Manual Dharma Unwrapped: A Self-Guided Tour to Finding Your Dharma and Living Your Life Purpose

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They are not dry objects, but are vascular. If we cut them, they bleed. If we support, nurture, embrace them, we are supported, nourished and embraced in return. Each of us, as well as our community, becomes vital and bright. Vidhuma has been dedicated to learning Buddhism and living his life accordingly for nearly 30 years. He was ordained in in the Triratna Buddhist Order, and is actively engaged in teaching and other activities at Aryaloka Buddhist Center.

Learn from conflict resolution and transformation I work for a small Looking at how people are reacting charity in the United to and debating issues around the Kingdom U. Our the world of conflict resolution organization recently and transformation. From what I consulted with a group that was know of Triratna — 25 years in the exploring issues we need to tackle movement and 17 years as an order in our communities and how peace member — I believe we have a solid education could help. Yet upon, as well as the wisdom of the six years ago, when I did a similar gentle Buddhas to inspire us.

In the U. Are you a shark, standing your see sharp polarization over Brexit. In ground, meeting conflict head on, or a the United States, we hear it around turtle retreating to your shell, avoiding the 45th President. We have it in the conflict altogether? Are you a Triratna, too. Or are you are interesting times indeed! The a fox who makes quick compromises practices I promote and train in and brokers deals? How studies, particularly from Wolfgang do we deal with conflict? Ignoring it is Dietrich, an Austrian peace researcher one way humans deal with it.

How do and political scientist, tells us that we respond to people who have been not only do people engage in conflict harmed or caused harm? How do we differently, they also do peace dialogue around differences? What differently. Some people look for does resolution or peace look like to harmony, others for justice, some for us? What do we bring? How can we safety and security, and still others work for our resolution, and yet be approach it from a multiplicity of with others who may see the whole truths. Action is important, but what may seem simple and obvious to us may page We, who identify as Triratna in some way, need to resolve some issues from the past.

We also have to build a Sangha, a community that can deal with future conflicts that we will face inevitably. This can be a way to address the conflicts and hurts that have arisen as a result. The college is now offering a restorative process, facilitated by someone independent of Triratna, to some individuals as a starting point. I also suggested that a restorative approach is a good model for conflict resolution within Triratna in general. Drawing on my knowledge and that of others, we are looking at training for different interest groups within Triratna.

So what is a restorative approach? Why does it fit? Restorative justice RJ has been around for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, in all but name. First Nations people who identify themselves by the nation to which they belong in Canada and the United States and the Maori, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand, have had the most impact on the restorative justice movement. RJ has a different basis from the traditional approaches of the more familiar top down retributive justice.

This, too, is a practice: to work wholeheartedly towards a goal that may not be achievable. The efforts may take us somewhere new or teach us something we needed to know to take the next step. The retributive approach to handling wrongdoing revolves around three questions: What rules were broken? Who did it? What do they deserve? A restorative approach centers around these questions: Who has been hurt?

What are their needs? Whose responsibility is it to put it right? RJ usually refers to work in the criminal justice system with a wider application for schools, communities and other organization. RJ is concerned fundamentally with restoring relationships, and involves the harmer, the harmed and the community in a search for solutions that promote repair, reconciliation. For me, this reflects the areas we need to look at as a spiritual community: 1. Listen to the accounts of those hurt and ask them about any current needs 2. Look at how we live in community together going forward, building and repairing the relationships that have been fractured and damaged 3.

Ensure that our systems and cultures are healthy now, that we have learned what we need to, and that we can continue to learn as we inevitably have more conflicts, make more mistakes. Like meditation, painting is a daily practice for John.


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His exploration of color, texture, atmosphere and energy are informed by his love of the moving water in rivers, lakes and streams. The large-format photography of Lawrence Elbroch of Maine will be featured this summer, and will include portraits and landscapes that explore Buddhist Asia. Ann Cooper of New Mexico has produced a personal exploration of the Zen Buddhist Rakusu, a cloth garment not unlike the Triratna kesa, created for a Zen student to be worn at a jukai lay ordination ceremony. The exhibit will feature 21 hand-sewn paper Rakusu, each inspired by a haiku poem of Santaka Taneda.

The two exemplified the meaning of Shibui, a Japanese word that speaks of simplicity and complexity, elegance and roughness, spontaneity and constraint. Artist Rona Conti demonstrated a traditional calligraphy technique at the opening of the exhibit at Aryaloka. Photo courtesty of Padmaloka Buddhist Retreat Centre. Meditators who walk briskly in a clockwise rotation around the stupa of Dhardo Rinpoche, crowding into the small courtyard with the sweet smell of incense; never collide.

On the edge of the courtyard, a tiny blue flower, blooms from a crack between the paviours, yet is never crushed. The broad smooth rocks smile in summer sun. No one else seems to notice the way the water flashes its slim nakedness over and over as it runs past forever or those three heavy power lines sagging high overhead or the pulse of traffic on the bridge upstream. No one else notices, either, it seems, the way the river widens suddenly just below here, and darkens out of sight from happiness into choppy grief. Ashokashri, an order member from the U.

