Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Update

Please check the calendar for this month's meditation dates and events

Below is information about our July Day of Mindfulness (DOM) on Saturday, July 11. That evening we will also be hosting a potluck dinner and goodbye party for Dustin Weiderman!  Hope everyone can come! Please note we are meeting later than our usual Saturday DOM time.

Included in the information about what we will be doing during our Day of Mindfulness is information from Thay about the plum village practices of taking care of Forgetfulness through Mindfulness and the Steps of Peacemaking. We will also honor Karen H's dear sister in law who passed away in June.

Saturday, July 11  12: 30 – 7:00 pm – Mindfulness to help us with Forgetfulness Day of Mindfulness (Schedule and location further below) and a Goodbye Party for Dustin.

Dear Friends
In our Sangha we come together to practice mindfulness.  What is mindfulness? It has been defined as:
-the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. or
- a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Thay has said that mindfulness is the opposite of forgetfulness.

So in our next Day of Mindfulness, Saturday, July 11, I hope that you can join us to look deeply at how to use mindfulness to help us with forgetfulness.

Throughout the day, if you are like me, you may find yourself getting lost in forgetfulness.  Sometimes the past pulls us into forgetfulness, sometimes ideas about right and wrong, sometimes…well there are many things.  When I don’t take the time to look more deeply at internal discomfort, I have a habit of “running away from it,” looking outside myself and blaming others.   Even while in our Sangha meetings, we may get pulled by forgetfulness as, for most of us, it is a strong and powerful habit.  

From a Dharma talk:
“…….All kinds of thinking we have — our complexes, guilt, comparing ourselves with others — is linked to our idea of having a separate self. Our constant thinking is a mechanism to keep our idea of a separate self alive……

The third kind of food (we give ourselves) the Buddha taught is linked with thinking. It is the food of intention. The food of what I intend to do, what I decide to do, what I want to do, is sometimes called volition. This kind of food can give us a great deal of energy. 

To explain this kind of food (when unwholesome), the Buddha told a story. …
There’s a young man, he’s living in a town, and outside the town is a large pit of coals. There are two strong men in the town. They take hold of him and they pull him towards the pit, and he didn’t want to go there at all, but somehow he couldn’t stop them. They were much stronger than he was. He knew that if he fell into that pit he would not survive, and he would suffer a lot. Still, the two strong men dragged him in that direction. 

This is another rather dramatic and drastic way the Buddha had of describing our intention food. A lot of energy can pull us in a direction we don’t want to go. These intentions are not necessarily wholly in our conscious mind. We may have things deep down in us driving us in a certain direction without even knowing it…...

Thay suggests that when we are pulled by a strong unwholesome idea or feeling that we do the following (rather than blaming others or ourselves):
“………Instead of acting as if we can dispose of parts of ourselves, we should learn the art of transformation. We can transform our anger, for example, into something more wholesome, like understanding……. We only have to observe it with love and attention.  If we take care of our anger in this way without trying to run away from it, it will transform itself.  This is peacemaking.”

On July 11, we will go through the steps of this peacemaking: 1. Mindful walking with a gatha that acknowledges the mental formations that may be there.  2. Looking deeply at the causes  and roots of the mental formations.  3.  Transforming a mental formation

To transform, we do something mentally that Thay calls “COOKING POTATOES”: 

“We cannot eat raw potatoes, but we don’t throw them away just because they are raw.  We know we can cook them.  So, we put them into a pot of water, put a lid on, and put the pot on the fire. The fire is mindfulness, the practice of breathing consciously and focusing on our anger.  The lid symbolizes our concentration, because it prevents the heat from going out of the pot.  When we are practicing breathing in and out, looking into our anger, we need some concentration in order for our practice to be strong.  Therefore, we turn away from all distractions and focus on the problem.  If we go into nature, among the trees and flowers, the practice is easier.

