is always smiling at me, and I smile back. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, going for refuge through the study of the Dharma, talking with a friend and contemplating are also ways I feed the Wolf of Mindfulness. If I am busy doing something skillful, the Wolf of Distraction and Negativity finds it difficult to “get his foot in the door.” Be immersed in the Dharma. Follow the Eightfold Path. Notice “Let-Go-Return.’ “There are a slew of actions I can do to feed the Wolf of Harmony, Love and Compassion - nobody can eat the same meal every single day. It is the variety that helps keep it fresh, exciting and focused.
ethical principles, which together provide a comprehensive guide to the moral dimensions of human life. Many readers will find this essay an invaluable source of stimulation and insight in their quest for ethical standards by which to live.
Puja is an expression of devotion in a ritual fashion. As such it aims to involve all of ourselves in our practice - to involve our speech and bodies, not just our minds. Erich Fromm defines ritual as “shared action, expressive of common strivings, rooted in common values.” So, puja is a collective practice that engages us at all levels. For reasons that aren’t clear, many prac-
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prove to be of value both to scholars of Early Buddhism and to serious meditators alike.” ~ Bhikkhu Bodhi Teachers of Enlightenment by Kulanada - ($25.95) In this book, Kulanada explains the significance of the figures on the Refuge Tree of the Triratna Buddhist Order (formerly called the Western Buddhist Order). These teachers, each in their own way, have all changed the world for the better, playing a part in the creation of the rich Buddhist tradition we
A Guide to the Deities of the Tantra By Vessantara - ($18.95) This guide is a fascinating insight into a subject that has captured the imagination of many but remains mysterious and exotic to all but a few. Devoid of pop culture misperceptions, this guide is a window into world of Buddhist Tantra. The Ten Pillars of Buddhism by Sangharakshita - ($11.95) The Ten Pillars of Buddhism are ten
Buddha is as Buddha Does By Lama Surya Das $14.95 The ten original practices for enlightened living. “We are all Buddhas by nature. We only have to recognize and awaken to that fact - and anyone can do it.”
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Sangha Celebrates Name Change at Wesak By Dan Bush On May 21st, all around the world, Buddhists celebrated Wesak, the Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment. For us, this year’s celebrations were of two-fold significance. Together with celebrating the Buddha’s realization of ultimate truth, members of the FWBO recognized and celebrated a name change from “The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order” to “The Triratna Buddhist Community.” The festivities at Aryaloka were joyful and enthusiastic. The significance of the event for Aryaloka was evident in the heartfelt participation of all of those present. Our movement’s new name, “Triratna” (said ‘tree – rot – na’) means “Three Jewels.” The name change was announced by
Sangharakshita in January of this year in response to a decades-old discussion of uniting, under one name, the FWBO and its sister movement in India, the Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana (TBMSG). Although each movement has its own unique history, for over three decades both have shared in the lineage of Sangharakshita’s teachings and have interacted as a larger community. Our name change to Triratna not only officially unites us with our TBMSG sisters and brothers in India but the name itself points to the primary characteristic that unites us in the study the Dharma: going for refuge to the Three Jewels. I can only guess why Wesak was picked as the day to celebrate our new name but it certainly seems fitting that on the very
day we celebrate Siddhartha Gautama’s attainment of Enlightenment, the day we can point to as the birth of the Buddha and the Dharma, that we also celebrate the third Jewel, the Sangha. For, the taking of the name Triratna is more than a technicality, it is a recognition of the true unity of our global community and a celebration of the full extent and diversity of our Sangha. The energy, authenticity and enthusiasm that binds our sangha was fully evident to all those who attended the Aryaloka celebrations on Friday, May 21st. The evening was kicked off with a potluck social. The festive character of the night was, for many of us, highlighted by the desserts scrumptious and seemingly inexhaustible. WESAK
