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Part II: Mindful Meditation

The mind of meditation is none other than our own original, perfect, essential nature. While each of the major Buddhist traditions emphasizes different aspects and approaches to finding our true self, all point to the same mind. In this newsletter we explore the mind of meditation from the views of the Zen, Vipassana, and Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

For more information on the posture of meditation, view our meditation posture photographs. These photographs demonstrate basic sitting postures as well as alternative postures for those who are unable to sit cross-legged.

In this issue:


t i b e t a n b u d d h i s m
How to do Mindfulness Meditation
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

This article appeared originally in the Shambhala Sun magazine (

In mindfulness, or shamatha, meditation, we are trying to achieve a mind that is stable and calm. What we begin to discover is that this calmness or harmony is a natural aspect of the mind. Through mindfulness practice we are just developing and strengthening it, and eventually we are able to remain peacefully in our mind without struggling. Our mind naturally feels content more>>


The Threefold Purity from Start Where You Are
by Pema Chödrön

This article appeared originally in the Shambhala Sun magazine (

Meditation is about dissolving our fixation on ourselves, on the process of meditating, and on any result we might gain from it. Through meditation, we begin to get the hang of living with a non-grasping attitude. When you sit down to meditate, you can bring to your practice the notion of the threefold purity: not being caught up with ideas about yourself, not being caught up with ideas about the practice, and not being caught up with ideas about the

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z e n
Things-As-It-Is: A Talk on The Sandokai of Sekito Kisen
by Suzuki Roshi

This article appeared originally in the Shambhala Sun magazine ( and was taken from Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai, by Shunryu Suzuki, published in 1999 by the University of California Press. @ 1999 The Regents of the University of California. “Things As-It-Is” appeared in the May 2000 issue of the Shambhala Sun.

Our effort in Zen is to observe everything as-it-is. Yet even though we say so, we are not necessarily observing everything as-it-is. We say, "Here is my friend, over there is the mountain, and way up there is the moon." But your friend is not only your friend, the mountain is not only the mountain, and the moon is not only the moon. If we think, "I am here and the mountain is over there," that is a dualistic way of observing things more >> 

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v i p a s s a n a
Being Nobody, Going Nowhere
by Ayya Khema

© Ayya Khema, 1987, 2003. Reprinted from Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path, with permission of Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 U.S.A,

Why is meditation so important? You must have realized that it is, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. I'd like to emphasize that meditation is not just something extra to be done in our spare time, but is essential for our well-being.

One of our human absurdities is the fact that we're constantly thinking about either the future or the past. Those who are young think of the future because they've got more of it. Those who are older think more about the past because, for them, there is more of it. But in order to experience life, we have to live each moment. Life has not been happening in the past. more >> 

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Thank You For A Successful Prayer For Peace Fundraising Campaign
Thank you to all of our customers who, over the past several months, purchased peace cranes as part of our Prayer for Peace Campaign. We are delighted to announce that we have reached our goal of selling 1,000 peace cranes. DharmaCrafts, in partnership with Peace Craft, makers of the Peace Cranes, will now donate $14.55 from each set of cranes you purchased to the UN High Commission for Refugees Iraqi Relief Fund, totaling $4,845.00. Like 12 year-old Sadako Sasaki, whose courageous story is told in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, we hope that our prayer for peace is heard around the world.


Holiday Delivery Schedule & Extended Holiday Hours
Make sure your package arrives on time. Please review our holiday shipping schedule for a list of delivery services. Also, we've extended our holiday hours Monday thru Thursday till 6 PM EST to better serve you.

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Limited Edition CD by Philip Glass to benefit Jewel Heart
DharmaCrafts and renowned composer Philip Glass are pleased to offer you the opportunity to purchase a limited edition of 500 individually numbered, CD portfolios, with a signed copy of the original score by Philip Glass. Your purchase of this 17-minute, solo piano recording will benefit Jewel Heart, a spiritual, cultural, and humanitarian organization devoted to making the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism relevant to contemporary life. We hope you will consider taking advantage of this special opportunity to help keep Tibetan culture alive.

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DharmaBum: Taking Precepts & Living at The Cambridge Zen Center

by Kathy Park

In August of this year, I took the ten precepts to become a Dharma Teacher in training at Providence Zen Center. In our zen tradition as in most Buddhist traditions, taking precepts is a step in making our comittment to practice and use our life to help all beings. There are many stages of taking precepts, from the first five up to becoming ordained as a monk or nun. As lay practitioners we are able to take up to 48 Bodhisattva precepts. When we begin our practice and feel more familiar with our direction, we take the first five precepts.

I vow to abstain from taking life.

I vow to abstain from taking things not given.

I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust.

I vow to abstain from lying.

I vow to abstain from intoxicants, taken to produce headlessness.

At first some of the precepts can seem difficult to keep. And how can I be perfect and keep all of them any time, any place, any situation?

The idea of "commitment" can seem challenging. But that's why our practice itself is such good medicine for our thinking mind. And, as Zen Master Seung Sahn always says, "Only do it!" So “only do it” means lets not check whether we are perfect, or that we can keep each precept anytime, any place. It means that we merely make an internal decision to only try, and to keep trying nonstop. Having this trying mind itself opens up our true self so that faith and courage to "Only do it" becomes stronger and stronger. So this vow is very important.

So this vow is very important.

