www.wildmind.org Wildmind

Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200504.html

April 2005


Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"If this was one of those college course evaluation forms I would be filling in all 5's for 'excellent' on course materials, format and the like." Rori Lockman, Maine.

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 ($175)


Course Schedule for Spring 2005

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:

  Apr 04, 2005 (Mon)


Seven Great Reasons to take a meditation course online:

  1. Personal attention: In your online journal you'll have an ongoing practice discussion with your teacher, who will give you encouragement and personal feedback based on many 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.

 

Dear Wildmind Subscriber,

Every month our "meditation in the news" section covers reports that meditation can bring health benefits by lowering blood pressure, boosting immune function, and reducing heart disease risk. As well as these benefits for your body, meditating will also help you find greater peace of mind, contentment, wellbeing, and improved relationships. Who can afford not to meditate!

So if you've ever wanted to learn these powerful techniques for reducing stress, staying healthy, and for learning conscious relaxation, sign up for one of our convenient online meditation courses. These courses offer a rich experience, with online readings, guided meditations in MP3 and RealAudio format that you can download to your computer, a discussion forum, and personal attention in your online journal. And you have access to all these things 24/7.

Our courses are suitable for anyone from complete beginners to more experienced practitioners. You'll learn powerful techniques for reducing stress and developing patience, relaxation, and calmness in a friendly and supportive environment.

Our courses are currently led by Subhadramati, an outstanding teacher who taught meditation at the London Buddhist Centre until she moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 1999 to help establish the Dublin Buddhist Centre.

Subhadramati
Subhadramati

Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Monday, April 4. Make sure you book your place now.


In this issue:

  • Meditation in the news
  • Forthcoming CD from Wildmind
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

Meditation in the news

Please note that some of the news sources require a subscription. We recommend using BugMeNot to bypass registration and to preserve your privacy. We also recommend the free Firefox browser for a safer surfing experience. (We're not associated with Firefox or BugMeNot in any way. We just think these are cool products that you might find useful).

Mar 22 University will wire students' brains to track changes (St Louis Today)
The university hopes to wire all of its 750 students and issue them "brain integration report cards" - purportedly a new way of determining how their college experience changes the brain.

Mar 20 New business to entice customers with massages, meditation (Shreveport Times, Louisiana)
When a new business opens, prizes and giveaways are often part of the marketing scheme. But how about free meditation sessions and massages?

Mar 20 Mind Yourself (News.com.au, Australia)
Don't want to grow old? Well, your brain doesn't have to, as Betsy Gould discovered.

Mar 19 Never doubt healing powers of the mind (The Australian)
Three activities have significantly reduced my stress levels and altered the way I am looking at the world.

Mar 18 Q&A with Jon Kabat-Zinn (Dallas News)
'Meditation is seen as a natural part of medicine'

Mar 16 Meditation- its benefit for losing weight (Express News Online, India)
One way for people to handle the stresses of the modern world and to achieve calmness and serenity is to practice the ancient art of meditation. Not only this but meditation also helps in reducing excessive weight of the body.

Mar 13 Destination: meditation (Tallahassee Democrat)
From a rural outpost, a guru's followers journey inward toward spiritual discovery - and reach out to bring others along

Mar 11 Nursery to stars given top report (Hampstead & Highgate Express, London)
A Primrose Hill nursery where tots discuss their dreams and learn yogic principles has been given full marks by education watchdogs.

Mar 10 Meditation for your health (myDNA.com)
Stressed out? Don't be surprised if your doctor suggests meditation.

Mar 10 A meditation centre? Won't all that chanting be a bit noisy, ask neighbours (icWales)
Residents are opposed to a Buddhist meditation centre - because they fear it could be too noisy.

Mar 9 New mum Roberts seeks meditation (Contact Music News)
New mother Julia Roberts has turned to meditation in a bid to combat tiredness, as she looks after her twin babies.

Mar 9 Hundreds of thousands meditate for world peace (Times of India)
Chants of "Om Namah Shivay" rent the air as a congregation of over two lakh (200,000) people meditated for world peace with spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Mar 7 Meditation relieves stress, improves health (Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi)
John Greer compares the average person's everyday thoughts to a waterfall. "You can't see anything in a cascading river," said the Memphis teacher of insight meditation. "But when the water gets to a lake, you can see the sky clearly."

