Saturday, December 22, 2007

buddhamas

I found this interesting post on being a Buddhist and celebrating Christmas.

some things to look at

I'm afraid I'm just noting the links I've explored in this blog. I suppose I hope to add some unique content beyond.

I've been struggling in my meditation with the stress and demands of the holidays. I slept late this morning, but got in a sit. The boy will sleep later because William doesn't have to get up for school.

I'm working on an essay with the strong editorial assistance of Bodhipaksa, for his lovely site.

I hope to see Vajramati today.

Anyway, here are some links I've looked at recently of interest.

Here is an interesting article on American Buddhism.

Visible mantra is one I've been looking into.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Naming Ceremony

We had a lovely ceremony a few weekends ago. Rosa's buddhist name is: Akusita (alert,
careful, mindful).

Made me think a lot about my own son's naming ceremonies. I especially love the circle of protectors. We tie a string or yarn around everyone's wrists, and you wear it till it falls off. I still have mine for Trebor and Jen's daughter. Non-Buddhists who came would tell me when theirs fell off, it connected with them too. It's a lovely lovely ritual. I recommend it to all Buddhists who have children. The ritual says, "hey world, we have a baby."

I found a family retreat at IMS, but Diana can't go, and I don't want to take my kids alone. So I won't be going on their family retreat, but I'm going to keep looking for them. I look with envy across the pond at England and all their rich activity, where the FWBO is strong.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Interesting stories in NY Times

Some women just were more mindful and that changed their health.

Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a 100-year-old Buddhist Zen master of the Rinzai school has an interview here.

There's another article about him, lays out his background. I thought this was an interesting quote from the article: "Her deputy here is an 18-year-old Albuquerque high school graduate, Emily Robinson, who has put off college and advanced so quickly that she has been offered priesthood, though she is now hesitating. “I always thought I wanted to be ordained until the day I found out it was available to me,” she said."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Worst Horse

Worst Horse is a blog that has good links. There's a cool link on lookalikes amongst old Buddhists and current starts.

double bubble


double bubble
Originally uploaded by Steve took it
Another cool Flickr discovery! Click on the link under the photo to see more!

heavy metal and dharma

I posted a kind of guilty appreciation of what I saw as dharma in a heavy metal song. I fond today a post about heavy metal and the dharma.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Burma

I haven't been following Burma so closely. I have enough problems in my life, I can only take in so much suffering. But I work with people with HIV, and this article affected me.

BNN has an article too.

Book review

I reviewed a book!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chuang Yen Monastery


Chuang Yen Monastery
Originally uploaded by thatwaszenphoto
I got this off a lovely blog, the name is underneath the photo. I just think this is a beautiful photo. See the web site for a description by the photographer.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I may be stretching it

I may be stretching it, but I think Metalica lyrics for Wherever I May Roam, could also be about going forth. The video isn't so much about transcendence, seems very worldly, but I append it to the end of this blog entry. At age 40, with all my sophistication, I still feel a visceral reaction to heavy metal.

More MP3s in the ocean of dharma

One skill in being a Buddhist to cultivate is to learn to discriminate on how to take in information. I post things willy nilly, that I hope to listen to. I've just discovered some lectures by Bhikkhu Bodhi, who's stuff I've read before. I can't vouch for them yet, but I do like the stuff I've read of his before.

I found these lectures through this lovely blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

mens GFR retreat 2007 09 30


mens GFR retreat 2007 09 30
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
I need to remind myself of the power of this retreat. I keep forgetting it. I'm a worldling who loses touch with the dharma at times. I want to be a constant flow of compassion and creativity, but I'm not. The process of trying to get there is what it's all about. And then men support that process. Thank you guys!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parenting Quote

Sometimes we are focused on developing concentration or investigation or some other quality. New Parents have to work hard at cultivating and maintaining a lot of spiritual qualities: patience, generosity, renunciation (as they give up so much of their freedom and time). But the gift that they receive is love, as well as what’s called mudita, or appreciative joy. There’s no work involved, no effort in developing metta and mudita for our children, they just blossom. Appreciating that this is happening for us can help us to be easier on ourselves when other aspects of our practice seem to be crumbling.

(Kevin Griffin in One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, P.216)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

puja

I suppose I'm a bit materialist about collecting pujas. But I've discovered another version of the Bodhicaryavatara puja the standard FWBO puja is based on, with a Bodhicitta emphasis. (That brings me up to 11, 9 of which are on line and blogged about here.)

Here is the page where the puja is. Or this is the link to the actual puja.

I'm looking for more pujas so if anyone has any leads, I would greatly appreciate it.

We had a lovely confession puja last Sunday in our mitra study. That's a very powerful one for me. I never thought I would like puja, but I really do.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No to censorship


No to censorship
Originally uploaded by riopel2dali

Kumbum - Milarepa


Kumbum - Milarepa
Originally uploaded by Vessantara
Vessantara has a lovely public slide show of his trip to Tibet, that I just looked at it. Click on the name Vessantara under the photo to go and look at it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I've been listening to two talks in my car as I drive. The first is an excellent talk by Kulananda called Mindfulness of Reality. I know mindfulness can be broken into 4 parts, the last and most slippery one being about reality. This clear talk is just the kind of talk that I tend to think, "and that's the heart of the Dharma." Until I find the next one.

