Empathy is the most important skill you can practice. It will lead to greater success personally and professionally and will allow you to become happier the more you practice. I’ve never considered myself a real programmer. I know at this point it’s probably silly to say, but I started my scholastic and professional life as a musician, and I’ve never quite recovered from the Impostor Syndrome that comes with making such a shift. One of the faux-self-deprecations I use to describe myself is: “I”m a people person who just happens to express this tendency through programming and technology projects”.
Beyond acceptance and rejection:
the dharma of radical inclusivity.
Feb 17th– 20th 2017
A 3 Day Week-end Retreat led by Dharmacharini Viveka
Near Hudson, New York (Won Dharma Center)
“Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time.
Hatred ceases through love.
This is an unalterable law.”
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best, is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
~ Martin Luther King, 1967
Many of us are moving through worlds churning with confusion and conflict, be it internal struggles with parts of ourselves; discord within our families, communities and sanghas; or the deeply polarized forces characterizing society and public discourse at this time. What does it mean to engage creatively in these times, coming from love, no matter what?
Discomfort arises when we encounter situations and beliefs that don’t confirm our pre-existing beliefs. Awakening requires a heartfelt embrace of what we don’t yet know, and what we thought we knew but might be mistaken about. Inclusivity becomes truly potent when it includes that which makes us uncomfortable, a wonderful pointer to the edge of ignorance where awakening can emerge.
In polarized situations, the charged and protective emotions of fear and aversion easily arise. Activating awareness, we can listen for the underlying distress and root causes of suffering, which the Dharma points out, is always in a divided mind, the mind that creates “other”, and fears “other.”
On this retreat, we will draw from Buddhist teachings, meditation and contemplative practice to increase our ability to relate to discomfort, fear and aversion with a compassionate interest. This kind of active love and tolerance is a creative alternative to withdrawal and passivity and a crucial practice for navigating uncertainty and conflict.
“Unconditional love and compassion may seem like quite a distant vision. Yet in each moment, there is the immediate possibility of opening to the whole of experience. From the perspective of an anxiously self-preserving mind, this can appear overwhelming and even hostile. To the trained mind of a practitioner, this love can become intimately trusted as a path to uprooting limiting views, the habits of racism, and all sorts of “othering” in how we relate.” ~ Viveka
LOCATION AND TIMES
Februrary 17th-20th (President’s Day Week-End) This retreat is organized by the Triratna Buddhist Community of New York City, and will be held at the beautiful Won Dharma Center in Claverak, near Hudson, NY. Start time: 7pm on Friday February 17th End time: noon on Monday February 20th
THE GIFT OF SILENCE
The retreat will be mostly silent except for instruction and mindful communication practices. The practice of silence, including taking a pause from electronic communication, is an invitation to simplify our activity, allowing stress to calm, and awareness to open and deepen.
FOOD AND WORK PERIODS
The food served will be vegetarian and mostly Korean menus, as we are hosted by the Won Buddhist Community. Cleaning tasks are shared by everyone on the retreat. If you have any dietary restrictions, please let the organizer know in advance, at [email protected]
The Won Buddhist Retreat Center near Hudson, NY lies on over 400 beautiful acres and there will be time to explore the area, hike and/or just relax and enjoy nature. Acupuncture is also available by appointment.
EXPERIENCE WITH MEDITATION AND THE TRIRATNA BUDDHIST COMMUNITY
This retreat is designed for people with an established meditation and dharma practice, and is primarily for people who have some degree of experience or interest in the Triratna Buddhist Community. If you are unsure if this is suitable for you, we recommend getting in touch with the organizer at [email protected]
The sliding scale is $325/350/390 for spacious double or quad rooms, which are all on the ground floors and adjacent to bathrooms. Paying the higher end of the scale helps those who need a lower rate. Fees cover the 3 nights and all meals, but do not include optional dana for the teacher (Viveka is a volunteer – all fees go to support running costs.) Also, a limited number of single rooms are available on a first come first serve basis for a unique fee of $550, and cannot be discounted. If you are concerned about being able to come due to lack of funds please contact the organizer. We do have a modest scholarship fund that will be allocated, supported by the Council and the donations of community members.
