Uposatha Day: Buddhism and the Full Moon


Full Moon July

 

Many traditions celebrate the Full Moon. One that many people don’t know about is Buddhism.

For a buddhist, the day of the Full Moon is one of the days to practice the five (in some traditions it is eight) precepts. Siddhartha Gautama, the “original” Buddha, was born on a full moon day, renunciated worldly pleasures on a full moon day, became enlightened on a full moon day, and delivered his first sermon was on a full moon day. He also left behind his physical human form on a full moon day.

All over the world, Buddhist monastics and laypersons alike take this day to observe the Five Precepts and deepen their practice. You can give it a go, also. The Five Precepts are:

1. Not causing harm to other beings

2. Not taking the ungiven

3. Refraining from sexual misconduct

4. Refraining from incorrect speech

5. Refraining from intoxicants which lead to carelessness

The days to practice this are known as Uposatha days, and of course there is a sutta based on it. You can find audio and transcript of the Uposatha Sutta here.

Practice takes one step at a time. Even if you only practice on Uposatha days, that is a start. One breath a day is still meditation; one observance of the precepts is still observance of the precepts. If the intent is pure, the practices will become easier to implement in day to day life. As I always say, “You have to start somewhere.”

May your practice benefit all beings _/|\_ Many full moon blessings to all of you. Namaste.

Ashram Reopening Party Guided Meditation


Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us here today. Let us begin with a short guided meditation.

I will give instructions in stages of experience so you can follow along and do what feels right. If any instructions are unattainable today, that is okay. Listen to your body and your breath; it knows best.

To begin, take a nice deep breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Begin to find a comfortable position, whether seated or lying down.

If seated: legs crossed, or feet flat on the floor, or kneeling. If lying down: legs extended straight or knees propped up slightly, feet hip width apart or further.

If seated: make sure your pelvis is tilted slightly forward until you get a small curve in your back. You may need to sit on something so your knees are below your hips.

Whether seated or lying: pull your shoulders up to your ears and then slide them together down your back until you feel your chest widen.

If seated: Lean back until your shoulders are directly over your hips. Drop your chin slightly until you feel a softening in your throat. Keeping this, move your head backwards in space until your ears are over your shoulders. Place the back of your left hand on top of your right palm and touch your thumbs together so your hands make an oval shape.

Take a deep breath, pulling the air all the way down your spine and into your hips. Make any adjustments needed to sit comfortably.

Another deep breath in, this time exhale it out loudly. Do this two more times.

On your next exhale, soften as if melting from the crown of your head down your body. Soften the muscles of your forehead…soften your jaw…soften your neck…soften your chest…soften your shoulders and arms…soften your belly…soften your hips and pelvis…soften all the muscles in your legs and knees…soften your hands and feet.

Soften any effort. Allow yourself to feel any sensations.

Breathe in, breathe out…softness…

Take a nice slow breath and on your next inhale count one. Exhale count two. Inhale one. Exhale two. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for one minute

Notice if there is any tightness or holding, especially in your jaw, between your shoulders, or anywhere you feel a bit stuck. Take a breath into that area, and soften.

// pause for one minute

If you’d like more, count inhale one, exhale two, inhale three, exhale four…all the way to ten, and begin again. If you get lost, that’s alright, just begin again from one. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for two cycles

Again, check in to see if there is any tightness or holding. Inhale for space, exhale release. No judgment, come back to the practice.

// pause for two cycles

If you’d like more, slow it down. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. Etc. to ten, and begin again. Keep counting on your own.

// pause for two cycles

Begin to let go of this counting practice and just witness your breath again. No commentary, just breath.

// pause for thirty seconds

Some days are more difficult to get settled than others. There is no shame. Your practice is your own, so give yourself what you need. Soften anywhere there is tension. You have all the air and space you need.

// pause for three minutes

Begin to come back to your body.

Feel the chair or the floor beneath you.

// pause for ten seconds

Feel the clothing against your skin.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice if there is anywhere that can soften even more.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice any sensations in the feet. Notice any sensations in the hands.

// pause for twenty seconds

Notice if there are any smells or tastes.

// pause for thirty seconds

Notice if there are any sounds.

// pause for thirty seconds

Slowly begin to deepen your breath. Pull the air all the way through your body to bring small movements back into your fingers and toes.

Bring a small smile to your lips.

