Upcoming Water Dakini Retreat 2015

Our Fire Dakini Retreat on June 21 was a sparking day of transformation. We used the tinder of our past pains, regrets, and burdens to kindle a fire into which we fed offerings to bring blessings of well-being on the whole Earth. We incinerated the karmas that have held us back and courageously embraced new ways of thinking as we worked with Vajrasattva and Vajrayogini. It was a smokin' hot day in more ways than one!

Our Water Dakini Retreat is tentatively scheduled for Sept or Oct. We will be doing a Beach Clean-Up in the morning, and compassion workings in the afternoon. Hands-on dharma!

Fire Dakini Retreat 6/21/15

All are welcome, near and far, to join our Sangha for our

Fire Retreat
10 am-4 pm PST
private home address given or video conference link will be sent to you upon registration
Donations gratefully accepted

As we journey through the Elements in our retreats this year, Space gives us room to practice, Air gives us time to write and be creative. Next up, Fire gives us a chance to transform.

We will begin the day with a Riwo Sangchöd, the Tibetan morning fire offering ceremony that clears obstacles and invites the blessings of the deities upon the mandala of our day. Following that, we will have a teaching on Vajrasattva, the deity of purification who removes negative karma, and perform Vajrasattva's 100-syllable mantra. Those in person are invited to bring papers upon which you have written any karmic challenges you face or obscurations you might be having a hard time clearing, and those at a distance are invited to email them to me and I will print them out to burn for you. My email is yesherabbit (at) gmail (dot) com.

Following that, we will have lunch, and over lunch we will discuss the ways in which passion is a gift of fire in our lives and practices.

After lunch, we will learn about Vajrayogini, the fire goddess associated with our Sangha's mandala, and about the Tantric goddess Kali as a fiery force of transformation. Kali is sometimes associated with Vajrayogini. Following our discussion we will have a another fire ceremony. More details on that are coming soon!

To register for the Fire Dakini Retreat, you may drop me an email at yesherabbit (at)gmail (dot) com and let me know if you will be attending locally or from a distance.

Chanting to Change the World?

When we chant to create change, we are both chanting in a ritual way to manifest an effect in the world and chanting in a meditative way to cause changes in ourselves and our views.

Creating change in ourselves is not different from creating change in the world. Creating change in the world is not different from creating change in ourselves.

How is change even possible, when the truth of all existence is suffering? Throughout space and time suffering is something all beings experience. Often, suffering is the direct result of our attachments to particular desired outcomes. So, in wanting change, are we not just moving from one form of suffering to another form of suffering?

It is true that we cannot permanently end suffering. The desire for change, however, is not built on the notion that we will permanently eradicate suffering. The desire for change, when motivated by bodhicitta, is the natural upwelling of compassion, spontaneous and unbidden, and the wish to alleviate pain, even temporarily, as quickly as possible.  

Change is possible in non-forceful ways, just as clouds change shape in the sky with a gentle breeze. Change is also possible as the result of force, just as our breath on the head of a dandelion changes the shape of the air as the seeds go dancing. Change is actually neither force nor lack of force. It is simply movement.

The breath and voice, raised in chant, create movement. With our chant, we can create change.

Our Sangha is chanting for those afflicted by police violence, brutality, and militarization for the entire month of December. May these beings, and all beings, have freedom from suffering and the causes of suffering. 

From Tibet to Ferguson to New York, and beyond, there are better, safer, more compassionate solutions for law enforcement officers to use than violence. It is also the responsibility of law enforcement officers to actually be twice as sensitive to those who have already been marginalized and oppressed, and to protect all people equally and fairly: suspected criminals, concerned citizens, refugees, and those who left their own countries to come here in search of a better life. They should even protect us from their own expressions of anger, frustration, and other negative emotions, since they are aware that their jobs place them under significant stress. 

Finally, law enforcement officers would be more successful if they were actually also peace and justice officers, carrying out acts that build and strengthen the communities they serve rather than demeaning and damaging them.

Our goal is to collectively and individually accomplish 100,000 repetitions of OM MANI PADME HUM toward positive change and healing regarding law enforcement. We will keep a tally of the recitations here throughout the month, so check back for updates. We will be chanting both in our Tuesday online sessions, and on our own at home. You may fill in this form to receive an email with the link to the chanting sessions or to send in your recitations. 

As of Dec. 7, we have accumulated 13,075 recitations.

As of Dec 9, we have accumulated 22,155 recitations.

As of Dec 14, we have accumulated 30,904 recitations.

As of Dec 15, we have accumulated 40, 584 recitations.

As of Dec. 28, we have accumulated 66,243 recitations.

As of Jan 6, 2015, we have accumulated 89,074 recitations.

As of Jan 11, we have accumulated 102,291 recitations.


New in July: Dharma Discussions

Beginning July 13, our sangha will have once-per-month Dharma Discussions on Second Sundays from 11-12 or so. These will be opportunities for our sangha members, who have been practicing together since January (and in some cases longer as members of the local sangha), to discuss and share their experiences, thoughts, queries, and wisdom. 

The first Dharma Discussion will be on the subject of Diligence and Practice.

If you are curious about how these types of conversations might go, check out some of the Dharma Discussions on my Vimeo channel I have been enjoying recently with Erick Dupree, Sam Webster, and others. This one features William Higareda, a practitioner I met online.


Green Tara for Assistance

The Pagan community is attempting to delve into the serious issue of sexual predation, particularly upon women and children, in our community. This issue is so painful, so triggering, so taboo, and so loaded that people often just look away from it or ignore it. Thus, suffering multiplies and continues to worsen, and the wound just gets deeper.

Green Tara is a Buddhist deity who is depicted with her right foot outstretched, ready to leap into action to aid in the cessation of suffering. She is a protector of those who are hurting, and comes to their aid.

One of the Dharma Pagans in this sangha, Erick DuPree, and I were taking about what might be helpful for us to do as an offering, ritually, to assist our community in its discernment process about what will and will not be tolerated, and how we will refine ways of handling situations that arise, as well as creating systems for better prevention of predatory behavior. Green Tara came to mind as a deity who might be able to offer the kind of help that is needed when so many are hurting.

And so this month, as part of our practice, we are chanting to Green Tara for aid and assistance for the Pagan community in this matter. 108 recitations of her mantra per day is the ideal, but any number is beneficial. Please be welcome to join us.

The mantra for Green Tara is: