Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends, People, and Ideas

Tag: meditation

Bodh Gaya

A poem about the life of the Blessed One. By Tom Donovan

Bodhi Tree by Maranda Russell

It is a place and nothing more,
No different to behold despite particulars
Than any village in the district.
Still it is here,
In the public park,
Under the pipal tree,
On my mat of kusa grass,
I have apprehended the sorrow
Of myself and of all people,
And have understood the Unforgiving Law,
Seen the bleached and desolate fullness of it,
The devouring hungry emptiness of Craving.

And it is here that Mara has come to me,
In his fever to tempt my mind from its new way,
And I wonder that this bloated demon
Has not seen these wide eyes,
Which bid men open up their view,
To see between the dead habits of the Brahmin,
And the living folly of the poor Samana,
Between their expansion and reduction,
Between the cruel formal and the cruel nil,
Straight to Chanda,
The line through vain desire,
Through the irrelevant beginnings and ends of things,
The acceptance of the ambiguous and the unanswerable.

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Flying Mindfully by Air France

We had been flying to Madrid from Hong Kong with a layover in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. The purpose of our journey was to attend the conference “1st World Encounter Teresian Mysticism and Interreligious Dialogue: Theravada Buddhism and Teresian Mysticism – Meditation and Contemplation Pathways to Peace,” which was held from 27–30 July at the International Centre of Teresian and Sanjuanist Studies of the University of Mysticism in Avila, Spain.

As with many other airlines, Air France seats have a TV screen attached to the back of all seats, and I was browsing through the program for some in-flight entertainment. Although as a monastic, searching for entertainment might go against my conventional spiritual practice, this habit of searching for movies and songs helped me to relax, apart from meditating.

But this time I was astonished to see a clip that invited us to discover the benefits of mindfulness meditation practice via the mind app program. The program consists of twelve guided mindfulness meditations – six for children and six for adults – with corresponding videos for concentration and serenity onboard long-haul flights.

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Global Travels, Local Practice

This month I am far from my birth home in Montana and my adoptive home in Seattle. I am in China, currently in a monastery outside of Ningbo called “Golden Mountain.” As I told a friend recently when discussing my travels, there is a saying, attributed to Native American wisdom, that a person should not travel further in a day than a horse can carry them. That is, humans are not just spiritual creatures or social creatures, but also local and geographical creatures. We are not just intellects, but bodies, intimately connected to our physical space.

How precious and how liberating it is to really know a place, to know what to expect around each corner, the ebbs and flows of each time of day, the norms and customs, the currencies and laws. How equally demanding and perhaps frightening to be a stranger in a strange land. There is a wonder, no doubt, in being in new places. But this wonder must be born of a security and comfort in one’s body. To explore the globe, one must know one’s self, one’s body.

So here, in my room in the very early hours of a Saturday morning, I meditate.

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Digging in as a Meditation Teacher and Practitioner

Justin Whitaker

These are very peculiar times that we are living in. Growing up in a rural Rocky Mountain state in the U.S., it is easy to say that I’ve just been out of touch with the world. But I ask, and keep asking people, “what do you think of this world we live in now?”

The answer, time and again, is that it’s peculiar. From my conversations with seniors to college students, it is clear that what we are seeing now is not normal.

During election night, Nov 8, 2016, I was teaching a mindfulness class in a yoga studio in Helena, Montana. A student or two might have been missing, but the vast majority of them were there, sitting in an hour of silence and instruction while the world around them was glued to TVs and computer screens watching election results come in. I mentioned this in our class that night: we were going “against the stream” of society by simply sitting still and examining our thoughts. We turned inward while the world turned outward.

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Musings on Mindfulness and Metta

Graham Lock

Last December, I took part in an 8-day metta meditation retreat at the Hong Kong Insight Meditation Society’s meditation centre at Fa Hong Monastery on Lantau Island.

The retreat was led by Visu Teoh, an experienced and well-respected teacher of vipassana and metta meditation based in Penang, and well known in Hong Kong as one of the Hong Kong Insight Meditation Society’s main teachers. The retreat was organised by Peta McCauley and others of the Hong Kong Mindfulness Teachers Network and intended primarily for teachers of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Many of the participants in fact turned out to be students on MBSR and MBCT courses at the Hong Kong Centre for Mindfulness.

I am not myself a teacher of mindfulness but I am of course aware of the enormous growth in popularity of MBSR and MBCT courses, not to mention the many far less rigorous mindfulness “products” on the market. I am also aware of the reservations some Buddhist teachers have expressed about them. As is well known, at least among Buddhists, the kinds of mindfulness practices taught on such courses developed from sati practices as introduced to the West by people like Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, and further popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others.

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Craig Lewis

“Why are we such tortured human beings, with tears in our eyes and false laughter on our lips?

If you could walk alone among those hills or in the woods or along the long, white, bleached sands, in that solitude you would know what meditation is. The ecstasy of solitude comes when you are not frightened to be alone, no longer belonging to the world or attached to anything.

Then, like that dawn that came up this morning, it comes silently, and makes a golden path in the very stillness, which was at the beginning, which is now, and which will be always there.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Images © Craig Lewis, new light dreams

Wagging the Tail at Digital Dilemmas


Kelvin River. From Panoramio

Kelvin River. From Panoramio

Last week I had a Skype call with Raymond Lam, Buddhistdoor’s senior writer, to discuss my new blogging venture. At some point I mentioned that I have trouble attracting interest for some of my courses. He replied that Facebook is now what the telephone and email have been in previous decades: if you don’t use it you are off the radar. He wasn’t the first person to stress the importance of social media for promoting one’s work, but something about his youthful, calm and confident presence, sitting there with this headphones in his sun-filled office in Hong Kong, tipped me into action.

Someone actually had already set up a Facebook page for me about a year ago, but I lacked confidence and conviction to use it. I mentioned the issue to my peer-coaching partner in Bangkok, Kanya Likanasudh, and she, bless her, taught me how to use Facebook via screen sharing in zoom. “And you need more friends!” she said.

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Encounters with Dharma

Craig Lewis


Nestled peacefully on the side of a valley, beneath the looming icy majesty of Minya Konka (Gongga Shan), known locally as the “King of Sichuan Mountains,” lies Konka Gompa, a small Tibetan monastery wreathed in shifting clouds.

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Walking on the Path

Sherri Maxwell

Sherri picI had several beginnings in studying/committing my mind to Buddhism (since 1997) and exploring what that phrase meant, but had not found my way until I landed in Hong Kong. I was on the underground/metro/MTR and saw amongst a homogenous sea of Asians a bald, Caucasian man dressed in Tibetan-style robes—a monk—with an eagle tattoo on his arm. Being from New York, I was immediately drawn to him. My concern in living in Hong Kong was that I could not learn Buddhism there, being so close to China, and so asked him if there was a place to learn. He promptly pulled out his Palm Pilot and, with a couple of taps with his stylus, told me where and when there was a teaching.

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On Alan Wallace

Graham Lock

Graham picOver the last few years I have participated in a number of retreats, ranging from two months to a few days. And I have developed some pretty firm views on what is most useful to me and is what least useful to me. On my list of ‘least useful’ comes the dharma talk. Often I have found the hour or so each day customarily devoted to listening to a lecture from the teacher to be at best a good opportunity to cultivate patience. Such talks tend either to repeat stuff I have heard many times before, or to overload me with information unnecessary for doing the practices the retreat is focused on. Guided meditations also often do not work for me.

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