Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Bigger Perspective

Dear Sangha,
Yesterday we read together about half of Pema’s chapter, “Taking a Bigger Perspective.’ We talked about the wider vision possible when the walls of our ego are seen through. We tried to decide what Pema meant when she said we are “always standing in the middle of a sacred circle.” We looked up “sacred.”

imagesPema says, “This room is not the sacred circle.  .  . Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’re always in the middle of the universe and the circle is always around  you. Everyone who walks up to you has entered that sacred space, and it’s not an accident. Whatever comes into the space is there to teach you.”

That simple paragraph actually has a lot to consider. In what way are we always in the center? In what way is that space sacred? We talked about the idea of a solid self, and how when that begins to be seen through, and we begin to see the world around us as our own projection, then we see that we actually create that world. Hence, we’re in the middle of it. This is a lot to take in unless we’ve put in our time on the cushion. Even then, some teachings we just have to hear and trust that images-1eventually, understanding will come.

Janet will be leading next week. Many thanks!

Also, there is a sangha member who lives near the corner of Cass and Airport Road who is going to need a ride if he is able to continue to come. He uses a wheelchair. If you are able to help out with this, let me know.
Love,
Fleda

Joy!

Dear Sangha,
imgresWe had a lovely time yesterday talking about the chapter in Pema Chodron’s book (The Wisdom of No Escape) titled “Joy.” Well, actually, several of us noted that when the buds are bursting out, the sun is shining, sometimes, as the poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” We feel down. And it’s painful to feel down when all seems joyful. The contrast is hard to take.

Pema says “The greatest obstacle to connecting with our joy is resentment.”
We resent the fact that we’re not as smart, rich, healthy, secure, whatever, as our neighbor. Or as we think we should be. It does no good to tell ourselves how wonderful the world is, how much we DO have.

imgresSo the practice is to sit, to watch how we label our feelings, to see if we can feel the texture below the label, to watch how that feeling and texture changes. Up and down, back and forth, things are always changing. As we look, often we begin to see gaps, open spaces between our thoughts, our preconceptions. This is the beginning of wisdom, of seeing.

One of Trungpa Rinpoche’s favorite sayings, as Pema remembers, is “You can do it.” The work requires dedication, but we can do it.

Love,
Fleda

No Escape

Dear Sangha,
imgres“For a fully enlightened being, the difference between what is neurosis and what is wisdom is very hard to perceive, because somehow the energy underlying both of them is the same. The basic creative energy of life. . .can be experienced as open, free, unburdened, full of possibility, energizing. Or this very same energy can be experienced as petty, narrow, stuck, caught.”

imgres-1This is Pema, talking about two sides, as she puts it, of the same coin. They are, together, the human condition. We don’t get to get out of it. Meditation helps us to get to know that basic energy “really well,” she says. We’re all different and our energies are different. We learn gradually what directions are good for us and what aren’t. We learn, as she says, what’s poison for us and what’s medicine. Basically, the practice comes down to learning to trust ourselves

But in order to do that, we have to see clearly. We have to see through our confusions so that our actions are authentic. We need to sit a lot!

We had a great discussion last night about ritual, the nature of religions, and basic sanity. Join us next week if you can.

Love,
Fleda

Important Notice!

Dear Sangha,
imgresIt won’t be possible for us to have a four-hour sitting this Sunday. There’s no one to lead it. HOWEVER, I can be back to lead the regular 5-7 sitting and book discussion. SO, we will meet this Sunday from 5-7.
Love,
Fleda

 

Gentleness, and Thinking

Dear Sangha,
imagesPema Chodron talks about being gentle with ourselves in this practice. As we talked about that, we became aware that this may be a bit tricky. We may end up with a dichotomy–“I’m doing this well, so great!” Or “I’m not doing this well, so I need to be gentle with myself.” Rather, if we just sit still and observe what arises, what moves—without judgment (or if we do, we don’t judge the judgment)—there is no particular need to add anything to that observation.

Secondarily, though, if difficult feelings arise, or crazy thoughts, we may want to be gentle with ourselves as we see our own reaction to those thoughts and feelings. See the subtle difference? Not sure I know how to say this clearly.

images-2As for “thinking,” the other part of our reading yesterday, we talked about the value or lack of value in labeling “thinking” when we see we’re doing it. You might try just observing, and then try labeling. If you seem to need the labeling, you might do that for a while until it falls away naturally. The point is, as always, observation. Just seeing when thoughts arise and seeing when they seem to fade away. We keep observing. That’s all. There is enormous power in learning to note when a thought arises. We see that the thought is not “us.” It is not who we “are,” but is “only” a thought. A lot of quotation marks here! They stand for the IDEA of “us,” of “are” or of “only.”  😎

Next week we read the section called “Letting Go.” See you then.
Love,
Fleda

P.S. If anyone in the Grawn area could give Loraine a ride to meditation, please contact her at woodzy707@icloud.com. Thanks!

Nuts and Bolts of Sitting Meditation

Dear Sangha,
imagesPart of the chapter we read last night had to do directly with meditation technique, and we spent a fair amount of time on that. Pema suggests being mindful of the out-breath. The idea is that the in-breath is accompanied by more tension. The out-breath is where we release, and is more likely not to encourage our desire to control. Coming back to the breath over and over is a way to train the mind. Shikantaza, or “just this,” is a way of meditating that is simply open to “whatever moves,” as my teacher Sokuzan says. One sits with a straight back, a relaxed body, and just watches–the breath, the body, the sounds, the wall in front of us, and the thinking.

Shikantaza is harder and is more likely to cause a beginner confusion (am I doing it “right”?), but on the other hand, is less likely to encourage the ego to become attached to doing it “right.”

UnknownWhat does it mean, to “watch” thinking? The internal talk comes up even before we realize it and leaves as soon as we “see” it. Usually. Awareness is everything.The intention is simply to become aware of the rise and fall of thoughts. We’re not becoming interested in the content of the thoughts, just their arising and passing. And to become aware of the gaps between thoughts.

Pema has more to say about being gentle with ourselves as we practice. We’ll talk more about that next week.

Love,
Fleda

 

 

Precision, Gentleness, and Letting Go

imgresThat’s the title of Chapter 4 of Pema’s book. She’s emphasizing that the Buddha said we aren’t bad people, but that we have “innocent misunderstanding” that can be turned around, seen through, as if we were in a dark room and turned on the light. It isn’t a sin to be in a dark room!

Same with our “so called” limitations. If we see them with precision, gentleness, goodheartedness, and kindness, if we see them fully, we begin to see that our world is more vast than we thought, more “refreshing” is the word Pema uses.

Meditation, she says, “is about seeing clearly the body we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation we have, the job we have, and the people who are in our lives. Seeing how we react to all those things. Not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly, with precision and gentleness.

imgres-1If we push on ourselves, we may get “better,” but the pushing is likely to backfire on us. If we just observe, the energy of our unskillful actions will begin to die down.

“Our neurosis and our wisdom are made of the same material,” Pema says. Throw out one and you throw out the other. Read the rest of Chapter 4 to hear more about that.

See you next week,
Love,
Fleda

A Rumi Poem

Outside, the freezing desert night.
This other night inside grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.
The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.

The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is that there’s no news at all.

imgresRumi (1207 – 1273), was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet. He was also a jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic.

See you next week when we begin Chapter 4 of The Wisdom of No Escape, by Pema Chodron.

Love,
Fleda