Wednesday, August 17, 2022

 We are now having a Thursday evening Dhamma Group in addition to the long-standing Wednesday evening meeting.  Wednesdays we still meet at

Pure Land Hall, Suite D 

8364 Hickman Road

Clive, Iowa 50325  USA

Thursdays we are meeting at 

Phothisomphan Meditation Monastery

2560 SE 14th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50320. USA

We will be facilitating a couple of meditation events, one in September and one in October.

A Day of Meditation

Sunday, September 4, 2022

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Pure Land Hall, Suite D 

8364 Hickman Road

Clive, Iowa 50325  USA


Please register by 5:00 p.m. Thursday, September 1, 2022. 


A Day of Meditation

Sunday, October 2, 2022

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Dhammarama Temple 

1200 W Iowa Avenue

Indianola, Iowa 50125  USA


Please register for this event by 5:00 p.m. Thursday, September 29, 2022.

As always, participation is free, but we need to know how much food to prepare, so we ask you to register by sending an email to:

Join us to expand your knowledge and to deepen your meditation practice.

Friday, January 28, 2022

It’s still early in 2022, so I thought I’d post this as a quick “review” of a fundamental concept: dukkhā.

According to the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (The Discourse on Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion), the problem in the human condition is “dukkhā.”

Dukkhā is a word, and words are by nature “goopy.”  That is, they may have different meanings under different circumstances, or in different contexts, or with different people.  Words point to concepts.  Concepts are also goopy.  So, it behooves us to “define” our words and concepts when we want to communicate clearly and accurately. 

Here’s a modern understanding of the what the word/concept “dukkhā” is:  Dukkhā is that state of being we find ourselves in when confronted with a Reality that is incongruent with the Reality we expected or the Reality we desired.  So, dukkhā is.  All living, sentient beings will have moments of dukkha because that’s the way they/we are.  We’re not so smart, knowledgeable, informed, insightful, and wise that we always “see” Reality as it really is.  The Pali word for this is “avijja.” 

And we tend to be attached to our desire for self-gratification:  for getting what we want, when we want it, the way we want it.  The Pali for this is “tanha.”  

So “dukkhā” is the problem, and the two-fold cause of dukkhā (samudaya) is the combination of avijja-tanha. 


The “solution” (nirodha) to the problem comes from practicing the Noble Eightfold Path:  

Sammā-diṭṭi – Right knowledge, view, understanding, perspective.  Having knowledge that corresponds to reality as it is, and the attendant views, perspectives, understandings accompanying such knowledge. 

Sammā-saṇkappo – having the right resolution, intentions and aspirations to extinguish taṇhā, to eliminate dukkhā.

Sammā-vācā – speaking (and by extension, writing) honorably, honestly and accurately; choosing our words and expressing ourselves in such a manner that dukkhā is minimized or eliminated.

Sammā-kammanto – virtuous, moral behavior, and by extension behavior that is contextually, situationally, socially and culturally acceptable.

Sammā-ājīvo – Right livelihood, lifestyle, life.  Earning one’s livelihood through a means which minimizes dukkhā, and by extension, living one’s life by a means that is virtuous, meritorious, benevolent, compassionate, non-violent, et cetera.  A life that is, in short, in harmony with the conduct and principles of the seven other practices of the Eightfold Path.

Sammā-vayāmo – making an effort to understand and to conform to the teachings.

Sammā-sati – practicing mindfulness of oneself, one’s mental, physical emotional and social functioning, and mindfulness of one’s physical and social environment, the impact of the environment on oneself, and impact of one’s existence on the environment.

Sammā-samādhi – practicing focused, concentrative, absorptive meditation.  

Feel free to post comments.

More to come . . .


Sunday, November 7, 2021

Hey, Everybody!


Ariya Magga Buddhist Missionary Society is looking for land - a bunch of acres, some wooded, some arable - for an ashram consisting of a 200 guest residential meditation center, a 5 to 10 monastic monastery and a farm to raise organic vegetables and fruits for the local market. We would like to have 200 acres, plus or minus, with at least 150 of those tillable.  


We've only just begun fundraising, but as of this date we've got about $12,000 in donations and pledges. 


