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Thailand Meditation Retreat News http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news News and Events for Buddhist Retreat at Karuna Meditation Center, Phuket, Thailand. Thu, 01 Dec 2011 16:31:09 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.5.1 en What to Believe - Kalama Sutra http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/teachings/what-to-believe-kalama-sutra/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/teachings/what-to-believe-kalama-sutra/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 16:31:09 +0000 lwallace http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=40 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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Kalama Sutta The people of Kalama asked the Buddha who to believe out of all the ascetics, sages, venerables, and holy ones who, like himself, passed through their town. They complained that they were confused by the many contradictions they discovered in what they heard. The Kalama Sutta is the Buddha’s reply. Do not believe anything on [...]]]>
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Kalama Sutta

The people of Kalama asked the Buddha who to believe out of all the ascetics, sages, venerables, and holy ones who, like himself, passed through their town. They complained that they were confused by the many contradictions they discovered in what they heard. The Kalama Sutta is the Buddha’s reply.

Do not believe anything on mere hearsay.

Do not believe in traditions merely because they are old and have been handed down for many generations and in many places.

Do not believe anything on account of rumors or because people talk a a great deal about it.

Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.

Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because it is extraordinary, it must have been inspired by a god or other wonderful being.

Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favor, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true.

Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests.

But, whatever, after thorough investigation and reflection, you find to agree with reason and experience, as conducive to the good and benefit of one and all and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it.

The same text, said the Buddha, must be applied to his own teachings.

not accept any doctrine from reverence, but first try it as gold is tried by fire.

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Elephants in the Present Moment http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/teachings/elephants-in-the-present-moment/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/teachings/elephants-in-the-present-moment/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 15:59:12 +0000 lwallace http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=39 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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When embarking on a spiritual path, I have found great benefit in having a clear intention about why I am doing what I am doing. Without this, my meditation practice can become kind of another support for the play of ego. We are full of deeply conditioned ways of meeting our world and reacting to the [...]]]>
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When embarking on a spiritual path, I have found great benefit in having a clear intention about why I am doing what I am doing. Without this, my meditation practice can become kind of another support for the play of ego.

We are full of deeply conditioned ways of meeting our world and reacting to the events of our lives. Often, we are running on auto-pilot, in an almost robotic manner operating on the program that we have. Patterns of thinking create our speech and actions and there can be little in the way of real, self-directed choice in how we are, how we live, and where we find ourselves.

We justify outcomes through our stories, in which we are the central actor, usually the good guy…regardless of available evidence. Forgetting the infinite inter-connectedness of all things, we pull threads of evidence, selectively remember events, cast characters as good and bad, and create justifications for our lives, our behavior and why things are the way they are.

We often take credit for all the wonderful goodness and the amazing achievements of our lives and seek to cast blame on those around us for all of our problems. This could be described as the play of ego - our neurotic script writing and story reporting about the life we find ourselves living.

This may be especially true when embarking on a spiritual path, in which the idea of spirituality, of being involved in something we see as wholesome or pure, becomes a justification for the same old programmatic way of existence. The same old habits and behaviors are in full play, even when we are “on the path.” This happens even when we are sincerely touched and inspired by our teachers, their example and their incredible kindness.

This is why we study Buddhist philosophy, practice meditation, reflect on our experience and learn to develop a sincere motivation and intention for our lives. We try to shift ourselves towards a more engaged, a more present, a more enlightened manner of being and away from a pre-programmed, unthinking manner of existence. We are learning to wake up to our lives, to intentionally be present.

This is a great aspiration, but can be challenging because as we are often asleep or unconscious, operating on the program of karma. We think we know what waking up means, but our view is still thickly veiled. We take a Buddhist phrase or quote like “being present” and bandy it around – operating from the intellectual world of ideas – never truly present, but unknowingly pretending that this is so.

Then comes an elephant.

Of course, we know about elephants. Intellectually. Take a moment and consider the word “elephant.” A flood of thoughts, ideas and feelings will come.

Floppy ears, trunks, umbrella stands, Far Side cartoons, mice, peanuts, Dumbo, blind men telling their stories, Ringling Brothers, Tarzan, India, tusks, mahouts, trekking, jungles, chains…. We might even boot up the computer, surf over to Wikipedia and read about elephants then on to youTube for some elephant video. And all of this is unconscious and unintentional – it is the program.

And then, you find yourself face to face with an elephant, as I did recently in Phuket.

