Author: smcblog

What is Awakening?

Shambhala Mountain Center is delighted to welcome Tina Rasmussen back to the Land this fall.  We invite you to get to know Tina a bit as she provides an overview of her upcoming September 2021 program, What is Awakening – Four Practices rooted in Tradition, Confirmed by Neuroscience. Tina Rasmussen, Ph.D., began meditating at age 13, and has practiced in the Theravada and Tibetan Buddhist traditions for 30+ years. In 2003, she completed a year-long solo retreat, and was later ordained as a Buddhist nun and authorized to teach by Ven. Pa Auk Sayadaw. Tina has been studied by Yale Neuroscience Lab, and is the co-author of Practicing the Jhanas, as well as several other books on human potential. Tina works with students worldwide. Tina will be leading What is Awakening – Four Practices rooted in Tradition, Confirmed by Neuroscience at Shambhala Mountain Center, September 2–7, 2021. An overview of how awakening is understood across wisdom traditions is provided, misconceptions are clarified, and participants tune into their own “flame for awakening.” The program includes individual and group interviews with the …

The Nature and Purpose of Śamatha

// by B. Alan Wallace Buddhist inquiry into the natural world proceeds from a radically different point of departure than western science, and its methods differ correspondingly. Early pioneers of the scientific revolution, including Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, expressed an initial interest in the nature of physical objects most far removed from human subjectivity: such issues as the relative motions of the sun and earth, the surface of the moon, and the revolutions of the planets. And a central principle of scientific naturalism is the pure objectification of the natural world, free of any contamination of subjectivity. This principle of objectivism demands that science deals with empirical facts testable by empirical methods entailing testability by third-person means; and such facts must, therefore, be public rather than private, which is to say, they must be accessible to more than one observer. Another aspect of this principle is that scientific knowledge — paradigmatically knowledge of astronomy and physics — must be epistemically objective, which is to say, observer-independent. A profound limitation of this ideal is that it …

Bardo of Becoming

// by Andrew Holecek If you are well trained, your first after-death experience will be the luminous bardo of dharmata. If you’re unfamiliar with the subtle states of mind revealed in this bardo, it will flash by in an instant, or be completely missed. Those who have practiced the meditations that facilitate recognition will reap the rewards, and attain liberation at the level of the dharmakaya or sambhogakaya. Without this preparation, most of us will wake up in the karmic bardo of becoming. For nearly everyone, the first experience after regaining consciousness is a sense of being in their own body. Even though the mind is without a body at this point, the habit (karma) of being embodied is so strong that it continues. You feel like your old self, and don’t know you are dead. Since this bardo is ruled by the winds of karma, the experiences are particularly fickle. These “winds” are not literal winds, of course, but a metaphor for how we are blown around by the power of karma. Because we …

Suffering Effectively: Reflections on the First Noble Truth

/// By David Chernikoff  I first heard the phrase effective suffering from meditation teacher Shinzen Young, who used it in a story he told about the renowned Christian contemplative Thomas Merton. 1  Merton lived quite a bohemian life before he converted to Catholicism and then entered one of the church’s strictest and most ascetic monastic orders. When he was asked about his decision and the suffering that such a lifestyle involves, Merton said that he didn’t become a Trappist monk so that he would suffer more than other people but that he wanted to learn to suffer more effectively.  I found the idea of effective suffering quite off-putting at first. “Who in the world wants to suffer?” I asked myself. “Let alone effectively, whatever that means.” When I looked deeply at the phrase and spent time reflecting upon it, however, I recalled a number of similar teachings I’d heard from other teachers I greatly respect. Ajahn Chah, the great Thai forest master, said “There are two kinds of suffering: the suffering that leads to more …

