ACI LA
DECEMBER 2009


ACI LA Newsletter

appy Holidays and welcome to the ACI-LA December newsletter.

There are so many wonderful teachings happening at Mahasukha this month, sure to keep us balanced throughout the busy holiday season.  

No More Enemies At All: The Six Flavors of Emptiness - with Lindsay Crouse. Three Tuesdays, Dec. 1, 8, 15. This class will look deeply at the concept of emptiness with the aim of freeing you from fear by understanding that we are the authors of our world.

Spiritual Partners: The Dharma of Love - with Rick Blue and Lindsay Crouse. Friday and Saturday, Dec 11. Learn how we can become sacramental gardeners and use our partner as a powerful agent to help us blossom into an enlightened being with advices from Arya Nagarjuna.

Death and the End of Death - workshop with visiting teacher, David Stumpf. Friday - Sunday afternoons, Dec 18th - 20th. We know what it's like to fear and avoid death. But what about using death to affirm life?

A Meditative New Years Eve - please join ACI-LA and the Mahasukha Center to celebrate the New Year with our annual celebration of prayer, silent walking and guided meditation, plus hanging out together afterwards.

Cliff Spencer continues teaching throughout December ACI Formal Study Course VIII on Death and the Realms of Existence.

Mahasukha yoga classes are offered throughout the month.  


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

ontributions

Lama Marut opened the 2 nd Annual Mahasukha Festival of Bliss with an extraordinary teaching on "Living the Perfect Life, Here & Now."

Venerable Sumati Marut kicked off the 2nd Annual Festival of Bliss on November 3rd and 4th with an amazing teaching on "Living the Perfect Life, Here & Now." Drawing from Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and other sacred texts, he explored the lifestyle of the Jivanmukti, the Hindu yogic term for one who is "liberated in this lifetime." He was excited to give this new teaching because he believes most of us are very close to the goal of learning how to be truly happy.



Why are we so close to the goal? Lama Marut pointed out that the access to knowledge, material resources and education we enjoy was only available to royalty and the elite in the past. Now the question is what we're going to do with this prosperity. The only things keeping us from realizing true happiness are the everyday distractions of modern life. All we need to do is get our priorities in the right order. Venerable Marut alluded to Jesus' statement, "I declare that there are those sitting here among us who will not taste of death before they reach the Kingdom of Heaven."



He asked the audience, "What would a Jivanmukti look like? Does he float? Does she glow?" Lama Marut quickly noted that these types of ideas about enlightened beings keep us from becoming one. Why should they look different? The high Buddhists texts suggest we have the same physical form as enlightened beings. The Bible's Book of Genesis proclaims that we are created in the image of God. The change clearly doesn't take place so much on the outside as much as it does on the inside.



This served as the jumping off point for Lama Marut's explanation of two basic models in religion: developmental and discovery. To illustrate this, he referred to the continually debated question in Buddhism of whether enlightenment is gradual or sudden. He offered, "Gradually you'll get to the point when you realize that enlightenment is suddenly occurring." The paradox of the religious life is that we need to work hard to develop ourselves to the point where we realize that there was nothing to do at all. Lama Marut proposed another way of approaching the two models as "causal" versus "consequential." Take for example samsara (the suffering world) and nirvana. He advises that samsara and nirvana are simply different perspectives on the same thing. We don't attain nirvana. We realize it. We realize the potential here and now. When we realize enlightenment, we'll know we've always been enlightened. We'll just give ourselves an enlightened backstory as a prop for our present. Another angle on the developmental model versus the discovery model is "sequential" as opposed to "simultaneous." From a spiritual standpoint, this can be seen through the realization of enlightenment as a result of one's works or faith. From a philosophical point of view, we can understand this as "becoming" in contrast to "being." The last viewpoint Lama Marut presented was a linear view of history as opposed to a cyclical one. The West primarily adheres to the linear understanding. But the majority of the East lives by a cyclical view, where enlightenment can occur anywhere at anytime.