As a bit of meditation training “being present” kicks in, I remember to breathe, to try to remain present, to watch thoughts come and go and to observe reactions. I see myself want to posses, to pigeonhole, to fit this crazy thing, this amazing creature, into the script of my mind – to find a way of relating this moment to all my experience… and the intellect cannot hold the experience. The bare-naked experience of the elephant is too much.

So, I cannot report the experience of the elephant, and offer only this: elephants are amazing.

Come practice some “being present,” and then go see one. It might be a flower, some spicy food, a dip in the ocean, a yoga pose, a kind smile from a stranger… amazing experiences - elephants - are everywhere. To encounter one, with as much presence as you can muster, is something you must do for yourself.

Set the intention to begin to wake up and be present. Start your journey, or take another step on your path. Find out for yourself what being present really means. We have just the place for you at Karuna in Phuket, Thailand.

Join us at your earliest convenience, set an intention to wake up to your life, and find the elephant in every present moment of your world.

See you soon!

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Playing With Meditation http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/teachings/playing-with-meditation/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/teachings/playing-with-meditation/#comments Sun, 17 Jul 2011 19:47:05 +0000 lwallace http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=38 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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Focus on your breath. Know when it’s coming in; know when it’s going out. Notice where you feel it, the sensations that tell you when it’s coming in and going out, and then keep your attention focused on those sensations. You have to be careful, though, in how you focus. If you put too much pressure on the [...]]]>
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Focus on your breath. Know when it’s coming in; know when it’s going out.

Notice where you feel it, the sensations that tell you when it’s coming in and going out, and then keep your attention focused on those sensations.

You have to be careful, though, in how you focus.

If you put too much pressure on the breath, it starts getting constricted. If your attention to the breath is too light, it slips off and floats away. So find just the right amount of pressure to maintain on the breath—here meaning the pressure of your attention—but allow the breath to flow as freely as possible in the body.

We often make the mistake of tensing up around something in order to highlight it in our attention or to stay focused on it, but that’ll get in the way of the breath’s being a pleasurable place to stay. Which is what you need as you meditate—a good place to stay—because if the mind doesn’t find any sense of ease in the present moment, it’s going to go wandering off looking for ease and seek pleasure someplace else.

So experiment with the breathing. You can do it in one of two ways. The first is simply to pose the question in your mind with each breath: “What kind of breathing would feel really good right now?” See how the body responds.

Or you can go about it more systematically. To expand your sense of what the breath is capable of, ask yourself: “What would longer breathing feel like?” And think of the breath going longer for a while. Then how about still longer: What would that feel like? And then go shorter, deeper or more shallow, heavier or lighter.

Try to push the envelope until you gain a sense of what kind of breathing really does feel good right now.

It’s important that you learn how to play with the breath in this way. This may seem counterintuitive. After all, we’re trying to get to something unconditioned and unfabricated and yet here we go about it by fabricating.

But that’s what the whole path is: a kind of fabrication. Every factor of the noble eightfold path, from right view through right concentration, is something put together. It’s a fabrication. It’s something you will through bodily fabrication, verbal fabrication, and mental fabrication: i.e., through the breath, through directed thought and evaluation, and through feeling and perception.

To will skillfully, you have to bring these fabrications together in a way that makes the path pleasant to follow. Otherwise you can’t stick with it. This is why right concentration is such an important part of the path. It gives you a good place to stay—a sense of ease, wellbeing, refreshment, or rapture that nourishes and sustains your ability to stick with the path.

So play around with the breath. Think of fabrication as playing, and you have “Give yourself permission to play in meditation. Don’t think that playing mindfully in this way is going to get in the way of insight. It actually helps create the conditions for insight to arise. For one, it gives stamina to the practice.

If you’re simply sitting with whatever comes up, meditation becomes an exercise in brute endurance. If  pleasure’s coming up in the meditation, no sense of rapture or gratification, it becomes dull and unattractive. You find it harder and harder to actually sit down and keep up with the practice day after day.

But if you allow the meditation to be a process of exploring, of finding what’s really comfortable right now, you can stick with it. It becomes something interesting, something you want to do.

As you’re sticking with this process of experimenting with the breath, getting it more pleasurable and allowing that sense of pleasure to seep throughout the body, it gives you a steadier base in the present moment.

The interest you develop in exploring the breath energy in the body helps you stay steadily in the present as well. If the meditation is simply a matter of watching whatever comes up, it gets boring very quickly. The mind’s going to find reasons to do other things, to slip away and find other things that seem more interesting or important. But if you allow yourself to explore, your curiosity makes you want to stay here, to stay sensitive and steadily focused.

At the same time, allowing the breath to be comfortable gives you a safe foundation in the present moment—a foundation you’re going to need because pains will come up.

We need the right attitude toward pain: not to feel threatened, not to run away. Our duty with regard to pain is to comprehend it, but you’re not going to comprehend it if you feel threatened by it. So it’s good to know that you have a safe, comfortable place to return to whenever you need it.

Say there’s a pain in your leg and you’re not really ready to deal with it yet:

You can focus on whatever sense of ease and fullness you can develop elsewhere in the body—say, in the chest, in the stomach, in your hands, in your feet—through the way you breathe. If things get bad with the pain, you can go back to the breath. Once the mind feels nourished and protected by the breath, it’ll be more willing to actually look into the pain, probe into the pain, trying to understand: What is this pain I have in my body? Why do I fear it so much? Is it really as fearsome as it seems?

As you get interested in exploring the pain, you start taking it apart: Which part of the pain is actually a physical sensation and which part is the mental perception that makes things worse in the mind? And even with that physical sensation: Which part of it actually is a pain? Because you also have sensations of the different elements in your body, which are more like properties of how the body feels from within. There’s solidity, liquidity, warmth, and energy. How does the pain relate to those?

It’s a different kind of sensation. Liquid is just liquid. Solid is just solid. It doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, these sensations are a different order of sensation entirely from the pain. But there’s a pain flitting around in there. If you glom it together with the physical properties, especially the property of earth or solidity, you make the pain seem a lot more solid and threatening than it actually is.

If you’re coming from a position of wellbeing, a position of inner security, it’s easier to explore and see these things happening because your agenda isn’t necessarily to make the pain go away. You’re curious. You want to learn about it.

And as you develop a greater sensitivity to the breathing, a greater sensitivity to how you fashion the breath and how intention plays a role in your experience of the breath, you start seeing more and more subtle levels of stress that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. You see more subtle levels of fabrication that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise as well. Because one of the big lessons in the meditation is that the present moment is not a given. You’re actually shaping the present moment with your intentions. And the best way to sensitize yourself to those intentions and their role in fashioning the present is to try to fashion it skillfully.

This way you get a sense of when you should try to change things, and when you shouldn’t; which problems in the body or in the mind respond to active intervention, and which ones respond better when you simply watch them with equanimity. As you put the mind in a better mood through giving it a good comfortable place to stay, or giving it something to explore with the breath, it becomes more open to seeing its own mistakes. It can even admit its mistakes with a greater sense of cheerfulness, because it sees that they don’t have to be repeated.

If the mind is in a bad mood, it’s like a person in a foul mood. If you want to talk to him about where he’s been unskillful, where he’s been outrageous or whatever in his behavior, he won’t want to hear anything you say. He’s going to resist. But if he’s rested and well fed and in a good mood, it’s a lot easier to broach the topic of his shortcomings.

And the same with the mind: A lot of what we’re going to learn in the process of understanding the mind is in seeing its subterfuges, where it lies to itself, where it’s been dishonest with itself, all of which are things we don’t like to see. Yet if we don’t admit these things to ourselves, insight will never have a chance. You can’t just put the mind through a meditation grinder and hope that the process is going to take care of it.

The mind has to develop the sensitivity to see where it’s been lying to itself, where it’s been dishonest with itself, for genuine insight to arise.

So this game we play with the breath helps put you in the right mood to learn those lessons. Try to explore how to get the breath more comfortable, more refined, seeing how still you can get both the breath and the mind without forcing them unnaturally. After all, you’re working with a sense of ease, so you can’t force it to the point where the ease dies away. This means that you need to develop your powers of sensitivity. You need to have a sense of how much fiddling around becomes too much fiddling around. When the breath gets comfortable enough that you can stay with the body, when it feels good to be with the whole body breathing in, the whole body breathing out, then you just allow it to do its thing. And as the mind calms down, the breath calms down as well.

This is a common pattern throughout the Buddha’s meditation instructions.

You try to get a sense of what fabrication is going on, and then once you’re sensitive to the process of fabrication, you allow it to grow still. This gives you some insight into the fact that you’re shaping the present moment. You develop the desire to do it with more skill, with more finesse, with a greater sense of sensitivity and subtlety. And you can get there only by consciously trying to fabricate things: fabricating your sense of the body through the breathing, and fabricating your mind through the perceptions you hold.

The sensitivity that develops over time is what allows you to see the subtleties of these processes. If you try to lay down the rule in the beginning that “I’m not going to do anything, I’m just going to watch what’s already there,” a lot of what’s really happening in the present moment goes underground where you can’t see it. But as you consciously try to fabricate a sense of wellbeing in the body, a sense of ease in the mind through the way you breathe, through the way you relate to the breath, then you bring these processes up to the surface. You see them more clearly. This brings more honesty into the mind.

So it’s important, as you meditate, that you realize you have permission to play, are encouraged to play, with the breath. This is how maturity develops in any field. Children who don’t get a chance to play never really mature. The same principle applies to meditators. If you don’t learn how to play with the present moment, you never develop a mature understanding of what’s going on in the present moment. When you don’t really understand the role of intention in forming the present moment, you never get to the point where you can drop every element of intention that’s creating the present. And only when you drop the last shred of intention can there be an opening to something outside of the present, beyond space and time, to that happiness we’re all looking for, which is totally independent of conditions, totally reliable. And only when we have a reliable happiness can we rely on ourselves.

Look into the face of duress, then this is when you really get to see how strong your sense of your inner wealth is. The more wealth you have inside, the less you’re worried about wealth outside. The less you worry about wealth outside, the more you can trust yourself to do the skillful thing, to say the skillful thing, to think the skillful thing in any situation.

If you can train the mind to the point where it’s found something that can’t be touched by anything in space and time but can be touched through inner wareness—as the Buddha says, you touch it with the body, or you see it with the body; in other words, it’s a total experience; it’s not just a vision, it’s not just an idea, it’s visceral: Once you’ve had your first taste of that, you know you have a happiness you can depend on. This means you can depend on your mind as well. The other pleasures of the world become less important and are less likely to tempt you to do unskillful things to attain them and protect them because you realize you have something that doesn’t need protection.

That’s where the meditation gets really good. But the only way you can develop the maturity needed to find that mature happiness is the same way any person develops maturity: You start out by playing around, learning about cause and effect by nudging things to see what they do in response. You nudge this cause—i.e., the breath—to see what that does to the mind, what it does to the sense of ease in the body, and then nudge another cause: say, your perception of the breath. If you see the breath only as air coming in and out of the lungs, you’re really limiting yourself. Think of other ways you might perceive this energy in the body—flowing through the blood vessels, flowing through the nerves, flowing around the nerves, flowing out to every pore in the skin, flowing around the body just beyond the skin, having everything in and around the body all connecting up.

It’s like cutting roads through a jungle till you have a whole system of interconnecting roads. Communication gets easier. Information flows more smoothly.

It’s by playing around in this way that you start outgrowing your childish attitudes. It’s through play that children become adults. So each time you sit down and meditate, remember you have permission to play. It’s what the majority of meditation is all about.

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A recent guest’s experience at Karuna. http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/a-recent-guests-experience-at-karuna/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/a-recent-guests-experience-at-karuna/#comments Wed, 04 Nov 2009 09:18:33 +0000 lwallace http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=35 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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“I’ve recently returned from a week at Karuna, and if I didn’t have to work, I’d probably still be there.  My purpose in going was to give my practice a booster shot, so to speak. Coming from a background in Zen, I chose Karuna because they welcome people from all Buddhist traditions.  I found that the [...]]]>
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“I’ve recently returned from a week at Karuna, and if I didn’t have to work, I’d probably still be there.  My purpose in going was to give my practice a booster shot, so to speak.

Coming from a background in Zen, I chose Karuna because they welcome people from all Buddhist traditions.  I found that the Dharma teachings provided melded seamlessly with my “zenny” understanding of such things, and the meditation method taught there, though a little different in focus to what I had been doing, is very user-friendly and will, in fact, be a great companion as I continue my solitary way here in a country where there are no Buddhist centers at all.

The teachers at Karuna know their stuff and present it thoughtfully, clearly and with great passion and dedication.  I also noticed that they went out of their ways to aim personalized teachings at both visitors and residents alike, which I appreciated.  I was truly impressed with how much care and effort everyone put into their various jobs at Karuna - the yoga teacher is great too!

So, all that said, I would recommend a stay at Karuna to anyone at any level of experience and from any background.  Being there is time well spent.

Please tell Laura and Phillip (meditation teachers) that I was sorry I didn’t get to say goodby and thank you in my rush to leave.  Tell them I appreciate them for things they probably are unaware of.  And you too - thanks again,

Cory M”

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The Three Prajnas and Meditation Retreat http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/the-three-prajnas-and-meditation-retreat/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/the-three-prajnas-and-meditation-retreat/#comments Mon, 07 Sep 2009 15:24:50 +0000 lwallace http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=34 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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Prajna is Sanskrit for wisdom.  There are three aspects of wisdom for a Buddhist point of view… The first is the wisdom of learning. This is the idea of studying the teachings of the Dharma in book form or in listening to the teachings as propounded by an experienced practitioner - a member of Sangha. At [...]]]>
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Prajna is Sanskrit for wisdom.  There are three aspects of wisdom for a Buddhist point of view…

The first is the wisdom of learning. This is the idea of studying the teachings of the Dharma in book form or in listening to the teachings as propounded by an experienced practitioner - a member of Sangha. At Karuna, we offer this in the form of daily meditation teachings, given in English in an easy-to-understand manner. We also have a Dharma library where you can read more about your meditation practice or about Dharma in general. Additionally, we have a library of MP3 teachings given by teachers in the past.

The second Prajna is the wisdom of contemplation. The Buddha admonished all of his students to not take his word on any matter. Rather, he suggested it is better to treat his advice in a manner similar to a goldsmith who is checking the authenticity of a lump of yellow metal. Cut it, polish it, melt it… whatever it takes to prove that the metal is truly gold.

The Buddha’s idea was that we, as practitioners not merely take the teachings as a form of dogma, a set of religious beliefs that are inscrutable or not subject to inquiry or investigation.  Conversely, the teachings should be very practical and easy to understand by any one who earnestly follows the methods of liberation as propounded by the Buddha. This is the idea of contemplation.

A serious practitioner must spend some time analyzing the teachings - breaking them down into their component parts. Looking at the nuts and bolts of what the Buddha taught. Then re-assembling the teaching into a coherent whole and inquiring - “Is this my experience?” and “Does my life experience line up with these ideas?” In short - one must be a ’street smart’ student of Dharma.

You will have ample time, space and tranquility at Karuna to go deeper into the teachings and verify their authenticity - acting in the manner of a goldsmith - and working with the second prajna.

From this point, from this position of contemplation, one can begin the inner journey - the third prajna - that of meditation. People who meditate are known in Tibetan as “nang-was” - translated as “inside people.” Not agoraphobes or hermit-like shut-ins, instead people who find the journey of introspection fascinating and revealing about their position in life and the world - their existence. Those who delight in the introspective life. As Professor Robert Thurman calls them - psychonauts - explorers of the inside space.

At Karuna, you will have ample opportunity to investigate the inner experience. We have multiple meditation sessions scheduled each day and these provide the space and time to look more deeply within. In essence, practicing the third wisdom and harvesting the resultant insight that develops from the total process of wisdom cultivation, invloving all three prajnas.

We welcome you to Karuna and encourage you to discover the path to wisdom and resultant compassion available to us all. Contact us to arrange your meditation retreat.

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Meditation Practice - setting yourself up for success… http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/meditation-practice-setting-yourself-up-for-success/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/meditation-practice-setting-yourself-up-for-success/#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2009 13:01:02 +0000 lwallace http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=33 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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The primary reason for a visit to Karuna is to meditate. That might seem obvious, so let’s unpack it a little bit. Our mission is to provide crystal-clear instruction, for both beginners and those with experience, based on the heart of the Buddha’s teachings on liberation and enlightenment. We rely on our personal experience and our [...]]]>
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The primary reason for a visit to Karuna is to meditate. That might seem obvious, so let’s unpack it a little bit.

Our mission is to provide crystal-clear instruction, for both beginners and those with experience, based on the heart of the Buddha’s teachings on liberation and enlightenment. We rely on our personal experience and our teaching comes from our hearts, as weathered and seasoned meditators who have faced much, are frank and honest, and have a realistic approach to Dharma practice as a life’s work.

We do this, in English, through a daily Dharma talk with a guided meditation. We also have an MP3 library which is available to you, and there is also a library of Buddhist books covering a wide range of topics, especially meditation practice.

If you are not yet a meditator, no big deal - we work with beginners every day. If you have been meditating for 100 years and are feeling stuck or like your practice has stalled, no big deal - we have been there , too. If you are intimidated by the perceived level of practice we offer, (”12 hours is a lot for me…”) and worry that we might have a meditation scorecard to rate you like some piece of pop music on a countdown…

We don’t

You’ll find no judgment here. No comparisons. No ranking. No competition…. just friends on the path.

We encourage you to sit frequently, to gently push yourself in the practice, to overcome obstacles, to gain confidence - no matter the level of your practice - all the while becoming familiar with your being and applying the methods of the instructions to your own experience. Just as the Buddha taught.

