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Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200509.html

September 2005


Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"I'm amazed how much good this class is doing me!"

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 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:

  Sep 6 to Sep 30
  Oct 3 to 28
  Nov 1 to 25


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,

Welcome to our latest newsletter. As usual, we bring you a round-up of the latest international news on meditation -- from the USA Olympic luge team using meditation to hone their skills to the bizarre behavior of the founder of the transcendental Meditation movement -- as well as news of Wildmind's meditation courses. And now that our summer break is over, we return to having a monthly book review and quote of the month, with commentary by Bodhipaksa. Enjoy!


In this issue:

  • Our next online meditation courses start Tuesday, September 6.
  • Meditation in the news
  • Support our translation project

Our next online meditation courses start next Tuesday, September 6.

Meditating has been shown in clinical studies to improve both mental and physical health. If you've ever been curious to find out more about meditation's powerful potential for reducing stress, staying healthy, and for encouraging conscious relaxation, sign up for one of our convenient online meditation courses.

These four-week courses offer a content-rich experience and interactive 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 September courses will be led by Sinhendra, an accomplished teacher who is part of the team at Dharmavastu Buddhist Study Center in northwest England. Sinhendra has a background in theatre arts, and has done post-graduate study in the history of ideas.

sinhendra
Sinhendra

Our next online meditation courses -- from all levels from beginners onwards -- start Tuesday, Sep 6. Make sure you book your place now.


Meditation in the News

Aug 30 Prisoners soothed by meditation (ic South London)
Prisoners at Her Majesty's Prison, Brixton, have been keeping calm with a Buddhist monk's relaxation classes.

Aug 29 Meditation effective for chronic pain: study (CTV, Canada)
Canadian doctors have presented a study that shows promising results for using meditation to treat chronic pain.

Aug 26 Peace Park closing for 'Peace Palace' (WHO TV, Des Moines, Iowa)
Sculpture park will be replaced by a 12-thousand-square-foot building in which transcendental meditation and other classes will be taught.

Aug 26 A shrine way to treat a house (The Scotsman, Edinburgh)
A million-pound building campaign was launched by the Scottish Thai community last May to construct Edinburgh's first custom-built Thai Buddhist temple.

Aug 25 USA Luge looks for the edge with both traditional and non-traditional off-season training (Press Box)
As off-season training for the upcoming 2005-06 luge racing season and February’s Olympic Winter Games begin to wind down, the U.S. luge team has been combining traditional and non-traditional programs into its daily fitness routines.

Aug 22 Peace at a price (Statesman-Journal, Oregon)
transcendental Meditation is hailed by some as life changing, but others warn those interested to give it some thought.

Aug 21 In Search of the spiritual (Newsweek)
Move over, politics. Americans are looking for personal, ecstatic experiences of God, and, according to our poll, they don't much care what the neighbors are doing.

Aug 18 The town that lost its guru (The Independent, UK)
This week, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ordered his disciples to stop teaching in Britain. But where does that leave the little bit of Lancashire where meditation ruled?

Aug 15 Sit down, close your eyes and think about breathing (The Scotsman)
"Maybe it was the relaxing voice of my teacher Kalyanavaca talking me through the meditation process, or the incense wafting around me, but my hour-long introduction to meditation at The Edinburgh Buddhist Centre was certainly restorative."

Aug 15 Beatles' guru farewells Britain with a sting (The Age, Australia)
40 years after he first turned the Beatles on to transcendental meditation at his Indian ashram, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has ordered his followers to stop teaching his advanced meditation and levitation techniques in Britain.

Aug 13 'Metrotherapy' tackles fear of attack (WebIndia123)
A course of meditation has been introduced to help commuters in London overcome their fear of terrorism after July's subway and bus attacks.

Aug 10 Virgin Atlantic develops its inflight 'Meditainment' program for passengers (travel Daily News)
'Relaxation and Sleep' is a 55 minute programme that helps passengers relax into a perfect sleep. The new visual programme has been produced for Virgin Atlantic's inflight entertainment system by Meditainment Ltd, which specialises in guided meditation experiences.

Aug 10 Stressed-out suburbanites say 'ahh' to ancient art of meditation (Star-Telegram, Texas)
Two decades ago, mention meditation and what popped into most minds was an image of monks sitting cross-legged on cushions, murmuring "ohm" for hours. If that's still your image, it's time for an attitude adjustment.

Aug 7 A momentous journey on a totally grounded plane (Miami Herald)
As a set of techniques, yoga was developed in India by spiritual seekers. The yogic path includes a code of ethics, breathing exercises, and techniques for meditation and concentration.

Aug 4 Meditation probably not what you think it is (Naples Daily News, Florida)
The term meditation is bandied about quite freely these days. As the link between the mind and body is more thoroughly explored, this ancient wisdom is deshrouded from the mystery of ages and brought into modern light.

Aug 3 Can You Didge It? (Metro Pulse, Knoxville, Tennessee)
Meditation, didgeridoos go hand in hand

Aug 2 Lynch's foundation touts 'om' schooling (Chicago tribune)
Is director David Lynch "om" to something? The longtime practitioner of transcendental Meditation has formed a foundation to encourage schools to use the technique to boost students' brain power.

