Volume 10, Number 3, Fall 2002


Barbara';s Letter

Barbara's Dharma Talk

Aaron - April 24, 2002

The Grasping Bowl – Kate Leshock

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Barbara's Letter

Dear friends,

The June retreat has just finished, the last piece of a busy season. I teach others to be kind to themselves and am going to take that route, too, to practice what I teach. As you read this, please take a deep breath with me, a plunge into the lake at dawn, a walk in the forest, a pause to watch the goose swim across the still water with its babies. That';s where I';m headed today, to my cabin for a time of rest and retreat rather than stay in town to write an article for the newsletter.

As you read this, it will be September. With that in mind, I';ve chosen this dharma talk on wisdom, compassion and non-duality to share with you, a talk that was inspired by the events of last September. My wishes for an autumn that combines the glorious colors of the dying season and the stillness that leads to spring rebirth.

With love, Barbara

Barbara';s Dharma Talk
Southern Dharma Retreat
Hot Springs, North Carolina – Oct. 13, 2001

I was out on the hill watching the leaves fall. It was such a beautiful day yesterday. I was just watching how easily they let go. We have such a hard time letting go. They fall so naturally. First they are leaves attached to a tree, then they flutter and blow and have no control over where they are going and then they land and are part of the soil that';s feeding into the tree. That';s very beautiful.

We have a theme in this retreat of bringing balance into our lives. There are many different aspects of balance. I';d like to focus on what John spoke about this morning—the relationship of the conditioned and the Unconditioned and how we live that balance. The conditioned is simply what is arising out of conditions and passing away. Because we have a body, physical sensations are going to arise. Because we have a mind, thoughts are going to arise. We tend to call these good sensations and bad sensations, good thoughts and bad thoughts, good judgments and bad judgments. We continually try to monitor and fix them. But they just arise and go. I know the tree doesn';t judge its leaves or its location. Leaves are just leaves. Sometimes they';re healthy and sometimes they';re unhealthy. Sometimes there is a lot of rain and sometimes there is no rain. Sometimes there is a lot of sun and sometimes there is not enough. The tree just has equanimity and sits there. It puts its roots in deeper and bears with things however they are.

Unlike a tree, we have the ability to change things in our lives. We have the ability to see how we relate to what arises and to ask ourselves: Is there a more skillful way to relate to this? One of the biggest challenges is that when these conditioned expressions of mind and body are difficult, we clamp up in the way we relate to them. We don';t see the whole flow. We create duality where none exists.

Think about the sun. Expressions of the sun are heat and light. When you walk from the shade into the sun and feel the heat of the sun on your back, you say, "Ahhh, the sun feels good." Of course it';s not the sun. The sun is a gaseous orb up in the sky. If the sun actually landed on your back, you';d be fried up in a fraction of a second. We take this expression of the sun and don';t create any duality about it. We just know this is the sun.

In our lives we are constantly creating duality. When anger arises one says, "I am angry." We don';t see where that place of kindness is—that there is that which is not angry. Right there with the anger, no place else, is that which is not angry. Right there with fear is that which is fearless.

We seldom see that completeness. We get caught in this is this and that is that. We don';t see the whole cycle. And we have been led to believe that we have to somehow win the end of the path and attain the experience of the Unconditioned. We don';t realize that it';s right here in every moment.

There are many practices within the Tibetan tradition. Dzogchen is regarded as the highest practice. The word basically means pure nondual awareness. It is a very specific meditation practice. One does not have to be a Tibetan practitioner to practice it. I have no experience with most of the Tibetan tradition but have worked extensively with Dzogchen. These days I don';t teach or practice it myself as a separate practice but simply bring it into Vipassana as a support for Vipassana. It guides one more deeply into nondual awareness.I want to read something to you that I love from a Dzogchen teaching poem, The Flight of the Garuda. An excerpt from Song 1.

In both samsara and Nirvana the renown of the enlightened state
Is widely heard like thunder throughout the sky.
As this enlightened state always remains within the minds of beings of the six realms.
How amazing that one is never separate from it even for an instant!
Not knowing that this state is within oneself,
How amazing that one searches for it elsewhere.
Although it is clearly manifest like the radiant disk of the sun,
How amazing that so few see it.
Having no father and mother, one';s mind is the true Buddha.

Tibetans differentiate between the everyday discursive mind (sem) and the pure awareness mind (rigpa). In English, we have only one word, mind. But when he says, "one';s mind is the true Buddha," he is not talking about the obsessive mind that rattles on endlessly. That discursive mind is just one expression that comes out of this larger Mind, the pure awareness mind. I';ll talk more about this a little later.

How amazing that it knows neither birth nor death!
No matter how much happiness and sorrow is experienced,
How amazing that it is never impaired or improved even in the slightest!
How amazing that without being fabricated,
This mind, which is unborn and primordially pure,
Is spontaneously present from the very beginning!
This self-awareness is naturally free from the first,
How amazing that it is liberated by just resting—
At ease in whatever happens!

Part of our practice is to observe mindfully the arising of the conditioned world. Simultaneously we become aware that these are just expressions of the Unconditioned.

I think of the metaphor of a very pure underground spring bubbling out of the ground. There';s a creek flowing from that spring. Ten miles down it is not just this little spring anymore but there';s a river there. Perhaps it has picked up some farm fertilizer on its way and a little oil slick. Some other dirt is there. We look at it and say, "This is not the pure spring. Where did the pure spring go?" But the pure spring is right here. This water is the same water that was coming out of the ground. It is no different. And it has the additives of the oil slick and the farm fertilizer. But if you want the pure water, the pure water is also there. It';s not someplace else. It is right there. A thousand miles down river, it is still there. Where else would the spring water be?

At times we all see a place of clarity and love in ourselves. A negative thought arises and we think clarity and love are not there anymore. Where would they go? They are always there. The reason that we lose them is because we contract and think we need to get rid of this negative feeling—this anger, this jealousy, this pride. "I';ve got to get rid of this in order to come back to this kindness," is the story we tell ourselves. But the kindness is always there. Awareness is always there, radiant pure awareness. In Buddha';s teaching he sometimes talks about it as "that which knows." This deep wisdom and compassion is innate to us.

We get caught up trying to control, manipulate, maneuver, fix, get rid of, and hold on to the various movements of thought and sensation that go through us. We think that finally, when we get rid of all of this moving mind, we';ll get enlightened. We forget that the enlightened mind is always there.

