One-Page Prison Dharma
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all Hawaii prisons went on lockdown in mid March 2020, barring all visitors including Prison Dharma Volunteers. Rinpoche's April 1st inspirational talk to WCCC's 300 inmates was postponed. Instead, he wrote a letter to the inmates, which became the first of a series of One-Pagers.
One-Pagers are messages of inspiration, encouragement and comfort that are contributed not only by Prison Dharma volunteers but also Hawaii's wider mindfulness community. It may be a silver lining in the very dark Coronavirus cloud that now more people can participate without having to enter the prison or train. Submissions are welcome; need not be original writing nor have Buddhist content. If you'd like to contribute something---a page of inspirational quotes, an excerpt from your favorite poetry or dharma book, a clipping of a feel-good story from the paper--- please contact email@example.com
From March through January 20, 2021, 45 One-Pagers were delivered. They are posted below, chronologically.
Buddhist Meditation - March 25, 2020 - Special Message about Coronavirus from Khentrul Rinpoche
We now face an extraordinary opportunity to practice carrying adversity onto the path. I offer you this message with many aspiration prayers for everyone to have good health and to accomplish all your aspirations.
I’d like to address the contagious virus circulating around the globe, now declared a pandemic. In Tibet, this virus was named Ja-Yalma, Disappearing Rainbow. The purpose for naming it this is to create better interdependence for the illness to harm fewer people and for its spread to be stopped.
As Buddhists, this is the opportunity to apply our mind training teachings for transforming adversity onto the path. Let’s not waste this time spent in even greater isolation in the prisons. In order to make it truly meaningful, I suggest treating it like a personal practice retreat. During this retreat, spend more time focusing on whichever personal meditation practice you are already working on.
In addition, there are prayers that you can add to daily practice that are specifically geared towards pacification of illness and protection for oneself and others. Please everyone, try to accumulate as many recitations of these prayers to the best of your capacity.
This is the mantra to Tara, the Tibetan Healing Goddess:
OM TARE TU TARE TU RE SO HA
Tara Prayer for Removal of Obstacles, called JETZUN’S:
JETZUN PHAK MA DROLMA KHYEY KHYEN NO JIK DANG DUK NGAL KUN LAY KYOB TU SOL
Illustrious Noble Mother Tara, please be aware of me! Grant protection from all obstacles of fear and suffering.
Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist Teacher of several volunteers who teach meditation at WCCC
submitted by Paloma, Rinpoche's translator
One Pager Buddhist Meditation #2 April 1, 2020 Letter from Khandro Rinpoche
Hello and greetings,
I hope that each one of you, your families and friends are well and taking care during these difficult and uncertain times caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The entire world is now in different degrees of chaos, confusion and suffering and it is a time when the teachings of compassion, wisdom and awareness are more relevant than ever. Today, I am simply sending this message to share some of my thoughts and especially to say that all of you are very much in all my thoughts and prayers at all times.
The terms such as distancing, isolation, quarantine, lockdown etc. feel so restricting and seem like agents of loneliness and inertia. Yet it a way, it can be a time to really stop all the movement around us and to just carefully look around at the world we live in and feel the oneness of shared experience and the infallible truth of interdependent origination. In one way, the word "isolation" can itself then turn into an agent of openness—a means of feeling interconnected in every way, for better or worse. This can then be a fertile ground for empathy, compassion and revitalizing of our own spiritual path. "Isolation" can simply be "retreat," a wonderful opportunity to reflect and work on accomplishing the knowledge of Dharma which we have accumulated over time.
To all of you facing such adversities, we send all our love and prayers and hope that you find the strength, courage and resourcefulness to get through these hardships. Take good care. Remember that the masters have always said that the only silver lining to suffering is that it too is impermanent. This too shall pass. May you meet with kindness at every turn and may you be a vessel to bring relief and comfort to others!
Spend time in practice and meditation. Now is a very good time to quieten the mind and not let a tsunami of emotions and fear take control. Enjoy the time to be still and silent. Because from stillness develops openness and clarity. Let us try to cultivate that instead of giving into fear and letting negativities take hold. Try to spend time in meditation and the practices to which you feel most connected. And as always, generate bodhicitta and let that be the basis of any spiritual activity. Supplicate to the buddhas and bodhisattvas for protection and for wisdom to prevail and learn to wholeheartedly, take refuge. Also on a practical level, discover something new about yourself.
And most importantly, throughout everything, always examine your own mind. The last few weeks also gave me a glimpse into the minds of some of the practitioners I know. There were those whose sense of refuge and working with their own minds was strong and were able to take this challenge in their stride. It was heartening to see how careful and aware they were whilst also being able to extend their help to others and settle in quiet practice. And then in contrast, there were those whose minds chose to contract in self-cherishing and allowed fear to take over. It is important that all that we heard and studied be applied in times of difficulties and confusion. If the first thing we drop is empathy and understanding of the view of Dharma, when challenges arise, what good is any spiritual practice? Yesterday, I read the story about a 72 year old priest in Italy who gave up his respirator for a younger patient and died. While not many may have the courage and compassion for such a great act of kindness, yet we can all do as much as possible to make it a little easier to breathe—both for ourselves and all those around us. I encourage each one of you to generate the inspiration and clarity of mind to transform this challenge we face today into an opportunity to accomplish the Dharma and bring compassion into action. Let us all join in building a force of awareness wherein compassion and wisdom are not mere clever words but manifests as our innate true qualities. Take care of yourselves and take care of those around you. Laugh, rest, enjoy silence and non-movement and be at ease within the basic nature of your own mind, that which is simply like the vast boundless sky.
We send every one of you our thoughts, prayers and every best wish. We especially pray and keep in our thoughts all those who are ill and those who have passed away in these last few weeks. Please take very good care and know that we are thinking of you.
Khandro Rinpoche, Female Tibetan Buddhist Teacher of global renown
submitted by Devon, meditation teacher, coach and friend of Prison Dharma
One Pager Buddhist Meditation #3 - April 8, 2020 - "Lockdown" Coronavirus Poem by Irish Capuchin priest
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Submitted by Devon, Meditation teacher, coach and friend of Prison Dharma
One Pager Buddhist Meditation #4 April 15, 2020 Meditating Nun in Prison
Below is a true story about a woman meditating in prison, from Peace in Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Zen Master and poet, and founder of the Engaged Buddhist movement.
Sister Tri Hai spent a long time in prison. A peace activist, she was arrested and imprisoned for marching in the streets of Vietnam. advocating for peaceful change. During the day, the prison guards didn’t like her to sit in meditation. Why? Maybe when they see someone sitting in a prison cell solidly and stably, it feels a bit threatening. So, she waited until the lights went out, and she would sit like a person who has freedom. In outer appearance she was caught in the prison. But inside she was completely free. When you sit like that, the walls are not there. You’re in touch with the whole universe. You have more freedom than people outside who are imprisoning themselves in their agitation.
Sister Tri Hai also practiced walking meditation in her prison cell. It was very small—after seven steps she had to turn around and come back. Sitting and walking mindfully gave her space inside. She taught other prisoners in her cell how to sit and how to breathe so they would suffer less. They were in a cold, ugly cell, but through their walking meditation, they were grounded in the solid beauty of the earth.
If we sit mindfully, if we walk mindfully and reverently on the earth, we will generate the energies of mindfulness, of peace, and of compassion in both body and mind.
We are made of body and mind. Our body can radiate the energy of peace and compassion. Our mind also has energy. The energy of the mind can be powerful. If the energy of the mind is filled with fear and anger, it can be very destructive. But if we sit mindfully, if we walk mindfully, we will generate the energies of mindfulness, of peace, and of compassion in both body and mind. This kind of energy can heal and transform.If you walk reverently on the earth with two other people, soaking in the earth’s solidity, you will all three radiate and benefit from the energy of peace and compassion. If three hundred people sit or walk like this, each one generates the energy of mindfulness, peace, and compassion, and everyone in the group receives that healing energy. The energy of peace and mindfulness does not come from elsewhere. It comes from us. It comes from our capacity to breathe, to walk, to sit mindfully and recognize the wonders of life. When you walk reverently and solidly on this earth and I do the same, we send out waves of compassion and peace. It is this compassion that will heal ourselves, each other, and this beautiful green earth.
Meditation: Walking on the Earth
Walk slowly, in a relaxed way. When you practice this way, your steps are those of the most secure person on earth. Feel the gravity that makes every step attach to the earth. With each step, you are grounded on the earth.One way to practice walking meditation is to breathe in and take one step, and focus all your attention on the sole of your foot. If you have not arrived fully, 100 percent in the here and the now, don’t take the next step. I’m sure you can take a step like that because there is Buddhanature in you. Buddhanature is the capacity of being aware of what is going on. It is what allows you to recognize what you are doing in the current moment and to say to yourself, I am alive, I am taking a step. Anyone can do this. There is a buddha in every one of us, and we should allow the buddha to walk.
While walking, practice conscious breathing by counting steps. Notice each breath and the number of steps you take as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Don’t try to control your breathing. Allow your lungs as much time and air as they need, and simply notice how many steps you take as your lungs fill up and how many you take as they empty, mindful of both your breath and your steps. The link is the counting.
