Heart of the Community

On Sunday, Tahn Pamutto and Tan Santi joined fellow monastics with Wat Thai Thavorn in visiting their Albany branch temple – along with a large contingent of of the Indonesian Buddhist Family.

The purpose of the trip was to inter the ashes of friend and family member Robby Mulyadi, as well as three others, at the base of freshly planted trees. The afternoon, from the generous potluck meal to the gathering of friends to the planting of the trees, was a wonderful example of how many facets of life are tied together by a temple.

The land was donated only a few years ago, and has needed work and donations to be ready to receive guests and host both laypeople and monastics for meditation. But, wanting to give charity, where better than the place where you and your family can go to get out of the city? Children played and adults shared stories, all in the peace of the quiet country neighborhood. When nobody is visiting, the resident monks use it as a quiet retreat for practice.

Looking around, one can’t find anything that doesn’t have someone’s fingerprints on it, and they’ll be able to reflect on their part in getting the place running for years to come. Most importantly for the task of the day, when loved ones come to remember those who have passed, they’ll be combining it with the support of community and activities they enjoy.

Transitions

On May 2nd, after over four months staying with the Indonesian Buddhist Family of NY, Tahn Pamutto will be departing and heading back to the woods of Massachusetts. Not enough can be said about the kindness and generosity of the community in NYC! This has been a wonderful experience and Tahn’s only regret is that he’ll be leaving just as the community is getting vaccinated and is beginning to think about gathering in person again.

The Vihara’s Sunday online event will be cancelled this week to allow for a community gathering in Albany, NY, but will resume again on Apr 25.

With the transition from the city back to the forest, the flavor of Upavana’s posts and offerings will begin to shift towards it’s original goal – to support the founding of a practice community in the Theravada Forest tradition style. Tahn will begin May by returning to the practice of wandering in order to meet local practitioners and establish lines of communication. The online offerings are expected to continue, though they are going to be accompanied with in-person sittings wherever Tahn might be – until a more stable location for the summer is found.

Expect to see more photos of the transition and journey and feel free to join the online offerings every Wednesday, Friday, and Lunar Observance – the best support is your practice!

Vipada Sunday Session

This Sunday’s session with Vihara Parivara Dhamma featured a dhamma talk by Bhante Santi titled “Room for Improvement”, followed by Q&A.

 

Time, Space, and Unity

Last night, joined by dhamma friends observing the Uposatha and taking the Eight Precepts, Tahn Pamutto offered a dhamma reflection on the vastness of our reality and how to unleash the mind through the development of Equanimity in two phases – Equanimity based on Diversity, and Equanimity based on Unity.

 

Sunday Morning Dhamma Session

Sunday Morning Vipada Session

This Sunday, join the Indonesian Buddhist Family of NY for precepts, a dhamma talk by Ven. Santi, and Q & A with the monastics.

When: Sunday, April 9, 2021

9:45am – 11 am EST

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85881330269?pwd=VEdSK3o2Yi90Um1DOXp2S1dINWRjUT09

Meeting ID: 858 8133 0269

Passcode: parivara

You may also access this talk through our Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheResidentofDhamma/live

Sunday New Moon Uposatha

This Sunday is the Uposatha of the New Moon.

8pm EST: Every Uposatha there will be an evening observance program. A meditation will begin for 45 minutes at 8 PM, followed by the opportunity to take the refuges and precepts, dhamma talk, and open informal meditation period until midnight.

Come for all or part! Please note the passcode below to enter the Zoom meeting.

https://zoom.us/j/6578079769

Meeting ID: 657 807 9769

Passcode: upavana

Sunday Session

This morning’s Sunday session with the Indonesian Buddhist Family of NY will begin at 9:45am EDT.

The talk will be given by Bhante Pamutto on the topic “Precepts in the Real World” and feature time for Q & A with the monastics after.

