Ramsey Margolis

Online recollective awareness meditation course

Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust is really pleased to be able support a recollective awareness meditation teacher when they return to New Zealand in November 2016. If in the meantime you’d like a taste – or another taste perhaps – of this kind of meditation practice, Jason Siff and Linda Modaro will be teaching a four-week online course from 25 June to 22 July 2016.

This online course will have both an introductory and an intermediate track running at the same time and will require about five hours of your time each week, including two or more meditation sessions each week.

While registration for the course will open in the week of 1 May 2016, until that date you can reserve a space by filling out an online form here – skillfulmeditation.org/forms/2016/. Tech support will commence in the week of 13 June and the course starts on Saturday 25 June.

The author of Unlearning Meditation: What to do when the instructions get in the way and Thoughts are not the enemy: an innovative approach to meditation practice, here is what Jason has to say about this online course:

‘The last course, which I offered in January of this year, far exceeded my expectations. Participants received the equivalent of what they might get attending a week-long recollective awareness meditation retreat, stretched out over the course of a month and it was done at home instead of at a retreat centre.

‘One thing it confirmed was how this approach to meditation integrates with the rest of our life and does not require a retreat setting to be effective. This makes perfect sense, because by allowing our thoughts and emotions into our meditation sitting from the moment we sit down to meditate, our life enters directly into our meditation practice and then our meditation practice can directly affect our life.

‘Of the 18 people who signed up for the August 2015 month-long online course, 17 continued to the end. I offered 90-minute live interactive talks on each of the four weekends, hour-long small group meetings and individual interviews. I also posted audio recordings from my retreats and workshops, videos for meditation and journalling instruction, articles and excerpts from my books, as well as links to other resources.

‘The participants were actively involved, though not pressured or bombarded with information or assignments and we found a nice balance between meditation, reading and talking.

‘This new course will have all of that. What’s more, participants will be able to keep their own pace and receive individual support for a meditation practice which fits into their own life.

‘I will be giving two 90-minute meditation workshops each weekend, one with time-zone consideration for those in New Zealand and Australia (American and Canadian participants can attend if they wish) and another timed for those in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe.

‘On weekdays, Linda Modaro and I will be offering small group online interviews and, along with other teachers trained in recollective awareness meditation, Linda will offer individual interviews on the phone or by Skype.

‘We will have a course manager who will assist everyone getting up and running, maintain a web page and provide access to the various supplemental materials. She has created video tutorials to help people connect via computer to the talks and small groups, and will be available to troubleshoot problems participants might encounter when trying to log on.’

The fee for the course is USD $200 per person. Participants can ask for a reduced fee and people in groups of two or more taking the course together will only be asked to pay $100 each. If you have any questions about this course, send an email to jason@skillfulmeditation.org. To register, go to skillfulmeditation.org/forms/2016 Online Course/.

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Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking

Musician and artist Amanda Palmer believes we should create a new relationship between artists and their fans, one based on generosity and trust. Watch her TED talk and be prepared to melt in wonder at her audacity. Marvellous!

‘I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. In order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.’

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Give, receive and dance

Here’s a wonderful TED talk by Nipun Mehta, founder of Service Space, on generosity. What do you think of it?

Link to video on youtube.com


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The importance of giving

Giving needs to be practiced and developed because our underlying tendency toward attachment, aversion, and confusion so often interferes with a truly selfless act of generosity. An act of giving is of most benefit when one gives something of value, carefully, with one’s own hand, while showing respect, and with a view that something wholesome will come of it. The same is true when one gives out of faith, respectfully, at the right time, with a generous heart, and without causing denigration.

– Andrew Olendzki, ‘Dana: The Practice of Giving’ www.tricycle.com/-practice/dana-practice-giving

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What a wonderful week

– a few words on Martine and Stephen Batchelor’s Taupo retreat

by Maggie Blake

All the dross from the teachings was removed, allowing us to desist from trying to find a way through all the various techniques, which may or may not have helped through the years.

For me it was so helpful to get rid of everything else apart from the four noble truths and the eightfold path.

Over the years of course, one knows the way down the path but one is seduced into thinking that there might be an easier or quicker way. Stephen just cleared all the extraneous bits for me, so now it is on with the teaching just as it is.

It has also been interesting with my own teaching. There is no waffle; there is no other way. This is it. Why go anywhere else, when it is all there.

The Buddha seemed very clear, so did Stephen. Martine was a joy to listen to with her clear directions for following the path. Her accent was a joy for me to listen to.

Having been with them both at Sharpham for three years, it felt like I was back in the family, and of course I am and it was wonderful to connect with them again after 16 years.

My week was one of joy, heartfelt thanks for the dharma, and tremendous love for Stephen and Martine, who continue to bring us the teachings pure and simple.

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Mindfulness at work

Need some info on how to be more mindful at work, hints and suggestions for reducing work-related stress?

Here’s a poster we’ve produced that you might like to pin to a noticeboard at work.

Download it here.


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Car stickers … and for elsewhere too

In green and yellow like this website used to be, four new car stickers are now available. To get one send a message using the Contact Us page with your postal address saying which one(s) you want.


And you don’t just have to put them onto your car…

Thanks to FotoFirst in Palmerston North for generously producing these for us – http://www.fotofirst.co.nz

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Tricycle group created

All you social networking people out there will be interested to learn that a group called Aotearoa Buddhist Education Project has been created in Tricycle magazine’s online community. Come on down and network with us!

Visit http://community.tricycle.com, sign up and join the group. We’d love to hear your ideas about ABET and your ideas for better ways to publicise the work of the trust.

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Creating opportunities for generosity

To embrace dukkha is to fully embrace the suffering of the world. When the Buddha talks of the path, the whole business beginning with fully knowing dukkha, it’s also an injunction to compassion. When we begin to be more attuned to the tragic nature of our own existence, when we begin to wear down the rigidity of our selfcentredness, that has the effect of making us more empathetically open to the far, far greater suffering that is going on all around us; in others, in the environment.

– Stephen Batchelor, from ‘The Secular Buddha’ a talk given at a London Insight Meditation retreat, September 2008

WHEN people begin to explore the practice of meditation, more often than not it’s because they feel there’s something unsatisfactory in their lives: they believe there’s something wrong with ‘me’, with what’s going on in ‘my life’ and they want to find out if meditation will help.

If then they attend an insight meditation session or retreat, they find they’re encouraged to be generous; that while there may be a charge to attend the retreat, in addition they are asked to make a donation – give dana – to the teacher for the teachings they have received.

This could seem like they’re being asked to pay for something twice. That it’s part of a tradition, well whoopeedoo, what a cool tradition, and they reach into their pockets or their purses and pull out a coin or two or a bill with a picture of Sir Ed to put into the dana bowl.

The brave among them will ask for guidance. Consider what a night out in the city costs, they may be advised, with film tickets, popcorn and a latte, and give accordingly, or they might be asked to compare an evening with a meditation teacher to a yoga session.

Generosity of spirit is rarely instilled in westerners as we grow up. While well-off Victorians had the practice of charity as a way of easing their conscience about the injustices around them, generations X and Y learn with some difficulty sometimes that there is a world beyond themselves.

For our part, we need to be patient, using these opportunities to assist them develop generosity as an important and integral part of the way of meditation, supporting them as they work with their dis-ease.

So, following the injunctions of the four ennobling truths, as we embrace suffering, let go of grasping, experience stopping and create a path, this we do in the hope of curing ourselves of this sense of dissatisfaction.

Those who persist with the practice of meditation discover that this sense of dissatisfaction, or dukkha, is more about ‘us’ rather than ‘me’. We become hugely more aware of the suffering of others, that our own suffering is so tiny by contrast with the suffering of the world, and that there is a direct and very real connection between the world and ourselves. And that’s the point that generosity becomes a significant part of the path.

As repeatedly our heart goes out to all beings in metta practice, it becomes a felt sense rather than repetition by rote and, surprise, we come full circle. We discover the joy that arises out of generosity, from being there for other people, and for other beings.

And from that generosity the ‘me’ actually grows and gains so much. As practitioners, how can we enable others to become aware of this process? As well as the injunction to practice, those of us committed to a buddhist path need to ensure that our communities offer newbies a number of opportunities to practice generosity.

With this in mind, four dharma buddies from around the country have come together and started a charitable trust, Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust, the object of which will be to raise funds to bring overseas insight meditation teachers to this country.

Our initial aim will be to ask Aotearoa’s insight meditation communities to help us to at least cover a teacher’s air fares. New Zealanders would then be able to taste of Buddha’s teachings more affordably, leaving more in their pockets and purses to offer as dana.

When the results can be seen clearly, we hope that enough of you will feel the value in donating to the trust, and we would hope to be able to cover more of the cost of running retreats. Perhaps all? We would hope so.

– from the July 2009 INSIGHTAotearoa newsletter

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