Author Archives: Chris Towery

Oct 20-26

“Without cultivating love for ourselves, regardless of how much discipline we have, regardless of how serious we are about practice, we will still stay stuck in the subtle mercilessness of the mind, listening to the voice that tells us we are basically and fundamentally unworthy.”

-Ezra Bayda

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss how the vast majority of your thoughts are subtle—and not-so subtle—judgments of yourself and how this constant negative reinforcement creates and affirms the belief that you’re inherently flawed and in need of fixing. Indeed, isn’t this the core reason most of us turn to spiritual practice?

Oct 13-19

“This is the paradoxical nature of our struggle—we can’t win by fighting. The very thing that fights, that resists what is, is the thing we seek to overthrow. Only in surrender can we find victory.”

-Jed McKenna

This Week’s Discussion Topic
If you’re trying really hard to act spontaneously, you’ll never succeed. That’s because, by definition, you’re not being spontaneous if you’re “trying” to do something. Your very effort gets in the way of what you’re seeking to achieve. Discuss how this scenario relates to tonight’s quote, and how true “surrender” might work in real life.

Oct. 6-12

“Words are not experience. The story about experience is not experience. Experience is what’s happening through sense perception: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, feeling, and thinking. What is happening beneath the words is what the words are pointing to.”

-Ilona Ciunaite

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Consider the word “fun.” What does “fun” mean? On first glance, the word appears completely recognizable. But look at what the word actually points to, and it becomes far less solid. The word seems to represent a unique combination of pleasant physical and emotional sensations we collectively label as “fun.” Now consider what the word “self” points to, and discuss the collection of sensations it represents.

Sept 29-Oct 5

“When I put too much stock in formal meditation, I forget that it’s only one way of helping me see the magic that surrounds me—and that is me. Redefining meditation simply as ‘the opportunity to notice’ opens up a world of possibilities.”

-Barry Evans

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss how viewing meditation as just something you do while sitting on a cushion tends to make practice dull. What’s stopping you from resting in lucid awareness at other times—even right now? When viewed this way, isn’t meditation really about being what you are, rather than something you do?

Sept. 22-28

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”

-Michel De Montaigne

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss how you’ve created suffering in your own mind that has no basis in your actual experience. Going deeper, discuss how all thoughts, whether positive or negative, are illusory in that they cannot ever accurately represent reality as it actually exists.

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.”