FOR BEGINNERS:
All of this is to assist you in developing your own meditation practice. We have 7 sessions throughout the day. Only one of these has guided instructions and teaching. This is intentional so as to offer you room to develop your own practice.

Development of a commitment to - and discipline in - your own practice is an absolutely essential skill if you wish to progress further in Dharma. Enlightenment takes some work & effort - but this is not heavy lifting - more like a gradual acceptance of our situation, a gentle development of mindfulness and distanced observation of arisings, an easing towards the cultivation of wisdom and an appreciation of the attendant happiness, peace and joy available to us in each present moment of mindfulness.

Usually, this doesn’t happen in a flash. As with any personal shift, it is the result of a directed, intentional effort towards change using effective techniques applied consistently over time. So learning to practice on your own is indispensable to your longer-term spiritual growth and development - to your own achievement of Buddhahood. Karuna can be seen as training for your continued practice after you leave.

We point out the way once a day, every day, and leave you to your own to sit with the instructions, finding areas for clarification and allowing for experiential confirmation of what is taught. This is directly in line with the teachings of the Buddha. We feel like we are similar to the monks of old, in that we help each other as companions on the path: encouraging, clarifying, supporting and smiling a lot. And we sit., and sit, and sit…. quietly, happily, at times with struggles, but always with a firm intention and understanding of what we are up to.

FOR THOSE WITH EXPERIENCE:

You have some mindfulness, you have concentration - perhaps some tastes of wisdom… You now need space and time to move deeper - to firmly plant the flag of your being on the side of joyful mindfulness, cultivating stability there… Karuna is perfect for you.

Karuna serves as a platform for the recognition of deeply ingrained habitual tendencies and provides the space for you to re-organize your being. The structure of the center provides the foundation for consistency of meeting and overcoming these arisings. As they are met, seen, worked with and transcended, one moves further and further along the path.

Being among serious, long-term practitioners who are in the “trenches” of their own reorganization is invaluable in this endeavor. We share our struggles, tips, techniques and failures with other openly and honestly and always in the spirit of mutual benefit.

If you have never attempted a 30, 60, or 90-day (or longer retreat), it is time to engage in your practice in the best way possible - a longer, deeper, foundation-shifting period of practice.

I encourage you to re-structure your life so that you may join us for some deeply engaged practice time.
As a beginner, you may find that you are a serious practitioner. As a serious practicioner, you may find that you need to reconnect with beginner’s mind. Either way, Karuna is a perfect place to make your own discoveries. You’ll find we are seriously interested in assisting you with profound change and moving towards total Enlightenment.

We don’t take any unnecessary sidetracks or engage in any “timefillers” in practice. This is your life, and it is time to get down to the business at hand.

How much time do you have? Let’s get started.

In Metta - Thomas

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Western seekers and retreat realities… http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/western-seekers-and-retreat-realities/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/western-seekers-and-retreat-realities/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2009 06:43:55 +0000 msburrowes http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=32 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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We all know there is something missing, that there is a peace and calm that is available in each moment of our existences. People sense that the mind is workable and they can change their lives for the better.

With the best of intentions, we sign up for a meditation course at a retreat center. Maybe this is found from on-line research, maybe from word of mouth, maybe from something we have read. We are excited, nervous, and mostly thirsty for some relief - maybe this will finally be “it.” We travel across the world, arriving at our chosen destination, thankful we made it in one piece with our bags, full of hope and with an open mind. We are eager to work with challenges or obstacles, nothing will stop us from trying our best, and we want to heal.

The first challenge we encounter is language. Understanding the Dharma requires a profound shift in world view. Some teaching is indispensable. We can’t just sit there and hope something magical will happen. We need instruction and guidance from someone who knows the territory and can relate to us. Teachings in Asia are generally given in a foreign language or by a non-native speaker of English. This makes the beautiful and simple teachings of the Buddha, that medicine which we so desperately seek, incomprehensible and foreign. This is an unnecessary barrier to our journey. Life is fleeting and we may or may not be able to master a new language in time to begin to understand the practice of Dharma. This is an unnecessary endeavor when crystal-clear instruction is available in English.

Buddhism is amazing in its ability to adapt to the culture to which it spreads. We find that meditation centers are often steeped in the rich and beautiful ritualistic practices of a culture and these can be enchanting and mystifying.  At the same time, infatuation with external forms is not true Dharma. These forms may be a gateway to Dharma and each of the variety of religious practices can have profound effects on one’s being - if understood and performed with correct intention and a heart-felt understanding.

