Author Archives: Chris Towery

Sept. 8-14

“The teaching is merely a vehicle to describe the truth. Don’t mistake it for the truth itself. A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The finger is needed to know where to look for the moon, but if you mistake the finger for the moon itself, you will never know the real moon.”

-The Buddha (as translated by Thich Nhat Hanh)

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss the meaning behind this famous quote, and describe how Buddhist teachings differ from traditional teachings, which are primarily focused on acquiring more intellectual knowledge.

Sept. 1-7

“While everyone is aware by their very nature, not everyone is consistently aware they are aware. But if someone asks you, ‘Are you aware right now?’ to answer ‘Yes,’ you have to have the experience of being aware that you are aware. The experience of simply being aware of your awareness is the most valuable, and the same time, most overlooked experience that one can have.”

-Rupert Spira

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Based on tonight’s quote, discuss how “the experience of being aware that you are aware” relates to your meditation practice. For example, do you need to do something to be aware of being aware, and if so, what do you do?

Aug 25-Aug 31

“In true meditation, the emphasis is on being awareness—not on being aware of objects, but on resting as conscious being itself. In meditation, you are not trying to change your experience; you are changing your relationship to your experience.”

-Adyashanti


This Week’s Discussion Topic
In regards to your meditation practice, or even your everyday life, discuss what “changing your relationship to your experience” might entail versus “changing your experience.”

Aug. 17-24

“We should not be passive about death. We should not procrastinate or assume that we have time. That will not help. It’s unavoidable, so bring it in front of your mind and think about it. Doing so can improve our life.”

-Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss your personal views on death and how they relate to your practice. For example, when growing up, did your family openly discuss death? Have you had any beloved relatives or close friends die unexpectedly? What plans, if any, have you made with your spouse, partner, and/or family for your own death?

Aug. 11-17

“The truth is that nothing is really wrong. Nothing is ever wrong, and nothing can be wrong. As Alexander Pope wrote, ‘One truth is clear: whatever is, is right.’ Wrongness is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere else.”

-Jed McKenna

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss how tonight’s quote relates to the Zen adage, “The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences,” and “Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”

Aug 4-10

“Our problem is that the power of thought enables us to construct symbols of things apart from the things themselves. This includes the ability to make a symbol, or an idea, of ourselves apart from ourselves. Because this idea is so much more comprehensible than the reality, the symbol so much more stable than the fact, we learn to identify ourselves with our idea of ourselves.”

-Alan Watts

This Week’s Discussion Topic
What ideas and symbolic concepts do you most often use to represent your ‘self’? What makes these ideas and concepts so attractive to you? What happens when you stay focused on your actual moment-to-moment experience of reality instead of these ideas?

July 28-Aug. 3

“Spontaneous introspective awareness is that ‘aha’ moment, when you suddenly realize there’s a disconnect between what you wanted to do (count the breath) and what you’re actually doing (thinking about something else). Appreciating this moment causes it to happen faster and faster, so the periods of mind wandering get shorter and shorter.”

–John Yates, Ph.D.

This Week’s Discussion Topic
When we catch our mind wandering during meditation, we often treat it as a failure of some sort. Yet, isn’t being aware of your mind’s habitual tendency to uncontrollably wander the point of sitting? To this end, discuss how becoming aware of just about any unwanted action can be a powerful force for correcting that action.

July 21-27

“We walk on this ground. While doing so, are we constantly considering at every step whether we should raise one leg after the other or stop at some point? No, walking is done automatically. The same is the case with inhaling and exhaling. No special effort is needed to inhale or exhale. The same is the case for all of this life.”

–Ramana Maharshi

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Have you ever had an experience—maybe even an entire day—when everything seemed to fall perfectly into place on its own, without any perceived effort on your part? Looking back on that experience, how did it feel: was it pleasurable or painful? With this feeling in mind, discuss how it might feel to experience all of life this way.

July 14-20

“The Buddha says all beings are born with the wisdom and perfection of Buddha. What is that? That is the ‘no need for zazen.’ This is who you are, but you don’t believe it sometimes. There’s no need for zazen, therefore, we must do zazen. Not should, but must! We must be who we are. This is the life we must be.”

-Elihu Genmyo Smith

This Week’s Discussion Topic
What does tonight’s quote mean by “We must be who we are” and “This is the life we must be”?

June 22-June 29

“We’re like fish living in water and asking, ‘Where is the water?’”

–Thich Nhat Hanh

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss the meaning of tonight’s quote. For example, if we’re the “fish” in the analogy, what does the “water” represent, and why would we be looking for it? Why wouldn’t we know where water is?