Meditation Los Angeles

Month: August, 2012

A Path With Heart

 

I was co-reading a few books. For a while the Pico Iyer book on the Dalai Book held my interest, but this one won out in the end. Natalie Goldberg’s The Great Failure dropped out early, though when I pick it up again may well supersede the Iyer book, which is a little, okay. But this Kornfield book, wow. I had dismissed it a number of times as a new age, bedside table Buddhist affair. But it is far from it. This is one of the best books on (mostly) Buddhist meditative practice. It runs rather deep for a primer, but never gets too exhaustive. It manages to be readable and comprehensive at the same time, and very practical. I could hardly recommend it more highly. I recently read its recommendation by a very critical author, the writer that produced Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, Daniel Ingram. And I have to agree, it reads so nice you don’t realize quite how hard hitting it is.

Did I say recommended?

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The Meditation Habit — Some Quantification

 

Sure, keeping statistics of your meditations is probably one of the least meditative, grasping things you could do — on the other hand it’s motivating, so from that perspective I view it as a skillful thing to do. This particular page from my Insight app doesn’t include my favorite statistic, 77 consecutive days meditating. I believe I’m well into the habit formed zone, but I continue to track. I put taking up meditation, though still relatively new to it, up there with taking up running in regards to benefits. I wouldn’t call it fitness for the mind, but certainly it adds some balance.

Have been enjoying practicing the “inclusive awareness” meditation that I posted last time, as well as improvising my own version. Again, I recommend that meditation wholeheartedly.

Well, I have no cosmic navel gazing to add to that.

 

The Burning Monk Photo

Occasionally I like to post a photo of my own here. I’m a big fan of TOP (the online photographer website) and missed this post from yesterday. A brief bit about the circumstances surrounding this photo from 1963, copyright Malcolm Browne, Associated Press. As so often happens with such things, it’s the photographer’s obituary that reminds us of the photo. TOP is well worth checking out, as is their link to the Washington Post obituary. Mr. Browne was the only photographer to show up that day, for what turned out to be a powerful protest that made a difference.

Inclusive Awareness — A Guided Meditation

I don’t do many guided meditations, but I found this one to be of unusually high quality. The guide, Hokai Sobol, employed several rather skillful means in his presentation, which occurred at the Buddhist Geeks conference. From this meditation I got a useful tip on posture, a meditation that focuses on several different sensory inputs, a nice Croatian accent, a couple funny jokes. Recommended for anyone who has felt that their meditation sometimes lacks focus — or wonder if they are doing this thing right. And then just recommended.

For the impatient or just short on time, the meditation proper starts just after the 15 minute mark, but his introductory comments are worth a listen as well.

Jacaranda Blossoms

Stress is a Tough Nut

In an agitated state the other day. I took a few moments to focus on the breath, a time out. It worked — for about 9 seconds. But stress will shoot right back up to its previous level. Stress, to wildly generalize, probably takes a much longer meditation to calm it, I would guess. Sometimes I find these agitated states, nervousness, driven, purposive conditions, while sitting in meditation. And I mistakenly think that, “oh, I am having a difficult time meditating.” But that’s not it at all. I’m simply finding a state that’s out there in my day-to-day business and facing it head on, without distraction. Meditation is not the difficult part. It is life that is difficult, from time to time.

Between Thought and Expression

I’ve noticed something remarkable. A little gap between thought and expression, impulse and action. It shows up from time to time. I absolutely ascribe it to meditation. I noticed it in the movie theater. A stressful scene on the screen, and I noticed the tension in my shoulders, my breath. Little moments, like the unexpected and timely visit of an old friend. Breathe. That’s all.

Words Coming Between People

I find myself beginning a book about the Dalai Lama at a time when my interest in him, never all that intense to begin with, was pretty well sated. I picked it up largely on the strength of the author, Pico Iyer, whose work seems to come up with great frequency in those Best Essays of 20xx books. And I’m a sucker for an essayist. (Perhaps my favorite in that vein is E. B. White’s One Man’s Meat. Or, if you want the big essay, there’s John McPhee.) But back to the Dalai Lama. The book is The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Here’s the quote:

“We are not talking about Nirvana. We are only talking about how to become a more compassionate human being.” The very words “Tibetan” or “Buddhist” or “monk” can only come between people; his interest, clearly, is in what someone can do who has no interest in terms or theories.

Well, now my interest has kicked up. That bit about words coming between people. Really nice, I think.

The White Face of Buddhism

Was looking for some commentary on Buddhist Geeks and found a few things. First, from Open Buddha who noted the glaring lack of minorities — which will recur in this post — and the subtext that “The boomers are aging and will gradually be leaving us. What will be being doing with their legacy now that the Dharma is established?” and noted Ken McLeod’s observation:

Ken McLeod, a wonderful teacher, also spoke to the fact that nothing else likes this conference exists. In fact, outside of a few well known Buddhist sects or churches having internal conferences, I cannot think of any other Buddhist conferences held in America that are focused on practitioners. This means that Buddhist Geeks serves a rather unique role as a conference and one that we’ve needed for at least the last 15 years according to Ken.

But getting back to that lack of minorities. Open Buddha also points to a very interesting blog called Angry Asian Buddhist, who tackles the issue of the lack of diversity in American Buddhism. Will be returning to that one. Glad to have found it. In fact, it’s so interesting to find something that’s not about

Buddhism in the American mainstream unpreoccupied with neophytic meditators or scholarly navel gazers.

Ouch. Let’s just call this whole post Angry Asian Buddhist, and leave it at that. I feel like I’ve found a motherlode of great blogging — a related site: Dharma Folk. Happy surfing! (Navel gazing to recommence, shortly.)

Just Some of that Summer Stuff