More new offerings for 2016–Announcing Urban Meditation Group, San Rafael
I am happy to be a co-founder and instructor at the new Urban Meditation Group in downtown San Rafael. Beginning Monday, January 11, 2016, and happening each Monday evening 7-9 p.m., Urban Meditation Group will be held at OpenEye, a beautiful venue created by friend, co-founder and co-instructor Tarane Sayler. OpenEye is located at 875 4th St., San Rafael, CA. I’ll be leading the first evening on January 11.
The Urban Meditation Group is a place to learn and practice meditation in downtown San Rafael. Our purpose is to offer a safe non-denominational refuge in an urban environment, where anyone can find silence, inner peace, awareness, compassion and community. Meditation instruction is provided by experienced instructors. Our gathering is suitable for beginners as well as long-time practitioners. No religious belief or affiliation is required to participate and to benefit from the practice of meditation.
The group is led by Hal Blacker, Jeff Bickner and Tarane Sayler, and occasional guest instructors. The format of our gathering will include meditation, instruction in meditation and an opportunity for questions and discussion.
There is no charge for attendance but donations are graciously appreciated.
We meet at 875 4th Street—just 2 blocks from the San Rafael Public Transit Center, on the East end of 4th St., above the Sacred Tibet Shop.
I am pleased to let you know that I will be teaching a series of meditation classes at Yogakula in Berkeley, California beginning next week, Wednesday, January 13. I will be emphasizing natural mindfulness, an approach to meditation that is based on relaxation and effortless awareness. The classes on are on a drop-in basis–you can attend all of them or any individual class. This is an opportunity to learn meditation, deepen and re-inspire your on-going practice or join others for group practice. Here’s the information:
Dates: Wednesday, January 13 and February 3, 17 & 24
Time: 7:30-9:00 p.m.
1700 Shattuck Ave.
Classes will be offered on a donation basis, with a suggested donation of $10-$17.00.
I am happy to announce that we will begin studying the wonderful and powerful Dzogchen Prayer of Samantabhadra. (Dzog pa chen po kun tu zang po’i mon lam) tomorrow, Tuesday, November 19 at our Real Dharma meeting. This extraordinary text is often recited and studied in the Dzogchen tradition. It gives a short, clear and beautiful exposition of Dzogchen view and practice. The text will be available at class.
We will begin, as usual, with a short meditation at 7:30 p.m., followed by a talk and discussion. You are welcome to come as early as 7:00 p.m. for tea and socializing beforehand. (If you need directions or have any questions, please email).
As always, there is no charge for attending.
Everyone is welcome.
Mangalam! May all be auspicious!
One way to recognize intrinsic awareness–the original wisdom we were born with–is to see if there is something that is always the same. The sameness that is being pointed to does not exclude difference or change. It is a nonconceptual awareness that transcends the opposites of permanence and impermanence, of difference and sameness. It is a sameness that is seen in difference, a permanence seen right within this world of impermanence, a stable presence that pervades all states of consciousness whether peaceful or disturbed, happy or sad.
Seeing this sameness is a doorway to the simple recognition of one’s own awareness as primordial wisdom.
In this short meditative talk (about 20 minutes long), Hal points to the possibility of recognizing innate nonconceptual sameness. This talk was given at Real Dharma Sangha on May 1, 2012. To listen, use the flashplayer, below:
The everyday practice of dzogchen is simply to develop a complete carefree acceptance, an openness to all situations without limit.
We should realize openness as the playground of our emotions and relate to people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy.
We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole.
This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life.
Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by welcoming the sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through the barriers created by habitual emotional patterns.
When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the feeling of opening ourselves out completely to the entire universe. We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of self-protection.
Don’t take appearance inside!
Don’t project inner conceptions outside!
Don’t enslave body to mind!
Don’t occupy mind with body!
Don’t attend to view or meditation!
Leave mind unfabricated, just where it is!
~from Lion of Siddhas: The Life and Teachings of Padampa Sangye, trans. David Molk
Lately I’ve been reading Padampa Sangye, the great Indian siddha of the 11-12th century, who visited Tibet, Bhutan and China. Some say in China he was known as Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen. (!) Some say he was also known as the famous sage Kamalashila in India. Some say he lived hundreds of years. In any event, it seems certain that he taught in a style that was unique and unclassifiable (in Tibet, the people were unsure at first whether he was a Hindu or Buddhist siddha), yet powerful and direct. I hope to share some more of his teachings here in the future.
Soon after his enlightenment, the Buddha described his discovery of no-self like this:
Seeking but not finding the house builder, I traveled through the round of countless births. Oh painful is birth ever and again! House builder, you have now been seen. You shall not build the house again. Your rafters have been broken down; your ridge pole is demolished too. My mind has now attained the unformed nibbana and reached the end of every kind of craving. ~ Dhammapada, 153-154
In the following talk, I suggest that this demolishing of the “ridge pole” of the illusion of self may occur as a natural falling away when one discovers and rests in one’s true nature as consciousness, rather than as a result of an unnatural assault on the notion of self, using concepts or artificial practices. This is a healing process of going through the fundamental sense of being a conscious being–rather than trying to destroy it.
To listen to the talk, given at the Real Dharma group on October 18, 2011, use the flash driver below
If you are unable to use the flash player, listen or download here.