To develop friendship with Vajramati, is to also deepen one's knowledge of Padmasambhava. There happens to be an excellent talk on Padmasambhava by Davavira It is at once very personal and architypal. A very authentic talk that evoke authenticity. It's very poetic, and forecefully given at times. It has me chanting the mantra at work, where I'm a little in the closet about being a Buddhist out of consideration of my clients and my role as being there for them--my usual mistake. I hide myself out of misguided projected rationalization on others--probably out of fear of rejection and difficulty.

Everything--my psychoanlaytic training at ICP, the people that support me in the GFR process, all my spiritual friends, my friends period, scream out to me "BE AUTHENTIC!!!" It's weird that at age 40, that is what I'm hearing. Am I so artificial. Can I even be natural around my own lovely children? I hope so, and that is the ideal to which I lovingly strive for and lovingly accept when I fall short.

I saw a great/disturbing video on you tube, about animal fur. I'm starting to gather momentum toward reducing the use of milk products, egg products, I don't think vegetarianism is enough for me. I need to move towards being a vegan. Meanwhile I get more and more out of step from my fellow Americans and the intensely meat eating culture.

I found the video on a new blog I'm checking out call "no impact man." File under taking the not given envirnmentally. What world will I be leaving my kids?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quote from Sangharakshita

If we just regard the spiritual community as a convenience for our own spiritual development, we are living in accordance with a very narrow spiritual ideal. This narrow ideal becomes self-defeating, because you cannot really help yourself without helping others. If you think in term of helping yourself to the exclusion of helping others, you have a very rigid idea of self and others, and as long as that fixed view is there you can’t even gain Enlightenment for yourself.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Quote

To file under the category of perfection of energy and vigor, from Theodore Riek (not to be confused with Wilhelm Reich, another psychoanalytic writer) from his essay "New Ways in Psycho-analytic Technique":

"It is easy to be energetic, less easy to know whither our energy is to be directed."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

NYC sangha 2005


NYC sangha 2005
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
I'm not there, but it's a good photo.

The Inner Pillar

Jennifer Sokolov has a lovely web site, that collects her interests together. Available on the web site is her essay on how Pilates can support your meditation practice, from Tricycle.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

video sangha

I've just begun to explore the interesting web site video sangha. I really laugh at Karuna Carpenter, plus there was a video about whether an OM thinks she's enlightened, and one by a fellow who met Bante, and what that was like--all very interesting videos. But there seems to be much much more. I think our sangha needs to put something up so we are known somehow. I have some videos of Vajramati on You tube. Vajramati said when he was at the convention many people mentioned they'd seen it, which is interesting. It's a way of connecting and seeing what's going on with people.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

mens GFR retreat 2007 09 30


mens GFR retreat 2007 09 30
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
The wonderful men who were on my retreat! I felt so lonely in the car driving back.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Arjava & Bodhana

Arjava & Bodhana are the correct spelling of ex-Buddy and ex-Dave's new names. Congratulations again! Well done gentlemen.

quote

From p. 78 of What Makes You Not A Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse:

"When some of us become parents ourselves, even a little understanding of interdependence effectively softens our expectations of our children, which they may interpret as love. Without that understanding, we might have good intentions to love and care for our children, but our expectations and demands can become unbearable."

Retreat

I have asked for ordination in the FWBO. Once a year in North America, there is a week long retreat, aimed at helping people move towards ordination. This year the retreat was at Aryaloka, a beautiful retreat center in New Hampshire. Aside from meditation and spiritual friendship, the retreat's study theme was the ten pillars, the precepts you take upon ordination, the basic ethical principles.

The retreat was lead by Dhammarati, Nagabodhi, and was attended by many order members, including Vajramati. There were many illustrious fellow retreatants as well, including a photographer, who has a good audio file about why he's a buddhist.

Also on the retreat was a a culmination that lead to a public ordination on Saturday. I'm going to wait for the correct spelling to write the names of ex-Buddy and ex-Dave. But to my count there were 28 order members, 30 after they were publicly ordained.

It was a historic event for the American order, because for the first time an American born preceptor ordained Americans. Now the order transcends nationality, but in terms of development of an order and taking on a kind of national identity as a kind of mark of maturity, it was a historic event.

Maia, the baby was there at the private ordination, I got to finally hold, and smile at the baby I've been reading about.

Unfortunately during my retreat, there's been some monk led rebellion in Myanmar that has been brutally repressed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Four Seals

There's an excellent book by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse called What Makes You Not A Buddhist. In it he elaborates on the four seals.

The Four Seals according to him are as follows:

1. All compound things are impermanent.
2. All emotions are pain.
3. All things have no inherent existence.
4. Nirvana is beyond all concepts.

These are all very deep and intense truths which he elaborates in his book, challenging many assumptions about American culture and the American dream. Reading it on retreat has been a deep and profound experience for me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

puja!

