Ending Conditioned Doing with the Eightfold Path

from a talk by Gloria Green

The Buddha says that we can cultivate the wisdom that eliminates the ignorance that causes suffering. The course way for movement leading to the end of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path with its eight factors: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

We start with Right Effort. Gandhi took a day off each week since only through prayer and meditation could he stay connected to the purest within him. Addictive doing is not Right Effort. We need breaks for our spirit to thrive. We need to pick up on clouds, sunshine, let internal chatter pass like the chattering brook that touches rocks and moves on.

Continuing with Right View. Conditioned doing may not allow us to be where we are long enough to pick up on the beauty that is shining through everything all the time. We may be going so fast that we don’t see or hear what is right here. For example, the “Washington Post” experiment: Joshua Bell played Bach in the D.C. Metro station and no one (except a few children whose parents hurried them away) stopped to listen.

Right Action here means taking a sacred pause, a pause from our habit energies. Activity in and of itself is not bad. It is the sense of having to speed, the judgment that there is not enough, that we must keep going. So we lose sight of the depth and wholeness of our being and live in a small narrative of our doing self.

With Right Mindfulness we get a sense of what is driving the habit of always being busy: how we stay in the mind and let it tumble forward into the future; how we disconnect from the body; how we worry that there is not enough time.

With Right View we can look more deeply at who we are when we find ourselves in this state. We can get familiar with the narrative we have of our self: that we are not doing enough. The urge to do is a flinch response, a temporary fix, so we keep recycling back into it, thus staying in a cloud of reactivity — cut off and not seeing the light of our being.

The strategy that most lends to non-conditioned doing is simple mindful awareness. There is that magic quarter second before impulse leads to action. Mindfulness allows us some choice. We find the space between the stimulus and the response and are able to interrupt the patterning to rest in presence. When we slip from presence to being on our way again, it takes Right Diligence (Effort) to catch ourselves and return to the present.

Strategies to help us pause regularly include setting the intention at the beginning of the day; figuring out places conducive to pausing (a red light, random walking, when picking up the phone). Meditation itself can be seen as a very big pause. Consider making some portion of your meditation period simply being, no other “project”. Such a pause allows us to take refuge in the pure unconditioned presence that we are.

 

SnowFlower Children’s Program

by Geri Gurman

On January 15, 2019 the first meeting of SnowFlower Sangha’s children’s program took place at the Friends Meetinghouse. Eleven children, and several of their parents, joined for about an hour in the lower level of the building. I was heartened by the response of both children and parents and am curious about how this pilot program will evolve. Our next meeting is scheduled for February 19.

Highlights of our first meeting included:

  • Saying our names and creating a gesture for our favorite animal, with the group repeating the name and the gesture
  • Talking about settling our minds and using a snow globe to represent the flurry of thoughts we all have
  • Jellyfish Breathing – breathing under a large, shimmery blue cloth which moves up and down like a jellyfish swimming in the ocean
  • Walking on the Earth with the Earth – walking with soft Earth balls held gently between the palm of the hands
  • Closing circle – touching pinky fingers, swaying right and left, imagining the positive energy flowing through us to everyone in our circle of connection
  • Walking meditation with the adults

To enhance the program, I have offered a copy of my “Tai Chi Animal Frolics” DVD to the SnowFlower Sangha lending library. I hope many of you will borrow it and try the Tai Chi Animal Frolics form and other activities demonstrated in the video. All of the children in the film were students of mine from Hawthorne and John Muir Elementary Schools.

Contact Gerri Gurman if you have any questions or thoughts about the program.

 

Announcements

SnowFlower Potluck

Join us at the annual SnowFlower Potluck Saturday February 2 from 11am-2pm. Click here to RSVP

All Sangha Baby Blessing Ceremony

All Sangha Baby Blessing Ceremony for Leah, Zach, and Linnea Followed by Maitreya – The Buddha to be Born, Tuesday February 19 from 7:00 – 8:30 at the Friends Meetinghouse

Communi-Tea Time

Enjoy a delicious cup of tea and conversation with SnowFlowers, Tuesday 6:00 – 6:50pm – Friends Meetinghouse.

Tea with Susan Pearsall

Quiet Conversation and Turkish Tea in Susan’s home. Contact Susan at dmls313@sbcglobal.net

Tuesday and Friday Sangha Meetings

The Friends Meetinghouse, 1704 Roberts Court, Madison, WI. 7:00 – 8:30pm.

Wednesday Daytime Sangha Meetings

Locations Rotate, 1:30-3:00 pm – Refer to Wednesday listsrv emails for location information and updates. For more info, email questions@snowflower.org

Sunday Morning Sangha Meetings

Locations Rotate, 10:00 – 11:30 am. Refer to Sunday listserv emails for location and topic. For more info, e-mail questions@snowflower.org

SnowFlower Sangha Mentoring Program

It is natural that newcomers to the practice may have questions. A mentoring relationship supports a newer practitioner by clarifying matters of personal practice and sangha practice. The logistics are up to the mentor and mentee. If interested, contact Susan Pearsall at  dmls313@sbcglobal.net

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