Winter Study Session at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community
Pine Gate is a meditation community practicing Engaged Buddhism inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama and Sulak Sivaraksa – great teachers for our present times. It has created an engaged expression for peace, social justice and planetary care, as the community is the nucleus of Friends for Peace Canada, which now has a page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/friendsforpeacecanada The coalition, with Pine Gate at the core, has created annual events to celebrate peace, social justice and planetary care. Fierce Light of Engaged Buddhism in practice. Pine Gate is also on Facebook – check it out and click “Like” if it appeals: https://www.facebook.com/pinegatesangha On YouTube there is a new Pine Gate Channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/pinegatesangha
I am the resident teacher at Pine Gate and founder of Friends for Peace. I now prefer to stay local to help move things just a little bit, so that good things continue to happen spontaneously in my home city of Ottawa, Canada. With lots of help along the path. I am a poet, scholar, peace and environmental activist. As a professor at Carleton University from 1970 to 2007 I taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Globalization and Consciousness – reflected in the 2008 book: Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves. As a meditation teacher I encourage people to find their true nature so that humanity and the world may be renewed. I have trained with masters in Buddhist, Vedic and Shamanic traditions.
Pine Gate, located in the west end of Ottawa, had very modest beginnings. Inaugurated in 1997 following my return from teaching meditation in India, early gatherings featured my wife Carolyn, me and our pets – Nikki the dog and Lady the cat. Since then the sangha has grown in numbers and depth. In the summer of 2001 major renovations took place to the lower level of our home. A new meditation hall emerged from the dust and knocked down walls – the Pine Gate Meditation Hall – named after Thich Nhat Hanh’s story in the book: The Stone Boy and Other Stories. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh provided a gift of calligraphy, naming The Pine Gate Meditation Hall. This now hangs on the wall for all to see. The new meditation hall has become a source of sanctuary for many friends,
There are regular meetings for meditation and study every Thursday evening from 7.00pm – 9.00pm. The first Saturday of every month has a Mindfulness Gathering from 5.00pm – 8.00pm for dharma and a mindful meal. Duong Sinh – Bamboo Stick Qi-gong classes, known as the Life Sustaining Way of the Heart, are offered in addition to regular qi-gong classes throughout the year. Potluck vegetarian suppers, Hikes, Sweat Lodges, Pilgrimages, Days of Mindfulness, and Meditation Retreats are organized on a regular basis. There are three seasons at Pine Gate – Fall Study Session from September to December: Winter Study Session from January to May; Lazy Days of Summer Session from July to August.
“Our engagement with society and the environment rests on our quality of being. When that quality is rooted in stillness there is a different ground for subsequent actions and so events take a different course. We simply go home to our true nature. We are very active in this way and bring harmony to those we interact with. The most significant interaction is with our true nature. To connect to its boundless quality in daily life, and then to connect to others and the world in the same way is surely the ticket to ride!”
In 2014 our program continues with the “Fully Alive” retreat by Pema Chodron as the main study of the Winter Study Session beginning on Thursday January 16, 2014, 7.00pm – 9.00pm. The Fall Study Session provided some deep and pithy dharma from Pema Chodron. It was interspersed with talks from me on Engaged Buddhism, Consciousness, Judgement, The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Be Alone and the Science of Mantra. Deep Relaxation with Carolyn and a Five Mindfulness Trainings Recitation rounded things out.
The Fully Alive retreat is on 2 DVD’s and totals 5 hours. We begin the Winter Session with Talk 4. The book – Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron – is the text. Folk are encouraged to get a copy – either from Singing Pebble or Serendipity bookstores in Ottawa. The second DVD and discussion sessions will be interspersed with the Buddha’s Foundation Teachings, plus important ceremonies such as a Tea Ceremony to stir the pot of dharma. The focus on the “Fully Alive” retreat addresses the difficult times we are in. Life sometimes seems like a roiling and turbulent river threatening to drown us. Why, in the face of that, shouldn’t we cling to the safety of the shore – to our comfortably familiar patterns and habits? Pema Chodron teaches: that kind of fear-based clinging leads only to greater suffering. In this recorded retreat, based on the program “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change” she provides a wealth of wisdom for learning to step right into the river, to be completely, fearlessly, present even in the hardest times, the most difficult situations. It’s the secret of being fully alive. When we learn to let go of our protective patterns and do that, we begin to see not only how much better it feels to live that way, but, as a wonderful side effect, we find that we begin to naturally and effectively reach out to others in care and support. The teachings and practices include:
1. A teaching – based on Native American prophecy – for cultivating the ability to take nothing personally.
2. A guided meditation for developing patience in the midst of irritation.
3. A curiosity practice to release your mind from old habits.
4. Tips for accessing your innate strength and confidence – simply by altering your posture.
5. Ways to make your practice the impetus for serving others.”
Meditation Guidance from Pema Chodron:
1. First of all – come into the present. Be aware of what is happening with you right now.
2. Be fully aware of your body, its energetic quality.
3. Be fully aware of your thoughts and emotions.
4. Feel your heart, place your hand on your heart. Accept yourself just as you are.
5. Go into the next moment w/o any agenda
6. Now deal with an incident that has hurt or alarmed you
7. Just be with the pain of it.
8. Ask yourself – am I going to dwell on who/what caused this suffering or am I going to take care of it?
9. Come back to the pain and just be with it
10. Ask yourself – who is running the show – all my fears, negative thoughts, blaming and judgements or the best that is in me?
11. Make a conscious choice – the best in me
12. Summon your resources of Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity – The Buddha’s Teachings on Love.
13. Come back and be with the pain
13. Place Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity in a practice – Walking Meditation, 4 Brahmaviharas Meditation, Touching the Earth etc
14. Come back to your heart – place your hand on your heart.
15. Breathe and smile.
For a glimpse – take a look at the video of the talk on Consciousness and Judgement: