Dharma talk from Dave

March 26th, 2020


Hi Beautiful Meditators,
Dave Shannahan, another one of our regulars and a member of our steering committee, shares the following with you.  This is the first part of a longer work that some of us can read and maybe discuss or reflect on together soon.  

The Way It Is. Dharma talks given by Ajahn Sumedho.
Abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery Hertfordshire England. 

INTRODUCTIONThis book contains a collection of teachings of Ajahn Sumedho given to people who are familiarwith the conventions of Theravada Buddhism and have some experience of meditation. Most ofthe chapters are edited from talks given during retreats for lay people for Ajahn Sumedho'smonastic (ordained) disciples, so they require some careful attention and are best read in


In the monastic retreats Ajahn Sumedho develops a theme from the Buddha's teaching over acouple of months, linking it to other aspects of the Dhamma, embellishing it with accounts of hispersonal experiences, demonstrating its relevance to the society in general, or using it as anexhortation to the Sangha to live up to their aspiration of enlightenment. Although it is notpossible to render the tonal depth and variety of these talks in a printed work, the mixture of shortexhortations and pointers, longer contemplative reflections mingled with the chants that themonks and nuns will be reciting daily (and have been doing so for years) may suggest theatmosphere and scope within which the teachings are offered.

In many of these talks Ajahn Sumedho expounds on the uniquely Buddhist expression of 'not-self'

(anatta). He maintains this to be the Buddha's way of pointing to the experience of UltimateReality that is the goal of many religions. During the monastic retreats Ajahn Sumedho frequentlyteaches the Dependent Origination paticca-samuppada based on the approach of anatta. TheDependent Origination traces the process whereby suffering (dukkha) is compounded out ofignorance (avijja) and conversely suffering is eliminated (or rather not created ) with the cessationof ignorance. Just as anatta -- not-self -- is the expression of Ultimate Truth, Ajahn Sumedhosuggests that the root of ignorance is the illusion of Self'. Not that he is trying to annihilate orreject some personal qualities but rather to point out how suffering arises through attempting to

sustain an identity denoted by body and mind.

This mistaken identity is what the average person calls 'myself'. It can be detected in a latentstate as self-consciousness, or as habitual mood of the mind such as conceit or self-criticism, or itcan manifest as selfish bodily or verbal activity. The profundity of the Dependent Origination isthat it describes how even at its most passive, such wrong view creates habitual drives (kamma)and attitudes through which even a silent and well-intentioned meditator experiences suffering.What is called kamma (habitual drives) ranges from the 'internal', psychological plane to the'outer' realm of action. This habitual process then manifests in terms of body, speech or mind; allsuch manifestations being termed sankhara. Even moral action based on 'self-view' can lead toanxiety, doubt, 'sorrow, grief, pain, lamentation and despair'. Such is the meaning of the first 'link'of Dependent Origination 'avijjapaccaya sankhara' or 'dependent on ignorance are kammic


In its most complete formulation, Dependent Origination is expressed as:

"Avijjapaccaya sankhara;sankharapaccaya viññanam;viññanapaccaya namarupam;namarupapaccayasalayatanam;salayatanapaccayaphasso;phassapaccaya vedana;vedanapaccaya tanha;tanhapaccayaupadanam;upadanapaccaya bhavo;bhavapaccaya jati;jatipaccayajaramaranam-soka-parideva-dukkhadomanassupayasasambhavanti, evametassa kevalassadukkhakhandhassa samudayo hoti."This deals with arising of dukkha.The cessation of dukkha is then mapped out:"avijjayatveva asesaviraga-nirodha sankharanirodho,sankharanirodha viññananirodho,viññananirodha namarupanirodho,nanamarupanirodha salayatananirodho,salayatananirodha phassanirodho,phassanirodha vedananirodho,vedananirodha tanhanirodho,tanhanirodhaupadananirodho,upadananirodhabhavanirodho,bhavanirodha jatinirodho,jatinirodhajaramaranam-soka-parideva-dukkha-domanass-upayasanirujjhanti, evametassa kevalassa dukkhakhandhassa nirodho hoti."