Make your request to: [email protected]
Please register as soon as possible.
ABOUT DHARMACHARINI VIVEKA CHEN
Ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1997, Viveka teaches Buddhism and meditation at the San Francisco Buddhist Center, as well as internationally. She is a certified coach, a facilitator and a nonprofit consultant; for over 25 years she has worked for social justice as an integral expression of her dharma practice. Viveka is engaged in making Buddhist teachings and meditation available to activists and people of color, and collaborating with other Buddhist traditions and social change organizations.
As private preceptor, Viveka mentors and trains individuals for ordination. She actively develops emerging teachers within Triratna, and held the role of Chairwoman of the San Francisco Center for 16 years. She is also a facilitator and on the Steering Committee of the Triratna’s International Council of 50 order members from around the world meeting to promote connection and development across the Triratna tradition.
Viveka has longstanding connections to the wider Buddhist world, supporting the effort to engage communities more actively and collaboratively around the pressing matters of our times, racism and climate change to name a few. Within a multi-lineage team of leaders from different communities, Viveka planned and facilitated the 2013 Generation X Buddhist teacher’s conference. She also served on the steering committee of the 2015 Dharma Teachers Gathering, which brought together 200 Buddhist teachers across traditions.
The teaching in her name given to her at ordination, is to continue to practice socially engaged Buddhism in world while becoming free of conventional limitations. Today, she continues to weave a life of social and racial justice work, community building and family connection, and a contemplative practice deeply rooted in meditative experience. She teaches with an open and compassionate presence, and deep respect for those she works with.
Her writing appears in Dharma Culture and Color: New Voices in Western Buddhism, The Buddha’s Apprentices: More Voices of Young Buddhists, and Record of the Hidden Lamp: 100 Koans and Stories from 25 Centuries of Awakened Women.
Join us for a practice weekend that will explore the Worldly Winds and a deepening exploration of uncertainty and instability.
As dh.Vishvapani notes: “Everything that happens to us is impermanent. Things always change. However hard we work to establish favourable conditions, many things in our lives are entirely beyond our control and they change all the time in ways we cannot possibly predict or influence. That’s why our lives can never be perfect.”
(The Worldly Winds and Wisdom, Posted by Vishvapani on Mon, 10 October, 2011, The Buddhist Centre).
We will have periods of meditation in addition to supported body postures. Please wear loose, comfortable cloths.
Lunch will be served.
Open to all
Lead by Alyssa
We try to make these days as affordable as possible so you pay depending on your means
Sunday $50 or $65 or $75
January 13th thru January 16th, 2016
(Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend)
(can arrive starting 6ish)
ends Monday 1 PM
Location: Aryaloka Buddhist Center
14 Heartwood Circle Newmarket, NH 03857
This retreat is exclusively for the sanghas from
Boston MA, Portland ME, and New York City.
The Five Spiritual Faculties — faith, vigor, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom — are the qualities that the Buddha taught are essential to making spiritual progress. We’ll focus on gaining a better understanding of these, as well as engage in our annual celebration of deepening our friendships with each other.
How do I know which events to attend? “Experienced” level events assume prior exposure the fundamentals of Buddhism as taught by Triratna Buddhist Community as well as experience with the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana (the development of loving-kindness) meditations.
image: Chinese Buddhist poets Hanshan and his friend Shide (Tang dynasty 618-906)
Animals are “in.” There is incredible global interest in the cognitive, emotional, and moral lives of animals and in how we choose to interact with them in a wide variety of venues.
When I previously read the manuscript for Matthieu Ricard’s latest book called ‘A Plea for the Animals: The Moral, Philosophical, and Evolutionary Imperative to Treat All Beings with Compassion’ I simply couldn’t put it down (please see Note 1 for a brief biographical sketch). And, now that I have the published book in hand, I still can’t put it down. When I have time I can’t wait to pick it up again.
‘A plea for the Animals’ is a gem. Ever single page has many words of wisdom and the overall message is one of unfettered optimism. It is a wonderful way to celebrate World Animal Day 2016.