I love the fact that these teachings are similar in different nondual spiritual traditions. What we are talking about is the relationship between the conditioned and the Unconditioned. Another favorite book of mine is called Open Secrets by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. I am going to read a little piece of it. Please note that as he uses the term God, we';re not talking about a puppet master kind of entity but simply Ground of Being—That Which Is. In Buddhism one could use the term Unconditioned. That which is, not needing any conditions for its being. I don';t want to get caught up in a semantic discussion. Whatever you want to call this energy is okay.

There is a sutra in which the Buddha is addressing a group of monks. He says, "Oh monks. There is an unborn, undying, unchanging, uncreated. If it were not so there would be no reason for our work." Now this "unborn, undying" is eternal. Call it God, ground of being, Goddess. They are just names. You cannot put a label on it. We try to. We need to call it something. It doesn';t matter what you call it; it is the direct experience of it that is critical. It doesn';t need a name.

From Open Secrets:

Some would argue that God is a divine spark inside each being. Others would argue that God is above and outside creation. I teach neither position. God is not inside or outside. God is the very thing itself. And when there is nothing but only empty space, God is that as well.

Picture a bowl in your mind. Define the bowl. Is it just the clay that forms its walls? Or is that the empty space that fills with soup? Without the space the bowl is useless. Without the walls the bowl is useless. So which is the bowl? The answer is both. To be a bowl it must have both being (the walls) and emptiness (the space). It is the same with God. For God to be God, God must manifest as both being (the Hebrew word he uses is Yesh) and emptiness (Ayin).

Yesh is the manifestation of God that appears to us as separate entities—physical, spiritual, and psychological. Ayin is the manifestation of God that reveals all separation to be illusory—everything is simply God in differing forms. God is all. There is nothing else.

So here we have the Unconditioned and its conditioned expressions. If we think of the form as conditioned expressions and the emptiness as the Unconditioned, we are still separating.

This teaching is called shlemut in Hebrew, the completeness of God. To be shlemut, God must contain all possibilities and paradox. To be shlemut, God must transcend the notion of opposites and reveal everything as complementary.

God must be both Yesh and Ayin, Being and Emptiness simultaneously. Yesh and Ayin both reside in, and are expressions of, God';s wholeness (shlemut).

These three terms are crucial to understanding God and almost everything else. It is vital to everything that we will discuss that you understand these three words. They are the key to your spiritual training and tranquility. Learn them well.

So we have the same teaching here. The conditioned expresses out of the Unconditioned. That non-dual totality is the completeness, the Hebrew word shlemut that he uses. We don';t have a word in English. We have the conditioned and Unconditioned but we don';t have a specific word that talks about the place where they come together. The conditioned is always expressing out of the Unconditioned. No word for it but we can imagine it.

So conditioned expressions come up in our experience. As long as we are in a body with physical senses and a mind, we cannot stop these expressions from arising. But we do have a choice of how we relate to them. Most of our habitual reaction is somewhat mindless. We just react again and again. When we sit, we have the opportunity to see what this is about. This is why I have talked so much about watching sensations and thoughts arise, seeing each in its turn as the primary object, then perhaps watching the attention shift to attachment or aversion, the next object. Each object arises and it passes. We may be left with a feeling of attachment or aversion after the original object is gone. Then we take this experience, this contraction, of attachment or aversion as object. Then it goes and something new takes its place, and on and on.

I want to relate this talk at this point to the question that has been coming to me constantly for the past month. All of us feeling pain and confusion about the events of September 11th. Wondering what do we do about our anger around these events? What is an appropriate response? Isn';t it appropriate to be angry? But if I am angry how can I feel compassion?

Right there with anger is compassion. No need to look elsewhere for it. However we can only see it when we';re not stuck in the stories of anger but know it directly. Anger can be a catalyst for hatred but it also can be a catalyst for compassion. The trick is to see how we relate to anger. If we relate to anger with anger then anger cannot be a catalyst for compassion. You';re caught in the anger.

A long time ago, back in the early ';60s, I had been involved in a sit-in at a restaurant along with a lot of other people in a little Southern town. The police had gathered us all, thrown us in a truck and taken us to jail. Before we got to that point, people had pelted us with overripe tomatoes and other garbage. We had not been given the opportunity to wash. So there I was sitting in this jail cell feeling so much anger, and stinking of garbage, feeling angry with the people who had done this, feeling angry with myself because I was pledged to nonviolence and liked to think of myself as a nonviolent person. But I was judging myself—I shouldn';t be angry. We spent the afternoon and evening in the jail cell. There were maybe a dozen women in a large cell. I was pacing up and down. There was a wonderful black woman, matronly, wearing a flowered dress and hat. She was sitting there so peacefully. She had been arrested with us. She was watching me pace up and down. After watching me for about an hour, she got up and walked over to me. She said, "You';re so angry." I said, "Aren';t you angry?" She then said something to me that I will never forget. She said, "Sweetheart, I am just as angry as you are, but I also love them and they are so afraid." It just cracked my heart open. Suddenly I saw in this woman, whose name I will never know, the possibility right there of healing my anger, not through denial but through love. I saw that I could love these people and myself, that I didn';t have to hate anybody. It was very powerful.

How do we bring this understanding into our lives?

Last week I was walking on my deck in the dark. I have an Adirondack chair with the leg that sticks way out. I was barefoot. I bashed my foot into it. I either badly bruised or broke my toe. So I sat there in a lot of pain for a few minutes just holding it. Then the pain subsided a bit. In the first moments there was all this anger and fear. What am I going to do? I have to go lead a retreat. I have to walk in the airport. I have to sit. It hurts. Right there with the anger came this little quiet "Yes. That is how it is right now. There is going to be some pain. Okay?" There can be pain and a lot of anger and suffering around the pain or there can be just pain. We have a choice.

So I know this ability to choose wisely is a fruit of my practice. But it';s an ability we all have to see what';s what in our experience. To see how, if we stub our toe, we don';t have the choice that it hurts but we have the choice if we are going to suffer or if it is just going to be how things are.

We can watch progression of contractions. When you are sitting, sometimes there is pain in the body. Then there is tension around the pain. The pain is just pain. Then the tension is just tension. There is a whole process happening here. First, there is the body—one of our senses, touch—something may be pulling in the knee—burning, burning. This is body contact with this particular area of pain; then consciousness "burning, painful." Then because it is unpleasant, we could jump into aversion. "I want to get rid of it." Or "I';m going to be stoic and ignore the pain." These are stories that came with the physical experience and unpleasant feelings. Whatever our habitual tendency is, it will come up.

The pain is no longer predominant. The aversion is predominant. The aversion for most of us is just as uncomfortable or more uncomfortable than the pain. So we stay focused on the pain to avoid the experience of aversion, which is its own special kind of tension energy. One difficulty is we';ve been taught to stay with the object until it changes or subsides. We can misuse that, and stay with a pain in the body as a way of avoiding a painful feeling.

Another example, someone says something that makes us angry, maybe something really rude. Here is the sense organ of the ear touching the sound, "hearing." Certain words have certain meaning. We take it personally. Instead of hearing it and saying that person must be very angry, we hear it and ask, "What did I do wrong?" We become defensive. Already our hearing has become distorted. In hearing, just hearing. But now there is hearing and all of this old perception piled on top of the hearing, these filters. Then there is either anger at that person, "Why is he picking on me?" or anger at oneself, "Why can';t I be more mature about this?" Mind that keeps going back to the experience of the hearing and the stories about it: "What did I do wrong? How should I fix it? Should I apologize or not?" Mind is spinning. We';re not in touch with the experience of aversion as just aversion. We are caught in stories of the aversion.

There is no possibility for compassion because we';re not present. We are not able to say, "This is hard; there is so much aversion. I am taking it personally. I';m very uncomfortable. I don';t like the situation." If we don';t feel able to say that, we try to figure out what to do. "I will control my anger! I';ll show them …" Of course you want to control your anger in that you do not want to lash out and hurt another physically or verbally but it is kindness, not force, that must control, kindness and wisdom.

How does anger become a catalyst for compassion? In order for that to happen you have got to be present in your own experience. You have got to acknowledge your experience and really touch it deeply, but most of us are trying so hard to not allow all our experiences. That';s where we get lost. An answer is to practice choiceless awareness—not preferring one experience over another experience. Presence is not a path to learning to offer ourselves kindness; it is the offering itself! We can offer ourselves that compassion to be fully present with each object as it arises and also bring in the wisdom that knows that if it has the nature to arise, it has the nature to cease and is not me or mine. I can relate to it spaciously and skillfully. Until we know that we are just stuck. One thing that makes it a little easier is that, while we all keep getting stuck, most of us have specific places where we get stuck. And if you pay attention just sitting here in the meditation hall, you will start seeing where you get stuck. It takes a lot of courage to look. We';ve developed these old habits to manipulate experience because we felt it would keep us safe. Even though it doesn';t keep us safe anymore, we are still stuck. We keep thinking it didn';t work the last 300 times but this time it will work. But it';s not going to work. It';s time to let go. Maybe it';s time to try something different.

So insight and freedom are right here in our sitting practice, watching the sensations and thoughts arise, noting them and then watching how we move into these mental formations and which ones we most habitually move into. For some it is helplessness, for some it is control, for some it is anger, for some it is sadness, for some it is depression, unworthiness. These are all the voices that come up when we have experience that is uncomfortable. How do we relate to our experience?

At this point as we watch this parade, the balance of the wisdom and compassion can begin to appear. Pure wisdom without any compassion can be very dry and sterile. It can become a way of escaping experience. It becomes a form of control. We use our wisdom to explain it away. "It simply arose out of conditions. Don';t touch it. It arose out of conditions. It will pass. It doesn';t affect me." There is no heart there. We are denying our experience. Compassion without any wisdom can become maudlin sentimentality. But this balance of wisdom and compassion is so precious. When we truly understand the nature of conditioned experience on the ultimate level and on the relative level we understand "even though it simply arose from conditions and will cease, nevertheless I';m feeling a lot of pain—both are true." This is the completeness Rabbi Shapiro talked about. Both are true.

So to me this balance of wisdom and compassion is the answer we can best give to the events of September 11. Knowing that all of the turmoil in the world has risen out of conditions and is the result of many different, complex conditions and at the same time knowing that it is very painful for some beings, the only choice we really have is to just say no. It doesn';t matter if we';re talking about abuse on a personal or national level, the only option we have is to say no. It';s not kind to let people hurt us.

The difficulty is that we don';t trust ourselves to be able to say no from a place of kindness because we';re filled with anger. We see the anger and we think because the anger is there, kindness is not there. One thinks, "If I say no, it is coming from this place of hatred, I can';t do that." That is true. If no comes from a place of hatred, it is just more hatred. But true compassion is strong, not weak. It is able to say no in an appropriate way, to say no from a place of kindness. The only way that you can get to that strong, dynamic compassion is to develop it for yourself in your own meditation practice and in your own daily life. And you can. Each time you are sitting and some kind of unpleasant physical sensations, thoughts or emotions arise and then tension about it arises, and then judgment or some further negative thought or aversion comes out of it, watch the pattern. Ask yourself this simple question, "Where is compassion here? Is my intention to control this or is my intention to open to it and develop compassion? What';s my primary intention?"

There is a beautiful mindfulness practice called clear comprehension. The first two parts of clear comprehension are clear comprehension of purpose—What is my highest purpose here?—and clear comprehension of suitability—Is what I am doing suitable to this purpose?

So watch when something unpleasant comes up and you start to barricade. Feel the tension in your body, in your belly, in your throat. Note: "hardening, barricading, withdrawing." Ask: "What is my primary purpose? Is it to control or is it to learn compassion and wisdom—to open my heart and be present? Do I have the courage to do that?" If it';s very hard, then know how hard it is. That is part of the practice, just acknowledging difficult, scared. Can we have compassion with our fear and resistance and confusion? You can. And when you do it is very powerful. You can. Watch this constantly in your practice. The flow of objects. The contact and consciousness. The feeling of pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. The arising mental formations. See how aversion arises and how we then get stuck and stories start spinning, how we move into a "lifesaving" mode instead of being present.

It seems to me as I';ve looked at this past month and asked myself what can I do, that the only thing I can do is live the dharma as best I can. To me, it means to live this balance of wisdom and compassion and share that with others. When we do it in our own lives and model it we teach it to others. When you are compassionate to someone who is abusive, in the true meaning of compassion, which means saying no but with true loving kindness, that';s a very powerful teacher to another person. They see that you love them but you won';t let them get away with hurting you. It';s a very powerful message. Somebody who is abusive hearing that message may begin to change. It is a great gift to be able to give another.

Compassion and wisdom develop together. We find our already present compassion and that spaciousness allows us to touch deeper on wisdom. We see that whatever arises is a result of conditions, impermanent and not self, but still it must be attended. We can';t choose either realm, relative or ultimate, above the other, since they are non-dual with one another. We must live both.

April 24, 2002

Aaron: Good evening. My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. My dear ones I hope this spring day has made your heart sing, as it has mine. You may wonder at that because I don';t have a physical body, and yet I do experience energy. The energy of this new life bursting forth from the earth is so full of love and hope and courage. It does make me smile.

