ACI LA
   
DECEMBER 2006


ACI LA Newsletter

   
 

This Month


In last month’s newsletter, Venerable Marut encouraged us to cultivate faith and confidence in our teachers, our spiritual path, and ourselves.  He asks us to take the “great leap” and consider reorienting ourselves and our activities in such a way that our spiritual practice takes precedence over other aspects of our lives.  In doing so, we infuse the other dimensions of life with meaning that they would not have had otherwise. 

Venerable Marut reminded us that Albert Einstein once said “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  He reminded us that our life is a miracle and asked us to try to start seeing it that way and living it as if it were.

This month Venerable Marut encourages us to use the New Year’s transition as a time to reflect on the true meaning and purpose of our lives.  He reminds us that true happiness is the precondition for really being of service to others.

We hope this month’s newsletter offers you opportunities to support a great leap in your spiritual practice and creates opportunities for you to find true happiness.

 


   
  This Month
  A Message from Brian Venerable Marut)
  Current ACI-LA Classes
  Upcoming Teachings
 

Reflections on Past Teachings

  Asian Classics Input Project
  Dharma Flicks
  Articles
  Dharma Website of the Month
  Thank You
  ACI LA Home
 

 

ACI LA Newsletter

   
 

A Message From Brian (Venerable Marut)

   
 

I look forward to returning to Los Angeles twice this month, first for ten days in the early part of the month for a set of teachings which will include a new Dharma Essentials course on the bodhisattva vows; and then again on Dec. 31 for our Fourth Annual New Year’s Eve Guided Meditation.

As we move to the end of one year and the beginning of another, we can once more use this transition as a time to reflect on the true meaning and purpose of our lives, and make new resolutions for the future.  The Buddhist tradition, like all other authentic spiritual paths, is designed to deliver happiness to the practitioner – which is the precondition for really being of service to others.  We must resolve to learn how to be happy so we can teach others also how to eliminate their suffering.  This is the real purpose of our lives; this is what we’ve been given a life like this to do.

Every sentient being seeks happiness.  It is what motivates our every action.  “The desire for happiness is essential to man,” writes Saint Augustine.  “It is the motivator of all our acts. The most venerable, clearly understood, enlightened, and reliable constant in the world is not only that we want to be happy, but that we want only to be so. Our very nature requires it of us.” 

Many of us have heard the Dalai Lama saying exactly the same thing.  Happiness – by which is meant real happiness, deep and lasting happiness, and not the superficial and fleeting pleasure that simply results in more suffering when it ends – is and should be our goal as spiritual practitioners.  It is, as the Dalai Lama says, a universal human right.

What is keeping us from realizing this goal?  So much of our unhappiness comes from discontentment about our present, from not being satisfied with what is and living in imaginary times – the “past” and “future” – where things would be (or were) different than they are.

 “Be here now,” as Ram Das famously advised.  When we keep our minds in the present moment, we usually find that things aren’t too bad.  So much of our suffering comes from our tendency to project our minds into an imaginary time (“the future”) and worry about what we imagine might happen then.  This kind of suffering is unnecessary and perverse, for the future never turns out to be like we imagined it in the past.

Mark Twain once said, “I've lived a long life and seen a lot of hard times ... most of which never happened.”  What, exactly, is the point of spending too much time worrying about an imaginary future?  We are needlessly hurting ourselves by projecting our minds into a time that doesn’t even exist yet and will not turn out to be the way we imagine it anyway!

A very important spiritual quality we should all be cultivating is “faith” or “trust,” the direct antidote to worry and anxiety about the future.  Anxiety about what we imagine the future holds in store for us is the opposite of contentment, which is in turn the first stage of happiness.

Lord Buddha was said to have promised that anyone who dedicates their lives to the Dharma will not need to worry about food, shelter, and other necessities of life.  In the New Testament, Jesus similarly encourages us to not obsess about the future but rather have faith that if you are honestly and conscientiously pursuing a good moral life everything will work out just fine:

 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, o you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mathew 7:25ff.)

