Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vipassana Adventures

Last night I decided it was time to meet some new Dharma friends so I headed off in the direction of the local Vipassana group. I have felt pulled in the direction of some of the Bon teachings and other Tibetan traditions since leaving the Zen Sangha I sat with but there are limited choices on this small island. Last night I put on my adventurer's hat and went to see what was up.

And what did I find? A lovely physical setting at the beautiful Stowel Lake Farm and a warm and welcoming Sangha and teacher. The Gatehouse was shrouded in fog. A small Thai looking Buddha statue sat beside the teaching chair in the large timber frame room.

I loved the Dharma talk that made all us humans sound just a little crazy in how we conduct our lives. It went like this: We don't like discomfort or pain or what we deem negative situations. We love things that are pleasant and make us happy. Even though we know everything is constantly moving and changing we spend a lot of our energy trying to make everything pleasant for ourselves. No bad stuff please, just straight up, heading for happy, bountiful, feel good, positive all the time.

This is not news to most practitioners but how hard do we really look at it when we're in the midst of it? Sometimes what we know and what we do are 2 different things. And she pointed out that we use a lot of energy doing this. We create a lot of internal stress running this little program of bring in the good, throw out the bad. Truly being with what is, even if it is not pleasant uses a lot less energy. This is not to say we never take action, but it's the constant vying for control of our world, trying to make everything comfortable and perfect that is the problem, the energy sink hole.

She read a few passages from Andrew Olendzki's new book, "Unlimiting Mind". I liked his description of equating grasping with the ego. When we are simply with what's happening, enjoying a sunset, being out in nature, there is no ego, just presence. The moment we want something to be a certain way, to have a certain thing, ego arises. It is the "I" that wants.

It was a lovely little 40 minute sit with a focus on attending to the sensations of the body and environment rounded out with an inspiring Dharma talk. With the limited sitting groups on the island, this might just be a good place to hang my hat for a while. Am I cheating on my true spiritual inclinations (grounds for divorce??) Am I going with the easy choice? Time will tell if I get tangled in my own spiritual web. But I have to say I love keeping company with Dharma friends and there is a great energy from sitting with a group. And in the grand scheme of things, it's all Dharma.


  1. Beautiful photo! I'm all for "following the Heart" (the true "I"/true mind/true nature. We all need to publish our glossaries of meaning) :) As you said, "it's all Dharma", and each of us needs to hear it in the way we can receive it, in a way that nourishes the Heart, which seems to change over time... It sounds like you have maybe found that place where your Heart-"I" feels at home...where you can be who you are, and be fed...where your Heart purrs :) C A nice place to be...

  2. I too follow Buddhist teachings to an extent and I spent a number of years studying and meditating in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Chogyam Trungpa. This was on Cape Cod. Now I am in New Hampshire with miles and miles to drive to any sangha. I agree so much with what you say about finding folks of like mind. I do so long for this. Glad you found a new place to sit and be. Suki

  3. Does this mean that you're changing your name to "Vipassanadotstudio"?
    Also, Sangha is Sangha and Buddha is Buddha, too; Grand scheme-wise.
    Sounds like you're settling into your new home. Best wishes!

  4. MeANderi - Glad you agree that "it's all dharma" And yes to follow the heart!

    sukipoet - i suspected there was some Buddhist sentiments in that 100 peace card project with the little prayer flags! So nice to meet you! Did you sit with the Shambhala group?

    Helmut - love that Vipassanadotstudio, doesn't have the quite the same ring does it? And yes, Buddha is Buddha! Thanks for the kind wishes.

  5. Thank you dear...beautiful attempt..keep writing is waiting for your gifted beautiful thoughts... keep moving.. i too started a blog just to express my views.. when u get time please go through my blog and please leave a comment .. i can learn many things from people like u ....

    may the god shower his blessings through you to the world outside

    with love...

  6. Yes I sat with the group for a number of years.