KMC Arizona Updates
This page will be used for our updates and important information about our live streaming.
and new developments, while the center is closed.
For now please enjoy this community letter from our Western US National Spiritual Director.
I hope you are all staying well physically and mentally. I wanted to write and say hello, and share that first of all we very much hope that our KMC Hollywood Sangha can all stay connected to one another, to Dharma and to our Spiritual Guide during this time. Although our precious Dharma Center is temporarily unavailable in a physical sense, there are many ways we can use these conditions to deepen and improve our spiritual practice. In reality, we can use the physical separation from others as an opportunity to draw closer mentally.
Kadampa Buddhism is designed specifically to transform difficulties into spiritual experience, so we are well-equipped for the present situation. The main thing is to develop an attitude of caring for one another -- our neighbors, family, friends, everyone -- and to take care of our mind through meditating and praying so that we can do this in the most powerful and effective way possible.
I really appreciate these words from Venerable Geshe-la in The New Eight Steps to Happiness:
"By training our mind to recognize the spiritual lessons in all our experiences, we can come to view everyone and everything as our Spiritual Teacher, and we can turn any and every situation to our advantage."
So we can definitely transform our current conditions into something very meaningful. We are currently in the process of temporarily transitioning our Center into an online Dharma community where we can offer classes through live streaming, hopefully by next week.
In the meantime, please keep reading if you are looking for general ideas and suggestions for your practice.
Distractions, Adversity and Free Time
Many of us have a habit of keeping ourselves mentally and physically busy, and almost exclusively oriented towards the never-ending externals of life as a modern Californian. Now you may find yourself with more time at home -- out of your routine, perhaps with more free time, without your usual visits to the Dharma Center, amidst an anxious society. You may find your mind going ... all over the place, responding to life in a very ordinary way. It's easy for restlessness, anxiety or laziness to creep in and take charge -- we may fill our extra time with social media, news, future-izing and awful-izing, objects of attachment, etc... and as a result feel even more uncertain and uneasy.
Our default response to this new combination of adversity and free time is something to watch -- maybe we find we are giving less energy to our spiritual life instead of more -- when in reality Dharma practice is the one thing that can actually protect us from the painful appearances we're always trying to escape!
** Use this time to strengthen your at-home practice **
In order to level-up our Dharma practice, we can aspire to build up the habit of meditating at home every day, even if only for a short time. If we only engage in formal meditation at the Dharma Center once or twice a week, it is difficult to go deep and transform our mind. During this time when we are not at the Dharma Center physically, we can challenge ourselves to become better meditators "on our own" at home (understanding we are never on our own when we meditate, because all living beings surround us and all the Buddhas are in front of us!).
You may like to get in a routine, or re-invigorate and deepen the routine you already have, of meditating first thing in the morning to fill your mind with Dharma and set up your perspective and spiritual game plan for the day. This way, rather than your mind getting hijacked by the relentless assault of the news and ordinary distractions, we can use these as fuel for our already primed and activated Dharma mindset. Make creating a Dharma experience within your mind the first priority of the day, then embrace the day from that space.
Let this rupture in the routines and monotony of daily life be an opportunity to form a new habit -- to turn inwards a little more often instead of obsessively outwards. Free time can either lead to more movies, more eating, drinking and sleeping, more mindless diversions, more nervous energy, more raging at your computer, more boredom...or more enjoyment of your own mind through the magic of meditation. See if you can learn to relax your mind more often and a little more deeply, and get more familiar with the richness and power of simple meditative practices. And remember, small changes, and seemingly small decisions add up to massive differences in the long run. From one point of view you are the summation of your habits, and now is a great time to form some new ones, or strengthen the good ones you already have!
Our Buddha nature meets Buddha in the space of meditation. You can think of yourself as a potential future yogi or yogini (a meditator with astounding powers of mindfulness and concentration) while remembering our time in this precious life with the conditions for training in meditation practice is passing by quickly. With the methods we have access to and the blessings we are receiving, all it takes is steady, relaxed and joyful effort for us to become a confident, kind-hearted person, a formidable meditator, and a powerful force for positivity and change in our world -- the person we wish to be, and the person others need us to become!
What meditation(s) can I emphasize?
-Newer practitioners may like to start with the Meditation CD's - Meditations for Relaxation, Clear Mind and Kind Heart.
-Practitioners can also engage in daily Lamrim meditation based on the 21 Meditations from The New Meditation Handbook. (As many of you know, Heart Jewel Prayers with Lamrim meditation is the main daily practice for Kadampas.)
- In addition, one practice you may like to emphasize at this time is the incredible meditation called "Taking and Giving."
Many of Venerable Geshe-la's books teach this ancient healing practice (How to Transform Your Life, The New Eight Steps to Happiness, Universal Compassion, Modern Buddhism, etc..) and it is the perfect way to transform adversity into spiritual realizations, meditating and dedicating for the sick, those who have died, the medical workers -- for everyone around the world affected by this pandemic.
We can train ourselves to respond to suffering and the inevitable, never-ending calamities of life in samsara by practicing taking and giving, purifying our mind that is projecting these impure appearances.
Finally, from Venerable Geshe-la's book Universal Compassion: Inspiring Solutions for Difficult Times:
"When the container and contents are filled with evil,
Transform adverse conditions into the path to enlightenment."
"Container" refers to the world, and "contents" refers to the results of negative karma appearing in our world -- adverse conditions and suffering. Venerable Geshe-la writes,
"This is the time to transform such unhappy events into the spiritual path. In both good and bad circumstances, we should apply the appropriate meditations, such as meditation on compassion, bodhichitta and taking and giving."
I hope you are your families are safe and happy. May we all try to make an extra effort to care for our Dharma practice and one another during this time.
We look forward to connecting again soon as a KMC Hollywood community through live streaming!
With lots of love,