According to a usually reliable source (thanks for looking this up, Sook) “The 2020 ISU Land Value Survey shows a 1.7% increase in average Iowa farmland values from November 2019 to November 2020. The average statewide value of an acre of farmland is now estimated at $7,559. This modest rise is the third increase in Iowa farmland values over the past six years, and a second consecutive rise.”  Let’s say $8,000 an acre, times 200 acres is $1,600,000 (figured that in my head) just for land.  


Building a single-story commercial office building in this area will cost an average of $238–$286 per square foot.  The buildings as conceived will top out about 90,000 square feet.  Let’s say at approximately $300 per square foot, we get roughly $27,000,000. 


What with delays, price increases, cost overruns, etc. we have set a goal of raising $30,0000,000. We have a long way to go.  


Right now, we would benefit from someone helping us with the creation of “Architectural Conceptual Drawings” of the project.  Basically, pretty pictures of what the place MIGHT look like.  We could use these in our fundraising efforts.  


Feel free to contact us for more information, or if you can help out. Donations of energy, time, skill, knowledge and experience will be greatly appreciated.  For details on what we need, and when, please text or message (Facebook) for details.



In the meantime, if you’re in the Greater Des Moines Metropolitan area, join us Wednesday evenings at 7:00 for meditation and discussion.


Dhamma Group

Pure Land Hall, Suiite D

8364 Hickman Road

Clive, Iowa  50325



Hey, Everybody!


Ariya Magga Buddhist Missionary Society is going to be moving.  The new address is:


Ariya Magga Vihāra

(Noble Path House)

4565 Woodland Avenue, Unit #1

West Des Moines, Iowa 50266


We will start the orderly transition probably the weekend of November 20th.  The relocation will be complete by December 31st.


After the first of the year 2022 we’ll host a Sunday Dhamma Group and Pot Luck at the new location – details to be announced.  You’ll still be able to join us Wednesday evenings at 7:00 for meditation and discussion.


Dhamma Group

Pure Land Hall, Suiite D

8364 Hickman Road

Clive, Iowa  50325


In the meantime . . . 


Donations of energy, time, skill, knowledge and experience will be greatly appreciated.  For details on what we need, and when, please text or message (Facebook) for details.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Hey, Everybody!

So far things are going well.  So the plan to resume the Wednesday evening Dhamma Group on 19 May at 7:00 p.m. in the Pure Land Hall is still a go.

The Dhamma Group is an opportunity for people who practice sitting meditation and have an interest in gaining greater understanding of “Dhamma/Dharma” however it is construed, to gather in convivial discussion where we can gain some insight into how we can improve the quality of life for ourselves and everybody else.  

We will be using a semi-structured format beginning with a short, guided meditation: this will be  followed by the introduction of a topic (or two), on which we will spend 20 to 30 minutes in discussion.  We will close with a 30-minute meditation, silent meditation..  Comfort breaks can be taken at any time.  Total time about 90 minutes. 

The world is making progress on controlling the spread of COVID-19, but we’re not there yet.  So, we will practice mitigation: wearing masks, keeping a distance of 6 feet or more, and being mindful of how the virus spreads.  

Hope to see you Wednesday, 19 May at the Pure Land facility, 8364 Hickman Road, Clive, IA 50325

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Hey, meditators!


If all goes well we plan to resume the Wednesday evening Dhamma Group on 19 May, about a month from now. 


To protect everybody, we will be maintaining the recommended social distancing, and we will wear our masks.  That being the case, you might want to try meditation while wearing a mask, just to get used to it.


As we said, if all goes well.  You can do your part to help things to go well: get your COVID19 vaccination, wear your masks and diligently practice good public health measures.  


We’ll see you at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, 19 May at the Pure Land facility, 8364 Hickman Road, Clive, IA 50325

If you would like instruction in meditation, please contact us through Facebook or via email.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Fasting is a Piece of Cake

Words are goopy.  

Take the word “toast.”  When you read that, what did you think of?  A noun, i.e., a piece of bread that has been browned by exposure to a heat source?  The call to honor someone by raising glasses and drinking together?  Some person held in high regard?


Or when you read (heard in your head) “toast,” did you think of a verb form; the browning of the bread, the raising of the glass?  Or possibly warming your toes in front of a fire?  