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people further apart. On the opposite end, the Internet is not without its issues. With so much information coming at us on a constant basis, there are inevitable effects on our attention span and our ability to remain productive in our daily lives offline. We are in danger of developing an attitude of mindless consumption towards information. This comes on the heels of the same attitude of consumption towards products over the last century. We are now facing the unfortunate consequences of this behavior. This poses the unsettling question, “Could our minds become the next Superfund sites?” All of this has real implications for today’s Buddhists, particularly regarding our ability to remain mindful in an atmosphere that will become further ruled by this new paradigm - in which more of what we share with each other resides in a digital world that can be very noisy and distracting. How do we blend Buddhist values and practice with modern technology and the cultural shifts it brings with it? I believe it can be done, but I also believe that, as usual, it requires going within. While I couldn’t possibly count myself as an expert on social media, I’ve been giving it some thought and doing some reading on the topic, as well as experimenting in my own relationship with social media - to greater or lesser success. These are some suggestions I’ve found helpful:
Quality Over Quantity
Soren Gordhamer wrote a great piece called If the Buddha Used Twitter where he explains this idea. In using social media we must add value to whatever sphere it’s in, whether that be a Facebook post, or a Twitter entry, etc. If we make updates or create posts, let them have some positive impact, rather than just being self-aggrandizing or writing for the sake of writing. As the saying goes, “Don’t speak unless you can improve on silence.”
Practice Mindful Speech
Unlike Vegas, what happens on the Internet appears everywhere, and unexpectedly. This makes it an excellent place to
practice mindful speech. Take time with what you write. Ask yourself whether it could come across wrongly or be misinterpreted. Ask yourself whether you would want everyone in the world to hear what you have to say, because they just might.
Watch Your Mental States
This is also a Soren Gordhamer favorite, but it has so many applications. Are you writing that post in anger? Are you wandering the Internet to avoid something that needs to be done? Are you neurotically consuming information that you will never use? Are you addicted to the news feeds? We can learn a lot about ourselves by closely watching the way we interact online.
This one can be hard to do if your livelihood depends on communication, but I think we can often justify our attachment to communication in that way as well. If you can’t go a day without your computer or cell phone, then you may want to seriously consider untethering yourself for a while, for as long as you can reasonably do so. Like time on retreat, lots of stuff will come up that is useful to work with, and you may discover that you’ve been missing out on a lot of things that ultimately have more importance to you.
Instead of checking email every twenty
minutes, try setting one or two times a day where all of your communications are taken care of. If you read a lot of blogs or updates on sites, find ways to consolidate them in one place using an RSS feed reader or a social networking application like HootSuite or TweetDeck so you’re not using extra time going from one place to another. And be selective. Know when you really need to know something and when you’re neurotically looking for distractions. Bring mindfulness and focus back to your online experience.
Replace Web Surfing with Mind Surfing
If you find yourself having a difficult time slowing down and detaching from online media, make a conscious choice to cultivate the antidote. Instead of sitting at the computer, sit at the mat. When you feel that craving for information begin to arise, choose to settle down for Mindfulness meditation instead. It may be hard at first, but you will viscerally notice the cooling of that craving, and later you’ll be able to make more directed choices about your time online. You may discover many other ways to work with the balance of technology and Buddhist practice in your own experience. Above all, remain mindful. And if you find a method that works, share it with others. Maybe post it on Facebook.
