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Spiritual Program Notes

Posted April 5, 2019:

 

All around us, the world is bursting into flower – dogwoods, redbuds, irises opening their beauty in bloom.

Likewise, Kadampa Center’s spiritual programs are blooming with opportunities for us to experience the beauty of the Dharma, in teachings, meditation and retreat.

In our Wednesday night Lamrim class (7 to 8:30 pm), Geshe Gelek has just begun teaching on the wisdom of emptiness. The first session on this topic erupted into a spirited debate about the nature of self, with Geshe-la happily encouraging us to take a position, give our reasoning, and question our own and others’ assumptions, just as the monks do in debate in the monastery. We will continue exploring this essential Buddhist concept in the coming weeks.

Geshe Sangpo has begun teaching the Seven Limb practice on Thursday nights (7 to 8 pm). In this week’s class on making offerings, he reminded us that making offerings is a portable practice that we can do anywhere, any time, using just our thoughts – in the grocery store offering all the delicious foods, at the mall offering all the clothes and phones and gadgets, or in a spring garden offering all the blooming flowers and trees. His class is ongoing; we will learn the hand mudras to use in offerings next week.

Meditators can sprout new insights in our Lamrim meditation practice day, Saturday, April 13, 9 am to 3 pm. We will have guided meditations on Breathing, Clarity of the Mind, Precious Human Rebirth and more in this focused, silent meditation day.  And our First Saturday meditation at 9:30 am April 6 will also feature guided meditations to help set a calm, happy mind.

Our special Dharma blossom of the month is a Tara mini-retreat on Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28, 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.  Guided by Geshe Gelek, we will learn how to do retreat  in order to cultivate a deeper connection to Tara, whose enlightened activities include removing obstacles and swift action to help sentient beings.  The mini-retreat will include three sessions each day, with a break for lunch.  On Sunday, our Family Program and Meditation Circle will take place as usual, and in the gompa, all are welcome to come join in the retreat session. Want to learn how to set up the Tara altar? Come along on Friday, April 26 at 10:30 am.

Happy trails along the path to enlightenment, and keep blooming!

 

 

Posted February 2, 2019:

Kadampa Center has some wonderful events coming up in our Spiritual Programs in February, including lots of activities during a special holy season, and hosting a visiting teacher, Venerable Amy Miller.

This will be a powerful month for spiritual practice, because of the 15-day Days of Miracles season. This period, which starts on Losar, the Tibetan New Year, commemorates a time when the Buddha performed a series of miracles to demonstrate the power and validity of the Dharma, to benefit both his followers and a group of teachers who didn’t believe in his teachings. These miracles led to many people achieving realizations and being liberated from samsara.

All 15 days in this time period are merit-multiplying days, when the karmic effects of our beneficial actions are multiplied exponentially, according to Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

This is a good time to intensify your personal practice, whether it’s adding a few mantras to your daily prayers, adding some practices that resonate for you or setting aside time to read lamrim or other Dharma books.

                   

At Kadampa Center, we will offer these practices and events:

* On Losar itself, Tuesday, Feb. 5, we will do a Guru Puja honoring Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche,  co-founders of FPMT, at 12 pm. Guru Puja is a celebration of our teachers’ virtuous qualities, and like any celebration, it includes food that we all share!  All are welcome to come.

* On Sunday, Feb. 10, we will have our annual Losar celebration in the gompa during the 10:30 am teaching time, with song, dance and treats to eat and drink. There will be no Family Program classes on this day; children are welcome to stay in the gompa.

* Also on Feb. 10, but not on our premises, there will be a Long Life Puja at Sera Je Monastery in India, to benefit our Geshes’ teacher, H.E. Khensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Delek. Many of us have had the good fortune to receive teachings from Khensur Rinpoche during his visits to Kadampa Center, and might want to offer personal prayers for his long life on this day. Our own Geshe Sangpo will be there, representing all of us at Kadampa Center.  When he was requested to attend this important puja, Geshe Sangpo chose to stay in Asia following the pilgrimage he led with Kadampa Center members, rather than incur the cost of traveling back and forth. He has been using his time attending teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Bodhgaya, and visiting holy sites, as well as helping with preparations for the puja.

* On Saturday, Feb. 16, at 1 pm, Tara will be the focus as we do the Treasury of Two Siddhis practice. This amazing practice takes us through each of the 21 Taras, visualizing each Tara and thinking about the specific spiritual help and protection she offers. 