Take a really deep breath, filling up everything inside, and exhale it out loudly.

You may bring your hands to anjali moodra or prayer position in front of your chest. You may bow your head towards your hands, and thank yourself for this practice.

May all beings everywhere come to realize happiness, and the roots of happiness. May all beings everywhere be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all beings everywhere experience equanimity, peace, and wellbeing.

Slowly lower your hands and raise your head. As you begin to open your eyes, just notice how you’re feeling.

Thank you for practicing today, and all days. May you bring this practice in to everything you do. Namaste. I bow respectfully to each and every one of you.

 

Ashram Reopening Party Speech


Hello my friends! It has been much too long. I am happy to announce that the Citta Bhavana Ashram of SL reopened today, Tuesday June 27! You can catch a ride here.

Below is a copy of the opening address I have given. In a separate post, you will find a copy of the short guided meditation.

**

Welcome, my friends. It sure has been a while since we’ve gathered together! It is an absolute pleasure to welcome you all to the new Citta Bhavana Ashram.

Some of you may be returning, while others are new. If you are returning, you may recognize many of the hosts, musicians, and others offering their time and wisdom through this ashram. However, for all of you, this location is new. I have to extend a very warm thank you to the owner of the land, Xandria Drake, for providing us a place to be. We wouldn’t be here today without her.

This ashram closed in the fall of 2015. It’s hard to believe that was almost two years ago already! A lot of change has occurred in that time, both in SL and otherwise, and both personally and universally.

Growth occurs constantly. With every breath we take, every passing moment, every event in our lives and every time there is seemingly nothing happening, change is occurring. It is through necessity that this change is growth. Nothing becomes less than it is. Even at death, what is there only changes, it doesn’t leave.

So, though the ashram closed, the people we met here and the parts of ourselves that we learned more about remained. Hopefully, those parts have also grown, and the relationships have expanded and strengthened, and hopefully we can all come together to share what we’ve learned since then.

With the return of the ashram, the hope is not to take away from any of the other venues or offerings in SL. We recognize that there are many amazing places you can call home and find community and wisdom. We are merely another layer to this already rich world.

SL has been a big part of my life for many years. It is here that I’ve gained some of the deepest relationships I have, with people I never would have met if it wasn’t for SL. This is what I’m looking to provide here; a space to learn from each other in a supportive and caring environment. A nurturing community.

The name of the ashram is Citta Bhavana, meaning ‘cultivating heart/mind.’ Bhavana on it’s own means ‘spiritual cultivation.’ All the events here are organized to support this inner growth in some way or other, whether it’s through meditation, yoga, discussions, dances, music, ritual etc. Our hosts and guests come from many traditions around the world, and are not limited to one path or another. Instead, we believe that all paths are useful and that each person will find meaning in different perspectives. All things offered here invite you to examine your self and those around you rather than telling you how things should be.

At this ashram we ask you to invite into your life what you want to share with others as well as yourself. It is through positive, intentional action that we are able to change our perspectives and lessen our suffering. I strongly feel that as a community, we can provide the support and friendship that we all wish for along our journey. And, because of our amazing diversity, there may be something for everyone.

The current events we are offering are listed in a notecard on the wooden message board you can see by the stage. More events will be announced and added to the note as time goes on.

But one of the new offerings that I’d like to say a little about is what I call “listening hours”. Every Monday at noon SLT I will be in the office of the ashram, on the upper floor of the main building. If anyone would like to talk with someone who has no judgment, an open heart, and is here just to listen, I’ll be available. Everything you say will be completely confidential and will not be copied or repeated anywhere. If you’d like to talk outside of the designated listening hours, you are more than welcome to contact me and we can set something up.

If you are a host, artist or musician, or would like to contribute to the ashram in another way, please contact me and we can organize something. You don’t have to be a professional or have years of experience to offer something positive to the community; you only have to be you.

Now, Sunshine will be playing some wonderful tunes for us for the next little while, but please also feel free to explore at any time. There is a library; a zen garden; an onsen; various places for yoga, tai chi and meditation; and many places to sit and relax on your own or with friends or loved ones.

Once again, thank you all so much for your renewed support and interest. You are welcome to come use this space whenever you like, and for as long as you like.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu…May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all. Namaste _/\_ Thank you.

