As “devotion” is a loaded of a word some, we can also define it as loving attention and dedication. If you’re a familiar with Mary Oliver’s poetry, you’ll recognize “attention is the beginning of devotion” as a quote from her. In the talk I include a few of her poems that so perfectly reflect how attention leads to devotion through even the everyday elements of life and nature. I also talk about how devotion can be a balancing factor of heart and mind.
Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m. – Noon, Nashville Friends Meeting
Led by Lisa Ernst
Metta is the Pali word for friendship or lovingkindness. It is taught as a meditation that opens our innate capacity for a joyful, loving heart. Metta is traditionally offered along with forgiveness practices that deepen compassion and equanimity. We will also include the powerful sending and receiving practice of Tonglen. One of the most significant aspects of Tonglen is that we naturally move out of the “self center” where we primarily identify with our own suffering and find a deep sense of interconnection with others where compassion fully comes alive.
These practices support and deepen the development of concentration,
ease and a greater ability to give and receive unconditional love. In these difficult times, our world needs these qualities more than ever.
This silent retreat will include sitting and walking meditation, instructions and q&a. It is suitable for all levels of experience. Cost is $50, payment can be made by Paypal here. Instructions are here if paying by check. Be sure to include your email address. A reduced fee spot is available in the case of financial need. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, May 4, 8:30am at Nashville Friends Meeting (530 26th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37209), then we will be taking the bus/carpooling to the March for Science and Climate, 10am-12pm
Led by Keila Franks
March for Science and Climate. Photo by Tennessee Photographs.
Through meditation, we begin to more deeply understand the interconnection of everything, which leads to a deep sense of caring and compassion for all living things. This means that our hearts often break when we see how human heedlessness has caused enormous damage to our planet, threatening the wellbeing of all of the living creatures on it. We may feel called to translate this mindfulness of the suffering of the world into actions to stop climate change and protect the environment.
On May 4, we will gather to meditate and set intentions before attending the March for Science and Climate together. Through a guided meditation, we will be encouraged to notice our sense of the interconnection of all things, and how our deepest intentions of wanting to alleviate suffering come from that sense of interconnection. We will then break into small groups to discuss our intentions for attending the March for Science and Climate, and how we want to bring those intentions forward into our lives, even after the March is done.
All are welcome to attend! Even if you are new to meditation or haven’t ever attended a march or a rally, we hope that you will join us. Suggested donation for the meditation is $5 – $10. For questions, email email@example.com.
Facilitator: This session will be led by Keila Franks. She is the Field Director at the Tennessee Justice Center, focusing on advocating for protecting and expanding Medicaid in TN. She started meditating over 10 years ago through One Dharma Nashville while in high school. She has been an active member of the One Dharma community since returning to Nashville in 2015. She completed One Dharma’s 2018 Mindfulness Meditation Instructor and Facilitator course, and she is one of the facilitators of One Dharma’s Introduction to Meditation classes on Saturday mornings.
Logistical note: The bus stop is a ~10 min walk from the Nashville Friends Meeting. It will cost $3.25 to get an all-day pass, allowing you to get to/from downtown on the bus. If you plan on taking the bus, please bring that amount in cash (and try to bring as close to exact change as possible! Change is given on a change card, not in cash.) You may also drive yourself or carpool downtown to attend the March.
This talk explores the powerful and illuminating trifecta of Beginner’s Mind, Don’t Know Mind and Inquiry and the concrete ways they support us in our practice and our lives.
Difficult, anxious thoughts and emotions are often considered obstacles to meditation and peace of mind. A wiser view is available! Buddha’s path to liberation is designed to help us face the full experience of embodied human life. Through deep training we can learn how to be at peace with our overly energetic or painful body, our restless minds and hearts and even the most irritating and hard emotions. At this retreat we will learn how to bring acceptance, patience and love for ourselves into the process. We will learn how awareness can intervene, balancing reactivity, releasing identification and catastrophizing. Inner peace emerges (samadhi), so that meditative inquiry can help us learn from our inner lives, discover gems of wisdom and insight — and tenderness for the rest.
This retreat, held mostly in silence, will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, daily instructions, dharma talks, q&a and meetings with the teacher. All levels of experience are welcome. Registration and more info here.
Please join me for an adventure of a lifetime to India. On this tour we will be visiting some of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites as well as many other points of interest. We will meditate under the Bodhi tree, a descendant of the very tree where Buddha was enlightened 2500 years ago.This was one of the highlights for me of the 2017 tour and an experience not to be missed while in India. Pilgrims from all over the world travel here and it is truly an amazing experience to be at ground zero for the awakening of Buddha and Buddhism.
