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I just got back from the Shambhala Center and I've got a sunburn from our lascivious day in the garden!
Tonight I showed up at 7pm for the Thursday night meditation with the Songs of Milarepa following. But I should start from the beginning.
On Thursday, February 27, I showed up on Thursday night at the Shambhala center on "D" st. in downtown Davis. That is one of two days a week that they offer meditation instruction. There was another man who showed up when I did. He said he saw the sign and wanted to try it. A woman named Rebbeca took us to the annex to instruct us.
She mentioned that in many meditation traditions, such as Zen, small cushions that are low to the ground are used. In Tibetan Buddhism, she said, they use much higher cushions and sometimes even add another one to that. Next, she instructed, was to sit up straight and that in this tradition rather than cupping the hands or something similar that they just rest the hands on the thighs, palms facing down. She also noted that in this tradition, rather than the eyes being closed, they leave the eyes open but cast downward towards the ground. She said to just focus on the breath and let any thoughts go. Don't try to control the thought.
After this basic instruction and practice was completed by about 7:30. The other man left. Rebecca said that I was welcome to stay for the Songs of Milarepa, which I was curious about.
Actually before the Songs started, a very long liturgy that is chanted by the entire group, took place. This was called the Sadhana of Mahamudra. All the Tibetan Buddhism that had seeped into me over the semesters of religious studies training had prepared me to plow through this more easily than otherwise. It was very energizing. Very potent. After the recitation the man sitting next to me, Richard, commented that I must have had some practice with the chant. I said well maybe in another life but this was my first time in this one. we sang and sang from a songbook with songs by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche and Milarepa and Marpa and others. There were even a couple of Celtic songs in there that just happened to fit in with the Bhuddhist songs. It was nice since one of the tunes was one of my favorites.
The day that I went to the Shambhala center for the first time, I spoke with an old friend that I hadn't spoken with for a long time. He said he was closely following the work of Father Francis Tiso who is working with IONS and Esalan Institute to try and scientifically document and research extraordinary human abilities such as the Rainbow Body. I told my friend that was very interesting because I was on my way to the Shabhala center.
The following week the synchronicity increased. I was late to the center so I waited in the lobby through the meditation and when that was over there was no Mahamudra that week so I joined in for the buddhist songs. I find them to be very effective because they stay in ones head for hours and days afterwards. On my way home I reached in the newspaper bin for a free copy of the Sacramento News and Review and the cover story was on a young man, Stephen Keale, who had hemophilia, AIDS, and hepatitis. The man had lived an extraordinary life and it led him to study tibetan buddhism. After affecting the lives of many including his amazing wife he went to a retreat in Clear Lake and died there. His teacher Sogyal Rinpoche said that it was a great blessing to all. Here's the story:
Tonight I made it for everything, meditation, the Sadhana of Mahamudra, and the songs. Tommorow I will write about my meditation experiences.
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