ACI LA
AUGUST 2009


ACI LA Newsletter

amaste and welcome to the ACI-LA August newsletter. To Buddhists, the seventh lunar month (August for Westerners), is a month of joy because the fifteenth day of the seventh month is often known as the Buddha's joyful day and the day of rejoice for monks. At Mahasukha Center, there is always plenty to rejoice about.

This month Darcy and Jason return to LA to teach two nights of Tibetan Heart Yoga Series 3 on August 5th and 6th. This flowing asana practice challenges us to expand our love, compassion, equanimity and joy.

ACI Formal Study Course 6, The Diamond Cutter, with Cliff Spencer will continue on Monday nights throughout August and Dharma Essential II on the subject of refuge will be taught beginning Friday, August 7th by Catherine Eaton and continues for 3 more classes on Thursday nights.

These special teachings as well as all the offerings at the Mahasukha Center are listed at the end of this newsletter, with details available on the ACI-LA website. Click here to see the events: www.aci-la.org

The Mahasukha Center has grown into a sanctuary of authentic dharma and yoga traditions for application in today's modern world. As a community we work together to be happy and to serve others, and gain the tools and resources to practice wisdom and compassion.

We continue our efforts to support the 3-year Great Retreat, scheduled to begin in October of 2010. (To see the full description, go to www.aci-la.org/great_retreat.html).

 

This Month
Contributions
Dharma Flicks
Darin's Digital Funhouse
Dharma Website of the Month
Dharma Podcasts: Recent Audio Uploads
Upcoming ACI-LA Classes
How You Can Help
Thank You
ACI LA Home

ACI LA Newsletter

ontributions

Interview with ACI-LA Senior Teacher, Lindsay Crouse – Part 2
by Jason Rosenfield

Jason Rosenfield: One of the things that Buddhism talks about - it’s almost a contradiction to ask the question this way - is experience. That this is an experiential path. No one’s being asked to take something on faith because it’s in a book or…I mean yes, there are certain things we learn, for instance Buddhist logic says that at a certain point your valid perception are based on an authority that you trust saying, “this is,” such as the direct perception of emptiness, and all you can have is a conceptual idea, until you have the experience yourself. But what you just described, whatever that principle was that Lama Marut gave you at that time, which meant you jumping off a cliff with something that was obviously very critical to you, it would seem that at that moment you had [already] had your own experience that told you that this was correct; that this was something you could trust. Is that true?

LC: Yes, that’s absolutely true. But I think that those experiences came incrementally. When we were studying with Lama Marut, you know, he was Professor Brian Smith because he wasn’t in robes, you know, we weren’t bowing before him, et cetera. You know, he was just Professor Brian Smith and we gave him a run for his money, we sure did. And it was a bright group of people and we’d go, “Wait a minute Brian, what are you…what?!… that's not true!” you know just like that. (Laughs) I think of it now, I think, “I hope my students never treat me that way. I’d be terrified.” But we did, we challenged him, we wrestled with him, we wrestled with the ideas he was teaching us. And it was very useful, we were very fortunate to go through that with him because we were never required to take something on faith. It wasn’t dogma…it wasn’t dogma. Shakyamuni Buddha said, you know, don’t come around like that. I don’t want groupies. Think, you know, try this out. See if it works. Think. Think for yourselves. Don’t repress, you know, don’t suppress. That was my problem with forgiveness. I needed to say to somebody, “What are you talking about, forgive? What is that? Tell me, okay. Well I tried this, it didn’t work. Why didn’t that work?” You know, I needed to just grapple with somebody who was going to take it seriously. And I think that all those little moments added up all those small experiences of what was probably the truth…and then as I did try it out, it’s not so much that life began to just suddenly unfold as this wonderful place, there were plenty of challenges and some of them were bigger and bigger, but I felt confident that I had a way to go; I had something to hold onto. You know, they say that the, you know, that when you take refuge in the dharma, the dharma is, you know, is something that holds. It’s something that you can stand up on, that’s firm under your feet. And that, I think that’s what I’m describing as that kind of confidence. I felt there was something firm. There was a lot in common with Christianity…a lot in common. So a lot of the ideas were things that I had certainly heard of before. But Tibetan Buddhism allowed me to know how to put it into play, how to get it out of the bible and into my life as a workable thing …as a workable thing.

JR: You’ve used the phrase Tibetan Buddhism a few times, as opposed to Buddhism. How would you differentiate? I mean is there a way that you could in a nutshell say, “this is what’s different?”

