Category Archives: Buddhism

Understanding Suffering

I turn to my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (Reconciliation: 2010: 64) to open a discussion on understanding suffering.

“Dealing with suffering is like handling a poisonous snake. We have to learn about the snake, and we ourselves have to grow stronger and more stable in order to handle it without hurting ourselves. At the end of this process, we will be ready to confront the snake. If we never confront it, one day it will surprise us and we will die of a snake bite. The pain we carry in the deep levels of our consciousness is similar. When it grows big and confronts us, there’s nothing we can do if we haven’t practiced becoming strong and stable in mindfulness. We should only invite our suffering up when we’re ready. Then, when it comes we can handle it. To transform our suffering, we don’t struggle with it or try to get rid of it. We simply bathe it in the light of our mindfulness.”

 

First we have to develop and nurture our mindfulness, which means waking up to the reality of our suffering that we would rather avoid. There are clear warning signals if we choose to pay attention. We get caught in our dramas and find ourselves telling and retelling our stories to whomever will listen. We also court our suffering and keep it alive. We often engage in a competitive aspect – my suffering is bigger than yours. The courtship of suffering can be an ugly romance for we enter into a co-dependent relationship, which has to be called by its true name – Addiction. Physiologically and emotionally we become so tightly tied into our suffering that we cannot be without it even though it is destroying our well being. We grasp at brief insights that “Yes – this is suffering” – but deal only with surface appearances. Yet the surface exposure has a long history of gathering momentum and energy until it actually surfaces. The small snake has become a monster. The addiction to suffering is now embedded in our mental state. We respond to any glimpse of suffering with such destructive emotion that we reinforce the causes and conditions that created the suffering in the first place. And so we continue shooting ourselves in the foot, torpedoing our lives – over and over again.

Our suffering is caused by abuse – emotional, physical and sexual – and it becomes an organizing template in our mind. We then create an abusive relationship with that template’s qualities – addiction; fear; co-dependency. To stop the cycle of harm we need an OMG moment. The insight that: OH MY GOD THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING ALL MY LIFE. HOW DO I STOP IT? That insight has to arrive in the mind before we can apply ourselves to developing mindfulness as an antidote to the abusive relationship established with our suffering. It is an awesome realization to penetrate the darkness and realize that the abuse you have suffered has created an abusive relationship with yourself. Mindfulness practice can bring the abusive relationship to a halt. This is the required OMG moment that propels you to get to work. To go backwards from the surface and investigate the causes and conditions that placed you in such suffering. And so we learn the practices, tools and concentrations that support this journey of understanding suffering and taking care of it. We break the cycle through re-training and mindfulness practice. We equip ourselves for a journey to be well that requires our determination to practice mindfulness daily and ensure that we take refuge in wise support.

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Ian is the resident teacher at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community. On Facebook search “Pine Gate Sangha” for program, discussions, events and humour.

The Australia Times Interview: Part Two

Interview with The Australia Times: Part Two

  1. You have a deep spiritual connection with Zen. How is your spiritual practice reflected in your poetry?

The focus on daily mindfulness from my Zen practice enables me to be still and clear. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge. I do my best not to write from a space of frustration or of wanting to get the writing finished. I wait until the energy of mindfulness is tangible – then creating the words and text becomes easy.

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2. What do you hope the reader will take away from your poetry?

The courage to believe that they can take steps to transform internally and then make a difference externally. The stories I tell in my poetry and books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. We can and must transform. The key to change this deep freeze is Awakening, a spiritual relationship with self and Mother Earth.  My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become different stewards of the earth and society. I’d like to consider Trailing Sky Six Feathers as the real life version of James Redfield’s best-selling fictional book The Celestine Prophecy. I have nine chapters – loaded with Insights and adventure, plus shamanic training over a period of three decades. Trailing Sky Six Feathers and Redemption are super unique, as they are drawn from my actual lived experience.  Reality based information is in high demand in today’s society, which provides the potential for my project to become a fresh, new icon for today’s hungry culture. Hungry, that is, for authentic transformation.

