Check Out One Dharma’s New Website

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

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Our New Meditation Space

Here are some photos of One Dharma’s new Nashville meditation space. Its spacious, serene and quiet. We also love the raised ceiling and skylight. If you live in or near Nashville and haven’t come by yet, please come see the space in person and join us for meditation. We meet Mondays, 7 – 8:30 p.m. Directions and additional info here.

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Low light for meditation.

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Mostly Smooth Sailing

Every retreat has its own flavor for its participants, both individually and collectively. Our Spring Renewal retreat was mostly smooth sailing with a dedicated and focused group of practitioners. After Thursday’s hard afternoon rains most participants were able to arrive in time for our 7 p.m. meditation.  For the rest of the retreat we enjoyed sunny, although somewhat chilly spring weather.

At our previous retreat, the site still needed cleaning when we arrived and a few of us pitched in to insure the facilities were ready. This time, to our great appreciation, the camp manager spared no effort in assuring we arrived to spotless facilities. At this retreat people really wanted to sit — usually most everyone was in place a good five minutes before each session’s start time. I had the feeling that some would have happily stayed on for additional practice days, schedule permitting.

Self-compassion is vital during the early hours and days of meditation retreats, when participants are adjusting to the silence and intentional lack of external distraction. Often people feel that they are alone in their struggles, possibly doing it wrong, even imagining that others are swimming through the hours with joy and ease. “Comparing mind” rears up and leads to self-criticism and even self-loathing for some. At this vital point, learning to extend compassion to all parts of ourselves, especially the broken, pained and imperfect, can soften the heart and mind enough to accommodate our immediate experience. Then the resistance begins to ease, just as Buddha taught. This allows us to settle into the practice, to truly appreciate this moment just as it is.

Some people struggled a bit with the walking mediation, which is pretty normal at Vipassana style retreats. Walking slowly yet going nowhere for 30+ minutes at a time feels awkward and counterintuitive to some, especially at first.  Without a target, a specific destination, people have to let go and rest their attention only on their immediate surroundings along with the movement of their bodies, one foot and one breath at a time. It is a deep and profound practice once the restlessness and resistance is gone. Concentrated walking meditation can reveal deep glimpses into interconnectedness and no-self. Some people are more naturally attuned to sitting and it may take patience and time for them to appreciate the walking practice. For those who prefer Zen style line walking, we always include one session of this practice in the evenings.

Meditation retreats may challenge us in ways we have never imagined; yet they can also open us to extended periods of joy and ease. Retreats can reveal glimpses and even deep insights into the unlimited and boundless nature of true mind that is our birthright, that is always here and ready for us to receive whenever our minds and hearts are fully present.

Altar Flowers by Frankie Fachilla

Altar Buddha by Frankie Fachilla

Walking Path at Bethany Hills by Frankie Fachilla

Walking Path at Bethany Hills by Frankie Fachilla

Early morning light at Bethany Hills by Lisa Ernst

Early morning light at Bethany Hills by Lisa Ernst

Reflection by Lisa Ernst

Reflect 2 by Lisa Ernst

December Refuge Ceremony and The Five Precepts

Last year One Dharma held a Refuge and Precepts Ceremony for dharma practitioners who wanted to formally take the vows and reflect their commitment to the Buddhist path. We will be offering this opportunity again in December. Generally, at least one year of Buddhist practice experience is recommended before taking the precepts, although there are exceptions. Here is some general information:

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. The ceremony also “officially” makes us a Buddhist.

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, indeed, ethical codes of conduct that lay Buddhists willingly undertake out of clear understanding and conviction that they are good for both themselves and for society.

If you are interested or have questions, please contact ernst.lisa@gmail.com. For planning purposes, I’ll need to hear from you by November 8. If you’d like to see photos from last year, click on this link.

Rocks and Mind Ripples

What do you notice when you throw a rock into a lake? Most likely you see the ripples created on the surface. The rock is usually obscured by the water itself. The deeper the lake, the murkier the water it is, with nothing visible beyond those surface ripples. Our minds resemble the lake in this way: we usually only see the surface disruption when life throws us a rock. What happened? The rock is present, but obscured by the murkiness of our mind ripples. We miss the rock sinking into our hearts or even deeper into our guts.

This is where our practice serves us well. We need to bring our attention to where the rock has settled inside and let it rest there.  Take a few deep breaths and steady your mind. Gradually the ripples will begin to subside and not pull your attention away.  As you feel how the rock sits in you body, it may seem foreign and uncomfortable, like something you need to remove. But as you remain present, you will begin to see that, like the lake, you have the capacity to accommodate many rocks.  The heart/mind is vast and wide. Rocks won’t destroy you. Gradually they settle into the ground and become part of the terrain.  Like rocks at the bottom of a lake, they  strengthen the foundation of your very being.