LC: Right. Well, for instance, my study has been Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelupka lineage, the Madhyamaka Prasangika School, okay? So that embodies certain ideas. There are other schools of Buddhism that have other ideas. They don’t disagree in the central ideas, but there are different levels of Buddhist study. I don’t know Chinese Buddhism, I don’t know Zen Buddhism, so this is what I know and I don’t know what the differences really are in terms of those other forms of Buddhism.

JR: Do you think the Bodhisattva Path that Je Tsongkapa put so much emphasis on, The Step On The Path to Buddhahood, is unique to Tibetan Buddhism? The idea that you can’t really become fully enlightened unless you are doing it for the sake of others?

LC: No. I mean, this is what Christ said…this is what Christ said. And I don’t know enough about Islam and I don’t know enough about Hinduism, et cetera, to be able to speak for them…

JR: Or Judaism.

LC: Or Judaism. But, I mean, I sure know there’s plenty of talk about mitzvas in Buddhism. I mean, I think in every major religion there are certain common threads and one is certainly that you think of another before yourself: “Do unto others as…” sometimes it’s referred to on its flip side in Judaism, “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do to you.” Same thing…same thing. You know, the top ten, you know, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t commit sexual misconduct, et cetera, et cetera, don’t kill, are very similar. Buddhism doesn’t posit, it’s not a theistic religion, it doesn’t posit a God in the way that Christianity and Judaism do, but it posits mind as God…mind as God. So you could debate someone as to whether it is a philosophy or a religion.

Wouldn’t any religion be a philosophy? Yeah, sure, but not every philosophy is a religion I think you could say. I have never…I’ve never felt, in taking Buddhist vows, that I had reneged on being a Christian. I never had any problem with that. I felt, you know, when Buddhism says: look, if there is an enlightened being, why wouldn’t the enlightened being be intelligent enough to show up as many things, you know? To serve all people’s needs? Then Christ becomes a great Bodhisattva, you know? And I find that sophisticated in itself. I think a religion ought to be ecumenical. I can’t understand why, worshipping an enlightened being, you would be prejudiced against other people’s beliefs, I don’t understand how you would come to that, you know.

JR: Okay, let’s just go back to this idea of the theater as a ministry. Because that was another question I was interested in. I’ve heard you teach both dharma as drama and drama as dharma. I suppose that’s one way to put it…one set of teachings to dharma students and one set of teachings to your drama students. Clearly one has informed the other for a long time. Can you elaborate on that?

LC: Yeah. In my own experience in teaching, what I began to see more and more is that acting is a giving profession. I mean I witnessed in my own life and in many actors lives, I don’t think there are many professions where people work for nothing happily, gladly, again and again throughout their lives, no matter what kind of stature they gain; they’re again and again working for nothing. They’re showing up in little hole-in-the-wall theaters and giving performances and working with small groups and et cetera…I began to realize there was a kind of communion that an actor gets paid in. And that really what an actor is doing, an actor is not just a storyteller, an actor is creating an event in the heart of another person; they’re raising someone’s consciousness. They’re literally kind of operating, razor-like, on an audience; delivering certain ideas in the form of a myth. And a myth strikes at the heart, it’s not an intellectual affair. Something where you stand up and you go, “Never again am I…” or, “Right now, from this moment on, I am going to be…” or, “I am going to do…” Anyone who has been in the presence of a great actor or seen great theater or has been part of making great theater knows that when people walk out the door they are not the same. They are not the same. And everyone, when it happens, knows it. People will often speak of a performance in very sacred terms, and it’s always been my understanding if I ask someone about a performance and they can describe the actor and all his skills, it’s not a great performance, and if they don’t know what to say, it is. You know, this is…this is a similar idea that in certain religions you cannot pronounce the name of God, that there are no words for it. It’s that kind of experience that happens in the theater. And I’ve felt that in our generation, you know, it’s a workaholic world, people may not be able to get to church on Sunday, but they’re going to the movies and they’re turning on the TV and they’re going to the theater, and that there would be a better chance to communicate to more people in more forms with more sacred messages by working in the theater.

JR: Is there anything else that you, personally, would like to say that, perhaps, you think we should include?

LC: Well, I guess the more that I am involved in a spiritual path, the more I would say to anyone that it’s a good idea…that it’s a really good idea. The world is a very, very complicated place now. It’s not that it hasn’t been complicated before, but a lot more of it is coming at us at a much faster and harder rate…that it’s hard for us to get out from under things that the world teaches you, which is, like, to look out for number one. It’s harder for us to get out from under that. We don’t have reflective time. We don’t. We’re not allowed it. So to find a teacher and to be able to get some help so that you can get a hold of your life, so that at the end of your life, God willing, if your conscious, you can die happy…you can die happy saying, “ I did my best. I did the important things. I made other people happy. I’m glad I lived. This was worth it…this was worthwhile.” Yeah, that’s what I would recommend. Okay? Right? (Chuckles) Yeah…

This is the second half of the interview. See the July newsletter for part 1 or go to /mi-ft_crouse.html on the ACI-LA website to read the entire interview

 

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A POEM

Master, where are You?

