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IMCW News

This blog contains announcements, insights and articles from the Insight Meditation Community of Washington

Suttas: Digging for Treasure

For the last 8 years, I have been on a quest, a kind of archeological dig. The site? The suttas (discourses) of the Buddha. The treasure? To hold in my mind and heart the wisdom of a fully enlightened being and it’s power to reshape my life. “I always ask myself: What did the Buddha say?” Alicia said. “I love to go to the original sources. Reading the suttas reveals that they are alive and rooted in reality, back then...and now.” Alicia is part of a group that gathers in Silver Spring one evening a month to study the suttas....

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

In these challenging times it is easy to forget the incredible blessings that we enjoy. The Buddha taught that this human birth is a most precious gift—and provides the possibility of realizing our true nature of immeasurable freedom. Further, for those fortunate to have encountered the Buddha’s teachings, access to the Dharma provides a clear path from a life built around the illusion of a separate, limited self to a freedom that is not dependent on conditions—on the ups-and-downs of the stock market, the political cycle or our mood of the day....

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

Back in May, during the last class for 2008-2009, I asked them what they had remembered most; what lessons had stuck.  Jacob recalled Jennifer’s teaching on Buddhism’s “five hindrances:” craving, aversion, restlessness, sloth and confusion.  The hindrances hinder peace, wisdom and kindness; they make it hard to experience freedom and happiness.  We teachers make use of visual queues whenever we can and in this case each hindrance was portrayed with the image of an animal: Craving as a pig, aversion as a rooster, restlessness as a monkey, sloth as…a sloth, and confusion as a mole.  We do not teach that the hindrances are “bad” or that the children are doing anything wrong if they experience them.  Instead, we help them become aware – invite them to experience for themselves...
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Investigations

“What is this?” my first meditation teacher asked me almost twenty years ago as she held out a small brass bell in her hand. “What is this?” This was my first introduction to the koan... a Zen teaching question that is asked in everyday language, but must be answered with a deeper truth. After reflecting, I reached out, took the bell and gave it a quick ring. We both sat wordlessly for a few moments, listening to the sound resonate and then fade away. This style of Zen didn’t become the mainstay of my budding Buddhist practice, but my encounter with the koan made an impression that has stayed with me....
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Breathing Room

Ever wonder why it’s getting increasingly hard to plan a surprise birthday party for someone you love, or drop in on a neighbor for tea and conversation without scheduling it in advance, or plan a meeting without going through at least a dozen dates that extend three to six months out?  I wondered.  And, after surveying twenty-five of my closest friends and family, I was struck by the extent to which they each had a number of different explanations for their aversion to spontaneity, but they all had one in common. Their calendars, their lives had very little room, breathing room....