Since June 2020, I have been offering an online meditation on Monday mornings, called “Start Your Week Well.” As an extension of that idea, you’re invited to join me and meditators from around the world for a full day of drop-in online meditation to help start your YEAR well.
This will be an opportunity to strengthen your meditation practice and connect with friends from around the world, so that we can begin 2023 on a positive note.
I will lead our usual Monday morning online meditation at 7:30 am NZT for 45 minutes, which you’re welcome to join even if you haven’t previously attended. Then we’ll start regular 30 minute meditation sessions every hour between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm NZT (see below for other time zones).
Each session will begin with a few minutes of guidance followed by silent meditation for 30 mins, then a half hour break before the next session begins. There will be a 1.5 hour break in the middle of the day, followed by an optional session of relational practice at 2:00 pm NZT, where you can connect with other meditators in breakout rooms to contemplate a dharma theme together.
You’re welcome to join as many of these sessions as you like, and as suits your time-zone.
This event is offered on a dāna / donation basis and is free to register. Please make sure to register for a ticket, so that you can be sent the Zoom registration link a day before the event starts, plus more detailed information about the timing of meditation sessions throughout the day.
Times and date:
Monday Morning Meditation Session – Start Your Week Well
Auckland 7:30-8:15 a.m. NZT Monday 2 January 2023 Sydney 5:30-6:15 am AEST Monday 2 January 2023 Singapore 2:30-3:15 am SGT Monday 2 January 2023 San Francisco 10:30-11:15 am PST Sunday 1 January 2023 New York 1:30-2:15 pm EST Sunday 1 January 2023
Auckland 9:00-4:30 p.m. NZT Monday 2 January 2023 Sydney 7:00-2:30 pm AEST Monday 2 January 2023 Singapore 4:00-11:30 am SGT Monday 2 January 2023 San Francisco 12:00-7:30 pm PST Sunday 1 January 2023 New York 3:00-10:30 pm EST Sunday 1 January 2023
*There is no registration fee for this event. In keeping with Buddhist tradition, the teachings are offered on a dāna basis which means the teacher is not paid to offer this workshop. Instead, they rely on the generosity of the participants to help them continue to share their teachings with others, and there will be an opportunity at the end of the workshop to offer donations to support their ongoing teaching.
Metta Meditation & Community Gathering organised by IMS
At times it seems like goodness may be getting harder and harder to find. In this moment, all around the globe—from Ukraine to Ethiopia, Afghanistan to Myanmar, as well as in the fractured United States—the prevalent expressions of grasping, hatred, and delusion can feel overwhelming. Yet the cultivation of our essential goodness is something we can all prioritize and elevate. As the Buddha taught, it is an eternal law that hatred can never cease by hatred—hatred can only cease by love.
This month, join us as we practice lovingkindness together as a way to explore compassion, the power of love, joy in the happiness of others, and balance of mind experienced as equanimity. This practice is not a replacement for other actions we undertake as we try to make this a better world; it’s an affirmation of the forces that strengthen and empower us to keep doing whatever we can in the face of challenge and adversity.
Guided metta meditations will be led by: Sharon Salzberg, Winnie Nazarko, Guy Armstrong, Trudy Goodman, Tara Mulay, Alexis Santos, and Jack Kornfield.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
March 7, 9, 11, 13March 14, 16, 18, 2012:00 – 12:15 pm ET = 6:00 am next day, NZT
Dialogue between Rupert Spira and a young woman in Kiev, who asks him, “How do I stay courageous while facing death?”
The Shambhala Warrior Prophecy with Joanna Macy
There comes a time when all life on earth is in danger. In this time great powers have arisen barbarian powers … Now the Shambhala warriors go into training … they train in the use of two weapons … one is compassion and the other is insight …
Are Ukrainians more deserving of sympathy than Afghans and Iraqis? Many seem to think so
While on air, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata stated last week that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen”.