Mar 6 Thai holy man shows meditation technique (Express-Times, New Jersey)
Spiritual enlightenment doesn't have to take a lifetime. In fact, it can be achieved in three short years, a Thai abbot said Saturday.

Mar 5 Spiritual awakenings (Wichita Eagle, Kansas)
Early spiritual experiences for children can provide the foundation for a lifelong sense of identity and purpose

Mar 4 Is group meditation an oxymoron? (Scoop, New Zealand)
" To my mind, awakening meditation is an inherently solitary art."

Mar 4 Cancer patients can be well just as they are (CancerWise)
People can be well even when they have cancer - "well" in the sense of having connectedness with themselves through meditation.

Mar 4 Meditation as medicine (The Cape Codder, Massachusetts)
Dr. James Spira has been a serious student of Zen meditation since 1970, has spent several years in a Zen monastery, and he now uses meditation as an integral part of his work at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego where he directs the program in health psychology.

Mar 4 Meditation may soothe stressed hearts (Web MD)
Daily Meditation may reduce heart disease risks

Mar 3 Vedic City planning to open its own college (The Fairfield Ledger, Iowa)
City officials in this town of about 200, incorporated in 2001 by members of the transcendental Meditation movement, say they plan to start their own city-run college which would begin offering classes this fall.

Mar 3 Meditation benefits station Marines (Marine Corps News)
"The art of meditation has been around since the beginning of time," said Sara Perez, IronWorks Gym fitness instructor and massage therapist. "Anytime you sit by yourself and start to get lost in a thought, it is a form of meditation."

Mar 2 Meditation and visualization get Utes' heads into the game during one of their finest seasons (Salt Lake tribune, Utah)
The Utes have been using meditation and visualization techniques that are increasingly popular among elite athletes

Mar 2 Meditation brings clarity, tranquility (The Post, Ohio)
"try to sit still for five minutes. try to be motionless except for your breath."

Mar 1 The Meditation Method (Yoga Journal)
A collection of articles on meditation.


New CD from Wildmind

cd cover

We're pleased to announce the forthcoming launch of Bodhipaksa's latest CD, Guided Meditations for Busy People. If you're one of those people who really need meditation to help you deal with the stresses of your busy schedule but you find you're just too busy to meditate, this CD is for you.

Guided Meditations for Busy People contains nine guided meditations, most of which are only eight minutes long. The shortest is a mere 3 minutes in length! These "power meditations" are designed to give you a quick boost during the day, but more importantly they give you a tool kit of meditative techniques that you can practice during a few moments' down time or even while engaged in other activities.

Guided Meditations for Busy People is expected to be available in May, 2005.


begging bowl

Support our translation project

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting awareness and compassion 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 (which are tax deductible) 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 Chinese, Polish, and Russian versions are in preparation.


 

dalai lama

Quote of the month

"If you want to climb a mountain, start at the top."
- Zen saying, unknown provenance.

To begin climbing a mountain we first have to have an idea of the mountain top. No idea of the mountain top, no climbing.

In life the goals that we set ourselves are the mountain top. If we don't have any goals, if we lack vision, we're unlikely to achieve much. This is especially true when it comes to the task of achieving Enlightenment, which is the ultimate goal of all Buddhist practice. If we don't have a strong connection with Enlightenment we're unlikely to make much progress, especially since most of us have a lot of changing to do in order to get there.

By a strong connection to Enlightenment I don't mean simply a clear intellectual understanding, although this is important and helpful. Without a clear intellectual understanding of what Enlightenment is it's hard to see how one could get there. But what's even more important is that we also have a vivid emotional connection with the goal of spiritual awakening. traditionally this emotional connection involves developing a personal connection with the goal through devotional practice or through visualization meditation.

In devotional practice we perform acts such as bowing to the Buddha and reciting verses of praise and devotion. For many westerners these actions can easily be misinterpreted as some form of self-abasement, but in reality what we're doing in bowing to an image or statue of the Buddha is saluting and honoring our own spiritual potential, our own potential Enlightenment. And many skeptical Westerners have learned to become comfortable with bowing and puja, as the recitation of verses of praise is known, and have come to see it as a natural expression of gratitude to the historical Buddha as well as a heart-connection with their own future enlightenment.