As soon as we put the pot on the fire, a change occurs.  The water begins to warm up.  Ten minutes later, it boils, but we have to keep the fire going a while longer in order to cook our potatoes.  As we practice being aware of our breathing and our anger, a transformation is already occurring.  After half an hour, we lift the lid and smell something delicious.  We know that we can eat our potatoes now.  Anger has been transformed into another kind of energy- understanding and compassion”

Mindfulness to Overcome Forgetfulness

12:30 - 12:50 ARRIVE
12:50 - 1:10 Sitting Meditation with Guided Meditation
1:10  -  1:20 Walking Meditation outside
1:20  -  2:00 Recorded Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh
2:20  - 2:10 Walking Meditation
2:10 – 2:30  Writing a gatha to take good care of a habit that causes pain
2:30 - 2:50    Sitting Meditation,
2:50 -  3:00    Walking Meditation
3:00- 4:00 Beginning Anew with Chanting/Singing
4:00 - 4:10 Walking Meditation
4:10 - 5:00   Dharma sharing
5:00 - 5:15 Break and prep for potluck
5:15 - 6:00 Potluck dinner
6:00 – 9:30  Sending Dustin off with Love:  Tea Ceremony (bring a poem, a song, a dance, a spontaneous utterance, a drawing, a flower, etc.)

Announcement:  Join the monastic community founded, ordained and trained by Thich Nhat Hanh as they tour the United States: 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June Update

More information on these topics listed below - check the calendar for this month's events
  • Day of Mindfulness is Sunday, June 14
  • Would you like to travel to Blue Cliff Monastery together?  Only 3 and a half hours each way, we could go as a Sangha!
  • Why would you take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha?  What does it mean? 

Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Monday, June 1, from noon to 1 pm, The Buddhist Peace Fellowship will have their monthly peace sitting at the FEDERAL BUILDING, at 100 State Street.  For more information, contact: Jay Thompson   585.576.6073

Day of Mindfulness, Sunday June 14
Location is off Buffalo Road near Robert's Wesleyan College (North Chili). 
For more information and RSVP: 346-0557

12:30 – 12:50- Arrival/settle in
12:50 – 1:00- Ten minute silent sitting
1:00 - 1:20  -- Reading of the 4th Mindfulness training and guided meditation
1:20 – 2:30-  Driftwood circle
2:30 – 3:15-  Walking/sitting meditation
3:15 – 3:45- Three Earth Touchings
3:45 – 4:00- Walking meditation
4:00– 4:30 - Chanting and singing
4:30 – 5:00- Dharma sharing
5:00 - Potluck Lunch Preparation and first 15 minutes of mindful eating  in silence

Would you like to go to Blue Cliff Monastery?  
You can go on your own or let others in the Sangha know if you would like to go together.  We could go for one day or for a few days.  Read more about the schedule by going to:   and click on calendar or schedule.

What is the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha?
What does it mean to take refuge?
Excerpted from the “Taking Refuge” page of the Plum Village Website 

Taking refuge is the recognition and the determination to head toward what is most beautiful, truthful, and good. Taking refuge is also the awareness that one has the capacity to understand and love.

The Buddha is the one who shows us the way in this life. The Buddha is the historical person who lived 2600 years ago and all of our ancestral teachers who connect us to the Buddha. The Buddha is also the awakened nature in all beings. Each element in the universe that is showing us the way of love and understanding, is the Buddha. The open look of a child and the ray of sunshine causing the flower to unfold her beauty also contain the awakened nature.

The Dharma is the teachings of love and understanding. The Dharma is the teachings of the historical Buddha and his descendants in the form of discourses, the commentaries and precepts that show us the path leading to peace and deep insight, love and understanding. The Dharma is all the elements in our world and in our consciousness that guide us on the path of liberation. The living Dharma is contained in every corner of the universe. The floating cloud is silently preaching about freedom and the falling leaf is giving us a dharma talk on the practice of letting go. Every time you breathe mindfully, walk mindfully or look at another person with the eye of understanding and compassion, you are giving a silent dharma talk.

The Sangha is the community that lives in harmony and awareness. Your teachers, your friends and yourself are all elements of your Sangha. A path in the forest might be a member of your Sangha as well, supporting you on the path of transformation. You can share your joys and your difficulties with your Sangha. You can let go and relax into the warmth and strength of your Sangha. The Sangha is a river, flowing and bending with flexibility, responding to the environment in which it is situated. Taking refuge in the Sangha, we join in the stream of life, flowing and becoming one with all of our sisters and brothers in the practice. In the setting of a Sangha, you find the practice easier and much more enjoyable.