Nagabodhi visit Nagabodhi, an order member from the U. He, Satyada and Dhammarati, another U. The event included many order members meditation sessions, and Satyada who gathered at Aryaloka for the start leads meditation and puja on Friday evenings practice. Ashokashri and Nagabodhi, the public preceptors led the ceremony, and Karunadevi and Suddhayu, the private preceptors, shared their stories of Medhashri Rochelle and Chittavan Steve and their new names.

In September, mitra Elizabeth Hellard left for Spain with her private preceptor Dayalocana and returned several weeks later as Kamalasiri, a page More than 50 percent of our pledging members increased their pledges over last year. Chittavan Steve Wade top left was ordained by his private preceptor Suddhayu next to him.

Preceptors leading the public ordinations were Ashokashri second from right and Nagabodhi. Alisha Roberts for reaching out to the sangha. Following this project, the next effort will be new stairs to the Aryaloka shrine room. Amalavajra, the chief fund raiser for Triratna worldwide and former JP Morgan Banker, offered a workshop this fall on developing a Dana economy and cultivating a culture of generosity.

Council members presented various aspects of these principles at the event for discussion. Dharmasuri led the ceremony with Louise Tuski and Janet Miles rejoicing in the merits of our newest mitras. Nagaloka Buddhist Center now has 16 mitras. Dharmasuri, who founded and has led Nagaloka for 15 years, has stepped down as chair to enable her to travel more and deepen her practice. The center now is being run by a management team of five Photo by Laura Horwood-Benton Sangha members and Dharmasuri, and we are learning as we go. We Since the Portsmouth Buddhist welcome order members to visit Center has moved several times, its Nagaloka and spread their wisdom shrine has no permanent home, and understanding.

Mitra study Dharmasuri and the mitras kicked The Peripatetic Sangha off a new study program at Nagaloka. As draws to a close, we look Dharmasuri will be with them as back on a year of a strong, shared much as possible when she is not experience of impermanence. A fire in traveling, but they will continue to April ended our time at our two-year meet regularly.

Nagaloka invites other downtown Portsmouth location. If interested, a local nonprofit that provides free contact the center for more details. From June through to September, we held our regular The group includes men with Sangha gatherings in a nearby city some, little or no experience with park. We started with a one-time meditation. The session begins with a meditation, picnic and brunch, but the setting was so strong and positive, Dharma talk. We almost always review the Four Noble Truths and what the we kept coming back.

We set up our Triratna Sangha is all about. Then semi-circle of mats and chairs in front of two stone benches flanking a we talk about the purpose of dogwood tree and invoked the forest meditation. We - Portsmouth continued on page Another effort is forming around supporting men once they are released. You might devote yourself to visiting the sick, the destitute, the mentally disturbed, or visiting people in prison.

You might do these things very willingly and cheerfully, disregarding your own comfort and convenience — might do them without any personal, selfish motive. Quarterly retreats are offered, and the October retreat focused on meditation. If you would like to volunteer, the impact you have is hard to underestimate. Working directly inside is one option, but you also can correspond with the inmates, or support men as they return to life once released.

Please feel free to reach out to Satyada or Khemavassika for more information. There was water system damage at one of the places we rent for retreats in the Santa Cruz mountains, but they expect it to be available for our winter retreat as planned. Sangha activities The core Sangha of mitras and order members gathered in May to review council and teaching kula updates. The second half of the gathering was a send-off for Rochelle Gatlin who became Medhahshri on retreat at Aryaloka in August. This fall, Ethan Davidson, a mitra in the ordination process, received a long-anticipated call that there was.

The Sangha, his family and friends sprang into action. Many people, or perhaps a multi-armed being, got him to the hospital within the four-hour window after receiving the call, called and visited him daily to learn how to care for him post-transplant, hosted him in spare rooms, and provided hour care and meals. All was possible with Sangha. Gratitude is in full bloom, most boundlessly for the liver donor. We also offered a Saturday writing retreat in the middle of a multi-week focus on creativity. At the Rocky Mountain Sangha night, we are working on the foundation year of Triratna study, and will finish up the first part in January.

We are fortunate to have these order members, well-seasoned in the Dharma, close at hand. A mitra visit to Missoula as center president. State Park retreat near Coulee in the ordination training process also He participated in an order member City, WA in the fall with more than organizes a silent meditation practice evening and council get together and led a Sangha night. Lokeshvara also 50 participants from four Pacific on Saturday mornings, and we lead visited the Sangha, leading a practice Northwest centers — Missoula, Seattle, two mitra study groups.

The visiting order — Paramita Banerjee members visited each center and gave talks to inspire spiritual practice and commitment to a Buddhist way of life. The center holds three Sangha nights per week to practice page Following a visioning exercise during our retreat at the Won Dharma Center in February, a new council was formed, and we have begun experimenting with and exploring new formats based on Sangha member feedback. After many years of moving to different rental spaces for our weekly Sangha nights and beginner classes, we shifted this summer to a Tuesday Sangha night and Sunday morning drop-in group that floated among the homes of various Sangha members.

We use that space for Sangha nights one Tuesday night per month. On other Tuesdays, two weekly practice groups come together to meditate and study. People have told us that they value Sangha, along with in-depth practice, and that they want more. Sangha members coordinated their efforts for daily support.

