Spiritual Training: Studying the Teachings

Spiritual Training: Studying the Teachings
Theme: Energy

Discussion let by Philip Murphy

A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
– Albert Camus

If only we arrange our life according
to that principle which counsels us
that we must always hold to the difficult,
then that which now still seems to us
the most alien will become what we
most trust and find most faithful.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Viriya: Persistence; energy

[The pāramīs] are the noble qualities such as giving, etc., accompanied by
compassion and skillful means, and untainted by craving, conceit, and views.

Viriya: Persistence; energy. One of the ten perfections (pāramīs), the five
faculties (bala; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhammā), and the five strengths/dominant
factors (indriya; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhammā). [Viriya, or energy, is the fifth of the
ten perfections, preceded by the development of generosity, virtue,
renunciation, and wisdom; and followed by patience, truthfulness, determination,
loving-kindness, and equanimity.]

The perfection of [Viriya, or] energy is bodily and mental work for the welfare of
others, accompanied by compassion and skillful means…

[Viriya, or] Energy has the characteristic of striving; its function is to fortify;
its manifestation is indefatigability; an occasion for the arousing of energy,

or a sense of spiritual urgency, is its proximate cause.
From Access to Insight

Framing Question, for Discussion:

How has Viriya, or energy, impelled you forward on the path of practice?

Before opening for discussion, Philip played Stevie Wonder’s hit Higher Ground.

“This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more, and to value the fact that I am alive.”

~ Stevie Wonder


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Character & Courage: The Development of Virtue

Character & Courage: The Development of Virtue
Theme: Energy

Discussion led by Phil Brown, President

Character and Courage: The Development of Virtue

The practice of the Virtues necessary for the attainment of truth too often takes second place to the intellectual acquisition of facts, and more and more facts — an avenue that leads to spiritual sterility.

-James A. Long


A Review: Virtue in Buddhism


The Paramitas or Paramis (perfections): Dāna (generosity), Sīla (proper conduct), Nekkhamma (renunciation), Paññā (wisdom), Viriya (energy), Khanti (patience), Sacca (honesty), Adhiṭṭhāna (determination), Mettā (Good-Will), Upekkhā (equanimity). Practicing these creates an atmosphere of trust, respect, and security.

The Four divine abidings (Brahmaviharas) are seen as central virtues and intentions in Buddhist ethics, psychology and meditation. The four divine abidings are good will (also translated as loving kindness), compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. Developing these virtues through meditation and right action promotes happiness, generates good merit and trains the mind for ethical action.

The Five Precepts (taking refuge): to abstain from taking life; from taking what is not given; from sensual misconduct; from false speech; from intoxicants, which are the basis for heedlessness. These are not commands but a set of voluntary commitments or guidelines to help one live a life in which one is happy, without worries, and able to meditate well. The precepts are supposed to prevent suffering and to weaken the effects of greed, hatred and delusion. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

The Parami of Viriya — Energy


May I be energetic, vigorous and persevering! May I strive diligently until I achieve my goal! May I be fearless in facing dangers and courageously surmount all obstacles! May I be able to serve others to the best of my ability! (Buddhism in a Nutshell)


Energy, from which spring persistence and determination for the seeing of the truly real, (Practical Advice for Meditators)

Two examples:

  • Sound is not a thing that dwells inside the conch-shell and comes out from time to time, but due to both, the conch-shell and the man that blows it, sound comes to arise: Just so, due to the presence of vitality, heat and consciousness, this body may execute the acts of going, standing, sitting and lying down, and the 5 sense-organs and the mind may perform their various functions.


  • Just as a wooden puppet though unsubstantial, lifeless and inactive may by means of pulling strings be made to move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity; just so are mind and body, as such, something empty, lifeless and inactive; but by means of their mutual working together, this mental and bodily combination may move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity. Damma Wiki

For discussion:

  • What are the core ethical values that are important to you and drive your life?
  • What does it take to engage these values in different situations?
  • What is the relationship between energy and living one’s core ethical values?


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Lama Gursam – Monday, August 14, 2017!

