Join (Rev.) Andrew Blake for this powerful 10 week study series to strengthen your your meditation practice and integrate the profound impacts of mindfulness with your daily life.
Practicing Dharma is a path of discovering wisdom and compassion or transformative actions. To get there we sit and meditate weekly together.
Meditation practice is built on a foundation of skillful methods of insight, and feeds the development of compassion as the means to meet suffering and transform our life into meaning and joy.
Format for the series: Class begins at 7pm on Tuesdays with a dharma talk, followed by a sitting practice, a walking meditation, then a contemplation based on each week’s theme, and end with a discussion and/or council practice, where we share from the heart and from our experiences. We end at 9pm. This class is suitable for any level of practice and is best suited for those wishing to deepen their Buddhist-informed practices and understanding.
See the description of the upcoming series below:
Making Friends with Our World: Engaging Compassion and the Practices of Unconditional Loving
In our fall 10-week series, we return to the foundational practices of compassion as the basis for transforming our personal suffering, for being present for the suffering of others, and for opening to a state of boundlessness or bodhichitta that supports us in engaging the suffering of our world. The journey to develop boundless compassion is like Odysseus’s and is fraught with obstacles before reaching our true home. In his book, The Fearless Heart, Thubten Jingpa invites us into six stages that open the heart and awaken our deepest layers that for all beings, including the earth.
Beginning with our mindfulness practice, we stabilize the heart-mind so that we can touch giving and receiving love, both defended and undefended forms of loving. This practice can connect us the “child within” who may or may not have felt cared fro unconditionally. This leads us two core elements of compassion: empathy and insight or wisdom. To possess these elements we need to look deeply within and into our families and cultural frameworks to see what stops us from expressing love without borders. To give love freely, we also need to understand how we avoid, reject or cut off love, first within ourselves and then outwardly with others, especially those we withhold love from or push them away.
Opening our compassionate heart is the path of the “bodhisattva,” one who cannot any longer turn away from suffering, our own or others. From this vantage point, we then explore the Tibetan practice of “tonglen,” or giving and receiving, where we engage and enact compassion.
As Pema Chodron teaches about tonglen practice:
“[W]hen we see or feel suffering in the world around us or in us. We breathe in and feel [empathy] and own it completely… all the suffering. And radiating out freshness, openness or anything that encourages relaxation and openness as love and compassion.
In breathing in we stay with the soft spot and breathing out we stay connected to the soft spot. We see suffering and joy as universal. And rather than the habitual [closing down], we do some thing new. When it’s painful, we push it away. And when its plearsurable, we cling to it. With tonglen we reverse the habit. We do the reverse we understand it, we connect to it and feel, and then send the wish that others feel relaxation, happiness, well being etc.
Throughout the series we will continue to explore the elements of Engaged Buddhism that enlivens and brings compassionate actions into our lives and into the world.
Please note this series is aimed to support current meditation practitioners. If you are new to the practice of meditation please contact us before registration.
October 11th – December 13th, 2022
7 – 9 pm EDT
Registration Fee: $250*
*The dharma, as spiritual gift, is not a commodity that is bought and sold. Our registration fees go to support Rev. Andrew and the work at Sarana Institute. If the suggested fee is a challenge for you, pay an amount that works within your finances. Everyone is welcome in our sangha, and finances must never be a reason not to join us.
Series Teacher: (Rev.) Andrew Blake, Buddhist Chaplain, Psychotherapist and Co-Founder of Sarana Institute
Andrew is the Director of Program Development at Sarana Institute and along with his wife, Angie, is a co-founder. In 2010, Andrew was ordained as Buddhist Chaplain by Roshi Joan Halifax, a leader in the fields of compassion, caregiving and end-of-life. His thesis, Mindful Listening at End-of-Life, was recently published and explores the roles of mindfulness, empathy and compassion, from both neuroscience and Buddhist psychology perspectives, as skills to prevent caregiver “empathy fatigue.”
A teacher and educator of mindfulness meditation, Buddhism, End-of-Life caregiving, and his Mindful Listening work, Andrew has created training and curriculums at University of Toronto through the Applied Mindfulness Mediation Program, at Sick Kids Hospital through The Mindfulness Project, at Hincks Dellcrest Centre, as well as numerous conferences, hospitals, hospices and organizations involved in service, healthcare, end-of-life care, volunteer caregiving. In addition to his teaching, he guides individual and families at end of life and serves as an officiant at memorials and funerals. www.andrewblake.ca