Visualization meditation is a similar practice, in which we cultivate a personal connection with our potential Enlightenment through visualizing a Buddha or Bodhisattva. These visualizations often involve a form of spiritual exchange in which mantras are offered to the visualized figure and blessings flow in the form of light that purifies the meditator. The visualized figure becomes a channel through which we connect with our own potential, and in fact it's no longer the case that we have to do all the work of climbing the mountain -- we can feel ourselves being drawn upwards by the goal as it calls to our heart.

Bodhipaksa


book cover

Book of the month

Food of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat by Shabkar ($10.17, paperback from Amazon.com)

Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol (1781-1851) is revered by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Living mostly on retreat in the mountains surrounded by a few close and hardy disciples, or on pilgrimages to the holy places of Tibet, he lived an austere life, with no fixed abode and possessing only the most meager of possessions, attaching himself to no monastery, adhering to no school, and remaining free from dependence upon benefactors. Shabkar was famed for his concern with animals, and lived strictly by a vegetarian diet: a rare accomplishment in the harsh climate of Tibet. In fact the practice of vegetarianism is still rare not only in Tibet itself but in Tibetan Buddhism in the West despite the relative ease of adopting a vegetarian diet here, and it this incongruity that this book addresses.

This book presents two of Shabkar's works along with an introduction by the translators. The introduction is a fascinating work in itself, which gives an account of Shabkar and offers an overview of the historical relationship between Buddhism and vegetarianism from a Tibetan perspective. The translators are anything but impartial on vegetarianism, and advocate a meat-free diet as an expression of compassion for living beings.

The first translated text, The Faults of Eating Meat, is a compendium of extracts from Mahayana and Tantric scriptures and teachings by Indian and Tibetan masters. These are of interest primarily in giving a sense of how widespread the advocacy of vegetarianism was throughout the Mahayana and Vajrayana world. Moreover, many of these texts, such as the Angulimala Sutra, the Sutra of Close Mindfulness, and various tantras, are not readily available to the average western practitioner, and any exposure to them is to be welcomed. Moreover, the wealth of material from authoritative sources may well be effective in motivating followers of Tibetan Buddhism to reexamine their relationship to meat-eating. However, because there is a bare minimum of material connecting the extracts, Shabkar's voice and personality are only dimly heard, which led to some disappointment for this reviewer.

The arguments against meat eating found in The Faults of Eating Meat are basically the same as those in the second text, The Nectar of Immortality, which is an engaging essay addressing in a more personal way the reasons why meat-eating should be avoided by those following the Bodhisattva path. Many of these arguments are typically Tibetan, such as the idea that all beings have, at some point in the endless rounds of rebirth, been one's own mother, and that in eating meat one is in effect devouring a parent.

Shabkar also warns of a hellish rebirth for those who consume meat and tackles the idea that one can benefit a slaughtered animal by "compassionately" chanting mantras while eating it. Arguments for or against such propositions will necessarily lack persuasive force for all but followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

However, for a wider audience there are still arguments that may sway opinions. Shabkar writes, for example, that the notion - formulated originally for bhikkhus who lived by accepting whatever was put into their begging bowls - that it's acceptable to eat meat as long as one doesn't see, hear, or suspect that the animal was killed especially for the recipient, is not applicable in a market economy. Instead, he argues, the meat-eater creates the demand that the butcher merely fills. Thus, he argues, it is the meat-eater who is mostly at fault and who must take responsibility for his actions if he sincerely wishes to reduce the amount of suffering his diet entails.

The fact that many arguments that Shabkar makes are framed in a Tibetan world view does not of course invalidate the book. Shabkar was a Tibetan writing for Tibetans, and his arguments will remain potent for present-day Tibetan practitioners. This book will hopefully have the effect of encouraging more Buddhists in the West (and not just the followers of Tibetan schools) to become more aware of the suffering that meat eating entails, and at least to begin moving towards adopting a diet that helps avoid unnecessary suffering by animals.

Bodhipaksa


Copyright © 2005, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.

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