Join us Monday 8/14/2017 for a day with Lama Gursam.  The topic of his talks will be “Practice of Meditation”
4- 6 p.m. – Guided meditation and light yoga practices that support meditation
6-6:30 –  Brown bag dinner with Lama and BSBC friends participating in the meditation session
7-9:00 p.m. Dharma talk and guided meditation: all cordially invited
9-9:30 Reception for Lama

Suggested donation of $10 for guided meditation $15 for evening $20 for both.

All are welcome despite ability to donate.

lama gursam website

Lama Gursam went to monastery at a very young age, received teachings as a monastic, and studied and practiced as a monastic. Then Lama Gursam went to study in Tibetan University Sarnath, Varanasi, India to get both bachelors and masters degrees in Buddhist Philosophy, History, and languages. Upon graduation he received a special award for scholastic achievement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

After university Lama Gursam was requested to assist His Holiness the Chetsang Rinpoche. Lama volunteered for five years as an assistant, as a teacher, and helped with many other duties.

Lama Gursam then completed the traditional three year retreat. Since then every year Lama has gone on retreat in various mountains, including some of Milarepa’s caves. He then returns for six months each year to provide teachings in the West. He also leads pilgrimages to holy places in India, and Nepal.

Lama teaches in English, and always tries to focus on the practical application of the Dharma in everyday life.

Buddhist Sangha of Bucks County is a peer group of community members interested in the benefits of meditation.

We meet every Monday at 7 PM at the Yardley Friends Meeting House for meditation and discussion. All welcome.

Learn about the teacher at LamaGursam.org

The sangha does not charge fees for our services, but asks for donations according to how you value what we offer within your means to offset the cost of rent and the program. The teacher Dana supports Lama’s travel and service projects of his Bodhicitta Foundation

For all the latest updates sign up for our newsletter online also find us on social media facebook.com/BuddhistSangha twitter.com/BuddhistSangha pinterest.com/BuddhistSangha

Click link to Download our flyer for this event to share 

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Compassion Retreat with Bhante Aug 5 2017


Saturday, August 5, 2017, 10 AM – 4 PM (brown bag lunch break 12:30-1 PM)

Yardley Friends Meeting House, 65 N. Main Street, Yardley, PA 19067

• Guided & silent meditation

• Dharma talk with Q & A

• Chanting

Chipamong Chowdhury is a scholar and teacher of Buddhist studies, and a socially engaged monastic.

Bhante, as he is known, was born in Bangladesh and trained in the Theravada tradition in Myanmar,

Sri Lanka, and at Naropa and Toronto Universities.

For more information, contact us  

Download the Flyer of Bhante_this retreat Bhante_v1-2_blue.jpg

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Bodhisattva’s Way of Life Teachings

John Wenz is currently leading us in an exploration of Shantideva’s “Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”. Stephen Batchelor’s translation of the text is available for free online  Also Chapter 9 is available here

Listen to some of the latest Audio Recordings

Johns teaching on December 2014 – Chapter 9

Johns teaching on May 2015 – Chapter 9

Click for other Audio Recordings

Learn How To Meditate

About Buddhism

Order of Service

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Exploring “Energy” in Late July 2017

The parami of Viriya, or paramita of Vīrya, is the perfection of Energy. In Buddhism it is often defined as effort or diligence, but the root of the Sanskrit word literally means “Hero.” It also serves as the etymology for the English word virile. In the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, there are traditionally three types of diligence: Armor, Virtue, and Compassion. The Sangha will explore these dimensions in this way: Energy newsletter


~ Character & Courage: The Development of Virtues
Spiritual Training: Studying the Teachings
~ Benefiting Others: Awakening the Bodhichitta

How do we practice Wise Effort and maintain Zeal?
Please join us these nights as we explore these important teachings of the Buddha.

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“Patient Acceptance of the Path”

Patient Acceptance of the Path
Theme: Patience

Discussion led by David C. Clark, Co-Chair Program Committee

We’ve titled the exploration of the Third Dimension of Patience as “Patient Acceptance of the Path”, but it could also be referred to Patience with Dharma, or Patience with the Truth. To me, I believe this Patience with Ourselves means:

1. Being Patient with the Dharma;
2. Being Compassionate with Ourselves;
3. Being Persistent on the path (i.e. even when our practice becomes stale and stagnant we keep at it).

