Friday, December 7: We listened to an unpublished talk (available to Sanghamitta because she attended his last rains retreat) about our attitude towards meditation. Be kind, gentle, and accepting towards yourself as you meditate. Let go of your past negative meditation experiences and be prepared to experience bliss.
Friday, November 2: Leslie continued sharing Bhikku Analayo’s thoughts and guided meditations on the Satipatthana Sutta. This week we did a body scan based on the traditional elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. Analayo’s guided meditations can be downloaded from Windhorse Publications. Joseph Goldstein’s talk on the four elements based on Analayo’s research can be found here.
Friday, November 9: (Sorry about the missing Tuesdays – your blogger is studying the Nakoda language on Tuesday evenings. If someone else could fill in the missing info, that would be great).
Leslie shared Bhikku Analayo’s guided meditation on death, and a few minutes of Ajahn Sujato’s excellent talk on the contemplation of death. Sujato’s translation of the Satipatthana Sutta can be found here.
Tuesday, November 13: Ayya Santacitta is joining us for the next month. She shared with us the Bhikkhuni Arahant Chant in English and the Bhikkhuni Arahant Chant in Pali. The chant in Pali can be heard here.
During Tuesday evening’s session, Ayya spoke about the 8 worldly winds:
pain and pleasure
praise and blame
fame and disrepute
gain and loss
Friday, November 16: Ayya Santacitta led us in the Bhikkuni Arahant Chant in English and Pali. After our meditation, she read a beautiful poem by one of the earliest Bhikkunis, and spoke about the importance of energy (viriya) in our practice.
Ayya’s interview was broadcast on Mountain FM this morning. When we have a link to the interview, it will be posted here.
Friday, November 23: Ayya spoke of the need for patience, a characteristic mentioned in many of the lists of virtues leading to freedom.
We found Ayya Santacitta’s interview on Mountain FM here.
Tuesday, November 27: Ayya Santacitta shared a video on the history of the bhikkhuni sangha.
Friday, November 30: Ayya led us in a guided meditation beginning with the parts of the body and leading us to wonder at and watch the watcher.
Friday, October 5: Jan shared with us Gil Fronsdal’s talk, Alternatives to Thinking. Meditation practice can lead to a whole paradigm shift. Thoughts, which are mostly about yourself, lose their attractiveness. We become situation-centered, attentive to the here and now.
Tuesday, October 9: Mary shared Rachel Lewis’s first dharma talk at Spirit Rock, a discussion of impermanence, dukkha, and non-self from an astro-physicist’s point of view. It was given at a retreat called Evolving Together: Mindfulness Meditation and Modern Science.
Friday, October 12 – Sunday, October 14: Ajahn Pavaro led a retreat for us.
Tuesday, October 16: We discussed our experiences at Ajahn Pavaro’s retreat.
Friday, October 26: Leslie shared a book she discovered on a recent self-directed retreat: Bhikku Analayo’s Satipatthana: A Practice Guide. She played the first of seven guided meditations based on this book, a meditation on the parts of the body.
Tuesday, September 3: Jan stepped in at short notice to begin the group with Thanissaro Bhikku’s talk, The Breath All the Way, followed by meditation and a lively discussion.
Friday, September 7: Jan led the group again, helping us explore the Five Aggregates. First we listened to Ayya Santacitta’s talk on working with the aggregates, and then Thanisssaro Bhikku’s The Battle of Your Selves. She urged us to listen to Pascal Auclair’s talk on the five aggregates, too.
Tuesday, September 10: Sanghamitta returned and shared with us the fruits of her retreat at Birken: thoughts on the Eightfold Path.
Friday, September 14: On her Birken retreat, Sanghamitta discovered a delightful counterpart to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters: Ajahn Punnadhammo’s Letters from Mara. She read the prologue and the first letter to us – the letter to the host of sense desires.
Tuesday, September 17: Sanghamitta offered her thoughts on dealing with physical and emotional pain
Friday, September 21: We continued listening to Letters from Mara, the epistles to the hosts of Boredom, Hunger and Thirst, Craving, and Sloth and Accidy (torpor). They continued to be both amusing and too true.
Tuesday, September 24: We listened to Ayya Santacitta’s talk, The Five Aggregates of Clinging. We didn’t find it as useful from a practical point of view as Sanghamitta’s explaination: when suffering arises from an aggregate, look at its impermanence and see that it’s not I, not mine.
August 3: Cori shared with us an essay by Thich Nhat Hanh that led to a deep and helpful discussion of equanimity and caring for others.
August 7: Sanghamitta shared with us her thoughts on the Noble Eightfold Path
August 10: We shared our thoughts and experiences with breath meditation.