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Young Sangha Introduces Kids to the Dharma By Denise Connors On Sunday, June 13th, the Aryaloka Young Sangha met. The seven participants ranged in age from “almost four” to nine. After a brief period of chanting in the shrine room with their parents they went off together to participate in a variety of activities. Everyone had a turn waking up and ringing the meditation bell and listening to how everyone created a different sound and then waiting until we could no longer hear it. They all participated in a belly breathing exercise and tried to notice the still quiet place between breathing in and breathing out. We read the Jataka Tale Siddartha and the Swan and a lively discussion ensued. They loved how kind and gentle Siddartha was as he removed the arrow from the swan. They identified with the way Siddartha and Devadatta had a disagreement and they thought it was a good idea that they asked for some help in resolving it. They did some coloring sheets related to the story, a craft, had their faces painted, sang songs and played some games. Everyone showed great enthusiasm when it came to volunteering to help in some way including helping with snack, face painting and cleanup. They shared what they liked about the day and what they would like to do next time. We finished with a ritual of bowing to one another. Everyone was interested in coming back on July 11th. A discussion group for parents ran concurrently with the Young Sangha and gave parents an opportunity to meditate with one another and discuss issues relevant to parenting and practice. Parents were able to share with one another how they communicate their values to their children and discuss resources they found helpful. In the next Parents’ Discussion Group we will be reading Parenting from Your Heart: Sharing the Gifts of Compassion, Connection, and Choice by Inbal Kashtan, an approach to parenting inspired by the methods of Non-Violent Communication.
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Dinner was followed by a talk by Dayalocana in which she shared with us her thoughts on Wesak and the story of the the Bodhi tree. She helped everyone to remember that the evening was not one of somber reflection and silence but one of celebration and joy. Drums and bells joined by whooping and hollering voiced our delight in celebrating the birth of the Dharma and our gratitude for Siddhartha’s enlightenment. Following the talk we all packed into the shrine room. The shrine was beautifully adorned with seasonal cut flowers and candles. Banners in yellow, red, white, green and blue hung from the center of the dome. The evening of puja, readings and
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• West London Buddhist Centre (walking distance from where I was based!) • Ipswich Buddhist Centre (in a lovely new space!) • Cambridge Buddhist Centre (fabulous to see our dear friend Aryakanta!) • Bristol Buddhist Centre (made it a day early for a very lively ceilidh!) • Norwich Buddhist Centre (a beautiful city!) • London Buddhist Centre (quite the Triratna hub!) • North London Buddhist Centre (gorgeous Tara glass painting!) • Croydon Buddhist Centre (lovely back garden!) • Sheffield Buddhist Centre (where an abandoned church is now an amazing centre, complete with a goldleafed standing Buddha in the bell tower!) • Manchester Buddhist Centre (the archetypal Triratna mandala of businesses, centre & community!) • Birmingham Buddhist Centre (celebrating Wesak with a talk from Parami!) • Newcastle Buddhist Centre (again, celebrating Wesak!)
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chanting was brought to a close with three rings of our big bell. The bell resonated for a few minutes, ringing in a new era. We finished the evening with yet another dessert - a finely decorated ‘Triratna’ cake. In the center of the cake was our tricolor Triratna emblem, the Three Jewels in red, yellow and blue resting on a red lotus and surrounded by a halo of flames... a lot to digest. For those who were unable to attend, freebuddhistaudio.com offers two informative audio tracks that together mimic the meaning and spirit of the evening. The first is a talk given by Sangharakshita in 1986 on the occasion of Wesak in which he shares almost all we could hope to know about the origins and meaning of Wesak. The audio can be found at http://www.free-
buddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=167 The second, (http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=LOC377) is a recent talk given by Padmavajra on May 31st, 2010, at the Triratna International Retreat. Padmavajra shares his experiences as an Order member from the very early days of the FWBO. He was one of the Order members sent by Sangharakshita to India in the 1970s to organize a community there. He describes in detail how our Indian sister community came to have a different name. Aryaloka was not around at the inception of our Order but this spring we participated in a new beginning. We can all rejoice in being the first members of the Triratna Buddhist Community.