We provided Vajramati with valuable insight and guidance along with emotional support, accompanied him to doctor appointments, and brought food to his home and took long walks with him during his recovery. It was our way to repay him just a little for his many years of friendship, guidance and leadership. Northeast and beyond. Our goal is www. Located in Stockton, NJ, the 10said Elaine. The porch looks out members to have to travel six or garden in the spring. Surrounded by gardens in the Hudson Valley. With Blue Sky together, and people have been very and farmland, the retreat center is Refuge, we can easily organize NYC generous to us, donating artwork, an ideal place to practice, build or Sangha retreats every few months.

Best of all, it is only an hour and a half from Midtown Manhattan and even closer to Philadelphia. The retreat started with Vajramati leading a dedication ceremony of the new shrine. We focused on papancha, the seemingly endless The NY Sangha came together to dedicate the Blue Sky Refuge retreat center in New mental proliferation that can result Jersey. Sangha members attending included left to right sitting Padmadharini, when faced with significant life Ananta Jarrod, Elaine Smith and standing left to right Vajramati, Christian Brennan, challenges.

Triratna community. He had a good job, and they bought a house. EvenVajramati was in his tually, though, they split up, wanting early 20s when, as Peter different things from life. He was married spending my days working in this and starting a career as an electronengineering facility when my friends ics design engineer. Yet he was still were having a good time working searching for what he wanted to do in the restaurant.

He had read enough about He still nurtured plans to live Buddhism to be curious. One day abroad, but when the manager of when he and his wife were shopping the restaurant went to London to in Ealing Broadway, West London, he help out at the London Buddhist saw a flyer for a meditation class. He also was going to the beginning of the West London mitra classes, attending every retreat Buddhist Centre in the local Friends possible and doing whatever needed Meeting House, where Vajramati to be done around the Norwich met his first teacher, Vangisa.

Driving Buddhist Centre. His quest for meaning included a desire to move somewhere remote and exciting. He and his wife compromised and moved from West London to Norwich in And it had a page Ordination experience One day the chair of center, Devamitra, asked Peter Minter why he had not requested ordination. I realized then there would always be things to work on.

So I asked and was ordained fairly quickly. He remembers that job mostly as a painful struggle due to opposition from an older order member who, Vajramati suspected, thought he should have been chair. Once back in London, he migrated to projects connected to the LBC. Windhorse Associates, a group of graphic designers, needed a manager so he took that job and subsequently also managed the Phoenix Housing Association that had offices in the same building as Windhorse. Phoenix managed buildings that were empty and waiting for renovation in order to avoid attracting squatters.

It fixed up the properties enough for people to move in, then rented them at very low rates, almost exclusively to people connected with the movement. Eventually his workload, including teaching and serving on the LBC council, became unsustainable. When he extricated himself from this overload and began to consider his next move, he made a detailed chart of the possibilities in different countries.

He decided to visit Aryaloka and 18 months later, in , he moved to the U. Vajramati spent six and a half years at Aryaloka. He struggled early on with how isolated Aryaloka was compared to being surrounded by friends at the LBC. But life remained busy. He taught classes and led retreats in Portland, Maine, and Boston.

He also led gatherings and study at Aryaloka. To support Aryaloka and himself, he trained and got a job working with adults with developmental difficulties. Do not cling to your likes and dislikes. Do not seek satisfaction in eating. Eat only to support yourself in your practice. Though you may eat good food all your life, your body will die. On Formal Practice During formal practice act in harmony with others, and most importantly do not be lazy. During chanting, follow the moktak, and during sitting, follow the chugpi. Perceive the true meaning of chanting and sitting and act accordingly.

Understand that you have accumulated negative karma that is like a big mountain, so keep this in mind as you bow in repentance. Our karma has no self—nature, but is created by our mind. If our mind is extinguished, our karma will also be extinguished, when we see both as transparent, this is true repentance. We bow to see our own true nature and then to help others. On the Dharma Talk When listening to the words of a Teacher, keep your mind clear. If you have a question, ask the Teacher once they are finished speaking.

If a snake drinks water, the water becomes venom. If a cow drinks water, the water becomes milk. If you cling to ignorance, you create life and death. If you keep clear, you become Buddha. All categories of precepts may be taken at every ceremony that is held. The postulant a student seeking precepts should be a supporting member of their Zen Community and in good standing as an active participant engaged with their respective Guiding Teacher. Precepts are only given by a Bodhisattva Priest or Zen Teacher as they are formal representatives of their respective Dharma lineages.

A Zen Priest of three years standing, with the approval of the guiding teacher, may give precepts to prisoners following the rules for each precepts category. It is a traditional Buddhist custom to show gratitude to the teacher leading the precepts ceremony who may or may not be your guiding teacher with a small monetary gift. At the time of the ceremony, you may leave a sealed envelope containing the donation on the altar, with the name of the precepts teacher on it and your own if you would like to.

A personal note or card is always welcome along with the gift. If you wish to make a gift by check, it should be made out to the precepts teacher personally, not to the Zen Center. Precepts—Lay Students A practitioner who decides to dedicate him or herself to Zen does so by taking the five precepts in a ceremony with a Zen Group. Entering into a student— teacher relationship is not necessarily a lifelong commitment, but represents a deep level of commitment to working together spiritually on the part of both the student and the Guiding Teacher.

