Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Prayer

I'm reading Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche's Living Fully, (p 25) and it has the following prayer in it I wanted to share:

May I act with pure motivation.
May I part from selfish ways.
May I bring Joy and happiness to others.
May I free them from pain and sorrow.
May I have a big and open heart
That encompasses the whole world.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

what is a drop in?

I only have one night reliably free--Sunday night.  I have children, and work at a mostly night job.

So the best thing is to have a drop in.  All levels welcome, we accept beginners, or maybe the group will evolve into something deeper.  Or maybe Cori and I will just sit together, if nobody comes.  I read somewhere that you're not a Dharma teacher until you go to give a teaching and nobody comes.  I guess that makes me a Dharma teacher.

Now some people might feel Sunday night is a bad time.  It's the end of the weekend and either you're finishing up something you've avoided all weekend, or you're trying to relax before the weekly grind.

But someone at work told me it might be a great time to connect with yourself, and end the weekend. Meditation is always good.  I will let you know in advance if it's called off, otherwise it's every Sunday at 6:30 PM.  Email me for directions if you haven't come.  It's near Union Turnpike and Main Street in Kew Garden Hills, Queens, New York City.

Meditation is free.  Dharma talk is free.  It's a community of inspiration, rather than expectation or responsibility.  If nobody comes, Cori and I meditate anyway.  Maybe no Dharma talk, but we're always talking the Dharma.

If people want to add in other times, I'll be happy to do that, and I'm thinking about a monthly movie night too.  I have a DVD of Crazy Wisdom, a movie about Chogyam Trumpa.  I reviewed the movie, and Cori reviewed the movie too.  I think the PBS Buddha movie is streaming on Netflix.  And I have I Heart Huckibees.  And there are others.  I recently was looking at Danny Fisher's article on the Elephant Journal.  There's a million Buddhist movies, and movies we could look at from a Buddhist perspective. What do you think?  Wanna come over and watch a movie?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

my shrine, our shrine

First off, you don't have to be a Buddhist to join our group, just someone interested in meditation. Second, you don't have to stay for the second half and Dharma talk.  You could just be curious about meditation.  You could just be curious about Buddhism.  So when you sit in meditation, you don't have to use the shrine as a reference point.  But if you are curious, here is what it's about.

First there's the rupa, which is what we call the form, or statue, of the Buddha.  I got my statue of the Buddha at Aryaloka.  It's made out of wood.  I had some necklaces and a mala on it.  My girlfriend gave me the mala; She has a great food blog, with lots of yummy vegetarian and vegan recipes.  There are various different poses the Buddha can be in.  This is a meditation pose.

Behind the Buddha are butterflies.  I got that in Ecuador in 1997, the trip of my life.  I spent 2 months in Ecuador, going to the Amazonian rain forest, the cloud forest, Galapagos Islands.  I witnessed an election, went parasailing, bungie jumping, white water rafting, banana boat riding, sold fish out of a truck, worked in a seafood restaurant for 3 days.  I visited Incan ruins, climbed to the snow line on Cotopaxi.  It was a wonderful trip.  And the butterflies are beautiful.  The mother of my children is from Ecuador, so I have many fond associations with the butterflies, but mostly I put it there as something beautiful and natural.

We put flowers, candles and incense on the shrine to beautify.  I have momentos from my life:  shells, rocks, feathers and a dradle.  Feathers are from the air creatures, birds, some of the oldest animals on the planet, they are dinosaurs (probably) that survived.  I think feathers are lovely, I collect them when I'm hiking at Aryaloka.

Manjushri and Kwan Yin are also in there.  They represent the twin virtues of Buddhism:  wisdom and compassion.  I hope to go more into the archetypal Buddhas, but for now, they are aspects of enlightenment.

There are photos of friends on retreat and a photo of Aloka's painting of Mythophantic Psychopomp, which is explained in the video attached to this hyperlinked text.

Finally, there's a picture of the view from Algonquin, the second highest mountain in New York State, up in the Adirondacks.

So that about covers my shrine.  There's a book of readings on the refuge tree of TBC also (Scroll down for talk on individual people on the refuge tree).  I really should have a puja book in the photo, but I'm not going to do chanting unless the group wants that.  Also there's a drawing of the refuge tree on the window sill to the left.

Above on the wall (not in the photo) is a tanka of the Buddha my aunt sent me.  She learned meditation with the Triratna Buddhist Community (TBC).  My shrine sits between two windows.  On the left is my Buddhist bookshelf.  I have many cherished volumes there.  I've weeded out my collection by giving books away to friends and the Concord Sangha.  (I thought there was a website for that, but I can't find one right now.  My friend Bodhana leads the mission work there, and I've been on a retreat inside the Concord prison in New Hampshire, and correspond with one friend there.) Further to the right is a tanka of Avalokitsvra.  I connect with him being shattered.

Living As A River

In talking about the system of meditation, I mentioned the six element practice, and passed around Living As A River, which is written by the founder of Wildmind.  There is a video, of Bodhipaksa reading some of the book:

This practice is used to dismantle oneself, get greater objectivity about oneself, loosen our defensiveness and gain greater insight into the emptiness of self.  Not that we don't have a provisional self, but that it's not something independent of conditions.

The book is an extended meditation and a complex synthesis of scientific studies, around the six element practice.  It was in my opinion, one of the best Buddhist books in 2010.  For my book awards for 2011 click here.

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