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Fall 2019

Book Study: In Love with the World

At the age of 36, Mingyur Rinpoche slipped through the monastery gate in the middle of the night, leaving behind the comfort, safety and claustrophobia of the structures that had defined his spiritual life. As he ventured into the unknown, his experience paralleled the search for the life-giving, sometimes ruthless, wisdom of the feminine. Hers is the wisdom of naked awareness, birth and death, and the play of coincidence in everyday life. In this book study we will relate Mingyur Rinpoche's journey to our own, as well as to the collective journey now unfolding in our communities and our world.​​

When and where

Biweekly, October 3–December 12, 2019, 7:00–9:00 pm.

At the Nalandabodhi Centre, 6218 Quinpool Rd, Halifax, NS

No pre-requisite except reading the book.

Zoom option available. Click here to join

Donations at the door to cover space rental. Contact us with questions.

October 3
Letting go and letting wisdom arise

Reading: pp 3–47. Host: Susan

Quotes that stood out for us:

  • "I was dying to my old life.... The challenge was to let go of the resistance."

  • "The fear of letting go of familiar identities—of one's ego—is fear of freedom."

  • I had grown into them <identities> and I needed to grow out of them."

  • "Invite death. Serve tea and make friends with it. Then you won't have anything more to worry about."

Contemplation: What am I dying to now?

Practice: Sound meditation, p. 36

Some themes from the discussion:

  • Transitions, grief. We tend to move on to the next thing too quickly, without honouring and grieving who and where we've been, what has been lost. Grieving opens a space for rebirth.

  • Privilege. We don't even recognize it until it is challenged or disrupted. E.g., white privilege.

  • Trust. If you can't trust anything that is impermanent, what can you trust?

  • Self-compassion. We can't always drop our attachments right away. We need to pace ourselves, be gentle.

  • Fight-or-flight. When primal, survival oriented emotions like fear and panic are triggered, the practice is to go back to mindfulness of the body, awareness of sensations.

  • Aging. As we get older, we need fewer external disruptions to "add wood to the fire" of the work of letting go. Loss, dying and death become constant companions/reminders.

October 17
The gap: what happens when the masks fall away

Reading: pp 48–96. Host: Barbara. Notes: Molly

Quotes that stood out for us:

  • “Learn to ‘mind the gap’ ”.

  • “When I allowed the panic to happen, it would self-liberate…. Our problems do not need to be liberated by some outside force. If I stayed with the recognition of awareness, I would be ok.”

  • “You are here and you are not here, both.”

  • “The alienation from myself transferred to alienation from others.”

  • “Relating to other as other turned them into omens of calamity. For the fear to be eliminated, I would have to become the other, which was no different from dying as Mingyur Rinpoche.”

  • “Liberate ourselves by letting go of grasping.”

  • “What would it take to perceive a tree as a process rather than an object… What about the person we most love, or what about ourselves?”


Some themes from Mingyur Rinpoche and our discussion:

  • Bardo states: some we experience during and after death, others are moment to moment. Life is always changing, dying, becoming.

  • 6 realms: Rinpoche’s father Tulku Urgyen taught the realms as afflictions and states of mind we experience in this lifetime. Getting caught up in these keeps us from realizing our true nature.

  • We can train to slow down and watch our thoughts. Move beyond afflicted states. Learn to “mind the gap,” where we experience pure perception. Gap is another word for bardo.

  • It’s hard to see difficult situations as the buddha realm; difficult people as pure beings.

  • Suffering arises because we don’t like ‘now’. Wanting another now.

  • We have to exchange self for other, not put ‘other’ at a distance.

  • Have to go into things, not try to get away from them.

  • If we saw ourselves and others as a process, we’d be curious. Wouldn’t solidify, fixate.

  • Rinpoche’s recounting his experience blows our concepts of teachers having things all figured out.

  • When you die, all you take with you is your state of mind (a statement we recalled Pema

  • Chodron hearing from the 16th Karmapa)

  • Buddha families: the neurotic aspects can be flipped. Not solid. No need to cling to panic, anger, passion. Wake up to it, see it.