• International Sangha Retreat at Taraloka (speaking to 400-plus people!) • Brighton Buddhist Centre (what a lively, harmonious sangha!) • National Women’s Order Weekend, Taraloka (inspiring to encourage more support for women teachers in our archive) • Glasgow Buddhist Centre (do they speak English here? Just kidding! A lively, playful sangha here…)
ness of Reality, Section 3:41-8:17 (this talk is not yet tracked) (2000). Sign up for our podcast to receive your Dharmabytes! As we listened to these Dharma Jewels, I relayed the core values underlying this project. Namely they were providing free, wide-spread access to the Dharma; providing an opportunity to hear various teachers with different lifestyles and ways of teaching; and encouraging the re-invigoration of listening to talks together in groups in order to share the working out of Dharmic principles in the spirit of how the Buddha originally taught - as an Oral Tradition. I am personally very inspired by upholding the oral tradition, and this was one of the topics of discussion when I met with Sangharakshita in his library at Madhyamaloka in Birmingham. He said, “We know that speech is a very powerful medium of communication. We know that the Buddha’s words spoken from, as it were, from his enlightened consciousness changed the lives of so many people. So that tradition of oral presentation of the Dharma has continued right down to the present day. Even though we have printed books many people do find that they learn more quickly and easily from the spoken word.” It makes Bhante particularly happy to think that talks that he himself gave years,
Each center was slightly different, yet unified in its commitment to the Three Jewels and to Sangharakshita’s translation of the Dharma. We are quite a diverse group! My Free Buddhist Audio presentation took on slightly different formats, but primarily it was a one-hour talk expounding on the project’s history, core values, current developments, and future envisionings. I particularly enjoyed selecting and sharing what we are now calling Dharmabytes - a few minutes of Dharma nuggets from the Free Buddhist Audio treasure chest. The three tracks I found myself coming back to throughout the tour were: Sangharakshita’s The Buddha, God and Reality, Track 5: The Buddha and Reality (1966); Srivati’s Becoming a Citizen of the Present, Track 7; Reality as Change, Poetry and Impermanence (2001); and Kulananda’s Mindful-
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even decades ago, to relatively small audiences, are now, through freebuddhistaudio. com, reaching tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. The two most challenging aspects of the tour both occurred at Taraloka Retreat Center in Wales. The first was the International Sangha Retreat, Turning Arrows into Flowers, and the second being the National Women’s Order Weekend, themed Sharing the Spiral, with a focus on Meditation. At the first event I stood before over 400 people and delivered a fairly good tenminute fundraising pitch for the project. I used humor and stood steady when my hand gestures flung the microphone off my kesa, and I managed to not only survive, but kind of thrived under such conditions! Afterwards, I realized my inner cheerleader had emerged! I was able to engage the crowd in “ooohhh-ing” and “aaahhh-ing” as I read out our growth statistics, and asked for a drumroll (and got one!) as I shared our biggest news, that by the end of this year we will have distributed over one million Dharma talks! The National Women’s Order Weekend
was inspiring on its own as I was able to meditate and do puja with over seventy Dharmacharinis. My presentation here emphasized the wonderful opportunity we have to preserve and share Dharma talks by women in our movement. Before leaving London, I made a trip to see Dhammadinna, one of our renowned Dharma teachers, a Public Preceptor, and a pivotal force in setting up the ordination training program for women. She has passed on to us over thirty cassette tapes of talks she had given over the years, mostly while living and working at Tiratanaloka Retreat Center, which hosts ordination training retreats for women. Mary Salome in San Francisco, a member of our team, has volunteered to digitize these talks so that we may all have access to them for many years to come. Now that I am back in New Hampshire, we will quickly begin moving in to the next phase of our fundraising campaign. I am planning presentations and/or day retreats at Aryaloka as well as in Boston, New York, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. Unfortunately, finances won’t permit us to go to Missoula and Vancouver, although perhaps next year! Our fundraising campaign is focused on