At every precepts ceremony we are given a little burn on our forearm with the incense stick as an initiation of having taken the precepts. When the incense burns our skin, our mind is completely clear for that instant, and no thinking arises. Taking precepts is our vow to return to this moment constantly, momen to moment. Every time we forget, we can look at our arm, and remember our vow, and this brings us back to the mind of clarity.

To become Dharma Teacher in training, we also take the following five precepts:

I vow not to talk about the faults of others.

I vow not to praise myself and put down others.

I vow not to be covetous and to be generous.

I vow not to give way to anger and to be harmonious.

I vow not to slander the three jewels, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

When I took the ten precepts, it became clear that the latter five were very pertinent to my current life situation. I live at the Cambridge Zen Center where we practice and live together, all 35 of us. Living at the Zen center means being with others who also make the commitment to practice the Dharma and are willing to share the process with all that it entails. Zen Master Seung Sahn says we are like potatoes in a big pot filled with water. Stir them and shake them, and they all clean each other by bumping into each other. Practicing together is not complicated. It's simply showing up to practice together. When our karma appears, that's when the precepts remind us of our vows.

When we move into a zen center, often times we experience our likes and dislikes, and what we think is right or wrong more strongly . That's because we find ourselves living with not just "I, my and me", but with about thirty-five other "I, my and me"s. But because we are practicing together, sometimes the "I, my, me" s become thirty-five Buddha nature faces all connecting in harmony.

During our last three-day Yong Maeng Jong Jin retreat (which in Korean means " to leap like a tiger while still", I had a very wonderful experience of together action working in our practice. On the last day of the retreat,as usual we had to wake up for bows at 4:30 a.m. Only, the electricity went out and everything was pitch black and silent. The mind is funny when conditions change. Either we are receptive to the changes, or we become uncomfortable, not willing to accept them, and make reasons for blaming our conditions not making us happy. Of all things, I was thinking with some irritation

"Whos' responsible?"

or "What shall we do if we have no heat?"

or "When will it come back on?"

So many "what if's" came through my head in the first five minutes of a groggy wakeup .

"The vaccuum cleaners won't work - uh oh..I can't do the laundry...."

Naturally, the wake up was a little staggered, but thankfully the bell was rung, the moktak was hit, and everyone found their way to the Dharma room. Then we bowed with the candles lit on the altar. The Dharma room glowed with a wonderful and warm light. As we recited our Four Great Vows, the space felt more intimate. No "what ifs appeared, and everything “as is” was perfectly fine. My groggy morning karma reminded me of the just taken ten precepts, especially the one about not giving way to anger and to be harmonious. This is especially true when I simply realize that this irritation or anger came from nowhere, is completely empty, and created by my little, fearful, thinking mind alone. Thanks to the candle lights, the darkness was dispelled.

By chanting time, it dawned on me that a long time ago when electricity was not available, this was how morning practice was everyday, in warm candlelight. By sitting time, the darkeness began to transform slowly into light in the greatest, clearest silence in a long time. We sat until the chukpi clacked sharply three times and by then, the room was freezing, but inside I felt happy that I wasn't alone, but in a room full of friends feeling cold together. Very quickly the hot oatmeal came for our formal breakfast. That and the hot soy milk poured over with honey and granola was the best breakfast in Cambridge ever! By work period, the woodfire stove was ablaze in the dining room and the rest of the morning's walking meditation periods were a warm pleasure as we walked around the stove. With many hands all the things got done, everything eventually got taken care of.

Someone called the electric company and informed us that the power wouldn’t be back on for another four hours. Five minutes later, it came back. The sudden humming of refrigerators, the heaters, the laundry machines, and the relieved energy of people was a surprise. It was as if the silence had gone the moment the lights came back on.

No lights, no power, was a good experience. It's magic was in the lack of sounds, lack of necessities. And that lacking them, we are still complete.

By living and practicing together after a while our karma of many likes and dislikes, good and bad judgements slowly melt and our minds become clearer as practice works like Irish mist. Irish mist is like dew that just keeps falling but invisible to the eye. Only after a while, can we feel our whole bodies are wet and soaked through. Our practice works this way.

But we have to do it.

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Related Products from DharmaCrafts

Insight Meditation: An In-Depth Correspondence Course with Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg (audio)

Buddhist Meditation Books

Zafu & Zabuton Set (ZZSet)



Support Cushions

Benches & Accessories

Roll Up and Go Yoga Mat


Related Articles from the Kwan Um School of Zen

Three Letters to a Beginner by Zen Master Seung Sahn

Related Books from Shambhala Sun

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation
by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The True Foundation of Practice
by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Related Books from Shambhala Publications

Shambhala The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa


Related Audio from Sounds True

Shambhala The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa


Related Articles from Tricycle, the Buddhist Review

Guided Breathing Meditation (Theravadin)

Driving Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

Zazen: How to Sit


Related Books from Wisdom Publications

How to Meditate: A practical Guide by Kathleen McDonald

Zen Meditation in Plain English by John Daishin Buksbazen

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DharmaCrafts gratefully acknowledges the participation of our Dharma Business Friends who have contributed learning content to this issue of In The Moment:

- Kwan Um School of Zen
- Shambhala Publications
- Shambhala Sun Magazine
- Sounds True

- Tricycle Magazine
- Wisdom Publications

DharmaCrafts publishes In the Moment, our monthly email newsletter, as a source for learning more about meditation and the teachings of Buddhism, and as a venue to interact with you, our DharmaCrafts community. We love to hear from you; email us at:


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