I love and have done the standard puja (which you can get at the FWBO-News resources site). But today I found my 4th puja, which is a mindfulness of breathing (Anapanasati) puja by Viveka. Yippie.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Interesting movie

When I told a work friend I correspond with a dharma brother in prison, he said, "of course you do." Like it's in character to be compassionate that way. I think he was a bit sarcastic. I'm proud he said that, though.

Now there's a movie about dharma in prison. The NY Times reviews the movie and you can watch the trailer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

FWBO NYC is official

We're an official non-profit! Our sangha received the following message recently: "I wanted to let your know that your nonprofit corporation was formed in the state of New York on 08/29/07. Congratulations! We mailed the filed documents out to you today."

This is wonderful news! Now to get down to work of building the sangha!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Buddha gets a biopic!

According to the New York Times arts section today:

Buddha Gets a Biopic

Born into a princely family in the sixth century B.C. in Kapilavastu on the border between present-day India and Nepal, Gautama Buddha abandoned luxury for spiritual enlightenment. Now the life of this man, who founded Buddhism, will be the subject of a film, Agence France-Press reported. Based on research by the Sri Lankan scholar Nimal D’Silva and others, the film will be shot in India and Sri Lanka by Shyam Benegal, an Indian director, for release in 2009. It is a venture of the Light of Asia Foundation, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Beyond Dream Entertainment, based in India. “The message of the movie gives answers to global crises of conflict and environmental problems,” said Navin Gooneratne, chairman of the foundation.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sangharakshita's autograph


Sangharakshita's autograph
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
Vajramati went to the convention in England and he brought me back a book that's not even out yet, signed by the author!

I feel very excited about the autograph. Sangharakshita is the founder and kalyana mitra to many of my friends who are order members. Or their KM's kalyana mitra. He's the heart and founder of the F/WBO and it's incarnations in different countries and different languages.

It means a lot to me that Vajramati brought that back for me. He and Vidhuma are going to be my Kalyana mitras. Vajramati is my private preceptor. I hope to have a ceremony at the next GFR retreat in September at Aryaloka with Vajramati and Vidhuma.

Happy Birthday Alyssa


Happy Birthday Alyssa
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
And happy birthday Urgen Sangharakshita! I wish Alyssa and Bante many more.

Pirate Alyssa


Pirate Alyssa
Originally uploaded by sravacitta

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My other blog

I've artificially seperated my life into spiritual, fathering and mental health, for blog purposes. My fathering blog includes this fetching picture of me and Andrew, my youngest son. My mental health blog is more notes on what I've read about mental health in the newspapers, magazine, and other on line resources. It's my least written or commented on blog.

If you don't know, you can always click on the link "view my complete profile." That shows all 3 blogs. I often use that to navagate between the blogs.

I think Buddhism informs my parenting and work as a psychotherapist. But as I say, they're artificially separated.

Monday, August 20, 2007

James


James
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
The NYC sangha says goodbye to James, who returns to London and his home sangha of the LBC. We had a lovely 2 month visit from him and it was nice to have another male mitra around in August. I wish you a safe journey home, we're going to miss you when you leave.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ten precepts

Ten Precepts
1. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from killing of living beings.

2. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from taking the non-given.

3. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from sexual misconduct.

4. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from false speech.

5. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from harsh speech.

6. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from frivolous speech.

7. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from slanderous speech.

8. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from covetousness.

9. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from hatred.

10. I undertake the item of training which consists in abstention from false views.


Positive Precepts

1. With deeds of loving-kindness I purify my body.


2. With open-handed generosity I purify my body.


3. With simplicity, stillness and contentment, I purify my body.


4. With truthful communication I purify my speech.

5. With words kindly and gracious I purify my speech

6. With utterances helpful, I purify my speech.


7. With utterances harmonious, I purify my speech.


8. Abandoning covetousness for tranquility I purify my mind.


9. Changing hatred into compassion, I purify my mind.

10. Transforming ignorance into wisdom I purify my mind.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bottled Water

The times has an article in the fashion section about how using bottled water is going out of fashion because of ecological ideas. I never thought about it that way, that ideas can become fashion in a positive sense. Anyway, long ago, I worried about what happens to the bottle when you drink the water you could get from the tap. NYC, so far as I know, has pretty good water. I think making the least negative ecological impact is important. I think living in a major city is by far the most ecological thing you can do. After that it's fine tuning. Using mass transit is another. I have to admit I'm guilty of using a car. How much garbage you create, how much energy you use are important questions. I think it's part of the uncovering your eyes process in Buddhism that you become aware of all these complicated issues. It is annoying, but being more and more awake is not an easy project. I think Buddhism provides the support for that process in sangha, in the dharma, and in spiritual friendships.