Ashram Weekly Newsletter Jun 15-21


Namaste, friends! Please see below a list of Citta Bhavana Ashram events this coming week. If you would like to host an event at the ashram, please contact Chraeloos Resident.

All events are subject to change. Events may be added or changed with short notice. You may join the subscribo at any of our invite stations in-world, join the group ‘Creativity; Karma’, or keep an eye on our calendar for more current information:

http://cittabhavanaashramsl.blogspot.com/p/calendar.html

~~Updates~~

Wayne will be away this week so his talk on Wednesday at 10amSLT will be postponed until next week, June 24.

Dar is returning with metta meditation Wednesdays at 11amSLT.

Dani from Inspiration Island will be presenting on the first Thursday of each month an Introduction to Mantra Meditation. Beginning in July!

~~Upcoming Events~~

☯ What? Awareness Intensive w/Chrae

When? Monday @ 10amSLT

Where? Ashram Indoor Meditation Circle

􀀈http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Allure/22/30/22

Event in voice and text. Week 7 of 8. Join us even if you haven’t been able to before!

☯ What? Talk with Tseten Thokmey, topic TBD

When? Tuesday @ 4pmSLT

Where? Ashram Indoor Meditation Circle

􀀉http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Allure/22/30/22

Event in voice with notes available.

☯ What? Metta Meditation with Dar

When? Wednesday @ 11amSLT

Where? Ashram Outdoor Meditation Tree

􀀋http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Allure/171/54/22

Event in voice and text.

☯ What? Interfaith Prayer Circle with Peter Newtone

When? Wednesday @ 6pmSLT

Where? Ashram Indoor Meditation Circle

􀀌􀀉http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Allure/22/30/22

Event in voice and text.