It takes enormous courage to move into incarnation. It takes a willingness to come back and do again and yet again the work that has proved hardest in the past. It is different work for each of you but always that one step beyond where you have been before, coming forth with a willingness to let go of old limits and emerge into the fullest expression of your fearlessness and radiant beauty. I honor each of you for your willingness to be here in this body, doing your work with so much love. I say that regardless of whether you feel you are succeeding or not, for from my vantage point you are all succeeding. That is, you are all learning what you came to learn, even if sometimes it feels as if you are not.

This morning Barbara and I began to review several hours of conversation from last week with the visiting monks and nun. They are all very steeped in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition and in the current presentation of that tradition. We talked at length about these pure awareness teachings and how they fit into that tradition.

One of the Ajahns commented that the Buddha did not teach pure awareness. While he did not find it contradictory to anything the Buddha taught, he felt some kind of conflict because it was not the specific path the Buddha presented and in which he had been trained. I noted that the Buddha was teaching in Hindu India of 2500 years ago. The predominant Hindu spiritual practices were a devotional practice invoking the various Hindu gods, putting faith in those gods to save them and also a high concentration practice, jhana practice, moving into very powerful altered states of being in which there was profound bliss and peace.

The Buddha, in his wisdom, noted that while there was bliss and peace while resting in those states, when one came back into one';s everyday mind and body, the bliss and peace were not retained. Defilements or heavy emotions still arose, not while one was resting in those states that are secluded from such emotion, but afterward. So one was not karmically free of this whole cycle of becoming, of rebirth.

The Buddha';s work 2500 years ago was to invite people to come more into their everyday experience as spiritual practice. His teaching of vipassana was a way of inviting people to come into the mind, to come into the body and note the arising and playing out of the conditioned realm. His statement was that freedom does not lie in escaping from this mind and body experience but in being present with it until the wisdom develops to note its conditioned nature and to deeply understand the interdependence of all things, to know that nothing is separate. Only then can one move deeply into the original state.

Here, while present with the mind and the body, one notes true nature so clearly one is no longer contracting around mind and body experience and begins to realize the ground out of which all this conditioned realm explodes, and into which it sinks again. The trick is not to choose one over the other but to understand that you must experience both.

The reason I offer these pure awareness teachings and practices side by side with vipassana is that for the most part in your culture, you do not have a background that introduces this true nature. Your culture is very much involved in control. Many of you are not so much in your bodies, but the mind is constantly spinning, trying to control the different conditioned experiences that come your way.

For balance';s sake then, it';s much easier if you find this spaciousness and begin to understand that it';s always there. So I told these respected monks that I did not feel that this practice was contradictory in any way, but complementary.

My question to you tonight: Where are you, each of you, in this balance? Some of you may have a preference for moving out of your body into blissful experiences and may have learned certain techniques that allow that. Fine; enjoy it. But know also that it is not freedom, but just a nice vacation. Some of you may be very focused in this more traditional path of practice, being present with all of the arisings of the mind and body. If there is any distortion to the practice, you may feel overwhelmed by the constant process of arising and ceasing of conditioned objects, distortion because you have not been taught to see the space between objects and to rest in that space. There';s no space, there';s no joy, there';s no light or peace in your practice. If so, the balance needs to extend out to more spaciousness. Then the pure awareness practices become very supportive, bringing balance.

I would ask you to look deeply at whatever spiritual practices you pursue and note if the spaciousness of which I speak is present along with the conditioned world. There';s an exercise we do here sometimes, a very simple exercise. I invite you to do it with me here a moment. Hold your hand up 8 or 10 inches in front of your face, eyes open. Stare at the fingers and wiggle the fingers. Move the hand gently, fingers in motion. Focus on the fingers, only on the fingers. If the head needs to turn up and down as the fingers move, do that. Keep focused on the fingers. You can';t see anything beyond that, just the fingers.

When I tell you to do so, I want you to keep the fingers moving but I want you to shift your gaze and look through the fingers. Do it now.

See how you can take in both? The fingers don';t disappear, they';re still moving, but the background is there, the space in which the fingers move. Both are present. What would it mean if we asked which is real? Both are real. The space is real and the objects that move into and out of that space are real. When you fold your fingers on your lap, the space does not cease to exist. When you raise the fingers and move them again, the space does not cease to exist. The space remains. Fingers come and go. Right hand, left hand, right hand again. You can draw your attention back to the fingers and lose the space temporarily, but it doesn';t cease to exist.

In a similar vein, think of a boat sailing on the ocean. You sit on shore and watch this large ship pass. It';s an interesting ship and it catches your attention. You may be focused on the ship in such a way that you cease to notice the ocean, but the ocean doesn';t go anywhere. The ship goes across the ocean and then passes away out of your view. The ship may go into port. Maybe it';s an old ship and they dismantle it, cut it with a blowtorch into little pieces. So the ship can cease to exist. The ocean remains. Maybe a different ship comes out, this time a wooden schooner. The objects appear, the ocean remains. Even if you are riveted in attention on the ship, the ocean remains.

This is the balance required in meditation practice, whether you are working with vipassana or some other form of meditation. There must be awareness of arising of conditioned objects of mind and body and how you relate to those objects. This is necessary if wisdom about the phenomenal world is going to develop. Furthermore, there must be a very specific kind of attitude toward what arises, one of presence, but not one of control, only kind, spacious awareness. It is only out of that kind presence that compassion deepens so that the heart is able to hold any object, lovely or difficult, and give it space. The space in your heart is not different from the space of the sea or the space beyond the fingers because your heart is infinite. Your heart is part of this Divine or Unconditioned.

When it is no longer your heart but the heart, you rest in that spaciousness. But you cannot escape into that spaciousness and avoid your relationship with the conditioned realm. If it';s an ugly old garbage scow and it heads toward the beach right where you are, you';ve got to be aware. It stinks; it';s unpleasant. If it';s a little rubber dinghy with two children in it and they scream for help, awareness and kindness go out into the water and help them. Nobody is saving somebody, just kindness flowing.

So there is activity and attendance in this awareness. Watching whatever arises, aware of the conditioned object and that space. We do many different exercises to help you understand the nature of the space. Some of you have done a formal pure awareness or dzogchen meditation. Some of you have worked with the sound of that space, the sound of silence, nada. Some of you have worked with the radiance of it. Some of you have worked with a simple awareness practice such as noting, "That which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of greed is not experiencing the greed, just watching it." You are not disassociated from it or you could not attend to it skillfully. Just watching it. Present!

With metta and awareness, nothing is labeled as good or bad, right or wrong. Some acts or words may be unskillful; you attend to them. But there';s no self to be bad and nothing bad coming from the self. This is the heart of your practice. Because you are all so deeply conditioned to these old mind states and the dualistic idea, "This is bad. I must take a stick and beat it until it leaves," equanimity has not developed. The self stays firm. Here we witness the ancient controlling aspect of the mind, which has created an imbalanced practice for you and denies conditioned beliefs and attitudes, watching holdings of the body arise, spacious presence helps you relax with what has arisen. Even if it';s very unpleasant, you do not get caught in a war with it. And it is only in this state of non-war that there can be the resolution of karma.

Some of what you work with is very difficult for you. I said earlier that you each come to the edge of your prior experience and ask yourself to let go and step into the unknown, and that takes courage.

In your culture, work with heavy emotions is one of the predominant parts of your practice. Of course, working with difficult body sensations is also a strong focus for some of you, but I think emotions in your culture offer an even stronger focus. So many of you were raised with the belief that you should not have certain kinds of emotions, that you were bad to have those emotions. You have devised elaborate systems to avoid, deny or suppress such emotions. There is a lot of fear for many of you in your relationship with others: for some, fear that you will not be loved, heard, or understood; for others, a fear that you will poison others by your own anger or other negativity.

In the realm of heavy emotions, you seldom rest in a spacious place watching the emotion arise, but rather, when it arises, greet it like a garbage scow. You jump aboard ready to burn the garbage or to cover it up with huge tarpaulins. Hide it out of sight. Sink the scow!

How can we bring these heavy emotions more into our practices, and with kindness? This week I talked to a few of you using a metaphor, or illustration, of the balloon, the porcupine and the armadillo. You all know the rock, paper, scissors game. The scissors will cut the paper. The rock will break the scissors. But the paper will cover the rock. It';s the same with balloon, porcupine and armadillo. The porcupine has sharp prickle. When something threatens, his spines raise up leaving a sharp defensive surface. He warns in that way, don';t come too close.

At first glance the balloon may seem to be defenseless. Think about this carefully. If the porcupine has no qualms about harming another, then the balloon is defenseless. That is true. If the porcupine does have a deep intention to non-harm but also a deep intention not to be hurt itself, and its conditioning still raises its quills, what happens? If we have two porcupines who confront each other in an angry way, if one raises its quills and the other sheds its quills, dropping them off so all that';s left is a surface like a balloon, soft and tender, what will happen? As long as the other';s quills are up, the first one can stand on its own ground, making a show of its strength. But when the other one sheds its quills and is soft, if our porcupine with its erect quills approaches, he sees, "I';m going to puncture him. I';ll damage him." If he';s angry enough and does approach and harms the other, then he may feel shame. So in a sense, the one who has gone soft and lets go of his quills has power. Can you see how that works?

This is part of the power of non-violent action, although I';m not going to explore that theme tonight. The dropping of one';s quills can be done in a deeply loving way, accepting that one takes responsibility for dropping those quills and forgives the other for the possible damage before any damage is done. It says, "I see your sharpness. I understand that in letting go of my sharpness, I am in some ways permitting the possibility of your damaging me. Because of the force of your thrust, I recognize that may happen, and I forgive you."

When done in this way, as what Gandhi called satyagraha, or soul force, it is a loving power. But it can be done in a much more manipulative way, breeding unwholesome karma, a way that says, "As soon as I see your prickles, I become helpless, knowing that your impetus is going to roll you into me. You';ll hurt me and then you';ll feel such disgrace, such shame, and then I have the power. And all I have to do is be willing to suffer some pricks from your quills, to bleed a bit. But I';ll have the power."

So we have the porcupine and the balloon or quill-less porcupine. What about the armadillo? These fellows, they can curl up in a ball, completely covering any sensitive, soft area. They look almost like you can roll them when they';re curled up, just a hard spiny exterior. No quills. They can';t damage anything. They can';t be damaged. They cut themselves off entirely.

Let';s imagine here an imaginary creature, a porcupine who had the ability to lay his quills down smooth and flat and make an armored coating like an armadillo. If you imagine that creature, then consider these three different sorts of porcupines: one with quills that pop out when he feels endangered, one who can lower his quills and become an armored hulk, and the one who can drop off his quills and, if done in a self-centered way, become powerful through appearing to be vulnerable.

Each of you has certain patterns that you follow when you feel threatened. You become one of these porcupines. Yet rarely do you stick just to one pattern. Most of you go through all three at one time or another, although one will be predominant. Different situations will lead you to withdraw, to armor yourself, and separate yourself; to arm yourself, ready to fight with sharp points, or to move into an appearance of helplessness, thus putting the other person in a place of full responsibility instead of acknowledging your shared responsibility.

When there are strong heavy emotions, and especially anger, and you move through these three different patterns, look in yourself and see how you usually respond when anger is present. I ask you to look not with the idea "I must fix this" but simply become aware of this and aware there';s a choice. Whatever patterns you habitually follow, if you';re locked into old habit, you';re not free. Fear is impelling the habit rather than lovingkindness.

How does this connect to the earlier part of my talk tonight, to spaciousness? When you lock yourself into an identity with any of these habitual faces of the porcupine, you';re stuck. Looking back you may feel remorse. But right then, you';re stuck.

Dare I repeat myself once more? That which is aware of presenting itself as a porcupine with quills does not need to engage those quills. That which is aware of its tendency to roll itself up out of harm';s way and disappear is able to stay present. That which is aware of its habitual tendency to control through a guise of helplessness need not manifest that aspect of itself when it sees that it is unskillful and unwholesome. This spacious awareness is what gives you the ability to be present even with the most difficult emotions without getting caught in them. It is not something that comes easily or quickly. One must be very persistent in one';s practice. See how easy it is to get lost in the emotion, with the force of old habit. From a ground of practice come back to the breath, bringing awareness to the anger and knowing that which is not self-centered and identified in the anger. I';m using anger as an example but it can be any heavy emotion.

The heavy emotion is an object like the fingers. Awareness is the space. When your practice develops in this way, slowly the identity with the movements of body and mind falls away, and the ability to respond appropriately emerges. This ability is the fruit of your deepening wisdom about the nature of conditioned arising and about the nature of what I would call true self, this innate goodness, kindness and radiance that is your true being. You do not hide in that goodness in denial of the arisings of negativity, nor are you prompted to grab a club and beat the negativity into submission. And here at last is, I wouldn';t call it balanced practice but balanced living, balanced relationship. From this place of equanimity, deeper insights can emerge; a deeper peace can build.

I thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. That is all.

The Grasping Bowl
by Kate Leshock

I love bells, always have. Chimes, too. Even tuning forks are fascinating to me. So when I traveled throughout Asian monasteries and temples for eight months with a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist nun (SuCo), I was quick to check out what each place had for sounding instruments. There seemed to be a correlation between my favorite places and the most intriguing bells. When I say bell, I am mostly referring to a bowl-shaped metal or brass object, that when "invited" with a wooden baton makes a glorious sound. In Zen tradition, bells are key sound-making elements in chanting and bowing rituals.

So you can imagine my bliss when, as karma would have it, we were at Thich Nhat Hanh';s (Thay';s) Plum Village monastery in South France and, while sitting in the front row of cushions for Thay';s dhamma talk, I spotted the most amazing bell. It was huge. Not just the cereal-bowl size that we see in our shrines at home, but over 24" in diameter, equally tall in height and 3/4" thick. And it was Taiwanese, as evidenced by the dimpled exterior with imperfect black lacquer coating. Many bell-savvy people say these are the best bells, as evidenced by their presence in temples in many other countries besides Taiwan. Next thing I knew, all the monks and nuns went up front for chanting practice. Thay walked over, sat down on the cushion right next to me and then two monks carried over the bell and set it in front of him. As the monks and nuns chanted, he rhythmically invited the bell … DONG … DONG … and the vibration quality was so profound that after fifteen minutes I was far more wave than particle! I felt like I could reach out and put my hand right through Thay. At that moment, the session ended, vibration faded, and Wanting roared forth—gotta get me one of those when we go to Taiwan! I promised at that moment to save one traveler';s check for it. So for the next seven months, visiting hundreds of temples and monasteries in seven countries, I declined all personal purchases. I wanted the bell. Heck, I';d even settle for the cereal-bowl size. Well, maybe a big cereal bowl. (Note greed gathering steam also.)

So we finally arrived in Taiwan. The next day our host monks and nuns took us around Taipei. We came to what I call Little Buddha';s Stop ';n Shop. It was a small store packed to the gills with every Buddhist accoutrement and piece of paraphernalia—books, tapes, jewelry, robes/shoes for ordained people, statues, malas, temple décor—you name it, including bells. Stashed on a hidden second level was a room full of bells. While the monks and nuns bought necessities, I invited every bell in the place. Then I found the one for me. Bigger than a cereal bowl yet still fits into my backpack, made of heavy brass that offers deep, luscious sound. Perfect. And within my budget, too. But it was a spontaneous stop and I had no money with me. "Don’t worry, Hanh Tinh (my Vietnamese dhamma name)," SuCo said. "We will be here for two weeks." As we left the shop and returned to the temple, I memorized the combination of walking route and subways so I could return even by myself if that was necessary. I was jazzed!

And then, as karma could have it, we were invited to a big-deal monastery in Hualien, so we left early the next day. One thing led to another and we were not returning to Taipei until two days before departure from Taiwan. That was a Sunday, and the shop was closed.

Monday morning, I found myself excited and invigorated at the 4 a.m. morning wake-up bell for one of the first times in the whole trip, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. After the morning sitting, chanting, offering incense, cooking and breakfast, I was ready to head out to the Stop ’n Shop. I told the nuns of my plan. They pointed me to the window, where it was drizzling. So what, I thought. Look again, they said. This very city-oriented temple was located on the 7th floor of a tall building on one of Taipei’s busiest streets, about as bustling as Times Square, and there was not a car in sight at the moment. There had been a typhoon warning. All shops were closed and transportation not operating. What?! We called the shop on the phone but no answer. Being an island in the Sea that has seen many a devastating typhoon, Taiwanese people take typhoon warnings very seriously. I just sat there in a lump. Our flight leaves early the next morning and it was not possible to extend the visas one more day, plus we had people planning to greet our arrival in Japan. With everything closed and rain outside, there was nothing to do but sit, all day, in my post-wanting crash-and-burn funk. I didn’t realize how built up it was until during meditation I found myself fantasizing about walking miles in the rain, climbing through the window left ajar on the second floor, taking the bell and leaving in its place a soggy, well-traveled traveler’s check. Now this is dukkha. Capital D.

SuCo looked at me and said, "Happy one day, sad the next, up and down, up and down you go." She was referring to the part of me that felt happiness to be conditional, based on what was going on around me and on my identification with those conditions. She was right, I still hadn’t embraced the ever-present equanimity and unconditional happiness because I was rather fond of my familiar dukkha. Her statement did shake me out of my Grasping. The instant experience of that was like letting the air out of the front tire of my separate-self bicycle I had been cruising around in for months; happiness had been in the anticipation of something in the future, more than in each present moment. The illusion of the ride was instantly seen.

After returning to the U.S.A. we spent some time near San Jose where we came upon another Little Buddha Stop ’n Shop, American style. By that I mean that it was a larger size store with neon in the windows, but with few Taiwanese bells, which were thinner ones and at three times the cost. My leftover money wasn’t enough so I really pondered the choice of purchasing the bell. It wasn’t so much the Wanting of the object because I felt much ease around the opportunity. Also, I understood the great benefits it could offer to many others in support of their practice. After doing walking meditation up and down the aisles for a while, out came the credit card. This was a rather risky choice since I was now in a country where wearing robes and smiling won’t put food in my bowl. But I bought it anyway, feeling it was worth a dip into past savings. I felt ease and joy as I walked away from the store with the bell.

But in the next moments, as I gazed upon the bell in the car, from that inherent spaciousness sprouted attachment!

Although it wasn’t exactly the bell I wanted, I still marveled at it all the way back to my friend’s apartment where SuCo and I were staying. When we arrived and I pulled it from the box, my friend asked me if I would invite it so she could hear the quality of the sound. So I paused, brought my mindfulness to the task at hand, and invited the bell.

Immediately SuCo took a breath, reached for the baton and placed it on the rim, silencing the bell. She turned to my friend, smiled sweetly and said, "You can tell the kind of suffering a person has by the way they invite the bell." With that sobering comment, my attachment to the bell shattered to bits! She cleared her throat and then gave instructions about how to invite a bell, instructions I had heard many times over. With that, it was like air hissed out of the back wheel of my separate-self bicycle. With both rims currently on the pavement, at least now I felt grounded, at rest and very present. And a bit wiser, temporarily free of my states of grasping and attachment, until I forget again and need another reminder, which will, of course, come, as karma would have it.

The journals of Kate’s travels with the Venerable Thich Dieu Thien have been combined with SuCo Dieu Thien’s teachings into a book being prepared for publication. If you would like to read more about this trip and/or the teachings, very congruent with those of Barbara and Aaron, feel free to contact Kate at kateasia@hotmail.com.

from the Board  & the Office

From the President

Greetings and Metta to All!

Jane Grace, who has been doing such a fine job as manager of our newsletter, asked me for my thoughts on having served as interim president of the board for the past three months. I must say that the first thing that comes to mind is how very seamless Kris Kurnit (our now retired president) made the whole thing look, and what a great job she did. Thank you, Kris. We miss you.

Periodically, the Board of Directors undergoes personnel changes. Long-seated board members may move out of convenient commuting distance, they may take on responsibilities in other areas of their lives (leaving less time for work on the board), or they may just tire after years of service, as a board seat does require quite a bit of work. We are in such a transitional phase right now.

What this means for the fledglings is trying to absorb what has come before (how past boards have done things and why policies were set the way they were), as well as finding their pacing with the new configuration of personalities currently seated. It’s also learning to interface and, more importantly, understand the sangha’s general needs and wants and to work skillfully with facilitating them. There’s a lot of room for misunderstanding and hurt feelings along the way. Definitely an Aaron lesson.

Thankfully, there are a few experienced people with us, such as Pat Shalis, who is a wonder with the books, putting in many hours every month to keep track of our cash flow. And our BAG or Board Advisory Group, currently composed of the marvelously kind and reasonable voices of our former board members Kris Kurnit, George SanFacon and Len Puustinen.

There are also our beloved teachers Barbara and Aaron, and our wonderful sangha, for whom the effort is offered in loving service.

– Aiji Pipho

Addendum: The Deep Spring Board of Directors held a day-long intensive on June 29, 2002. Among the many items on the agenda was the election of officers for the openings of President and Vice President. Consensus was easily and happily reached. Ann Barden is Deep Spring’s new President and Cassie Cammann is Deep Spring’s new Vice President. Pat Shalis remains Treasurer and Dottie Coyne remains Secretary. Corty Cammann was nominated for an open seat on the Board, replacing a retired member. Consensus was quickly reached. Welcome Corty! 

From the Treasurer

I would like to offer our thanks to all of you who are regularly supporting the work of the sangha through your donations. Each donation is important to our work of sharing the dharma and the teachings. This report focuses on two areas.

Office Manager

We are delighted with Su Hansen, our new Office Manager (OM). She has been with us for several months now and is doing a remarkable job. With help from a number of sangha members and by taking a lot of initiative herself, Su has begun to create the Office Manager role that we were hoping for.

While her contributions are many, her most important priority is to develop her role as communication central for Deep Spring Center and the sangha. Su met with most of the committees and other key sangha participants to find out about their contribution areas and their communication needs. She attends the board meetings and presents a monthly Office Manager report. At a high level, her primary areas of responsibility are:

  1. Gathering and distributing information about Deep Spring Center. This information flow is to and from the sangha and the greater community and includes such things as maintaining the Deep Spring calendar, authoring the periodic "We’re Not Just Sitting Around" email bulletin and providing information for posting to the Web.
  2. Maintaining the central database and email lists. There is now one place with all the most current information where people can send updates or get current information they need.
  3. Facilitating financial flow. Su makes timely deposits of incoming checks, writes checks for bills for the treasurer to sign, keeps records, and files supporting documentation.
  4. Maintaining a smoothly functioning office. Func- tions include managing telephone calls, setting up and documenting office procedures, setting up office equipment and making sure it is maintained.
  5. Supporting Deep Spring groups and activities. Areas that she supports are the board of directors, teacher training, classes, retreats, volunteer activity, newsletter, bookstore, website, Aaron’s talks transcription and many others.

This job description is continuing to evolve, but it is easy to see that Su is providing critical services to Deep Spring Center. Your monthly donations make this possible. I thinkyou will agree that we are getting a great deal of value for our support. Please keep those donations coming in!


We want to make the newsletter self-supporting through the donations of those receiving it. In order to help make this possible, we have made a number of changes to the Newsletter that we hope make it more useful and informative, and at the same time reduce the costs we were paying. The changes implemented in the Spring 2002 newsletter reduced the cost 51% from the cost of the prior Winter 2001 newsletter. Newsletter Manager Jane Grace Bowman is to be commended for investigating and proposing changes that helped us accomplish this. Now we need your help. We send out about 700 copies of the newsletter. We need about 240 people to contribute $10 per year to make our newsletter self-supporting. If you’ve made any donation to Deep Spring Center this year and you are on the newsletter list, $10 has automatically been credited towards the newsletter. We are almost halfway through the year, and 46 people have donated towards the newsletter costs. We are 19% towards our goal of a self-supporting newsletter. We need 196 more readers to send in a donation. If you find this newsletter valuable, please send in your donation today!

– Pat Shalis

A Note From the Office Manager

Being office manager at Deep Spring is a lot like being human. Over the last few months I’ve found many of the same questions, frustrations, confusions, illusions here as in the rest of my life. The big question from the start both at Deep Spring and as a human has been, "What am I doing here?" Talk about being in a "don’t know" position. There had never been a permanent paid office manager at Deep Spring, so no one really knew what to expect. So I asked lots of questions of all of you. You gave me lots of different answers—enough to keep me busy full time and then some. It’s supposed to be a part-time position. In the end I think we’re finding ways to get the job done within the hours. Actually, I didn’t come to the job entirely without an idea of what to do. Here is how I put it on my application:

A center such as yours is like a river and the organization of the office like its banks. Without banks the river meanders meaninglessly and may lose energy and stagnate. With too narrow of banks the river may flow too fast dragging people along and crashing into obstacles. When the banks are just right, the river runs smoothly without thought of its banks. It can flow easily over or around potential obstacles, just being a river. This is what I would like to create for Deep Spring.

Since then I’ve been filling in the details. There is now a detailed job description, a procedure manual is well under way and the office is getting sorted out and set up to support all of Deep Spring’s activities. You told me it was important to improve communication within Deep Spring. I believe we’re off to a good start on making that happen, too. As I said, working here is a lot like being human. There are frustrations and jagged edges along with accomplishments and a wonderful warmth and joy. There are also lots of opportunities for spiritual practice in what each day brings. What really makes the difference is knowing we are all dancing along this path of lovingkindness together. Thank you all for being there!