Five Precepts—Lay Practitioner Haengja 1. I vow to abstain from taking life. I vow to abstain from taking things not given.


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I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust. I vow to abstain from lying. I vow to abstain from intoxicants, taken to induce heedlessness. When taking five precepts, the postulant will receive a Buddhist name from their new Guiding Teacher. Taking the five precepts means recognizing the importance of practicing, and making it part of everyday life. It means joining a family of other people who have made the same decision, practicing with them and support. If students live at a distance from the Zen Group, they will find it helpful to come to intensive retreats periodically.

In order to take the five precepts, the postulant must be at least eighteen years of age and have participated in at least four days of retreat time at the Zen Center they are about to join. If the postulant does not already have his or her own duramagi short gray robe , they may obtain one from our supplier before taking five precepts, although this is not a requirement. See you local Guiding Teacher to arrange the purchase of robes and gasas. Prisoners may take the five precepts after six months of regular practice, as determined by the precepts teacher. The retreat requirement is waived and it is not necessary to have a robe or gasa.

Ten Precepts—Novice Priest Chosimja 6. I vow not to talk about the faults of the assembly. I vow not to praise myself and disparage others. I vow not to be covetous and to be generous. I vow not to give way to anger and to be harmonious. I vow not to slander the three jewels. The second is realizing the responsibility and relationship to the Sangha by giving back to the Sangha. This is fulfilled through giving talks, instruction and helping the Zen Community with unique skills and energy.

Novice Priest Qualifications Maintain an ongoing relationship with your guiding teacher. Attend at least one regular retreat each year. If not enough group retreats are available in a particular location, solo retreats are permissible. The retreat requirement is waived for prisoners. Continue to be an active member of the Zen Community, as determined by the guiding teacher.

There are two ways to enter into the Priest Path, the first is to follow the educational option and enroll in the Five Mountain Seminary. The second way is to enroll in the Before Thought Zen Seminary and follow the traditional liturgical path of a Zen Priest. This path is less strenuous than the scholarly path and roots the practitioner in a strong practice centered environment. The Novice Priest should practice giving dharma talks, and learn to teach meditation and practice forms to others. Stay current with the Seminary dues and training.

If a Novice Priest should resign or is dropped from the training program, in order to become active again the student must receive the permission of their guiding teacher and retake the ten precepts at a ceremony. A Lay Practitioner may apply to become a Dharma Practitioner after a minimum of one year of active participation. There are two levels of commitment and precepts within this category and both are reserved for only the very serious students. The requirements for entrance into this order are rigorous and the ongoing responsibilities of ordained members are demanding.

Membership in the Five Mountain Order represents the highest commitment that one can make as a lay student through the realization of the Buddhadharma and to live out of that clear understanding for the benefit of all sentient beings. Members of the Five Mountain Order work with the Zen Teachers to develop training forms and lead the Sangha in spiritual practice at their local Center. In addition to their own personal practice duties, ordained members lead ceremonies and may be asked by the Guiding Teacher to answer questions at Dharma talks.

Zen Priests also make themselves available to perform wedding ceremonies, birth dedication ceremonies and memorial ceremonies for the general public as their faith moves them.

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Lay ordination in the Five Mountain Order involves a lifelong commitment to the practice and realization of the Dharma within the context of the life of the householder. They are both rigorous and demanding and they are also ultimately liberating. Because these vows ask much of the person who is receiving them, they must be studied and clarified carefully by those who are called to them. Bodhisattva Priest—Forty Eight Precepts Bodhisattva Priests make the ultimate visible commitment to the teacher, the teachings and practices of the Sangha. This position signifies that they are a senior elder having fulfilled the additional requirements of passing the Advanced Seminary program for Monastics.

Monks have the additional responsibility to perform some of the advance Buddhist ceremonies, and are encouraged to enter the service of the community in an interactive role. To ordain as a Bodhisattva Priest, the applicant must have been actively practicing as a Novitiate for at least twenty-four consecutive months, have completed the required training as set forth by their Guiding Teacher and taken and passed the appropriate certification tests.

The Fifty Eight Precepts: I vow to respect my teachers and friends in the Dharma I vow to abstain from entering into intoxicating situations or consuming substances intended to distract from this moment. I vow to be conscious of what I consume, the way in which it was produced, and what harm might result from my consuming it. I vow to bring awareness to the impact of what I ingest and take care not harm myself or any other beings in the process.

I vow to encourage others to view past mistakes as learning opportunities that enable them to make better choices in the future. I vow to always request the Dharma and make offerings to visiting Sangha members I vow not to divide the Dharma into separate vehicles or doctrines by placing one classification as higher or better than another. I vow to always give care to the sick and the needy I vow to abstain from the storing of weapons used to intentionally take away life.

I vow to abstain from serving as an emissary of the military, except in non-violent roles such as Chaplaincy, Medical Positions, and other roles that do not directly engage in the violent expression of military service. I vow to conduct my livelihood in a way that that is helpful to myself and others and refrain from business practices that limit the freedom or happiness of others.