When you walk uphill or downhill, the number of steps per breath will change. Always follow the needs of your lungs. You may notice that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. You might find that you take three steps during your in-breath and four steps during your out-breath, or two
steps, then three steps. If this is comfortable for you, please enjoy practicing this way. You can also try making the in-breath and the out-breath the same length, so that you take three steps with your in-breath and three with your out-breath. Keep walking and you will find the natural connection between your breath and your steps.
Don’t forget to practice smiling. Your half-smile will bring calm and delight to your steps and your breath, and help sustain your attention. After practicing for half an hour or an hour, you will find that your breath, your steps, your counting, and your half-smile all blend together in a marvelous balance of mindfulness. Each step grounds us in the solidity of the earth. With each step we fully arrive in the present moment.
Submitted by Margaret, Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
One- Pager Buddhist Meditation #5---- Prisoners in a Troubled World ----- April 22, 2020
We are in the midst of a health crisis, that of the COVID-19 virus affecting our population that has been declared a pandemic by the president of the United States of America. This pandemic has caused much anxiety, and really teaches us the true human condition we share with one another. People are lined up in the big box stores buying as much toilet paper as they can, often reminding us of a “feeding frenzy” exhibited by sharks and other animals. People are hoarding many items that sustain their lives, even to the extent of skirmishes over products, taking items out of someone else’s shopping baskets and placing them in their own carts. It has been reported that “entrepreneurs” are buying hand sanitizers and re-selling them at higher prices.
It is a sad state that we are all going through, but it gives us an opportunity nevertheless to learn from all of this, to learn the Buddhist teachings. For all of us trapped in anger, fear, or hopelessness, let us remember the reality of the Buddha’s First Noble Truth: Life is suffering, and through that we can become aware that our experience is the first step in coming to peace and understanding.
I read somewhere that we are all prisoners of life and death. But the question is, what kind of prisoners do we want to be? We have an opportunity here to access the human spirit, that of loving kindness to all beings. When the happiness of others is our happiness, and their sadness our sadness, it is called the heart of compassion. We should all try to live a life of metta* each day of our lives as we encounter this pandemic. We realize from the teachings of Buddhism that we are all surrounded by the mythical Indra’s Net, that each is as valuable as the next, and that each of us are surrounded by Amida Buddha’s Boundless and Infinite Compassion.
Shinran Shonin teaches us that we are always within the Buddha’s grasp, no matter where we may be or what condition we are living in. Though we now live in this world of uncertainty, we understand that that the Teachings makes us realize that we are in the constant grasp of the Oneness of life. As Rennyo Shonin wrote in the Letter on White Ashes, “Impermanence in this world creates a condition of uncertainty for all. So, we should all take heart the true nature of this world and live a life of deep reflection guided by All-inclusive Wisdom and All-embracing Compassion.”
Let us therefore continue to live our lives exhibiting loving kindness and compassion to others, while taking the time to being careful with our own health and well-being. It is a time to continue following the guidance of the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the government for the benefit of all of us. May we all live in safety and well-being.
Namo Amida Butsu,
Rev. Bert of Windward Buddhist Temple
*Metta is the ancient Pali word for compassion. The object of metta is loving kindness. Buddhists believe that those who cultivate loving kindness will be at ease because they see no need to harbor ill-will or hostility. It is generally felt that those around a person full of loving kindness will feel more comfortable and happy too. Radiating loving kindness will contribute to a world of love, peace and happiness. There are meditation practices that help cultivate metta. When the pandemic is over, and volunteers can return to teach meditation, you are all welcome to attend meditation classes on Sunday afternoons.
One Pager Buddhist Meditation #6 - April 29, 2020 - Daily reflections from Pema Chodron
Author Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan Buddhist and an ordained nun. Chodron has written several dozen books and is the abbot and principle teacher at Gampo Abbey in Cape Brit, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Nowness: Now—that’s the key. Mindfulness trains us to be awake and alive, fully curious, about now. The out-breath is now, the in-breath is now, waking up from our fantasies is now, and even the fantasies are now. The more you can be completely now, the more you realize that you’re always standing in the middle of a sacred circle.
Experience the Uneasiness: Meditation teaches us how to open and relax with whatever arises, without picking and choosing. It teaches us to experience the uneasiness and the urge fully and to interrupt the momentum that usually follows. We do this by not following after the thoughts and learning to return again and again to the present moment.
Humanity’s Basic Goodness: When more of us learn to trust our basic goodness, society will get stronger. This doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times. It doesn’t mean violence, injustice, and poverty will end. It doesn’t mean the polar icecaps won’t melt and the water in the oceans won’t rise. But it does mean that there will be a lot of resilient people who will never give up on humanity and will always be around to help others. It does mean that when things get rough, it will bring out the best in people, rather than the worst. If we learn how not to lose heart, we will always find ways to make important contributions to our world.
Cultivating Loving Kindness toward Ourselves: Some people find the teachings I offer helpful because I encourage them to be kind to themselves. The kindness that I learned from my teachers, and that I wish so much to convey to other people, is kindness toward all qualities of our being. The qualities that are the toughest to be kind to are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed, as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve just blown it, when things are falling apart for us. Maitri, or loving-kindness, means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything, when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness with others.
submitted by Jaynine, Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #7 5/6/20 Taoist Quotes To Contemplate
Tao Te Ching Chapter 43, by Lao Tsu, ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism
The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action.
Teaching without words and work without doing
Are understood by very few.
Other quotes from Lao Tsu:
"Silence is a source of great strength"
"To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders"
"If you are depressed, you living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present."
"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step"
"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."
"The greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation"
"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be"
Submitted by San and Lily, Prison Dharma Volunteers and Mentors
One Pager Buddhist Meditation #8 May 14,2020 HOW TO LIVE
Advice from Patrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who lived in the 19th-century.
His book, Words of My Perfect Teacher,continues to be widely read today as a foundational text.
“The proud will never be pleased.”
When you are proud, you cannot be pleased easily. When you are very proud, you find it difficult to be fulfilled. Your expectations are high and you take things very personally. It is healthier not to take things personally and not be proud. Try to be aware of this in daily life.
“The jealous will never be happy.”
When you have a lot of jealousy towards others, it will be difficult to feel even a moment of happiness. Your mind will constantly be in competition with other, trying to improve things, change things, and get something better. Jealousy always gives you unhappy and dissatisfied in life.
“The greedy will never be satisfied.”
When you are very greedy or have a lot of attachment, it will be difficult to be satisfied in life, because you will feel that you never have enough. You will always subtly be complaining. You will not be very happy. You will always feel like you are missing something. You will want to have more. It’s very important to learn to be satisfied. Remind yourself to be content with what you have. Remind yourself that you need to be satisfied with whatever you have in life.
“The hateful will never be reconciled.”
When you are a hateful or angry person, it is very difficult to make friendships, reconcile, forgive, or forget. And it will be difficult for others to forgive you. So you need to watch your hatred and remember to let go of it. Give yourself and others some space. Be kind to yourself, your family members, your spiritual brothers and sisters, your friends, colleagues, and everyone.
“The stingy will never have enough”
When you are very stingy, you feel that you never have enough. Stinginess makes it difficult for you to give things to others. Stinginess makes it difficult for you to support your family, friends, charitable activities, and people in need. Whoever practices Dharma should be aware of all negative thoughts and emotions.
“The ignorant will never accomplish much.”
When you are ignorant, you cannot accomplish much, because you don’t see things clearly. Without awareness, you can’t achieve your goals. Ignorance means not seeing things clearly, not understanding. You need to be very clear in life, especially in your spiritual life, and develop awareness on the spiritual path. When you don’t see your spiritual path clearly (what life is about, what you are doing in life), lacking clarity and wisdom, you will feel lazy and confused. With so many blind spots, you will never accomplish much in life, either spiritual or material.
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma meditation teacher at WCCC.
One-Page Buddhist Meditation #9 May 13, 2020 PRAYERS
Prayers for the World
May there be timely rains
And bountiful harvests.
May all medicines be effective
And wholesome prayers bear fruit.
May all who are sick or ill
Quickly be freed from their ailments.
Whatever diseases there are in the world
May they never occur again.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be freed.
May the powerless find power
And may people think of benefitting each other.
For as long as space remains,
For as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world.
From A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life by Shantideva, 8th Century Indian Buddhist monk
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation teacher
Metta Prayer (metta means loving kindness, friendliness, and good will)
May I* be safe and protected from all inner and outer harm
May I be healthy and strong in body, mind and spirit
May I be happy and free from all physical, mental and spiritual suffering
May I live my life with wisdom and compassion and find freedom from suffering in this very life
* repeat 2 more times, substituting "I" with "You" the 2nd time,; with "Everyone" the 3rd time.
A favorite at WCCC Meditation Classes, this prayer was created by Greg, Prison Volunteer and Meditation Teacher at Broken Ridge Temple, Honolulu.
Submitted by Lily, Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #10 May 19, 2020 Letter from Dr Dean
My Friends at WCCC,
First. what gets us into our particular life situations starts with thoughts. Likewise, the way to change ones' outlook on life is to have different thoughts. Sounds simple but let’s get real. At first we may not even be aware of how much we think all day or how that affects our action.
Secondly, one of the most common responses to meditation practice is 'I can't do that.' Presence meditation practice might be the first time you may be aware of how much you prattle to yourself all day and how bizarre, repetitive and negative the internal conversation is.