☯ What? Yoga and Discussion w/ Chrae

When? Friday @ 10amSLT

Where? Ashram Yoga

􀀎http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Allure/23/66/22

Event in voice and text.

~~~~~~~

I look forward to seeing you around! Namaste, my friends, and big hugs to you all! ♥

Looking to keep in touch outside the grid? Went to a discussion and wanted the notes or links? Check out our blog and facebook page:

http://cittabhavanaashramsl.blogspot.com/

http://www.facebook.com/creativitykarma

♥ The Ashram Team

Sutra Study: Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4 Verse 1-23


Since it’s been so long between posts, I’ll start with a short introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. This book is a document of a conversation between Krishna (an avatar of one of the trinity of Hindu gods) and Arjuna. They are standing between Arjuna’s army and his cousins’ army, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. This battle did in fact take place, but these days the Bhagavad Gita is used more as a metaphor for the inner battle we all experience. It is a primary teaching of the yoga lineage, and is referenced in many different schools of Indian thought.

Chapter one introduced the characters and scene. Chapter two was the basic teachings of non attachment and self-realization. Chapter three was about karma, or action. And now Chapter four we will begin, is about wisdom.

Krishna begins off this chapter by reiterating the knowledge shared in chapter three about karma (action) and acting from a selfless place without attachment to results of your actions. In chapter four, verse one, he tells Arjuna: “I taught this path of yoga to the sun-god Vivasvan, and Vivasvan taught it to his son Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu taught his son Ikshvaku, the King of this planet and forefather of the Raghu dynasty.”

If you are familiar with the history and mythology, you may recognize that this shows a true lineage of leaders. Vivasvan, as the sun-god, rules all the planets by providing heat and light. Manu, the father of mankind, is also the father of Ikshvaku. Iksvaku was King of this planet (Earth). So there is a direct line to humanity of this deep teaching. This all occurred in the second yuga (age, era) – the Treta-yuga – of Hindu cosmology, which lasted 1,296,000 years. We currently live in the fourth yuga – the Kali Yuga, which is thought by some to last 432,000 years, though other durations have been suggested. There are only four yugas, and we cycle through them endlessly.

Though, despite his effort to keep this knowledge abundant, Krishna continues in verse 2 with, “I taught it to them in the attempt of keeping it in a strong lineage of eminent sages, but through time the practice of yoga was lost in the world.”

This may be referring to the caste system, as it is the job of sages and kings to maintain this level of knowledge and devotion in their people. Though, it was also thought that they would keep the teachings more pure than someone who was out to benefit themselves rather than the whole.

Krishna finishes the intro with verse three: “I have given you this knowledge today because you are my friend and devotee, so I know you will understand the transcendental nature of this teaching.”

Remember, in this story, Krishna and Arjuna grew up together, so Krishna knows Arjuna’s worthiness and ability to understand.

Arjuna responds in verse four, “Krishna, you were born long after Vivasvat. How can you have taught him this yoga in the beginning?”

So here begins the teachings of this chapter.

“(Verse 5) Each of us have passed through many births, Arjuna. You cannot remember, but I remember them all. (Verse 6) My true being is unborn and changeless. I am the Lord who dwells in every creature. Through my own illusion, I appear in every millennium.”

Well, this verse has been translated so many ways, both dualistic and non dualistic. “Illusion” here was originally “maya,” which can be seen as a veil covering what is true but not separate from it (non duality), or an avatar-like manifestation of the divine in the simple human world as the humans are unable to see the true nature (dualistic). Surely, there are other interpretations and translations, too, but this may help you see how just one word can cause such a divide.

Verse 7: Whenever there is a decline in dharma (duty, path) and the true purpose of life is forgotten, I manifest myself on earth.” Verse 8: “I am born again in every age to protect the good, destroy evil, and to reestablish dharma.” (paraphrased from Eknath Easwaran)

This is where a lot of us might get put off. We are being asked to believe in reincarnation, and the ability of the divine to directly interact with our lives. But, if this is the case for you, I ask you to consider this on a level of personal experience. In every new year, every new time of our lives, we find something inside or outside ourselves that keeps us going. New struggles come up, new obstacles, and yet we persevere. Why? Because there is something we know to be true that guides us in the right direction. Whenever a text gets a little heady or transcendental, I like to think of all the layers it applies to. Especially in Eastern traditions, the macro is mirrored in the micro, and vice versa, so all things that may seem very large can be understood on smaller levels first.

Verse 9 has many different translations as well depending on the school of thought. I will directly quote two different translations that certainly speak differently. Easwaran: “Those who know me as their own divine Self break through the belief that they are the body and are not reborn as separate creatures. Such a one, Arjuna, is united with me.” Prabhupada: “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”

You can see quite clearly how the first translation is more nondual, and the second is very dualistic. So, take what you will of this one, as it will mean many things to many people. Please feel free to share your personal beliefs/interpretations in the comments!

This speaks to the atman/Brahman idea. Atman is the true self, Brahman is the universal consciousness/god/etc. In nonduality the atman and brahman are the same, atman being like a wave in the ocean – not separate, though appearing to be. In dualism, they are in fact separate.