Front Cover Trailing Sky Six Feathers

3. In what ways has your writing changed you?

In a word – authenticity. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in between times to do research, edit and look for spelling mistakes and typos. When the energy is sparkling, the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others. It is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

Redemption front cover

4. As a peace activist, what do you consider the greatest challenge?

Organization and outreach. Here is an example:

Friends for Peace Canada started on a bitterly cold winter evening, as the Iraq war loomed. I received notice that a Peace Song Circle was happening on Parliament Hill. So I went, accompanied by my wife Carolyn and our dog. No-one else turned up. I remarked to Carolyn, “This is a good idea – it just needs to be organized.” She replied, “Let’s do it.” And so we did and created the nucleus for Friends for Peace Canada.  It quickly grew to a loose coalition of fifty organizations and we asked them to begin the peace process first of all within themselves, then to the community and the world.  Our mandate evolved so that we gave annual Peace Grants to local and international organizations making a real difference, as well as working in concert with other coalitions in the city for environmental and social justice issues.  I also decided at that time to concentrate my energy and efforts locally, feeling that these efforts could infuse global networks from the epicentre created here. I had received many invitations to be a global speaker and teacher, yet felt that a concentration on my home city of Ottawa was the primary focus. I responded to the many international invitations with a gracious decline. I was inspired to devote my time and energy to moving things just a little bit in my city, so that more good things could begin to happen spontaneously. As I soon discovered, there were many good friends across the city more than happy to make this possible.

We organized 5,000 participants at the Peace Song Circle on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, held on a miserably wet, cold spring day in 2003. A sea of multi-coloured umbrellas on a rain swept morning welcomed all those gathered. As other peace protests joined us and sang “All Within Me Peaceful,” the crowd covered the grounds of Canada’s seat of government, all meditating at the end in total silence as the rain poured down on our heads.  The pouring rain was strangely welcome, for it symbolized the tears of Iraqi children, my tears, your tears – transformed into hope through singing for peace with one another and experiencing deep peace.  There was a transformation of anger, anguish and violence into a determined clarity to be peace and to oppose war.  From there we know the wise actions to take.  Those who are waging war would do better if they knew better; but they don’t know better.

Every year since the relentless rain on Parliament Hill, the annual Friends for Peace Days have been memorable. We got rained and snowed on for several years on Parliament Hill, thunder and lightning at Alumni Park of Carleton University – before we moved inside to Jean Pigott Place in Ottawa City Hall. The response to this community activism has blown everyone away, as it went beyond any of our expectations!! The annual Friends for Peace Day is an awesome, diverse, unique Ottawa experience.  It is made possible by the generosity of volunteers and supporters and the diversity of Ottawa who show up to have a good time, be educated and inspired. The Friends for Peace Day creates an epicentre of intent and action – intense at times as people are moved to both tears and laughter. It is fun, poignant and direct. The intensity and joy ripples through the diversity – all generations, faiths and cultures in our northern city. The force of the epicentre roars through the community and activist tables, Muslim families, Asian groups, elders, young folk and the volunteers. The diversity of Ottawa gathers, listens, dances, laughs, cries – and takes home an unforgettable experience of hope and confidence. The family grows bigger each year. All Nations, All Traditions – A Circle of Friendship www.friendsforpeace.ca

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  1. What is your favourite quote?

Rumi’s wise words are most cogent: “Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.”

Books Available at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com  

Autographed Book – Order Through: http://www.ianprattis.com

Dharma from Pine Gate on YouTube

Sariputta’s Right View

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsYPbIfrsaM  In the opening dharma talk about the Noble Eightfold Path we learned about the dynamic nature of Right View and Sariputta’s Four Edible Nutriments. Edible Food and Sensory Food were discussed. We now come on to the Food of Volition/Craving and the Food of Consciousness. This establishes the formidable presence of Right View – not something that can really be taught, as the practitioner has to diligently practice Mindfulness and Concentration for Right View to trickle in. A matter of experience rather than intellect. Nothing survives w/o food – So Stop Feeding Your Demons!

Right Diligence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dyndaoFU68 The Four Principles of Right Diligence enable us to NOT add mental anguish to a situation that causes us to suffer. The Two Arrows Teaching (Sallatha Sutta) is pertinent. Takes care of our fragility and fosters a different response to negatives of life. Right Diligence is the practice of selective watering of seeds. Intelligent gardening in the mind. The work of Awakening.

