Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

Meditation Month 2020: Going with the Flow

Week 2 of Sebene Selassie’s guided meditation video series

With Sebene SelassieMar 08, 2020

 

Welcome back for week two of Tricycle Meditation Month, our annual challenge to sit all 31 days of March.

If you’re just joining us, our Meditation Month teacher, Sebene Selassie is leading a series of four free guided meditation videos. Sebene is an Insight meditation teacher and a writer who has been studying Buddhism for the past 30 years. Each Sunday, we’re releasing a new video, which builds on the previous week’s lesson.

This week, Sebene recaps her first video and guides us in a meditation on the element of water—noticing the things that are fluid and transmutable in our experience. When we connect with the four elements in this way, we start to realize that any phenomena in our experience provide a doorway into understanding our inherent interconnection with nature and with others. 

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Living with Cancer

We continue our series of posts with questions and answers. In this seventh post, we hear one question.

The session takes place on August 16, 2007 during the Stonehill College retreat during the U.S. Tour. The retreat theme is Mindfulness, Fearlessness, and Togetherness.

There are 10-million people with cancer. Recently I was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and given a period remaining to live. And yet I am still alive today. Is there a path for me to do my spiritual work before I pass on? 

Original author: Chan Niem Hy
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Buddha Buzz Weekly: Buddhist Temples Vandalized in Montreal

Potential hate crimes occur at Montreal’s temples, Dalai Lama named most spiritually influential person in an annual list, and France’s Plum Village cancels all retreats due to coronavirus. Tricycle looks back at the events of this week in the Buddhist world.

By Emily DeMaioNewton and Karen JensenMar 07, 2020

Chua Quan Am temple in Montreal, Quebec

Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.

Potential Hate Crimes Against Buddhist Temples in Montreal

Recent acts of vandalism at Buddhist temples in Montreal’s Chinatown are being investigated as hate crimes, the Montreal Gazette reported. Volunteers and workers at three different temples have reported damage to buildings and statues in the past few weeks. Security video footage from the Vietnamese Chua Quan Am temple captured a hooded individual smashing statues with a hammer; more than ten statues, inside and outside of the temple’s gates, were damaged, including a Buddha. At the Thuyen Ton temple, four lion statues were destroyed, and at the Huyen Khong Buddhist socio-cultural center, two outdoor lion statues were damaged and their eyes were painted black. Police said they don’t know the motive of the vandalism, but because the acts were committed toward religious symbols, they are being treated as hate crimes. Louis Le, a volunteer at the Quan Am temple, speculated that the motive might originate in fears of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which originated in the city of Wuhan, China. “People associate it with the Asian community,” he said. “It’s just prejudice and injustice.”

Dalai Lama Named Most Spiritually Influential Living Person 

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama took the top spot on a list of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People in Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine’s spring 2020 issue. Since 2011, Watkins has published the annual list with the goal of “celebrating the world’s living spiritual teachers.” The Dalai Lama has apparently become more influential, moving up two notches from his third place spot last year. Second and third on this year’s list are Pope Francis and Greta Thunberg, respectively. The full list includes many other Buddhist voices, such as Thich Nhat Hanh (7), Robert Thurman (56), Pema Chödrön (57), Jack Kornfield (83), and Tara Brach (98).

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Kitten Meditation

Thai Forest monk Ajahn Brahm invites us to start meditating by choosing something easy to love in this excerpt from his book Kindfulness.

By Ajahn BrahmMar 07, 2020

Photo by Carolina Barría Kemp | http://bit.ly/2D0aLtQ

I prepare myself for metta meditation by imagining a little kitten. I like cats, especially kittens, so my imaginary kitten is to lovingkindness as gas is to a flame. I need only to think of my little kitten and my heart lights up with metta.

I continue to visualize my imaginary friend, picturing it as abandoned, hungry, and very afraid. In its short span of life it has known only rejection, violence, and loneliness. I imagine its bones sticking out from its emaciated body, its fur soiled with grime and some blood, and its body rigid with terror. I consider that if I don’t care for this vulnerable little being then no one will, and it will die such a horrible, lonely, terrified death. I feel that kitten’s pain fully, in all its forms, and my heart opens up, releasing a flood of compassion. I will care for that little kitten. I will protect it and feed it. I imagine myself looking deeply into its anxious eyes, trying to melt its apprehension with the metta flowing through my own eyes. I reach out to it slowly, reassuringly, never losing eye contact. Gently, I pick up that little kitten and bring it to my chest. I remove the kitten’s cold with the warmth from my own body, I take away its fear with the softness of my embrace, and I feel the kitten’s trust grow. I speak to the kitten on my chest:

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The Shamatha of Survival

When I started focusing on mindfulness, I realized that it was something I had already been practicing acutely for most of my life. 

Mindfulness has been so much a part of how I have survived as a Black queer man in this world. It is being aware of how people notice me in space, how I can become a suspect by walking into a store––and how I have no choice but to be mindful of the cashiers or plainclothes security. 

The practice, for me, continues to be one of surviving under precarious conditions, where my body becomes a canvas on which other people project a false, and often harmful, reality. To be present to this process is to resist this kind of violence.

Though I have no formal training in mindfulness practices taken directly from the sutras, I have been working with the Satipatthana (Four Foundations of Mindfulness) sutta in my personal practice. It has been a foundational text for me as I continue to understand meditation and what Michel Foucault called “technologies of the self”—the various means through which we can affect personal, mental, and physical changes and produce more happiness, contentment, and wisdom. 

Mindfulness must first emerge from my body as it is in the world, open and sensitive to the many ways it is interpreted by others. Sometimes it shows up in ways that are traumatizing and wounding, and sometimes in ways that celebrate my body.

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