Open House: tonglen the key to realising interconnectedness

Monday 19 March 2018 (19:00 -21:00)
Tonglen the key to realising interconnectedness

Open House is a gathering that provides a gentle introduction to mindfulness meditation, the Shambhala Buddhist teachings and our community.

It is an opportunity to learn sitting and walking meditation and engage in discussions about the application of teachings to everyday life from Shambhala teachers including Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Pema Chodron. 

If you are planning to visit Open House for the first time you are invited to arrive 15 minutes early at around 6.45pm to spend time with our meditation guide who will introduce you to meditation practice and Shambhala before the program commences at 7.00pm. 

During 2018 we will be focusing on Shambhala teacher Pema Chodron's book "Comfortable with Uncertainty" using a range of methods including contemplative readings, audio and video. This book offers short, stand-alone readings designed to help us cultivate compassion and awareness amid the challenges of daily living. It does not assume prior knowledge and features the most essential and stirring passages from Pema's previous books, exploring topics such as lovingkindness, meditation, mindfulness, "nowness," letting go, and working with fear and other painful emotions. Through the course of this book, we will also explore practical methods for heightening awareness and overcoming habitual patterns that block compassion.

The first Monday evening of every month features a talk by our resident senior teacher Shastri Loretta Geuenich followed by reflection and the sharing of our collective wisdom through discussion. Every Open House concludes with light refreshments and the opportunity to continue discussions and/or catch up with fellow meditators.  A typical Monday evening program includes:

  • Brief welcome followed by sitting meditation (7:00pm)

  • Walking meditation

  • Sitting meditation

  • Reading or video teaching...followed by contemplation, response and discussion

  • Pack-up (8:15pm)

  • Catch-up time including light refreshments and close around 9:00pm

Tonight's reading: tonglen the key to realising interconnectedness

(from Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron) 

PEOPLE GENERALLY eat up the teachings, but when it comes to doing tonglen, they say, “Oh, it sounded good, but I didn’t realize you actually meant it.” In its essence, this practice is: when anything is painful or undesirable, breathe it in. In other words, you don’t resist it. You surrender to yourself, you acknowledge who you are, you honor yourself. As unwanted feelings and emotions arise, you actually breathe them in and connect with what all humans feel. We all know what it is to feel pain in its many guises.

You breathe in for yourself, in the sense that pain is a personal and real experience, but simultaneously there’s no doubt that you’re developing your kinship with all beings. If you can know it in yourself, you can know it in everyone. If you’re in a jealous rage and you have the courage to breathe it in rather than blame it on someone else, the arrow you feel in your heart will tell you that there are people all over the world who are feeling exactly what you’re feeling. This practice cuts through culture, economic status, intelligence, race, religion. People everywhere feel pain—jealousy, anger, being left out, feeling lonely. Everybody feels it in the painful way you feel it. The story lines vary, but the underlying feeling is the same for us all.

By the same token, if you feel some sense of delight—if you connect with what for you is inspiring, opening, relieving, relaxing—you breathe it out, you give it away, you send it out to everyone else. Again, it’s very personal. It starts with your feeling of delight, your feeling of connecting with a bigger perspective, your feeling of relief or relaxation. If you’re willing to drop the story line, you feel exactly what all other human beings feel. It’s shared by all of us. In this way if we do the practice personally and genuinely, it awakens our sense of kinship with all beings.