Russell Brand interviews Yanis Varoufakis, who talks about “fashionable” and “unfashionable” victims of war
Due to Covid, this retreat isNOW FULLY ON-LINE and there are just a couple of places available
This eight-day on-line retreat offers a rare opportunity to connect with one of the most highly-respected insight teachers in the US, Gil Fronsdal.
Option 1: Online retreat
Held in silence and grounded in the practice of mindfulness, each day, there will be sessions of guided and silent sitting meditation, walking meditation, dharma talks, and practice discussion with the teachers.
Gil will offer daily practice instructions each morning NZT, and a dharma talk in the early afternoon via Zoom. Jill will give a short evening dharma talk and provide other support as needed.
Participants who can commit to attending most of the sessions each day are invited to choose this option, which gives them two individual practice discussions with Gil online.
Option 2: Audit option
A small number of places will be available for people to join the retreat online as auditors, following the same retreat schedule at home and at a minimum, attending all three instruction sessions each day. The audit option allows people to join Gil’s on-line teaching sessions via Zoom and to have access to recordings of the talks and guided meditations. Auditors will not have individual practice discussions with Gil, but there will be two optional opportunities to meet with Jill for a small group practice discussion on Zoom.
Teachers: Gil Fronsdal (USA), supported by Jill Shepherd (NZ)
Gil Fronsdal is the founding teacher, and a co-guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He has been teaching since 1990. Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He is a husband and father of two boys.
Jill Shepherd is the founding teacher of Auckland Insight. See her bio here.
Experience level: This retreat is best suited to people who have done at least two previous insight meditation two-day residential retreats or equivalent.
Retreat fees: $100 + dana*
Cancellation policy: The payment is refundable up to thirty days before the retreat begins. If you cancel after this time, the retreat cost will be forfeited and used to help provide scholarship places.
If we have to cancel the retreat due to Covid-19, you will receive a full refund.
*Dāna: In most Buddhist traditions the teachers are not paid to teach. Instead, the teachings are given on a ‘dāna’ basis – dana being the Pali word for generosity or giving freely – so there will be an opportunity to offer a donation for the teaching at the end of the event.
In the backdrop of a pandemic and state actors actively hostile to science, ecological breakdown looms. The potential for overwhelm is real. While we take steps to demand racial justice, protect voting rights, or defend ecosystems, we can also invest in our inner resources. With the support of community, we can turn toward difficulty and transmute it into wisdom. Supported by a diverse and rich set of teachers, we invite you to gather with others online and explore our respective edges, meeting all that arises in us and discovering an authentic way forward.
The EcoSattva Training has been specifically designed to support self-paced and self-scheduled participation, with core video teachings and plentiful resources for contemplation and interacting with fellow participants. It is ideally experienced in a small group, which can be in-person or online; no matter where you are or whether it is safe yet to meet up, you can start or join a group to progress through the course. Then join the monthly live sessions to connect with the global community of registered EcoSattvas in training, no matter where each is in the course.
This course is offered by One Earth Sangha and includes presentations by well-known Western Dharma leaderes such as Thanissara, David Loy, Dan Siegel, Lama Willa Miller, Yanai Postelnik and Myokei Caine-Barrett.
A free, video-based, engaging & practical online course.
If you’ve been despairing about the state of our world since the release of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, this free online training could be supportive. It’s based on Joanna Macy’s the Work That Reconnects, and is presented by Chris Johnstone, who co-authored the book Active Hope with Joanna.
Extinction Rebellion is challenging Jacinda Ardern to use the global platform of COP26 to commit to urgent, effective measures for Aotearoa – and inspire others to do the same. Measures like:
Stopping fossil fuel use to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 – yes 2025! (The latest IPCC report shows how essential this is.)
Planning for Aotearoa to ‘power down’ and consume less while we treat our energy sources as precious.
Repairing and protecting the land, water and wild areas we depend on for food and life.
Reshaping the economy to meet people’s needs. Prioritising connection, fairness, quality of life, secure homes, clean water and healthy whanau over “wealth” and “growth” for their own sakes.
