The weekend of October 20-22, ten of us came together for an inaugural retreat at Blue Sky Refuge, a new retreat center in Stockton, NJ that has been started by NYC Sangha members Padmadharini and Elaine Smith.
The retreat started with Vajramati leading a dedication ceremony of the new shrine. We considered the lessons of the Madhupindika Sutta, also known as the Honey Ball Sutta. Our focus was on papancha, or the seemingly endless mental proliferation that can result when faced with significant life challenges. We also dedicated the retreat center with a wonderful five Buddha mandala ceremony created by Ananta. We wandered through the woods at night to make offerings at unique shrines set up at the four compass points on the property, and in the centre, the shrine room. We wish Padhmadharini and Elaine the best of luck in their new endeavor.
We first published a statement on this topic in 2015. In view of the even worse violence and dispossession now being suffered by the Rohingya people, its signatories have reissued the same statement, affirming now, more than ever, the Buddhist values of non-violence and loving kindness.
“We tend to imagine that we can only become addicted to a few sorts of things. But real addiction is about using something, anything, to keep our real emotions, fears, and hopes at bay. There are many more addicts among us than we think.” – Alain De Botton
Meditation has the power to show us our own mind, to open our hearts, to help us see with fresh eyes, to transform us and to show us new ways of being. With consistency and dedication, each practice can ‘take us all the way’ to transforming insight.
Yet what if you feel all over the place and pulled in different directions in your life? What if you are plagued by doubt and self-loathing? How do you find the freedom of letting go? And what about compassion? Do you sometimes have questions about where you are going with your meditation? There is a way to have an overview of our practice and to have a way to guide ourselves in meditation according to our needs.
In the Triratna Buddhist Community, we have been exploring the benefits of the ‘System of Practice’ for decades. The Triratna system of meditation can be seen as a set of meditations that you progress along, or as a ‘mandala’ a circle or spiral of practices, which you go around in order to approach the center, Enlightenment. This system reflects the two main approaches to meditation found in virtually all Buddhist schools: samatha (‘calming’) and vipassana (‘insight’), and Just Sitting, in which simply sits with whatever happens in awareness, without attaching to it or rejecting it.
The second presentation on the Blazing in the Fires of Sunyata retreat, held at Adhisthana in 2017, on the theme of Metta and Bodhicitta.
Dhammarati takes us through the ethical foundations of Metta expressed in the Karaniya Metta Sutta, drawing out their relationship with attha, or ‘the good’.
Following a quote from James Hillman:
“Purpose in our lives doesn’t usually appear as a clearly framed goal, it appears more likely as a troubling unclear urge coupled with a sense of dutiful importance. This sense of purpose comes with a force but what it is and how to get there remains unclear”, Dhammarati likens this “unclear and troubling urge” to the experience of attha in the midst of our lives, and articulates how cultivating the foundational ethical qualities in the Metta Sutta – of uprightness, humility, gentleness and so on – support the process of our path towards the ‘good’.
Questions to ask a Buddhist. This is designed to be a study course that takes Buddhism seriously on a philosophical level by studying its arguments with an eye to seeing which arguments hold up well and which fail to be fully convincing. It is not meant to be an exegesis of Buddhist scriptures or a doctrinal history of particular schools, but a systematic discussion of issues. The principal sources of information on the issues discussed are Indian Buddhist treatises, but there are occasional discussions of those issues as they were treated by Tibetan and East Asian Buddhists, as well as by non-Buddhists in various cultural settings. Although all of what is dealt with here with has been discussed by Buddhists in the distant past, it is hoped that the topics chosen have universal appeal and are still of philosophical interest today. While many of the arguments studied were initially made long ago, an attempt has been made to illustrate them with examples that people living in today’s world can readily ﬁnd relevant. In short, this course is based on the conviction that if Buddhist philosophy was ever worth examining seriously to assess its merits and shortcomings, it still is.
Richard P. Hayes (Dayāmati Dharmacārin, TBO) received a doctorate from University of Toronto’s Sanskrit and Indian Studies department in 1982. He taught comparative religions and Indian philosophy at University of Toronto before taking a position in 1988 in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, where he taught intermediate and advanced Sanskrit and several courses in Buddhist thought. He returned to his native New Mexico in 2003, teaching Asian philosophies in the Department of Philosophy at The University of New Mexico until his retirement in 2013. He now lives in Jemez Springs, NM.
Padmavajra and Ratnaguna converse about their early involvement, getting ordained and their appreciation of Sangharakshita on the occasion of the Triratna Buddhist Community Triratna Day 50th Celebration in the Northern England Region at Sheffield Buddhist Centre, 8 April 2017
Subhuti at The London Buddhist Center, April 2017.
The fire of peace has been ignited in the world by the Buddha. It burns brightly today in the Triratna Order and movement, and inspired by Sangharakshita’s vision will burn well into the future – but how do we fan the flames so that the heat of practice transforms the world?
June 1, to June 6, 2017 Mindful Meditation Retreat
ANAPANASATI SUTTA (MINDFULNESS OF BREATHING)
Our peace of mind is frequently sabotaged by our predilection for addictive, short-term pleasures (buying, escapist entertainment, obsessive thinking). Yet often we feel an underlying dis/ease. No matter how much we get, we realize it’s all going to end at some point, and we’ll be exposed to loss and separation.
The retreat will be primarily in silence with specific instructions and teaching by Padmadharini, a member of the Triratna International Buddhist Community, and an accredited mindfulness teacher.
While the lures of money, objects, and power lose their appeal, liberation through spiritual practice provides a complete form of happiness. Through meditation, we discover a calmness and ease that doesn’t require chasing fleeting pleasures. This is what the awakened mind is, and it is always within our reach.
During this five-day retreat, we will explore the Buddha’s celebrated teachings on the mindfulness of breathing, also known as the Anapanasati Sutta. These specific instructions for meditation are designed to help use awareness of breathing to bring us fully into the present moment in a direct and open way. The Sutta lists sixteen steps to relax and compose the mind. The Buddha states that mindfulness of the breath, “developed and repeatedly practiced, is of great fruit, great benefit.” Ultimately, it can lead to “clear vision and deliverance.”
The retreat will be mostly in silence, with opportunities each day to explore the progressive stages of mindfulness of body, feelings, mind and mental events. Specific instructions include: posture, steady awareness with the breathing body, working with hindrances such as restlessness and sleepiness, and the cultivation of mental absorptions (jhanas).
The retreat will be held at Blue Sky Mind community, a small practice community structured to support and promote deepening practice. Retreat practice includes sitting and walking meditation, one-on-one meditation reviews, and opportunities to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Thu, Jun 1, 2017 6:00pm
Tue, Jun 6, 2017 1:00pm
Cost: $300-360 (residential), $200-$260 (camping), $75 (daily rates)
All pricing options include food.
Blue Sky Community
315 Geigel Hill Road
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972
Eventbrite – Mindfulness meditation retreat
Email Padma ([email protected]) for more information
Two days celebrating 50 years of Triratna Buddhist Community through a mixture of talks, workshops, panel discussions with older + younger generations, interviews, Desert Island Discs, rituals, meditation, a new exhibition in the Sangharakshita Library + more…
Come for a day or come for the whole event, but please book and let us know when you will be here. There will be overnight accommodation available on Friday and Saturday nights if you’d like to stay over. The whole event will be run on a dana basis, with all donations going to the FutureDharma Fund