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.


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?