Everyone in our country is obsessed with freedom. And a lot of crazy behavior gets justified because it proves how free one is. Really?
Do you have the freedom to walk across the room with peace in your mind and make it to the other side? So, how free are you?
You are always going to have thoughts. It’s like the ocean has waves. Our brain is a busy affair. Thoughts and having a human body is natural and we do not war on nature. But continuing the metaphor, are you skilled enough to ride at least the smaller shore break and smart enough to not go when the swell is raging?
Meditation gives you some strength of mind, strength to have a second between your thoughts and a dumb action. Meditation also teaches you when to not believe your own anger and frustration. It gives you some peace and freedom.
Freedom to enjoy your own mind, freedom to be kind, freedom to uplift others and freedom to know a respite of peace. It's hard work but then really you either learn to ride the waves or you practice getting tossed about. Which is freedom?
Dr. Dean, Prison Dharma meditation volunteer teacher at Halawa
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #11 May 27, 2020 Generosity
In short: generosity fills you up. This is one of those beautiful paradoxes that it pays to remember when you're feeling bereft and lonely. Because when we give to others in wise ways, freely, of our own good wishes, that giving not only helps them; it helps us. Of course, the world needs our generosity more now than ever. And we have the opportunity to be creative and innovative with the ways we can give, wherever you are. But it all starts with some reflection and mindful contemplation. So let’s practice some generosity together. It'll be fun. Obviously you can't close your eyes while you’re reading. But you can let yourself drop into a meditative state by slowing down, pausing, maybe even shutting your eyes between sentences as you try this little exercise on for size.
A Little Meditation
Step one: Imagine a time when you gave something.
Make it a time when you gave something genuine.
Imagine a time when you offered a gift that meant something—both to you and to the person you gave it to. Maybe not an expensive something. Maybe not a thing at all. Maybe you listened to your friend who needed support. Or maybe you helped your buddy study for a test.
Doesn't matter what. Just as long as it's meaningful.
Now imagine what it was like to plan the gift. Some joy there, maybe. Thinking about what this other person would really want. Going to the trouble of getting it. Spending the money or spending the time.
And now think of this person receiving the gift. Assuming it's one of those times when you hit the nail on the head, maybe their face lit up, or they actually jumped for joy. Perhaps hugs or high fives were exchanged.
Step Two: Imagine giving a gift in the future.
Again, make it something genuine. Something you’d really love to give.
This could be a thing. Or it could be a favor, a service, a meal, a kind word. There are so many different kinds of gifts. Just make sure it matters. And because this is in the future, it can also be imaginary, so you don’t have to limit yourself. If you dream of offering millions of dollars for healthcare workers and the World Wildlife Fund, go for it. Go big. And be specific. Really let your mind go for the details. And notice how uplifting it is to imagine giving the best thing ever right now.
Step Three: Give something.
Right now. Don’t wait. It could be anything. No matter how small. But find some way to give something in this very moment. That’s right. Put this article down. And . . . say something nice to somebody nearby, or offer something kind to your neighbor. Doesn’t matter what you do. Just give. And stay with the meditation, continuing to notice how it feels in your body and mind as you do all this. Then come back and we’ll close out with a final step.
Step Four: Track your response.
Okay, you just remembered giving a gift, thought about giving a gift, and then actually gave a small gift. Now, just for a moment, check in with the area around your chest and throat. How is your breathing? Did it speed up or slow down during this meditation? Do you feel more relaxed? Or maybe more tight? Is there some sense of emotional warmth? Or maybe a kind of numbness, even resistance? Whatever comes alive for you is perfectly fine. Just use your mindfulness to track the response, take it as data, and maybe come back to the meditation a few times to see if things develop and change as you go. Ultimately, we’re looking to tap the inherent joy of giving. But it might take a while to step your way up into that.
Okay, great job! I hope you find this generosity practice uplifting. I know I am, especially right now. Something as simple as smiling at someone across the room can make the world get just a little brighter.
Submitted by Devon, Meditation teacher, coach and friend of Prison Dharma
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #12 June 3, 2020 The Spiritual Purpose of Loneliness
Loneliness is not about being alone. We could be in the
middle of a crowd of people at a party and feel lonely.
Loneliness is less about the circumstances in our lives than it is about our state of mind. We could be alone, doing something we love and enjoying the solitude. It’s all in our minds, not where we are or who we are with.
The first thing to know is that in this mindfulness practice, whatever you feel is okay. No emotion is bad or wrong or shameful. All emotions are natural, logical and HUMAN.
Always, the first step is just to feel the emotion. Let the energy of the emotion flow through your body. Feel its vibrations, color, size, temperature. It is only energy. It cannot hurt you and it is temporary. If your mindfulness is strong, you will see the tiny changes and what started off as very unpleasant becomes interesting.
Above all, don’t run away from the emotion of loneliness. It is very easy to avoid uncomfortable emotions. We would not feel loneliness if we didn’t have the capacity to feel its opposite: connection or love.
In the conventional world, we are connected with the people we know. However, we are connected in another way—a more spiritual way, in Ultimate Reality. In meditation, the usual separateness of “I, me, mine” that we normally feel, falls away and we merge with everything that we thought was not “me.” Within the vast matrix of interconnections, we realize that we are linked to the eternal Source of wisdom,love and compassion. We are, in truth, never alone.
Emotions of loneliness include sadness, shame, fear, anxiety, embarrassment. We think of them as difficult and negative, but they are the body’s natural and biological response to feeling alone and isolated.
Overcome Loneliness Through Meditation.
Cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance
Identify thoughts that contribute to a negative self image.
Learn how to be with your lonely feelings with patience and kindness.
Meet parts of yourself that you never knew existed.
Develop empathy by discovering all your emotions, the bridge to human connection.
Know deeply that you are infinitely more than what you think or how you appear.
Practice being alone, enjoying the solitude.
Learn emotional skills to be self-sufficient.
Submitted by Joan, Prison Dharma volunteer meditation teacher
Buddhist Mediation One Pager #13 June 10, 2020 Forgiveness Part 1
Why do we forgive
To lighten our mind and heal our body. To unlearn bad habits of holding on to bitterness and constantly thinking about how we’ve been offended.
What you have control over
You don’t have control over the offender. The other person is ultimately responsible for their own destiny. Each person must learn their own life lessons on their own time and in their own way. Blaming them will not help. You do have control of your story of what happened. Even if everyone in the world agreed that you were right and the offender was wrong, it still wouldn’t change what happened. Instead of arguing over the story, it is more productive to understand the story through different perspectives. You have YOUR view of what happened, and the offender has a right to have their own view. Perspectives are much more fluid and changeable than rigid beliefs of “what really happened.” You can change your perspective by interpreting the offender’s actions through the eyes of understanding and the heart of compassion. Being generous in the way you interpret their actions, will lighten your mind from the burden of bitterness. A good thing to say to dying people is: Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. It’s also a good thing to say at the end of each day when thinking about the people in your life.
Forgiveness is about understanding anger
In the body, anger is hot and churning. Its energy tends to boil and spew out. Because it feels vigorous, it makes us feel powerful. Actions, powered by anger, can be beneficial, when they are coupled with wholesome intentions, such as working to correct racial injustice. If, however, actions are powered by anger and accompanied by hate and revenge, it is the making of a first-degree crime. There is another harmful effect of anger. When it is not channeled outwards, the energy of anger stews and simmers in the body. This kind of low-level agitation over time, stresses the body and leads to inflammation and disease. With anger, you’re dealing with something extremely powerful that can harm or help. Be careful!
Next week in Forgiveness Part 2, there will be meditation exercises on how to forgive.
Submitted by Joan Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #14 June 17, 2020 Forgiveness Part 2
Meditate to Forgive
Our feelings of hurt and anger are true and valid. It is because we value ourselves, that we react strongly to any threat to our well-being. But when any emotion becomes too intense and no longer serves us, they lodge in the body, grip the mind and control our actions. There are ways to forgive which bypass our thinking and which directly address hurt and anger in our bodies. We release anger by relaxing, opening the channels in the body and trusting the body’s innate intelligence. Healing and change are always happening, mostly at the unconscious level. When we are aware and mindful of it, we participate in our own internal transformations.
✦ Place your hands on your chest, over your heart. Put one hand on top of the other.
✦ Breathe deeply through the nose and on the exhalation, intone OM: drop your head back on OOO and bring it forward on MMM.
✦ Direct the vibrational energy from the hands to the heart. Do it 10 times.
✦ After the final OM, inhale deeply and exhale.
✦ On the exhalation, retain your breath. As you hold your breath, contract 3 areas: 1) Throat: drop your chin down and draw it back closer to your chest making a double chin. Press tongue on roof of mouth. 2) Abdomen: lift the diaphragm. 3) Pelvic muscles (Kegel exercise).
✦ On the breath retention, say silently, as many times as you can, cementing it into your psyche: I forgive myself and others.
✦ Be mindful of subtle changes: seeing lights of any color, pulses, vibrations, heat, movements, sounds, insights (any thought that is a different perspective)
This is a synthesis of various Asian practices: yoga breathing, toning of vowels and hands-on energy healing. It uses very deep breathing, inhaling through the nose and on the exhalation, toning vowels which creates energetic vibrations, stimulating the immune system. Your body will direct the energy to where it is needed. While we are doing this meditation, we are free from hurt and anger. There is internal communication among the body systems, resulting in coherence and optimal functioning. We are in a state of forgiveness—calm, open and free of fear. Remember this mindbody state. Cultivate it. Learn to live free of conflict.