I vow to communicate in a way that is true, accurate and helpful and to refrain from speech meant to plant seeds of doubt, misinformation, or gossip. I vow to support life by behaving in a way that respects and protects the environment as well as all beings and to refrain from activities that may cause harm. I vow to teach the Dharma in a manner that inspires awakening and well- being for myself and others. I vow to fully understand the Dharma so that I may teach it in a manner that is true, accurate, and helpful.

I vow to share the Dharma as freely as I have received it, with no personal gain as my motive. I vow to serve others with commitment, kindness, and integrity. I vow to communicate in a direct and compassionate manner that promotes harmony and to refrain from speech that contains hidden or implied messages meant to cause harm or unhappiness. I vow to liberate all sentient beings from suffering and the causes of suffering.

I vow to treat others with respect and to refrain from behaving in a manner that violates, harms, or imposes revenge on others. I vow to conduct myself in a manner that is consistent with the Dharma: to remain humble and accessible and to refrain from arrogant or self- important behavior.

I vow to teach the Dharma with generosity and an open heart I vow to put the teachings of the Buddha-Dharma into practice in my everyday life and to teach others how to do the same. I vow to be a Sangha member that acts with integrity and accountability. I vow to share all offerings made to the Dharma or the Sangha I vow to be inclusive and to invite all people equally regardless of gender, race, religion, physical condition, or sexual orientation.

I vow to give all Sangha members equal consideration and respect and to refrain from engaging in any actions that might cause division or conflict. I vow respect all clergy members and Dharmic objects. I vow to extend loving-kindness indiscriminately to all sentient beings, and to greet all experiences with openness, curiosity, and acceptance.

I vow to approach all beings with respect and dignity and refrain from objectifying others. I vow to always keep a clear and open mind. I vow to make great vows I vow to make firm resolutions I vow to keep myself safe whenever possible and to refrain from putting myself or others in environments where harm is more likely. I vow to respect all members of the Sangha equally. I vow to cultivate wisdom and good judgment. I vow not to unfairly discriminate against others when conferring the precepts. I vow equanimity in teaching the Dharma and will not to enter into teaching arrangements for the sake of profit.

I vow to offer the precepts only to those that wish to take them with an sincere and open heart. I vow to uphold all of these precepts. I vow to value the Sutras and the ethical guidelines set forth by the Buddha. I vow to teach and serve all sentient beings in ways that are appropriate for who they are. I vow to teach the Dharma in ways that are appropriate and helpful and to refrain from teaching in ways that cause harm. I vow to consistently support the Dharma in my daily life. I vow to keep the Dharma fresh, alive, and vibrant and to refrain from any actions that might cause its destruction.

They are a very powerful technique for seeing the karma of a situation because both the mind and the body are involved. Something that might take days of sitting to process may be digested in a much shorter time with prostrations. The usual practice here is to do one thousand and eighty bows a day. This can be done all at once or as is usually the case, spread out through the day. Here is a suggested schedule for one thousand and eighty bows: 1 set for morning bows, 2 sets before breakfast, 2 sets at lunch time, 2 sets mid—afternoon, 1 set before evening practice, 2 sets after evening practice.

At first it may be difficult to understand why we are bowing. In the beginning students may not like the structure and most wonder why we bow at all. When we bow, we are not bowing to Buddha, we are bowing to ourselves. This can be explained simply as our small I is bowing to our big I.

Eventually, our small I disappears and becomes this big I and then this is true bowing. Each type of these bows has a particular use and it is important for the student to understand the various uses. The basic hapchang form is carried out by placing the palms of both hands together in front of body, while holding the fingers together and pointing upward at approximately chest height.

The arms should be relaxed with the elbows pointing down. The Hapchang form is really the fundament form of bowing because it is contained in all the other forms of bowing that follow. The next form is the standing bow which is performed while standing erect with both hands held in hapchang, then bending forward at the waist and stopping the body when it is at a ninety degree from the waist and legs.

While the body is moving forward the hands which remain together should be dropped to the knees. Following the end of this movement the body is then raised and returned to standing position while both hands are returned to the hapchang position. When performing a bow it is considered correct form to always keep your head down. The standing bow is utilized when greeting a teacher, when entering or departing the dharma room, prior to being seated for meditation in the dharma room, as well as when distributing or collecting the chanting books.

The next form is known as the standing half bow and is performed by standing erect with both hands held in the basic hapchang form, while bending the upper body forward and stopping when the torso reaches an approximate angle of forty-five degrees. During this movement the hands are not dropped but held in same position relative to the chest. Once the torso is at the forty-five degree angle there is a brief pause and the entire process is reversed and the student returns back to the original standing position. The standing half bow is utilized when greeting Lay sangha members, or when greeting close friends.

This bow is also the reception bow which is used by a Zen Teacher. The next bowing form is known as a seated bow which is performed while seated, either on a cushion or in a chair, by holding both hands in the basic hapchang form and bending forward from the waist, being careful to keep the back curved and the head down. When you have bent as far forward as your body allows, drop both the hands forward, remaining in the basic hapchang form, until the hands come in contact with your legs, and then return to an erect sitting position while keeping the hands still in the basic hapchang form.

