January, 2011

Happy New Year Greetings!

January Retreat Day

Saturday, January 29 2011     8:30 am – 1:00 pm

The Human Condition

In addition to our two sessions of sitting meditation, the group will watch a video from “The Spiritual Journey” series featuring the teaching of Father Thomas Keating.  Keating delineates the human condition as fraught with difficulties because our false self insists on looking for happiness in all the wrong places.  Our selfish motives keep looking for more security, more affection and esteem, and more and more power and control as ways to keep us happy.  When these programs for happiness get frustrated, we experience a negative emotional response.  In this video, “The Human Condition:  Dismantling the Emotional Programs”, we will learn how our practice of meditation helps to dismantle these programs and begins to change our addictions into preferences.  All are welcome.  A freewill offering will be available.

Meditation Opportunities

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in January and February from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are practicing group contemplative listening.  We listen to a short reading from a contemplative author or poet, sit together for a period of silence, and share our reflections with the group.  This is a wonderful way to practice deep listening to each other.  All are welcome to join us at any time

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.

Upcoming Events

Jan. 10 – March 7                            Monday evening meditation at Christian Church of PG  6:30 – 8:00 pm

February 8                                      Hei’s Tai Chi class begins at Oldemeyer Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

February 19                                     MMG Retreat Day of Zen sitting 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

March 21                                         MMG Retreat Day

April 30                                           MMG Retreat Day

May 21                                            MMG Retreat Day of Zen sitting

8:30 am – 3:00 pm

June 25                                           MMG Retreat Day with Prof. John Provost, The poetry of Rumi

August 14 – 21                                  Yamada Roshi Sesshin at Mercy Center

Summary of November’s Retreat

In November (it seems so long ago), Monterey Meditation Group hosted a contemplative retreat with Ruben Habito.  It was a Friday evening and Saturday event that brought meditators together from Sacramento, the SF bay area, Southern California and those of us that reside here on the Central coast.  To me, the sitting together is the blessing of these times we spend together.  And, as we had Ruben Habito as our teacher, we were also graced with his talks and individual interviews.

Ruben shared the four fruits of the awakened state that contemplative practice (such as Zen sitting) is leading us toward:

1.  Loving kindness  — to seek the well being of others

2.  Compassion – to connect with the pains and sufferings of others

3.  Sympathetic Joy – to share the joyful experiences of others

4.  Equanimity – to see things as they really are in a state of total freedom and

perfect peace

Ruben also pointed out the many ways (six degrees of separation to be exact) that our human condition convinces us that we are isolated and separate creations in life:

1.  we are separated from our True Self  (we think we are only our ego)

2.  we are separated from others

3.  we are separated from nature

4.  we are separated from our shadow (unaware of the dark side of our

personality)

5.  we are separated from our masculine/feminine sides of our personality

6.  we are separated from the NOW (out of touch with the Present Moment)

Wow!  That is a lot of separation.  No wonder the human condition is fraught with so much pain and suffering.  And I believe that is why the sitting together is a gift to us all.  It is a time to let the boundaries fall and allow ourselves to experience the connection that is the Truth – we are not actually separate.  We are connected and we are gifts to each other.  Thank you Ruben for your Presence with us in November.

In closing, a Native American Prayer:

O Great Spirit

Whose voice I hear in the winds

And whose breath gives life to all the world

Hear me.  I am small and weak.

I need your strength and wisdom

Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes

Ever behold the red and purple sunset

Make my hands respect the things I have made

And my eyes sharp to hear your voice

Make me wise so that I may understand the things

You have taught my people

Let me learn the lessons you have hidden

In every leaf and rock

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother

But to fight my greatest enemy – myself

Make me always ready to come to you with

Clean hands and straight eyes

So when life fades as the fading sunset

My spirit may come to you without shame

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