Recommended Reading

Perfection of Patience: Three Dimensions of Patience by Barbara O’Brien:

The Six Paramitas: Perfection of the Bodhisattva Path by Chan Master Sheng Yen:



Patience with Dharma:

“World-transcending patience goes beyond the experiences of pleasure, pain, fatigue, etc. It is forbearance in integrating the Dharma into one’s life, in accepting the difficulties that come with exertion in practice, and in using one’s time wisely and fully.”

~ Chan Master Sheng Yen.


Lacking Patience in our practice may come from the hindrance of Doubt and obstacles of Uncertainty; or on the other extreme it can result in Spiritual Bypassing.


Doubt & Uncertainty:

Vicāra: Rubbing or Continous Attention is the antidote to doubt:

“Continuous attention is the opposite of doubt, for doubt is indecision. The doubting mind cannot fix itself on any particular object; instead it runs here and there considering possiblities. Obviously, when vicara is present the mind cannot slip from the object and behave in this manner.”

~ Sayadaw U Pandita


Spiritual Bypassing:

“Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD


Expectation is often the cause of these spiritual dilemmas:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

~Thomas Merton



What does it mean to be Patient on the Path or Patient with the Dharma? Or, without making “truth claims”, what does it mean to Patiently Accept the Truth?

Is Doubt, or Uncertainty, an obstruction to Patience Acceptance on the Path? What is the role of expectation?

If not what prevents you from finding accepting of the Path? How do we cultivate Patience Acceptance of the Dharma?

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“Reflections On Forgiveness”

Open Discussion on “Forgiveness”
Theme: Patience

Discussion led by Phil Brown, President



The need for forgiveness arises after there has been a violation of individual or social norms that is substantial enough to have caused injury or suffering. The action that causes this suffering may be a break, disregard, or infringement of a law, rule or promise. Violation means to treat with violence. So, violence in this sense can be either personal or structural. We can violate a person through physical or emotional violence. We can violate a person’s trust in us, or violate the rules that govern social well-being in an organization. This experience of having been violated heightens our sense of separation. Forgiveness assists us in coming out of, emerging from this sense of separateness. We cease to feel resentment, the need for redress.


Remembering that the Buddha taught that all human beings want to be happy, we can focus on our commonality rather than our separation. Mindfulness and deliberation help us move from reactivity to responsiveness. From responsiveness, forgiveness arises. Each person acting to heal him or herself

(Phillip Moffitt – http://dharmawisdom.org/teachings/talks/forgiveness)


Forgiveness is at the root of the chain of the Brahmaviharas. The practice of Metta, or loving kindness, begins the process of self-healing. Without it, compassion for others is difficult. Sympathetic joy – feeling joy for others’ success and being is difficult without compassion, and the state of equanimity is difficult without forgiveness, compassion and being able to feel sympathetic joy (http://dharmawisdom.org/teachings/talks/forgiveness).


What do we have trouble forgiving others for, ourselves for? Every time we get near this memory or what sets off similar feelings of trauma we have trouble, and this conditions what we experience. What afflictive emotions come up when we remember or feel this – disappointment, anger, sadness, uncertainty, frustration, self-doubt, apathy, loss, regret, sorrow, hopelessness, rejection. This relates to somatic/energy sensations in the body/mind that also condition our experience. Being unable to forgive makes us feel depleted, detracted, closed, fatigued, withdrawn. We cling to this and cause ourselves and others suffering, which gives it solidity, but it can move if we don’t hold on to it.


Through meditating on forgiveness, we open the space to be kinder to ourselves and others, and be less caught in the emotions that drive unskillful actions and reactions. Through mindfulness we grow the capacity to see what’s going on, and see how our lives are being affected by the causes and conditions that have led to the violation, a sense of victimization. It allows us to move from reacting mind to responding mind. Not forgiving distorts us, as it grabs only one side of us, and it feels awful. Forgiving is not condoning a harmful act. We forgive a person, not the act. We can still act compassionately to change the causes and conditions of the violation/suffering.


