Dharma Bum Life Program - Master Slideshow

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Zafus!

The Summer 2010 Dharma Bum Life Program was set to start Thursday July 1, 2010 at 7pm. In some strange way, the program was not ready to begin. It was missing something from the year before, but what was it?

The night before the new program began, I received an email from Beth. The email quite simply said the Zafus are done and could she bring them to the Temple. At 6pm the following day, one hour before the start of the new DBLP, the Zafus arrived!
This was a special gift from the DBLP 2009 group and we are so grateful they have found their new home at the Dharma Bum Temple. There are two sets of the 6 Perfections (Paramitas): Generosity, Morality, Patience, Diligence, Concentration and Wisdom.

I thank Beth for her hard work on completing the Zafus and the rest of the group for their diligent effort in presenting the Temple with such a special gift. The group of 2010, 12 in total each sat comfortably as we welcomed in the new addition to the Zendo.

The Dharma Bum Temple thanks you!
The Dharma Bums

Friday, July 31, 2009

Six Perfections, Zafu Style!

For 6 weeks "Zafu" was listed on the donation wall...Words can not explain how touched we were when presented with what will be Twelve Zafus made by the Dharma Bums in the program...Each Zafu has one of the Six Perfections written...The Zafus are beautiful, but nothing is more special than knowing they were made by hand by our group and the material was donated, Dharma Bum Style...

The practice of Generosity, Morality, Patience, Diligence, Concentration and Wisdom were all used in the creation of the Zafus...All Dharma Bums in the future will proudly and humbly sit at the Dharma Bum Temple in deep contemplation over the word they see in front of them...May the blessing of this gift be shared with all beings, in all directions...Amitofo!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dharma Bum Life Graduation

Graduating Class - Summer 2009

Becky Bazzill

Beth Kelley

Chris Travers

Dale Gunns

Francesca Witte

Fred Ollinger

Julia Roncoroni

Justin Fogle

Yadira Rosario

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pao Fa Temple Retreat

Namo Omitofo

After some resistance toward bowing and having the church feel-like I tend to avoid; in the middle of all that bowing, tears ran down my face and I felt an intense sense of appreciation, just pure bliss, and white light. The chanting is still in my head...its like having that song that keeps playing in your head, over and over again. I'm still sore, my legs mainly...it's good pain though. I want to thank you both for putting this together. This was a very humbling experience for me!

Dharma Bum Yadira


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Week 8 Guest Speaker - Dharma Bum Jeff

My thoughts from last night?

After almost crying and almost shitting my pants (the power of fear), I realized you weren't really telling me (I don't want to speak for the others in the group) anything I didn't know already.... you were only telling me things I didn't want to deal with!

Two months ago, I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of reality... to see how things could be if I committed to a lifetime of diligent practice. I was offered the food I have longed for for 27 years. This shook my world. For two months, I've been doing some community service, trying to learn how to meditate... Now the program is about to end: what am I going to do with all that I learned these weeks?

I can't go back to the old Julia 'cause the way I see the world has changed. It's time for me to stop goofing around, to stop commiting whenever I'm not too sad/ too busy for it. This is also why I questioned my thoughts/ decisions these past days: how do I make everything fit? What parts do I want to keep of the old Julia that "fell apart"?

I thank you for your words.... for your reality check. Your words had a strong impact on me last night... You made Buddhism real. You showed me that you can "live" Buddhism. No bullshit.

Finally I solved the puzzle that's kept me intrigued these past weeks: what do I want? I want to help others as much as the DBLP (especially Maggie and you) has helped me.

Thanks again (I really, really, really, really mean it),

Dharma Bum Julia

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Gift

Being part of The Dharma Bum Life Program is a gift. We have been blessed with the opportunity to meet people in the community who are down to earth, advocates of peace, and unity. Not to mention the amazing retreats we've taken together. I was searching for ways to improve my mindfulness practice and this weekend I was so amazed to learn the true value of horse training and how even riding one of these creatures is a mindful act. I can't wait to take horse riding lessons!

