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Sangha & Inclusion

Walking for the Benefit of the Hungry

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & EngagementGuiding TeacherComment

2019 Berkeley Walk to Feed the Hungry summary of events

The day was sunny and warm, and so were our hearts, as the group of 65 walkers spilled out onto the sidewalk in Berkeley, California. We had filled the lobby of Dharma College, our host site for the start of the Walk, with the folks who had registered online, but also with dozens of people who simply came to register on site that morning. Folks came from as far away as Ukiah, a 6 hour drive, and from all over the San Francisco Bay area. Some came with their kids, babies and teens, and others came with their fellow seniors. And they came with their Dharma friends, whose practice spanned a great many Buddhist traditions. Having reminded them of the three joys of giving that the Buddha taught, I invited Wangmo Dixie, the Director of Dharma College, to address the group. She spoke of her appreciation for Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, and the many ways in which he brings the Dharma into the world. Then we set out on our Walk.

Unfurling the banners, we walked along Shattuck Avenue through downtown Berkeley, making our way past the shops and later past the university, to arrive at our second host location, the Berkeley Buddhist Temple. Despite the fact that the main temple building was closed due to recent, serious water damage, they welcomed our entire group with smiles, generous hearts, and Japanese tea sweets. It was here that we heard a presentation by Susan Carson of the What If Foundation. She shared about the sadness of violence and other difficulties of life in Haiti, and about the joy of thousands of meals served everyday to students who would go hungry without the support of Buddhist Global Relief. Then John and Tara, the Minister’s Assistants, helped us close by chanting the refuge in the Triple Gem.

At our third stop on the Walk, the Berkeley Zen Center, the gate stood open when we arrived. We were warmly received by folks who had prepared beverages and snacks. The walkers gathered in the grassy courtyard to hear some encouraging words from Hozan Alan Senauke, the Vice Abbot, who stood on the steps of the meditation hall and spoke about providing the requisites of life for everyone. He encouraged anyone who was curious to go into the zendo and have a seat. I closed our sharing by reading the moving letter from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, who reminded us that we too were helping to meet the challenges of hunger and poverty around the world.

As we walked the last leg of the event along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, returning to Dharma College, folks honked their horns in solidarity. This felt like a reminder that every part of the Walk to Feed the Hungry has a benefit: remembering those who are hungry, raising awareness and responses in ourselves and others, and raising funds to address suffering as directly as we can. This year’s Berkeley Walk to Feed the Hungry has raised over $11,000 due to the participation and generosity of many.

Registration is now open for the Aug. 17 retreat in Atlanta

Sangha & Inclusion, Sitting & RitualGuiding TeacherComment

Join Ven. Dhammadipa and the community of the Red Clay Sangha in Atlanta for a day of sitting, walking meditation, two Dharma talks, and a community meal. Registration is now open at www.redclaysangha.org.

The topic of the retreat is the four kinds of courage.

“Meditation practice fosters an inner courage that brings clarity and strength to both our understanding of ourselves and our intimacy in relationships. There are four kinds of courage that can be discovered and cultivated through practice, and this daylong retreat will explore each of them, as well as provide a framework for continuing to engage with courage in your life off the meditation seat. Visiting Teacher Dhammadipa will give teachings on these four: the courage to be upright, the courage to be kind, the courage to rest in emptiness, the courage to be liberated.”

Living with the One Reality that Demonstrates Two Truths

Study & Arts, Sitting & Ritual, Service & Engagement, Sangha & InclusionGuiding TeacherComment

Emily:

Do you have any suggestions for how to continue to benefit from the Heart Sutra's view of utter liberation: that “there is nothing here that threatens, there is nothing to be defended,” while following the imperatives of ethics, while caring for the body-mind of self and others involved for now in this karmic process? I can see that both views are true in theory, but they strike me as contradictory in practice--I seem to be able to focus on only one view at a time. So how to resolve, or investigate, what I experience as this tension between compassion that leads to the desire to prevent or alleviate suffering in the world of mundane specificity (form) and the movement of compassion, as embodied by Avalokitesvara and the Heart Sutra, to free human beings from our (biologically generated (?) and profoundly embedded) mistaken perceptions of “our” relation to those forms?

My replies:

The short answer to your excellent question is this:

The precepts are themselves a description of the way karma and the other principles of reality really work.

To say more:

When you know that the thing you think is your self is merely an aggregation of elements and energy, then you also know that you are literally what you think, do and say in any given moment, and you are the consequences that unfold from that. So you take care because you know how the body and mind and karma really work. Yet you are also free of that, because you can live in absolute harmony with it, not pushed and pulled.

To add a bit more:

When you taste a bit of the three marks of existence - impermanent, empty, and fundamentally unsatisfactory (dukkha) - then a strong sense of compassion naturally wells up for yourself and others who are entangled by these principles without fully seeing or understanding them. You want to help the clarity to develop and the dukkha to stop. This turns you deeper and deeper toward practice, which happens in the midst of a mundane world, which itself is the expression of the principles.

To see it this way is to see that the precepts and concepts and meditation experiences that we're studying are themselves describing a way of living that cares for the body as a vehicle for clarity, and cares for self and others by not enacting harm, and cares for the world by being aware of consequences. These practices keep turning your mind and body toward the insights that keeping generating compassion, and so on, and so on. Finally, when you fully realize the principles and drop the illusion of self, there is total clarity about the nature of interconnection, even while the need to define one's self relative to others has gone away.

Update on activities for 2019

Sangha & Inclusion, Service & Engagement, Sitting & Ritual, Study & ArtsGuiding TeacherComment

Dear Students of the Way,

For many of you, it has been a while since we have practiced face-to-face, whether virtually or in person. Know that I think of you often, and send kindness.

Since we have entered a new year and the Spanish online course is completed, I am settling down to prepare the curriculum for the 2019 online offerings. I am hoping to offer one class in the spring and in the fall, as well as a summer book club again this year.

I would like the Spring 2019 class to begin in late April or early May. It will be based on Dogen's "Guidelines for the Practice of the Way," originally titled "Gakudo Yojinshu" in the Chinese. It is Dogen's top ten list of important points for Zen practitioners to keep in mind, and it touches on topics such as effort, student-teacher relationships, compassion, and the koan "mu." Of course, there will be some supplemental materials as well. I expect the course will involve a pre-recorded talk and a group discussion meeting each week. Once the class dates are set, I will post them to this website and to Twitter. For now, if there are other folks you know who may be interested, please feel free to pass this page along to them.

It's not too early to make suggestions for the summer book club, also. It will be a bit short this year, starting in mid- or late July and ending by October 1st.

In the more immediate time frame, I am going to be offering practice discussion online. If you would like to connect for a practice discussion, please write to {hey.konin@gmail.com} to request one of these times. Also, please specify whether you prefer Zoom or Skype video chat, or a phone call and to what number.

And I have added some more “Study & Arts” posts to the home page, including recent poetry and watercolor paintings from my solitary retreat.

Lastly, my next retreat offering is to co-lead a 5 day sit in early May at Spirit Rock in Northern California. It's wait listed, so mention this post if you decide to sign up. We'll try to get you in.

I look forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, let's keep sitting!

Yours in the Dharma,

Dhammadīpā Kōnin Cardenas