Submitted by Joan, Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #15 June 24, 2020 Mindful Hand
This technique is from a hands-on energy healing from Japan. Its origins are traditional Chinese medicine which views the body as an integrated whole, with all its parts connected in very complex ways. The wise ones from the East say that our fingers are connected to organs which in turn process emotions:
Thumb = Worry
Pointer finger = Fear
Middle finger = Anger
Ring finger = Sadness
Pinky = Trying too hard
A change in energy and movement in one part of the body, produces a healing effect throughout the body. As soon as you are aware of an emotion arising in the body, do this technique to bring balance and calm. From the position of calm, you are then able to know what skillful and beneficial action should follow. That is wisdom.
Let’s say you are triggered and an emotion comes up. Identify the emotion: worry, fear, anger, sadness or the obsession of wanting something badly and trying too hard to get it. Some people call this “grasping” or “clinging.” Hold the finger of that emotion and feel the sensations in the body. Watch the sensations change. Just notice the vibrations, heat, resistance, intensity and movement. You can even rate the intensity of the energy on a scale of 1 to 10. Watch it get more intense, peak and then get less intense.
Most importantly, be aware of when it ends. When we are not aware of endings of sensations, we mistakenly think that it is a chronic condition and a normal emotion that would pass when left alone, becomes stuck and can last a very long time.
Nothing is static and permanent in the body. Be aware of subtle changes. We don’t have to know what it is that is changing. We can simply call it energy.
For severe depression and thoughts of suicide, put your palms together. This connects us with the eternal energy source that is available to all. This energy source serves every cell in our body and produces a beneficial balance and brings order into chaos.
Submitted by Joan, Volunteer Prison Dharma Medidtation Teacher at WCCC, OCCC
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #16 Metta: The Philosophy and Practice of Universal Love July 1, 2020
The Pali* word metta means loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others. Essentially metta is an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest. Through metta one refuses to be offensive and renounces bitterness, resentment and animosity of every kind, developing instead a mind of friendliness, accommodativeness and benevolence which seeks the well-being and happiness of others. True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.
Metta makes one a pure font of well-being and safety for others. Just as a mother gives her own life to protect her child, so metta only gives and never wants anything in return. To promote one's own interest is a primordial motivation of human nature. When this urge is transformed into the desire to promote the interest and happiness of others, not only is the basic urge of self-seeking overcome, but the mind becomes universal by identifying its own interest with the interest of all. By making this change one also promotes one's own well-being in the best possible manner.
Metta is the protective and immensely patient attitude of a mother who forbears all difficulties for the sake of her child and ever protects it despite its misbehavior. Metta is also the attitude of a friend who wants to give one the best to further one's well-being. If these qualities of metta are sufficiently cultivated through the meditation on universal love, the result is the acquisition of a tremendous inner power which preserves, protects and heals both oneself and others.
Apart from its higher implications, today metta is a pragmatic necessity. In a world menaced by all kinds of destructiveness, metta in deed, word and thought is the only constructive means to bring concord, peace and mutual understanding. Indeed, metta is the supreme means, for it forms the fundamental tenet of all the higher religions as well as the basis for all benevolent activities intended to promote human well-being.
* Pali is an ancient language of India, derived from Sanskrit
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Meditation Volunteer Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One Pager # 17 July 8, 2020 Dalai Lama Quotes
The Dalai Lama, who describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk, is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. He was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. This week, he celebrated his 85th birthday.
Here are some of his teachings:
BASIC GOODNESS - A deep awareness of the basic goodness of human beings, that they are essentially kind, helpful and gentle, can give us courage and hope. On a personal level too, such a vision of our basic nature can help promote a greater sense of well-being and connectedness with others.
COMPASSION - Even more important than the warmth and affection we receive, is the warmth and affection we give. It is giving warmth and affection, by having a genuine sense of concern for others, in other words through compassion, that we gain the conditions for genuine happiness.
HAPPINESS - The purpose of life is to be happy. This is what all human beings have in common---the wish to lead a happy life and no suffer. Many think that happiness is to be found outside of us in material things, but it’s something that comes from within, from warm-heartedness and concern for others.
UPS & DOWNS - Life is full of ups and downs. The healthiest person today can be sick tomorrow. The happiest person today can be depressed next year. The loveliest family can be broken apart next year.
MEDITATION & PEACE of MIND - Peace of mind through meditation is not about dulling the mind; it’s about being alert and using your intelligence to the full. The mind must be calm if we’re going to be able to look at our problems from different angles, and see things more realistically.
DON’T JUST PRAY - It’s not enough to just pray for peace of mind. We have to examine it. In the same way, just wishing to be well won’t cure physical illness, you have to adopt preventive measures and take the right medicine. Real change comes about not as a result of prayer, but of using your intelligence and taking action.
ONENESS OF HUMANITY - Dividing the world into “us” and “them” might have worked in the past but doesn’t anymore. We have to talk through our problems with our opponents, thinking of them as our fellow human beings.
MEANING OF LIFE - What is truly of value in life? What gives our lives meaning? We weren’t born to cause trouble or harm. To be of value, we must develop the basic goodness we are each born with: warmth, kindness and compassion. Only then our life will become happier and more meaningful.
Submitted by Lily, Prison Dharma volunteer meditation teacher
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #18 July 15, 2020 Karma
__ it Happens
You don’t need to be told that bad things happen. Sometimes it hits the fan, splatters and defiles people around you. It gets worse when they get mad and hurl it back at you. We know that no one, ever, has enough money, powerful friends or personal control to prevent bad things from happening. Knowing how to lessen the impact of bad events is an important goal towards reducing suffering.
Events Are Connected and Have Root Causes
Usually the things that happen to us, don't appear out of nowhere. They happen because there was a person or person that made them happen. That person could have been you. It is usually complicated and we may never be able to figure out who was really to blame.
That's ok. All we need to know is that whatever is happening to us right now is the result of the past: our family, our traumas, our education, friends, our health, our neighborhood--everything and everyone that made me who I am right now. That's our past karma.
What are the actions and beliefs that brought you to where you are right now?
If you can't answer that, you will have to relive over and over the painful consequences of your own negative thoughts and actions.
Create your own future
Going forward, the only thing we control is our own thoughts and actions. With that, we create our future selves and our destiny. That is why knowing our habits of thinking and habits of actions is important. Without mindfulness, these habits have a life and direction of their own, like a horse without a rider. The more awareness we have of our thoughts and actions, the more we can create a better life for ourselves. How people treat you is their karma. How you react is your karma.
Submitted by Joan, Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #19 July 22, 2020 Mettá Sutta Back Story Part 1
Once upon a time, five hundred monks received instructions from the Buddha in the particular techniques of meditation suitable to their individual temperaments. They then went to the foothills of the Himalayas to spend the four months of the rains' retreat by living a life of withdrawal and intensive meditation. In those days, a month or two before the rains retreat started, monks from all parts of the country would assemble wherever the Buddha lived in order to receive direct instructions from him. Then they would go back to their monasteries, forest dwellings or hermitages to make a vigorous attempt at spiritual liberation. That was how these five hundred monks went to the Buddha, who was staying at Savatthi in Jeta Grove in the monastery built by Anathapindika.
After receiving instructions they went in search of a suitable place, and in the course of their wandering they soon found a beautiful hillock at the foothills of the Himalayas. This, according to the commentary, "appeared like a glittering blue quartz crystal: it was embellished with a cool, dense, green forest grove and a stretch of ground strewn with sand, resembling a pearl net or a silver sheet, and was furnished with a clean spring of cool water." The monks were captivated by the sight. There were a few villages nearby, and also a small market-town ideal as alms-resort. The monks spent a night in that idyllic grove and the next morning went to the market town for alms. The residents there were overjoyed to see the monks, since rarely did a community of monks come to spend the retreat in that part of the Himalayas. These pious devotees fed the monks and begged them to stay on as their guests, promising to build each a hut near the grove on the sandy stretch so that they could spend their days and nights plunged in meditation under the ancient boughs of the majestic trees. The monks agreed and the devotees of the area soon built little huts in the fringe of the forest and provided each hut with a wooden cot, a stool and pots of water for drinking and washing.
After the monks had settled down contentedly in these huts, each one selected a tree to meditate under, by day and by night. Now it is said that these great trees were inhabited by tree-deities who had a celestial mansion built, appropriately using the trees as the base. These deities, out of reverence for the meditating monks, stood aside with their families. As the monks neared their forest dwellings reciting the Mettá Sutta, thinking and meditating on the underlying meaning, the hearts of the deities became so charged with warm feelings of goodwill that they materialized themselves in human form and received the monks with great piety. They took their bowls, conducted them to their rooms, caused water and food to be supplied, and then, resuming their normal form, invited them to occupy the bases of the trees and meditate without any hesitation or fear.During the three months of the rains retreat, the deities not only looked after the monks in every way, but made sure that the place was completely free from any noise. Enjoying perfect silence, by the end of the rainy season all the monks attained to the pinnacle of spiritual perfection. Every one of the five hundred monks had achieved liberation and become an arahat.