Dharma Bum Yadira

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The First Day - From Julia

The day I entered the Dharma Bums Life Program, I went all the way to the temple wondering how much more than me the other students knew about Buddhism. I dreaded embarrassing myself. I remained silent throughout the first session… Then I observed that participants led each other to better states of being. Soon enough I realized Dharma Bums are not in competition for insight and wisdom. They complete each other. They share their food, drive each other around, and visit each other when sick. They look at each other’s eyes and confess some of their darkest secrets: those that arise when we are truly committed to our practice.

Dharma Bums refuse to accommodate to a system that was not designed for them, and in reality doesn’t include them. They collectively create a path and, hand in hand, walk it together. When I decided to join their road, their collective event became our collective event. Dharma Bums share without shame…. after all, their sharpest tools are patience and compassion. When I joined the Dharma Bums life program, I changed my path: how we accommodate to others and how they accommodate to us makes a big difference in how we live.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Makeda Dread and the "New Race"

Letting go – Makeda’s Style

Makeda was kind enough to come to the temple to talk to us about her life, spiritual journey and the World Beat Center, which she runs. Before she came, Jeff told us a couple of times that we should be very grateful and honored for her visit. Jeff has a lot of respect for all of the speakers that come to talk to the Dharma Bum Life program; however I could tell that there was something about this lady that he thought was extra special.

Before her visit, I had seen Makeda on TV a couple of times and on the World Beat Center website and I was excited that she was coming to talk to us. Not so much because I thought that she might teach me a life changing spiritual lesson, but because she looked like a fun, free spirited, reggae type of lady who exudes good vibes and that for sure would keep us entertained.

I felt short with my assumption. On the one hand, I was right about her happy and upbeat demeanor and about her ability to keep us amused for over and hour and a half with her life stories and experiences. However, she was also able to teach me (and I think that the rest of the Dharma Bums as well) about using our suffering to let go of it.

That night we learned that this bubbly lady had had a pretty rough childhood. We heard about the times she felt discriminated and how she had to fight harder than most of us to achieve her dreams. We learned that most of her friends had decided to move out of San Diego and that she decided to stay to take care of the parents, despite the fact that it was them who caused a lot of her suffering. But despite the sad stories, this was not a sad presentation. Amazingly, as she talked about her suffering, there was no one bit of resentfulness or anger coming out of Makeda’s voice, in fact it was obvious that she embraced her past misfortunes. Makeda is a talented DJ, successful entrepreneur, love spreading cool reggae lady because she suffered and because she was able to let it go.

That night I started to realize that letting go is not actually a passive thing to do. For a long time, before that night, I had been trying to “let go” by having an “I don’t care if bad things happen to me” attitude because if I stopped caring it would stop affecting me and thus I would stop suffering. My technique worked to an extent, I did stop caring, but the suffering did not stop....I could not understand why, it was so unfair (oh no poor me!).

Makeda’s story taught me that effective letting go is an active empowering action. In order to stop my suffering I must be accountable for it, which means coming up with an effective plan to end it. Makeda does not feel like a victim of her difficult childhood, or her irresponsible parents. She does not use her past to feel sorry for herself and to blame everything bad on the fact that she had it tough. But she doesn’t pretend that she doesn’t care or that it never happened either. She embraces and learns from the pain and uses it to emerge strong and to accomplish her dreams. I am pretty sure that the World Beat Center (a wonderful organization by the way) would not be a reality if Makeda had grown up being spoiled.

So now everything that I have learned in the Dharma Bums Life program comes together. I am lucky enough to have been given the tools to come up with my plan to end my suffering. Yes meditation is difficult and yes finding the will to practice the six perfections can be time consuming, but I am not a victim here, I will not fuel my suffering or bad Karma by complaining even more. I will take this tools and I will use them because it is up to me and that is pretty freaking cool.

