Sunday, January 12, 2020

Bhikkhu Bodhi: Full Moon Talk: JOY!

Ananda (Dharma Buddhist Meditation, L.A.), Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
The lunar observance of the Eight Precepts is done at each phase of the moon but most importantly on the full moon day. In Sri Lanka, the Theravada Buddhist tradition followed by Bhikkhu Bodhi (, it is observed by wearing white, going to the temple for the day, and practicing meditation while giving ear to the Dharma, the Buddha's Teaching. Bhikkhu Bodhi will give a talk at the second oldest Sri Lankan temple in L.A. Vegetarian lunch of island delicacies will be served. Monks will chant blessings. Talk at 3:00 PM with a Q&A period. FREE

What happened? Joy!
Be happy now (Alan Watts)
The topic of Bhikkhu Bodhi's talk was a surprise. It followed six days of retreat talks on the path to enlightenment at the Lankarama Institute. Today was "Finding Joy in the Wholesome."

The exclusively Buddhist language of Pali, we are told, has many more words for happiness, joy, and gladness than English. It has so many that awkward words like "gladness" have to be used, invented, or simply abandoned for repetition.

Where the Buddha's language was rich with shades of meaning, English cannot compare, so various terms (piti, sukha…) end up all being called bliss, joy, rapture, or happiness. And other shades of meaning are lost in translation.

D'ohm. I'm happiest when I meditate.
These kinds of happiness are refreshing and uplifting during practice. They can even emerge out of suffering (dukkha, disappointment). Bhikkhu Bodhi told the story of what happened when he arrived in Sri Lanka, going to his teacher's temple to practice meditation alone -- a dry insight method that left him unenthusiastic before long.

But he came across the experience of the majority of Sri Lankan Buddhists engaged in a devotional practice called "Recollecting the Qualities of the Buddha" (buddhanusati), which favors faith/confidence over intellectualism/self-improvement (even if it means self-torture). The Sri Lankan way seemed silly and worshipful, not in line with the Buddha's teaching of how to strive toward enlightenment.

But there it was in the books, so he tried it. And it enlivened him, softened him, and greatly improved his practice. It combined well with the rigors of vipassana (insight practice), which too often are imagined to be rigorous when they should actually be approached with joy and lightness not dour and stern expressions of grim determination, as usually happens.

Experiencing great pain -- such as the shock of hearing of someone's death or illness -- can cause us to straighten up. And by doing so, by being tempered or reined in, we might become full of wholesome joy. After a profound talk with many examples, Bhikkhu Bodhi opened it up to questions. The packed room of about 120 rushed to the opportunity. Then we all went to laugh at the big free comedy show.

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