04-23 - Rebecca will give instructions before leading a guided meditation that settles into the practice of “just sitting”. The evening will feel a bit more like a mini-retreat and instead of the usual snacks and socializing we will do walking meditation through the break where everyone can stop by the restroom or to get some water followed by a period of Q&A. - a Zen Shikantaza experience. If you would like to send general feedback or share a reflection about your experience of Rebecca's upcoming teaching on April 23rd, you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is private and will not be shared publicly without your express written permission. Thank you.
Question: How can one “take on the suffering of the world” or practice “for the sake of all beings” without also inflating their own sense of self-importance? As profound as these practices are, they also seem like fodder for the ego.
Rebecca Li: As an antidote to the pernicious arrogance that gives rise to thoughts like “I’m doing something so selfless—aren’t I great?” we can practice gratitude for the opportunity to serve. In particular, we can be grateful for all of the causes and conditions that have made it possible for us to practice and to help other beings through our practice. Such causes and conditions might include the fact that our health, family, and financial situations are not so desperate that we cannot think of anyone else, or perhaps that had the opportunity to study with good teachers who inspire us to practice for the sake of all beings. We can also recognize the direct and indirect supports we continually receive from countless others who make our study and practice possible. In this way, we realize that we practice for the sake of all beings not because we are inherently better than others but because we have been the beneficiaries of all that has come together to make it possible for us to practice in this way. Practicing for all beings is one way we can repay those who love and support us.
Instead of believing we are such great people for helping others, we can thank all beings for allowing us to be of service.
Furthermore, we can practice gratitude for the opportunity to serve. Our desire to help does not obligate anyone else to accept that help. Without the willingness of others to open their hearts to receive us, we would not be able to offer of ourselves. We should also remember that, regardless of whether or not we are successful, our attempts to alleviate others’ suffering also alleviates our own suffering. When we turn our focus toward all beings, we cease in that moment from obsessing over our own difficulties. Instead of believing we are such great people for helping others, we can thank all beings for allowing us to be of service. By cultivating this attitude, we are less likely to succumb to ego-feeding self-importance.
It is gratifying to see someone’s suffering lessened through our efforts. The good feelings that result are encouraging and inspiring and can be useful for sustaining our practice on the path. If we maintain clear awareness of what arises in our minds from moment to moment, with patience and diligence, we can perceive the subtle shift that occurs when these good feelings start to turn into an inflated sense of pride in our own generosity. In such moments, if we can remember to be grateful, this sense of self-aggrandizement will dissolve on its own. This requires diligence. Just because thoughts of self-importance did not arise in the last moment does not mean we no longer need to be vigilant in this moment, or the next.
A gentle invitation to all -- BSBC Board meetings are open to all, and we welcome you to join us. You do not have to be a member of the sangha to attend a Board meeting, you only have to be a member to join the Board. Ask any Board member how to join, or feel free to email us at email@example.com for more information.
5/26/18 (Sat, 6 pm) to 6/3/18 (Sun, 10 am) Silent Illumination Retreat with Rebecca Li with one of Master Sheng Yen’s Dharma heirs, Dr. Simon Child. Detailed instructions will be given on this subtle method of Chan to investigate the mind, to really get to know ourselves, and to cultivate wisdom and compassion. Participants will also receive individualized instructions in private interviews. $585 (scholarships available; 3-day retreat experience needed) www.dharmadrumretreat.org
7/27/2018 - 7/29/2018 Rhinebeck, NY (Omega) Radical Acceptance - Pathway of Emotional Healing & Spiritual Freedom - Tara Brach shows you how to discover a sanctuary of wisdom and peace in your own awakened heart in this weekend meditation retreat. More https://www.eomega.org/workshops/radical-acceptance-1
8/10/18 (Fri, 6 pm) to 8/12/18 (Sun, 3 pm) Beginner’s Mind Retreat—If you are relatively new to the practice, this is a good first retreat although many experienced practitioners find the variety of practice activities helpful. Besides sitting, walking, moving and eating meditation, we will also be practicing in workshops ranging from the Art of Seeing to the Art of Communication to learn about how to bring our practice into daily life. $220 (scholarships available; no prior retreat experience needed) www.dharmadrumretreat.org
10/5/18 (Fri, 6 pm) to 10/10/18 (Wed, 10 am) Western Zen Retreat—Within the context of Chan meditation, participants will make use of a question to penetrate the mind to gain a deeper understanding of our habitual tendencies and patterns of thoughts and insights into the working of our mind. I will be co-leading this retreat with Simon Child and Fiona Nuttall from the UK. This retreat has limited spaces as each participant will receive lots of individual instructions in private interviews. Suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners. $350 (scholarships available; no prior retreat experience needed) www.dharmadrumretreat.org
If you have suggestions or comments to share with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is private and will not be shared publicly without your express written permission. We rely on your feedback to assist us with programming and planning for the sangha and events.
We hold board meetings regularly that are open to all who wish to attend. If you would like to attend a board meeting, please email us for information, or see one of our board members for details. If you would like to join as a board member, please ask us how.
We need your help! Yes - YOU :) Preparing the meeting place for meditation and discussion on Mondays takes effort and helping hands. The more hands, the less work! If you can come at 6:30pm, someone will show you what to do. The work itself is simple--but it needs to be done. We are deeply grateful for your support, thank you!
We Need Donations Every Week
We are deeply grateful for all donations (dana) received in our donation box in the lobby. The donations received pay rent for use of the facility, supplies used for Monday nights and events, dana for visiting teachers, and any sangha-related events or needs.
We collect and deliver donations to the Emergency Homeless Shelter. They are always in need of non-perishable food items, paper products, and gift cards. However, check out their Wish List if you want to give them what they currently need.
We also collect for the local pet shelter. They need pet food and pet supplies (doesn't need to be new).
Please drop off your donation in a box in the lobby and consider signing up to deliver the donation to the shelter.