Without this understanding, these activities become little more than mindless memorization and recitation. We are blessed with powerful abilities and we should make full use of our gifts and intelligence, to do otherwise is to miss our own amazing potential. Your practice should be grounded in the core liberation & wisdom teachings of the Buddha and all else should come from that base, not in blindly following along with the others because “that’s what we do here.”

Another challenge is the external environment. We come from the western world of sanitation, comfortable beds and air conditioning. In Asia, we encounter food which may not be suited to our taste, completely incompatible with our digestive system, or simply unsafe. We find straw mats or lumpy beds - when our backs are already tired from sitting practice. There is no chance to stretch or exercise - only walking meditation is permitted. We meet oppressive heat, sitting in puddles of sweat in the steamy tropics. We instinctively swat mosquitoes and then feel guilty for having harmed life at a Buddhist place of peace.

What could be a beautiful experience of opening up to our being becomes something more akin to a military boot-camp. We stick it out and report to others something like: “it was tough, but I made it through,” forgetting the reason we went in the first place.

Then, there is the sense of militancy that can be prevalent at Dharma Centers or monasteries. Perhaps unintentional, there can be a feeling of “this is the schedule, these are the vows, you should not move or you’re doing it wrong…” of course, as humans, we bring our tendencies of comparison and competition with us. Nothing is checked at the door. This is the path, this is the journey. We know there is something to work on. To allow judgment, a sense of being trapped in rules or hidebound by incomprehensible ritual is contrary to the actualization of Dharma.

Loosening up, relief of tension, relaxing the mind, clarity of thought, freedom from suffering, happiness and even smiling are the hallmarks of meditation done well with understanding and perseverance.

The meditation teachers at Karuna have a wide range of experience in different meditation venues across Asia. We have participated in retreats in Tibet, Sikkim, India, Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. We have lived in monastaries, visited Dharma Centers, slept in meditation caves and done pilgrimage to the remotest places imaginable.  What we continually encounter in our spiritual travels is others like ourselves, who are earnestly interested in learning to meditate, but overwhelmed by the foreignness and challenges of the whole experience.

That is why we created Karuna: spot-on, crystal-clear instruction form the heart of the Buddha’s teaching delivered in a clear and comprehensible manner - practices with immediately tangible benefits - no need for faith in ritual and hope. We want you to have the most enlightening experience possible while you are here and have paved the way for you.

Be assured, the Dharma is freely available to anyone who comes to Karuna, regardless of ability to pay. At the same time, we live in a world that requires maintenance of conventional appearances, so we have a low fee for our rooms. This is inclusive of almost everything: yoga, good beds, air conditioning, delicious & safe food, a swimming pool, the forest, quiet beach, airport pick-up… we have removed the unnecessary obstacles - we want you to get what you came for.

Whatever the cost of your retreat, wherever you go, make your time well-spent. You will sacrifice a lot to be able to pursue the inner journey.

We hope you will reserve your space and join us soon for something beautiful - created with you in mind.

In Metta – Thomas

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Karuna Meditation Center – July News and Events http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/karuna-meditation-center-%e2%80%93-july-news-and-events/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/karuna-meditation-center-%e2%80%93-july-news-and-events/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2009 15:53:11 +0000 msburrowes http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=31 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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Meditating in Thailand is a wonderful experience at Karuna Meditation Center in Phuket, Thailand. We are into the third month of our summer rains retreat. Some 30 different westerners have shared in parts of the experience with about 10 attending the entire 90-day retreat. The teachings have never been more succinct and focused towards the pacification [...]]]>
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Meditating in Thailand is a wonderful experience at Karuna Meditation Center in Phuket, Thailand.

We are into the third month of our summer rains retreat. Some 30 different westerners have shared in parts of the experience with about 10 attending the entire 90-day retreat. The teachings have never been more succinct and focused towards the pacification of our own harmful emotions. With these emotional states becoming more pacified, there is a fertile space for concentration and the dawning of our own natural wisdom. The result is a flourishing of happiness, joy and contentment among the retreatants – just as taught by the Buddha.

We feel a little like the monks of the Buddha’s time – shining countenances beaming with joy, happy in contentment, deeply peaceful, magnetized & energized – and dedicated to the investigation of our individual being. It is said that meditation should be the best part of your day – when you are confident in the straightforward, logical path to complete happiness & peace and are actively practicing the path. We all have ups and downs, but the swings seem to be less prominent - less prevalent in the foreground of experience, being subsumed by a deeper sense of peace and relief and the resultant quiet joy.