Walking into Quiet

By Tim Gallati // We may not know it, but we have a well-established history with environmental noise. From 6th century Buddhist scriptures lamenting “the ten noises in a great city” to a desperate plea for quiet scribbled on a wall in ancient Pompeii, environmental noise has troubled us for millennia.* Today, environmental noise is pervasive. High volume noise like the blare of car horns in city traffic, the roar of airplanes overhead, a neighbor’s loud music vibrating in the walls; lower volume noise like the pulsating tones of data centers, the high crackled buzzing of electric wires. Environmental noise takes a toll on our bodies. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 1 million years of healthy human life are lost each year from traffic noise in Europe. Long term exposure to noise increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cognitive impairment, anxiety, hearing loss and tinnitus, and sleep disturbances. Can we develop a healing relationship with sound in a noisy world? One can begin by seeking out a quiet place with less noise. Developing a relationship with quiet gives our bodies a break from processing environmental noise. We experience relief …

Peace

By Katharine Kaufman // This morning, right after the sun, I scraped ice off windshield and drove East, past black cows, brown horses, corn and oil fields, into the small town of Mead. A huge decoration says, Peace on Earth. Deflated plastic Santa and reindeer lie on the ground. We lie on the floor, rest our arms over heads and breathe. After class students give me cards and thin-lined journals, a candle, and a small home-sewn bag of lavender. ~ Last night I watched the black and white film, Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón.  After credits roll down the page (like tears) in the bottom right corner of the screen, are the words, Shanti, shanti, shanti. ~ When Acharya signed his book and handed it back to me I asked for the translation. The first shanti is to the unseen forces, the second to one’s neighbors and village, and the last, the softest, is to oneself. ~ Compassion is complicated. It takes doing something. Being empathetic breaks my heart. Peace is simple. I put down my …

Self-Compassion ‘Is’ Self-Protection: A Guided Practice

By Ann Saffi Biasetti // The word self-protection may feel elusive and hard to wrap our mind around as it is not something we may think of often. Self-care, yes, but self-protection, not so much. However, whenever I teach about self-compassion I make sure to define self-compassion as self-protection because that is really what it is. Consider that with all the research done on self-compassion, the thing we know the most is that it helps to soften and soothe a self-critical moment. The question, “How would you treat a friend?” is the question used most often in the conceptual teaching of self-compassion. Understanding it through the door of being a friend to yourself and treating yourself in a kinder way is the first step. However, it is important to take the practice further and deepen our understanding of it. When we deepen our understanding of self-compassion, we come to understand that through treating ourselves with more kindness we are really practicing a critical form of safety and protection. When we soothe a self-critical moment, we …

Communication is the Key to Happiness

In this video, meditation master Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche, a meditation master in the Nyingma lineage of the Buddhist tradition, discusses how communication is a true foundation to happiness.  His humor, wisdom and brilliance shine as he suggests that we be reasonable, gentle and realistic in our attempts at creating happiness. Next month (in the virtual realm of online programming)  Shambhala Mountain Center warmly welcomes  Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche as he draws on teachings from The Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions by the great Dzogchen master Longchenpa to provide guidance on six strengths we can develop so that whether we have difficult conditions or good conditions, whether we live in a city or an isolated place, no matter what, we can live every day with dignity, strength, and fearlessness. We invite you to join Rinpoche for a FREE Friday Night Dharma Talk on June 4th, 2021 @ 6:00 p.m. MDT Of course, you may join from any time zone. Learn more and register:  ONLINE • Six Strengths for Living in a Challenging World About the Teacher: Orgyen Chowang …

Post Pandemic Possibilities for Educators 

by Rona Wilensky,  PassageWorks Institute // When our country shut down in March 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19, probably no profession, excepting frontline health workers, experienced the challenge more than educators.  The overnight switch to virtual teaching was compounded by 14 months of continuous changes in how and when teaching would take place.  If this wasn’t enough, educators faced the additional dilemmas of teaching students in the face of multiple police killings of Black people, political discord, and increasing natural catastrophes arising from climate change.   The result is that, as this school year winds down, most educators are on their absolute last nerve.  Teaching has always been stressful.  Too much to do and too little time and support to do it.  Overwork and underpay.  Enormous responsibilities, but almost no authority.  And a political environment that expects educators to solve the myriad problems created by our country’s unwillingness to address social, economic and racial inequality.  But this last year has taken stress levels over the top and it has morphed into actual job burnout …