All posts tagged: Buddhism

Everything Changes

[I said to Suzuki Roshi,] “I could listen to you for a thousand years and still not get it.  Could you just please put it in a nutshell?  Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”…He was not a man you could pin down, and he didn’t like to give his students something definite to cling to. He had often said not to have “some idea” of what Buddhism was.  But Suzuki did answer.  He looked at me and said, “Everything changes.” ~David Chadwick For the past 24-hours, here in Pittsburgh we have been bathed in the light of the sun through clear blue skies. I feel the sun in the fluids of my body and, all of a sudden, my dreams seem possible.  When you live in a place that offers shades of gray (and not in the exciting way) for most days of the year, the light of the sun brings profound shifts in conciousness.  This shift is welcomed because it is warm, light and inspiring.  As much as this change in season from …

Imperfect Vessels

I’m always reading.  Whenever I come across common themes in my reading, I try to make note of it and then think about what that theme means to me in my life, my practice and my work.  Two-weeks ago, in everything I was reading, the word or theme of “imagination” kept popping up.  This week, in two completely different books, the Buddhist teaching of the imperfect vessels revealed itself to me.  This teaching provides a way for us to study ourselves and then develop practices that support our current state of mind. The first type of imperfect vessel is an upside down vessel.  It’s impossible to fill a vase with beautiful flowers if the vase is upside down.  In this type of vessel, the opening is completely closed off.  In this “closed mind” there is no role for meditation or yoga practice.  It is likely that all of us experience times when our minds are the upside down vessel.  It is just as likely that we can think of someone that we know or have …

Benefits of Reading Sutras

This month, I am starting an online course called Radiant Heart and we will be reading a number of Classical Buddhist texts that provide guidance for both meditation and interacting with others that builds our capacity for happiness and joy.  This course is appropriate whether you identify with “being Buddhist” or not as none of the texts ask you to pray to a certain God or believe anything in particular.  Therefore, this course will not challenge your current belief system or commitment to a particular practice of religion.  Instead, the course challenges you to experiment with breathing, movement and mind practices that have the potential to change how you experience daily life. In the preparation of this course I have come across a relatively new science: neurotheology.  Regardless of what part of this science makes sense to you or doesn’t, it appears that reading religious texts and taking the time to consider ourselves as living beings in relationship to higher power is good for our health.  I don’t know very much about this, but it …

NEW Online Meditation Course

Four Noble Truths: Insights and Meditations In this five-week online course, we will explore the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism through Phillip Moffitt’s book, “Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering.”  The course includes guided required reading of this text and instruction in a variety of mindful meditations that help build compassion and insight.  Introductory tuition $25. You can start the course at ANY time and have immediate access to the first unit upon enrollment.  You have five weeks to take the course from the date you start.  There is no schedule to keep to or required group activities.  Read at your own pace and engage with the videos, worksheets and guided meditations in whatever way is most helpful for you.  No grades.  No pressure.  No requirements. This course is for you if: You want to feel less anxiety, stress and depression You want to learn more about fundamental concepts in Buddhism You need a flexible program that allows you to work at your convenience You wish …

Wanting Mind

Love Letter Thursday 5.16.13 Pittsburgh, PA On this Thursday, I send you some ideas on the wanting mind.  Rooted in desire, the wanting mind is constantly evaluating what we like, don’t like, wish for and don’t wish for.  Although the world keeps changing right underneath our feet, we grasp with the wanting mind and hope (expect?) that somehow we can set the circumstances in place that will allow things to be “just so” and for as long as possible.  This is, exactly, the idea behind the love note itself.  Or is it? In Phillip Moffitt’s book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity (which, by the way, I can’t recommend highly enough), he explores the difference between expectation and possibility.  And, I argue that, based on his explanation of the difference between the two, a love note is exciting because it is filled with possibility rather than expectation.  Sure, you don’t expect to open my little note on Thursday and find something mean spirited, but the reason why you look forward to these notes is because anything is …

Out of Beer?

Benjamin Franklin said that beer was proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  But, what happens when you run out of beer? Matthieu Ricard offers some ideas about happiness in this short talk.  Enjoy!