So the first quote is speaking to the fact that though the body and conditions surrounding it may appear separate, one who realizes their sameness will be liberated from the cycle of rebirth. One who realizes that the divine energy/figure/etc is in everything and not ever separate from the whole.

Verse 10: “Removed from selfish attachment, fear and anger, being fully aware of me and being purified by that knowledge, many have reached a state of unity with me.”

Once you achieve all the things that Krishna has taught so far, you will be able to be united with the divine, in whatever form you feel it is. Traditionally, this would be in the form of not being reborn, which, as we have discussed before, was a good thing as being reborn meant redeath, which was suffering. So to stop being reborn is something we all should wish to achieve, as we are then united with the whole (non duality) or with God (duality).

Verse 11 has Krishna saying: “All who approach, will be received. All paths lead to me, Arjuna.” I’m quite sure this is self explanatory.

Verse 12: “Those who desire success in their actions worship the gods; through action in the world of mortals, their desires are quickly fulfilled.” (paraphrase from Easwaran)

This one took me a while to understand. And perhaps I still don’t, so your input would also be fantastic. I think it is saying that those who see the bigger picture and act from that place will find fulfillment. By “bigger picture” I mean, not striving to ‘worship’ those humans who are in power, such as government officials, etc, with the hopes of attaining something more “rewarding” in this life, such as a higher status socially – but to act from a place of worship for that which is bigger than us. What are your thoughts?

Verse 13 is a bit controversial these days, but let’s see if we can take it as a grain of sand, “Because of the material laws of nature (gunas), the four castes exist. These distinctions have come from me, but I am not of them. I am their cause, but I am changeless and beyond action.”

When this text was written, the fifth caste – untouchables – which are so controversial now, was not in place yet. So Krishna is simply saying that the way in which we live, with our actions having consequences on a very human scale, does not affect him. He is beyond all of that as he is everything. The divine is part of everything, and therefore beyond action.

Verse 14 reads, “There is no work that affects me because I am not attached to the results of actions. Those who come to understand this and practice this will be free from karma.” Verse 15 follows with: “Even in ancient times, those who knew this truth engaged in action. You, too, can engage in action – pursuing an active life in the manner of the ancient sages.”

Karma here is “the fruits of actions” – the effects that need to play out from every action we take, and typically play out over many lifetimes, causing us to be reborn.

Krishna continues the chapter with verse 16, “What is action and what is inaction? Even the wisest sages have struggled with this question. Let me teach you the secret of action, which can free you from bondage.” And verse 17, “The true nature of action is hard to understand. It is important to understand what is action, what is inaction, and what kind of action should be avoided.”

Before we get the answer, would anyone like to take a guess about the difference between action and inaction?

Verse 18 begins the answer, “One who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is very wise. They have transcended the limits of the mind, and are with complete awareness even in the midst of activity.”

What do you think this means – inaction in action and vice versa?

Every thing we do or do not do is a choice. Choosing to “do nothing” is a form of action. Even though we aren’t acting towards something, we are acting away from it. Every time we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to another, and every time we say no to one thing, we are saying yes to another. There is no escaping action/inaction – as long as we are alive we are acting or inacting in some way. Just as with every breath there is in, there is out, there is a “mini-death” as they say. We are gaining something and that something is immediately falling away. So it is with action.

Verse 19: “A person is wise when all their undertakings are free from anxiety about results, and when ‘all their selfish desires have been consumed in the fire of knowledge.'” (quoted from Easwaran)

When we come to a place in our lives when we are comfortable with trusting the way things are and will be, and when we act from a place of great understanding of all the teachings so far, we will not be anxious about results of our actions for this is karma, and it will not be of concern. This does not mean that it is okay to act from a bad place, as when these truths are realized, one will only see the value in acting in good ways.

I use the terms “good” and “bad” here relatively as nothing is either inherently good or bad, and when we reside in awareness of the Self, this duality falls away and we begin to see the bigger picture.

So, what is this quote that I’ve borrowed from Easwaran, “all their selfish desires have been consumed in the fire of knowledge?” When we consider the force or applicability of knowledge, or I prefer wisdom in this case (I’ll explain why later), it is quite a powerful force. What we know to be true drives all of our actions even in the most subtle of ways. So, by coming to know these deep-seated truths that Krishna is teaching, all selfish desires will dissolve as the knowledge/wisdom consumes the “need” for them.

A bit of a side note…why do I prefer the term ‘wisdom’ when speaking of these things? Simply because knowledge is something which can be taught, whereas wisdom is something which needs to be experienced. Perhaps wisdom is always there, and it is experience which lifts the veil that covers it. Either way, what Krishna is teaching is not just concepts, but things to be put into practice and experienced for ourselves. No teacher can make you understand it, it is something which must be understood for oneself. A knowledgeable person is not necessarily a wise person, and a wise person might not have much “formal” education.