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10 Sangha Night – 6:45-9 11-13 Women’s GFR pre-retreat 14-22 Women’s GFR retreat (both buildings) 17 Sangha Night – 6:45-9 – Alternate location TBA 23-25 Women’s GFR post-retreat 24 Sangha Night – 6:45-9 – Alternate location TBA 27 Meditation and Full-Moon Puja – 7-9 p.m. 28 25th Anniversary Celebration begins and Sangha Picnic 29 Anniversary Open House 30 (through 9/3) Anniversary meditations and talks – TBA 31 (through 9/2) Private Preceptors’ retreat SEPTEMBER 1-3
Anniversary meditations and talks continue
1-2 4 4-9 7 10-19 14 16 21 23 23-26 24-26 30
people - we have expanded the team that brings you freebuddhistaudio.com from one, and sometimes two people, to seven! Together we are working hard to bring to the world a fantastic Dharma resource. Once we transition from our start-up grant funding, provided by the movement, to a primarily donor-supported business, we will continue to apply our creativity and technological skills to further develop the site. What we are looking for are 500 new friends able to help support our operating costs by contributing $15 each month (or more, or less - any amount is welcomed!). If you haven’t yet checked it out, do visit freebuddhistaudio.com. Join our free community and let us know what you think of the site! The team has worked hard to bring into being a completely re-imagined and redesigned website with greater emphasis on the sangha - our community of users who make all this work meaningful. We have also recently reinvigorated the podcast and can be found on Facebook and Twitter. We look forward to seeing you there! If you have any questions, or comments on our work, or if you would like to make a personal donation, please contact Viriyalila at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Private Preceptors’ retreat continues Final anniversary celebration – TBA North American Order Convention Sangha Night – 6:45-9 – Alternate location TBA Men’s GFR retreat Sangha Night – 6:45-9 – Alternate location TBA Women’s mitra class – Alternate location TBA Sangha Night – 6:45-9 Women’s mitra class – Alternate location TBA Open Heart, Quiet Mind – yoga and meditation retreat NVC Basic training Women’s mitra class
Young Sangha and Parent Discussion – 10 a.m.-noon
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Upcoming Events (All events are subject to change. For the latest, upto-date information, please call the office or check our web site at http://www.aryaloka.org) (Akasaloka events are in italics.) JULY 5 6 7 8 8-11 11 12 13 15 16-17 17 19 20
Men’s mitra class Sangha Night – 6:45-9 Introduction to Buddhism and meditation – 7 p.m. Women’s mitra class – Alternate location TBA Open Heart, Quiet Mind – yoga and meditation retreat Young Sangha and Parent Discussion – 10a.m.-noon Men’s mitra class Sangha Night – 6:45-9 Women’s mitra class Concord prison retreat (contact Bodhana) Order Day Men’s mitra class Sangha Night – 6:45-9
22 Women’s mitra class 23 Dharma Day celebration beginning at 5:30 p.m. 23 Meditation and Full-Moon Puja – Thursday, 7-9 p.m. 24 Introduction to Meditation – Lovingkindness - 10a.m.-4 p.m. 25 Combined Men’s and Women’s Days 26 Men’s mitra class 27 Sangha Night – 6:45-9 30 (through 8/1) A Taste of Silence retreat AUGUST 1 2 3 7 8 8 9
A Taste of Silence retreat continues Men’s mitra class Sangha Night – 6:45-9 Order Day Banner Construction Day Young Sangha and Parent Discussion – 10a.m.-noon Men’s mitra class UPCOMING
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Ongoing Sangha Night at Aryaloka
Full Moon Puja
• • • •
The rich devotional practice of meditation and puja is shared on these special Friday nights by those who find devotion an important part of their practice.
Every Tuesday evening, 6:45-9:00 p.m. Led by Amala, Arjava, and Suzanne Open to all who have attended an introductory class at Aryaloka Fee: Suggested donation $10 per class No registration necessary
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 9:00 - End
With all of the activities, you are free to participate or to just sit and listen. Nothing is compulsory. If you have any questions, please ask!
Friday evenings as scheduled (unless noted). See the Aryaloka website or Vajra Bell events schedule for dates and locations. 7:00 p.m. meditation, followed by puja.
“When we celebrate the Sevenfold Puja, which combines faith and devotion with poetry and sometimes an element of visual beauty, we find that our emotional energies are to some extent refined. When this happens, it becomes possible for the vision and insight of the higher thinking center to act through these refined, sublimated emotional centers directly on the moving center. In this way, the whole of life is completely transformed.” Sangharakshita ~ Ritual and Devotion