Wildmind

Also available online at http://www.wildmind.org/newsletter/200608.html

August 2006


Our Online Meditation Courses

A student writes...

"The readings were very thought provoking and gave me glimpses of insight and direction. But the most rewarding parts were your insights and encouragement. I feel renewed in my determination to continue down this path whole-heartedly. Thank you very much."


Course Schedule

Plan ahead if you're interested in taking one of our courses! You can sign up for any course at any time.

Upcoming course dates are:

Starting September 5, 2006:
""The Path of Mindfulness and Love (4w)
""Change Your Mind (4w)
""Awakening the Heart (4w)
""Entering the Path of Insight (4w)
""Mindfulness in Daily Life (4w)


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 new insights, 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,

In this month's issue, we bring you our usual monthly round-up of the latest international news on meditation. You'll read how meditation is being applied in so many new and interesting contexts, such as in the military, to ease childbirth, to soothe the terminally ill, and to help a paraplegic to return to wholeness.

We also bring you a book review and our usual quote of the month and commentary.

Enjoy!


In this issue:

  • August courses begin Tuesday August 1
  • Meditation in the news
  • Buddhism Behind Bars project
  • Support our translation project
  • Quote of the month
  • Book of the month

August Courses begin Tuesday August 1

Mindfulness in Daily Life is a guide to bringing more awareness into your everyday activities. The course includes weekly guided meditations, practical exercises to bring more clarity and mindfulness into your daily schedule, a discussion forum, and personal guidance and feedback from Saddhamala, who has a reputation as a gentle and compassionate teacher.

saddhamala
Saddhamala

Online meditation courses. Sunada continues to offer our own four-week courses, including our introduction to meditation, The Path of Mindfulness and Love, which provides a systematic introduction to the anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) and metta bhavana (development of lovingkindness) practices. Sunada also teaches our courses for students already familar with these practices: Change Your Mind, Awakening the Heart, and Entering the Path of Insight. These are all four week courses.

Make sure you book your place now.

sunada
Sunada

Sunada is an experienced teacher who has been meditating for over ten years. Having established her own practice while working full-time in high tech and then in arts administration, she understands the challenges of balancing a meditation practice with a busy life.

About our courses

All of our courses offer a content-rich and interactive experience, with online readings, multimedia content such as guided meditations in MP3 or RealAudio format that you can download to your computer, a discussion forum, and personal guidance 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.


Meditation in the News

July 27 It's a yoga meditation extravaganza! (Los Alamos Monitor) Simple yoga stretches, meditation and the chanting of simple mantras will be part of the [scholarship fund drive] event.

July 26 Open minds (MetroActive.com) Silicon Valley is home to thousands of people who practice meditation.

July 25 Meditation program helps relieve stress at work (CBS4 Boston) You can't always go for a run or get a massage, but you can immediately start to practice meditation.

July 25 Meditation is not just for monks (Village Soup) It is a way to evoke the relaxation response, strengthen awareness and alleviate depression.

July 24 Modern mom meditation (ModernMom.com) We can all find five minutes in the day to rejuvenate with a quick meditation.

July 24 Power yoga: Corporate commanders get down to the business of meditation (The Province) Yoga isn't something executive headhunter Walter Donald ever sees on resumes.

July 20 How to make meditation work (Hindustan Times) When we sit to meditate, a million distractions come to dissuade us from the effort.

July 20 Ancient exercise (The Courier-Journal) Several groups, including the Health Department, Crane House and the Kentucky Tai Chi Chuan Center, offer the mind-body art, which has become more mainstream in recent years.

July 19 Meditating on suburban life (Connection Newspapers) Meditation has gained popularity because its lessons, particularly in dealing with stress and frustration, are relevant to the mile-a-minute metro-area lifestyle.

July 19 Junior starts UTA meditation club (The Shorthorn) Graphic design junior Amy Riley will be starting a meditation club for UTA students and faculty this fall.

July 17 Calm, centered and ready to have that baby (DailyNews.com) O'Neill developed her Leclaire hypnobirthing method in 1987, using hypnosis and meditation techniques that she'd employed to help cancer patients cope with pain.

July 17 Yoga trend catching on with soldiers (Yahoo! News) The popular classes, based on ancient Hindu practices of meditation through controlled breathing, balancing and stretching, are catching on in military circles as a way to improve flexibility, balance and concentration.

July 15 Serenity: A meditation room lets you put the rest of the world on hold (RedOrbit.com) While meditation won't make problems disappear, it makes them easier to deal with or accept.

July 15 Calming the inner self (The Herald) Meditation is another word for being still and being able to go within and find yourself in that place.

July 14 Everyday ways to lower blood pressure (AskMen.com) Deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and even waxing your car can work.