Meditation Series

This fall, Yoga Matrika is offering a 12-week Meditation Series facilitated by Bhante Pema. This is a very unique opportunity in Pittsburgh to study and practice meditation. By making a 12-week commitment, you will start to see the benefits of regular practice over the course of three-months. Dr. Josephine Briggs, the Director of the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, says that, “It is now well established that the meditative state can be associated with changes in electrical function of the brain, and recent imaging studies suggest that there may actually be neuroanatomic changes as well.”  In addition, a new study by the Public Library of Science suggests that regular meditation can have a significant impact on stress related illnesses. “The study found that in comparison to a control group of people who had never meditated, a group of regular meditators actually suppressed twice the number of genes that induce stress responses such as high blood pressure and inflammation in the body.Long term effects of the expression of stress-related genes …

Spring Preparation #5: Spring Ahead in Time

This Saturday night (Or on Sunday morning when we wonder why we are at church/yoga class/work when everyone else failed to show up and know quite honestly that it isn’t about moral superiority …..) we will change our clocks so that they are an hour ahead.  In a pessimistic essence, we lose an hour of sleep and then, by Sunday evening, we’ll have trouble falling asleep as it will feel way too early to turn in.  In our most optimistic essence, we could see this as a head start.  Taking a middle path, we can take this opportunity to explore our attachment to time and re-negotiate our relationship to time. Here are two books that I can recommend that may help you think about time in a different way: Infinite Life (2004) by Robert Thurman This is a series of meditations and spiritual guidance that suggests we can be happier if we live as though our actions and thoughts have infinite implications for both our own happiness and the happiness of all living beings.  The …

Spring Meditation #1: Faith

Each year, in preparation for spring, I read this book: Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg In my practice of both Catholicism and Judaism, I always appreciated the statements of belief that come at the beginning of a mass or service.  I like the idea of a gathering of people who very clearly state, up front, what joins them together and what they wish to publicly announce as their main practices and beliefs.  It’s a very powerful feeling to be a part of that prayer.  The ability to state, with such certainty, these statements of belief that provide the foundations that both define the religion and the basis of the prayers and practices of that religion, requires faith.  By repeating these statements, and especially by repeating them as a group, they provide a significant structure of support for those beliefs and practices.  But, it isn’t belief that brings that group together.  It is faith. This book by Sharon Salzberg is a profound exploration of what faith is and how it continues to …

Zen Sitting Group of Pittsburgh

Hogen Green has recently posted the new sitting schedule for the ZSGP.  Everyone is invited to sit with this group that meets by donation at Yoga Matrika in the Peace Room on some Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings.  The Zen Sitting Group of Pittsburgh has been very generous to Yoga Matrika and it is their beautiful Buddha that creates a sanctuary out of the Peace Room.  If you are interested in Zen, I encourage you to contact Hogen directly.  He provides orientations for those in the community who are new to Zen if you let him know ahead of the meeting that you are coming and require this introduction. Here is the focus for the next group of sittings as communicated by Hogen in his most recent e-mail to the group: The Bodhisattva is the model of practice in Mahayana Buddhism, and our model of how to live a life in the midst of the turmoil and challenges we face both in personal relationships, the life and death of those we know intimately as well …

Zen Sitting Group of Pittsburgh

Update 4/16/12: Please note that the Zen Sitting Group of Pittsburgh no longer exists as the leader has moved away from Pittsburgh.  This is an older post from 2009.   The Zen Sitting Group of Pittsburgh (ZSGP) meets at Yoga Matrika  on alternate Sundays.  Please see the schedule and more information about ZSGP below.   What is ZSGP?  What is Zen practice? Who can participate?  The Zen Sitting Group of Pittsburgh (ZSGP) is a member of the Society of Mountains and Rivers (SMR), a network of Zen Buddhist sitting groups and affiliates of the Mountains and Rivers Order (MRO). The MRO’s spiritual founder and director is John Daido Loori Roshi, abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York. WWW.MRO.ORG  Zen practice can help us to wake up to who we are and to live out of that understanding. The questions that we take up during the course of our practice are the questions of our human existence: What is life? What is death? How can we truly be alive and live and die in a …

Introduction to Meditation

Introduction to Meditation   By Bhante Pemaratana Pittsburgh Buddhist Center In our life we all need to maintain physical health. We need to build healthy relationships. We need to achieve personal satisfaction and inner happiness. We need to realize the deep sense of meaning of our life. What is essential for all the above things is a healthy mind. The ancient Greeks glorified the body, its wellbeing and health, as well as the mind. The Romans famously said that man’s ideal should be ‘mens sana in corpore sano”! Healthy mind in a healthy body.  And in China Lao- Tse spoke of harmony achieved by equilibrium of the mind. And the Buddha said that good health was the greatest profit, and contentment is the greatest wealth one could accumulate.  Though many of us are aware of the value of a healthy mind, we rarely know the way to achieve it. Meditation is a systematic method to develop a healthy mind. Achieving a healthy mind is not only about eradicating viruses that make the mind sick but …