Verse 20 speaks to karma again – or the results of our actions: “Those who have learned this truth have no attachment to the results of their actions, for ever satisfied and independent, he performs no fruitive action although is always engaged in activity.”

This is a very Hindu idea, and is one of the ideas that Buddhism (specifically nondual and Advaita-Vedanta) disputes – that anyone can be independent. What Krishna is saying here is that once you understand that there is a universal truth behind these apparently separate bodies, our actions have less impact on that universal part of us (less, to none at all). That universal part is known as ‘atman’, which is the part of us which is the same as Brahman, or the divine, consciousness, energy, whatever you see it as.

There are a few verses I struggle with, this is one of them because it is so highly disputed and in my own experience this understanding leads to a deeper sense of connection, interdependence, rather than independence. However, if we take Krishna’s teaching as saying we become independent of the gunas, the forces of nature/material elements, then it seems to make more sense. The Self is free from the gunas, though the mind-body is certainly bound by them.

Verse 21 follows from the previous verse which speaks to coming to a place that has no more attatchment to objects because they attained the most true wisdom. “One with such wisdom is free from expectations of reward and acts only with basic necessities in mind. Thus, they do not get affected by sinful reactions.”

So, first of all “sinful reactions” – I’d like to define this. All actions have consequences. Not always can we foresee what those consequences will be. When we act from a place of deep understand and without desire for selfish gain, our actions already are sure to be wholesome and therefore not incur sin, but also we are unattached to the results of the actions so we will be less affected by it.

Verse 22 explains further the traits of wisdom in action: “Those who live in freedom from duality, who are content with both success and failure, are never attached, although are still performing actions.”

I’d like to come back to the concept of duality shortly. This is saying that self and other, matter and spirit/consciousness, etc. are not the same things, that they are two separate things. What Krishna is saying here is perhaps that one needs to go beyond the illusion of duality that the mind and natural world creates and see the unity or similarity in all things. Once that occurs, they are deeply content, and don’t need material things to enhance their contentedness.

Verse 23: “The one who has realized this wisdom, free from duality and the modes of material nature, they have no selfish attachments. All work is performed in the spirit of service, and their karma is dissolved.”

So again we come across the idea of karma. Please keep in mind that this is not the same ‘karma’ that us Westerners have deemed, ie. you say something mean, then bang your elbow, and someone says “ha! karma!” This isn’t the same idea. Karma is translated most directly as “action.” It can be seen as a description of cause and effect, but some will say it’s played out over many lifetimes. Karma is quite simply human action,when spoken of in the Bhagavad Gita, and the results of that action.

When Krishna is speaking here about dissolving the karma, it means that you will no longer have any results to your actions, and all the results that were waiting to occur are complete. In some traditions, this means you will not be reborn – which is the goal as reborn means redeath, and life is suffering. It is only once we can overcome the limitations of the physical, material world that we can no longer suffer.

When you are acting in the “spirit of service” it means that you are performing action with the divine (whatever that means for you – consciousness, true Self, God, energy, etc.) in mind, rather than yourself and the ways you could benefit from the action.

For example, a common desire is to work your way up the economic chain. Say you work for a company. You usually start in a “low” position within the company and most of us desire to move up that chain. But why do we desire it? So we can have more income, a better house, more money for activities, support our family, etc. What would happen when one realizes the wisdom Krishna is speaking of, is that either of the first two desires would dissolve, and you would work to benefit the community, your family, the company, etc. For those who believe in a higher power, God/s, divine etc. then you would act to serve them and their creation.

To put this into action in your daily life, I suggest picking an activity that you do regularly, such as make tea, and begin to do it in service to someone or something. As it becomes easier to do on a small level, you can begin to apply it to bigger things. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section!

Until next time,
Chrae

Dualism vs. Nondualism Intro Notes


Dualism Photo

Check out the intro notes from this afternoon’s philosophy discussion. If you missed it, feel free to leave a comment here!


Welcome to the Citta Bhavana Ashram everyone! Thank you for joining us today. I’ll give a brief introduction before opening the floor for discussion. Please hold all questions and comments until after the intro.

Please consider leaving a donation if you like what you see and want to see more. All donations go towards the sim tier. The donation jar is the candle just beside the fire.

It is most often thought that dualism is a Western idea and non-dualism is an Eastern idea. But, even within traditions we find opposing ideas. Let’s explore a bit what dualism and non-dualism are.

These are ideas put forth in the philosophy of mind, as well as religion. Very generally, there are two fundamental categories of things. Typically these are the difference between mind and body, and sometimes even mind and brain. In other words, the dualist/nondualist debate is arguing whether or not mind is separate from matter.