July 14 World peace bell in Bouddha sparks peace hopes (The Rising Nepal) The echo of the peace bell is believed to have the power to clear away the impediments opening space for peaceful thinking and motivation.

July 13 Nonviolence will prevail, spiritual leader says (InsideBayArea.com) Shankar says yoga, meditation can help eliminate hate at root of attacks in Mumbai.

July 12 Can Christians benefit from Christian meditation? (24-7 Press Release) To many U.S. Christians, the concept of Christian Meditation is often misunderstood.

July 12 Counselor uses Buddhist faith to guide and teach others (Palm Beach Post) Maya Malay started out as a little Presbyterian girl in Falls Church, Va. But life is a long, strange trip, and it steered her toward counseling and helping others in the Buddhist faith.

July 12 How to teach kids sitting meditation (BellaOnline) To introduce children to sitting meditation you are going to be the model to emulate.

July 11 Korean temple bell tolls for meditation (The Vancouver Sun) In Korean Buddhism, the ceremony rids a person of earthly desires and helps prepare for meditation.

July 11 Finding peace in the mind and body (Austin Daily Herald) One of the oldest practices in the world to improving health, self awareness, self awakening and spiritual freedom is meditation.

July 10 Drug's mystical properties confirmed (Washington Post) The study is the first randomized, controlled trial of a substance used for centuries in Mexico and Central America to produce mystical insights.

July 10 30 years of meditation celebrated (Worcester Telegram & Gazette) Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield founded the Insight Meditation Society on Feb. 14, 1976.

July 10 Peaceful places: From out of destruction, serenity (The Journal Times) The Somlais have worked the garden each year along with a host of volunteers, many of whom attend the Original Root Zen Center.

July 8 Best ways to soothe terminally ill studied (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Meditation has long been a source of comfort and clarity for Doris Jean Powers. Now, it's helping the 84-year-old plan for - and even laugh about — death.

July 7 Yoga, visualization restore calm and peace (The Oregonian) I do various types of meditation, one of which is called creative visualization, or active imagination.

July 6 Empowered by faith (Bangkok Post) There seemed to be general agreement at the meeting that, at least at the theological level, physical (and, some would say, mental) disability does not hinder one from following the path towards enlightenment.

July 5 Meditation changed Tihar's face: Kiran Bedi (The Times of India) Meditation was instrumental in bringing a turnaround in hundreds of violence-prone inmates in the Tihar jail, India's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi has said.

July 5 Wellness/The mind (The Oregonian) Those who meditate have long believed in its healing power, and now science is adding facts to faith.

July 5 Quiet the mind, heal the body (The Oregonian) Meditation has roots in many religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Judaism and even sects of Christianity.

July 4 With Nathu La opening, Buddhist monks see prayers answered (newKerala.com) Thirty-nine-year-old Karma Lama, a Buddhist monk, is engrossed in deep meditation inside the Enchey monastery in India's eastern state of Sikkim.

July 3 Step out of the illusion and into Reality (PRWeb) The mind constantly diverts us from being in the very moment - we worry about the past or think about the future. But these are just images and illusions in our mind.

July 3 Right mind (PacketOnLine) Professor of art and master printmaker Wendell Brooks starts with meditation and right thinking.

July 3 Meditation can overcome fear: Expert (Daily Express) Meera, who has been a practitioner and meditation teacher for over 40 years, said people can overcome more than 95 percent of their fears through practising meditation.

July 3 A different perspective (The Clarion-Ledger) Bulldogs try yoga for off-season conditioning.

July 2 Paraplegic chronicles his journey to healing mind-body connection (redOrbit.com) His transformation stretched beyond yoga poses.

 


buddhism behind bars

 

Support the Buddhism Behind Bars project

Buddhism Behind Bars is a book that Wildmind plans to publish in late 2006 or early 2007. The book will be a compilation of writings by inmates and prison volunteers about how meditation and Buddhist practice have transformed lives.

This project provides educational opportunities for inmates. Each writer is assigned a writing mentor who will help the prisoner to find his voice in order to tell his story effectively. Giving $100 to this project will provide a writing tutor to help an inmate articulate his experience of practicing Buddhism in prison.

We will also make copies of Buddhism Behind Bars available free of charge to inmates. Giving $10 will pay to produce one copy of the book and ship it to an inmate.

To help us reach as many inmates as possible, please consider making a donation to support our work.


begging monk

Support our translation project

Our mission is to benefit the world by promoting mindfulness and compassion through the practice of meditation.

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 are tax deductible and go to our translation fund, which aims to help us translate Wildmind into other languages. We now have French, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian versions of the site online, and a Polish version is in preparation.


Albert Einstein

Quote of the Month

"When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once."

Milarepa (1052-1135)

Milarepa was a great Tibetan Yogi who lived an austere life on the bare hillsides, eking out an existence on donations and the few plants — principally nettles — that grow in that harsh environment. His name means "The Cotton-clad One," and he generally wore just a thin sheet, using the heat generated by meditation practices to keep the fierce Tibetan cold at bay.

