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?

June 16-22

“Failing to see everything as an opportunity for practice is a setup for frustration and disappointment, keeping us stuck where we are and limiting our possibilities for inner growth. The more we include in our practice, the more satisfying our life can be.”

-Ezra Bayda

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss the importance of taking your practice off the cushion, and include real-life examples of times you have tried to maintain lucid awareness and not get deluded by your thoughts and emotions during your daily activities.

June 8-15

“The thing is, I know I don’t know. And contrary to what you might think, that knowledge hasn’t disempowered me. Quite the contrary—life has a part to play through me, and I play that part in the deepest state of agreement.”

-Adyashanti

This Week’s Discussion Topic
In tonight’s quote, what does it mean to play your part “in the deepest state of agreement”? How does agreement figure into the equation?

June 2-8

“What is there to lose? What is there to gain? If we gain something, it was there from the beginning. If we lose anything, it is hidden nearby.”

-Ryokan

This Week’s Discussion Topic
Discuss how this quote relates to your ability to maintain lucid awareness in every moment. For example, do you lose awareness when you become attached to your thoughts? If so, then where does awareness go? If not, then what is actually happening?