Posted in heartland pagan festival

Pagan Festival 2016?

For two years in a row the Sacred Experience Committee of the Heartland Pagan Festival hired me to give Buddhist teachings during their event. It’s an outdoor camping festival in the Midwest that has been going on for 30 years. I takes place on Memorial Day weekend.

I enjoyed the first year. There was something special about giving teaching out in the woods, where people were celebrating life.

Dancing around bonfires. Walking around naked in the sunshine, in front of strangers with no sense of shame. Cavorting. Reveling. Just enjoying life and being happy. Being wild and free. Such a rare opportunity in the modern world.

Pagan camp can really be a wonderful thing and I really valued having the chance to go give Buddhist teachings in a place where other Buddhist teachers seemed unlikely to go.

And the people were really receptive. They wanted to learn about the Dharma. They wanted to meditate in the woods with me. The organizers of the festival wanted people from various religions to come give teachings, but in the 30 years of it’s existence they had never had a Buddhist teacher come  before.

So, last year when I was invited back I went again. Again I saw people who were wild and free. Again I delivered teachings to people who were unlikely to receive them otherwise.

But something else happened too.

My wife threw up in my tent. And she told me she didn’t really love me anymore. That’s the extent of what I have to say about the end of my marriage.

We are divorced now.

Now the Sacred Experience Committee has reached out to me once again.

I have a few months to decide, but I’m not sure if I’ll go. I probably won’t.

Bad memories weighing on my mind and all that.

And I’ve never camped alone.

But I do wonder if the people there really have a need for the teachings.

 

 

 

 

Posted in heartland pagan festival

Teachings from the Gaea Retreat. Part Three

The following talk was given at the Gaea Retreat Center on May 24th 2015.

Welcome to Meditation Group.

My name is Daniel.

The Buddha sat under a tree in the woods, kind of like this. He sat with the intention of attaining Enlightenment and eventually he did.

Let’s talk about what meditation is. Meditation is a general term for several religious practices, some different from others. These methods have the same mystical goal. To bring the awareness of the practitioner to a state in which they can come to an experience of ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’.

In Buddhism we are meditating to understand our nature as one with everything. It represents a paradox. I am everything but I am also nothing. That is the fundamental and ultimate teaching of Buddhist practice.

A common mark of different forms of meditation is that the practice concentrates the mind of the practitioner, calming and clarifying it.

Diligent practice of meditation leads to non-dualistic states of mind in which the distinction between subject and object disappears and the practitioner becomes one with ‘the absolute’. Time and space are transcended and the practitioner abides in the here and now. If this experience can be followed and integrated into daily life, then Enlightenment can be attained.

Posted in heartland pagan festival

Teachings from the Gaea Retreat. Part Two.

The following talk was given at the Gaea Retreat Center on May 23rd, 2015.

Welcome to Meditation Group.

My name is Daniel.

The Buddha sat under a tree in the woods, kind of like this. He sat with the intention of attaining Enlightenment and eventually he did.

Let’s talk about what meditation is. Meditation is a general term for several religious practices, some different from others. These methods have the same mystical goal. To bring the awareness of the practitioner to a state in which they can come to an experience of ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’.

THE CULTIVATION OF MINDFULNESS

When people start meditating, they often have a less lofty goal than Enlightenment. They are usually thinking about bringing more mindfulness into their lives. This should be encouraged. Some people think the mystical journey is not for them and that is fine.

Mindfulness is moment to moment awareness. This means being completely aware of what’s going on around us rather than being distracted all the time. So often our distractions take us out of our lives. We spend a majority of time lost in discursive thinking, thinking about what we’re doing later, or what we’ve already done. One of the benefits of meditation is that even when we aren’t meditating, we have strengthened our ability to be mindful. So, in our regular daily lives we are more aware of the world around us and our relationship to it. When we are more present, we can respond more effectively to the things that come up in our lives.

We can have mindful reactions to frustrating events, rather than the knee jerk reactions that our minds often try to carry us to.

Posted in heartland pagan festival

Teachings from the Gaea Retreat. Part One

The following talk was given at the Gaea Retreat Center on May 22nd, 2015.

Welcome to Meditation Group. My name is Daniel.

The Buddha sat under a tree in the woods, kind of like this. He sat with the intention of attaining Enlightenment and eventually he did.

Let’s talk about what meditation is. Meditation is a general term for several religious practices, some different from others. These methods have the same mystical goal. To bring the awareness of the practitioner to a state in which they can come to an experience of ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’. This means a state that’s beyond discursive thinking. That is, we have what’s called a ‘monkey mind’, this habit of always jumping from one thing to another. Our mind is often a crazy person. It takes us down whatever roads it wants to go, regardless of our opinions on the subject. If you’ve ever tried to sleep and been unable to because you were thinking too much, then you can understand what I’m talking about.

So, we are meditating to get a handle on this, so our minds become our servants rather than our masters. I started meditating because I had anxiety problems. I would worry and stress out about things that haven’t even happened. That was really bad for me. I tried medication for that first and it made me really crazy. Then I tried meditation and I’ve been a real lover of the practice ever since.

This practice we are going to do is going to help us concentrate and focus, calming and clarifying our thoughts.

Diligent practice will lead to great results.