Week 3 – Online winter retreat, presented by Deer Park Monastery. (To follow along copy and paste this in your browser, there are talks and readings posted every week: http://deerparkmonastery.org/teachings/the-ten-gates-online-course-winter-2012-2013/the-ten-gates-online-course-winter-2012-2013)
1.) What do I enjoy about my practice?
I enjoy being connected more fully – with myself, my surroundings and others. I enjoy coming back to my breathing and becoming grounded in the present moment. And I enjoy the fruits of my practice – things like responding more clearly to situations when they arise, embracing strong emotions, knowing how to cultivate joy in there here and now and being able to offer my true presence.
2.) What is it experientially that gives me confidence in the Buddha’s teaching? What transformations have I seen?
The teachings make sense to me. I was attracted to this practice because the teachings made sense and when I began to practice and bring them into my daily life I saw benefits right away. I have confidence in the teachings because I have seen how they cultivate a calming presence in my life and because they represent a path that brings me back to my true home, the present moment.
The transformations I have seen in my life due to this practice are plentiful. I am able to embrace life on life’s terms rather than constantly struggling against it and wishing it were different. I am able to sit and be still – I can calm my body and mind and return to the here and now. I am better equipped with tools to be fully human and offer that humanness to my community. I am better able to hold challenges and not get swept away by them and I am better able to accept myself just as I am. And I can be fully present for my loved ones. The list goes on and on…
3.) What does it mean to offer someone non-fear? To offer them the dharma? What does it mean to offer them to myself?
What I see as offering non-fear is to embrace someone else in the spirit of non-judgement, understanding and compassion. To offer non-fear is to listen deeply and to look with the eyes of love. To offer the dharma is to offer my true presence. When I breathe deeply and connect with myself in the here and now and become grounded in the joy and beauty that is within and around me in each moment I am sharing the dharma. And this too is what it means to offer it to myself. Embracing myself just as I am right now is the greatest gift I can offer myself.
One of the core practices of Plum Village is the practice of stopping. Create opportunities for stopping this week. When you come back to your breath, you may like to bring awareness to your senses: what you are hearing, what you are seeing, what you are sensing in your body and so on. Notice whether there are any patterns that emerge. Which of the senses are you naturally drawn to, or us most apparent to you?