In English this can be translated as:

Dependent on ignorance are habitual formations; dependent on habitual (kamma-) formations isconsciousness; dependent on consciousness are name-and-form (mentality-corporeality);dependent on name-and-form are the six sense-bases; dependent on the six sense-bases iscontact; dependent on contact is feeling; dependent on feeling is desire; dependent on desire isgrasping; dependent on grasping is becoming; dependent on becoming is birth; dependent onbirth is old age, sickness and death, sorrow, grief, lamentation, pain and despair.

Through the entire ceasing of this ignorance habitual formations cease; through the ceasing of

habitual formations consciousness ceases; through the ceasing of consciousness name-andform-cease; through the ceasing of name- and-form the six sense bases cease; through theceasing of the six sense bases contact ceases; through the ceasing of contact feeling ceases;through the ceasing of feeling desire ceases; through the ceasing of desire grasping ceases;through the ceasing of grasping becoming ceases; through the ceasing of becoming birth ceases;through the ceasing of birth old age, sickness and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief anddespair come to cease. Thus is the ceasing of this whole mass of suffering.There are many forms of dependence that are concerned in this analysis. It is helpful toremember that paccaya 'dependent on' or 'conditions' does not necessarily mean 'creates'. Forexample one could say 'walking is dependent on legs' or 'ice is dependent on water' or 'catchingthe train is dependent on getting to the station at the right time' or even 'the view is dependent onthe non-appearance of intervening objects'. Understanding this, the contemplative begins torealise that just as 'arising dependence' need not mean 'creation', 'cessation' so valued by the

Buddha need not mean 'annihilation'. In this lifetime, when Nibbana is to be realised, mentality
corporeality can 'cease' - ie. the identification with physical and mental kamma-formations can

cease so that life is no longer lived from the pleasure/pain principle dictated by the senses.(nama-rupa-salayatana-phassa-vedana-tanha+). In this spirit one could interpret the sequence ina more fluid way, for example :

To the extent to which (paccaya) the mind has not comprehended (avijja) Truth, habitual drives

manifest and condition (paccaya) awareness into a discriminative mode (viññana) that operatesin terms of (paccaya) subject and object (nama-rupa) held (paccaya) to exist on either side of thesix sense-doors (salayatana). These sense-doors open dependent (paccaya) on contact (phasso)that can arouse (paccaya) varying degrees of feeling (vedana). Feeling stimulates (paccaya)desire (tanha) and, according to (paccaya) the power of desire, attention lingers (upadana) andso personal aims and obsessions develop (bhava) to give (paccaya) (jati) rise to selfconsciousness.

That self-consciousness, mental or physical, once arisen must follow (paccaya)

the cycle of maturing and passing away (jara-marana) with the resultant sense of sadness (soka)varying from sorrow (parideva) to depression (domanassa), to anguish (dukkha) and emotionalbreakdown (upayasa).

When the mind looks into the sense of loss and comprehends Truth (avijja-nirodha), habitual

drives cease (sankhara-nirodha) and the awareness is no longer bound by discrimination(viññana-nirodha); so that the separation of the subject and object is no longer held (nama-rupanirodha)and one does not feel trapped behind or pulled out through the six sense-doors(salayatana-nirodha). The sense-doors open for reflection, rather than being dependent oncontact (phassa-nirodha) and impingement does not impress itself into the mind (vedananirodha).So there is freedom from desire (tanha-nirodha) and attention does not get stuck(upadana-nirodha) and grow into selfish motivations (bhava-nirodha) that center around andreinforce the ego (jati-nirodha). When no personal image is created, it can never bloat up, nor canit be destroyed (jara-maranam-nirodha). So there is nothing to lose, a sense of gladness, uplift,joy and serenity (soka-parideva-dukkha-domanass-upayasa-nirodha).

With the cessation of such a death-bound frame of reference there is the living of the True life,

the Holy life, of which Ajahn Sumedho so evocatively speaks.

Although many of these talks were delivered to monastics, the beauty of the Dhamma is that it is

available to those who wish to listen. It is with this in mind that this book is freely offered. May allbeings realise Truth, Ven. Sucitto Bhikkhu Amaravati 1990.