Right Speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsYPbIfrsaM  If you cannot listen deeply then you cannot speak with compassion. You just create firebombs in the mouth and devastate relationships. Before Right Speech we must examine Right Thinking and look into Deep Listening before an understanding of Right Speech emerges. We must also be aware of the dynamic nature of Right View as it floods all other components of the Noble Eightfold Path. Right View is often Wrong View when it is based on attitudes and strongly held views that encase discrimination. It has to transform through Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration as the engine that changes attitudes and views into Insight.

Interview with A Shaman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO4CN12yo50  Tipi by the Rideau River on Carleton University campus in Ottawa. Interview with an Algonquin shaman. Smudging, journey and sharing while a solitary blue heron stood guard on a rock in the river, right next to the tipi.  awesome omen. For significance see: http://laurallongley.com/about/about-the-blue-heron/

Orgininally produced through the facilities of Carleton University on Line, www.cuol.ca

Transmission Ceremony with Thich Nhat Hanh

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_5bw_O0uBY Thich Nhat Hanh’s Lamp Transmission to Ian Prattis 2003 at Plum Village. Ian responds with a dharma talk on the Historical and Ultimate dimensions of reality, emphasizing the significance of silence. His Lamp gatha is: “Lotus Sutra sings, Dharma Rain penetrates, My Heart wide open.”

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Zen Practice at Pine Gate Thursday July 23, 7pm – 9pm

Zen Practice has a very practical nature – Chop Wood, Carry Water – and being aware of precisely doing it. The cultural origins from China and Japan do not necessarily travel well to western countries, so I have adapted the form somewhat and kept the essence. Total silence for three rounds of – sitting meditation, walking meditation, stretching meditation. We listen to the bell calling us back to our true selves for guidance, listen to our breathing and through the discipline of this practice we settle into a deep calm and harmony with everything around and within is.  That’s the plan.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Deep silence during three rounds of sitting meditation, walking meditation, then stretching meditation. The walking meditation will be outside. Listen to the murmur of the fountain, enjoy the plants as our feet follow the path – literally and actually – of the heart. Flagstones round the potatoes and bird feeders, past the beans, apple trees, herbs and cabbages. The silence deepens as we settle gently into the quality of our mind. Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do. The simplicity and elegance of silence. The cadence of sitting with breathing in and out, the flow of walking with breath – in and out, the joy of stretching with breath in and out. Then repeat the entire cadence three times. Planting seeds.

Fountain in Garden

Pot Luck Recipes at Pine Gate Mindfulness Community

Pine Gate has a mindfulness gathering every quarter of the year – March, June, September and December. Our cadre of chefs create awesome vegetarian dishes. Prior to the pot luck supper there is a dharma talk and discussion. The Five Contemplations in English and French are read out before we share in a sumptuous and nourishing meal. Here are some of the recipes.

(I should add that I do not qualify for the cadre of chefs,)

Cocoa-Banana Pie – sent in by Ute

Rice Crust

3/4 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

In food processor grind almonds until they resemble bread crumbs.

In a bowl, mix ground almonds, rice flour, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl mix oil with maple syrup.

Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Press into an oiled and floured 9 1/2 or 10 inch pie plate. Make sure rim comes up high.

Bake at 350 degrees F until lightly browned, approximately 25 minutes. Cool.

Filling

1 litre (4 cups) cocoa soy milk

1/4 cup agar flakes

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup arrowroot flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 bananas, or 3 cups sliced bananas

Bring soy milk and agar to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Reduce heat and simmer until agar is completely dissolved.

Mix arrowroot into the maple syrup; whisk it into simmering soy milk mixture until thick. It will thicken almost immediately. Remove from heat.

Allow to cool for 15-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice bananas into pie shell.

Stir vanilla extract into soy milk mixture, then pour it over the sliced bananas.

Allow to set in refrigerator for 2 -3 hours.

Serves 8 – 10

Recipe from the Green Door Restaurant Cookbook Vegetarian Cookbook.

Reproduced with permission from the Green Door Restaurant.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Lemon Asparagus from Ken

4 – 6 bunches asparagus

1 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

¼ cup olive oil

Parmesan cheese – optional

In a large mixing bowl, toss asparagus with lemon juice, lemon zest, oil and pepper.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.  Once marinated, preheat oven to 350 F.  Pour asparagus and marinade onto aluminum foil coated cookie sheet.  Cook for fifteen minutes or until tender.

