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Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200409.html

September 2004

Our Online Meditation Courses

Life member program

  "The Path of Mindfulness and Love" ($75)

  "Change Your Mind" ($75)

  "Awakening the Heart" ($75)

  "Entering the Path of Insight" ($75)

  Life Member Program ($125)

Course Schedule for 2004

Bodhipaksa is taking a few more breaks this year in order to go on retreats, to teach a summer course at the University of New Hampshire, and to concentrate on writing projects, so please remember to plan ahead if you're interested in taking one of our courses. You can sign up for any course at any time.

Courses start on the following dates:

  Oct 4, 2004
  Nov 1, 2004
  Nov 29, 2004

Seven Great Reasons to take a meditation course online:

  1. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll have an ongoing practice discussion with Bodhipaksa, who will give you encouragement and personal feedback based on over 20 years' experience of meditation.
  2. Depth: As you reflect in your journal, get feedback, and gain insights from learning new practices, you'll take your meditation practice to a new level of effectiveness.
  3. Quality: Access to outstanding written and audiovisual materials online.
  4. Support: You'll benefit from the discipline of a structured four-week course.
  5. Convenience: Log on when you want, fitting classes into your schedule when it's convenient.
  6. Flexibility: Download audio files that will guide you through meditation at any time.
  7. Availability: There are many opportunities each year to take a course. See the dates above for details.

A current student writes...

"Your course has helped me in calming down. I notice now that I am less prone to anger as I used to be. I used to have a very short fuse. Now that fuse has increased substantially. I enjoyed your course immensely and will probably take it again in October as a refresher."

Mike Armstrong, New Mexico.


Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

Welcome to our newsletter for September, with a roundup of recent news stories about meditation, a book recommendation, and a quote of the month with commentary. We also have news of a retreat exploring Mindfulness that Bodhipaksa is leading in Montana in September.

Our next online meditation courses start Monday, October 4. Make sure you book your place now.

In this issue:

  • ¡Aprender Meditación Budista!
  • Our next online course
  • Meditation in the news
  • Support our translation project
  • September retreat in Montana
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

¡Aprender meditación Budista!

We're pleased to announce that our Spanish site is live, at http://espanol.wildmind.org. If you're a Spanish speaker we hope that you'll enjoy reading about meditation in that language, and if you know someone who speaks Spanish and who is interested in meditation be sure to sent them the link. We'll be adding some more material in the coming weeks, including guided meditations in MP3 format, and a section on Mantras.

Our Chinese site will be appearing in the next few weeks.

Our next online courses

Our next online courses start October 4. Places are limited, so make a reservation soon.

Our courses offer a rich experience, with online readings, guided meditations in MP3 and RealAudio format, a discussion forum, and personal attention in your online journal.

And our courses are suitable from complete beginners to more experienced practitioners.

Read more here!

Meditation in the news

One again we bring you a substantial collection of news stories concerning meditation. A common theme in the last month was how people cope with adopting a meditative lifestyle when they move to a monastery. National Public Radio broadcast two items by Ted Rose on this topic, while other stories explore the lifestyle of Buddhist nuns and an 11-year-old boy who "robes up" in his summer vacation from school. In other news, Madonna has a backstage meditation room and a proposed Florida retreat center meets objections from local hunters who are worried about the residents making too little noise!

Aug 23 Meditate the stress away (Press-Telegram, Los Angeles)
David Perrin couldn't let go of his anxious thoughts. If he dealt with a cranky guest at the hotel where he works, the encounter weighed on him for the rest of the day. Now when that happens, he just says, "Om."

Aug 19 China detains Buddhist, U.S. group says (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
A Chinese Buddhist leader was detained and some of his American followers dragged away when they tried to hold a ceremony at a temple in northern China that they had paid to renovate, according to members of the group. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Thursday protested to China over the "mistreatment of American citizens" and sought assurances that the spiritual leader, Yu Tianjian, would be treated fairly.

Aug 18 More on meditation and Zen Master Thich Thanh Tu (Fort Wayne News Sentinel)
My own halting attempts to meditate had begun about six months ago after I stumbled across a meditation manual in, of all places, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reference library. Several days a week I would enter my den in my sweat suit (or whatever clothes I happened to be wearing that morning), shut off the computer and find the comfortable chair in the corner of our den. But on a recent evening at Quang Chieu Zen Monastery, the nuns would have none of that.

Aug 18 Substance abuse treated with yoga and acupuncture (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas)
Four days a week, Lori McLaughlin waits patiently in a small room, five needles sticking in each ear. Within five minutes, her fidgeting stops and she smiles. "It doesn't hurt," she said. "I sleep better. I can relax. And I don't feel like I have to find $10 so I can go out and buy drugs. Not anymore." McLaughlin is a regular at acupuncture drug treatment, or acu-detox, sessions offered by the nonprofit Tarrant Council on Alcoholism& Drug Abuse. She also participates in a new, complementary program, yoga for beginners.

