Jun 15-21

Spring, week 13

Join the BoWZ-Westchester Sangha via Zoom at 10:00 Eastern every Saturday morning:

Audio Only: telephone 646-876-9923 & Enter Meeting ID: 289 850 7899

Home Practice
  • Light a candle or stick of incense, or both
  • Three bows to Buddha
  • Gatha of Atonement (odd-numbered dates) or The Three Refuges (even-numbered dates);
  • Dedication + Opening Verse (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Zazen (25 mins)
  • Sutra Service Readings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
  • Dharma Study (book or podcast, 15-30 mins)
  • Closing: Closing Verse; Four Bodhisattva Vows or Save All the Beings (use Sutra Book and audio below)
Sutra Book for printing (two-columned pages): CLICK HERE. Sutra Book for reading on your computer screen (one-column pages): CLICK HERE.
Page references are to the two-column version.

  • Gatha of Atonement, or The Three Refuges, p. 1 (not on audio recording).
  • Dedication 1, p. 1; Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, p. 3.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

  • 25 mins.
Sutra Service
  • Readings for Jun 15-22: 13.A. (Heart Sutra, p. 10; The Misunderstanding of Many Lifetimes, p. 33; Self and Other the Same, p. 33; Guidepost for the Hall of Pure Bliss, p. 34.)
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

Dharma Study
  • Book or podcast, 15-30 mins.
  • Three Prayers, p. 36; Save All the Beings, p. 38.
Audio player below or CLICK HERE.

This Week's Reading for Sat Jun 20
  • Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, "Buddha's Englightenment." Reading Schedule HERE.
  • NEXT BOOK (starts in July): Taizan Maezumi, Appreciate Your Life. Order a copy now.
This Week's Raven Tale
This Week's Practice: Continuing from last week -- Tonglen.
Adapted from Pema Chodron, "How to Practice Tonglen," Lion's Roar.

Tonglen practice, also known as “taking and sending,” reverses our usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In tonglen practice, we visualize taking in the pain of others with every in-breath and sending out whatever will benefit them on the out-breath. In the process, we become liberated from age-old patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others.

Tonglen can be done for those who are ill, those who are dying or have died, or those who are in pain of any kind. It can be done as a formal meditation practice or right on the spot at any time. If we are out walking and we see someone in pain, we can breathe in that person’s pain and send out relief to them.

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us. Use what seems like poison as medicine.

We can also do tonglen for all the people just like ourselves — all those who wish to be compassionate but instead are afraid, who wish to be brave but instead are cowardly. We can use our personal stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world. Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.

When you do tonglen as a formal meditation practice, it has four stages:

1. Flash on Bodhichitta. Rest your mind for a second or two in a state of openness or stillness. This stage is traditionally called flashing on absolute bodhichitta, awakened heart-mind, or opening to basic spaciousness and clarity.

2. Begin the Visualization. Work with texture. Breathe in feelings of heat, darkness, and heaviness — a sense of claustrophobia — and breathe out feelings of coolness, brightness, and light—a sense of freshness. Breathe in completely, taking in negative energy through all the pores of your body. When you breathe out, radiate positive energy completely, through all the pores of your body. Do this until your visualization is synchronized with your in- and out-breaths.

3. Focus on a Personal Situation. Focus on any painful situation that’s real to you. Traditionally you begin by doing tonglen for someone you care about and wish to help. However, if you are stuck, you can do the practice for the pain you are feeling yourself, and simultaneously for all those who feel the same kind of suffering. For instance, if you are feeling inadequate, breathe that in for yourself and all the others in the same boat and send out confidence, adequacy, and relief in any form you wish.

4. Expand Your Compassion. Finally, make the taking in and sending out bigger. If you are doing tonglen for someone you love, extend it out to all those who are in the same situation. If you are doing tonglen for someone you see on television or on the street, do it for all the others in the same boat. Make it bigger than just that one person. You can do tonglen for people you consider to be your enemies—those who hurt you or hurt others. Do tonglen for them, thinking of them as having the same confusion and stuckness as your friend or yourself. Breathe in their pain and send them relief.

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