(Also great cooked on barbecue wrapped in aluminum foil).

Lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese after cooking.

Millet and Bean Casserole (Lasagna) from Carolyn

The ingredient quantities are approximate – you can add more or less of anything. The amounts below make a very large lasagna casserole.

Beans – I use dry beans, but you can use canned beans also which are easier and quicker:

1 cup of dry beans – you can use any kind or a mixture

(I use  1/3 cup of dry pinto beans

1/3 cup of dry black turtle beans

1/3 baby lima beans)

Soak beans overnight, drain, and cook according to package.

Lentils:

3/4  cup dry green lentils -cook according to package

(I cook them about 10 minutes less than required as they cook more when baked)

Millet:

3/4  cup dry millet – cook according to package

(Again, I undercook it as it will soak up juice when baked)

Vegetables:

1 medium onion, diced

1 -2 cups of mixed vegetables – carrots, mushrooms, peppers, corn, celery – whatever you like.

Saute onion and mixed vegetables in a bit of olive oil until soft.

Add whatever spices you like.  I use lots of basil, oregano, cayenne pepper.

When cooked, combine everything into a very large casserole dish.

Mix in a large can of tomato sauce – I often put in some stewed tomatoes also

Mix in a cup or so of shredded cheese – I like to use a mixture of mozzarella, romano, guyere.

Bake  350 for about 30 minutes.  Then add a thick layer of cheese and bake another 10 minutes.

Pot Luck at Pine Gate (2)

Touching the Earth

Touching the Earth Ceremony at Pine Gate Thursday April 2, 7.00pm – 9.00pm

Details below. The ceremony provides a safe environment for releasing the “hooks” from ancestors – genetic, spiritual and land. We choose to retain the virtuous, noble seeds passed on to us, but direct all abusive, negative seeds to pass from our consciousness into the Earth, where they will be composted.

TOUCHING THE EARTH CEREMONY

This practice connects you in a loving way with both the positive and negative aspects of all your ancestors – biological, spiritual and land.  “I see that my ancestors suffered, and their suffering spilled over to others including me.  With this steady acceptance I am ready to transform the suffering and to cultivate the positive virtues of my ancestors in my daily life.”

1.Blood Ancestors
Pain/Suffering may be strong with this contact especially if there was parental abuse/neglect – so also think of parents/ancestors as 5 yr old children – innocent and who also suffered, rather than just as persons who may have caused us deep harm.
2. Spiritual Ancestors
Perhaps those who taught us in our spiritual tradition made mistakes, discriminated, abused us and were not able to transmit the teachings well or did not live up to their calling.  Allow this to pass through and retain the positive qualities of Buddha, Jesus.
3. Land Ancestors
Those who built our homes, hospitals, the original inhabitants in tune with mother nature.  People who offered refuge for peoples of other countries.  Present friends who work so hard to preserve the Earth. Also acknowledge bigotry, racism and cruelty passed on to us that we choose to release from our consciousness.

Retaining the positive qualities from these three roots fills us up with love and wholesome qualities.
1. Extend this energy first of all to those we love – including ourselves.
2. Last step is tricky – extend our wholesome, loving energy to those who have caused us harm or are difficult to be with.  This really makes our hearts more spacious.
3. Each person’s experience will be different.  Truth is in our own experience, not in duplicating the experience of others.  Provides a doorway to reconnect/ fill up with love/ forgive and understand.
4. Part of a timeless flow of life, connect to the no birth no death nature of yourself.  In the Touchings of the Earth we use our body to touch the Ultimate Dimension, to touch the ground of our being, to touch Nirvana and to heal and transform
5. We renew ourselves because we renew Buddhism, for we are applying the Diamond Sutra, The Discourse on Right View and the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.  In this exercise the teachings of the Buddha come alive in us as experience.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Local and Global

I have been musing about this topic, particularly reflecting on the annual Ottawa Friends for Peace Day – now in its 13th year. See my blog on community activism: https://ianprattis.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/community-activism-at-work-in-ottawa/

I realized 15 years ago, when I founded Friends for Peace as the engaged arm of Pine Gate, that I was making a conscious choice to focus my energy and work on the local, my home city of Ottawa.  My focus was on mindfulness in schools, city environment, youth at risk and other local causes. On reflection I am astonished by the results – more true to say “blown away.” For at the local level there was continuity with great folk who helped make things happen.  There is now a two week Peace Festival in Ottawa that precedes the Friends for Peace Day – which is the final bookend of the Festival.  It has grown in ever increasing concentric circles. All have adopted some form of the Friends for Peace mandate – peace, planetary care and social justice. The foundation of mindfulness at Pine Gate trickles through the 50 some organizations we partner with.  All spontaneously brought about – no intention to do so.