Aug 17 Madonna's "Peace Room" raises questions about meditation (Religion News Service)
The Sun Newspaper in the UK reports that Madonna has asked that a special "peace room" be constructed backstage at the Manchester News Arena in advance of her two concert appearances there. The soundproof area is reportedly needed "so she can meditate and go into a trance before going on stage." The room walls must be draped in green sheeting and have soft cushions on the floor. It quotes "an insider" as saying: "She doesn't want to hear a pin drop and it needs to be green -- the colour most conducive to meditation."

Aug 16 Dialing up emptiness (Sacramento Bee, California)
Back in the '70s, many of us devoted ourselves to "being in the moment" and "living in the present." To achieve this end, we meditated, we did yoga, we sought a simpler life. And it felt good. The idea was that whatever it is that we are doing right now is as important as anything past or future. Our life has meaning and is rewarding to the extent that we can focus on each task we perform as we are performing it, each thought as we are thinking it, each emotion as we are feeling it.

Aug 16 Look back at anger (BBC)
If there's one emotion you are supposed to keep bottled up, it's anger - which means big business for anyone giving lessons to those who find it difficult to control themselves. But is anger as bad as it's made out to be?

Aug 15 Nothing doing (San Francisco Chronicle)
A number of years ago, feeling more stressed out than usual, I signed up for a meditation class. On the first night, sitting cross-legged on the floor with several dozen other seekers of peace, I listened as an elderly Buddhist monk told us to close our eyes and think about absolutely nothing. I tried, and for about half a second I almost had it.

Aug 15 Learning the Robes: 11-year-old devotes summers to sampling the monastic life (Anchorage Daily News, Alaska)
Five minutes ago, Oni Malamon had his hair shaved clean off for the third summer in a row. He sat on his heels on a towel in the basement of Wat Dhamma Bhavana Buddhist Center, a Thai Buddhist temple on a suburban street in South Anchorage. His eyes were squeezed shut, one cracking open periodically to watch two monks' orange robes as they spread shaving cream over his head.

Aug 15 The nuns' life: enlightenment without TV (Star-Telegram, Texas)
Inside the new temple, the floors are covered by lush gray carpet, the walls painted a vivid yellow, but the focal point, of course, is the huge statue of Buddha at the head of the room, surrounded by flowers, fruit offerings and a fluorescent halo (behind the statue's head).

Aug 14 Alternative therapies seeing a new revival (Khaleej Times - Dubai,United Arab Emirates)
With the mainstream medicines offering only a little hope in some cases, a good number of people have been taking recourse to alternative therapies to revive their health. Ancient therapies, such as yoga, acupuncture, feng shui, aromatherapy and colour therapy are seeing a new revival amongst people, with many trying these to increase their sense of well-being.

Aug 13 Meditation center denied 'Om' in Graham (Bradford County Telegraph, Florida)
In what might be a first in the history of zoning, a meditation center will not be built in Graham - not because neighboring property owners feared disruption by the center, but because the property owners, themselves, felt they would cause too much racket for those in search of peace and quiet.

Aug 12 Pittman's race against the clock (Sidney Morning Herald, Australia)
Jana Pittman has bypassed modern technology and is relying on new-age techniques in her bid to make the starting line in Athens. For months Pittman has practised meditation; now it is a significant weapon in her fight to overcome a knee injury, and subsequent surgery, and compete in the Olympic 400-metre hurdles heats on August 21.

Aug 9 Iowa town booms on Eastern ways (Washington Post)
When Eric Schwartz decided to move his financial services business from Silver Spring here to southeastern Iowa so he could join other practitioners of transcendental Meditation in 1992, he worried that clients and colleagues might think he was a little crazy. "Some people think TM [transcendental Meditation] is some kind of cult or devil worship," he said. "I thought it might be negative for my business, that customers would freak out."

Aug 6 Retreat from my retreat (National Public Radio )
A year ago this week, Ted Rose abandoned his New York City urban life and headed for the American West. He lives year-round at the Shambhala Mountain Center in the Colorado Rockies. In part three of a week-long series, he talks about how he sometimes needs a retreat from his retreat.

Aug 5 Witness to a cremation (National Public Radio )
When commentator Ted Rose moved from New York City to the Shambhala Mountain Center, a Buddhist retreat in the Colorado Rockies, people talked about the meditation schedules and the communal eating. No one mentioned the center's open-air crematorium.

Aug 3 Buddhism and the 12 Steps (Beliefnet)
Both Buddhist practice and 12-Step programs encourage followers to have faith in their own experience.

Aug 3 Awareness in every sip (Beliefnet)
'Mindful drinkers' say alcohol in moderation can illuminate the mind. But some Buddhists get more than a buzz.