* On Tuesday, Feb. 19, we will mark the final Day of Miracles (Chotrul Duchen), with two opportunities to gather and read a sutra -- a text of one of the Buddha’s teachings -- as a group. We do this monastery style, with everyone taking a few pages and reading out loud simultaneously.  It’s great fun!  Come at noon for the Sanghata Sutra, and at 7 pm for the Golden Light Sutra.

Another highlight of February will be a visit from Venerable Amy Miller, who will teach on Awakening the Warrior Within from Friday, Feb. 22 through Sunday, Feb. 24.

Venerable Amy’s workshop will focus on Thought Transformation, the spiritual mindset that gives us the tools to use the problems, disappointments and complications of life as grist for the mill in our practice. 

Venerable Amy teaches with a warm style that focuses on recognizing how Buddhist philosophy is relevant to our daily lives. Come and pick up a new tool for your spiritual kit bag!

Our daytime introductory courses will begin again on Thursday, February 7, 10-11:30 am with Meditation 101, led by Andre Smith.  This course will introduce the various types of meditation and offer practical advice for starting a daily meditation practice.  We introduced daytime classes last year so that people who can’t come at night would have an opportunity to learn, and they’ve been very popular. Tell your family and friends! Bonus – this class also begins during the holy days, so extra merit in attending. 

May all your days in February -- and always -- be filled with happiness!

 

Posted January 5, 2019:

Here’s a quick look at special events coming up in Spiritual Programs at Kadampa Center in the next few weeks:

*  Sunday morning (January 6) during the teachings, some of our members who went on pilgrimage to India will talk about visiting Sera Je Monastery and several holy sites, complete with photos and videos. Don’t miss it!

*  We start a new two-year cycle of Discovering Buddhism on Monday, Jan. 7, with "Mind and Its Potential"  with Robbie Watkins. Come and get in on the ground floor!

*  We’re doing Tara practice in new ways, to bring Tara close to us:

    Our monthly Tara practice is moved to 1 pm on the third Saturday of each month (January 19). We will bring the 21 Taras into the center of the gompa so we can circumambulate them while reciting their praises.  Most months, our practice will be mainly chanting the praises, to help us fulfill Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s request that we complete 100,000 Tara praises to remove obstacles for the next Light of the Path retreat.
   On February 16, we will do the more extensive Tara practice called Treasury of Two Siddhis. In this beautiful practice, we visualize each Tara individually and offer praises, prostrations and mantras.
   We will have an additional practice chanting Tara's praises at 1 pm Saturday, February 9.

Losar, the Tibetan New Year, falls on Tuesday, Feb. 5 this year.  We will have a celebration in the gompa the previous Sunday, Feb. 3.  On Tuesday, Feb. 5, we will have a special guru puja at noon, dedicated to Lama Yeshe, founder of FPMT. Lama Yeshe passed away on Losar in 1984.

*  Losar also ushers in the Days of Miracles, a 15-day period when the karmic results of all our actions are multiplied.  Our Tara practice in February falls within this period, so lots of energy in participating in this practice!

Buddhism in a Nutshell, a five-week overview of Buddhism, begins Tuesday, January 8, with Sandy Carlson.

Venerable Amy Miller will visit Friday, Feb. 22 through Sunday, February 24, to teach on Awakening the Warrior Within - Transforming problems into opportunities for spiritual growth.  

On a sadder note, we will have a memorial service at 7 pm on Friday, January 18 to benefit long-time member Shanti Latimer. Everyone is encouraged to come and offer support for Shanti as she passes through the bardo, and for her family.

Our Medicine Buddha puja at noon on Monday, January 14, will be dedicated to our member Jared Citron, who passed away January 3, and to Jose Moreno, close friend of our member Julie Quetel. Jose died in December. Again, everyone is encouraged to attend and offer prayers for Jared and Jose.

 

Posted November 2, 2018:

I want to pass on to everyone the kind affection for our Center that our Geshes’ teacher, Khensur Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Delek, expressed when we were in India.

Those of us who went on pilgrimage with Geshe Sangpo spent several days at Sera Jey Monastery, where he and Geshe Gelek grew up. During that time, we had the good fortune to meet with Khensur Rinpoche several times.

Khensur Rinpoche spoke very warmly and affectionately about Kadampa Center. He said the people of Kadampa Center are very good, very warm and kind and sincere. He would very much like to visit again, and he was very pleased that, even though he has not been able to come to Raleigh, some of us went to Sera Jey to see him.

