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.