Setting up a Te Tiriti based climate assembly that ensures equity between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Te Tiriti and gives a voice to ordinary people’s concerns, rather than the groups with powerful vested interests in the current system.
We believe this Open Letter reflects the concerns of many others who want urgent and decisive action – on the climate crisis, on the damage to our land and rivers and, not least, on the inequality and human suffering that result from our GDP-obsessed economic system.
All around Australia, people are taking the day off to demand climate justice for everyone. We are in the thick of the climate crisis. Yet our government continues to subsidise their mates in the fossil fuel industry, putting all of us at risk. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change hurt those closest to us.
If we don’t take action now and transition swiftly away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, things will only get worse. But it’s going to take all of us working together to succeed. Australia is ranked last in the world on climate action. If we do not take action now, Australia risks being left behind, resulting in economic and climate impacts beyond what we can comprehend. The government thinks that our movement of young people can’t hurt them. Think again. Thousands of us can now vote since our first strike in 2018, and that number is only going to grow. Join us on October 15, two weeks before the COP 26 global climate summit by taking the day off school, work or uni to tell the government that we’re serious about climate action, and won’t go away until they stop selling our futures.
The world isn’t waiting, so neither are we. Sign up here
The internationally acclaimed Buddhist monastic, scholar, and vocal advocate for full female monastic ordination Venerable Dr. Bhikkhuni Kusuma Devendra died of Covid complications late on Saturday in Sri Lanka. She was 92 years old.
Some personal reflections on meeting Bhikkhuni Kusuma
Bhikkhuni Kusuma was for me, a real life example of someone who embodied all four of the brahmavihāra qualities of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.
I first heard about her from a friend in Thailand, who told me that Bhikkhuni Kusuma had been one of the first women to take full ordination as a nun back in 1996, in Sarnath, India. That piqued my interest, and through my friend, I made contact with her and found out that she was planning to visit Australia. At that time, in the early 2000s, I was managing a meditation centre in New South Wales, and I was able to invite her to come and teach a weekend retreat for us.
The first time I met Bhikkhuni Kusuma, I immediately felt her warmth, openness and grandmotherly kindness. She seemed to me to be the embodiment of mettā energy. Whenever I was around her, she just wanted to hold my hand, not for support because she was elderly, but because of her natural warmth and connectedness.
On that first weekend retreat, I was supposed to be doing the cooking and she was supposed to be doing the teaching. But Bhikkhuni Kusuma spent almost as much time in the kitchen as she did in the meditation hall. She very good-naturedly supervised me in the preparation of her favourite Sri Lankan dishes, which she wanted to share with the meditators. And when the food was served, she watched with delight when people went back to take second helpings
As I got to know her a little better during that weekend and subsequent visits, I discovered there were many other dimensions to her beyond the warm grandmother. She had been a high school science teacher for 12 years then an English lecturer for 20 years at a University in Sri Lanka.
Her life changed when she started studying for a Master’s Degree in Buddhism, and stumbled across the Therigatha, the Poems of the Buddhist Nuns, and according to her biography, her mind became filled with “… thoughts of enlightenment for women”
She secured a small research grant to write a doctoral thesis, which helped to drive interest in reviving the Bhikkhuni lineage of fully ordained nuns. She then found a senior monk, Ven. Vipulasara Thera, who was willing to hold an ordination ceremony for women, even though this was controversial in Sri Lanka at that time.
There were many twists and turns in the events leading up to this ceremony. Bhikkhuni Kusuma told me that although most of the details of the ceremony had been organised in Sarnath, India, as the time got closer, hostility grew and some of the nuns received death threats.
Shortly before the ceremony, Ven. Vipulasara Thera asked her to be one of the first to ordain. Her first response was NO, I’m just the researcher, I’m not a nun! But she told me that when she thought about it more, she thought to herself:
“I’m an older woman, I’ve lived a full life, if there are death threats, let me be the one who dies, not one of these younger nuns”
So in 1996, she went ahead and became a bhikkhuni, a fully ordained nun, out of compassion for the other women who wanted to take that path.