Dharma Bum Francesca

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In the Garden with Julia Dashe

Permaculture presentation by Julia Dashe from the San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project (sandiegoroots.org)

“The first thing anyone should be taught about gardening when they are just beginning, is the process of composting,” Julia Dashe told our group one sunny afternoon while standing outside of the three compost bins at the Morse High School community garden. As we proceeded to ‘turn the bins’ with our shovels, putting air into the mixture, she explained that without the nutrients from the decaying organic matter, the seeds we had just planted could not survive. Compost is primarily formed from green and brown ‘wastes’ – dead plants, weeds, fruit peels, eggshells, dried leaves, paper, soil, a good watering and some mixing. Humidity, high temperature, and red worm castings all come together to produce a beautiful, dark brown batter rich in nutrients to recycle back into the garden.

This important lesson in the growth cycle of the garden can be applied to all of life – the transition from death to life, from destruction to creation, is just as important as the transition from life to death. Without some form of destruction and letting go of the old, there would be no room for growth and development for the new. Because every living being and the systems they are a part of go through numerous cycles of life and death in some way or another, ideally there should be no waste produced by the system. One creature’s poop is another’s house, and one dead animal can feed a whole family. This idea is the foundation to the permaculture movement, a 40-year old theory that began in agricultural design and is now flourishing as a completely sustainable approach to food, community and culture.

The Dharma Bums had the privilege to hear Julia speak about permaculture and sustainable gardening practices. She spoke of the vital need to carry on the once-traditional practices of locally grown food, while also incorporating new eco-friendly ‘green’ techniques so we can use our resources more wisely. For example, the current system allows huge industrial farms to economically plant row after row of the same species of corn, leading to the stripping of nutrients from the soil each year. However, permaculture suggests that we ecologically plant a mixed variety of plant species that can cohabitate with one another, allowing a sustainable and mutually dependent ecosystem to develop. Thus, the products of one piece in the system literally supply the needs of the neighboring elements, while doing little damage to the environment.

My experiences volunteering at the Terra Nova Garden at Morse High School and the City College Urban Farm in downtown San Diego have been truly life changing. Personally, I discovered that my passion and joy for life are recharged when I am in the garden connecting with all of the living creatures around me. I feel more alive when I am down-to-earth and meditating on the interconnectedness of all things, observing how there is an entire micro-ecosystem in just one square foot of dirt. Most importantly, I have taken these experiences out of the garden and into my daily life with the intention of being more mindful about how all of my actions affect the world around me. I believe that by practicing simple techniques that keep the whole system in mind, our society and communities can honor a sustainable approach to agriculture, local gardening, and the entire food system.

~ Dharma Bum Becky

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Week 5 - Venerable Master Huei-Guang

Venerable Master Huei-Guang's talk started with a great question: "What is happiness?" and he proceeded to answer that question. Along the way, he covered a great deal of Buddhist thought including the Four Nobel Truths, the four types of enlightened beings, the five skandas and much more.

Though he tackled many deep topics, he kept the talk fun, and he spoke in a way so that we can take the knowledge and relate it to our own practice. For example, he tied the practice of patience into the modern mindset and how it relates to technology.

Finally, he related Buddhist thought to the practice of meditation, and he gave practical advice such as how morality is necessary to support the practice.

At the end of the talk, I felt like I had my head shoved full of the Buddhist Canon yet Venerable Master Huei-Guang looked as fresh as when he started. With good humor, he fielded a variety of questions. No matter how difficult or esoteric the question, he immediately grounded the topic and brought us back to the basics.

Dharma Bum Fred

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dharma Bum Temple Retreat

In one sense, there’s not a lot to write about regarding this retreat. In some ways it was the simplest of all our DBLP activities: we meditated for four sets of thirty minute sessions with ten minute, silent breaks in between.