– Su, the OM

Sangha News

A New Home for Deep Spring Center — The Middle Way

As our Sangha and programs expand, we are outgrowing the meditation hall in Barbara’s renovated garage. Parking, lack of a bathroom, and the small size of the room have become limitations. Many would like a larger home for DSC that could bring together our now-dispersed programs and form the social center for our community.

In 2001 fundraising efforts for a building began and a site search committee was formed. At the January 2002 Sangha gathering, we heard a proposal to purchase the former police substation in the strip mall at Packard and Platt for about $250,000. In the Quaker-style discussion that followed, people expressed a wide range of opinions from strongly in favor to strongly opposed. One major concern was lack of clarity on the financial issues. Can we really afford it? Do we want to assume this large and long-term commitment? In the end, we did not reach a consensus to purchase the building.

As a result of the January Sangha gathering, a building budget task force was formed. The members were Susan Weir, Pat Shalis, and myself. Susan and I each have budgeting experience from running small businesses. Pat is the Deep Spring Treasurer. We reviewed the possible sources of income that had been presented to support a building, separating current income needed for existing programs and using conservative estimates for new income. We concluded that $1000 per month of new income can be realized by moving existing classes from rented spaces and by offering a new class, a monthly day of meditation, an expanded Sunday sitting, and other modest changes.

For $1000 per month, we could rent perhaps 600–800 square feet in Ann Arbor. Renting a small space would give us our own 24/7 home with bathroom and parking, without requiring a large down payment or large monthly payments. We could expand our programs, build our sense of community, and take an incremental step towards a larger space later. We dubbed this proposal "The Middle Way." We presented the Middle Way proposal at the April Sangha gathering, and all present endorsed the idea. A follow-up email survey of Sangha members in the Ann Arbor area produced 23 in favor and 1 opposed. The proposal is now under consideration by the Board of Directors. Your input is welcome.

– David Coupland

Spring Sangha Meeting
by Corty Cammann

On April 21 twenty-two members of the Sangha met for lunch and discussion at the Cammann’s home in Ann Arbor. The potluck lunch was plenteous and congenial. It was fun catching up with friends and meeting members of the Sangha whose activities have taken them in different directions

After lunch, we gathered for discussions of the business of the Sangha. Su Hansen, our new office manager, was introduced to those who had not yet met her. She spent a few minutes describing what it was like to be starting on her job.

The task force that had been examining the financial implications of getting a building made a report of its conclusions. Their recommendation was to follow the "Middle Way." They believed that it was not realistic to buy a building at this time, but that renting a space of around 650 square feet was a viable alternative. They believed that the activities of the Sangha could reasonably bring in enough money for this expense while also continuing to raise money towards an eventual purchase of property. After discussion of their report and recommendations, all present endorsed their suggestions and supported sending it to the Board. We are all grateful to David Coupland, Susan Weir and Pat Shalis for the work that they put in developing this middle-way alternative.

We then had fifteen minutes of silent contemplation in which we were all invited to consider what we were interested in getting from the Sangha and what activities we would like to see as part of the Sangha’s functioning. Then we all shared our thoughts. This produced a lively discussion and a number of great ideas for things that we could be doing. They included workshops, study groups, small support groups to help our practices, social events, community projects, and more. For those who are interested in the details, the notes from the meeting can be found on the Deep Spring Center website.

As the discussion came to a close, we decided to continue Sangha meetings quarterly. This would give us a chance to get together socially and give us a time to talk over issues that face us as a Sangha. The next meeting was set for July 28.

Sangha Serves Community
by Cassie Cammann

On Tuesday afternoon, May 21, several members of the Sangha gathered at Whitehall Healthcare Center, a nursing home in Ann Arbor. We cleared out several garden beds and filled them with blooming flowers donated by various generous farmers from the Farmers’ Market. Frank Levey labored hard the day before to fill and empty his truck with a large load of compost from the Ann Arbor Recycling Center. Our gardening crew relocated the compost and planted many flowers while several residents cheered us on.

Generosity, kind words, doing a good turn for others, and treating all people alike: these bonds of sympathy are to the world what the lynch-pin is to the chariot wheel.

- Anguttara Nikaya II, 32

The staff at the nursing home came by in groups of two and three to thank us for our efforts. They provided us with a wonderful table of refreshments. Thanks to every one who participated. The garden is growing well! It continues to brighten a small corner as it brightened our hearts to do it.


Our Recent Visitors

This spring we were graced by the presence of many guests who enriched us with their wisdom and hearts. First to come in March was Ajahn Thanasanti who spent a month of personal retreat with Barbara at the lake cabin. Sangha members brought them a meal daily, often sat with them and shared the blessings of generosity. In April Ajahn Succitto and Venerable Nathanko came for a week. Ajahn Succitto led a 3-day intensive on emptiness for senior students. Then in May we had the joy to hear Joseph Goldstein speak one evening at an open forum. He spent the next morning with the DSC teachers. We hope to share some of that talk in a future newsletter. Thanks to Arbor Insight whose work brought some of these wonderful friends into our presence.

Spiritual Inquiry in Japan

Join Barbara and Aaron for spiritual inquiry, retreat and travel in Japan from May 12 through June 7, 2003. This program is being planned by Marci Smith, a friend in Tokyo, and her sister Michelle Smith, a DSC student in Ann Arbor. It is not a formal DSC trip. You may join the whole trip or the first or second half. Group size is limited. Preference will be given to those staying for the entire trip. Cost is not yet known but will be kept as low as possible. There will be many home stays, both to contain cost and to allow us a deeper exposure to Japanese life. Marci, Michelle, or another fluent Japanese speaker will accompany us at all times, through the entire trip. In addition to Marci and Michelle, some of Marci's Japanese students who are studying English may join us for parts of the trip. They will help with logistics and help interpret what we're seeing and experiencing. Our plan is to have daily time for meditation together, although we may go separate ways some days with individual interests.

Housing, local transportation and optional activities to explore the local culture will be arranged.

11 days – trips in and outside of Tokyo
3 days – residential retreat
12 days – travel throughout Japan

Schedule includes (more may be added):
May 12: Depart the Detroit area
May 13: Arrive in Japan
May 15: Spiritual Inquiry Evening with Aaron
May 17-18: Angels in Earthsuits (non-residential workshop near Tokyo)
May 21: Introduction to Meditation
May 22: Leave for retreat area
May 23-25: Residential Meditation Retreat (near Nikko National Park)
May 26– June 7: Join Barbara and Hal after the retreats for a custom-made tour of Japan. With Marci's help, we will create our itinerary together,
June 7: Return to the U.S.

Contact Marci Smith: marci@ieb.jp or Barbara: bbrodsky@deepspring.org