Group member recommendation

March 26th, 2020


Dear Beautiful Meditators,

Here’s a note from Claire, one of our regulars:

I hope this email finds you well during our challenging times.
You may already be familiar with this person's work, but felt the desire to share.
Wondering if the group would be interested in and benefit from a virtual retreat?
All the best to you and yours...

Meditation group

March 16th, 2020


Dear beautiful meditators,Although we are practicing social distancing for the good of our larger community, we can still be a resource to each other. If anyone in our community needs help please reach out here.  In the mean time, daily practice can help us deal better with stress and help us feel more connected. 

Below is a message Stefen from the BN Zen Group shared: 

InsightLA is in the process of moving or has moved all their offerings online right now, either via Facebook or Zoom. For instance, Trudy Goodman will be offering a meditation and dharma talk today via Zoom. You can find them at

As well, they're offering something called 'Dharma Pals' - they're 'offering to match community members as Digital Dharma Pals! These are spiritual support buddies you can regularly connect with by phone, Zoom/Facetime or email to practice together, and offer/find caring support.'

CarolynSent from my iPhone


Dear Beautiful Meditators,
The church is suspending all meetings and groups of any size. Meditation group is cancelled for 3/15 and 3/22 for now. We may have to extend the dates that we cannot meet, but I will keep you updated in the coming weeks.

Please be safe and meditate at home or with a friend 6 feet away or more.




Dear Beautiful Meditators,

The meditation group at UUBN is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this month in November. No one recalls the exact date that UU minister Marino, who identified as a UU and a Buddhist, gathered us in the Fell room to introduce us to sitting and walking meditation, but we are pretty sure it was in November, 2009.  I recall her telling us that during the hectic holiday season, we would all benefit from some peace and quiet. And she was right!  The first instruction she gave was simply to turn off the radio in the car and just focus on driving. Good advice!  We meditated very briefly—maybe 5 minutes—that first day and it seemed like a really long time.  Some days it still does. But here we are, ten years later. 

This Sunday, we will spend a little time honoring these ten years of meditation.

We meet each Sunday at 6:00 p.m. in the Fell Room.  We sit in silent meditation for 20 minutes, sit or walk for the next 20 minutes, and sit again for another 20 minutes. At 7:00 we read aloud from a book about the dharma or meditation and discuss. We end promptly at 7:30. All are welcome, including beginners or experienced meditators. 
For more information, go to

You received this email because you are on the BN Meditation email list.  If you’d like to be removed, just email me and I will take you off the list.  


Some local Meditation news

August 26th, 2019


Hello Beautiful Meditators,

I had the opportunity last week to visit a sangha in Oak Park, the Mindful Reflection Community at the Unity Temple Unitarian Church.  They were incredibly welcoming and the church is a beautifully restored Frank Lloyd Wright building.  Thank you to Terry, their leader, for including me.  I would love to go again and maybe people from our Bloomington Normal Group would like to go there with me.  It is worth the trip.  Please let me know if that’s something you’re interested in.  They meet each Tuesday at 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL.  

I am passing along two meditation opportunities I learned about from their group:

"Sharon Salzberg (one of our favorite teachers) is offering a week long online meditation challenge, "The Heart of Intention" starting Sept. 16 through Sept. 23.  You will take a week to delve into an often-overlooked arena of life: the inner heart space that drives our actions. Through this exploration, you see more clearly what your actions mean and how you can manifest what you genuinely love and care about. The course consists of seven daily lessons of teaching videos, guided meditations, reflections and readings. Suggested dana is: $10.  To register and to see additional information at  Sharon Salzberg Invitation." I’ve signed up for this, although I admit I’ve never actually completed an online class or challenge (so much for my intention!) If you sign up and you want to share this experience with a local, let me know. Maybe we can pair the online experience with some real human interaction to keep us on track.

I think some of you have been to the Kevala Retreat Center in Wisconsin. Their co-founder, Santikaro, will offer an afternoon retreat in Chicago on Saturday Oct. 26th.  Cost is $15. For additional information and to register:

You are receiving this email because you are on the mailing list for the Bloomington Normal Meditation Group. This is not an automated list and we try to keep emails to a minimum.  If you would like to be removed from the list, please email me and I will do so.   