Our group sponsored a Hayagriva initiation, and many Sera Jey monks also had the opportunity to attend and receive the initiation. During the ritual, Khensur Rinpoche said he prays for the success of Kadampa Center, and he requested all who were present also to pray for the success of our Center, and of our precious Geshe Gelek and Geshe Sangpo.

We also met privately with Khensur Rinpoche, both when we first arrived and over a lunch which he hosted for us at his home. We were happy to report to him our progress in fulfilling his instructions to recite 200,000 Green Tara mantras annually for the long lives of our Geshes -- as of late October when we departed Raleigh, our members had recited more than 670,000 mantras!

He expressed again that our community is very close to his hear, and He said that the next time he visits a Dharma center like ours, Kadampa Center will be his first choice.

So we can rejoice in our connection to this wonderful teacher!

Posted October 25, 2018:

Kadampa Center will offer some special programming in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 31, is Lhabab Duchen, a Buddha holy day that marks Buddha's return to teaching on Earth, after he had visited Tushita pure land to teach his mother. Lama Zopa Rinpoche says that on this day the karmic effects of our actions are multiplied one hundred million times, so it's especially good to do spiritual practice!

The Center will be open from 10 am to 7 pm for personal practice, plus these events:

12 pm:  Group reading of the Vajra Cutter Sutra
7 pm Geshe Gelek will  teach on the 12 deeds of the Buddha, followed by a reading of the Heart Sutra.

A wonderful day!

Sundays During the month of November, we will offer some exciting special programs on Sunday mornings, during the 10:30-noon period. Our Family Program will continue to operate as usual, with special activities in the gompa for all ages on November 25.

Here's what to look forward to:

November 4:    Geshe Gelek will teach

November 11: Developing self-compassion   In our journey to reduce troubling thoughts, develop our positive qualities, and extend our compassion to all sentient beings, some of us may stumble with bringing kindness, acceptance, and a caring attitude towards ourselves. This session will bring together insights from the
 increasing body of scientific evidence about the many physical and emotional benefits of self-compassion and how self-compassion fits into Buddhist psychology.
Led by Karen Edwards  

November 18:  Thinking of thanks Just in time for Thanksgiving, we will explore gratitude, how it benefits us and how to think about it in a meaningful way. We'll learn a little about how science has shown that gratitude improves happiness, and think about our own role models for gratitude.
Led by Denise Flora

November 25:  Giving.. is thanking.  In Buddhism, we practice offering a mandala - a whole jeweled universe of the best of everything - to our teachers and to the Buddhas. Geshe Sangpo reminds us that this is a wonderful practice for earning merit. On this Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, we'll offer a special mandala, created from items donated to benefit Interact. We'll learn about the practice, and use our day to benefit others!  
Led by Christy Batts, coordinator of our Family Program

Monday nights in November and December we will also provide a special new program - Taking it to Heart: Making the Dharma your Own.
In our Dharma classes we can discover a host of intriguing ideas that we want to chew over, debate, and turn inside out until we thoroughly understand them.  This is our opportunity to do so!  On Monday nights in November and December, we will offer facilitated discussion sessions, and we invite everyone --  past and future Discovering Buddhism students and teachers, and anyone else who wants to discuss foundational
Buddhist topics in the context of day-to-day practice.
Meets Mondays, 7-8:30 pm  Nov. 5, 12, 26,  Dec. 3 and 10

Also in November, the Wednesday night lamrim course will take a hiatus. Geshe Gelek began teaching on Karma this week, and he asks students to continue reading on the topic during November, make a note about any questions that arise, and prepare for some lively Q&A when the class resumes December 5.

 

Posted September 19, 2018

       On Wednesday nights, Geshe Gelek has completed his teaching on the Three Principal Aspects of the Path and has returned to teaching lamrim from the full Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, by Lama Tsongkhapa.  You can follow along in Volume I of the three-volume set, starting on Chapter 22, page 327, or in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, page 463 in the blue-cover version of the book.
 

Saturday, September 22, from 1 to 5:30 pm, we will have a special Tara practice, A Treasury of Two Siddhis, in which we will spend time with each of the 21 Taras, contemplating her specific enlightened activity and engaging in the Seven Limbs of practice:  prostration, offering, purification, rejoicing, entreating Tara to remain, requesting Tara to teach, and dedication.

We will bring our Tara statues out from the main altar to a special altar in the center of the gompa, so that we can also circumambulate.   

The major part of the setup will take place Friday afternoon, beginning at 1 pm.  Anyone who wants to help is welcome!