Another bowing form is the full prostration which is performed while starting the bow from an erect standing position. Both of the hands are held in the basic hapchang form, the back is straight and both knees are held together. The form begins by bending both knees forward until they come in contact with either a sitting mat or the floor, depending on the use. The form then continues by bending the trunk forward on both hands and knees and keeping the trunk of the body parallel to the floor then lower the body to the floor in a crouching position.

The toes are either still curled under or held out straight with the left big toe over the right as you attempt to touch your forehead and hands to the floor. Now rotate the palms ninety degrees towards the ceiling, keeping them shoulder—width apart and near the ears with the forearms touching the floor. After this bring the body up by rocking forward onto both hands and knees, and then back onto the heels with the toes tucked under. Raise the body to a standing position trying to use the strength of your legs.

If this is not possible it is permissible to use hands on the floor to push up and when the body is stable return the hands to the basic hapchang position. When performing one prostration, it is correct form to always begin and end with a standing bow; when doing more than one full prostration it is important to remember to always execute a standing bow at the beginning and ending of the series.

The half prostration is performed when the head is already on the floor during a full prostration, by rising to a kneeling position with the toes still crossed rather than tucking the toes under the feet, and then returning back down, with the forehead touching the floor as in a prostration; afterwards, rising to a standing position as in a full prostration.

At the end of a series of prostrations, a half prostration is always done. The following series is used—one prostration a standing bow, a full prostration, and a standing bow —when greeting a Zen Teacher after a short absence and each time before formal practice, or when greeting the Abbot of the Zen Center. The use of three full prostrations a standing bow, three full prostrations, one half prostrations, and a standing bow —takes place when greeting a Zen Teacher after a long absence, while bowing to the Buddha when leaving the Sangha for an extended period or returning to the Sangha after an extended absence, and bowing to the Buddha at all other temples when visiting.

Finally the one hundred and eight full prostrations a standing bow, one hundred and eight full prostrations, one half prostration and a standing bow — is performed every day usually in the morning and more often by people doing special practice. Newer students sometimes have great difficulty understanding the efficacy of chanting practice. When I completely focus on my voice and the voices around me during chanting I sometimes experience the stopping of all the mental chatter in my head!

The process is simply explained that when we are completely focused on chanting meditation, we will perceive the sound of our own voice and the voices of those chanting with us which sometime results in an experience of unity with the cosmos. We and the universe become one in this very moment, then all suffering disappears, and true presence appears.

Buddha referred to this state of mind as Nirvana and if we only exist in the realm of Nirvana, our mind becomes clear like space. To have a mind which is clear like space means that our perception is like a perfectly polished mirror. If someone around us is in good cheer; we also become happy. If someone around us is sad; we also become sad. If someone with us is hungry; we perceive our correct function and we give them something to eat.

This is the explanation of chanting meditation, and chanting Zen practice. The following is a listing of the various chants performed at the Zen Center each morning and every evening prior to seated meditation. Zen Masters, as well, are not exempt from having opinions and we are all fundamentally like this. If you meet ten Zen Masters they may have ten different styles of teaching, and each Zen Master will most likely believe that their way is the best.

All of these differing opinions result in differing actions, which then result in different karma. Consequently, if we hold on to our own opinions, it becomes very difficult to control our karma, and our lives will remain difficult. As our wrong opinions continue, so our bad karma continues on forever. At the Zen Center, we practice together, and all of us abide by the Sangha Guidelines.

New students arrive with many strong likes and dislikes, but gradually, with diligence and practice they manage to cut them off. During morning practice we all bow together one hundred and eight times, we all sit in silence together, during retreats we eat together, and during work periods we all work together. Occasionally we may not feel like bowing; but this is a sangha guideline so we just bow. Sometimes we do not want to chant, but by following the group, we just chant. Other times we are tired and do not feel like practicing, but when we get to the Zen center we can use other sangha members energy to help us practice as well.

The group practices together as well as acts together. The means of acting together allow us to cut off our opinions, cease our attachment to our condition, and not attach to our life situation. At this point our true opinion, our true condition, and our true situation will appear. From this point forward when we bow together or chant together or eat together, our individual minds become one mind. This is similar to the ocean as the wind comes up the result is many waves; and when the wind dies down, the waves become much smaller.

However, if the wind stops, the water becomes a mirror, in which everything is reflected—mountains, trees, and clouds. Our mind is the same. When we have numerous desires and many opinions, there are many big waves. However after we sit Zen and act together for some time, our opinions and desires disappear. The waves become smaller and smaller. Then our mind is like a clear mirror, and everything we see or hear or smell or taste or touch or think is the truth. Their minds are reflected in my mind. Mantra meditation is very easy to learn and effective in letting go of our attachment to thinking.

Just repeating a mantra helps us to focus our attention on a single point and eventually reach a state of very deep rest. The regular practice of meditation can reduce our irritability and thus the feeling of being stressed, but more importantly is that continued mantra practice will reduce the time of recovery following all kinds of distressing situations.

Mantra practice in juxtaposition with bowing practice can help cut through our karma very quickly. Mantra practice should be done with a firm commitment by the student; however, it must not be looked upon as some sort of compulsion, this practice should be entered into lightly and with a strong commitment. During the first few weeks of practicing mantra meditation, some students tend to become more sensitive to events that did not used to bother them.