Now, since we don’t have an agreed upon definition of mind, I’d like us to explore it from the point of view of whatever it means to you – whether it is consciousness, spirit, soul, awareness, divine, whatever. I don’t want us to get caught up in this, since it could mean any of these things or more, and I feel that it’s meaning is a bit of a personal matter. I’d rather we focus on the difference between this and the material world.

On a personal level, body can be considered to be the physical experience, including, sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. Mind can be considered to be immaterial experience: thoughts, patters, self, ego, memory, awareness. If you think of it like a venn diagram, what comes in the middle?

It has been debated, too, that body has memory – some may say “muscle memory” but others also speak about fascia as holding physical memory. Hence why sense objects can be a trigger for memories. However, this is not of as much importance in our discussion today.

In Indian philosophy, there are two concepts: purusha (consciousness, spirit) and prakriti (matter, nature). These are considered in nondualist philosophy to be AND – as in, they are inseparable and of the same importance; whereas in dualist philosophy it is purusha versus prakriti – as in, one always struggling for importance. In some dualist traditions they may consider that either purusha or prakriti is more important (depending on the tradition), though most often they say purusha (conscoiusness, spirit) is more important, and in fact more true reality than the material world.

We find this same idea all over religion, spirituality, and philosophy. Many dualists do consider that the material world is real – we can all experience it more or less the same. What is in debate is the non-material world, or mind.

Descartes, in his “Meditations,” argues for the point of view of mind and God as being one and the same. This is echoed in Eastern traditions through the concept of prana and qi (energy or life force), and even Atman and Brahman (individual consciousness and universal consciousness) – in other words, the part of us that is also in everything else. The most true essence of existence.

We know that all material things are subject to change. All things change over time, and this is unavoidable. So many schools of thought would argue that if it changes, it is not real. So that which is unchanging, this purusha (consciousness, divine, etc), is the most true, or the most real.

In nondualism, it is recognized that all things are ultimately the same. That nothing is unique, and even our consciousness is not our own. By that, it is meant that we are all drops of the same ocean – that we are all small parts of one big whole. That we are not existing without everything else, and everything else is not existing without us.

So, do you think that we have something in us, something perhaps divine or extensive in nature, that exists separate from the material world, or do we have an innate connection to that which surrounds us and can be experienced?

Are we unique individuals, or are we really part of one big whole?

Can our minds exist without our bodies?

Does whatever makes up the “I” exist in our minds, our bodies, or neither?

I open the floor. What do you think?

Ashram Newsletter Jan 5-11 2015


Happy New Year to all! We at the Ashram wish you all the best of joy and love in the coming year.

Namaste, friends! Please see below a list of Citta Bhavana Ashram events this coming week as well as some exciting updates. If you would like to host an event at the ashram, please contact Chraeloos Resident or Sunshine (szavanna).

All events are subject to change. Events may be added or changed with short notice. Please keep an eye on our calendar for more current information:
http://cittabhavanaashramsl.blogspot.com/p/calendar.html

~~Updates~~

We have redone the landscaping here at the ashram to better suit your needs! Feel free to come by any time to explore and use the facilities at your leisure.

Advanced Notice: biweekly Poetry and Storytelling with Lyle and Chrae on alternating Fridays at 6pmSLT. Starting date Thursday Jan 15 at 6pmSLT (strange date due to RL, normally will be on Fridays).

We have some space for artists to showcase their work. We also have a community room where we have posters advertising friendly sims and events. For inquiries about how to take part in this, please contact Chraeloos Resident or Sunshine Szavanna inworld.

~~Upcoming Events~~

☯ What? Meditation, Talks and Discussion with Swami Luminos
When? Tuesday, Jan 6 @ 10amSLT
Where? Ashram Entryway, to the left at the meditation circle

Event in voice and text, clothing optional.

☯ What? Meditation, Talks and Discussion with Venerable Wayne Ren Cheng
When? Wednesday, Jan 7 @ 10amSLT
Where? Ashram Entryway, straight ahead􀀅

Event in voice and text, clothing optional.

☯ What? The Nature of Faith Discussion with Rhiannon Dragoone
When? Wednesday, Jan 7 @ 2:30pmSLT
Where? Forest Meeting Area

Event in text, clothing optional.

☯ What? Interfaith Prayer Circle with Peter Newtone
When? Wednesday, Jan 7 @ 6pmSLT
Where? Ashram Entryway, to the left at the meditation circle

Event in voice and text. Clothing optional.

☯ What? Meditation, Talks and Discussion with Swami Luminos
When? Thursday, Jan 8 @ 10amSLT
Where? Ashram Entryway, to the left at the meditation circle

Event in voice and text, clothing optional.

☯ What? Yoga and Discussion with Chraeloos
When? Friday, Jan 9 @ 10amSLT
Where? Ashram Entryway, to the right at the yoga mats

Event in voice and text, clothing optional.

☯ What? Sandia Beaumont Live Piano
When? Sunday, Jan 11 @ 2pmSLT
Where? Ashram Entryway, straight ahead

Event in stream, clothing optional.

~~~~~~~
I look forward to seeing you around! Namaste, my friends, and big hugs to you all! ♥

Looking to keep in touch outside the grid? Went to a discussion and wanted the notes or links? Check out our blog and facebook page:
http://cittabhavanaashramsl.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/creativitykarma

♥ The Ashram Team