(silence)

Master, I need you please tell me where are you?

(silence)

Can’t you see me?

Can’t you feel me?

Can’t you hear me?

Master, where are you?

(silence)

Bird:

The Master cannot be found as such

Go, dear child into the forest of your mind;

develop virtuous thoughts,

quiet down and beg them to come.

Beg for blessings, make offerings

The Master cannot be seen

The Master cannot be felt

The Master cannot be heard

The Master can only appear through the Goodness in your heart.

Bird flies away

(silence)

 

Submitted by Irma Gomez

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

Dharma Flicks

Implicit Dharma: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, directed by David Fincher (one of only two directors to appear twice on the Dharma Flicks list), is the imaginative tale of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) who, born an octogenarian, lives life aging in reverse. What may indeed be a “curious” case for the average viewer is, for the dharma student, something far more interesting. One of the most difficult concepts to wrap one’s mind around in the pursuit of wisdom is the emptiness of time. Time’s tendency to move from the past into the future, like the sun rising in the east or Ben & Jerry’s being a delicious treat, seems to be one of those conditions that is hard wired into the human experience. We know though from our study of karma and emptiness that there is no condition and no reality that is not malleable; that is not without condition or cause. Although is it difficult to imagine the karmic causes for being born an octogenarian and aging in reverse, it is helpful to remember that the fact that most of us were born infants is not something that is automatic or uncaused. Even though The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a fantastic flight of fancy by one of our most inspired directors, it is, even more importantly, a powerful reminder that even the most subtle and seemingly fixed elements of our lives are caused. Thanks to Sandra from Brazil for the great recommendation.

 Explicit Dharma: Eliminating Inner Anger/Kundalini Yoga: The Yoga of Awareness Series

Following on Lama Marut’s theme of “living simply and happily,” I have decided to point out this yoga series presented by Yogi Bhajan. This is a live class taped in the late 1980's with Yogi Bhajan and his students. Summer is indeed a great time to shed all the unnecessary elements of life and to get down to basics. Hopefully this yoga series by Yogi Bhajan can help.

 

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Darrin's Digital Funhouse

LIVE VIDEO BROADCASTS of MAHASUKHA TEACHINGS and ACI Formal Study Course

Visit the new Live Video page on the ACI-LA site to see all the current and archived broadcasts on Ustream.TV.

/live_video.html

Email darin@aci-la.org if you want in on the Digital Sangha list to get reminders about what's coming up or need help to view the archived teachings.

Twitter into Happiness!

Get little pearls of Lama wisdom sent straight to your cell phone every day via text message!

Lama Marut gives us another way to keep ourselves mindful of how to be happy by sending out "Dharma Twitters" via www.twitter.com. Just create a profile at www.twitter.com (it takes 10 minutes max) and then text " follow Lama Marut" to 40404 from your cell phone.

Get a little Lama love in the middle of your busy day!

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

Dharma Website of the Month

http://basicmindfulness.org/

Shinzen Young’s website

If you come across a site that you'd like others to know about, please notify Catherine at eatoncat@verizon.net and contribute to this part of the newsletter.

 

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Dharma Podcasts: Recent Audio Uploads

Dharma Podcasts: Recent Audio Uploads

Dharma podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular and convenient way to get exposure to enlightening Dharma teachings at the touch of a computer key. Don't miss Lama Marut's weekly podcasts at www.aci-la.org

This Month's Dharma Podcasts:
“You as the Spiritual Elite”, “Freedom from the Four Attachments” and “Using suffering as a spiritual path.”

Weekly videocasts: /mg-video.html

Audio podcasts : /mg-podcsts.html

Audio Downloads: The "Recent Teachings" section on www.aci-la.org is replete with new public talks on yoga, Guru yoga and meditation at: /teach_marut_recent.html

Be sure to subscribe to keep up to date on the digital downloads! Click on the subscription button at www.aci-la.org and/or www.lamamarut.org and enter your email address to receive podcast updates. You'll receive an email announcement when new podcasts of teachings are uploaded to either site.

If you enjoy having access to these wonderful Dharma podcasts, please make sure to comment in the comments section on iTunes.