August 14: Sanghamitta played a YouTube video in which Reverend Heng Sure reflected on the various bridges between Abhayagiri and the City of 10,000 Buddhas.
August 17: We listened the first part of a video in which Joseph Goldstein discussed the importance of being mindful of impermanence and change. Leslie also suggested that Ajahn Sona’s talk, How the Wise See Cancer (part 1) would make interesting viewing for anyone, affected by cancer or not.
August 24: Jan shared with us two of Thanissaro Bhikku’s talks on trust, which generated a good discussion. We had a number of newcomers, so talk moved to suggestions for resources for learners. Besides this website, we mentioned Thanissaro Bhikku’s introductory teachings and the Insight Timer app, which includes many guided meditations and Dhamma talks.
August 28: Leslie began the session with Ajahn Sona’s brief introduction to breath meditation, intending to continue with another of his short talk from that YouTube series. However, the discussion that started after meditation proved so fruitful that we didn’t bother with another teaching.
August 31: Judy gave a reading of the last chapter in Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart, again stimulating a deep discussion. The Friday sessions, perhaps because they are smaller, are generating much important sharing of ideas and experiences.
July 3: Sanghamitta prepared a talk for us: The Removal of Thoughts
July 6: We enjoyed a two-hour visit from Thanissaro Bhikku, who spoke to us about the relative importance of the Four Noble Truths versus the Three Characteristics. Emphasis on impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self lead to an essentially negative life view, while the Noble Truths give hope of release from suffering, and a plan of action.
July 10: Marilyn talked about her retreat at Birken, and Sanghamitta began sharing what she, Jan, and Marilyn heard at their weekend in Saskatoon with Thanissaro Bhikku.
July 13: Sanghamitta shared a reading about Ajahn Chah’s visit to England and the US. He had never witnessed meditation retreat for lay people…..just the one day a week meditation time at the monastery for lay people. He didn’t think it was useful unless they were incorporating the Dhamma into their daily life. So we went around the circle and everyone shared how they did this. It was a really rich experience…..some people found out they weren’t alone in their daily struggles and were glad to share and receive Dhammic methods to approach the sufferings of life. And Sanghamitta reminded senior people that Friday was an opportunity for them to take turns teaching to give her a break!
July 17: Sanghamitta finished sharing her notes on Thanissaro Bhikkus talks in Saskatoon. You can see the notes she received at the retreat here. His teachings are also available in one of his study guide books, called the Ten Perfections, available here.
July 20: Judy led us in a discussion of wanting. Jan mentioned that she found a talk by Andrea Fella, Ignorance fuels the habit of craving, useful. You can stream it here.
July 24: Sanghamitta shared the beginning of Ajahn Sujito’s talk on the Noble Eightfold Path.
July 27: We continued discussing wanting and craving with the help of a brief talk by Ajahn Sona on desire, one of a series of mini-talks on the hindrances available here.
July 31: We concluded Ajahn Sujito’s talk on the Noble Eightfold Path.
June 1-3: Ayya Medhanandi led us in a silent retreat, sharing the wisdom that has arisen from her long study of the dhamma.
June 5: Our last day with Ayya Medhanandi. She shared with us some of what she learned by standing mindfully holding her alms bowl outside Nutter’s on Bargain Tuesday. It took a pepper sticking out of her bowl to help people realize what she was doing. She gained many insights into people’s lives just by watching mindfully.
June 8: Our first time meeting without leadership from a monastic or Santutthi for what seems like a long time! Sanghamitta shared a truly encouraging talk by Ajahn Achalo: Experiencing Spiritual Power.
June 12: Jan and Everett lead the group, while Sanghamitta had her eye “done” (successfully). More to come.
June 15: Sanghamitta, bright-eyed again, shared part of Ajahn Nyanadhammo’s talk on the ten paramis: the introduction, and thoughts on dana – generosity.
June 19: Sanghamitta played the first part of a talk by Ajahn Nyanadhammo, The Factors of Awakening in Meditation. She also shared with us her discovery of an inspiring and useful book: The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates).
June 22 and 29: We continued listening to Ajahn Nyanadhammo’s talk on the ten paramis.
On Tuesday, May 1st, Tahn Subharo told us his story of how he became a monk and his journey since ordaining.
On Friday, May 4th we finished the last chapter of “The Stillness of Being” by Ajahn Viradhammo. It was an excellent book as the talks were directed to laypeople so really spoke to our day to day travails. Highly recommended. See an earlier post for the link to a free download of the book.