On the other hand, when one stays still and silent, many complicated and intricate thoughts and feelings can bubble up. These feelings are very individual and idiosyncratic. Thus, there are as many accounts of this retreat as there were participants. This is one account.

In the time just before the retreat began, the early arrivers expressed apprehension at having to sit so much. This was the first half day retreat for the most of us.

Then we were informed that the retreat was silent, and it had all ready begun! From then on I felt as if I were in a kind of bubble or cocoon of silence. As per usual for the Dharma Bums Temple, meditation was regulated by a series of bell sounds. At this point in the program, we were all pros at sitting quietly at the sound of a bell. Another bell put us downstairs. Though we were permitted to eat, read, or whatever else one can do silently and without disturbing one’s neighbors, I elected to mainly just sit and wait, though I did eat a bit.

During the retreat, I was surprised to find that during the breaks, I actually craved going up to meditate. During the actual meditation, I was not really as concentrated as I wanted to be. I spent a lot of it lost in thought. I also smiled a lot and was in a calm and happy mood. I saw each meditation period as another chance to really get it right that is to stay more faithfully with my breath and not to get lost.

This is a purely subjective experience, and it was based on conditions coming together on one particular day. On a different day, I could imagine the opposite: relief during the break times and an eagerness to fill my mind with more reading and my body with food.

As it was, I did enjoy the breaks. I found that I was noticing my surroundings a great deal more than I had before. I never realized that there were so many details on a simple banana from the spotting of its skin to the irregular lines on the inside. Also, I never realized that there were statues of little men above the kitchen cabinet.

After the fourth retreat, Maggie prepared a delicious meal and healthy meal which we ate while continuing our cone of silence. The happiness I felt while eating, to me, was quite profound. This is because during meals I usually would browse the internet, listen to music, or read while eating. I found that eating was always distracting to my other activities and that I was never satisfied with my meals. Even though I would cram myself with food, I was never full, and I always wished I were eating something different. Here, I had no such wish. Each bite was my whole meal as I never knew when the meal would end. I realized that I didn’t need to stuff myself with food. There would be other times to eat. Since this retreat, I have eaten my meals in silence and focused on eating, and I have continued to benefit.

After the meal, we went lawn bowling. I found this activity to be quite strange after meditation. I wasn’t more focused on the game like I thought I would be. However, I did feel like I needed to do less and to be less. It was enough to feel the soft grass beneath my feet and to watch people roll the ball.

The best part of lawn bowling, though, was watching Jeff enjoy himself. Aside from meditation, I had never seen him so ecstatic about an activity.

After this retreat, I would very much like to do another retreat with the exact same schedule especially Maggie’s cooking and lawn bowling at the end!

Dharma Bum Fred

Dharma Bum Temple Retreat

The retreat at the DBT was great. We had no idea what the day would hold, so I walked in with a bit of excitement and curiosity. A 'menu' for the day was posted - a morning spent in silence (meditation, tea, meditation, tea etc) then a silent lunch. What a great shared experience; it felt good to be in a group and not HAVE to talk - I could just read or write or sit drinking tea AND still hang out with everyone. Maggie whipped up an amazing lunch (in like 20 minutes) and I can still hear the sound of others chewing which I don't think I've ever noticed before. I liked mindfully waiting for the food vs. mindlessly diving in.

After all the silence, Jeff announced we were going lawn bowling. I laughed - lawn bowling . . . seriously? How cool is that? We went to the LBClub in Balboa Park and a team of members gave us group lessons. Such a fantastic afternoon in the sun, feeling calm and relaxed, easily chatting with my classmates about meditation and mindfulness. We really had fun cheering each other on and I really found it helpful to talk about all that silence and what came up. I found the discussions very purposeful and there seemed to be little to no 'small talk' - our shared words were mindful. (Although they said they had never played, I still think Maggie & Jeff have been on a lawn bowling team before as they were quite good!)

Dharma Bum Beth

Dharma Bum Lawn Bowling