We’ll also visit Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon. Sarnath is close to Varanasi, where the famous Aarti ceremony is held every night at sunset on the Ganges. This is another not to be missed highlight that can’t be fully captured in words. In addition, a tour of India wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Himalayas. This year, we’ll travel to Dharmsala, home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community in exile. Finally, there’s an optional two day extension to visit Amritsar and the Golden Temple.
The tour is guided by expert local guides in India, and I will offer meditation and dharma discussions along the way in various locations, from hotel gardens to Tibetan monasteries.
It is a fun adventure and is open to everyone interested in Buddhism and meditation. (No experience required.)
For the full itinerary and cost, go here. If you are considering this tour and would like to talk to me directly, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can only experience ease and “suchness,” the way things truly are, in moments of not wanting, of moments when we are not trying to control things. This is the backward step into this moment, where freedom is always available.
If you have been practicing for a year or longer and wish to formally reflect your commitment to the dharma path, I will be offering this opportunity through One Dharma. It will culminate in a ceremony at One Dharma, which we will plan for a time this summer that works for all involved. If you are interested, please email email@example.com by March 26. If you have already taken refuge and the precepts and wish to refresh your vows, you are also welcome and encouraged to participate.
About the Refuge Ceremony
Taking refuge means relying wholeheartedly on the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to inspire and guide us toward a constructive and beneficial direction in our lives. The real taking of refuge occurs deep in our hearts and isn’t dependent on doing or saying anything. Nevertheless, we may wish to participate in the refuge ceremony by requesting a dharma teacher to formally give us refuge. The refuge ceremony is simple: we repeat the passages after the teacher and open our hearts to make a strong connection with the Three Jewels.
About Taking Precepts
Precepts are a joy, not a burden. They aren’t designed to keep us from having a good time and to make us feel deprived. The purpose of taking precepts is to give us internal strength so that we won’t act in ways that we don’t want to. Having understood that killing, stealing, selfishness and so forth only lead us to harm ourselves and others now and in the future, we’ll want to avoid these. Taking precepts give us energy and strength to do so. Therefore, it’s said that precepts are the ornaments of the wise.
To help people overcome their disturbing attitudes and stop committing harmful actions, the Buddha set out five precepts. During the refuge ceremony, in addition to taking refuge in the Three Jewels, we can take any or all of the five precepts, and become a lay Buddhist.
The five precepts
1. I observe the precept of abstaining from the destruction of life.
2. I observe the precept of abstaining from taking that which is not given.
3. I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.
4. I observe the precept of abstaining from falsehood.
5. I observe the precept of abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.
The refrain “I observe the precept of abstaining from …” which begins every precept clearly shows that these are not commandments. They are instead codes of conduct that lay Buddhists undertake out of clear understanding and conviction that they are good for both themselves and for the world. If you have any questions about these precepts and what they mean to your everyday life, please inquire. (You aren’t expected to become a vegetarian unless you are already inclined in that direction. However, reflecting on and taking actions to reduce harm is at the heart of the first precept.)
Life is a balance of effort and letting go. This talk explores how we engage in our practice without over striving and find the sweet spot of the middle way.
This is a post I wrote in 2016, and it is just as pertinent now.
Hatred Will Never Let You Face the Beast in Man
Buddha taught us that we must cultivate compassion for all beings, without exception. This doesn’t mean that we stand by passively while people trample over us, compassion isn’t incompatible with firm boundaries that declare, “this is not ok.” But if we begin to justify holding hate in our hearts, we become no different from those we feel in opposition to. The Dalai Lama understood this, even as he was exiled from his homeland of China. And Albert Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”
Thich Nhat Hanh has been one of the most eloquent voices advocating that we always remember interconnection and that we love our enemies. Not that it’s an easy easy path. We have to overcome habitual tendencies to create the divisions that naturally arise out of fear.
Recommendation is a powerful poem in which Thich Nhat Hanh encourages compassion for all, without exception.
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
Even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
man is not our enemy.
The only thing worthy of you is compassion –
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.
This poem was written in 1965 in Vietnam for the School of Youth Social Service. This group rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. They worked with the Buddhist principles of non-violence. Thich Nhat Hahn was banned from his homeland in 1966. He has never become bitter or let hate fill his heart even as he became a great teacher for the world. If he had not had this heart of great compassion and interconnection, its doubtful he would have risen to the stature he has. His mind and heart were bigger than those who created division, destruction and war. May we all remember to keep love and compassion in our hearts, even in the most difficult times.