To subscribe to Lama Marut's video podcasts please go to: /mg-video.html

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

Current and Upcoming ACI-LA Classes

ACI-LA classes are donation-based and open to the public.
(Please see the calendar for full descriptions.)

Many of the classes are given weekly so please check the ACI website calendar for full descriptions and times:
//medialib/index.php/calendar

Upcoming Events

Book signing with Lama Christie McNally
Lama Christie McNally comes to the Mahasukha Center on October 2nd and 3rd for a teaching and book signing for her newly released book entitled, The Tibetan Book of Meditation.



I
f you would like to volunteer for this event please contact Becki Kammerling at becki.kammerling@gmail.com

 

2nd Annual Festival of Bliss with Lama Marut
T
he Mahasukha center will be celebrating its 2nd Annual Festival of Bliss on November 2, 3 and 4th with teachings from Lama Marut. On November 4th, the Mahasukha Center will celebrate with the 2nd Annual Great Bliss Benefit, an auction to benefit the Center. If you would like to volunteer for this event or would like to donate auction items for the Great Bliss Benefit please contact Becki Kammerling at becki.kammerling@gmail.com

 

Current And Upcoming ACI-LA Classes

YOGA:

August 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st (Sat)
Mahasukha Yoga - Beginners with Sarah Canfield
Time: 9:15 am - 10:15 am
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: $8 per class - No one will be turned away due to lack of funds \
Contact: Claire.Thompson@aci.la.org

August 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st (Sat)
Mahasukha Yoga all levels - with Sarah Canfield
Time: 10:30 am – 12:00 noon
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: $12 per class - No one will be turned away due to lack of funds
Contact: Claire.Thompson@aci.la.org

August 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th and 31st (Mon
Mahasukha Yoga – All levels - with Jessica Larsen
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: donation-based community class
Contact:Claire.Thompson@aci.la.org

August 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th (Wed)
Mahasukha Yoga – Beginners - with Sarah Canfield
Time: 6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: $12 suggested donation.
No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
Contact:Claire.Thompson@aci.la.org

August 5th, 6th (Wed, Thurs) Tibetan Heart Yoga Series 3 - All Levels - with Darcy Jones and Jason Dunbar
Time: Wednesday 8:00-9:30; Thursday 7:30-9:30
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: $ 10 - $20 suggested donation per class. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Contact: coastlinedance@gmail.com

August 12th, 19th and 26th (Wed)
Mahasukha Yoga – All levels - with Mira Kingsley
Time: 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: $12 suggested donation. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
Contact:Claire.Thompson@aci.la.org

August 7th, 14th, 17th, 21st and 28th (Fri)
Mahasukha Lunchtime Yoga – all levels - with Sarah Canfield
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: $8 suggested donation. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
Contact: Claire.Thompson@aci.la.org

 

DHARMA:

August 3rd, 10th 17th, 24th and 31st (Mon)
ACI Formal Study Course 6: The Diamond Cutter, with Cliff Spencer
Date: Monday nights, Beginning July 20th
Time: 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: Free and open to the public; donation only
Contact: cliff.spencer@aci-la.org

August 7th (Fri), 13th, 20th and Sept 3rd (Thurs)
Dharma Essentials II: Refuge, with Catherine Eaton
Time: 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Location: Mahasukha Center
Admission: donation-based community class
Contact: info@aci-la.org

To help Mahasukha Yoga teachers receive special trainings to pass along to all of us, please consider making a donation to the Yoga Scholarship Fund - just click on the lower "Donate" button on the left side of the yoga page: /yoga.html

 

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ow You Can Help

Thank you to all of the ACI-LA volunteers who help with our various Dharma projects! We are currently looking for people who have specific skills in certain areas so please email us at lauren.benjamin@aci-la.org if you:

* Would like to help transcribe full-length audio teachings
* Have document formatting / layout skills to help format our Dharma Essentials handouts
* If you have some time to look through aci-la.org and find broken weblinks and audio that doesn't download.
* Have accounting skills and/or are familiar with Quik-Books
* Add a link to ACI-LA website on your blog.

 

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ACI LA Newsletter

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 and Sal Gallina for their kindness in teaching here in Los Angeles.

Thank you to Stephane Dreyfus for maintaining the ACI-LA website, and to all our marvelous students who help make it possible to spread the Dharma.

All suggestions and updates for the website can be sent to Stephane at floatingrock@gmail.com. Catherine Eaton produces the newsletters and would joyfully appreciate submissions. Please email your contributions to Catherine at eatoncat@verizon.net by the 20th of the month.

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