Indeed, such is the power intrinsic in the Metta Sutta.* Whoever with firm faith recites the Sutta, invoking the protection of the deities and meditating on metta, will not only safeguard herself in every way but will also protect all those around her, and will make spiritual progress that can be actually verified. No harm can ever befall a person who follows the path of metta.
* Part 2 next week: Metta Sutta (Discourse on Loving Kindness)
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Meditation teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Mediation One Pager #20 July 29, 2020 Metta Sutta (Discourse on Loving Kindness) Part 2
This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they be weak or strong, without exception,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #21 August 5, 2020 THE BUDDHA
On the full moon day of May, in the year 623 BCE, there was born in the district of Nepal an Indian Shakya prince named Siddhartha Gotama, who was destined to be a great religious teacher. Brought up in the lap of luxury, receiving an education befitting a prince, he married and had a son.His contemplative nature and boundless compassion did not permit him to enjoy the fleeting material pleasures of the royal household. He knew no woes, but he felt deep pity for the sorrows of humanity. Amidst comfort and prosperity, he realized the universality of sorrow. The palace, with all its worldly amusements, was no longer a congenial place for the compassionate prince. The time was ripe for him to depart. Realizing the vanity of sensual enjoyments, in his twenty-ninth year, he renounced all worldly pleasures. Donning the simple yellow garb of an ascetic, alone and penniless, he wandered forth in search of truth and peace.
It was an unprecedented historic renunciation, for he renounced not in old age but in the prime of his youth, not in poverty but in plenty. It was the belief in ancient times that no deliverance could be gained unless one leads a life of strict asceticism, so he strenuously practiced all forms of severe austerities. “Adding vigil after vigil, and penance after penance,” he made a superhuman effort for six long years. His body was reduced to almost a skeleton. The more he tormented his body, the farther his goal receded from him. The painful, unsuccessful austerities which he strenuously practiced proved absolutely futile. He was now fully convinced, through personal experience, of the utter futility of self-mortification which weakened his body and resulted in lassitude of spirit.
Benefitted by this invaluable experience, he finally decided to follow an independent course, avoiding the two extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. The former retards one's spiritual progress and the latter weakens one's intellect. The new way that he himself discovered was the Middle Path, which subsequently became one of the salient characteristics of his teaching.
One happy morning, while he was deeply absorbed in meditation, unaided and unguided by any supernatural power and solely relying on his efforts and wisdom, he eradicated all defilements, purified his mind and, realizing things as they truly are, attained enlightenment (Buddhahood) at the age of 35. He was not born a Buddha, but became a Buddha by his own striving. As the perfect embodiment of all the virtues he preached, endowed with deep wisdom commensurate with his boundless compassion, he devoted the remainder of his precious life to serve humanity both by example and precept, dominated by no personal motive whatever. After a very successful ministry of 45 long years, the Buddha, like every other human being, succumbed to the inexorable law of change, and finally passed away in his 80th year, exhorting his disciples to regard his doctrine as their teacher.
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager#22 August 12, 2020 Aloha Spirit
When the late Nana Veary, spiritualist, philosopher, healer, and author, was growing up during the early nineteen-hundreds, she spent a lot of time with her grandparents in a fishing village called Pu’uloa at the mouth of Pearl Harbor. In her book, “Change We Must,” a book that chronicled her spiritual journey, she recalls the experiences encountered in the fishing village that deeply influenced her life. One such experience caused her to wonder and search for the truth about the inner being of humans throughout her life. One summer day, a stranger arrived at the fishing village. Nana’s grandmother, after being informed by the village children that a stranger was coming, reached out and invited the stranger to come in and dine. After the stranger dined and left, Nana asked her grandmother if she knew the man. The grandmother answered that she did not. When Nana heard the answer, she asked her grandmother why she had fed him. Hearing that, the grandmother became visibly angry and ordered Nana to sit on the floor in front of her. The grandmother said to Nana “Listen to what I’m going to tell you and never forget it for as long as you live. “I was not feeding the man, I was entertaining the spirit of God within him.”
Back then, as a youngster at the fishing village, Nana did not know that her grandmother’s generation and generations before believed that spirit was in everything. Every being and nonbeing was endowed with spirit. They were in touch with it in themselves, were open to it and manifested it in their relations. Thus, the meaning of what Nana’s grandmother said, “I wasn’t feeding the man, I was entertaining the spirit of god within him.” This practice of honoring the other was so much a part of the culture that it needed no name. As Nana observes, “Today we call it the Aloha Spirit.” She goes on to say that today we have to be taught it but to the Hawaiians of old it was inherent and natural. “They lived it.” Generally though, what we learn today are the behavioral traits of the Aloha Spirit, not what’s inherent. Nana does not use the word casually. She says that “Aloha is a feeling, a recognition of the divine. When you say aloha to someone, you are conveying or bestowing this feeling.” Sadly, we are so far removed from the spiritual culture of early Hawai`i. As Nana sees it, we are disconnected from our spiritual selves. And this separation from the spiritual source leads to deterioration. To Nana “Anything or anyone separated from the source begins to deteriorate mentally and physically and dies spiritually.” Therefore, our great challenge now is to awaken to our disconnection and reconnect to our spiritual source. “Change We Must.” We begin to change when we start, as Nana says, to reconnect to our spiritual source through experiencing the deep silence within.
Though there are other approaches, one of the ways in which we do this is through meditation, the doorway to silence. At Mindful Hawai`i, we believe that when more and more people start and sustain a meditation practice, of their choosing, the deep cultural foundation of Hawai`i will move in the direction of a cultural condition that approximates that of early Hawai`i where the act of aloha came from within and the act was the spirit. Something to think about: when this shift occurs, we will all come from a common spirit embodied in the manifestations of the rich diversity that we are, A MINDFUL HAWAI`I.
Submitted by James of Mindful Hawai'i, friend of Prison Dharma Meditation Volunteers
Buddhist Meditation ONE-PAGER #23 August 19,2020 All Things Must Pass
This is a song by English poet, George Harrison (1943-2001) that expresses the fundamental Buddhist principle of impermanence.
All Things Must Pass
Sunrise doesn’t last all morning
A cloudburst doesn’t last all day
Seems my love has up and left you with no warning
But it’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
Sunset doesn’t last all evening
A wind can blow those clouds away
After all this, my love has up and must be leaving
But it’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
None of life’s strings can last
So I must be on my way and face another day
Darkness only stays the night time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away.
Submitted by San, Prison Dharma Volunteer and Mentor
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #24 MEDITATING WITH EMOTIONS 8 -26-20
We all have emotional experiences that feel terrifying, and in order to experience our natural state, we have to be willing to experience these emotions—to actually experience our ego and our ego clinging. This may feel disturbing and negative, or even insane. Most of us, consciously or unconsciously, would like meditation to be a chill-out session where we don’t have to relate to unpleasantness. Actually, a lot of people have the misunderstanding that this is what meditation is about. They believe meditation includes everything except that which feels bad. And if something does feel bad, you’re supposed to label it “thinking” and shove it away or hit it on the head with a mallet. When you feel even the slightest hint of panic or experience something unpleasant, you use the label “thinking” as a way to repress it, and you rush back to the object of meditation, hoping that you never have to go into this uncomfortable place.
A Tibetan teacher said, “In the process of uncovering our own true nature, in the process of uncovering the open, unfixated quality of our mind, we have to be willing to get our hands dirty.” In other words, he was saying that we need to be willing to work with our disturbing emotions, the ones that feel entirely dark. But he added something really important to this statement. He said that without having a direct experience of our emotions, we can never touch the heart of our true buddha nature. We can never actually hear the message of awakening. The only way out, so to speak, is through. But what does this word “experiencing” mean? And how can we experience emotions? How can we experience this negative, disturbing, unsettling stuff that we generally avoid? How do we get our hands dirty with them?
The lama said, “It’s only by really tasting your experience of emotions that you get a taste of enlightenment.” Buddha nature and the natural state are not just made up of happy, sweet emotions; buddha nature includes everything. It’s the calm, and the disturbed, and the roiled up, and the still; it’s the bitter and the sweet, the comfortable and the uncomfortable. Buddha nature includes opening to all of these things, and it’s found in the midst of all of them.
Because we perceive things dualistically and get caught in black-or-white thinking where we label things either “good” or “bad,” we shut down when strong energy arises. We associate this strong energy with different thoughts—memories of the past or fantasies about the future—and then this somewhat indescribable thing happens, which we call “feeling an emotion.” Emotions, in essence, are just pure energy, but because of dualistic perception we identify the emotion as “me,” and it gets very locked in.
The energy gets frozen. Another lama once said, “Emotions are composed of energy, which can be likened to water, and a dualistic thought process, which could be likened to pigment or paint. When energy and thought are mixed together, they become vivid and colorful emotions. Concept gives the energy a particular location, a sense of relationship, which makes the emotions vivid and strong. Fundamentally, the reason emotions are discomforting, painful, frustrating is that our relationship to the emotions is not quite clear.”
This is to say that energy itself is not a problem. We always associate our emotions with thoughts—we’re scared of something, or we’re angry at somebody, or we’re feeling lonely or ashamed or lustful in relationship with either ourselves or somebody else. Our emotions have a lot of mental conversation—and, in my experience, it is often hard to discern between what is the thought and what is the emotion. In any given sitting period, in any given half hour of our lives, there are a lot of things that come and go. But we don’t need to try so hard to sort it all out. We don’t have to attach so much meaning to what arises, and we also don’t have to identify with our emotions so strongly. All we need to do is allow ourselves to experience the energy—and in time it will move through you. It will. But we need to experience the emotion—not think about the emotion. It’s the same thing that I’ve been talking about with the breath: experiencing the breath going in and out, trying to find a way to breathe in and out without thinking about the breath or conceptualizing the breath or watching the breath.
Submitted by Lekshe
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #25 Emotional Flooding September 2, 2020
We've all been overwhelmed by emotions, whether it is rage, manic excitement or depths of depression. No matter what the trigger may have been, we have all felt so overcome by emotions that we can't think straight and feel that we are not in control. Strong emotions come in like a tidal wave, ﬂooding us with bodily sensations: racing heart rate, sweating, shallow breathing. We hear the familiar screaming voices either inside our heads or outside. Also riding the tidal wave are memories—-the movies in our heads of past events that triggered the same emotions. Emotional ﬂooding is comprised of heightened bodily sensations, and thoughts about protecting ME. The thing about emotional ﬂooding is that it feels like one "thing." We can even name it--it's "that [expletive]" We usually blame the thing "out there."
Emotional ﬂooding becomes a habit because they are a reaction to the same trigger, usually a person. It is all familiar and almost predictable. It is so predictable we rarely stop to question any of it. Is this helpful to me or anyone involved? Is there another way to understand this?
What To Do When You Are Flooded
-Breathe deeply and slowly. This will slow down the nervous system taking it out of the revved up ﬁght/ﬂight/freeze state.
-Call it. "This is suffering," or "Wow, I'm really overwhelmed," or "Avalanche. Avalanche. Avalanche." This creates some space between you and the experience.
-Do something, anything, to shift your mind out of it. Do something physical to get out of your head and to get into your body. Bodily sensations and thinking can be separated at these times to bring you back into calmness.
-Take a temperature of your body to know when your nervous system has returned to a calm state. If at the height of emotion, it feels like a 10, but within minutes, the body will return to 0-3. BUT, that is only if you stop feeding the nervous system with your thoughts. Once you are no longer in the grips of intense emotional ﬂooding, are you able to think and act wisely. You can reﬂect:
++why did I get so triggered and feel so threatened by what happened? Is this a habit?
++what will happen to me and to my relationships, if I continue this habit?
++am I holding on to a limiting belief about myself? What would happen if I let go of that belief?
The Buddha said if a person is shot by an arrow, he should pull the arrow out and tend to the wound, rather than asking "who shot the arrow? why did he shoot it? who helped him? whose fault is it?"
Emotional ﬂooding is suffering. We take care of suffering by understanding it inside our own mind and body
Submitted by Joan, Prison Volunteer Meditation Teacher at OCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #26 September 9, 2020 Mantras Part 1
Once, I attended a Spring Equinox service to greet the sunrise at the BlowHole. It was raining steadily and the pre-dawn sky was dark, thick with clouds. Steadily chanting "Namo Myoho Renge Kyo", the congregation was not deterred. About a minute before sunrise was scheduled , they stepped up their chanting and drum-beating to a loud and frenzied level that I felt viscerally even through thick layers of clothing. Within minutes, the clouds suddenly parted and a giant red ball magically appeared.
Our teacher, a Buddhist lama seems to always have a mala (rosary) in his hand, moving from bead to bead, counting while silently reciting mantras. He tells me most devout Tibetans do so diligently all their lives, accumulating totals in the hundreds of millions.
So, I asked, "What are mantras? Why and how do they work?"
He explained that the mantras of buddhas and bodhisattvas are indivisible from the buddhas and bodhisattvas (saints) themselves. When we recite their mantras, we are melding our minds with theirs. Typically, each represents a specific quality, virtue or power; reciting their mantras awakens our potential and helps us to cultivate those particular traits. Some examples:
Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin) is associated with compassion. By reciting his/her mantra [Om mani padme hum], we enhance our own compassion and evoke compassionate aspects of all the buddhas in times of difficulty, disaster or danger.
Tara is associated with healing. By reciting her mantra [Om tare tuttare ture svaha], diseases, afflictive emotion, fears and suicidal ideations can be overcome, and reversed swiftly.
Manjushri is the bodhisattva associated with wisdom. By reciting his mantra [Om arapachana dhih], we activate our inner wisdom, helping us with our academic pursuits and life decisions.
It is said that through reciting mantras, not only can the transcendent merit of liberation be perfected but also worldly benefits can be accomplished. Seems like a win-win. Since Buddhism encourages us to question and not go by faith alone, I decided to give it a go.
Recently, per the Dalai Lama's request to all followers, I recited Om Mani Padme Hum 1,000 times for his 85th birthday. The whole time I was thinking about him and how I wished I could be more like him: laughing, happy, lighthearted. Magically, I felt the change. Throughout the day, I found myself laughing giddily for no reason.
I'm a believer now. I don't carry a mala around all the time, yet. But I find myself muttering mantras throughout the day. Usually during repetitive activities like brushing my hair, washing dishes, sweeping the floor. I don't know about transcendent liberation, but I do feel calmer and happier.
Submitted by Lily, Buddhist Meditation Volunteer Teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #27 9/16/20 Experiencing Peace in Times of Turmoil
As historically momentous events continue to unfold before our very eyes, day after day in 2020, most everyone is experiencing turbulent emotions – such as anxiety, fear, anger, and depression, agitation, craving. boredom and loneliness. Now is a perfect moment to learn some effective techniques to calm our minds to ensure the well-being of ourselves and our communities. Here are some practical ways to quiet the mind, restore emotional balance, and cultivate inner peace.
* Acknowledge the pain of yourself and others.
* Generate compassion for the sufferings of others.
* Acknowledge impermanence and remember that sufferings will also pass.
* Death can come at any time, so we need to make this human life meaningful.
* Practice getting in touch with yourself and your inner stillness.
* Generating love and compassion for all living beings, even the nasty ones.
* Observe difficult emotions peacefully.
* Become a light for others.
* Develop the wisdom of being content and grateful.
These days, in the midst of a global pandemic, human beings around the world are under great stress and having difficulty making sense of their lives. The Buddha had a solution to this dilemma. He taught that the meaning of life is to become free from suffering.
The Buddha taught that ultimately we create our own suffering and our own happiness. Under the influence of mental defilements such as desire, hatred, and ignorance, we engage in unwholesome actions that result in future misfortunes. Human beings are accountable for our own actions and we ourselves experience the consequences. We are not rewarded or punished by some external force, but are simply subject to the natural law of cause and effect. We plant the seeds and reap the fruits of our actions.
Misfortune can be a great teacher. The current pandemic, environmental disasters, racism, sexism, poverty, violence, and myriad injustices awaken us from the slumber of ignorance. These misfortunes force us to acknowledge the sufferings of others and awaken our compassion. We realize that the sufferings of illness, injury, old age, and grief can be opportunities to gain insight into the human condition. This wisdom helps us cope with sufferings as they arise and also helps us avoid unwholesome actions that are the causes of future suffering. Acknowledging the sufferings of others helps us generate compassion. Compassion motivates us to work for the benefit of others. Benefiting others gives life its greatest meaning and highest happiness. In the words of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Buddhists understand that the ultimate source of suffering to be within our own minds – the elaborations of disturbing emotions and the delusion that we are more important than others. As the eighth-century Indian master Shantideva said, “The root of all happiness is cherishing others. The root of all misery is cherishing oneself.”
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #28 September 23, 2020 “Which Movie”
Do you love films like I do? If you watch many foreign films you may have noticed that the world-views and philosophies of different countries affect the type of movies that are made there. For instance, have you noticed that many films made in America and Europe have themes of good guys vs. bad guys? The main character is usually a hero who is strong, smart, good-looking and who chases a big goal/dream. The villains are bad people who want to stop him/her. Stories play out as epic battles between good and evil, where good should win.
Story lines in Eastern films are different. Often there is no actual conflict, because of the understanding in the East is that there are no "good guys" and "bad guys.” That’s because everyone has both good and bad qualities. Instead of one main character, there are many characters working together to solve a problem or achieve something good for society. If there are “bad guys” they are seen as being initially good people, who get confused or manipulated.
In the West, there have to be “happy endings” because of the belief that everything is possible–with enough grit and the right stuff– the two lovers will get together, the world will be saved and everybody will live happily ever after. Everyone gets exactly what "they deserve"–the good guy gets the beautiful Princess and the bad guy gets his just punishment.
However, Eastern storytelling doesn't always end happily. Literary critics say that this is because Eastern cultures see life as a chain of events, instead of it a single final epic battle followed by a happy ending. Lovers sometimes don't get together, and sometimes the dream is not achieved. Eastern films can leave the audience with a bittersweet feeling because there is a sense that there are no tidy resolutions.
These different story lines affect us in ways we may not know and they may be directing our lives right now. Do you see yourself as a hero/heroine fighting evil? Or are you waiting for a hero to save you? If that's the movie you are in, then your life has to include bad guys to battle, and many obstacles to block you from attaining your goal. You will believe that everyone, including yourself, deserves what happens to them. You will believe that there can be only one winner. You will always be waiting for the handsome Prince or Princess and that happy ending—which we know only happens in fairy tales.
