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Re-Envisioning the Practice

This morning, I watched a portion of a Dharma talk on YouTube, given by Brother Phap Dung in Plum Village on July 29th, 2018. It was entitled: The Power of Cutting Off and Letting Go. (Here’s the link if you’re interested.)

How timely that it happened to correspond well with the reading I’d done earlier this morning from our Plum Village Chanting and Recitation Book.

Once a week, I read a different sutra from the chanting book. This morning I found myself reading the Discourse on the Dharma Seal, where it gives mention to the “three defiling qualities of mind – greed, hatred, and delusion.” Brother PD also spoke to this list in his talk, though he referred to them as the three afflictions and rephrased them a bit as: craving, anger, and ignorance.

He also spoke about the three virtues – also referred to as gauges – of a spiritual person and/or leader:

  1. Compassion
  2. Wisdom
  3. Freedom (or cutting off or cutting through)

Some things from the Brother’s talk that I scribed down while watching:

– We must re-envision our practice so that it includes all activities, not just certain ones or the ones we find pleasing; this is what Thay meant when he coined the phrase engaged Buddhism. (this is a paraphrase)

– “Be ordinary, don’t stick out. Don’t over-practice.” – Brother PD on the practice of washing the dishes

– “Buddhist practice is like medicine. It helps us, frees us, and then you don’t go holding on to it.”

– Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t met Thay and I think to myself: my life was so much easier before coming to this practice. So, you might want to go somewhere else (for spiritual practice), because in this practice tradition you have to look at things you might not want to look at. (paraphrase)

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Daily Gratitude Practice

Every morning after my session of sitting meditation, I have a gratitude practice I do, which involves bowing down to the earth three times and then doing one final standing bow.
 
With each bow, I offer a gratitude. The first and last gratitudes are the same each morning, but the middle two are spontaneous and change each day.
 
Today’s Gratitudes:
1. I bow down to the earth in gratitude for this one precious life.
2. I bow down to the earth in gratitude for all of the opportunities, luxuries, modern conveniences, abilities, and abundance I am afforded.
3. I bow down to the earth in gratitude for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha for showing me the way in this life, and for nourishing and supporting me.
4. In gratitude for this one more opportunity to live today, may I be useful, may I be kind.
 
 

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Squirrel Meditation

Our campsite on the Flathead Lake

This past weekend (Aug 2-5) we had our sangha summer campout with our meditation community Be Here Now – it was our 6th annual! We’ve been using the same campground each summer: Big Arm State Park on the Flathead Lake in northwestern Montana. For the past 3 years, we’ve been managing to reserve their one and only group site, which wonderfully allows us to be all together in one spot AND right on the water! So great!!

Each campout is a nice social/community building/relaxing hang-time on the lake opportunity for our sangha. It allows us to be joyfuly together, whilst revelling in the lake, each others company, and the practice of having nowhere to go and nothing to do. We spend our time: reading, floating/paddling/swimming, conversing, laughing, playing games, drinking tea/coffee, sharing community meals, napping, and hanging out around the fire at night. Given that we had a smaller group than usual, and Saturday afternoon was a bit blustery, we even took a field trip this year during our campout: cherry picking!

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Seven Treasures of the Heart

Over this past weekend, I finished watching a talk by Brother Phap Hai, which he gave at Deer Park Monastery on June 21st, 2018. I watch a fair amount of Dharma talks online and I found this one in particular to be very powerful. If you’d like to check it out, click here. Side note: if you’re like me and it’s helpful to watch talks in segments, there are good stopping/pausing points in this talk at 17.40 and 31.05 (the total run time is 54.55).

From Brother Phap Hai’s talk:

“The fundamental insight of Buddhism is that if we look deeply into our lives, into our situation, with appropriate attention, then the path reveals itself naturally.”

 

Seven Treasures of the Heart

as offered by the Buddha in the Dhana Sutta

1. Confidence

2. Mindfulness trainings

3. Self-reflection

4. Concern

5. Listening

6.Generosity

7. Discernment

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On Motorcycling

My husband Mike leading the way through Glacier National Park, July 2018

On Motorcycling

To experience what it means to fall in love with motorcycling – to have an enthusiasm alight and burn within – one needs to embody certain qualities:

  1. An ability to sit still.
  2. Adaptability to weather varying road conditions.
  3. Fortitude (cuz it can sure get gusty out there)
  4. Enough openness of heart to allow the wind of a ride to clear out the mental static, replacing the day’s un-pleasantries with spaciousness and ease.
  5. Strength of character to both hold your own and be a good pack member.
  6. Steadiness of disposition.
  7. A go-with-the-flow approach to life enough to make it possible for the rumble of an engine beneath you to stir up a power that recharges you.
  8. An appreciation of what the open road has to teach and offer.
  9. An admiration for the capacity of a ride’s ability to alter your perspective of time and space and sense of connection.
 

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I sit for the benefit of all beings

When I sit in meditation – when I close my eyes and practice to come back to the sensations of my in-breath and out-breath, over and over and over again – I do so not only for my own benefit, but for yours too, my friend.

I sit for the strangers I’ll pass by today; for those I’ll have brief interactions with; for those I work beside; for the members of my household: 2-legged and 4-legged alike; for the neighbors I might wave hello to; for my family members who live states away; for my friends near and far.

Sitting in meditation every day is one of the most potent and powerful acts I can engage in, to help support me in my aspiration to be of service and benefit to as many beings as I can muster reaching.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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The Zen of Motorcycling

My new bike: Crow Rider (2009 Kawasaki Vulcan, 500)

 

We can read social media posts, online accounts, manuals, books, and anthologies all about motorcycles.

We can buy all the proper and fancy gear and gadgetry.

We can hang out with bikers; learn the culture; adopt the lingo; rally the biker spirit within.

We can become a MC enthusiast, going so far as to adorn our daily 4-tire vehicle with a bumper sticker that reads: “My other car is a motorcycle,” so everyone is sure to know.

We can even have a bike and trick it out with bells and whistles and state-of-the-art this and eye-catching that.

But none of this can teach us how to ride.

To learn, we have to get on the bike and cruise around.

We have to get comfortable wielding it to and fro; experience the subtleties; navigate turns and winding roads; practice how to stop at red lights without lurching around like a bucking bronco.

We can only know what it is to breathe in the fragrant tangle of pine trees or a freshly cultivated field of hay while going 70-mph on a bike by doing it. There is no other proper substitute aside from bearing direct witness.

And then to gain skill, we have to keep riding.

We have to keep lacing up our boots, firing up the engine, ratcheting on our helmet, and taking to the road.

 

 

 

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