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At the same time I realize why I have resisted the pull and lure to go global.  There are folks who do this very well, some are good and some not so much – yet I decided to stay local so that deep powerful roots were put down that could well serve as a global example for other localities.  I offered a gracious decline to the many opportunities to travel and teach globally, as I felt that was not the arena that would make the difference I wished to see. There have been people from many cities around Canada and the world who accessed the Guidelines on the website www.friendsforpeace.ca  Of course the local and global inter-are, yet for me there was a conscious decision to place my energy at the local level, knowing full well that it would trickle through to the global. There is certainly a global aspect to our activities in terms of the projects actively supported elsewhere. Each year Friends for Peace presents Peace Awards to Canadian citizens who have devoted their lives to securing peace, planetary care and social justice.  That’s the mandate at www.friendsforpeace.ca  Past recipients include Grandfather William Commanda, Michael Monner and Tone Magazine, Marion Dewar, Max Keeping, David Smith, Irwin Cotler, Elizabeth May, Douglas Cardinal, Bruce Cockburn, Maha Rath Sam, Jack Layton and many others since our first Celebrate Peace Day in 2003.

Jack Layton with Dalai Lama

The funds raised from the day are used to issue Peace Grants to organizations, in Ottawa and internationally, that are making a real difference. Current projects in the city supported by Friends for Peace are the Multi-Faith Housing Initiative of Ottawa’s Interfaith Council, the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, Child Haven International, and Peace Camp Ottawa, which brings Palestinian and Israeli teens together.  This is in addition to supporting the Physicians for Global Survival initiative to expand the mandate of the Canadian War Museum to include the creation of a culture of peace.  In Africa, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation, the Congo Education and Schools project plus the Morungatuny Resettlement Program in Northern Uganda are also supported. In India a school, orphanage and medical centre was supported at the Ram Yoga Centre north of New Delhi. The major planetary care project was the campaign to make the Dumoine River watershed a protected conservation park. Friends for Peace also co-operates with other groups in Ottawa for the annual Ottawa River clean-up.  In particular we have supported youth organizations to burst on to the local scene.

For instance Orkidstra – www.leadingnotefoundation.org  – established in September 2007 gives children from under-served communities the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and sing in a choir. They are creating a quiet social revolution in the city. The Dandelion Dance Company – www.hannahbeach.com/dandelion – an Ottawa based youth dance theatre company explores social issues through movement. Their repertoire is driven by the experiences, reflections and passion of young women who range in age from ages 13 to 19, and include children’s rights, hunger, authenticity, bullying, stereotypes and inclusiveness. Both youth organizations perform regularly at the Friends for Peace Day.

The drive is to foster a strong cadre of people in the locality of Ottawa who can make a difference.  I talked about this when introducing the film “Fierce Light” to Pine Gate Mindfulness Community.  The film is pretty good but somewhat lacking in that it does not make clear that activism without spiritual depth and mindfulness soon runs out of steam. The activists burn out and become overwhelmed. The place to develop such depth of mindfulness is the local community and the continuity of inter-connecting with our partners across the city. And then noticing the many changes and transformation.

I remember the sage Krishnamurti – a true globalist – being in tears in San Francisco when he realized that his audience for the nth time were still asking the same questions – not having moved an inch from where they were the first time he spoke to them. I also wonder just how much our great teachers move the global sangha from where they were ten years ago. They certainly provide impact, yet that diminishes without a local energy focus to take the experience deeper.

I will reflect further on this – just giving you a heads up.

LET GO OR BE DRAGGED!

                                                         

I presented the Sutra on The Better Way to Live Alone to the Pine Gate Mindfulness Community on our First Saturday Mindfulness gathering in February 2015.