I love this story of the Spaceship. We are on this spaceship—Earth, hurtling through space, stuck with each other. If one of us is suffering, the unhappiness ripples out and affects everyone. In the same way, positive energies ripple out and affect everyone. When we share the same destiny, we realize that there are no winners and losers. We win and lose together. A wise philosopher from China, Lao Tsu, said that the battles and dramas we see in our lives, are reflections of the dramas in our own minds. The state of the world depends upon your thoughts and movies in your head. The external world will only come into order if the inner world has done so. The movie we see "out there" is what is created and projected from our own core beliefs.
Submitted by Joan, Volunteer Meditation Teacher, OCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #29 September 30, 2020 Mantras - Part 2
Mantras: Believe it or Not
I used to think that mantras were like voodoo; that whatever cannot be proved by science must be untrue. On the other hand, blindly believing everything that science claims is narrow-minded as well. A true scientist is open-minded and recognizes there is much we can neither prove nor disprove. Isn't it better if we weren't quick to judge, to neither blindly accept nor quickly dismiss? Buddha himself encouraged us to always question, examine and analyze things in order to see the true nature of all phenomena for ourselves.
Science of Mantras
I was surprised to find that there is research on the effectiveness of mantras.
One study in India showed that reciting mantras before taking IQ tests significantly improved scores, especially among test subjects who knew the meaning of the mantra. [Manjushri's mantra Om Ah Ra Pa Cha Na Dhih for academic performance]. Subjects who didn't know the meaning didn't do as well, but did better than the control group that did not recite mantras. The researcher theorized that reciting mantras helped them to focus better.
Another study in the US reports that mantras help heal, even when the target of the chanting is unaware, or doesn't understand the mantras' meaning, such as infants and pets.
In an experiment in China, it was demonstrated that crops grew better in the fields where chanting was broadcasted over loudspeakers.
There is a famous Japanese research with beautiful photographs showing that sound waves change molecular structure of water. The theory: since we are mostly made up of water, we respond to mantras at the cellular level.
The best research is the one you do yourself. Why not give a mantra a try?
Submitted by Lily, Volunteer Meditation at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #30 October 7 , 2020 All Faith Service
Aloha: “I acknowledge and honor the sacred breath of life in you.”
Namaskar: “I respect the divine in you.”
Tashi Deleg: “Congratulations! You are alive!”
According to the Dalai Lama all humans share loving kindness. He’s not talking about unreliable romantic love. He’s talking about the love and affection tiny babies show toward their mothers. He’s talking about deep and abiding feelings of love and compassion that extend to all living beings.
This loving kindness extends equally to all living creatures, is immeasurable, and can never be diminished. In a heart full of love, like the heart of Jesus or the Buddha or Mother Theresa, there is no room for hatred or harmful thoughts, words, or actions.
Each one of us has within us the capacity to develop loving kindness and compassion. We just need to reaffirm and nurture it. Every morning before we venture out, we need to sit still, go inside and rediscover the basic kind and loving nature that lies within us.
Tibetan people constantly remind each other to be compassionate. If they see someone harm an animal, even the smallest insect, they say, “That’s non-virtuous!” When they see someone suffering, they say, “Loving kindness!” It’s common to hear even little children distinguish between kind and unkind actions and express sincere love and compassion toward others.
To be active peacemakers in today’s chaotic world, we need a heart full of love and compassion. We need to support each other in becoming kinder and more peaceful. When Reverend Abraham Akaka presented the Dalai Lama with an ukelele, he said, “The ukelele has 4 strings and each string is different, but together they make a beautiful sound. If they all sounded the same, it would be boring.” Human beings are like the different strings of the ukelele. Each of us is unique, but if we work together, we can do great things.
Our daily spiritual practice helps us reach our inner peace and be kinder and more harmonious. Whether we pray, meditate, do yoga, or tai chi, our practice calms us, refreshes us, and helps us make wise decisions
To become genuine agents of peace in the world, we need to pay attention to our inner life and daily renew our commitment to peace, loving kindness, ethical integrity and social justice. When we reaffirm these values, we optimize our human potential, act authentically in the world, and maximize our potential to benefit others.
Even if we only have a few moments, we can meditate on loving kindness. First, send loving kindness to yourself, then to those nearby you, to everyone in Hawai’i, to everyone in the country, to all living beings on Planet Earth – large and small, far and near, visible and invisible. Be sure to include the animals and people you dislike.
At the end of your meditation, say: May all beings be happy! May they be peaceful! May they be free from suffering!
Submitted by Lekshe, soon-to-be Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #31 October 14 , 2020 The Space That Frees Us
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
– Viktor E. Frankl
It is meaningful to pause and sit in this space between stimulus and response. To breathe into spacious presence and slow down the spinning wheel of the mind.
Especially in our current environment with so much uncertainty, fear, and threat continuously circling around us, it is so easy to feel reactive and stressed. It is such a gift to be able to step-back, breathe, and access that inner-ease.
I like to imagine myself stepping 6 feet back and practicing “social distance” from the spinning wheel of my thoughts. Creating that distance to observe and let go of an immediate reaction is true intelligence and full heartedness. This spaciousness affects not only us, but those we encounter as well.
As you practice social distancing of your reactive self, explore what people, issues, or things might whisk you away to that spinning wheel of your thoughts. Practice, practice, practice. Find the space of your non-reactive self and there you will find freedom.
Be well. Namaste.
Submitted by Marie, Prison Dharma Volunteer Mentor at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #32 October 21, 2020 The Stream of Life
Buddhism teaches us of “Two Truths:” Conventional Reality—the social world of everyday experience, and Ultimate Reality—the natural world of the universe.
The laws of Conventional Reality govern our relationships with people and property. The laws of Ultimate Reality govern our relationships with Nature, the universe, God.
When we break the laws of Conventional Reality, we pay the penalty. When we break the laws of Ultimate Reality, the consequences are neither immediate nor direct: it may take years to see the effects of pollution; it may take lifetimes to discover your pure deathless soul; it may take countless transgressions to finally find God.
There are very real consequences to our actions, so it is important to pay attention. Before modernization (and in indigenous cultures today) wisdom came from paying attention to smallest changes in the weather or in ocean currents.
Like a stream whose calm surface flows over invisible currents and churning whirlpools, our seemingly mundane lives are constantly changing and unpredictable.
Superficial appearances can deceive; we can never know the depths of another.
Events and people are uncontrollable; some people create turbulence and pull others down into their whirlpools.
Sometimes we achieve our goals easily; sometimes we “swim up stream.”
Daoism, teaches us of Wu wei, an understanding that when we swim with rather than against currents, we can effortlessly achieve what we want: when we don’t harm others, we live in harmony; when we care for the natural world, it provides us with abundance; when we are in unity with the Cosmos, we are at peace.
Are you flowing with the river or against it? Ask yourself, how much am I struggling right now? Am I struggling because I don’t like the direction of this stream? Am I being pulled down by a whirlpool of my own creation or of someone else’s?
Try this: relax and imagine you are floating in the ocean, looking up at the sky, and trusting that the water will hold you up. Trust that your life stream will carry you towards your highest purpose. It will not always be easy, there will be whirlpools and shallows. But when you find yourself being dragged down, look up at the sky. Your awareness of what is happening will allow you to float back to safety and ease.
Submitted by Joan, Prison Dharma Volunteer
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #33 September 2020 Mantras Part 3 Do's/Don'ts
Once upon a time, an old monk was walking when he saw red light radiating from a mountain. He thought that it must be coming from some great practitioner. He decided to climb the mountain and find out, and he came across an old woman. She told him she had recited Om Mani Padme Nyu every day for several decades.
The old monk said kindly, "Ah, your pronunciation is incorrect. The correct way to recite it is Om Mani Padme HUM". Upon hearing this, the old woman was heartbroken, thinking her practice of several decades was in vain. Feeling dejected, she nonetheless corrected her pronunciation right away.
The old monk left for the foot of the mountain. When he looked back up the mountain, he saw that the light rays were gone. Realizing what had happened, he immediately went back to the old woman, and told her, "I was joking with you! Your pronunciation of Om Mani Padme NYU was fine!" The old woman beamed and went back to her old pronunciation, and sure enough, the light rays reappeared on the mountain.
from Tales of Transforming Adversity by Khenpo Sodargye
Mantras DO's & DONT'S
Don't worry about proper pronunciation of mantras. Even in Tibet, the same mantra can sound different, depending on the local dialects.
Do recite mantras with sincerity and diligence. Even if you don't say it properly, you will receive its benefits.
Don't just do lip service. If you recite mantras while distracted by discursive thoughts like suspicion, annoyance, or regret, then even if you pronounce the mantras perfectly, you will not experience its blessings.
Do memorize the mantra. It makes it easier to concentrate on receiving its full benefits.
Do this simple meditation before you recite mantras, to get the greatest blessings.
Gaze at an image of the Buddha or Bodhisattva with full absorption for awhile. Then close your eyes and bring the image to mind. When the image starts to blur, open your eyes and gaze at the image again for awhile, and then close your eyes and visualize it again. Keep practicing until the image appears clearly in your mind.
