Mentioned and read in meetings

Aspirations of the Bodhichitta (February 22, 2010)

The Five Mindfulness Trainings (February 22, 2010)

March 1st guided mediation “Breathing in, breathing out…”

A Commentary on the Awakening Mind (this is the text The Dalai Lama will be teaching from in NYC, in May)

Compassion Meditation from Monday April 12, 2010, read by Jenny

The Tibetan Book of the Dead

The Bon religion of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism both maintain that crucial moments of transition are charged with great spiritual potential, especially the intervening moments between death and rebirth. This intermediate period, called bardo, is a state of suspended reality in which the deceased are presented with a series of opportunities for recognition of the true nature of Reality. If the deceased persons are capable of recognizing the confusing and often frightening bardo visions as simply their own mental projections reflective of the previous life’s thoughts and deeds (karma), the ongoing cycle of birth and death will be overcome. Failure to recognize these appearances, on the other hand, leads eventually to rebirth and further suffering in cyclic existence (samsara). To help the deceased travellers gain insight into their ambiguous situation, a spiritual teacher or lama recites inspirational prayers and instructions from special funeral texts–the first stage in the ritual of the Tibetan Books of the Dead. More…

“For the early Buddhists, karma was non-linear and complex. Other Indian schools believed that karma operated in a simple straight line, with actions from the past influencing the present, and present actions influencing the future. As a result, they saw little room for free will. Buddhists, however, saw that karma acts in multiple feedback loops, with the present moment being shaped both by past and by present actions; present actions shape not only the future but also the present. Furthermore, present actions need not be determined by past actions. In other words, there is free will, although its range is somewhat dictated by the past. The nature of this freedom is symbolized in an image used by the early Buddhists: flowing water. Sometimes the flow from the past is so strong that little can be done except to stand fast, but there are also times when the flow is gentle enough to be diverted in almost any direction.

So, instead of promoting resigned powerlessness, the early Buddhist notion of karma focused on the liberating potential of what the mind is doing with every moment. Who you are — what you come from — is not anywhere near as important as the mind’s motives for what it is doing right now. Even though the past may account for many of the inequalities we see in life, our measure as human beings is not the hand we’ve been dealt, for that hand can change at any moment. We take our own measure by how well we play the hand we’ve got. If you’re suffering, you try not to continue the unskillful mental habits that would keep that particular karmic feedback going. If you see that other people are suffering, and you’re in a position to help, you focus not on their karmic past but your karmic opportunity in the present: Someday you may find yourself in the same predicament that they’re in now, so here’s your opportunity to act in the way you’d like them to act toward you when that day comes.”(Karma by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)   More…

Equanimity From May 10, 2010 discussion

Water the flowers, not the weeds

May We All Be Happy

A Meditation Exercise on Empathy From October 27th meeting

A new study reveals that meditation may increase empathy, benevolence From October 27th meeting

Empathy Images From October 27th meeting

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