Many of us have not convinced ourselves that we're ready for the discovery model. We think we need to improve because we see ourselves as afflicted. The developmental model serves us well in building up our spiritual self-esteem. In this sense, if you want to achieve a happy life, you must practice a happy life. Be aware that the means and ends are the same. Do what Jivanmuktis, liberated living beings, do. As the Bhagavad Gita says, "Whatever an exceptional person does, other folks do too. The whole world tries to measure up to the standard that one sets."



According to Lama Marut, it is essential at this point to be honest with who we think we are. This involves looking at how morally we've been living our lives. When you become a person who trusts himself to do the right thing, you are living a moral life. You don't have to check yourself because you automatically do the right thing. You could be a Jivanmukti but you must "know thy self."



Lama Marut began to discuss how we can learn to be perfect, to be free here and now. The feared and favorite answer sprang from his mouthˇrenunciation. Happiness is not achievable outside of ourselves and the search for it externally distracts us from looking inward. Contentment, the base level of happiness, is found through discovery model, whereas the developmental model is driven by discontentment. It is achieved by realizing everything is fine in the present. Lama Marut quoted the Astanvakra Gita saying, "Samsara is nothing other than having something that needs to be done."



Acting with contentment, selflessly, in every situation eventually convinces us that we are Jivanmukti. Serving others without expectation generates this sense of true happiness. Practicing with compassion and wisdom leads to selflessness and this virtuous cycle continues to feed itself. Compassion does this by expansion. A compassionate person becomes one with everybody, therefore becoming nobody. Wisdom understands that we've never been anyone to begin with and that the sense of self is simply an illusion. Meanwhile, the ego is desperately trying to identify with concepts (emotions, objects, memories) because it knows there's no one there the way we think there is. The Jivanmukti has figured this out and has re-conceptualized himself in the ultimate way.



Lama Marut addressed karma at this point by explaining how we are our karma. For a person who has identified himself with everybody and nobody, what kind of karma does he have? This is how we beat karma. If karma existed in any other way other than an idea, how could we ever beat it? But we must work our karma to the point where wisdom can finish off the job. He emphasized how a strong spiritual practitioner must have a high tolerance for paradoxes such as this in order to succeed.



How can we safely practice being finished with suffering? Lama Marut encouraged us to just stay happy all day long. In every situation, ask what we can learn and whom you can help. If we see a situation as a teaching, it cannot be a problem. If we see a moment as an opportunity to care for someone, it cannot be a problem. In truth, there are no problems, only interpretations of problems. Does is it ever do us any good to be unhappy about a situation? Being unhappy or happy might not change the situation in the moment but which feels better and makes more sense. Lama Marut also suggested that we practice not having preferences and to say "yes" as much as possible.

The "Yes Man" is the Jivanmukti. He sees his life as a movie, "the play of illusion," with no attachment to the movie or desire to see it change. Lama Marut referred once again to the Astanvakra Gita saying, "When samsara has been terminated by the mind, it is only the play of illusion that remains. The wise man shines forth free of desire and attachment to °•me' and "mine."

With a smile, Lama Marut implored us to live like a child at play. Children don't play for a reason, they play with a free mind. They lose themselves in the playing, free from self-consciousness. The way to learn how to act freely again is through disciplining the mind. We must retrain our minds to trust ourselves.

Venerable Marut ended the evening by reminding us that ultimately, enlightenment is a waking up. After we awaken, we'll understand the world was never samsaric, just our mind was. We will realize there was nothing to be done, only to be known. We know how grateful and blessed we were to receive such wisdom. Please teach us again Lama Marut. Please teach. Please teach.

Submitted by Brian Reid

 

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Some words on the beautiful Festival of Bliss last month:

"Amazing event with such pure good positive energy, a perfect example of the love and impact ACI has in the community.
I couldn't help but think last night about my experience moving here 8 months ago and how different it would be if I hadn't walked in ACI's front doors!
Thank you for helping me find the right perspective on so many things!"

Submitted by Kevin

I found out about the Mahasukha Center during a personal search for new tools and refinements to existing life practices. A deepening and stretching of strategies was occurring, and I sensed the need to add to the toolbox. My first visit to the Mahasukha Center was during last year's Festival of Bliss.