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

I really like the brevity and impact of this sutra. After reading it out to the sangha I used a series of quotes from elsewhere to get the sangha juices flowing.  I began the dharma talk with my favorite fridge magnet – LET GO OR BE DRAGGED – and then moved on to the quotes, which were read aloud by different sangha members. The discussion was illuminating with poignant and direct reflections on experience. I introduced Right View and the Eightfold Path into the conversation. Once Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration spark the engine of Right View so that views transform into insights, then there is a cascade of insight from Right View pouring into all thinking, speaking and action – the rest of the Eightfold Path. When our tired old stories prevail and do not transform into insights, then we have wrong views cascading through thinking, speaking and action. And that ensures the presence of suffering.

This eighteen line sutra is immense, as it contains the essence of the Buddha’s teachings about not getting imprisoned by past, future and present circumstances. They are all enslaving ghosts until we cultivate sufficient attention from the present moment. The key lines for me are:

“Do not pursue the past.

Do not lose yourself in the future.

The past no longer is.

The future has yet to come.

Looking deeply at life as it is

In the very here and now

The practitioner dwells

In stability and freedom.”

Buddha Picture

I also felt that Osho really nailed it in the first quote. I found this way of presenting the material to be novel and useful.

Quotes

There is a teaching on “The Better Way to Live Alone” which defines “living alone” to be the experience of having one’s mind free of thoughts about the past and future, but is instead focused on the “present moment.”  But I can live physically alone but not be alone at all. If my mind is full of memories of the past and thoughts of the future, I can live physically alone but not be alone at all. If my mind is full of memories of the past and thoughts of the future, I can live physically alone while dialoguing with the deceased, reliving a past conversation or some painful (or joyful) incident or experience. Or I can be mentally rehearsing or imagining some future conversation, some future event.

All of which is the antithesis of “living alone” if I am lost in these thoughts. On the other hand If I am aware and watchful of these thoughts, realizing I am having these thoughts in the present moment, then I am truly “living alone” – even if I am living with 100 other beings. And this leads me to my own “deepest core” of who I am. If I know this, I have the capacity to love

  • Osho

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.

  • Henry David Thoreau

Happiness and suffering are dependent upon your mind, upon your interpretation. They do not come from outside, from others. All of your happiness and all of you suffering are created by you, by your own mind.

  • Kyabje Thubten Zopa Rinpoche

My Manifesto: My body and mind are not individual entities that I can do anything I like with – such as filling them with drugs, alcohol, hateful attitudes and violence.  My body and mind exist for future generations therefore I must be aware of what I put into them.  We must also exercise care and responsibility over what we allow into the minds and bodies of our children, to prevent murders from happening in our schools.  Furthermore, this care and responsibility is to prevent young people turning their consumption of violence in on themselves – in the form of suicide.  So we say NO to our children consuming violence through movies, video games, internet and hate concerts. At the same time we say NO to ourselves at engaging in violent and toxic interactions with them.  We must take steps to fill the ethical void, give our children the benefits of our full presence and learn to listen deeply to them so that positive steps are taken to eliminate murders taking place in our schools.

  • Ian Prattis

Some Recent Dharma at Pine Gate

First Saturday Mindfulness Gathering February 7, 2015

“The Better Way to Live Alone.”  Your homework is to study this interpretation by Osho, and do a reality check on your streams of habitual thought.

“There is a teaching on “The Better Way to Live Alone” which defines “living alone” to be the experience of having one’s mind free of thoughts about the past and future, but is instead focused on the “present moment.”  But I can live physically alone but not be alone at all. If my mind is full of memories of the past and thoughts of the future, I can live physically alone but not be alone at all. If my mind is full of memories of the past and thoughts of the future, I can live physically alone while dialoguing with the deceased, reliving a past conversation or some painful (or joyful) incident or experience. Or I can be mentally rehearsing or imagining some future conversation, some future event.

All of which is the antithesis of “living alone” if I am lost in these thoughts. On the other hand If I am aware and watchful of these thoughts, realizing I am having these thoughts in the present moment, then I am truly “living alone” – even if I am living with 100 other beings. And this leads me to my own “deepest core” of who I am. If I know this, I have the capacity to love.”

