Pali Language as a Pathway to Understanding Buddha’s Teachings

Online Interactive Course Taught by Jeffrey Samuels, Ph.D.
12 Week Course starting January 26
Thursdays, 7 – 8:30 p.m. 2017

Ever wonder what the Buddha really taught? Ever want to read and understand the Buddha’s sermons in their original Pali language? In January we will begin a Pali course that is designed specifically for students of Buddhism interested in reading Pali Buddhist texts. The course text that we will use for learning Pali grammar and vocabulary is focused on a wide range of Buddhist literature including sermons, verses from the Dhammapada, passages from the disciplinary texts, the Questions of King Milinda, and more. This challenging 12 week course will conclude with the completion of half of A New Course in Reading Pali, a book designed to have students reading a variety of Pali material.

This course is being offered online through video conferencing that enables a full classroom experience with teacher and group interaction. Each class lasts1.5 hours. The sessions will be recorded in case you need to miss one of the classes.

Course fee is $150 – $200 sliding scale, plus $20 for the book, which can be ordered online. Please pay at the highest level you can afford so we can accommodate those who need to pay less. A $50 deposit reserves your spot with the balance due by January 19. A scholarship spot is available in the case of financial need.

Jeffrey Samuels is Professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University. He received a Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from the University of Virginia in 2002. He has been teaching courses on Buddhism and Pali at WKU since 2001. He began meditating in 1987 under the Thai Forest monk Ajahn Buddhadasa. He has completed several long meditation retreats in Thailand under Mahasi Sayaadaw teachers as well as retreats in the U.S. under the Thai teacher Sobin S. Namto. Most recently he has been practicing with One Dharma Nashville and Lisa Ernst.

To pay by paypal, go here. To pay by check, instructions are here. Be sure to include your email address. For specific questions about the course, email jeffrey.samuels@wku.edu. For inquires about a scholarship rate, email onedharmaretreat@gmail.com. Please note that course refunds are not available after the payment deadline of January 19.

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Mindfulness and Lovingkindness in Huntsville

The Power of Presence: A Mindfulness and Lovingkindess Workshop
Saturday, March 14, 1 – 4 p.m.
Yoga Center of Huntsville
Led by Lisa Ernst

Learn to rest your heart and mind in ease and presence. We will tune in more fully to our present moment experience, drawing on the practices of mindfulness and lovingkindness. These transformational practices help us expand our capacity for well being, compassion and joy.

Suitable for beginning as well as more experienced meditators, the workshop will include instructions in mindfulness and lovingkindness practices, sitting and walking meditation and group discussion. Cost is $50 if registered by March 6. This workshop will be hosted by The Yoga Center of Huntsville.

Lisa Ernst is a meditation teacher, artist and founder of One Dharma Nashville. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. She has been meditating for over 25 years and leads classes and retreats nationally.

For more information or to register, call 256-533-7975

Mindful Photograhy Calendar Update

Our 2015 calendars have arrived and are available for pickup at our Monday meetings or they can be shipped for $5 extra. These calendars were created by Shelley Davis-Wise and the photos were all taken at our 2014 Mindful Photography Workshop. The calendars cost $20 each, make nice holiday gifts and are a great way to support One Dharma. Here are a few sample images:

Calendar MayCalendar

calendarFebruary

To purchase your calendars, you can pay by cash, check or paypal here through our donation page. Be sure to include $5 if you prefer to have the calendars shipped. For questions, email onedharmainfo@gmail.com.

Listening to Your Thoughts Like a Friend

Meditation teachers in the West rarely emphasize thought as a primary object of meditation, even though mindfulness of mental factors is the fourth foundation of mindfulness. There’s a reason for this – from the time we’re young children, many of us are taught to revere thought above all else. When we first come to meditation we may feel as though we’re lost in the rapids of thought, tumbling down a treacherous river with no escape. Initially, establishing awareness at the breath and sensations of the body helps to calm these rapids. But not entirely. The thoughts don’t and won’t stop.

So why not learn to listen to your thoughts like you listen to a good friend? This means bringing your full awareness, with kindness, to your internal dialog. From this perspective, listening practice translates well from hearing external sounds like bird song or passing cars to awareness of the tone and quality of your thoughts, not simply the content. The practice may sound simple, but it takes skill to listen without reacting, judging or getting caught again in those rapids.

We can categorize our thoughts as positive, negative or neutral, just as we can with feelings and sensations. This can help us dis-identify with the specific content of the thought so we can simply observe. Most of us spend a lot of time problem solving, strategizing and planning. Often this activity is necessary and useful. But at other times it diverts us from our present moment experience. Listening to thought can help us to discern when we are using thought to escape and when we are using it wisely.