Aug 1 Inner Awareness : Centering prayer is like meditation (INQ7, Philippines)
Centering prayer, “consists of choosing a sacred word, like God, Lord, Jesus, Abba and Father and sitting comfortably, focusing the mind on the word, taking care to banish extraneous ideas or disturbances.”

Aug 1 Lynch promotes meditation for schoolchildren (Zap2it, USA)
David Lynch, auteur of disturbing fare such as "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks," would like to instruct children to achieve peaceful contemplation.


MP3's available on our online store

mp3

We're pleased to announce that all of our CDs are available as MP3 downloads in our meditation supplies store, either as individual tracks or as complete CD downloads.

We even have available Bodhipaksa's new CD, Guided Meditations for Busy People. It's available right now!


 

begging monk

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.


einstein

Quote of the Month

"Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them."
Albert Einstein

The mind acts quite differently depending on the kind of mental state that it's motivated by in any given moment. Buddhism classifies mental states as being either skillful or unskillful, because skillful states such as love and awareness allow us to negotiate life with a relatively high degree of elegance and grace, while unskillful states, such as selfish greed, hatred, and unawareness, cause us to blunder along, causing suffering to ourselves as well as others.

Many of the problems we create in life are caused by these classical unskillful states: greed, hatred, and delusion. When these states dominate the mind, problems proliferate: relationships become conflicted; we fail to appreciate the good things in our lives because we have our eyes focused always on attaining more; or we undertake actions knowing that they can't bring the results we want but go ahead anyway, in a sort of blind optimism.

These problems cannot be resolved by the same level of thinking that gave birth to them. In order to extricate ourselves (to whatever extent this is possible) from our blunders, we have to become mindful, embrace skillful states of mind, and then reconsider our options from that new vantage point. Only then will we be able to see a way forward that doesn't involve causing even more unnecessary suffering.

Becoming mindful means stepping back from our experience, realizing that we have been caught up in an unskillful state, and letting go of it. We step out of automatic pilot and into awareness.

In doing so, we are already embracing a skillful state of mind -- mindfulness itself is a highly skillful state -- but we now have an opportunity to introduce more positive states to the mind. For example, where there was anger, we can relax into patience and cultivate appreciation; where there was craving, we can look for a sense of contentment with our present moment experience, perhaps by counting our blessings; and where there was delusion, we can work at accepting how things really are.

When we cultivate mindfulness and other skillful states in this way, things become clearer. It becomes obvious, for example, that getting revenge is going to cause us further suffering rather than solving any problems.

Problems caused by unskillful states of mind cannot be solved at that level of thinking; we must cultivate skillful states of mind in order to find creative solutions.


book cover

Book Review

Swallowing the River Ganges: A Practice Guide to the Path of Purification, by Matthew Flickstein.

The curious title of this book comes from a Zen Koan set the author by the Korean Zen master Seung Sahn: "You'll understand what I am thinking when you can swallow the River Ganges." The koan, in case you're wondering (and I'm sure you are) seems to point to the arbitrary way in which we divide our experience into "inner" and "outer." So that's the title.

The rest of the book is concerned with Theravadin rather than Zen meditation practice, and is a presentation of material from the 5th century Buddhist scholar-monk Buddhaghosa's guide to practice, The Path of Purity (Vissudhimagga).

This book is an excellent, and very detailed, guide to Insight meditation practice, based on a seven-fold path of purification, including (in order) the purification of virtue, mind, view, purification by overcoming doubt, purification by knowledge and vision of what is and is not the path, purification by knowledge and vision of the way, and purification by knowledge and vision.

If this sounds a little dry and abstract, this is both accurate and inaccurate. You may well be surprised how elegantly Flickstein correlates these seven stages of purification to related practices such as: ethical living, developing concentration, initial insight training, the four foundations of mindfulness, cultivating choiceless awareness, and focusing on unsatisfactoriness, selflessness, and impermanence as doorways to enlightened experience. I found the overall schema to be fascinating and the author's depth and detail of knowledge are highly impressive. I don't believe I've ever seen such a coherent picture of the path to awakening from an insight meditation perspective.

On the other hand I found Flickstein's writing to be a bit on the dry side. It was a surprise to discover that he is a psychotherapist as well as an insight meditation teacher -- some examples from his or his patient's experiences would have leavened the book considerably. The first mention of any contemporary meditation experience is on page 146, close to the end of the book.

I also have a minor quibble (one that often crops up when reading a certain strain of insight meditation teaching) which concerns focusing almost exclusively on mindful breathing as a practice and ignoring the development of lovingindness. The development of lovingkindness practice strikes me as an almost indispensible prerequisite for spiritual development, and yet it is mentioned almost in passing in Swallowing the River Ganges.

Still, my overall impression of this book is highly favorable, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in insight meditation practice. Even the experienced insight meditation practitioner is likely to come away with an enhanced appreciation of the many dimensions of that practice tradition, and those who are entirely unfamiliar with this tradition will perhaps be surprised by how rich and nuanced it is.

 

 

 


Copyright © 2005, Bodhipaksa.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.
1-8777-MEDIT8

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