One Day Buddhist retreat in Chicago on Feb 13th

On February 13th  I am heading out, once again, to the Amitabha Buddhist Retreat near my house in Chicago. I am excited as the Venerable Wuling from Australia is gong to be speaking on “Practicing Buddhism” and the Dharma talk is going to be on the “Infinite Life Sutra” which I need more study on. I am taking my six year old daughter and she is more excited than I am.

Some of Ven. Wuling’s work include the following books: Path to peace, Awaken to the Buddha Within and In One Lifetime: Pure Land Buddhism. She has also edited and contributed to Heart of a Buddha. You can read the Venerable’s blog,“a buddhist perspective”, as it is updated regularly.

The Retreat is going to be held at the Amitabha Buddhist Library in Lisle IL 60532 at 2753-2755 W. Maple Ave. Click here for directions and Map.

The schedule is as follows:
10:00-11:35 – 1st incense, Amitabha Sutra Recitation, Chanting and Meditation.
11:40-12:30 – Lunch
12:40-14:10 – Talk by Ven. Wuling and Dharma talk on Infinite Life Sutra
14:30-16:00 – 2nd incense, Praise of Amitabha Buddha (see below), Chanting and Meditation.

Since the Praise of the Amitabha Buddha is rather short I thought I would post it here. If you are interested in learning more about the “Mahayana” Sutra’s visit the Mahayana Buddhist Sutra’s in English website.

I hope to see you there at least in spirit.

Praise To Amitabha Buddha

The Amitabha Buddha’s body is the color gold.
The splendor of his brilliant light is beyond mind.
The light of his brows illuminates a hundred worlds.
His eyes are pure brilliant light, limitless like the oceans.
In Amitabha’s realm of infinite light, all beings are transformed
And Enlightened into countless Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
His Forty Eight Vows ensure our liberation
In Nine Lotus Stages we reach the ultimate shore of Enlightenment.
Homage to the Buddha of the Pure Land,
Compassionate Amitabha Buddha.

NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA!
NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA!
NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA!

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Daily words of the Buddha

Inspiring words from the Buddha in a daily format.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/words_of_buddha.pdf

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Amitabha Buddhist Retreat in Chicago

This weekend I am heading out to the Amitabha Buddhist Retreat near my house in Chicago. I am excited as the Venerable Wuling from Australia is gong to be speaking on “Practicing Buddhism” and the Dharma talk is going to be on the “Infinite Life Sutra” which I need more study on. I am taking my six year old daughter and she is more excited than I am.

Some of Ven. Wuling’s work include the following books: Path to peace, Awaken to the Buddha Within and In One Lifetime: Pure Land Buddhism. She has also edited and contributed to Heart of a Buddha. You can read the Venerable’s blog,“a buddhist perspective”, as it is updated regularly.

The Retreat is going to be held at the Amitabha Buddhist Library in Lisle IL 60532 at 2753-2755 W. Maple Ave. Click here for directions and Map.

The schedule is as follows:
10:00-11:35 – 1st incense, Amitabha Sutra Recitation, Chanting and Meditation.
11:40-12:30 – Lunch
12:40-14:10 – Talk by Ven. Wuling and Dharma talk on Infinite Life Sutra
14:30-16:00 – 2nd incense, Praise of Amitabha Buddha (see below), Chanting and Meditation.

Since the Praise of the Amitabha Buddha is rather short I thought I would post it here. If you are interested in learning more about the “Mahayana” Sutra’s visit the Mahayana Buddhist Sutra’s in English website.

I hope to see you there at least in spirit.

Praise To Amitabha Buddha

The Amitabha Buddha’s body is the color gold.
The splendor of his brilliant light is beyond mind.
The light of his brows illuminates a hundred worlds.
His eyes are pure brilliant light, limitless like the oceans.
In Amitabha’s realm of infinite light, all beings are transformed
And Enlightened into countless Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
His Forty Eight Vows ensure our liberation
In Nine Lotus Stages we reach the ultimate shore of Enlightenment.
Homage to the Buddha of the Pure Land,
Compassionate Amitabha Buddha.

NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA!
NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA!
NAMO AMITABHA BUDDHA!

Posted in buddhism, Dharma Talks, Meditation, Retreats | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are you strong enough to Meditate?

In the article below Mr. Eckhardt mentions “Taming the Bull” Please read my posting called, not surprisingly, “Taming The Bull” on this very subject and what he is referencing.


Mark Eckhardt

Mark Eckhardt

Since 1998, Mark Eckhardt has studied Zen Buddhism under the auspices of Bill Yoshin Jordan

Posted: November 3, 2010 11:21 AM

Just over 60 years ago, there was almost no mention of meditation in Western popular culture except in the most off-beat paths and dusty corners. Now, everywhere you look, from magazines and talk shows to books and the internet, one blissed-out person after another is preaching about how they overcame the challenges of modern-day life by sitting on a mat and cushion.

