Author Topic: Thoughts about a practice group  (Read 2013 times)

Chaz

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2021, 04:01:18 AM »
Is a practice group practical?
Live in different time zones??
And practice is really about quiet times??
Would be nice to have a weekly message about what is going on here??
If anything at all??

I think group practice has a certain dynamic that makes it very beneficial.

I moved from Colorado to South Carolina about 4 years ago.  One of the things I miss the most about Colorado is opportunities for group practice that simply don't exist here.

I don't think it's a matter of practicality, although traveling great distances for group practice seems a bit irresponsible.

It's not just about "quiet" time.  In Tibtean lineages, practice can be quite noisey - horns, drums, bells, songs, chanting and recitations.

There are, of course, practices that are quiet, such as shamatha, vipassana, tonglen and so on.

The organization I affiliate with has Zoom practice sessions, for members who don't have access to a dedicated center.  That doesn't work so good for me.

Gibbon

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2021, 05:36:38 PM »
Starting an online practice group is not an easy endeavor, particularly if it is composed of perfect strangers.  If the people know each other, it is easier.  My Sangha now meets on Zoom regularly and the quality of practice is high.  It has also allowed us to involve members living in different places and across five time zones so I would say there is more Dharma happening than before.  That said, I really miss seeing everyone in person and look forward to the end of restrictions.

Are you searching for an online practice group that has regular sits?  There are some suggestions listed in this section, such as Jeffrey the Meditator, Gil Fronsdal, and others.  I think it is a good idea to add some more.

If you would like help with your practice, we are here to provide it.  Please tell us more about where your practice is at and we can provide suggestions on how to grow it.  How long have you been practicing?  What books have you read?  What teachings have you heard?  Do you have a regular practice or is it occasional?

Gibbon

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2021, 02:43:05 AM »
Thanks for telling us about yourself!  The advantage of maturity is that you have seen the pain of existence first hand.  I remember, when I first became interested in the Dharma, I learned all about suffering etc. but couldn't really feel it.  My life was good and the body was young and healthy.  Now some time has passed and suddenly it dawns: oh, everything they talked about regarding pain, suffering, and impermanence is really true!  Better get on with it, then.

One of my cousins was into Gurdjieff.  I don't know much about him, but wasn't he quirky and unpredictable?  Such a style of teaching does not work for every student.  A boring, steady practice is a cornerstone for making some progress, even 10 minutes every day is good for building up the habit.  If you are interested in trying this, I will match it for you.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 02:58:59 AM by Gibbon »

Gibbon

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2021, 08:18:19 PM »
All good points!  It is great that you are at the stage in your practice when you are able to meditate while out in the world performing ordinary activities.  And, of course, setting expectations (such as progress) can be problematic.  Still, even accomplished masters dedicate a lot of time to formal, rigorous, methodical practice which boosts the between-session experiences.

May I also mention that, in my tradition and I am sure in most or even all others, pure meditation is not sufficient.  It needs to be combined with the accumulation of merit by practicing the perfection of generosity etc. and also doing purification practices.  These practices ready the mind for giving up attachment and grasping when they repeatedly arise.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 08:46:45 PM by Gibbon »

Chaz

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2021, 07:12:47 PM »
So, practice group?
What or how would this be accomplished?
Meet at a set time and day?
Leave the computer on and in a meeting of silence?
Or have a meeting with a teacher giving a lecture?

To me it seems quite difficult without being there in person??

Good question.

First, the Covid restrictions would have to ease to the point where small gatherings would be allowed and safe.

Then I'd want to get permission from my practice lineage to teach meditation and once I have that, then start gathering people who want to learn  and can get together one day a week somewhere.  I'd want everyone doing the same practice - Shamatha - as it would be easier to manage than some folks doing vipassana, zazen, chants, etc.

Teaching is another story.  I couldn't teach, but getting video teachings would be doable, again, from the same lineage, at least to begin with.

If it grows beyond that,  well, cross that bridge when we get to it.

Chaz

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2021, 04:57:27 PM »
Hmm, a rose by any other name is still a rose. Practice is practice. To make everyone do the exact same thing is like trying to teach and follow your practice. No choice?

My feeling is, one practice method, or two, if related, is best. Thats what I'm the most comfortable with.  This is how dharma centers do it.  Allowing anyone do what they please, causes too much confusion.  Think of it like this:  Lets say someone goes to a Zendo for group practice and rather than zazen, starts chanting Nembutsu.  That's an unnecessary distraction.    Better to keep everyone on the same page, practice-wise.

I'm sure there are groups that allow that sort of thing, but TBH, that's not the kind of group I want to be a part of.

Gibbon

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2021, 06:49:30 PM »
That's why there is a diversity of centers and groups.  I agree that trying to run into several directions at once is distracting and confusing.  Better to pick one thing and focus on that.

Chaz, I see your points about in-person being better than online.  But, by my experience, Zoom meditation can work well and it is even possible to give instruction in this way.  It's better if the people attending are not complete strangers and the group is small. 

Thankfully, however, the pandemic is receding and it will be possible to meet in person again soon.

Chaz

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2021, 09:53:02 PM »
That's why there is a diversity of centers and groups.  I agree that trying to run into several directions at once is distracting and confusing.  Better to pick one thing and focus on that.

Chaz, I see your points about in-person being better than online.  But, by my experience, Zoom meditation can work well and it is even possible to give instruction in this way.  It's better if the people attending are not complete strangers and the group is small. 

Thankfully, however, the pandemic is receding and it will be possible to meet in person again soon.

Yes, and I'm basically waiting on that to happen.  Get back to some semblance of normalcy, then move forward.

I want to get with my old friend Jeffrey the Meditator, to seek counsel in the matter.  He did what I'm thinking about, but he was a meditation instructor and teacher in the Shambhala tradition, before and had the street cred.

Gibbon

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Re: Thoughts about a practice group
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2021, 09:00:45 PM »
Quote
Sounds good, keeping my fingers crossed for you!  There must be people in your location who are under-served Dharma-wise.

SC is a nearly Buddhism free-zone.  There are groups and a monastery that serve ethnic Buddhists from SE Asia (not ideal - language barriers).  There's a couple "zen" meetup groups, but those seem to be either off the grid or just coffee meetups.  The nearest Tibetan groups are a NKT sangha in Charlotte and a Gelug sangha down in Columbia.  Nothing in between.  Columbia is too far away for regular contact, and I'm not inclined to got to NKT because of the whole Shugden/HHDL controversy.

So I'm kinda on my own.

« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 10:42:35 PM by Chaz »