As always, we meet together to meditate each Sunday from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at UUBN, 1613 Emerson, Bloomington IL.
We are currently working our way through the book “It’s Easier Than You Think” by Sylvia Boorstein.  

All are welcome.  

Visit our website at



Beautiful meditators,

Here is an opportunity for a day-long retreat in Madison that some of you might be interested in.

And as always, we meet to meditate together each Sunday evening at 6:00-7:30 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington Normal, 1613 Emerson Street, Bloomington, IL. 

Visit our website at
You are receiving this email because you are on the email list for the Bloomington Normal Meditation Group. I occasionally send out email reminders and meditation opportunities. If you’d like to be removed from the list, please let me know. 


Sent from my iPhone


Hello beautiful meditators,

I’m passing this on to you from the Zen Group because you are on the Bloomington Normal Meditation e-mail list. 
And as always, we meet each Sunday at 6:00-7:30 to meditate together at UUBN.

Our website is

If you’d like to be removed from the email list, please let me know. 

Hope to see you soon!

Sent from my iPhone
Begin forwarded message:

From: BN Zen Group <>Date: June 18, 2019 at 5:26:02 PM CDTTo: BN Zen Group <>Subject: 6/29 and 6/30, Zuiko Redding Potluck, Sitting, and Dharma Talk

Hi Everyone,

We hope this email finds you well. This is a reminder of upcoming events the weekend of June 29 and 30:

The weekend of June 29 and 30, we are pleased to again welcome Zuiko Redding and Myoho Kendall from the Cedar Rapids Zen Center.

On Saturday, June 29, we will have a potluck starting at 5pm at 1303 Belt Ave, in Normal. 

Then Sunday, June 30, we will host an extended morning of zazen and a dharma talk with Zuiko. For this event we will not be meeting at our regular location but will instead be meeting at Bloom Community School, 1100 N Beech St., building #11, Normal (in Normandy Village). The tentative schedule for 6/30 is as follows. If you're only able to make it for part of the morning, or only want to attend Zuiko's talk, that is perfectly fine with us. All are welcome. 

8:00 – 8:20 Arrive and set up
8:20 – 8:30 Opening/instructions from Zuiko
8:30 – 9:10 Zazen (sitting meditation)
9:10 – 9:20 Kinhin (walking meditation)
9:20 – 10:00 Zazen (sitting meditation)
10:00 – 10:10 Service
10:10 -11:00 Dharma talk
11:00 –11:30 Zazen (sitting meditation)
11:30 – 11:40 Read Fukanzazengi together and closing remarks   

Zuiko will also have time during the day on Saturday, the 29th, for one-on-one talks. If you are interested in meeting privately with Zuiko to discuss your practice, please email her directly at . 

Please let us know what questions you have or if I have neglected to include relevant information.

in peace,
BN Zen Group 


------------------------------------------------------------------------Just bow in the way life becomes life -- Uchiyama Roshi


Hi Beautiful Bloomington Normal Meditators,

Gentle Spring Day of Silence and Meditation, March 9, 10 am to 2 pm, Friends Meeting House, 1904 E. Main St., Urbana

To sign up and for more information, please click here: (signing up is necessary).


---------- Forwarded message ---------From: Marie McEnroe <>Date: Mon, Mar 4, 2019, 8:06 AMSubject: [UUCUC-Mindfulness] Fwd: Gentle Day of Silence and MeditationTo: UUCUC Mindfulness <>

Hello Mindfulness Practitioners,

Please see the announcement below of a half-day mindfulness opportunity, this coming Saturday March 9th, led by Rev. Florence Caplow.

(Note - I made one edit to the message below based on a later message from Rev. Caplow, correcting the date to March 9th.)

All the best,

Countdown to TODAY: 0 days
Seize the day. Make the most of it. Live. 

“Life is short. Therefore, I shall be a crusader in the fight against ignorance and fear, beginning with myself.”
-Dorothy Vickers-Shelley

To sign up and for more information, please click here: (signing up is necessary).