And then there’s the use of toast to mean someone is done for, finished; “Man, now he’s toast.”  I’m not sure of the part of speech that would be.  Haven’t studied grammar in maybe 50 years.  I do know this:


Words are goopy.


Take the word “white.”


What does “white” mean?


            - to an artist? 


            - to a house painter?


            - to a physicist?


            - to a racist?


            - to an anti-racist?


Do you have the same visceral/cognitive response to: 


            - white people


            - white power 


            - white superiority


            - white supremacy


            - white privilege 


Does “white” have the same meaning in each of these phrases?  If you are “White?”  If you are a “Person of Color?”


Words are goopy. 


Words serve a couple of functions.  Words can function as “signs.”  Words can function as “symbols.”  


“Signs” indicated the probable presence or occurrence of something.  Footprints are a sign that someone passed there.  Signs deliver information and instructions.  “Falling rock.”  “Caution.  Wet floor.”  The word “Men” posted on a bathroom door.  Something that is a “sign of the times.”


“Symbols” represent something.  Symbols “stand for” something.  Symbols point to something.  Most often symbols are concrete and represent something abstract.  A finger pointing at the moon.  As symbols, words represent, or stand for, or point to concepts.  The word/symbol “dog” points to a concept of a four-legged animal.  And “dog,” for mature users of language, is differentiated from “horse” which is also a four-legged animal.  


Words are goopy.  


Many, if not most, words can function as both a sign and a symbol.  The word, “Women” on a placard on a bathroom door is a sign giving information/instructions, while the word “Women” in the sentence, “Women rule the world!” is a symbol pointing to a concept something like “all adult female humans.”  


This goopiness of words can be humorous.  For a Buddhist monk fasting is a piece of cake.  Words can be confusing.  The little boy with the broken arm’s mother said she ran into the back of a truck which was parked at approximately forty-five miles an hour.  Words can be misleading, as when political types “spin” a response.  


Words are goopy.


Some more than others.  Some folks have emotional attachments to words, and/or to the concepts they point to/represent.  Attachments that other folks lack.  Think “cat” people and “dog” people. We don’t all share the same conceptual matrix, so some words have strikingly different meanings to different folks.  Negro.  Black.  African.  Caucasian.  White. American.  Conservative.  Liberal.  Victim.  Rebel.  Criminal. 


Words are goopy.


“Well,” you say, “yes, but so what?”  Well, words matter.  That’s the so what.  Not just the words we utter aloud, or write on social media, or commit to paper, but also the words in our heads.  The words we use in our inner dialogue.  For example, “can’t,” as in “I can’t take this pandemic any more!”  The Reality is that you can, but you don’t want to.  “I can’t stand all this politics!”  The Reality is, you are “standing” the politics, but you don’t like it.  And the stronger your emotional attachment to your words, the stronger your urge for Reality to conform to your conceptual framework of how Reality should be, the stronger your drive for self-gratification, the greater your experience of dukkhā.  


The Dhamma teaches us to practice “Right Speech.”  We do this by being mindful of the words we choose, and mindful of the impact of our words on our thoughts, and deeds, and mindful of the influence our words have on others.  


Words are goopy.


And some of you will be offended by some of the thoughts expressed here.  Some of you will take exception to ideas herein expressed.  For some, these comments will be little more than interesting.  And for some, totally uninteresting.  The hope is that some of you dear readers will have a small epiphany, a little “aha” moment, a flash of insight.  Post a comment, if you like.


Words are goopy.


Words matter.


Something to think about.  

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Hey, Everybody!


Beginning November 1, 2020, we will be having a Sunday evening meditation at Wat Phothisomphan, 2560 SE 14th Street, Des Moines.  The hall is quite large, more than 4,000 square feet, so we’ll have plenty of room to distance socially.  We’ll also be wearing masks to protect each other.


Here are some thoughts on group meditation.  


In a broad, general sense, most people meditate for the “benefits” outside of meditation, not just for the meditation experience itself.  Some folks meditate to gain enlightenment, some for esoteric knowledge, some for “union” with God or Brahman or Ultimate Reality, some because it is part of a “program.”  Meditation in a group seems to “deepen” or “enhance” progress towards whatever goal they have.  I think a lot of this has to do with the environment group meditation creates, but some would talk about shared energies, good vibes, and so forth.  Whatever explanation one chooses, group meditation is, at times, very profound.   People who meditate together commonly report a buoyancy that the group provides, carrying them further into meditation than they could travel alone.  