  • Our efforts to liberate panic may keep us in it. But we have had experiences of something opening, clarifying. Don’t act, don’t suppress. We can recognize anger is there, not take it personally. People’s anger isn’t always about ‘me’.

October 31

Momento Mori: Remember death

Reading: pp 97–132. Host: Debra.

Practice/contemplation: the four reminders
Themes from Chapter 12: A Day at the Ghats

  • Transforming obstacles into opportunities

  • Outer, inner, and secret retreat
    - Outer (environment);
    - Inner (physical body);
    - Secret (intention)

  • Reason for his retreat – long discussion of this quote (pg. 104):

"To make yourself a better person is to make the world a better place. Who develops industries that fill the air and water with toxic waste? How did we humans become immune to the plight of refugees, or hardened to the suffering of animals raised to be slaughtered? Until we transform ourselves, we are like mobs of angry people screaming for peace. In order to move the world, we must be able to stand still in it. Now more than ever, I place my faith in Gandhi’s approach: Be the change you wish to see in the world. Nothing is more essential for the twenty-first century and beyond than personal transformation, it’s our only hope. Transforming ourselves is transforming the world. This is why I was on retreat, to more fully develop my capacities to introduce others to knowing their own wisdom, and their own capacities for a peaceful life."

 

  • Training to recognize breaks in the mental loop. MIND THE GAP

Themes from Chapter 13: Of Sleep and Dreams

  • Maintaining awareness

  • La petite mort

  • Dream meditation

 

Themes from Chapter 14: Learning to Swim

  • Examining resistance, vulnerability and aversion

  • Every move we make, breath we take can be oriented
    to happiness and the wish for change

  • Practice of the four reminders

 

Themes from Chapter 15: Memento Mori (remember death)

  • The great paradox of the Buddhist path is that “we practice in order to know what we already are” (pg. 125)

  • We are attaining nothing, getting nothing and going nowhere

  • Deconstruction of self (Nagarjuna)

  • We have many chances! (pg. 132)

"You will have a thousand chances to choose between a negative and a positive direction—meaning increasing or decreasing suffering for yourself and others; and, If you really aspire to cut your attachments, you can do it no matter what the circumstances —but there will always be something pulling you back in the other direction. It will never be easy, but it can be done. "

December 12

Where the Buddha died, Giving everything way

Reading: pp 135–253.

Hosts: Michael & Susan

Some themes:

  • Noticing that Mingyur R. seemed largely indifferent about the help he received from the “Asian man,” in contrast to the gratitude most of us would feel at being brought back from the brink. Was that a sign of complete acceptance of his situation; i.e., he had completely let of attachment to whether he would live or die at that point.

  • Preparing for one’s dying. Noting the resistance (e.g., to completing medical directives and wills). Outlining the spiritual environment you want at the time of dying; e.g., writing an aspiration prayer to be memorized and also read back by others; identifying music, smells, images, etc. that you’d like in the room. Seeing the potential for a group of friends who take time to understand each other’s wishes and commit to being present when the time comes.

  • Nature of bardos: to what extent are they culture specific? Does it make sense to read the Tibetan Book of the Dead to the dying? (response from Chagdud Khadro: probably not, unless you are realized enough to know where someone is in the process, and the Tibetan references makes sense to them)

  • To what extent is what happens after you die a creation of what you believed when you were alive?

  • Everyday practices for remembering death and letting go of attachments. E.g., Four Reminders, leaning into opportunities to stretch and let go, being present to others’ dying. At the end of each day, before going to sleep, we can contemplate regrets, forming the intention not to repeat them, and make offerings of whatever merit, beauty, kindness, and “good job” we have accumulated.

  • Re nonattachment: Noting the difference between being detached (distant, abstracting, short-circuiting intelligence of the body and emotions, spiritual bypassing) and letting go of grasping within the fullness of life, feeling, and dying.