Submitted by Lily, Buddhist Meditation Volunteer Teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #34 November 04, 2020 Desires and Aversions
--------------------------------------Yoga Sutras: (37: II.7-9) (Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally)
Is It Wrong to Like Things?
Assailed by what feels good, we begin to like things.
Assailed by what feels bad, we begin to dislike things.
Grasping is a thought that comes all on its own,
Even for those who understand, and then grows even stronger.
In other words, grasping doesn’t mean grabbing, or even wanting. It doesn’t mean pushing away, rejecting. It means looking at something the wrong way: I see it, it’s available to me, I deserve it, and I will get it. Or I see it, yuck, that’s something I hate, get it away from me! Reacting in this push-pull way is normal, but wastes energy and misdirects your mind. A tactic to work with this: I see it. Oh. I see it. (Pause.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“Relax and Be Aware” From Sayadaw U Tejaniya
Examine your habits of liking and disliking. To have thoughts of liking and disliking is not a problem. It only becomes a problem when these thoughts become the attitude by which we relate to reality. Judgements, opinions, and likes and dislikes solidify into attitudes when we identify with them, believe in them, and react to them compulsively.
We can choose to relate to these thoughts in another way, which is through right view. To do this, acknowledge thoughts as a process of nature that is happening. Don’t struggle with them: see them, learn from them, and then leave them alone. Just see that they are nature.
See all experience with interest and curiosity. And when something stops happening, recognize it has stopped.
Then notice how that feels.
Submitted by San, Prison Dharma Volunteer and Mentor
Buddhist Meditation One Pager #35 November 11, 2020 Humor and Kindness
There are two indispensable tools on the journey to joy. One is kindness, especially to yourself. The other is humor, because you’re going to cry tears of laughter when you realize how much you keep missing the point.
As a child, I was taught that distrusting oneself and being hard on oneself was the way to heaven. Be kind to yourself? Eww! Treat yourself like you would your best friend? Creepy, right?
Let these words penetrate: Give yourself sympathy. Give yourself a break. Appreciate yourself. As I’m writing this, I’m being kind to myself, and I’m tearing up. Go ahead: For one minute, bathe yourself in appreciation. (I’ll wait.)
Weird, right? What happened? Simple. You were kind to yourself.
Try this. Treat yourself like you treat a good friend. You might tease them once in a while, but you would never treat them with the suspicion or harshness you treat yourself. They would leave.
Being kind and having humor isn’t an excuse to be mean, lazy and funny at the expense of others. Indeed part of self-love is trusting that we recognize when we hurt somebody, and are humble enough to make amends.
If you’re like me, you sometimes think you’re the worst person in the world. But that’s kind of funny isn’t it? You got stuck with being the worst person in the world? You mean there are none worse? See? It’s silly.
Humor and self kindness are like left-right boxing combinations—first humor then kindness. Counterpunch the champion complainer within, with, “This person is goofy, but I love ‘em.”
This is not a one-time deal, this kindness-humor thing. For days, even months, you may forget to be kind to yourself. What to do? Well, smile and follow up with the humor-kindness combo, again and again.
Don’t pull any punches.
Submitted by Jaynine, Prison Dharma Volunteer
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #36 November 18, 2020 Healing Sounds
The ancient Chinese practice of “Healing Sounds” transforms negative energy into healing light and vitality. Do these three times a day to refresh the body and mind.
The Lung Sound
Fear is stored in the lungs. The lung sound transforms fear into courage.
Position: Sit on the edge of your bed with feet shoulder length apart. Or just sit cross legged on your bed. Place hands palms-up on your thighs. Raise both hands above your head, palms-up, with fingertips of each hand touching the tip of the other. Look up.
Lung sound: Place your tongue behind your closed teeth and, with a long slow exhalation, made the lung sound “SSSSSSSSSSSS” (like the sound of steam from a radiator). You may whisper the sound or silently mouth it.
Visualization: Return your hands to the palms-up position on your lap and smile to your lungs. Imagine a white light shining upon your lungs, surrounding them.
Feel your courage.
Repeat two more times.
The Kidney Sound
Sadness, grief, and sorrow are stored in the lungs. With this practice, sadness, grief, and sorrow evolve into gentleness and generosity.
Position: Sit on the edge of your bed with feet shoulder length apart. Lean forward and clasp your hands around your knees. Look up.
Kidney sound: Form an “O” with your lips as if preparing to blow out a candle. With a long, slow exhalation produce the sound “WOOOOOOOO.”
Visualization: Return your hands to the palms-up position on your lap and smile to your kidneys. Imagine a blue light shining upon your kidneys, surrounding them. Concentrate on feeling gentleness and generosity.Repeat two more times.
Submitted by Margaret, Prison Dharma Volunteer
Donkey Transforms Suffering Meditation One-Pager #37 November 25, 2020
Once a farmer's donkey fell into a well. Despite considerable fretting, the farmer couldn't think of a way to save it. In the end, he thought, "This donkey is already old, and it's also time to fill in this well. It's no use wasting energy on saving the donkey". He asked all his neighbors to help him fill in the well with earth. The donkey quickly realized what was happening and moaned in panic, but after awhile, it calmed down. The farmer couldn't help looking down into the well and was amazed by what he saw: the donkey quickly shook off every shovelful of soil that came down and then stamped it firmly under its feet. In no time at all, the donkey reached the opening of the well, jumped out, and ran away.
from Tales of Transforming Adversity, Khenpo Sodargye
Sometimes misery keeps raining down on us. Unable to escape, some people give up,
cursing their fate, "I'm doomed to fail", "Why am I so unlucky?" Thinking like this is not only useless, it can lead to depression and disease.
Others get angry and blame others, "It's not fair! I never get a break!", "It's all The Man's fault". Reacting this way may lead to fighting, revenge or worse.
Wise people, on the other hand, do not react with fight nor flight. Instead they face their suffering head on. They are able to transform suffering into motivation for overcoming life's trials and tribulations. Working this way through hardships gives them courage to triumph over future ones.
Buddha became awakened after witnessing the suffering of old age, sickness and death. He teaches that everyone suffers, without exception. The privileged suffer in mind, stressing about holding onto their wealth and status. The underprivileged suffer in body, from lack of food, clothing and shelter. We all suffer from being separated from loved ones, encountering enemies, not getting what we want and getting what we don't want. Since suffering is inescapable, there is no use in trying to avoid it or to fear it. The trick is to be masters of our own minds, by viewing every painful experience not as suffering, but as a tool for growth and lasting happiness. The donkey story teaches us that suffering can be a stepping stone to liberation. No matter how much misery strikes you, just shake it off like dust and soil, stamp it firmly under your feet, and never let it bury you.
Submitted by Lily, Prison Dharma Volunteer
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #38 December 2, 2020 Wisdom of Patience
Once upon a time in old China, there was a minister called Jin. The emperor gave him 500 taels of gold and told him to buy "the best thing in the world". He traveled far and wide searching, until he met an old man in the street calling out "Wisdom for Sale!"
The minister thought, "Now that's something we don't have in our country." So he asked the old man the price. "500 taels of gold paid in advance" the old man replied. The minister gave him the gold.
The old man spoke clearly, saying "This is the genuine wisdom of life, 11 words in total.
BEFORE GETTING MAD, EASE UP.
BEFORE TAKING ACTION, THINK IT THROUGH"
Hearing this, the minister felt terrible regret and shame that the gold had been wasted. Cursing the old man, he headed back home. When he got home, it was already the middle of the night. Walking into the bedroom, he saw that there was someone lying beside his wife. Losing his temper, he thought, "How dare this wench sleep with someone behind my back!" Enraged, he drew his sword, ready to thrust it into his wife. Just then, he remembered the old man's 11 words, and he stopped and examined the situation more closely. It was then he saw that the person lying beside his wife was actually his own mother! His wife was ill, and his mother had come to take care of her. The minister then realized that each one of those 11 words was as precious as a jewel. Had he not recalled them, he would have made a tragic blunder. How could 500 taels of gold compare with the lives of his wife and mother?
Sometimes misfortune occurs due to simple mistakes. Becoming angry about something unreasonable or getting overly emotional might prompt you to do terrible things in a matter of seconds. We must avoid making decisions or acting impetuously when angry.
ANGER IS LIKE A SUMMER STORM. IT CAN APPEAR SUDDENLY. BUT AFTER A SHORT TIME, THE CLOUDS, WIND AND RAIN DISAPPEAR, AND THE SKY IS CLEAR AGAIN.
WHEN ANGER ARISES IN YOU, TRY TO JUST PAUSE FOR A MOMENT. RELAX...INHALE DEEPLY. GIVE YOURSELF A CHANCE TO CALM DOWN.
You may avoid doing something you might regret!
From Tales for Transforming Adversity by Buddhist Lama Khenpo Sodargye,
Submitted by Lily, Prison Dharma Volunteer Meditation Teacher at WCCC
Buddhist Meditation One-Pager #39 Dec 9, 2020 Mindfulness in Action
Meditating in a calm place prepares us to
be mindful in our noisy and confusing lives. As you go about your day, if you
Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you
Find all the blue things in a room. Then all the green ones. Then
Breath in deeply for 4 counts, hold for 7, then let out slowly for
Observe something for 5 minutes. See its colors, textures,
Some additional things to consider as you