On a side note, I have some spiritual discussion on parenting on my parenting blog.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lama Yeshe Quotes

Think in this way, “During the rest of my life, it is my responsibility to grow in mindfulness and happiness. Each day I will expand kindness I already have. When I wake up each morning, I will open my wisdom-eye and see more and more deeply into the inner universal reality. I will try to be as mindful as possible. I will take responsibility for my life and dedicate it to others by growing strong in loving kindness and wisdom. I will serve others as much as possible.” (p. 41-42)

These days we have no shortage of intellectual information, but I truly believe there is a shortage of fertilization. We collect so much information, but we do very little with it. This is why we have so little success in our spiritual practice. (p. 30)

Try to be reasonable in the way you grow, and don’t ever think it is too late. It’s never too late. Even if you are going to die tomorrow, keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today. If you keep your situation happy day by day, you will eventually reach the greatest happiness of enlightenment. (p. 41)

In the West, desire seems to refer to sense gratification. However, in the Buddhist view, desire is not a craving of the senses but the mental concepts and projections that we build up on an object, thereby bring us problems. (p. 87)

If you know the nature of desire, you can really control your mind because you are able to question and to understand your own view of desire’s object. Otherwise, you cannot see the mind’s trick. With it’s constant “I feel, I want,” desire plays tricks on you, leahttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifding you to a constant restlessness that can mess up your life. (p. 87)

Even though it is sometimes said that something is nonexistent because it is like an illusion, a dream, or a reflection in a mirror, this is not philosophically correct. It is speaking loosely to say, “This phenomenon does not exist because it is an illusion. It is just one of my projections.” In fact, the reverse is true. The phenomenon exists precisely because it exists as an illusion, which is independent. A reflection in a mirror is also interdependent; it exists because of the mirror. (p. 90-1)

All quotes taken from The Bliss of Inner Fire by Lama Yeshe. See also http://www.lamayeshe.com/. Or go straight to a recording of him talking: http://lywa.streamguys.us/byot/byot-2.mp3.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

video blog with Alyssa and I

Alyssa and I were in the park, and some people came up to us and asked us questions for their video blog. Go here to watch the video.

Or watch here:

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Gospel Music

Where I work, they have a choir, led by a young musical therapist. I have began to listen to gospel music on WLIB. I also occasionally use another web based program to listen to music.

Watching the movie Junebug, and A Prairie Home Companion, the song "Softly and Tenderly" is sung (only a fragment in PHC). I felt somehow touched by it even though it's christian. I sometimes convert Buddha to Jesus, but it usually doesn't work out. There's a different flavor to Jesus worship than there is to taking refuge in the Buddha. Nevertheless, I am still drawn to gospel music.

I searched for a free mp3 of the song. I should have gone straight to the Junebug website which actually gives away the mp3! I was so happy to have that! There's something very touching about the song to me. Click here to see the lyrics. The sheet music is here.

Wikipedia as usual has a good page on gospel music.

Throughout my life, I have resisted the traditional religion of America. But in finding my own spiritual path, I have felt greater affinity for other's spiritual paths, I'm much more appreciative of other's traditions. I see that as a good sign. It disgusts me to see religious intolerance. A base level of respect for people's own individual journey is my goal and aspiration.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Quote

Vessantara writes in The Breath, "Working with difficulties in meditation can be a bit like persuading a child to do something that you know will benefit it. Like a child, your body and mind don't usually respond well to being ordered around. In meditation, as with parenting, love and friendly encouragement achieve far more than 'Do as I say!'" (p. 86)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The power of a rupa

In an article in the New York Times, an artist discusses his distaste for the putting of a Buddha in an apartment because of superficiality, and then it ends up he has one in his apartment, "can't get rid of it," and talks to it, and thinks he has a relationship with it. He doesn't quite come off with the knowing attitude I think he's trying to effect, nor is he honest enough and penetrating in my opinion. He admits to pretending to meditate and setting up a shrine just because others did it.

I used to collect little Buddhas many years before I turned to the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha for refuge.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Buddha for Aryaloka


Buddha for Aryaloka
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
This is a photo of the new rupa up at Aryaloka Buddhist Retreat Center in Newmarket New Hampshire. I can't wait to get up there to see it, to be there.

vajramti turns 28


vajramti
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
Vajramati turned 28 yesterday. Again. He's been Vajramati longer than he's been Peter. We celebrated with Sita, her mother, Savanna and me, plus Sue.

It's really a lucky thing he decided to commit to New York City to work for the good of the dharma, because many people are intimidated by NYC or find it easier to go to an established sangha. He's showed fortitude, commitment, sradha and a great kindness that marks his every interaction. He is wise, integrated, centered, deep, clear, thoughtful and sensitive to others.

My toast to him is to thank him for not going to Padmaloka, and coming to NYC, because it's hard to see how I would have gotten into the dharma without him. He's had a huge impact on my life, and I'm sure others. We celebrated his spiritual rebirth in the order yesterday. Happy birthday Vajramati!

8 OMs


8 OMs
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
Looks like a good time to me.

Wedding Photo


Wedding Photo
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
Top left to right: Buddhapalita, Suddasa, Naghabodhi, Surakshita. Bottom left to right: Vidhuma, Thiradhamma, Vajramati.