She was interviewed by a Sri Lankan newspaper in 2012, and I was struck by her equanimity as she reflected on those events.
Somewhat to my surprise, I find that the incidents in the past which at that time may have been so difficult and sad to deal with now do not arouse any strong emotional response in my mind. The events that had made deep impressions on me seem to be long dead and gone, and I do not feel any strong likes or dislikes, or anger or sadness. Everything is buried in the sands of time, and I know that all of it will fade away with my death and dissolution.
Almost ten years after I first met Bhikkhuni Kusuma in Australia, I was living and working at IMS in Barre, Massachusetts. Someone in the Front Office told me that a fully-ordained nun from Sri Lanka wanted to visit IMS and if possible, to meet Joseph Goldstein. It turned out to be Bhikkhuni Kusuma!
I think she must have been eighty years old at that time, and although she had no idea that I was at IMS, when her car arrived out the front, she rolled down the window, looked at me and without missing a beat, said: Hello, Jill from the Blue Mountains, Australia!
Then Joseph came out to meet her. She told him that in the 1980s she had served him lunch at her home in Sri Lanka, and ever since then, she had wanted to visit IMS before she died. The three of us went into the meditation hall and Bhikkhuni Kusuma started prostrating to the Buddha. Tears were rolling down her face, tears of happiness. She said again: All my life I wanted to visit IMS before I die, and now I’m here!
I bowed with her, and I was crying, filled with muditā for how much it meant for her to visit IMS, even though she had been to all the pilgrimage sites in India and her home country of Sri Lanka. Bhikkhuni Kusuma’s courage and kindness and efforts to support women on the dharma path have been inspirational to me. In her own words:
I wish that bhikkhunis—not only in Sri Lanka, but all over the world—will be educated, will be practicing, will be talking about the Dharma and giving that knowledge to the world. Then, it will be a different world altogether. — Ven. Dr Bhikkhuni Kusuma
May it be so!
Please Help Establish a Sanctuary for Bhikkhunis in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Throughout the ages, people have sought places of refuge to engage in deep meditative practice – quieting their minds and opening their hearts for the sake of others as well as themselves.
Some have sought to become monastics, to dedicate themselves to contemplative practice and a life of service. For example, in the time of the Buddha and for centuries afterward, men and women were ordained as bhikkhus and bhikkhunis.
Unfortunately, full ordination for women in the Theravada (South East Asian) branch of Buddhism gradually died out. Consequently, the support that would enable them to give themselves full-time to monastic life and deep practice has been greatly restricted and often denied.
To help remedy this situation, the New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust (NZBST), a registered charity in New Zealand, is establishing the first meditation hermitage for bhikkhunis (fully ordained female monastics) in that country. The first step is to purchase a residence in Hamilton, where monastic women can live, practice, and offer teachings to the community.
Through the generous support of donors, we have paid the deposit and secured most of the funds to purchase a house in Hamilton. However, we require additional funding ($65 000 NZ) to establish our residence.
We hope you will find it in your heart to help us.
This is a historic step! Please go to our webpage to learn more: https://bhikkhuni-sangha.org.nz And please share this appeal with others who might be interested.
Your help will make a real difference in supporting full access to Buddhist practice for women. And it will make a profound difference to all those who come to this hermitage, and to all those whose lives they touch.
With respect and gratitude, New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust
Many of you know of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in Placerville, California, which was established by bhikkhunis Anandabodhi and Santacitta as a place where women can train as monastics and lay visitors can practice and serve.
Due to the recent and ongoing wildfires in California, the monastery has had to be evacuated. All the sisters are safe in Sacramento, and miraculously, it seems the monastery’s main buildings haven’t been damaged.
