A Dharma Lesson from India

During my recent tour of India, I was reminded over and over that one definition of dukkha is unreliability. India is a truly magical place of great beauty and spirituality but travel can be challenging at times. When Westerners first encounter this, it can be unnerving as we expect systems to work consistently. But when this unreliability is met without our usual expectations of a specific outcome, we no longer suffer. In India, when our group was able to flow with the nature of the unknown, especially in relation to travel, we didn’t suffer. Indians learned this long ago and I observed how they meet this unreliability with equanimity. So in this case there was no dukkha. And we also observed impermanence when the challenge of travel led us into spectacular scenery and magical new places to see and experience.

After returning home from Nashville, I was driving to Tuesday night meditation when I encountered a major traffic jam on 1-440. I decided to take an alternate route via West End and Murphy Road. But many others had the same idea. West End was jammed with cars and I had to sit through four cycles of the light at West End and Murphy, each of which took nearly four minutes. I watched as the clock ticked away knowing I was running later and later. As I’m a punctuality freak, this was a little unnerving. But just as frustration was about to set in I remembered the lesson of unreliability from my travels in India; I exhaled and relaxed. All was well. When I arrived at One Dharma, about 15 minutes later than usual, I jokingly told our opening volunteer that I had turned over a new leaf and had thrown punctuality to the wind!

Here are a few words from Joseph Goldstein about dukkha as the inherently unreliable nature of things:

One way we experience dukkha, the unsatisfying, unreliable nature of things, is through the direct and increasingly clear perception of their changing nature. Many people have been enlightened by this one short teaching: “Whatever has the nature to arise will also pass away.”

But because this statement is so glaringly obvious we often ignore or overlook its deep implications. On the conceptual level, we understand this quite easily. But in our lives, how often are we living in anticipation of what comes next, as if that will finally bring us to some kind of completion of fulfillment? When we look back over our lives, what has happened to all those things we looked forward to? Where are they now? This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves or enjoy pleasant experiences. It just means we need to remember the very transitory nature of that happiness and to deeply consider what our highest aspirations really are. Excerpted from “Mindfulness, A Practical Guide to Awakening.”

Advertisements

New Dharma Talk: Visiting the Island in Bad Weather

In this dharma talk, I share my experiences visiting the Sivananda Yoga Ashram in the Bahamas and how dashed expectations were converted into a fulfilling dharma experience.

New Year’s Half Day Intention Setting Retreat

The Power of Intention: Clarifying Your Path for the New Year
Sunday, January 1 2018, 9 a.m. – Noon
Nashville Friends Meeting
Led by Lisa Ernst

IMG_7388

“One of the Buddha’s most penetrating discoveries is that our intentions are the main factors shaping our lives and that they can be mastered as a skill.” – Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Start your New Year on the cushion by joining us for a half day intention setting retreat. At the beginning of a New Year, it is customary to take stock of our lives and the world we live in, to review the previous year and set our intentions for the upcoming twelve months and beyond. Bringing this evaluation onto the cushion, to look with fresh eyes and an open heart, can help us refine and clarify our direction and to live from the truest part of ourselves.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, the retreat will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, dharma talk and discussion. Cost is $50 is due by Thursday, December 28. A reduced fee option is available for those who need financial support. Paypal is available here.  Instructions for paying by check are at this link. Be sure to include your email address For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

Reflections on Skillful Effort

 

IMG_0494

We can view wise effort as taking a canoe to the water and making the effort to put it in. Once the canoe is in the water, it floats on its own – we don’t need to make it float. Our effort is to launch the canoe. Once in the water, we have paddles and can direct the canoe, but we don’t have to try and make it float. –
~ Lisa Ernst

Stay right at that point of balance where you’re not pushing it too hard and not being too lazy or lax — just the right amount of interest, the right amount of attention and intention to keep things going — so that the breath can have a chance to heal the wounds in the body, soothe the mind, and bring both the body and the mind to the stages of practice where the concentration gets stronger and your insights grow sharper, more subtle. It’s important that the groundwork be done. Just keep on doing the work. Things will develop.

~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu

According to Stephen Batchelor, Enthusiasm is a better translation than Effort. He offers the 8th century poet Shantideva’s views on Wise Enthusiasm as finding joy in what is helpful and having a passion for living a mindful life, a moving force like wind that fills our sails and moves us.