North American Male Order Members of FWBO

Thiradhamma got married and lots of OMs showed up, even Naghabodhi from England and Buddhapalita from Montana, and Suddasa from Maine, Vajramati from New York City, Vidhuma and Surakshita from New Hampshire and Punya from Boston.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

LBC on CNN

As reported on FWBO/TBMSG news, CNN has gotten interested in the LBC and meditation. I met a fellow last night who was lucky enough to live in a community near there, and go to the LBC. I hope some day to get there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Meditation in schools

I finally got to the much blogged about article about meditation in the classroom.

It's being tried in Oakland California, sponsored in a public school by a near by private school. It's also been tried in Lancaster PA.

Why not try all the tools available to us? I'm trying to gently teach my sons to meditate. At 3 and 1 they can't really do it yet, but they see me do it. And I saw my step father do it 2x a day since I was 7, and I eventually found it at 35. For me it's the most revolutionary thing that's happened to me. I naturally would like to share that with everyone who is open to it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Running Monk

There's an article in the Times sports page, about a monk who does a lot of running.

Pilgrimage


Pilgrimage
Originally uploaded by Mangeshd
I met Mangesh when he was in America raising funds for the worthy cause of Jumbudvipa Trust. I met Viradhamma on a GFR retreat. I was so happy to find these pictures!

Photo of the day

National Geographic web site has a lovely page: photo of the day. A few days back their photo was from an unpublished photograph from an article on caste in India. I feel this is an important topic, atrocities continue to this day.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tiger Woods!

I didn't know Tiger Woods was a Buddhist. While he says he doesn't practice all the time, or believe everything, that could apply to most. His mother is a Buddhist. See Bodhi's list of top 10 famous Buddhists. Also Orlando Bloom is one. And Kate Bosworth, an actress from Superman Returns.

Getting closer to my experience

I've really taken to a talk called Dharma and Denial by Manjuka.

That has lead Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The psychology of self deception by Daniel Goleman (who has a blog).

That has been reinforced, among other things, by Dhammarati's talk Breaking the Mould on free buddhist audio. He discusses his therapist friend who likes James Hillman, and being authentic, avoiding any kind of repression.

Further reinforced is Standing on Emptiness by Dhammadassin, which is about accepting ambivalence, the unknown.

steve


steve
Originally uploaded by sravacitta
Closeup of me, on the 47 degree Colorado River, in 100 degree heat, with someone in shorts behind me, and a glimpse of Anne the rope girl, a wonderful person!

Monday, June 04, 2007

DVD Review

I suppose I was flattered to be asked to review a DVD of Deepak Chopra. I thought maybe I could give the DVD to the agency I work for, they do have a chaplain and spiritual groups. Most of the clients are Christian, but I believe in learning about all the wisdom of the world.

Prior to this DVD, I listened to one of his tapes, from the library, on energy. His suggestion, if I remember correctly, was to rest more, to get more energy. I like going the opposite way sometimes, I liked his advice.

Shambhala Sun reviews Chopra's book on the Buddha says, "Buddhist will turn up their noses at Buddha for it's loose interpretation of scripture adn it's new-age dilution of Buddhist philosophy." He has posted The Huffington Post about the Buddha.

In the Wikipedia entry on Deepak Chopra, I learned he was a very successful western medical doctor and teacher before he turned to the spiritual world.

For me, Buddhism is the path. There is similarity with Hinduism, which is what I believe Chopra's tradition is, as he references the Vedas. Hindism itself is very diverse. Chopra advocates Transcendental Meditation. In TM you focus on a mantra that is your object of concentration. I do mindfulness of breathing and metta bahavana.

I sometimes find spiritual advice overly simplistic, but I´m also aware of my cynical nature that pooh poohs this kind of stuff. For me the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order finds the right tone for me. I know some people who embrace Hinduism in it´s universal form, or TM, and find benefit. When people find what is right for them, I feel the happiness that I felt at finding the access to the dharma through the FWBO.

I don´t know enough to criticize his use of certain ideas in relationship to Buddhism. It feels a bit wishy washy and vague at times, and sometimes it feels more in harmony with me. I like the idea of being natural, going with the least resistance. It almost makes me think of Bhante´s advice to work as little as you can get away with--advice that runs contrary to the protestant work ethic. I find people judged as not working, elderly adults, children, disabled and unemployed, and therefore as unworthy. There's a lack of generosity in America in my opinion. I get other bloggers challenging me for saying that, like I can't observe something negative about America. I feel like my country has been hijacked by unlike minded people.

I want to be open minded, but I'd say to my FWBO brethren to pass on this DVD. I would encourage seeks to consider this DVD, especially if you haven't really explored world religions, because it does have some interesting language. I found "manifest" a bit funny, but then I heard my friends using that word a lot. I sometimes wonder if these kinds of thing are interesting because they are foreign. It's a matter of extremes—to discount everything foreign or to discount everything native.

Finally I like the spiritual and non-materialistic focus, even though they do have "successful business people" in the DVD. I wish Deepak Chopra well.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

DVD Review Preview





Here's the press release for a DVD I got today in the mail which I will review.

