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Dear friends,

The Eno River UU Fellowship, where ERBC meets on Monday evenings and once a month on Saturdays, is holding no on-site meetings for the remainder of March in order to minimize risk of spreading the coronavirus and protecting those who are vulnerable.

So our group will not meet on Monday evenings 3/16, 3/23, and 3/30.

We plan to send out special sutta passage of the week emails each Monday, including suggestions for practice. If you have any suggestions for how we can stay in touch and support each other during this time, please feel free to let me know by email at smseiberling@gmail.com.

If you would like to receive our weekly sutta passage email, and are not currently, please visit our email list sign up page.

Please take good care during this challenging time.

Best wishes,

Steve

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When the Buddha teaches lay people in early Buddhist sources, he often emphasizes generosity. In addition to benefiting recipients, one of the results of giving (dāna) is that it can uplift the mind of the person who gives. Giving can take the form of monetary donations, but we can act with generosity (cāga) in many other ways as well. Taking the time to listen to someone in need, cultivating good will, refraining from harsh speech, are just a few of those ways.

You may want to consider how you already practice generosity, and how it affects your state of mind and happiness when you do. If you do not have an intentional form of generosity practice, you may wish to explore that and see what it contributes to your development of the path.

“O monks, if people knew, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would they allow the stain of stinginess to obsess them and take root in their minds. Even if it were their last morsel, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared it, if there were someone to share it with. But, monks, as people do not know, as I know, the result of giving and sharing, they eat without having given, and the stain of stinginess obsesses them and takes root in their minds.”

From Itivuttaka 26, modified from Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans., In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2005, p. 169.

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The Eno River Buddhist Community Sutta Study Group will start again later this month. The study group provides an opportunity to explore more deeply what the Buddha taught based on material from the collection of discourses (Sutta Piṭaka). We will look at key topics thematically, such as impermanence (anicca), not-self (anattā), and mental proliferation (papañca), as well close reading of select discourses from the Middle Length collection (Majjhima Nikāya).

We will meet twice monthly starting at the end of September through May of next year. The group is small to allow for good discussion, and is best suited to those with previous experience studying the suttas. Please contact Steve Seiberling at smseiberling@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining us, or if you’d like more information. You’ll also find more details on our Sutta Study Group page.

Bhikkhus, these four times, rightly developed and coordinated, gradually culminate in the destruction of the taints. What four? The time for listening to the Dhamma, the time for discussing the Dhamma, the time for serenity, and the time for insight. These four times, rightly developed and coordinated, gradually culminate in the destruction of the taints.

from Aṅguttara Nikāya 4:147 (Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans., The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2012, p. 520).

 

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All experience is preceded by mind,

led by mind, made by mind.

Speak or act with a corrupted mind

And suffering follows

As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

 

All experience is preceded by mind,

led by mind, made by mind.

Speak or act with a peaceful mind

And happiness follows

Like a never departing shadow.

 

He abused me, attacked me, defeated me, robbed me.

For those carrying on like this hatred does not end.

She abused me, attacked me, defeated me robbed me.

For those not carrying on like this hatred ends.

 

Hatred never ends through hatred.

By nonhate alone does it end.

This is an ancient truth.

 

Many do not realize that we here must die.

For those who realize this

Quarrels end.

           –  The Dhammapada, Chpt I,  trans. Gil Fronsdal

 

May all beings be free from suffering and from the causes of suffering.

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Today, September 17, 2016, is the date chosen by the Alliance for Bhikkhunis to celebrate the establishing of the Bhikkhunī Order by the Buddha for female monastics. This year also marks the 2600th anniversary of the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha, according to Theravāda tradition, and events in observance are planned internationally throughout the year.

From the beginning of his teaching to the end of his life, the Buddha asserted the importance of establishing a Four-fold Assembly composed of female and male lay people and monastics. We are privileged to live in a time during which the Buddha’s original vision is being restored. Over the past twenty years, traditions in which the Bhikkhunī lineage had disappeared, been weakened, or was never established, are experiencing a resurgence of efforts to bring about full and equal participation of women in Buddhist monastic life.

You may like to celebrate International Bhikkhunī Day and the 2600th anniversary of the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha by learning a bit more about the women and men who have worked to bring about the renewal of the Bhikkhunī Sangha. The film “The Buddha’s Forgotten Nuns” offers an inspirational telling of some aspects of this story. It is available for viewing at: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/50345/The-Buddha-s-Forgotten-Nuns.

If you’d like to learn more about the monasteries where the contemporary renaissance of the Bhikkhunī Sangha is being nurtured, the Dhammadharini website is a good place to start exploring these pioneer communities. In addition to providing a window into the life of the Dhammadharini community of Buddhist nuns, the site offers many links to other Bhikkhunī communities and organizations.

In honor of the 6th International Bhikkhunī Day, you may take inspiration from reading some of the verses composed by Bhikkhunīs who lived during the time of the Buddha. A collection of 73 of these poems taken from the Therīgāthā, can be found online at: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/.

The following verses from The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha express the importance of the Four-fold Assembly in supporting the life of the Buddha’s teachings.

One who is competent and self-confident,
learned, an expert on the Dhamma,
practicing in accord with the Dhamma,
is called an adornment of the Saṅgha.

A bhikkhu accomplished in virtue,
a learned bhikkhunī,
a male lay follower endowed with faith,
a female lay follower endowed with faith:
these are the ones that adorn the Saṅgha;
these are the Saṅgha’s adornments.

© Bhikkhu BodhiThe Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, AN 4:7,  (Wisdom Publications, 2012).

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