“Every cow just wants to be happy. Every chicken just wants to be free. Every bear, dog, or mouse experiences sorrow and feels pain as intensely as any of us humans do.”
The description for ‘A Plea for the Animals’ reads:
A powerful and wide-ranging indictment of the treatment of animals by humans ― and an eloquent plea for animal rights.
Every cow just wants to be happy. Every chicken just wants to be free. Every bear, dog, or mouse experiences sorrow and feels pain as intensely as any of us humans do. In a compelling appeal to reason and human kindness, Matthieu Ricard here takes the arguments from his best-sellers Altruism and Happiness to their logical conclusion: that compassion toward all beings, including our fellow animals, is a moral obligation and the direction toward which any enlightened society must aspire. He chronicles the appalling sufferings of the animals we eat, wear, and use for adornment or “entertainment,” and submits every traditional justification for their exploitation to scientific evidence and moral scrutiny. What arises is an unambiguous and powerful ethical imperative for treating all of the animals with whom we share this planet with respect and compassion.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.
Not so, says Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality. What’s more, he says, we have evolution itself to thank for this magnificent illusion, as it maximizes evolutionary fitness by driving truth to extinction.
Getting at questions about the nature of reality, and disentangling the observer from the observed, is an endeavor that straddles the boundaries of neuroscience and fundamental physics. On one side you’ll find researchers scratching their chins raw trying to understand how a three-pound lump of gray matter obeying nothing more than the ordinary laws of physics can give rise to first-person conscious experience. This is the aptly named “hard problem.”
The Vajra Bell is a quarterly newsletter covering events and news at Aryaloka Buddhist Center and other Triratna Buddhist centers in North America. In each issue you’ll find insightful articles on Buddhist topics, updates from around the continent, reviews of Buddhist books and other media, poetry and artwork created by sangha members, and a full list of local upcoming events.
What does Vajra Bell mean? Vajra means thunderbolt or diamond, that which cuts through all obstacles to Enlightenment. The vajra is the symbol of a union of opposites, the ultimate expression of wisdom and compassion. A vajra bell rings out far and wide the melody of transcendental reality. As a newsletter, the Vajra Bell is a rich and rewarding read that brings our sangha together in common spiritual practice.
Each issue is available for download in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format or can be viewed online here at The Buddhist Centre Online. To view the full archive online, please visit http://www.aryaloka.org/category/vajrabell/
If you are a member of the Triratna Buddhist Community in North America and would like to create print copies for your local sangha, or if you would like to contribute or comment on the Vajra Bell, please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Eric Wentworth, at [email protected].
A Few Glimpses – Triratna NYC’s Fire Island Retreat 2016
Each morning, we rose early to watch the sky and sea slowly brighten, offer a shifting array of colors from the deepest greys and blue to pinks, yellows, and oranges. Then the sun seeming to pop up over the horizon in seconds, and the day had begun.
Our days were dedicated to meditation and study, with Kamalashila instructing us in the elements practice, including a unique visualization meditation. We made strong connections between each of the elements and our surroundings
Of course, there was also plenty of mindfulness and metta.
Throughout, the sound of the surf was ever-present, crashing, subsiding, always changing.
Our program left us plenty of time to enjoy the island, with walks on the beach, and simply lying in the sun. Several of us swam in the cold, pounding surf, keeping an eye to make sure that everyone who went into the water came out.
By the light of a very full moon, we held an elements puja, and finished it on the beach, dancing, singing, and generally cavorting as the pale but bright light reflected off the surf.
Neal organized an impromptu ceremony on impermanence, reading from the tiny book in which he had been writing a line from the Heart Sutra, “Gone, gone, gone beyond gone” over and over. Then moving us to the fireplace, where we watched it burn. Neal also put his firemaking skills to use throughout the retreat.
Vajramati demonstrated his skills as a chef as well as our Sangha leader, keeping us well-fed throughout. Fay regaled us with tales of her family’s history with the old house, and her childhood summers spent playing on the beach. Russ shared a poem inspired by our days of study and practice on the elements. Even the trip itself was an important part of the journey. On the ferry ride out, the sun set behind us as the moon rose ahead. Beautiful.