For most people, meditation is part of a lifestyle.  Meditating in a group can help to reinforce that lifestyle.  It is comforting, exciting, and sustaining to be a part of a shared activity.  Or, in the case of meditation, perhaps a shared non-activity?  <GRIN>   Shared activities, in this case group meditation, can also build a sense of fellowship; of belonging to a community.  We experience the company of “like-minded” others.  In the midst of “doing nothing” together, there is often a shared experience of “meaningful togetherness.”  Bonds form and relationships deepen.  


With time, the group builds an environment of trust and confidentiality, and the members will talk about their inner and outer experiences (and their interpretations of those experiences), what difficulties they might have encountered in their practice and ways they have surmounted them.  When we discover that other people have encountered many of the same difficulties, and have discovered ways to overcome them, we are less likely to feel discouraged during the “dry spells” which we all endure, or to get overly inflated when we experience those elevating “highs” meditation produces.  Solitary meditators – those who never practice with a group – are more likely to misunderstand their experience, and to get frustrated by the bogs and marshes they stumble into. 


One of the most frequently encountered difficulties is incorporating practice into one’s daily life.  Group practice offers opportunities to explore with others how they have managed to do this, and also helps motivate us to continue to practice.  Meditating with a group can provide the motivation we need to find time to practice.  


Group meditation can also further our knowledge and understanding of meditation itself.  We can listen and ask of others about their experiences.  If there is a Teacher, Master, Guru, Guide, etc., we can check our practice, gain understanding of the nuances of practice, and perhaps learn new techniques.  We may also be able to roughly judge where we are on our path to our goals.  We can learn from the other members’ feedback.  If we talk about our experiences and problems and success, other group members’ feedback can help us to understand what is occurring.  We discover that the other people are having many of the same experiences.  


It has been pointed out to me than many people who practice meditation are individualistic and/or non-conformist, and “groups” don’t fit their lifestyle.  This is true.  To be part of a group means we must conform in some ways.  For example, there are “time” issues.  The day or time of day may not be to our liking.  The length of time the group meditates may differ from the time we meditate.  Some people meditate for 15 or 20 minutes, and some mediate fro one or two hours or longer.  While some groups will allow meditators to come and go during group sessions, others are quite strict about conforming.  If one’s ideas about how a group is to function are in conflict with the way the group functions, stress (dukkha?) ensues.  These are issues for discussion.  Some folks may choose to not be part of a group.  


It has been pointed out to me that it is common for a number of different “ideologies” to be found among meditators, and that explanations of experiences and techniques usually reflect those ideologies.  Do I expect everyone who is a member of the a group to subscribe to my ideology?  Honestly, no.  We of differing ideologies and diverse personalities find “common ground” in the silence of group meditation.  Since there's nothing to argue about in silence, meditators from different traditions and ideologies can practice together and support each other.  Furthermore, membership in a group where there is respect and trust can provide opportunities for investigating the “Truth” statements put forth by myself and others.  And I encourage everyone to investigate!  


I was recently asked the question: “What qualifies you to lead a mediation group?”  The short – and smart-alecky – answer was “Well, I can read a clock, I have the hand-eye coordination to ring a bell, and I can count to three.”  But I knew the person was really questioning my “authority.”  So I explained that the regular practice of meditation is sort of like an extended visit to a strange city.  One wants to find someone familiar with the layout of the city, but also someone knowledgeable about the good restaurants, the bad neighborhoods, and where to get the best price on good incense.  I’m that someone.  I’ve practiced regularly for more than 40 years, and I’ve studied for that long, or maybe even a little longer.  I know the “territory,” and have functioned as a guide for more than 30 years.  And nobody’s gotten lost.


So, if anyone wants to join us, every Sunday we have scheduled the start time as 6:30 p.m. for now.  We can adjust that earlier or later as the group needs.


Hope to see you November 1st!



Bhante Dhammapala

Life is a struggle.  Suffering is optional.