This is one reason why after beginning this type of practice it is important to consult your teacher to ensure the correct practice and effect. This practice should be undertaken during all quiet periods of the day when cognitive attention is not required. Over time thoughts will emerge spontaneously and we will be tempted to follow them this is our normal habitual pattern and when we realize that we have strayed from our practice we must gently return to it repeatedly and over again.

Try not to become judgmental about your practice. Thoughts and perceptions are simply allowed to come and go like single, detached events. During practice, you just come back to repeating the mantra again without forcing yourself. Following are listed some of the common mantras used in our Zen practice. The explanation of their meanings and use are listed below the mantras. Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind The mantra is used in conjunction with a breathing execise used to focus both the mind and the body on something solid and tangible and therefore diminish the habitual patterns of thinking.

One of the four Great Bodhisattvas in Asian Buddhism. He is venerated in folk belief as a savior from the torments of hell and helper of the deceased. Sometimes he is also regarded as a protector of travelers. He is the only bodhisattva portrayed as a monk, however also with an urna one of the thirty-two marks of perfection on the forehead. His attributes are the wish-fulfilling gem and a monk's staff with six rings, which signifies that Jijang Bosal stands by all beings in the six realms of existence.

Namu—ata—shiji—nam—sammota—guchi—nam Om—ajana—baba—jiri—jiri—hum This mantra is used to save all sentient beings stuck in Hell. Namu—bo—bo—jeoli—kali—dali—tata—adaya This mantra is used to invite all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Namu—de—bang—kwang—bul—hwa—um—gyung Buddha taught that this world is complete, but it is our minds that are not complete. So this mantra helps our minds become complete and strong. Namu—samanda—motdanam—abarji—hadasa—sananam—danyata Om—kaka—kahe—kahe—hum—hum—abara—abara—bara—abara—bara—abara Jita—jiri—jir—jir—badu—badu—sanjika—shiri—e—sabaha For those with heavy karma this mantra will take away all good and bad, and all opposites, then cutting through this karma will become easy.

Namu—samanda—motdanam—om—doro—doro—jimi—sabaha The Gods of the five directions North, South, East, West and Center are said to like the sound of this mantra, so when we do it, every god will hear our voice, and these gods will keep a clear mind and help us with our problems. Om This is the universal mantra of truth. Chanting this mantra takes away everything. Om—aridara—sabaha This literally means; correct eyes, correct ears, and correct mouth. So if we have a problem seeing clearly, hearing clearly or speaking clearly, this mantra will help us.

Om—ba—ara—minaya—sabaha This mantra is used to clean the entire cosmos, so when your life seems cloudy and dark, this will clean all the darkness and bring forth brilliant illumination. Om—ba—ara—tobiya—hum When the mind is chasing thoughts constantly this mantra opens the mind and results in a wide and spacious mind. Om—biro—gije—sabaha This mantra takes away all of your karma and allows you to see the truth and act appropriately.

Om—chi—lim This will protect the body so no bad energy can enter it, used when there is a sickness or to gain energy. Om—gara—jiya—sabaha This mantra shatters the gates of Hell and opens the gate to nirvana. Om—horo—horo—saya—moke—sabaha This is an extra mantra like an extra button on a shirt it is used as a preventive measure even if things are going well. Om—ja—rye—ju—rye—junje—sabaha—burim This mantra is used for universal mystical energy; it can help you see through to your aspirations. Om—maha—ka—babada—shiche—a—sabaha This is a mantra to begin ceremonies.

Om—mani—padme—hum This is for when your mind is dark or small, when you cannot perform the correct actions. When cannot see and cannot hear correctly, this mantra will make your mind wide. Om—nam This mantra is for purification, when you need to purify the energy of a place that seems to have bad karma. Om—salba—motcha—moji—sadaya—sabaha This is the universal mantra of repentance and is used to help correct an incorrect situation. Om—samara—samara—mimara—jarama—jagura—bara—hum This is the last mantra in a ceremony — it is the ceremony is completed mantra.

Suri—suri—maha—suri—su—suri—sabaha This mantra will clean your mouth like your mom did when you were younger — it can rid you of bad speech and uncontrollable desires. This event has changed the character of Zen practicing here in the West. Now the ancient teaching about manifesting Zen in everyday life takes on a more important role with the student. Sitting Zen in a strict regimented way is not always possible for lay practitioners.

Everyday— life Zen practice means learning how to practice mind—sitting in the midst of disturbances, and mind—sitting means keeping a not—moving mind in all places, at all times. Yet, how do we keep a not—moving mind in the midst of disturbances? This is very easy, just put away your opinions, your condition and your situation each moment of your life.

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When you are doing something, just do it. This is everyday Zen. For lay people the teaching of great love, great compassion and the Great Bodhisattva Way is very important. To attain this Great Bodhisattva Way, it is vitally necessary to keep a not—moving mind, and only then will the correct situation, the correct function, and the correct relationship appear by themselves in everyday life. Sitting Zen is practiced while seated on a large rectangular mat upon which one or more smaller support cushions are placed.