To Join Zoom Meeting: (room opens 9:30 EDT)

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85881330269?pwd=VEdSK3o2Yi90Um1DOXp2S1dINWRjUT09

Meeting ID: 858 8133 0269

Passcode: parivara

You may also access this talk through our Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheResidentofDhamma/live

Precepts in the Real World

The Noble Eightfold Path can sometimes be summed up with three branches – “Sila, Samadhi, and Pañña”, or “Morality, Mental Composure, and Wisdom”. The positioning of Sila at the beginning of the list is not by chance – as many learn when they first experiment with Buddhist practice and try to meditate, they get only as far as their conduct allows. If their Sila is off their mind will be a mess of regret, desire and aversion.

Samadhi, the personal experience of peace, is dependent on moral living. Pañña, the seeing of things as they really are, will never arise without Samadhi. It all begins with Sila, and as we survey those beings further down the path towards Nibbana it is Sila that stands out as the most obvious criteria to gauge another’s progress.

The first and most important step in the development of Sila is the taking of the Five Precepts. They are framed as ‘trainings’, and this is how they are meant to be held: not as rules to be followed, but as guidelines for moral living meant to be explored. In taking them up we are challenging the notion that we cannot change and grow. We are taking responsibility for our actions. And we inevitably discover first-hand the true meaning of the word ‘Refuge’. The lessons we learn through developing our Sila and letting go of unskillful habits will be our first real taste of Pañña, and the peace we get after overcoming a bad habit will be well earned.

The development and understanding of the five precepts was the focus of this Sunday’s morning session with Vihara Parivara Dhamma Acala. You can find the recording on TheResidentofDhamma YouTube channel, at:

 

The Shape of Gratitude

Standing in the courtyard behind the Vihara here in Queens, with the sun on my face and birds chirping, the sense of spring is strong enough to overpower the perception of the city. Even surrounded by concrete and brick, I can close my eyes and feel the breeze against my skin, and it’s like being back in the woods.

After the long haul of winter, everything suddenly warming up and coming alive can be such a rich experience. The colors, the sounds, the aromas. Not only does it make one grateful to be alive, but it is overwhelming the power of vitality of nature as it explodes into action.

It was in awe of this vitality that I found myself sitting back in the courtyard the other day reading the words of a native american-born botanist who was musing on expressions of gratitude. “What can you give back to the Earth,” she asked, “which already has everything?”

The question got me thinking about the nature of Gratitude, and the true sense of ‘knowing what is done’, which is the Pāli translation of the word. Often when we start to understand the enormity of the blessings in our lives we are overwhelmed by our inability to sufficiently give back or show appreciation.

As I mused, an image came to mind of a warm summer day not long ago. A dear friend and I had sat down at the edge of a grassy field to enjoy the sunshine and talk. As my friend began to talk and describe problems in her life and the mindstates she was going through, her hands absentmindedly gathered up some strands of grass and began weaving them into a bracelet. I half listened and half watched as the process of self-reflection and the skill of weaving danced and merged until they seemed like the same thing, and a complex ring of grass and blossoms emerged. She seemed startled when she finished talking and realized what her busy hands had constructed. She laughed and set it aside with the ease of a garland maker in a field of flowers.

Yes, nature already has everything, and one should rightfully be daunted by the idea of improving on a warm spring day. But it’s only the limited human mind that could conceive of one who has everything not being able to appreciate something new. When one gives a gift, what is it they truly want in return? I think of my friend enjoying that day and speaking of her trials and tribulations, and taking a perfectly simple and beautiful strand of grass and making it into something new. In the end, maybe all of these things are equal. We are given so much by the world, and to move forward is to live our lives without seeing the gifts as a debt needing to be settled. Perhaps that is the best way we can express our appreciation for the gifts we are given – to live fully, to seek happiness, and through our labors create something that wasn’t already there.

For more reflections on Gratitude, last night on the Uposatha of the Full Moon, Tahn Pamutto offered a reflection on the subject – “Gratitude and Grace”:

 

Interlocking Dhammas

Ven. Santi led this week’s Sunday session at Vihara Parivara Dhamma Acala with a talk entitled ‘Interlocking Dhammas’. The program begins with the paying of respects and taking of precepts, and includes after the talk a section of questions and answers with both monastics.

Upavana Foundation info@upavana.org

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