Through forgiveness we deepen ourselves as human beings.






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“Patient Perseverance with Ourselves and Obstacles”

Patient Perseverance with Ourselves and Obstacles

Discussion led by Leslie Morgan, Assistant Secretary; and Marc Kaye, Communications Committee

“Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing. It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day. Lovers are patient and know that the moon needs time to become full.”

~Jalaluddin Rumi

“The Buddha famously declared khanti to be the supreme purification practice. He was playing on the Vedic term tapas, which signifies the taking on of an austere or ascetic practice such as fasting or mortifying the body in order to cleanse the mind of passions and attachments. But the Buddha pointed not to physical asceticism — which he frequently spoke against — but of the restraint of holding the heart still in the presence of its suffering until it lets go of the ways in which it creates that suffering. That is, the mind/heart (citta) habitually creates suffering and stress through reacting to, holding onto or getting caught up with what life throws at us. All the perfections contribute to the lessening or dismantling of that dukkha, but the specific quality of patience is to carry the heart through the turbulence of existence so that it no longer shakes, sinks or lashes out.”

~ Ajahn Sucitto



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2017 Retreats

This is a list of retreats we are aware of. If you know of others please let us know 

Bhante Suddhaso
Over the weekend leading up to July 4th, we’ll be exploring two discourses: the Sallekha Sutta (MN 8), a wide-ranging discourse on humility; and the Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta (MN 140), a profound explanation of elements-meditation as a path to enlightenment.
More info / RegistrationCLICK HERE
July 7th-9th
Bhante Suddhaso

Quiet, peaceful environments, far from the chaos of population centers provide an invaluable opportunity to escape the clamor and claustrophobia of the city and dive headlong into serenity and insight. This Summer we’ll be spending a weekend at Straight Out of The Ground, a small organic farm in upstate New York in the East Branch River Valley in the Catskills. THERAVADA TRADITION

More info / Registration: CLICK HERE

July 8 – 16, 2017  Mindfulness, Insight, Liberation: Insight Meditation Retreat (8 days) (Saturday to Sunday)  Register Now

Monday, July 31 to Sunday, August 6, 2017
(6 nights)  Noble Eightfold Path Retreat Register

Aug 02 2017Aug 13 2017 10-Day Vipassana in Dhamma Delaware, Claymont, DE Dhamma Delaware Courses  Website  Map  Instructions

August 11-13, 2017 Led by Rebecca Li

Beginner’s Mind Retreat

Beginner’s Mind Retreat—If you are relatively new to the practice, this is a good first retreat although many experienced practitioners find the variety of practice activities helpful.  Besides sitting, walking, moving and eating meditation, we will also be practicing in workshops ranging from the Art of Seeing to the Art of Communication to learn about how to bring our practice into daily life.  $190 (scholarships available; no prior retreat experience needed) Available –Register Now

August 23-27: Together We Are One Retreat 

Awakening Together – 2017 US Tour


Oct 13 (Fri, 6 pm) to October 18 (Wed, 1 pm)  Western Zen Retreat—Within the context of Chan meditation, participants will make use of a question to penetrate the mind to gain a deeper understanding of our habitual tendencies and patterns of thoughts and insights into the working of our mind.  I will be co-leading this retreat with Simon Child and Hilary Richards from the UK.  This retreat has limited spaces as each participant will receive lots of individual instructions in private interviews.  Suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners.  $320 (scholarships available; no prior retreat experience needed) Available – Register Now

November 21 (Tue, 6 pm) to November 25 (Sat, 5 pm) Thanksgiving Chan Retreat—For those of us who will not be getting together with families over Thanksgiving, we take advantage of the days off from work to engage in retreat practice.  In this five-day Chan retreat, participants will immerse in the practice through sitting, walking, eating and moving meditation with the support of useful teachings passed down the generations and private interviews.  $320 (scholarships available; no prior retreat experience needed) Available – Register Now

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