–        Osho

Pine Gate Meditation Hall

 

This Moment Heals All Moments, Thursday Jan 29 & Thursday Feb 5, 2015

Crises of History require a similar response – be mature, present, steady and above all – do the necessary internal work. Develop “impermanence” and “signlessness.” The Buddha provides instruments, practices and teachings to get there. As do the Wisdom of the Elders. We cannot tame the mouth until we have tamed the mind. We cannot adapt to Climate Change until we change our mindset. Put into reality the Art of Deep Listening and find the way to be present with our consumption. Are we even aware of the toxins pouring through our senses OR are we trapped by self-absorption and distraction? Need to Let Go Big Time – organic gardening in the mind. Listen to the Ocean – Universal Consciousness.

 

Putting Foundation Teachings into Action, Thursday, January 22, 2015 .

The last two weeks provided a review of Buddhist foundation teachings. What do we do with them now? Come out on Thursday February 22 to see how the foundation teachings have been placed in education, medical care, social services. And ask why not in government, business, police, community. This evening is about turning the Dharma Wheel of Action.  Mindfulness and Concentration provide the insights for Right View, which then guides Thinking, Speaking and Action. The why and how of making the Noble Eightfold path alive in everyday life.

Thay Bowing (2)

Pine Gate Volume 14, Issue 1: Winter 2015

…….is a blockbuster, in a new format created by Br. Yves. It is in blog form on Word Press to encourage feedback and interaction. Each article is a blog from Article 1: Sacred Moments through to Article 16: About Pine Gate. A different navigation process but well worth the while.  A deep bow of gratitude to Yves and all the contributors.

Go to: http://pinegate.wordpress.com/pine-gate-newsletter-volume-14-issue-1-winter-2015/

2014 New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, December 31, 2014

You are invited to the most meaningful New Year’s Eve party in town. On New Year’s Eve there is a special tradition at Pine Gate.  We welcome the new year of 2015 with a recitation of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. This is a complete map of ethics to navigate the difficult times we are in. The trainings are a guiding light to pierce through the darkness that threatens humanity and the planet. How do we choose to behave towards one another when things begin to collapse? Will we be steady and generous or think only of ourselves?  Pine Gate’s response is –  ” Enter The Bodhisattva. ”  There is homework – write down all you wish to move on from and what do you wish to move to. Then whoosh it into the fire with community support to make it so!

Date:  Wednesday December 31, 2013

Time: 9.00pm – midnight

Place: Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Purpose: Ethical Dance for 2015

Program: Gather at 9.00pm, Recitation Ceremony 9.30pm, 11.00pm snacks and whooshing homework into the fire, mid-night Auld Lang Syne with fake champagne.

Righteous Anger, November 8, 2014 at Fish Lake Sangha, Orlando

Righteous Anger: Gaza and Israel. All such conflicts require the active and intentional cultivation of Zen Mind. Chop Wood, Carry Water motif to navigate the pitfalls of hatred, distraction, violence, past wounds. We deal with the fundamental pollution – in the human mind. Making the world better requires that we make our minds better. The task is to make our thinking better – stop running around so we are seen to be doing good. Navigate more skillfully. The Four Brahmaviharas meditation a good tool. All children’s songs an effective antidote. Chop Wood, Carry Water – stillness and clarity.

A recent protest in Antigonish, N.S. supporting Gaza produced yelling hate, violence and anger. There was a woman standing apart with a list in one hand and purple chalk in her other hand. She was carefully and quietly writing down on the edge of the sidewalk of Main Street, Antigonish, N.S. the names and ages of every child killed in the Gaza bombardment.  Question: Which protest do you think had the most impact?

Collapse and the Bodhisattva, November 1, 2014 at Fish lake Sangha, Orlando

Breakdown of Industrial Growth Society. Staring into the abyss. No limits, no maturity. Newton, CT massacre and gun control, pre-adult males with mental illness – the Carry Movement and “ammosexuality.” Immaturity – NOT defense of 2nd amendment rights.

STOP; RE-ASSESS; ENTER THE BODHISATTVA – NOW. Interbeing, non-discrimination. No Time To Lose. Shantideva’s unwavering encouragement from the 8th century. Buddha Mind. “Ego” is very disappointed with Awakening – so let us all disappoint the ego.  Heed the Hopi Prophecy of 2008.