It is a fact that our schedules are hectic and overfilled with things to do, unpaid bills, deadlines not being met and an inbox that only grows with more emails each day. However, all the hype and media coverage that meditation receives these days distorts what engaging in the practice is actually like. Yes, there are great benefits, but the picture being painted by current popular culture is far from accurate.

Here’s another take that might be of some use.

Imagine that one day your curiosity got the best of you, and you decided to go to a rodeo. Having never been to one, you check out the scene, and lo and behold you discover that “you too can ride a bull.”

With a bit of encouragement and instruction you decide to go for it, so you mount the bull, strap in and give the OK to go. Then the gate flies open, and the bull starts kicking, leaping and thrashing around. In the midst of this flurry of activity, you realize, “This is not fun at all,” and before you can blink you are thrown off the bull and let out a big groan as your body hits the ground. That’s pretty much what meditation is like — in the beginning, at least.

Now, you might be saying, “What the heck are you talking about? This is so far from popular accounts, it cannot be true.” Well, it is.

Like it or not, meditation is not what most people describe. I do not know what happened, but somehow, some way, it became taboo to openly admit that the practice, albeit highly effective in terms of improving your quality of life, is not inherently fun or easy. When you first sit, you will likely be shocked by the fact that you have no control over the swirl in your head; if you don’t believe me, try stopping your thoughts. This is the bull, and dealing with it is the antithesis of what we are told to expect.

Human beings are sophisticated survival mechanisms that are equipped with the ability to feel, process and create. We are wonderful machines that do amazing things, yet all of it is intended to keep us alive and give us more of what we want, and less of what we don’t want.

In spite of all the wonderfulness, our need to survive is the very thing that meditation is designed to interrupt; do not be fooled into believing otherwise. This dynamic sets up a confrontation between your desire for whatever you seek and the brain’s need to ensure that you stay alive; hence the experience is like trying to ride a bull that does not want to be ridden. Sorting this out requires patience, time and a willingness to be extremely uncomfortable — this is taming the bull. And it’s not a peaceful, blissed-out process.

A few years back a friend of mine jumped wholeheartedly into meditation in hopes of taming his “bull.” He was great, sitting a few days a week at longer and longer intervals. Then one day, out of the blue, he told me that he quit. His reason: “I was experiencing more and more anger.” I suggested that it was not that meditation made him angry, but that meditation revealed just how angry he was.

My friend never returned to his mat and cushion, opting to ignore a major source of his struggles in life. In this case, the bull got the best of my friend. Had someone shared a more realistic and less culturally idealized perspective on meditation prior to his engaging, he might have been better equipped to stick with it.

However, in contrast to my friend, there are thousands of meditation success stories of those who did manage to overcome what they were told and make their own way. After all, the practice has existed for several thousand years and has greatly contributed to the development of some of the most incredible people that have ever walked this earth. Those who can stick with it and are successful in navigating the peaks and valleys that make meditation what it is reap the benefits.

If you really want to try taming that bull, here are some of those benefits.

In addition to lowering stress and increasing one’s ability to deal with pressure, research has shown that Zen meditation causes gray matter to grow and protects the brain from some of the effects of aging. Another study examined the impact of the Buddhist “insight” meditation on the brain and learned that it caused an increase in thickness of the prefrontal cortex in the brain, the part that lies behind what we call our forehead and is associated with higher order function such as attention and making moral judgments. For all of you who are paid to solve complex problems that require focused attention over time, this is a good thing. These are just a few of the many benefits that come from meditation.

Whether you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, doctor, contractor, teacher, programmer, truck driver or stay-at-home mom, meditation will make a difference in your ability to handle life and whatever it throws at you.

So now that you know that meditation requires more than just good intentions and a surface-level interest, grab your mat and cushion and get ready for the ride of your life!

This Emotional Life is a two-year campaign to foster awareness, connections and solutions around emotional wellness. Join our community at www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife.

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Karma is misunderstood

Recently some new people moved onto our block. Since they moved in, their cars have been set on fire (which I was first on site and put out before the Fire Department got there), windows smashed and one of their children killed in a drug deal gone bad; in their old neighborhood. After talking to the mother we found out that she moved her family to avoid exactly what happened.

Unfortunately, the children, all above 18 and legally adults, did not want to change and kept up their activities. One day I decided to talk to them about their behavior. One of the females warned me that if I did not stay out of their business then Karma would get me. She was taken back a bit when I told her that I was pretty sure she had no idea what Karma was as I was a Buddhist. She then stormed back inside slamming the door.

This little interaction caused me to look up what current pop culture thinks Karma is.

Here are some of the items I found.

