Half- day retreat Saturday, July 23 10-3 Winthrop, WA
Learn and practice traditional techniques for using our beautiful beloved planet as a subject for reflection, insight, and concentration. This will be a day of mostly silent practice. alternating sitting and walking. I will offer simple instructions, (not very much talking). Saturday, July 23 10am - 3 pm Methow Valley Wellness Center, Winthrop
$45 sliding scale always accepted
I will supply a simple handmade earth kasina, a traditional meditation object, something I recently learned, and have come to love. Space is limited, please register by July 11
Something new,a personal reflection on meditating with an earth kasina After so many years of meditation, I am thrilled to share a technique that is new to me. In May, I attended an online retreat taught by Luang Por Sona, the Abbot of Birken Forest Monastery, in Kamloops, BC. Luang Por Sona and the fabulously talented team at Birken, created the “Natural Elements and Kasina” retreat. You can view the entire retreat on Ajahn Sona’s Youtube channel, until August.
Some background, Birken is a monastery in the The Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. In the Forest tradition, the four elements are usually earth, water, air and fire. A kasina is a meditation object, used to compose the mind, and cultivate concentration. In the Natural Elements Retreat, we were offered instructions on how to make or assemble kasinas, of primary colors, and the four elements. I began to explore by making an earth kasina. How I made the kasina On a black background, I traced a 12 inch dinner plate, with pencil. I filled the inside of circle shape with a thin coat of glue and then sprinkled the glue with a generous layer of topsoil from my yard. I set it aside to dry. The next day I tipped off the loose soil, and was rewarded with a lovely dirt colored disk, on a black background.
There are different ways to meditate on the element of earth. One is reflective, I reflect that everything in my body which is solid, has the quality of earth, and how it is the same as every thing in the universe which shares this quality of solidity. In this way of thinking, everything in the world is composed of the same four elements in different proportions, some more solid/earth, some watery, some airy, some fire. A stone is mostly earth, a green leaf has more of the water element that then rock does, and more water element than a yellow autumn leaf… I love the practice of reflecting on the four elements. It has the magic of making me feel more connected to the landscape, and less separate from other beings. Meditating with the earth kasina is different, it is not about intentionally reflecting, the intention is to unify attention on the image. I meditate with my eyes open softly focused on the disk of earth, occasionally I close my eyes and try to bring the image of the kasina up clearly in my minds eye. Luang Por warned us not to expect instant success, and I still haven’t done it. But a few things did happen, which surprised and delighted me, The first, was a strong feeling of love and affection arose in my heart for the planet, for our beautiful beleaguered, ever generous planet.
The second is more difficult to describe, and as all insights do, the written description feels like - yes, of course, so what?
This ground-shifting insight is that my preferred, idealized, version of the world, my personal version of how I should be, other people in my life should be, has no validity. That view is ignorant, deeply so. Meditating on a dirt disk, I got the memo that the materiality of the earth, the energies of life, the evolution of life forms, are constantly changing, the world is in flux according to the causes, conditions and effects of forever. Life will always be vulnerable to pain, loss and every degrees of suffering. The beauty and redemption is in our individual, and collective efforts to make things better. We try to help each other. In some ways we fail miserably, over and over we create conditions that increase suffering, sometimes we make things better, at least for a while. The beautiful redemption is the intention and love that motivate our struggle to reduce suffering, to help each other, to keep seeking for solutions, however incomplete. I am not sure why the image of a dirt disk is so powerful for me, I only know that it is, it speaks to me of forgiveness, acceptance, peace, and belonging. I invite you to try it!