How often are your thoughts angry, comparing or judgmental? How frequently do you carry on internal dialog with someone who has hurt you or made you angry, but you never verbalize those thoughts skillfully or resolve the conflict? What narratives do you cling to as undisputed truths about yourself or others that narrow your possibilities? As your awareness deepens, you may notice how often your thoughts support the mistaken belief that you are a fixed, separate self, at odds with the outside world. Though listening practice, you may also become aware when compassionate and generous thoughts arise from a sense of interconnection and find opportunities to cultivate more of these. Deep concentration, Samadhi, during meditation practice helps support our insights into interconnection, which we can then bring into our daily lives.

Through listening practice I have discovered that whenever I feel a strong sense of self and other, my thoughts tend toward self-clinging or judgment. When I feel an intuitive sense of interconnection, my mind naturally opens to a more compassionate way of thinking about my life and the world. I am able to listen from the heart and respond with kindness, rather than though old thought patterns that reinforce separation.

December Refuge and Precepts Ceremony

Once again this year, One Dharma will offer a Refuge and Precepts Ceremony  for committed practitioners. If you’re interested, 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.

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 society.

If you are interested or have questions, please contact ernst.lisa@gmail.com no later than November 17.

Basics of Meditation Three Week Course

Sponsored by One Dharma Nashville

Thursdays September 11, 18 and October 2, 2014

7 – 8:30 p.m.

Still Lake reflecting the clouds and sky.   - Lisa Ernst

Still Lake reflecting the clouds and sky.
– Lisa Ernst

This 3 week course is appropriate for beginners as well as more experienced meditators who want to refresh the fundamentals of their practice. In a step-by-step process you will learn the nuts and bolts of insight meditation and basic mindfulness practices. You will learn correct meditation approaches to insure an effective and ongoing practice. You will also learn to be more in touch with your body, emotions and mind through Buddhist mindfulness. This class will provide you with a supportive environment; there will be plenty of time for discussion and Q&A.

Led by senior meditators and One Dharma facilitators Michael Crowder and Patsy Cutillo, with guidance from founding teacher Lisa Ernst.

Course fee is $50 and can be paid through Paypal here.

For information, email onedharmainfo@gmail.com

True Nature, No Nature or Buddha Nature?

“The luminosity of the mind, the nature of clarity of the mind, is something that I cannot simply explain in words to you. But if you undertake this kind of experiment on your own, you will begin to understand.” – Dalai Lama

After practicing meditation for 25 years I rely less and less on words to describe the awakened state, such as “Buddha Nature” or “True Nature.” In reflecting on this, I find I’m not satisfied with any word that conjures up an idea of this unconditioned, unnameable experience. There is often some taint of fabrication that tends to accompany these names. That’s inevitable as its how language works: words and ideas mingle and no matter our best intentions, create an inevitable separation from our actual experience.

So what happens when you experience deep peace and interconnectedness, when you encounter incomparable clarity and luminosity? Usually the mind will quickly weigh in with names and labels or try to create a context for the experience. That’s what the mind does; it usually happens so fast we don’t even see it until the clarity and luminosity are obscured. This is actually a matter of capacity – when we first encounter this luminosity, it is so far from any previous experience we’ve had that our mind quickly veers into fabrication. Only after practicing for some time can we simply dwell in this unobstructed peace without trying to label or contextualize. Our capacity to abide without words or labels grows.

“If you’re primed to look for innate natures, you’ll tend to see innate natures, especially when you reach the luminous, non-dual stages of concentration called themeless, emptiness, and undirected. You’ll get stuck on whichever stage matches your assumptions about what your awakened nature is. But if you’re primed to look for the process of fabrication, you’ll see these stages as forms of fabrication, and this will enable you to deconstruct them, to pacify them, until you encounter the peace that’s not fabricated at all.” – Thanissaro Bhikkhu

The key is to be alert to the mind’s tendency to construct and conceptualize. This is another, more subtle stage of mindfulness, to see when we obscure our experience with ideas about Buddha nature or emptiness. As your practice deepens, you’ll begin to see how readily the mind creates names and fabrications, even for that which can’t be named or classified. The awareness will help you to release any clinging to words or explanations and abide in this mind, clear and luminous beyond words.

 

 

Dharma Talk: Suffering and Freedom From Suffering

This is a dharma talk I gave at One Dharma’s 2014 Spring Residential Retreat. I focucs on the First Noble Truth of Suffering and finding the way out of suffering. This talk is about 20 minutes in length.

Forgiveness Dharma Talk and Guided Meditation

This is a dharma talk and short guided meditation on Forgiveness I led at Nashville Insight this past November.

Dharma Talk on Forgiveness, and guided forgiveness meditation, recorded at Nashville Insight, November 13:

Guided Vipassana Meditation, recorded at Nashville Insight, November 13, 2013:

The Practice of Meditation

The practice of meditation is the study of what is going on. What is going on is very important.
– Thich Naht Hanh

Still Lake with Clouds Photography by Lisa Ernst

Still Lake with Clouds
Photography by Lisa Ernst