Part I: Finding Your True Self
Our June issue of In the Moment explores the first part of the question, "Why Meditate?" From the viewpoints of the Zen, Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhist traditions, we will discover what it means to be human and how meditation practice helps us uncover the truth of who we really are.
In this issue:
z e n
The Human Route
Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed -- that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like this.
But there is one thing which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.
What is that one pure and clear thing?
The Four Panel Calligraphy Screen expresses the beauty and mystery of The Human Route, an ancient Zen poem. The large calligraphic circle in the center of the screen is called an "enso". It represents Substance, Original Nature, or the Great Question, "What Is This?". Next to the enso, painted in Chinese characters, are the first lines of this famous poem - "Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed - that is human."
by Zen Master Seung Sahn
If you look closely at human beings in the world today, you notice that they are not human beings. They don't act like human beings. If a human being acts correctly, then he or she becomes a true human being. Moment to moment, what do you do? What is your correct direction? Moment to moment, what is your correct life? How do you find your correct way? How do you save all beings from suffering? more >>
v i p a s s a n a
by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
This article appeared originally in the Shambhala Sun magazine (www.shambhalasun.com) and was adapted from the book, Mindfulness in Plain English, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. An updated and expanded edition of this book is available from Wisdom Publications.
Meditation is not easy. It takes time and it takes energy. It also takes grit, determination, and discipline. It requires a host of personal qualities that we normally regard as unpleasant and like to avoid whenever possible. We can sum up all of these qualities in the American word gumption.
Meditation takes gumption. It is certainly a great deal easier just to sit back and watch television. So why bother? Why waste all that time and energy when you could be out enjoying yourself? Why? more >>
t i b e t a n b u d d h i s m
Riding the Energy of Basic Goodness
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
This article appeared originally in the Shambhala Sun magazine.
"The life force called windhorse is the unlimited energy of basic goodness, buddhanature, inherent wakefulness. We connect with it through meditation practice."
During hard times, people often ask me for advice. They feel destabilized and scattered. They're often caught up in examining who they are, what the world is, and how they fit in. They're questioning their understanding of buddhadharma, as well as their commitment to acting in the world as a true practitioner. They seem to hope I'll be able to offer some secret antidote or remedy to make their hard time easier, because it's draining them of life force. more >>
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June 2003 – California Vipassana Center
North Fork, CA
Our June DharmaBum is Robert Adkins who writes about his recent retreat at the California Vipassana Center in North Fork, CA. Robert is a longtime Vipassana practitioner and a student of S.N. Goenka. In addition, he is one of our favorite sources for the Thai products in our catalog. Robert and his wife Ratana own Boon Mee, a retail store in Santa Barbara, CA, that specializes in Asian style home décor and meditation supplies.
Discovering the Value of Dharma Service
Having just returned from serving a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat, I’m filled with energy, joy and gratitude for the privilege of deepening my Dharma practice while serving others. After sitting several 10-day Vipassana meditation courses over the past five years, I was happy to finally have an opportunity to give something. I never dreamed I would receive so much from the experience. I discovered that the value of Dharma service goes beyond the joy of selflessly serving others. After a short while I realized I was also learning how to more skillfully apply Dharma in my day-to-day life.
While preparing nutritious vegetarian meals for 125 meditation students, center staff, and the teachers, my co-servers and I were learning to act according to Dharma in dealing with each others, the students, and the situations that arose in the small world of the meditation center. Despite the fact that unwanted things occasionally occurred, like prepping the wrong vegetable for the day’s main menu item and burning a big pot of brown rice, I was able to practice trying to maintain the balance of my mind and generate love and compassion. Preparation of food, washing dishes, cleaning and mopping floors became joyful opportunities to practice Mindfulness, and I quickly saw that I was a student as much as those who were sitting the course.
The one-hundred and thirty acre California Vipassana Center, which is located near North Fork, California in the foothills below Yosemite National Park, is a peaceful, beautiful setting perfect for learning and practicing the Dharma. Spring is a wonderful time of year to retreat there. The spring weather is a microcosm of the four seasons with cold nights and a refreshing mix of rain, snow, and warm sunshine that nourishes the lush, diverse flora indigenous to the area. And what a joy it is to be awakened each morning at 4 a.m. to the melodic resonance of a Burmese gong echoing through the pristine canyon, calling students and servers to the first meditation sit of the day.
Several times each day the servers made the half-mile trek up the steep path from the kitchen to the Dharma hall to practice Vipassana with the regular students. Climbing in silence I noted each step up the serpentine ridge over rocks weathered by time, past gardens of pink and green lichen, wild black berry, sugar pines, manzanitas, and meadows blushing with the pastels of spring’s wildflowers. We walked in silence but there was sound enough; the wind in trees, the muffled clods and scuffs underfoot, the knocking of wood peckers, the call of blue-jays, the soft scamper of squirrels as they rushed from bush to bush. Walking in silence I noted it all. Every step and every breath becomes meditation.
At night, the rain clouds often cleared away to reveal a starry sky. Each night following the 9 p.m. sit, I would look up beyond the dorsal tilt of the Dharma hall’s rooflines, beyond the tangle of leaves and emptiness to the stars that lift me up. Like flowering branch sprays of exploding densities, they appeared so entirely vivid that I felt I could touch the sky. From there, suspended inside time I felt humble, serene, and in harmony with all of Nature.
Selfless service, I learned, is an essential part of the path of Dharma, an important step in the direction of liberation. My liberation from misery may be only beginning, but it is enough to bring me a deep sense of gratitude for having been given the wonderful teaching of Dharma. With these feeling of love and compassion, the wish to help others out of misery arises within me. May all beings find true happiness, true peace.
Information about Vipassana Meditation may be accessed at www.dhamma.org
Dhamma Centers of North America:
Shelburne, MA – firstname.lastname@example.org
North Fork, CA – email@example.com
Kaufman, TX – firstname.lastname@example.org
Onalaska, WA – email@example.com
Merritt, BC Canada – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sujtton, QC Canada – email@example.com