Dannii Minogue: “Karma Is A Bitch” She seems to have has no idea what Karma is. Nor does the band “On Results” who has a song titled “Karma is a bitch (you stole my dreams)

Neither does it seem that Ida Maria has any clue. Take for example her song “Bad Karma” if you look at the lyrics you can tell that she totally misunderstands what Karma is.

“You better believe in karma
baby it’s gonna sting
the wheel of life’s gonna do you in
so I don’t really have to do a thing
you took me outta my money
you messed up my love life and my career
you better believe in karma
guess it’s gonna start getting weird right here “

Then we have the song called “Karma” by Spout who’s lyrics include.

“Have you met my friend Karma? – she’s a bitch
She’ll make things happen that you never wished”

I also found a book published by Truth Hurts Publications which publishes such books as “Thugs are for fun.” They also publish a book called “Karma Is A Bitch” which seems to be full of misconceptions about Karma. I present a quote from the book.

“The question is when will Tony figure that out?
Maybe when he starts getting his Karma
instantly and mercilessly he’ll get the hint.”

I think you get it now. Though we could also make an argument that the also do not know the etymology of the word “Bitch. It seems that the word comes from the O.E.  word bicce, probably from O.N. bikkjuna and is generally defined as, “female of the dog” (also fox, wolf, and occasionally other beasts). But, perhaps they mean it in way Chaucer used it in “bicched bones” meaning “unlucky dice. This definition comes from  the M.E. bicched “cursed, bad,” a general term of opprobrium.

But I digress, so lets move on.

During our next encounter I decided to become a fierce Bodhisattva. This encounter was spurred on by them leaving trash and having broken windows and such around their front yard. Given that we live 4 feet apart this was unacceptable. I waited until they came home and went outside to talk to them.

At first they told me to mind my own business and get back inside, rather menacingly. I calmly walked towards them, they stepped back towards their house. I mentioned to them that their mother moved them to give them a safe place to live and to improve their lives and that if they wanted to live on our block then they needed to step up and change. All the while I kept moving towards them and they moved backwards to end up on their doorstep.

After a bit we all sat down and talked about what they wanted and since that day they have re-roofed the house. Fixed all the windows and removed the trash.

Things have improved quite a bit on the block. One thing left for me to do is to revisit Karma with them. Perhaps one day.

Next time I will present my thoughts on Karma.

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Meditation Sensations

Fellow Meditators,

I have been meditating for sometime now but tonight I experienced a very odd sensation AFTER my practice.

First off let me say that I do not have a fever, dehydration, no heart conditions, obesity, nor am I taking any psychotropic medications.

That said after a 35 minute sitting, 1/2 lotus. I got up, after waiting for blood to return to my legs. I prepared for bed and was hit with the most severe chills I have ever experienced. They lasted about five minutes and then stopped.

The last time it was even close I was severly dehydrated, 3 IV bags full, and was in the desert on operations in the military.
I can assure I have had plenty of fluids today and ate well too, so I do not think that was it.

Also I have had some medical training and short of the aforementioned dehydration, heat stroke, or hypothermia I can think of a no good cause for this.

Has anyone ever experienced this? I look forward to your responses.

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First Noble Truth

Thus I have heard. That the first Noble Truth is “Life is Suffering” or Dukkha.

When I talk to people, non-buddhists, about this they seem to think that this is very pessimistic. I then attempt to further explain what I think the Buddha meant.

There are various ways to interpret the Pali word “Dukkha” and suffering is only one way. It can also be disappointment, unhappiness, sorrowful. And who can argue with that.

From the moment we enter this life we are looking for something. At first it is our parents touch, food or a change of diapers. We are happy, for a brief moment, we those needs are met. Then we are sad (suffering) when the bottle we were suckling on is empty.

I remember when my daughter was an infant. She would complain and cry to be fed. She would be content while drinking. But, afterwards she would fuss again because she needed something else. i.e. Sleep, burping, or changing perhaps still another bottle.

Her suffering came from the clinging to the moment of happiness from feeding or the recognition of another need to be filled.

No one expects an infant to realize they are happy and warm most of the time. As parents we do our best to keep them happy but no matter how hard we try their happiness is fleeting, (impermanent) and thus they suffer.

Now at 6 my daughter understands that her needs cannot always be fulfilled immediately and she does her best to savor the happy moments.

Truly, there are times when she reminds me to live in the “present moment.” But, boy if she gets overtired she loses her mindfulness and everyone suffers.

So when you think of the first “Noble Truth” – Life is Suffering- remember that your reaction is what matters most and that without disappointment you would not appreciate the good moments in life.

When you have a moment of suffering remember that it will pass and a moment of joy will pass as well. Greet each moment with equanimity feel the emotions that are there, let them flow through you like a breath and enjoy the moment for what it is.

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