Press Release (top)

THE INTERNATIONAL BEST-SELLER DEEPAK CHOPRA'S
SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS

Debuts on DVD May 8, 2007 From Fox Home Entertainment

Inspirational DVD Features Music Icons Olivia Newton John and Dave Stewart and Actor/Director Bill Duke

CENTURY CITY , Calif. – Based on the book that was on the New York Times Best-Seller list for two years, re-knowned Doctor/Scholar Deepak Chopra's most inspirational and universal work comes to DVD on May 8 when Fox Home Entertainment releases
The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success . Blending the ethereal teachings of Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita from his native India with forward-thinking transcendental quantum physics, Chopra's works about the power of individual consciousness have become worldwide best-sellers, selling over 40 million copies, empowering followers to gain control of their lives through a deep and meditative understanding of their own spiritual connections to the world.

The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success features genuine accounts of spiritual awakening and consciousness from Hollywood stars and artists including singer/actress Olivia Newton-John ( Grease ), director/actor Bill Duke ( X-Men: The Last Stand, Predator ) and musician Dave Stewart (The Eurythmics), among others. The DVD also features new music by Newton-John, inspired by her experience with the book's teachings.

The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success are the principles of pure potentiality, giving, karma, least effort, intention and desire, detachment, and dharma, forming the basis for a more natural and organic lifestyle, allowing personal well-being and enthusiasm for life to govern prosperity and success. Deeply profound and yet surprisingly simple to apply to one's own life, The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.98 U.S./$21.98 Canada .

DVD Special Features:
The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success DVD is presented in English Dolby Surround 5.1 with English and Spanish subtitles.

Grand Canyon


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Originally uploaded by withanhauser
Spent some time in the Grand Canyon. My dharmic thought about that is that through meditation, spiritual friendship and dharma study and discussion with friends, is the water, wind and gravity that causes some amazing erosion of the self, which the Grand Canyon can show the potential beauty of.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Where to give money

We had a visit in New York City from our Indian dharma brothers who work for Jambudvipa Trust in India. Next time I'm in a position to give away money, I'm going to give them some. There are still lynchings going on in India! There is real social injustice relating to the habit of the caste system despite being outlawed in their constitution in 1947. There are natural disasters and there are other ways in which the government does not raise up to the challenge of helping it's people. This trust does good work. I will be donating money to them in the future. The OM and mitra who come over were very committed and focused. I was impressed. Goto to their web site to donate some money!

Quote in History of My Going For Refuge

To discover that within myself which I must obey, to gain some awareness of the law which operates in the organic whole of the internal world, to feel this internal world as an organic whole working out its whole destiny according to some secret vital principle to know which acts and utterances are a liberation from obstacles and an accession of strength, to acknowledge secret loyalties which one cannot deny without impoverishment and starvation,--this is to possess one’s soul indeed, and it is not easily either to do or to explain.

John Middleton Murry 1889-1957

Monday, May 21, 2007

Reiki

I just experienced reiki for the first time. Didn't feel much, it was a short session, supposedly they're usually longer. But it was nice to lay down and relax.

The wikipedia article on it reports that scientific studies show it has no greater than a placebo effect, but I think that the placebo effect is worth something--the hope that something good happens is wonderful.

The instructions were, "imagine a white light coming into your head, and you breathing it out." So she put her hands on my shoulders, on my chest and stomach and then knees, and finally my ankles. She said she's tell me when she's done and she did.

She thought I was balanced, no anger pulling energy to my liver.

I'd say it can't hurt. I want to be open to things. There is a part of me that is curious about the scientific community, but there's a part of me that wants to be open to things outside my immediate experience. I have no problem that people make a living doing such things, there are lots worse things.

I like it that a Buddhist discovered Reiki, supposedly enlightened, but I'm also a bit wary. In my tradition, in so far as I understand it, these magical kinds of things are seen as nice, but not really the point. They can be a distraction. I don't have a formal sadhana practice but I'm going to ask for Avalokiteshvara when some day I hope to be ordained into the WBO. The woman who did Reiki on me today said she imagines Jesus Christ.

She talked about healing a woman's breast cancer, and her own heart problems. Of course anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything, but it doesn't disprove anything either.

I imagine people pro-Reiki might dislike my not embracing it the way they do. I imagine skeptical people poo pooing it. I think people should try it if they can and I hope to try it again.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Proof That Meditation in Revolutionary

Blakeslee for the New York Times writes, "Recent research has shown that meditation is good for the brain. It appears to increase gray matter, improve the immune system, reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being." in an article dated May 8th 2007. (I can't make the permalink work, but try this link.)

For me meditation is so revolutionary that I choose it over sleep. I'd rather be tired and more aware.

Am I addicted? Addiction is not used for positive beneficial things. When you know something is good for you, it's healthy to want to do it.

I feel more embodied, closer to my experience, I have a greater and more powerful observing ego. And the study shows, better attention.

In one of my favorite sutras, there is all kinds of advice, then they go to the Buddha. The Buddha says, "taht's all good, but I think you should just sit down and meditate till you are enlightened." I'm trying to follow that advice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ten Things To Talk About

From the Udana in the Pali Cannon, here are 10 things that talking about them, lead to enlightenment:

There are these ten topics of [proper] conversation. Which ten? Talk on modesty, on contentment, on seclusion, on non-entanglement, on arousing persistence, on virtue, on concentration, on discernment, on release, and on the knowledge & vision of release. These are the ten topics of conversation. If you were to engage repeatedly in these ten topics of conversation, you would outshine even the sun & moon, so mighty, so powerful — to say nothing of the wanderers of other sects.