How to describe how big those first evenings at the Center felt? The positive energy flowing through the room was almost too much to grasp! Lama Marut's teachings addressed my agenda and began the accelerated filling of the toolbox; changes in practices quickly followed.

This year's Festival of Bliss was a joy to participate in and attend: working with various members in planning, sharing tasks and preparation added deeper meaning to growing friendships. Lama Marut's teachings added more tools and confirmed some discoveries. Still deepening and stretching, but, now it's within reach.

Submitted by Denice Bartels

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Tom Wudl- Specimens from the Flowerbank World - 12 November - 31 December    

These paintings and drawings were inspired by the AVATAMSAKA SUTRA.  The English translation of its title - FLOWER ORNAMENT SUTRA

Click here to go to website and view images: http://us.mg202.mail.yahoo.com/dc/launch?.partner=vz-acs&.gx=0&.rand=2hn4tsn6tlker

Submitted by Tere Abdala-Romano

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QUOTES TO PONDER

Drink Your Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves

- slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;

Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hahn

Kiss The Earth

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.

Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom.

Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Bring the Earth your love and happiness.

The Earth will be safe
when we feel safe in ourselves.

Thich Nhat Hahn

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Video contribution:  

"Awakening the limitless potential of your mind, achieving all peace and happiness." This thirteen-part teaching series touches on all the vital points of Tibetan Buddhism."  This first one is about Samsara and Nirvana.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFgYmEHINAM

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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://www.justgive.org/

JustGive makes it quick and convenient to find and donate to a particular cause or charity through their complete database of nearly 1.5 million charities.

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:
"Just the Facts Ma'am," " Things are Emptyˇand Therefore Changeable," "The Deeper End of The Pool," and "Trying to Find The Self."

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

SPECIAL TEACHINGS - by donation

Tuesdays Dec 1st, 8th & 15th 7:30-9:30
No More Enemies At All, with Lindsay Crouse
Contact: lindsay.crouse@aci-la.org

Friday & Saturday Dec 11th & 12th 7:30-9:30
The Dharma of Love - Part III: The Real Miracle-Grow, with Lindsay Crouse and Rick Blue
Contact: lindsay.crouse@aci-la.org

Friday - Sunday Dec 19th - 20th 12pm-1pm
Death and the End of Death - Workshop, with David Stumpf
Contact: info@aci-la.org

Thursday December 31st 7:30pm-1:00am
A Meditative New Years Eve
Contact: info@aci-la.org

DHARMA - by donation only

Mondays Starting Dec 7th 7:30-9:30pm
ACI VIII:  Death and the Realms of Existence
Contact:   cliff.spencer@aci-la.org

MEDITATION - by donation only

Sundays Starting Dec 13th 6:30-8:30pm
Guided Meditation, with Rick Blue
Contact:   rick.blue@aci-la.org

YOGA - suggested donations are listed.  No one will be turned away for lack of funds

For details go to www.aci-la.org/yoga.html

Please contact Claire.Thompson@aci-la.org

Mondays Dec 7th & 14th 6-7pm
All Levels, with Jessica Larsen/ Rebecca Stanley
Suggested donation: $10

Wednesdays 6-7pm
Beginners, with Sarah Canfield
Suggested donation:  $10

Wednesdays Dec16th, 23rd & 30th 7:30-9pm
All Levels, with Sarah Canfield
Suggested donation: $10

Fridays 12-1pm
All Levels, with Sarah Canfield
Suggested donation: $10

Saturdays 9:15-10:15am
Beginners, with Sarah Canfield
Suggested donation:  $10

Saturdays 10:30am-12pm
All Levels, with Sarah Canfield
Suggested donation: $10

Sundays 2-3:30pm
All Levels, with Rebecca Stanley
Suggested donation: $10

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ow You Can Help

Help the Mahasukha Kula Great Retreat Fund
 
NEW DESIGNS at CafePress!!
Please check them out!  All profits go directly into the retreat fund:
http://www.cafepress.com/lamamarut

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 web-links and audio that doesn't download
* Have accounting skills and/or are familiar with Quick-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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