 

The best way to have faith and confidence in future is to concentrate on living a good life in the present – which will plant the karmic seeds that will insure a pleasant life later.  Vladimir Ilych Lenin is said to have remarked: "Vertraun ist gut, Kontrol noch besser,” trust is good, but control is much better.  We have in the present the perfect and absolute control over the future.  Exercise that control by being very careful, in every moment, about your actions of body, speech, and mind. 

Be here, now, and always be gardening for the future in the present.  And then have faith in the karmic process.  The future will be fine if we are careful about how we conduct ourselves in the present.

 

With all good wishes,
Marut

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

   
 

Current ACI-LA Classes

ACI classes are free and open to the public.

   
 

Lam Rim Meditation

Taught by Cliff Spencer
Ongoing Tuesday Evenings, 7:30pm
Hill Street Center
237 Hill Street
Santa Monica


ACI Formal Study Course 3

Applied Meditation (in progress)

Taught by Rick Blue
Thursday evenings, 7:00pm
Pacific Palisades, CA
Contact: bluejkt@earthlink.net

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

   
 

Upcoming Teachings

ACI classes are free and open to the public.

   
 

 

Public Talk
Gaining Happiness by Learning Trust

Given by Venerable Marut
December 11, 7:30- 9:30pm

First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica

1008 11th Street

Santa Monica, CA

The dictionary defines trust as "to hope or expect confidently."  Venerable Marut will discuss gaining happiness in the present by learning how to develop trust and confidence in the future, based on Arya Nagarjuna's text, "Precious Garland.

For more information, contact: Lauren Benjamin

 

Dharma Essentials VII
Vows of The Bodhisattva

Taught by Venerable Marut
December 7, 12,13 and 14, 7:30- 9:30pm
Location: Pacific Palisades, CA

Buddhist Master Shantideva says that "the total amount of happiness in the world comes from taking care of others" but most of us don't understand how to make this work for ourselves. Venerable Marut will use the teachings on becoming a Bodhisattva to show us how we can apply this very ancient notion to create happiness in our very modern lives.

Dharma Essentials classes are based on classical texts in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and teach the basic components necessary to lead a meaningful spiritual life.

 

For more information, contact: Lauren Benjamin

 

A Meditative New Years Eve

Hosted by Venerable Marut

Sunday, December 31, 2005

8:00 pm - 1:00 am

Pacific Palisades, CA

Please join ACI-LA to bring in the New Year with prayer, walking and guided meditation and silence.  Mark the New Year with joyous effort to make it meaningful and memorable.  The emphasis will be on new beginnings and renewed resolution.

You are welcome for all or any part of the evening and to bring food and goodies to share during breaks.  Doors will be closed during meditation sessions to minimize distractions.  Please plan your arrival and departure accordingly.

SCHEDULE

 8:00 pm              Set up

 8:45 pm              Silence begins, Opening Prayers

 9:15 pm              Guided Meditation – DOORS WILL BE CLOSED

10:00 pm             Break, Walking Meditation

10:15 pm             Guided Meditation – DOORS WILL BE CLOSED

11:00 pm             Break, Walking Meditation

11:15 pm             Guided Meditation – DOORS WILL BE CLOSED

12:15 am             Concluding Prayers and Dedication

12:45 am             Silence Ends, Clean Up

 

To RSVP or for more information, please email aci.lainfo@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

   
  Asian Classics Input Project
   
 

ACIP Monthly Update
Written by Linda Kieran

“Correct authorship means transmitting what was already transmitted -- but in a different order, or a different format.  So the future of authorship in this tradition will rest with those who design the roadways through huge databases.  If you have a hundred thousand pages online, it becomes overwhelming.  What do you do with it? You need an interactive system…the interactive, probing nature of hypertext surfing is ideally suited for the logical, dialectical approach to enlightened understanding.”

ACIP estimates that India has over 5 million manuscripts.  The most valuable and rare manuscripts are housed in less than two dozen institutions around the country.  The state of these manuscripts is precarious and scholars estimate that in the next 10-20 years a significant collection of them will be lost to decay and neglect.  These manuscripts represent ancient thought and knowledge going back several thousand years.  We possess the technology and the know-how to preserve these manuscripts digitally for posterity before it is lost forever.  In addition, the open dissemination of them on the Web would represent a renaissance in the translation and study of the ancient wisdom.

Sanskrit literature is scattered in the great collections across India and in libraries in East Asia and the Western world.  We envision a day when the universe of Sanskrit manuscripts and their knowledge is available as a hyperlinked collection of texts with different views – philosophical schools, lineages, great traditions - linked to contemporary translations and dictionaries. The most significant collections of manuscripts in India are housed in premier institutions like ORI Mysore, Asiatic Society of Bengal, Bhandarkar Institute of Pune, ORI Tirupati, etc.  These premier collections are in poor health due to lack of resources and general neglect over the past decades.  Oriental Institute Mysore is not only the repository for rare and valuable manuscripts, but it is considered one of the primary institutions for Indological and Sanskrit research in the world.  Scholars come to the Oriental Research Institute in Mysore from all over the world to study the collection and work with scholars at ORI and University of Mysore.

The Asian Classics Input Project has a 20-year record of accomplishment in digital preservation.  ACIP has dedicated infrastructure for digitally preserving manuscripts, which has been used to scan 3 million pages and input over 300,000 pages, using sophisticated transliteration schemes and software tools to facilitate the input process.  We have relationships with Universities, renowned manuscript collections, scholarly institutions in India, US and Europe and East Asia to facilitate the digital preservation process.  There are dedicated linguists, scholars and technologists who contribute their time and talents to the digital preservation process.  Libraries and collections now look to us as a trusted partner to digitally preserve their collections and their copyrights.

The century-old Oriental Research Institute (ORI) is a prestigious institution having a rich and valuable collection of Sanskrit manuscripts.  This collection of over 50,000 manuscripts in various Indic languages, including 17,000 rare palm leaf manuscripts, is internationally recognized and the focus of scholars worldwide.  The Institution was established in 1891 by the then Government of the Maharaja of Mysore with the object of collecting, editing, printing and preserving old Sanskrit and Kannada manuscripts.  The institute is an active focus of scholars worldwide who seek access to its archives for research into Indian heritage and literate.  Additionally, the institute achieved international fame when Professor R. Shama Sastry, a renowned scholar, traced from among the collection the monumental work, 'Artha Shastra' of Kautilya and published it.

 

The graphic pyramid depicts the primary collection of 50,000 manuscripts.  These 50,000 manuscripts, at approximately 200 pages per manuscript, represent approximately 10,000,000 pages of material.   In addition, 5,000 manuscripts would be scanned, representing approximately 1,000,000 pages of material.  The digitizing (Input/Verify) process is able to preserve the most valuable 10% of those manuscripts, representing about 100,000 pages.

 

If you would like to support ACIP’s work, please contact Lauren Benjamin.

 

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

   
  Dharma Flicks
   
 

Implicit Dharma – Imitation of Life

From one of America’s foremost directors, Douglas Sirk, Imitation of Life, at first seems like a just another melodrama from the 1950s centered on issues of domesticity.  Looking more deeply into the film (and this is a wonderful characteristic of most of Sirk’s films) we see a story of complex relationships and identity.  Set in 1947 Coney Island, the film begins as two single mothers, one in need of help in the home and the other in need of food and shelter, discover that by helping each other both of their needs can be met.  However, the relationship becomes complicated when one of the daughters, Sarah, who is African-American, begins to look for acceptance in Susy’s (the white daughter of the other mother) community.   Beyond the fact the fact that the film withstands critical scrutiny, like dharma itself, the particular situations of the characters is a powerful teaching in discerning which things in life will tie you to the world and which will set you free.  Although these things may be easy to differentiate in theory, sometimes in life the distinction is not so easily made. 