Now I'm not sure about slagging off other sects, that may be an add on later, but we've been going into depth at sangha night about each one of these topics. Well, we did one day on modesty and had a rather fruitful discussion. There's also a lot of people from England in our group and I've lived in England for more than a year, and we also had some interesting discussion about the various national character. Good stuff, I love unpacking and discussing the Pali Cannon, with the sangha.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gun Control in America

Adam Gopnik has a good commentary on the shootings in the New Yorker.

To paraphrase, or express what it makes me think, he says that basically every country tightens up it's gun control laws after a horrible gun killing atrocity, and then they don't happen any more. Not so in America where our thick heads are clouded by fears of government intervention, and the fear that we could be invaded and caught gunless. A relative of mine was against gun control. But did she want one? No. So what's she worried about?! She doesn't like the idea of curbed "freedoms" even if it would result in people not being killed, which is what it's all about to me. I'm so sick of reading these articles in the paper. We need gun control! Charlton Heston is not my president (I saw a bumper sticker in North Carolina asserting that once). That stupid slogan "guns don't kill people, people do." Yea, people with guns. Takes both those things. You can't remove the people so remove the guns.

America is an adolescent that is worried about it's autonomy. While it's economic power wanes and fades, it needs to grow up and join it's elder brothers and sisters in Europe, stop acting like a teenage who's out for a drive, craves the freedom to hurt themselves. America needs to mature, grow up.

Until then, get ready for the next gun killing spree.

Monday, April 02, 2007

madhyamavani

There are some interesting articles in madhyamavani. There's an interesting summary by Parami of the last college meeting. There is also the preceptors college blog.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Obscure Words in A Survey Of Buddhism

Word's I'd never come across reading A Survey Of Buddhism by Sangharakshita:

synoptic--seeing toghether and pertaining to or constituting a synopsis; affording or taking a general view of the principal parts of a subject.

eleemosynary is charity

eremitical is a about a hermit.

coenobitical relates to the monastic life.

xylograph is an engraving in wood.

"barbara, celarent and darii" from p. 240 refers to Aristotle's logic terms. (Page number refer to 2001 edition.)

Bhante Quote

"We should have the courage not of our intellectual convictions but of our transcendental realizations. The doctrinal differences existing between the various schools of Buddhism out to be delight rather than dismay us, for we are thereby stung into keener awareness of the limitations of the intellect, startled into livelier recognition of the purely instrumental nature of the Dharma, and at least awakened into a clearer comprehension of the great truth that, as Buddha himself said repeatedly, Nirvana is atakkavacara, beyond the reach of reasoning."

Sangharakshita, Page 240, A Survey Of Buddhism, 2001 edition.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ethics, study and support

My next retreat is going to be on ethics. Here are the negative 5 precepts:

1. I undertake to abstain from taking or harming life.
2. I undertake to abstain from taking what is not freely given.
3. I undertake to abstain from causing harm through sexuality.
4. I undertake to abstain from false speech.
5. I undertake to abstain from taking intoxicants that dull the mind.

The positive counterparts are stated as follows:

1. With deeds of loving kindness, I purify my body.
2. With open-handed generosity, I purify my body.
3. With stillness, simplicity and contentment, I purify my body.
4. With truthful communication, I purify my speech.
5. With mindfulness clear and radiant, I purify my mind.

We're going to be studying the 10 precepts from Bhante's The Ten Pillars, sold at Windhorse Publishing, a model of right livelihood cooperative in the movement.

In other news, there's a good site that has the mitra study course we're going to be doing with Vajramati, on the FWBO center support web site.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot writes in The Coctail Party, "You are nothing but a set of obsolete responses. The one thing to do is to do nothing." Not sure what his true perspective is on Buddhism and whatnot, I'm no T.S. Eliot scholar, but that's pretty dharmic to me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Vegetarianism

From the lankavatara sutra:

Meat, the sinful food, is not permitted according to the three vows: the vows of individual liberation, the Bodhisattva vows and the tantric vows. Thus Buddha stated: "I have never approved, do not approve, and will never approve of a meat diet." He declared: "my followers must never eat meat."

A Mahayana scripture doesn't lock it from me, but it helps. There are so many reasons for me, but ultimately it just seems unskillful. There's too much accumulation of various arguments.

Many people say, "the Dali Lama eats meat." But when he stopped eating meat again, did they notice? Did that sway them?

Some people say, "but plants have feelings to." But if they really meant that, they would only eat plants, and not meat which involves more killing of plants than plant eating.

I stopped eating meat for the first time when in a nutritional science class, I learned that it was not necessary. Being given free BBQ ribs, my weakness at the time, I went off the bandwagon.