As the nuns say in their most recent update: This is thanks to the efforts of the 2,119 Firefighters who are giving their all to protect homes from the Caldor Fire. We appreciate the many people around the world who are chanting and praying for the safety of Aloka Vihara and for the many beings that are suffering in the fire and smoke. We would like to invite you to join us in generating metta (unconditional love) each day at 6:30 am and/or 6:30 pm PDT for the benefit of all beings and this beautiful planet Earth.
Ayya Anandabodhi, Ayya Ahimsa, Ayya Niyyanika
UPDATE 8 October 2021 from MaryAnn Gallo and Friends of Aloka Vihara
Kathina-Almsgiving is a very important ceremony every year, but this year feels especially poignant, coming in the wake of a terrible forest fire that the vihara – though threatened – survived. Out of concern for the health of the AVFM resident community as well as its supporters during the ongoing pandemic, the ceremony will be held virtually again this year. You can learn more about it here: Kathina-Almsgiving 2021. I hope you will be able to join us!
Exploring the Heart of Freedom is a sixteen-month program designed to cultivate our understanding of the core teachings of the Buddha, deepen our meditation practice, and help us to embody the dharma in spiritual friendship and community.
Jointly offered by IMS and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS), the program consists of five residential retreats in Barre, MA, which will include meditation practice, dharma study, and relational practices such as small group inquiry and contemplative sharing. Between retreats, participants will engage in ongoing study and practice, with bi-weekly teacher-facilitated online meetings in small groups.
The program will be taught by Dawn Scott, Jill Shepherd, William Edelglass, Nicola Redfern, Roxanne Dault, and Vance Pryor.
The curriculum is structured to gradually deepen an embodied understanding and practice of the foundational teachings in the Pāli canon in a way that is responsive to the diverse and, at times, challenging conditions of contemporary life.
The program will explore the following teachings and practices as the foundation for a Buddhist path.
Meditation practices to develop insight:
Satipaṭṭhāna meditation, especially as taught in The Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the key discourse for insight meditation practice
2. Meditation practices to develop calm and tranquility:
Samatha meditation and mindfulness of breathing as taught in the Anapanasati Sutta
3. Meditation practices to cultivate the heart-mind:
the four brahmavihāra meditations of kindness (mettā), compassion (karuṇā), appreciative joy (muditā), and equanimity (upekkhā)
4. Relational meditation practices:
grounded in mindful speaking and listening, we will explore a range of interpersonal meditation methods to strengthen our collective wisdom and compassion
The First Noble Truth: an exploration of dukkha in its many forms and the ways it can serve as a wake-up call in our own lives
The Second Noble Truth: investigating the cause of dukkha, including the three core afflictive energies of greed, aversion, and delusion
The Third Noble Truth: Awakenings: expressions of Nibbāna within the Pāli Canon and later Buddhist teachings, and their relevance for our own practice here and now
The Fourth Noble Truth: the Eightfold Path to awakening, of ethics and moral restraint (sīla), meditation (samādhi, bhāvanā), and transformative wisdom (paññā)
Feeling stretched? As the bad news continues and intensifies in various parts of the world, I’ve started collecting news articles, books and courses to turn to when I need some inspiration. Below are just a few suggestions – let me know if you have any favourites of your own!
The intent behind KarunaVirus.org is to amplify the voice of our collective compassion — by featuring news of everyday people choosing love over fear. We feel that the acts of courageous kindness we’re seeing all over the world will far outlive the virus, and if enough of us keep it front and center of our consciousness, it could well bring new possibilities for our future. https://www.karunavirus.org/
YES! Media is a nonprofit, independent publisher of solutions journalism.
Through rigorous reporting on the positive ways communities are responding to social problems and insightful commentary that sparks constructive discourse, YES! Media inspires people to build a more just, sustainable, and compassionate world.
A new book by meditation teacher Sebene Selassie To belong is to experience joy in any moment: to feel pleasure, dance in public, accept death, forgive what seems unforgivable, and extend kindness to yourself and others. To belong is also to acknowledge injustice, reckon with history, and face our own shadows. Full of practical advice and profound revelations, You Belong makes a winning case for resisting the forces that demand separation and reclaiming the connection—and belonging—that have been ours all along. https://tricycle.org/magazine/sebene-selassie-belong/
An internationally recognized 5-month course taught by James Baraz on opening to life with appreciation, resilience and an open heart. Learn fun and rewarding practices that lead to deep insight and authentic joy.