If there is a question about which way to face, the practice leader will always indicates the correct direction. Sitting periods begin when the practice leader hits the chukpi three times. If you arrive at the dharma room while practice is in process, please enter as silently as possible so as not to disturb the students already sitting. As a general rule we try not to enter or leave the dharma room during sitting periods. You may enter the room when the chukpi is hit again, either once to signal walking meditation or three times to signal the end of a sitting period.

There are many acceptable sitting positions that can be used for meditation. The legs may be in half lotus, full lotus, Burmese style, Indian style, kneeling, or in a chair, but most important is that the back be kept straight and shoulders relaxed. Attention to the breath is important for beginners so breathing should be centered in the lower abdomen. It can be helpful to begin sitting by taking several long deep breaths. Be patient and try to pay attention to everything that might cause you to want to move later on.

Take your time centering, adjusting and pay attention; then try hard not to move once situated. Beginning students are given a breathing exercise. Your breathing should be deep and relaxed and never forced. The length of the count will vary with each individual; the important points are that the breath comes from the lower abdomen and that the exhalation is a slightly more twice as long as the inhalation. Thoughts come and go and should be neither followed nor repressed. They all are the landscape of this questioning mind.

Let go of all thinking, opinions, and desires and continually return to the questioning mind.

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Some students keep a mantra during sitting. Mantras may be counted on a short set of beads held in the lap; long strings of beads are usually not to be used for mantra in the dharma room. Please be mindful with beads and use them quietly. During sitting periods there is no moving unless you are very sleepy or in great pain; then getting up from your cushion and standing quietly is permitted.

To do this, perform one sitting bow and slowly get up and stand behind your cushion, holding the hands in the hapchang position. This is the only acceptable way to change body position during sitting. Before sitting back down, perform a standing bow and return to your sitting position quietly. When any sitting period is scheduled to last more than forty-five minutes, there is a walking meditation period scheduled so that the sitting periods last for twenty—five to forty five minutes each.

Walking meditation begins when the practice leader hits the chukpi once. At this signal, everyone stands and lines up in close order behind the practice leader in the same order as they were sitting. Everyone then follows the practice leader and begins to walk slowly counterclockwise around the dharma room, keeping hands folded in front at stomach level. The practice leader carries the chukpi and sets the pace for the walking meditation. Everyone follows, keeping the same pace so that the distance between people is the same as it is when they first lined up behind the practice leader.

Walking meditation lasts for approximately ten minutes. During this time students may leave the dharma room to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Everyone stays in place in line until walking past the dharma room door; then, if someone wishes to go out, they may step out of line making sure to perform a standing bow before leaving the dharma room.

When returning to the dharma room, enter quietly, perform a standing bow, and wait near the door until you can enter the walking meditation line between the two people next to whom you sit. If the walking meditation is almost over, wait until everyone stops walking and then quickly walk to your place behind your cushion.

The practice leader again hits the chukpi once to signal the end of walking meditation after everyone has stopped walking and taken their places behind their cushions. When the chukpi is hit, everyone again resumes their sitting position. No bow is done at this time At the end of the sitting period, the chukpi is hit three times and everyone does a sitting bow before standing. At the end of the formal practice period, everyone brushes off and straightens their own cushions and mat. And then it happens One day you wake up and you're in this place.

You're in this place where everything feels right. Your heart is calm. Your soul is lit. Your thoughts are positive. Your vision is clear. You're at peace, at peace with where you've been, at peace with what you've been through, and at peace with where you're headed. Garden explosion!!

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So excited to have a garden again! Each day I go outside and smell the herbs and the fresh air, I think about how thankful we are to have this outdoor space in our yard. We have more plans to expand the garden next year, but so far this is working out so well! Who feels happy that we have rain this year instead of smoke?!?

I am starting to make stops on the drive to and from my treatment to take it all in. Makes me happy. Did you love genuinely? I think we all have. Just breathe. Find your rock s and lean on them when you need it! No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walkthepath. Hearts as One, Singing one song, Spirit calling all souls to awaken to our majesty. But, it can also be a rest, right? Can we all not be a little more positive towards work and the staggering frustrations we engage in at our jobs!? It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, troubles or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. I hope we all find peace in our day to day routine. Life throws everyone curve balls and I am no exception! How we step up to those challenges that life brings us help grow and become the badass babes we know we can be. These last few weeks I fell deep into a hole that was not very productive and fully avoided all my goals I find that I get on track, work hard and then a few bumps come along and I loose sight of my intention and direction. I get caught in the cross hairs of life and resort back to my old habits I am starting today fresh and hitting the reset button, leaning into my amazing tribe and working through the struggle with peace and a clam heart!

Moment by moment, breath by breath we can choose our path of happiness.

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Sometimes the fog falls down on our environment, and reminds us that beauty is closer to us than we ever thought. I feel humbled by helping people and truthfully feel this is one of my best attributes. I find beauty in supporting others. Why do we wait to hear what others think Where do you find your inner beauty!?

It's amazing how some things come into your life at exactly the right time. If we are open and allow our path to be paved for us without resistance, so much can happen! Just like bringing your focus inward. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. One foot in front of the other tends to lead us forward. It sure seems simple to think about it that way, especially when life gets busy, overwhelming and hectic. Just like how we can control our breath, we can control the directions we choose to follow.

And then it happens. Ways to pray for your teens throughout the week as they walk into their future.