 

Explicit Dharma – "The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus"

In this documentary, the Dalai Lama gathers with notable Christian theologians at a four day conference in London to discuss the similarities and differences in Christianity and Buddhism.  Hosted with the usual charm and endearing spirit of His Holiness the film is a very informative and interesting teaching on how we can take the teachings Of Jesus and understand them in terms of a Buddhist practice.  Being as that he’s “the reason for the season” it seems like a perfect time to spend a little time contemplating the good qualities of this very important teacher.

 

 

 

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  Articles
   
 

Reflections on Past Teachings: Heart Sutra Retreat in Lake Tahoe

By Tom May

From noon Thanksgiving Day through noon Sunday, November 26th, at Camp Galilee, an Episcopal retreat center overlooking Lake Tahoe, our Holy Lama, Venerable Marut, led about 35 students, old and new, through commentary and meditation on, first, Mahamudra, and, then, the Heart Sutra, culminating on Saturday night with the transmission of the mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom.   Camp Galilee, on the shoreline of one of the deepest alpine lakes in the world, was the perfect setting for receiving some of the most profound teachings on wisdom in the whole of the Buddhist canon from one of the best American transmitters of the Gelukpa lineage of the Mahayana tradition.

Venerable Marut unfolded for retreatants the six flavors of Mahamudra meditation and the five paths implicitly taught within the Heart Sutra's explicit teaching on the Perfection of Wisdom.   Special thanks are due to Ewa, Ben, and Shaddi, who all came from Tucson early to assist with the retreat, and to Sarah of Reno, Nevada, who taught Tibetan Heart Yoga for retreatants on Friday morning.   Extra special thanks are due to Brandy Davis and David Fishman who organized and administered this wonderful retreat, and thanks also to Brandy for teaching yoga on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  The folks at Camp Galilee liked us so much they invited us to come back next Thanksgiving.  The cook, Mitch, said, "You folks really got something special—I know.   I see a lot of people coming through here."  Many at the retreat expressed eagerness to return again next year, and our kind Lama, Ven. Marut, said that next year we would have a retreat focused on compassion since we focused on wisdom this year.   If you are interested in doing next years Thanksgiving retreat in South Lake Tahoe with Venerable Marut please contact David Fishman and he will make sure you are on the email list and notified when the event is upcoming.

 

 

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

   
  Dharma Website of the Month
   
 

We thought it might be useful to bring to your attention a valuable dharma-oriented website each month. There are so many great dharma sites on the web…

Web Site of the month: www.aci-la.org

 

We are very pleased to feature the newly updated Asian Classics Institute, Los Angeles (ACI-LA) website as this months website of the month!  Please take some time to visit the new site and use it as a resource to stay connected to our Dharma community. 

The Asian Classics Institute of Los Angeles is dedicated to the serious study and personal practice of the original teachings of the Buddha, and for those wanting to learn more about this tradition.  In order to service this mission, the new website offers information on our courses, Guided Meditations and other activities.  The site included hundreds of hours of audio downloads of classes and courses as well as an amazing resource- ask Mr. Karma.

This site provides ancient wisdom for modern times and s here to support you in your commitment to Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and practice.  Please visit. It’s a beautiful site to keep in touch with the ACI-LA community!

Enjoy!

 

If you come across a site that you’d like others to know about, please email Shannon and contribute to this part of the newsletter.

 

 

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Thank You

   
 

Thank you to Venerable Marut for his kindness in coming to teach the Dharma here in Los Angeles and around the world. Thank you to Lauren Benjamin, Cliff Spencer, Rick Blue, Lindsay Crouse, Summer Moore, Stephane Dreyfus and Erica Giovinazzo for their kindness in continuing to teach here in Los Angeles.

Thank you to Rick Blue for maintaining the ACI-LA website. All suggestions and updates for the website can be sent to Rick.  Shannon Parry will be producing the newsletters and would appreciate submissions.   Please email your contributions to Shannon by the 25th of the month.

 

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