Registration for 2021 will open in November 2020. The first materials for the 2021 Awakening Joy course will be posted online the first week of February. The first live Zoom call on the theme of Intention will take place at the end of January.
21 & 22 November | Online | 9.00 am – 1.00 (AEST) pm each day
Join New York Times bestselling author Rick Hanson, PhD, to learn how to strengthen the neural circuitry of deep contentment and profound inner peace. Based on teachings from his new book Neurodharma: New Science, Ancient Wisdom, and Seven Practices of the Highest Happiness, this experiential workshop will provide you with methods for cultivating and embodying unshakable presence of mind, a courageous heart, and serenity in a changing world.
Just prior to entering into parinirvana, it is said that the Buddha encouraged his disciples to go on pilgrimage after his death to the sacred sites associated with his life. For over 2500 years practitioners from every corner of the Buddhist world have gone on pilgrimage. As a result, pilgrimage has both a rich literary history and a diverse array of practices associated with it.
This course is an inquiry into what pilgrimage means, both in its ideal form as described in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist writings, as well as how the principles of pilgrimage can infuse our lives with greater meaning and purpose. While investigating this topic, we will:
“visit” sacred pilgrimage sites of Buddhist traditions—such as Bodhgāya and Sarnatha in India, and Samye Chimpu and Tsogyal Lhatso in Tibet—through multimedia presentations.
explore traditional Buddhist materials.
engage in contemplative and relational practices.
elucidate the meaning of pilgrimage through our collective wisdom.
begin to reimagine our everyday activities in and through the lens of pilgrimage.
Our investigation will include materials related to the historical Buddha, as well as other historical Buddhist figures, such as the Tibetan female master Yeshe Tosgyal and the Chinese pilgrim-explorer Xuanzang.
Grounded in Justin’s six principles of pilgrimage—awareness, movement, education, kindness, inclusivity, and nature—this course is both experiential and interactive. Participants will be invited to engage in weekly exercises that will inform the unfolding of our sessions together and, while gathered, we will engage in dialogue in service of more fully understanding the experience of pilgrimage.
This course is appropriate for people of all walks of life and stages of practice. The only requirement is an open heart.
An online eight-week dharma study and practice course with Jill this October-November, offering an opportunity to develop and strengthen our inner resources of kindness, compassion, calm and clarity, through an exploration of what are traditionally known as “the four heavenly messengers.”
Description: This is a time in America when white people’s awareness of the terrible impact of racial injustice has increased dramatically in the context of the pandemic and following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. How can we respond? What can we do? What is whiteness, and how does it fit in with our dharma practice? How can we use the energy of this time to explore and address the suffering of racial injustice and promote, nurture and maintain greater inclusiveness and racial equity in our communities?
An online course run by White Awake starting August 16
This course is designed to help white men forge healthy racial and gender identities, cultivate emotional resilience, and gain political clarity as we join in solidarity with women, people of all genders, and people of color in the struggle for collective liberation.
Practical Things You Can Do to Fight Racism in the UK
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests taking place across the United States and the world, and the subsequent outpouring of activist sentiment on social media, it is more imperative than ever to continue momentum to make this a true moment of change. This of course leads to difficult questions for the white community, not least in the UK, where we must face up to our own failings as a country – racism, both overt and institutionalised, is not just an American problem.
From the author behind the bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, comes a podcast that takes the conversation a step further. Featuring key voices from the last few decades of anti-racist activism, About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge looks at the recent history that lead to the politics of today.
Whether or not we “believe” in rebirth, we might approach that teaching as an invitation to connect to our shared humanity, and try to listen to these voices as if they were our own family and friends speaking directly to us …