Dharma Talk: Coming Home and The Way of Bodhicitta

This dharma talk explores the comical “oatmeal incident” and how to meet all of experience directly and openly through the awakened heart/mind.

Delusion and Enlightenment Have a Conversation

Taking Flightcrop

D: Hi Enlightenment, I’ve been waiting for you, where’ve you been?

E: I have been here all along, but you rarely recognize me. You look right at me, but you don’t see me.

D: I thought you were over the next hill or two and that I have to keep searching. I catch glimpses of you from time to time, but you always disappear.

E; That’s what everybody says

D: To tell the truth, I’m surprised you’re here. I’m not good enough for you. Probably never will be. I’m trying to be a better person but I feel like a failure.

E; Yeah, I hear that one a lot too. Go ahead and work on being kinder and more compassionate, but do it for others, not me. Do it for the world.

D: Thanks, but that might be hard. I seem to be stuck in a lot of, well, delusion.

E: That’s ok, I’m not going anywhere. I don’t care how deluded you are.

D: Really? Is my practice a waste of time then? I’ve got a long to do list and I need to get on it.

E: If you don’t meditate, you won’t see me as much, you won’t recognize me. But now that we’ve met, if you think you know me, you’ll be mistaken. You’ll be stuck with only memories. That’s fine, its not my business, but it will make you miss me even more – its your nature to miss me.

D: Then how do we work together?

E: We are together, we’re not separate. I’m always here, even in your most deluded moments. You can’t get rid of me and I can’t get rid of you so let’s make peace.

D: Ok, that sounds good. But can I check my phone first?

Check Out One Dharma’s New Website

Updated, easy to navigate, a greatly improved site. Click here to visit One Dharma’s new site.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 5.46.46 AM

The Heart’s True Refuge Residential Retreat

December 7 – 10, with extended option to December 12
Penuel Ridge Retreat Center, Ashland City TN
Led by Lisa Ernst

Retreat full, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com to join waitlist

lotusblue12

Please join us for a weekend of meditation at a beautiful, wooded retreat site near Nashville. As winter approaches and daylight wanes, there is a natural inclination to slow down and turn inward. Yet, in the busyness of the holiday season we may forget that true refuge is right where we are. This silent retreat will focus on accessing our steady minds and open hearts. We will cultivate a quality of compassionate presence that embraces our experience with equanimity and insight. Through these practices we begin to dissolve the illusion separateness and taste the joy of the heart’s true refuge.

Led by meditation teacher Lisa Ernst, this silent retreat is suitable for newer as well as experienced meditators. It will include sitting and walking meditation, instructions, dharma talks and q&a. Lodging is shared and tenting spots are available. Retreat fee includes lodging and all meals

The three night option is $240 if paid in full by 10/19; after $265. The five night option is $395 if paid by 10/19; after $425. A $100 deposit will reserve your spot. Please indicate if you will be attending the three or five night option. A reduced fee, scholarship spot is available in the case of financial need. There will be a separate opportunity to make a dana (generosity) offering to the teacher at the retreat. Payments can be made by paypal here. If paying by check, instructions are here. Be sure to include your email address.

Lisa Ernst is a Buddhist Meditation teacher in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. She leads classes, workshops and residential meditation retreats nationally.

For questions email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

Making Friends with Fear: Awakening The Courageous Heart in Difficult Times

Saturday, September 23, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Nashville Friends Meeting
Led by Lisa Ernst

lotusandsky

Do you often hear messages that fear is bad or wrong and should be eliminated through positive thinking, mindfulness or other methods? In these difficult and challenging times, fear may even overwhelm.

What if we instead began to understand that fear is not wrong, that it is part of our human make up, and that facing it, even embracing it, is a vital part of fostering gratitude, compassion and freedom from suffering. In this workshop we will learn to lean in and make friends with fear by cultivating a courageous heart that embraces all of life without turning away. Through this process we can more readily help ourselves and others; we begin to relax and respond to life through a kind and awakened heart.

The workshop will include discourse on cultivating a courageous heart, experiential instructions in opening to fear, meditation and dharma talk. Cost is $50. A reduced fee option is available in the case of financial needs. Paypal is available here. Please use the “donate” button. If paying by check, instructions are at the same link. Be sure to include your email address. For questions, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com.

How Do We Infect the World With Love?

IMG_0706

In this dharma talk I explore how practice can create an open, compassionate container for all of our responses and reactions to our current political and world environment. Then I ask, “how do we infect the world with love?,” and explore some possible answers.