Aug 1 Minnesotan's quest leads to the path of Zen (Minnesota Star tribune)
His own unfolding life has led Steve Hagen from his hometown of Duluth to a path of spiritual questioning and the study of Zen Buddhism. He founded Dharma Field Zen Center, a meditation and learning center in Minneapolis, and has written a best-selling book on Buddhism. And he's part of the first generation of American Zen teachers. In his books, the Zen teacher tries to dispel misunderstandings about Buddhism. He also tries to help people understand how their thinking can lead to difficulties such as longing and loathing, and suggests ways to avoid those ways of thinking.

begging bowl

Support our translation project

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting awareness and compassionate values through the practice of meditation.

Join our list of benefactors! If you've benefited from our site and would like to give something back, then making a donation can help us enormously. You can give as little as a dollar, but of course feel free to give as much as you want!

All contributions will go to our translation fund, which aims to help us translate Wildmind into other languages in order to help people around the world develop mindfulness and compassion. We now have French and Spanish versions of the site online, and a Chinese version will be available in September.

montana sunset

Big Sky Mind Retreat
September 10-16
Elliston, MT
Led by Bodhipaksa

There are still a few spaces on Bodhipaksa's retreat under the beautiful, spacious skies of Montana.

The practice of mindfulness, in which we observe our experience with acceptance, kindness, and curiosity, can lead not only to stillness of mind but also to a profound change in the way we see ourselves and our relationship to the world. We can come to realize that our normal sense of ourselves, in which we are in some sense separate from the outside world, is but an illusion, and can come to appreciate ourselves as part of a greater, interconnected whole. We can learn to sit like a mountain and to find a deep contentment in having a mind that is as expansive as the sky.

On this retreat, deep in the heart of Big Sky country, we'll be exploring mindfulness and the practice of dissolving the boundaries of the self so that we can expand it outwards until "self" and "other" have little or no meaning. We'll use a variety of forms of the mindfulness of breathing practice and walking meditation in order to stabilize the mind, and we'll use the six element practice in order to let go of our limited ways of seeing ourselves, and to enjoy seeing ourselves as part of an interconnected reality.

The retreat will be conducted mainly in silence, with talking only during meditation interviews and question and answer sessions. Both reading and communication with those who are not on retreat can have an unsettling effect on the mind, and in order to facilitate greater stillness of mind we ask you to leave all reading materials, cell phones, laptops, etc., at home or to check them in on arrival and not to use them until the retreat ends.

For further details, visit the website of the Rocky Mountain Buddhist Center.


Quote of the month

"All happiness comes from the desire for others to be happy.
All misery comes from the desire for oneself to be happy."

-- Shantideva

This is a strong statement, that all happiness comes from desiring that others be happy while all unhappiness comes from wanting ourselves to be happy. Like many strong statements it is to some extent an overstatement; it's not the desire for ourselves to be happy but holding that desire in a selfish way that is the problem. Like charity, love begins at home. Many of our problems arise however when it also ends there.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is a great fan of Shantideva, agrees with the claim that loving others brings about happiness for oneself: "From my own limited experience, I have found that the greatest inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being."

And modern neuroscience backs up these claims. Tests on meditators have shown that during the experience of compassion generated during meditation, the brain shows a shift from activity in the right prefontal area to the left prefrontal area. These changes are closely correlated with feelings of wellbeing and happiness, and experienced meditators showed changes in brain activity that suggested that they were in an extremely positive state of mind while cultivating compassion.

It would seem that human beings are inherently social animals, and that the more strongly we are connected to others in a positive way, the more complete we become. By contrast, when we cut off from others and think only of our own wellbeing, we dimishing ourselves and reduce our capacity for happiness.


book cover

What Bodhipaksa's reading this month

The Seven Stages of Money Maturity : Understanding the Spirit and Value of Money in Your Life
by George Kinder (Paperback, $11.16)

(Click on the title to purchase from Amazon.com, or click here to purchase from Amazon.co.uk, Paperback, £10.99)

This isn't exactly a book review since I'm just in the early stages of reading this title. Kinder's book came highly recommended to me by a Buddhist friend, and then another Buddhist friend told me she'd been been on one of Kinder's workshops. Sometimes you can't ignore the messages!

George D. Kinder is a nationally known financial planner and Buddhist teacher. His investment strategies have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, and Newsweek. As both a committed Buddhist and a high-powered figure in the world of financial planning I just had to read this book. So far it's been fascinating, although I'm only a couple of chapters in.

So far I've been reading about the stage of Childhood, in which Kinder details our finanncial Innocence (the assumptions and habits we have in relation to money that we cling to no matter how much the universe keep reminding us that they're not true), and Pain, which Kinder describes as "the bell of awakening". I really like that metaphor, which struck a chord with me. I've often found myself saying that pain is life's way of telling you to have a closer look at how you're living.

If you're interested in meditation or Buddhism and want to explore your attitudes to money with a view to learning some better habits, this book is well worth looking into.


Copyright © 2004, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind, PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.

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