Despite his remote living situation he attracted many disciples and visitors, and although he belonged to no school he is particularly venerated by the Tibetan Kagyus, who trace their lineage back through him.

Milarepa was a master of Mahamudra, a meditation approach that emphasizes the innate purity of the mind. In his inimitable and playful style, Milarepa compares the unawakened self to a dog running after a stick that has been thrown. When it comes to chasing sticks, many dogs have more enthusiasm than sense: I remember, for example, a friend's dogs repeatedly charging into a Scottish loch to "fetch" the stones that I was throwing into the depths. Often our own minds are scarcely less silly than those dogs. Anyone who has sat in meditation has observed this and knows exactly what Milarepa is talking about: the mind goes chasing after any and every thought that passes through it, and often doesn't much mind whether it suffers in so doing. So much for humans being smarter than dogs.

There are many possible alternatives to chasing the sticks of thought like a hapless hound. We can start chasing them and then bring the mind back to a point of focus, rather like calling a dog to heel. We can learn sit still and to watch the sticks fly past without reacting to them. We can even learn to examine the sticks and recognize their impermanence and the fact that they are not intrinsic to the mind. All of these techniques are useful, and even necessary. But Milarepa goes several steps beyond.

Milarepa suggests that we turn, like a lion, and look directly at the mind itself. What can we expect to find? First, we can expect to see thoughts arising and passing away, liberating themselves without us having to exert any effort to rid the mind of them. Second, we can see the space of awareness within which these thoughts arise. That awareness is pure, and unstained by the thoughts that pass through it. That awareness is your Buddha nature, your own potential enlightenment.

All thoughts arise in this stainless awareness and dissolve within it. To see the nature of those thoughts clearly, Milarepa tells us elsewhere, is to see that there never was any arising or passing away: that all thoughts are empty of self-existence and lacking in essence. Thoughts, he tells us are illusory. It's only our delusion that makes us think of them as real, and so, over and over, we go plunging into the lake to retrieve the unretreievable.

Although we tend to think or spiritual awakening as lying at the end of a long and arduous task, it's right here, right now, just waiting for us to stop chasing sticks and instead, lion-like, to turn and look deeply into our own mind, and its thought, and to see their nature.

- Bodhipaksa


book cover

Book Review

You Are Not Here and Other Works of Buddhist Fiction,
Edited by Keith Kachtick. (Wisdom, Boston 2006, $16.95)

Wisdom has long been one of our best publishers of Buddhist books and it is good to see them venture into the field of literature. The twenty stories in this collection — the second in a series — are worthy and wide-ranging, although it may be noted that the Buddhism is mostly tilted towards the Zen and Tibetan traditions.

Yet the thesis proposed in the title is in danger of sinking some of the stories under its weight. Is "Buddhist fiction" written by Buddhists? Or with an explicitly Buddhist subject?

To try and delay these (potential) objections I deliberately read each story before I referred to the biographical notes at the end. Interestingly I discovered two of my favorite pieces — Kate Wheeler's "Ringworm" and Jess Row's "For You" — checked both boxes. Their writers are practitioners, and the stories are about Westerners trying to study Buddhism within an Eastern context. And both succeed in the way we want literature to succeed: individual glimpses at individual lives which, in their after-glow, open out to leave us touched with greater sympathy and understanding.

Rather than labels it is this quality of attention that should mark out Buddhist fiction. Stories that give us a deeper sense of the patterns of existence — which Buddhists after all have spent thousands of years mapping; a better understanding of the volitions and tendencies that go to shape us. There are enough of such moments to make this collection valuable. Here for example is an exquisite passage from Mary Yukari Waters' "Circling the Hondo." A Japanese grandmother whose life is coming to an end is reading a fairy tale to her two young grandsons:

She looked over her bifocals into Terao’s eyes. Their whites were clear and unveined. Limpid irises, like shallow water — she could see almost to the bottom. Terao must be imagining Urashimataro’s predicament now, the way she did as a child, with the delicious thrill of momentarily leaving the safety of his own world. She marvelled at his innocence, at his little mind's unawareness of all that lay around and beneath him. His older brother’s mind, on the other hand, was branching out rapidly. But he too had far to go; the expanses of time and space, of human understanding, had yet to unfold.

The current of our humanity being transmitted from one generation to the next. That spark of self-consciousness which, if turned the right way, becomes the key to our awakening.

Manjusvara’s Writing Your Way — a guide to writing and Buddhist practice — was published by Windhorse in 2005.


Copyright © 2006, Wildmind Meditation Services.
Wildmind Meditation Services Inc., PO Box 212., Newmarket NH 03857, USA.
1-8777-MEDIT8

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