The energy of the meditation hall seems infectious. We have numerous daily drop-in guests as well as meditators who stay for a few nights. Of this latter group, almost everybody ends up spending an extra day or two with us. “It is so peaceful, here…” was the comment of one of our guests just today. He, too, has elected to extend his stay for a couple of days.

In a sense, our retreat never ends, as we continue focusing on the calming aspects of shamatha/calm abiding or concentration meditation in union with investigation of the four bases of mindfulness: body, feelings, mind and mental objects. We work with only one of these bases each month and this allows for deeper understanding of the base as well as fosters a deeper concentrative ability.

All of this is transpiring under the roof of our new retreat center. We have purchased a house in Nakatani Village, just south of Kamala, at the base of the big Kamala hill. The center is inspiring, as it is modern & spacious yet cozy & tranquil. We offer daily yoga instruction, swimming in the pool, walks on a private beach, meandering through the hilltop forest, all opportunities for becoming centered and still – even while in movement. Plus, KMC center guests enjoy full aircon throughout the facility.

We have extra cushions, space to sit, private and shared options for overnight stays and delicious vegetarian food twice a day with a snack in the evening. Join us for a coffee, some meditation, our teachings, a yoga class, or a stroll in the woods. We offer something for all who are interested in the inner wealth that is available to each of us in every moment.

Join us at your earliest convenience.

]]> http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/news/karuna-meditation-center-%e2%80%93-july-news-and-events/feed/ Karuna has a new location http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/we-have-a-new-home/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/we-have-a-new-home/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2009 01:03:55 +0000 msburrowes http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=30 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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Karuna Meditation Center has moved. We are located in a roomier building in a more serene location in Nakatani Village, about 3 km. south of Kamala, along the main road. Nakatani village is 50 meters from the Naka police checkpoint - at the base of the last hill climb before heading down into Kamala. Once in [...]]]>
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Karuna Meditation Center has moved.

We are located in a roomier building in a more serene location in Nakatani Village, about 3 km. south of Kamala, along the main road. Nakatani village is 50 meters from the Naka police checkpoint - at the base of the last hill climb before heading down into Kamala. Once in Nakatani, drive to the first large building on the left, just past the guard hut and community office.

In addition to meditation, yoga, vegetarian meals, and spacious comfort, when you visit Karuna Meditation Center, you have the chance to go swimming in the pool, visit our private, tranquil beach, stroll thorough our forest meditation path, or soak up some sun on one of our numerous outdoor dining patios. The center also has rooms for overnight stays.

Meditation sessions happen all day, and we have a guide for drop-ins, so you are welcome to join us anytime. Teaching about Buddhist philosophy and meditation happens M - F starting about 3pm and generally lasts for two hours. Group yoga classes are held each day at 11 am and last for about 90 minutes.

For more details, email info@meditate-Thailand.com or see the Contact Us page on this site for map and directions. You may also call 082 803 0153.

We welcome you to our new center.

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New! Short Events Open to the Public http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/new-short-events-open-to-the-public/ http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/uncategorized/new-short-events-open-to-the-public/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2009 01:56:22 +0000 msburrowes http://www.meditate-thailand.com/news/?p=29 Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method GA_Filter::the_content() should not be called statically in /home3/summitd/public_html/meditate-thailand-com/news/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 163

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Karuna Meditation Center is happy to be offering two regularly-scheduled events that are open to the local community on a drop-in basis. Daily Meditation & Talk Every day except Saturday, at 3:30 p.m. there is a guided meditation followed by a brief talk about a subject relevant to meditation and daily living, followed by open discussion.  The [...]]]>
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Karuna Meditation Center is happy to be offering two regularly-scheduled events that are open to the local community on a drop-in basis.

Daily Meditation & Talk

Every day except Saturday, at 3:30 p.m. there is a guided meditation followed by a brief talk about a subject relevant to meditation and daily living, followed by open discussion.  The event ends at 5:00 p.m.  There is no fee but donations are welcome.

Yoga & Meditation

Every Monday and Thursday morning, at 10:00-12:30, there is a group yoga session, followed immediately by a one-hour meditation session.  The yoga is taught by an excellent teacher with plenty of experience and a great sense of humor. The meditation session is not a guided meditation, so if you need instruction before the session, contact us (sarah@meditate-thailand.com) ahead of time to arrange a time.  There is no charge for meditation instruction; we ask a donation of 150 baht to help cover the cost of the yoga instructor.

We’re working on getting a map posted.  Meanwhile, email me if you want to come, and I’ll send you a map and directions.

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