Making offerings to Tara is part of this practice, so everyone is invited to arrive starting at 11:30 am Saturday to create a beautiful, bountiful array of offerings – and you are welcome to bring your own flowers or food (avoiding food with eggs, meat, onion, garlic or radish).

Geshe Gelek will join us for this practice.

  
   

On the next two Sundays, our own Denise Flora will be sharing some tools for integrating practice into our daily lives using the natural rhythms of life, which she gathered into her just-published book, The Rhythm of Virtue. This coming Sunday there will be a chance to sample some of the techniques, and the following Sunday we’ll celebrate her accomplishment with a book launch during our Sunday Tea Time after the teachings.

Denise will also offer three longer workshops drawing on the tools in the book, in October, November and December.

Denise has worked for many years with FPMT’s Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom project.

 

We are close to completing the current cycle of Discovering Buddhism classes!  If you participated in the course, please come to our celebration on Monday, October 8 at 7 pm.  We will begin a new cycle in January.

In the meantime… during November and early December, we’ll have Dharma discussion on Monday nights with "Taking it to Heart: Making the Dharma Your Own."  This is the chance to explore Dharma questions with fellow students and DB teachers, in a context where there’s time to wander down the byways and side streets of inquiry.

 

 

 

Posted June 21, 2018

Summer heat wave getting you down?  Step into the cool breeze of spiritual practice!

Kadampa Center is hosting some wonderful opportunities for practice in the coming weeks. There’s something for everyone - whether you are looking for a party honoring His Holiness, a one-time compassionate action, a weekend of teachings or a weekend of intensive purification practice!

Here’s what is coming up:

The party

 On Sunday, July 1, we will celebrate His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama’s birthday in the gompa form 10:30 am to noon. We will begin with prayers for his long life, then a movie about His Holiness’ life, and – whoa, no birthday party is complete without cake! Children from our Family Program will offer the projects they’ve been preparing for his birthday.  Everyone will have an opportunity to offer a kata as well!

   

 

The one-time compassionate action

    

His Holiness has often said that the best gift anyone can give him is to act with compassion. With that in mind, Kadampa Center is hosting our second annual Blood Drive in honor of His Holiness’ birthday. We will set up our gompa for the drive, so that donors can be surrounded by buddhas and bodhisattvas and meditate on compassion and loving-kindness while offering our very bodies to benefit others.

Last year we exceeded expectations with a total donation of 39 pints.  Everyone who participates – donors and support volunteers – will be invited to sign our special birthday card, that we will send to His Holiness so that he will know about our actions honoring him.

It all happens from 10 am to 2:30 pm on Friday, July 6. Come be part of this loving act of generosity.

This drive is our participation in Compassion Day, started by the North American Region of our mother organization, FPMT.

 

The weekend teachings

Every Sunday morning we begin our time together with the Four Immeasurables, a simple but very profound prayer that offers love, compassion, joy and equanimity to all sentient beings.

In this weekend workshop with visiting teacher Don Handrick, we will explore the meaning of this prayer in depth.  Don will also teach the first session of Discovering Buddhism: Transforming Problems, on Monday. As always with visiting teachers, everyone is invited to participate as a volunteer and/or sponsor, and get a little deeper into the action.

Details:  Friday, July 6, 7-9 pm, Saturday & Sunday, July 7&8, 10am-4pm, Monday, July 9, 7-8:30pmDon't miss it!

 

 

 

The intensive purification retreat

 

Kadampa Center is very happy to be hosting a wonderful and rare opportunity for doing the Nyung Nä retreat. In my 18+ years at KC, this is only the third time we have been able to offer this practice.  Over the course of two days and a morning, participants will meditate on bodhicitta, recite prayers and mantras, and perform many prostrations – and in the process, will purify eons of negative karma. How amazing and wonderful! 

And here’s the exciting thing about this practice:  you don’t have to participate directly to gain merit from the retreat happening at Kadampa Center. Nyung Nä is a very powerful practice, so the merit earned in connection to the practice is also super-juiced.  Any support offered to the retreat, whether volunteering (we need a cook!) or helping to defray the cost by sponsoring the retreat, is an opportunity to share in the merit of those who are doing the practice.  How cool is that?

The Nyung Nä will take place Thursday, July 19 through Sunday morning, July 22.

If you’re interested in preparing meals for the retreat, let me know and we’ll talk about what’s needed.

 

So get ready to face the summer heat!  Slather on our special brand of sunscreen –  SPF (Spiritual Practice Factor) 108 – and dive into a refreshing pool of learning, practice, action and celebration!