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Zen Practice at Pine Gate, October 23, 2014

Zen Practice has a very practical nature – Chop Wood, Carry Water – and being aware of precisely doing it. The cultural origins from China and Japan do not necessarily travel well to western countries, so I have adapted the form somewhat and kept the essence. Total silence for three rounds of – sitting meditation, walking meditation, stretching meditation. We listen to the bell calling us back to our true selves for guidance, listen to our breathing and through the disciplne of this practice we settle into a deep calm and harmony with everything around and within is.  The deep silence during three rounds of sitting meditation, walking meditation, then stretching meditation. The silence deepens as we settle gently into the quality of our mind. Nowhere to Go, Nothing to Do. The simplicity and elegance of silence. The cadence of sitting with breathing in and out, the flow of walking with breath – in and out, the joy of stretching with breath in and out. Then repeat the entire cadence three times. Planting seeds.

The Dharma and the Sangha October 16, 2014

The Dharma And The Sangha begins with the conditions leading to the Buddha’s first dharma talk and the intention to offer the dharma through appropriate vessels that are skilfull instruments to guide understanding – with a clear emphasis that the Raft is not the Shore.  The talk ends with a story about levels of deep listening inspired by an adventure Ian and his son experienced in the drug underworld of Glasgow, Scotland.  In between, a tapestry unfolds of skilfully creating sanghas as the masterpiece of your life in the manner of the Buddha, so that we may touch the original artist of the masterpiece through sangha building.  The emphasis is on creating sangha cornerstones and the concrete example of Pine Gate Sangha and Friends for Peace in Ottawa is a reference point for activism based on sangha cornerstones.

New Year Celebration at Pine Gate, Wednesday December 31, 2014

The most meaningful New Year’s Eve party in town at Pine Gate this Wednesday with a special tradition, which is the pinnacle of our yearly cycle.

Date:  Wednesday December 31, 2013

Time: 9.00pm – midnight

Place: Pine Gate Meditation Hall

Purpose: Ethical Dance for 2015

Program: Gather at 9.00pm, Recitation Ceremony 9.30pm, 11.00pm snacks and whooshing homework into the fire, mid-night Auld Lang Syne with fake champagne.

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The brash new year of 2015 meets the presence of the Bodhisattva revealed through a recitation of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. This is a complete map of ethics to navigate the difficult times we are in. The trainings are a guiding light to pierce through the darkness that threatens humanity and the planet. How do we choose to behave towards one another when things begin to collapse? Will we be steady and generous or think only of ourselves?  Pine Gate’s response is –  ” Enter The Bodhisattva. ”  There is homework – write down all you wish to move on from and what do you wish to move to. Then whoosh it into the fire with community support to make it so!

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

The Buddha practiced Socially Engaged Buddhism giving dharma talks to people in society.  His first dharma talk emphasized the Four Noble Truths, the Middle Way and the Engaged Nature of mindfulness practice.  He formulated the Five Wonderful Precepts for lay practitioners, which evolved into the Five Mindfulness Trainings. In 4th Century AD in India the Brahma-Net Sutra was created.  It was known as the “Moral Code of the Bodhisattvas.”  It was translated by the Indian monk, Kumarajiva, into Chinese during the 4th century AD and contained 3 groups of precepts:

  1. Do not what is evil (Do not create suffering)
  2. Do what is good (Do wholesome actions)
  3. Do good for others (Help all sentient beings, be of benefit to all sentient beings)

Contained within the Brahma-Net Sutra are the10 major precepts of wholesomeness and 48 minor precepts.  This was practiced in China, Vietnam, Japan and Korea as an early expression of Socially Engaged Buddhism

In 14th century Vietnam, the Bamboo Forest Master (formerly King Than Nhan Tong from 1258 – 1308), went from village to village teaching the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the 10 Wholesome Precepts derived from 4th century India, strongly influenced by the Brahma-Net sutra and the Buddha’s initial dharma talk. In the 20th century, Socially Engaged Buddhism was renewed in Vietnam and extended to the West.  Thich Nhat Hanh ordained the first 6 members of the Order of Interbeing in February, 1966 .  The 14 Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing contain the 5 Mindfulness Trainings, the Noble Eightfold Path and are a renewal of the earlier Bodhisattva Precepts.  Thay brought them up to date to be in tune with our times, in step with modern historical, socio-economic and cultural developments yet resting on the foundation provided by the Buddha and 4th century expressions of socially engaged Buddhism.  They are Thay’s gift and guidance to mindfulness practitioners.