My second stint as a vegetarian was when my good friend went to visit a friend who'd become a butcher, and was revolted. He read a book, I read it, and it convinced me. But I felt into some poverty, and felt I could not pass up free food, even if it had meat, and once the seal was broken, I just ate it. Envirnmentalism began to play a role in my not eating meat, beyond the dietary and more straight ethical questions. I've never really had that visceral reaction to a corpse, but I am repulsed by some of the practices.

My third time trying to be a vegetarian, I made an exception for fish. I thought: They are free range, and I need protein. I wasn't such a good vegetarian, a nutritionist in training examined my diet and said I was over eating carbohydrates because of a lack of protein. I'd restarted it at the example of my new uncle who is a vegan. He was eating a muffin that obviously had eggs in it. I asked him how he reconciled it? He said he wasn't 100% pure, but he aimed for it, and that even if he was out and fell off the wagon, he got back on. I realized, eating meat once didn't mean that I had to abandon my goals. But I read a book called Cod, and learned about the fishing practices. They drag a net through the water, killing everything. Then they call the market, find out what fish is bringing the most money, because they have quotas and can only take so much. And then they push the dead sea life off the deck back into the dead waters. No more illusions about free range fish.

My latest conversion was a combination of FWBO peer pressure (positive in this case) and a deepening feeling about not wanting to eat meat because it just wasn't skillful. One day I summoned the courage and will power and just did it. It was my hardest conversion somehow, maybe because I wasn't playing any more. I would not eat meat any more because of my conviction. I felt ashamed to eat meat. I saw the virtue in Vajramati, Seth and Trebor.

vegetarianism books

I love the New Yorker, even in it's slight decline. There's a good review of a book on vegetarianism. My Christian friends might like to look up the quotes from the Bible. I didn't know that being a vegetarian raises one's IQ, but that being a vegan isn't as good as meat eating. I didn't know that if everyone quit eating meat, it would have more of an envirnmental effect than quitting cars. The book is called The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times.

I've always liked Carol J. Adam's book The Sexual Politics of Meat, which talks of the vegetarian subtext in literature, and draws the parallel of treating someone as an object instead of a subject is what meat eaters do, and rapists.

My friend Bodhipaksa wrote Vegetarianism: Living a Buddhist life series, which I'm sure to read in the near future. My apologies for mispelling his name in the past in my blog.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Survey of Buddhism

Jayarava has an essay on A Survey Of Buddhism, available at Windhorse. I just finished the momentus first chapter. I'll also be reading Cittipala's essay.

There's also transcrips from seminars.

On p. 179 of my edition, Bante mentions an essay on the 5 Hinderances. I found it on line at: The Five Mental Hinderances and their conquest.

The NY Times has an article on retreat centers.

Unfortunately it doesn't mention Aryaloka which has a healthy retreat schedule.

Jayarava writes, "I've got my blog aggregator into beta release - previews at http://fwbo-news.net/grapevine/"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

read books mp3

The following books are read in mp3 format, downloadable: The Rainbow Road, Wisdom Beyond Words, Tales of Freedom, * The three jewels, Inconceivable Emancipation, Drama of Cosmic Enlightenment (so far, as of this date). I rejoice in Dharmachari Subhadra's merit!


With less hoopla, the first Buddhist member of congress was sworn in.


My meditation schedule I'm going to try and stick to:

Monday: Morning: 60 minutes Metta. Lunch: 40 minutes 6 Element.

Tuesday: Morning: 60 minutes compassion. Lunch: 40 minutes 6 Element. Sangha: MOB or Metta.

Wednesday: Morning: 60 minutes sympathetic joy. Lunch: 40 minutes 6 Elements.

Thursday: Morning: 60 minutes equanimity. Lunch: 40 minutes 6 Elements.

Friday: Morning: 60 Minutes Mindfulness of Breathing. Lunch: 40 minutes metta.

Saturday: Morning: 60 minutes Mindfulness of breathing. Mitras: 30 minutes MOB or Metta.

Sunday: Morning: 60 minutes Mindfulness of breathing.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Photo of me


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Originally uploaded by sravacitta.
Here I am Dec. 22nd, over the Hudson River, on my way up Mt. Taurus in the Hudson Highlands. Photo taken by Vajramati.

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Originally uploaded by vajramati.
Steve, Seth and Alyssa

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PICT0007
Originally uploaded by vajramati.
Seth, Alyssa and Steve

Mitra Hike!

We had our first mitra hike. We'd talked about it, and Seth and Alyssa are outdoorsy people. I picked everyone up and we drove to Breakneck Ridge. The conversations during hiking I think always are interesting, I think there are thoughts you might not have if you don't hike. I certainly benefit from my association with Vajramati, Alyssa and Seth, and being in nature. Driving back we listened to a wonderful dharma talk on buddhism and death. I think it's safe to say, a fun time was had by all. I want to try and make this a quarterly event.

I went to Trebor's wonderful party the night before.

Dhammarati's blog references a fascinating article by Vishvapani about growing pains of the FWBO.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

NVC and Timers

Compassionate or Non-Violent communication can give you some more tools to fulfill the ideal of the speech precepts.

Our NYC-FWBO web site, now has a meditation timer page.