On Tuesday, May 8th, Tahn Subharo discussed the Thai word Sabai which means to be peaceful and happy. Our goal is to be Sabai all the time. This word is related to the Pali word Sappaya, which means supporting conditions. Morality is a major supporting condition ,as well as good lifestyle choices. Our unwise lifestyle choices are due to conditioned habit energies that take persistent effort to change. Tahn Subharo quoted Ajahn Brahm’s memory aid for this effort: A-F-L – acknowledge, forgive, learn. Acknowledge unskillful thoughts, words, actions when they occur. Forgive yourself. Learn from the experience.
Friday, May 11, Santutthi shared with us the Buddha’s second sutta, the Anatta Lakhana sutta.
Friday, May 18, she spoke about his third sutta, “All is Burning“.
Tuesday, May 21, Ayya Santacitta introduced herself and discussed her spiritual journey, likening it to a journey through the four iddhipadas (the bases of power or success). The first is Chanda, interest: we get inspired by an idea. Second is Viriya, energy: we feel the arising of energy to take action towards the idea. Third is Citta, a clear mind: we organize our life to accommodate this new idea. And fourth is Vimamsa, investigation: we fine tune our life to deal with what arises and ceases.
Friday, May 25 we celebrated the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of the Buddha with a washing of the Buddha rupa, symbolizing the gradual cleaning away of all the hindrances that hide our own true Buddha nature.
Tuesday, May 29 we were delighted to welcome Ayya Medhanandi, who joined us in spite of her long travel that day. She shared her thoughts on the Five Subjects for Frequent Reflection (we shall all grow old, we shall experience sickness, we shall die, we shall lose all that is important to us, and we are heirs to our karma and responsible for our actions). It is important to learn to face these realities in order to be prepared to experience them and deal with them well.
In her talk she stressed the importance of persistence and repetition. She likened our repeated attempts to stay single-minded during meditation to the tacking of a sailboat.
Tuesday, April 3rd
Tahn Subharo gave a Dhamma talk on his favourite Sutta, the Kālakārāma Sutta from the Anguttara Nikaya 4:24. Three translations of this Sutta are given below, the first being the translation he used. There is a commentary on the Kalakarama Sutta in the book, “The Magic of the Mind” by Venerable Nanananda which is available for free download, under the books section of: seeingthroughthenet.net.
Tahn Subharo has agreed to give a Dhamma talk each Tuesday while he is here, which is until May 19th. He will share with us his other favourite Suttas each Tuesday.
Click the link to read three translations of the Kalakarama Sutta.
Friday, April 6th
We continued reading from “The Stillness of Being”. Access to this book is listed in the March 2018 post.
Tuesday, April 10
Tahn Subharo shared another sutta that has inspired him. This week it was AN Book of Fours, 125(5) on the Brahmaviharas……metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha (loving friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity). This sutta enumerated how many eons one would enjoy various heavenly realms if these qualities are cultivated. BUT, the sutta goes on to say that once this fruit of good kamma has been exhausted, then we may be reborn in an unwelcome realm due to our unskillful kamma. So the take home message is to work on our unskillful habit energies NOW and not just rest on the laurels of our good kamma. If you would like to read this or any other sutta, Bhante Sujato has just completed a new translation, in easy to understand English, of the 4 main books of the Buddha’s teachings. It is available on suttacentral.net These books are also available in our library….but are for reading on site, not to be borrowed.
Friday, April 13
Santutthi read a translation, done by herself in the style of Ajahn Brahm, of the first teaching that the Buddha gave: Turning the Wheel (click to read)
Tuesday, April 17
Tahn Subharo discussed how difficult it can be to meditate, but how worthwhile. Group members felt validated by his comments and encouraged in their practice.
Friday, April 20
We continued reading from The Stillness of Being. Access to this book can be found through the March 2018 blog post.
Tuesday, April 24
Tahn Subharo spoke about the value of consistent practice. Questions from the group addressed difficulties we all encounter, and we received much encouraging advice.
Friday, April 27
Santutti told us the story of the Channa Sutta: how the Buddha’s charioteer Channa was transformed from a willful, disobedient monk to a stream-enterer by the teaching of the Venerable Ananda, after the death of the Buddha. The clear exposition of dependent arising led Channa to change his heart and mind.
The translation Santutti used follows.
During March, at the Tuesday group we have been reading Ajahn Viradhammo’s book, “The Stillness of Being”. This is a series of talks he has given over the years to laypeople, so is very relevant to us. It is available for free download from: amaravati.org But it is difficult to navigate the site. If you just google: The Stillness of Being by Viradhammo Bhikkhu, it takes you right to the download.