|Midwestern Dhamma Refuge
grounded in contemplative practice
for a peaceful, just, & sustainable society
Anapanasati, mindfulness with breathing in & out, is the Buddha's original system of meditation for cultivating mindful presence with direct experience here-now, clear comprehension & skilful intention, discipline, concentration (including jhana), serenity, and insight or the sake of true knowing and right liberation. Both a bedrock practice and the Buddha's very own vipassana, mindfulness with breathing ripens all the factors of awakening. Here at Kevala Retreat, we support those who wish to explore and deepen this most skilful & comprehensive system of meditation & contemplation. We work from the outlines found in the original discourses (suttas and agamas).
Buddhadasa, Servant of the Buddha, is anyone who dedicates mind and body to serving the Lord Buddha's purpose, which is liberation from dukkha. To serve and honor the Buddha is to investigate and practice his teaching for the sake of genuine awakening and to share the fruits of practice with other beings. Venerable Ngeuam Indapanyo was inspired to take Buddhadasa as his pen and practice name when he began his original experiment with Suan Mokkh in Chaiya. His close students refer to him as "Tan Ajahn" (Venerable Teacher). He lived as a bhikkhu from the age of 20 until his death.
Buddhayana, Vehicle of Awakening, is one of Ajahn Buddhadasa's playful coinages for 'Pristine Buddhism' or 'Buddha-Dhamma before the various schools messed with it.' Not owned by any of the so-called 'schools,' this core Dhamma vision and way shows up throughout Buddhist history. It is most clearly revealed in the most profound, direct, and pragmatic discourses of Early Buddhism, those untainted by Abhidhamma and institutionalizing influences, which point to the core threads directly supportive of awakening. Great teachers such as Shantideva, Nagarjuna, and Dogen reawaken its illuminating heart in their particular time-spaces., For us, Ajahn Buddhadasa's 'radical conservatism' revealed Buddhayana within 20th century Siam. Our duty is to awaken to it here in these confused and violent times.
Dhamma, the truth and reality running through all aspects of life and the Buddha's profound pointing out of this truth. Please continue reading here.
Dukkha, the distress and suffering arising from ignorance, craving, and clinging to 'me' and 'mine.' The transient conditions of the world, such as pain and joy, gain and loss, life and death, are only suffering when misunderstood, targeted with craving, and apprehended as 'me' and 'mine.' We can awaken from such confusion. Dukkhavedana (unpleasant feeling) such as pain and discomfort are not the problem addressed by Buddhas, though skilful practice will moderate them. Even Buddhas do not escape the stressful aspects (dukkha-ness) of embodied existence in an unstable, uncertain, and concocted world; yet they don't make such facts of life -- including illness, loss, aging, and death -- into personal problems.
Early Buddhism is the teachings of the original period of Buddhist development, beginning with the Buddha's own awakening and teaching. This period lasted three or four centuries. The best resources we have for uncovering Early Buddhism are the two main records of the Buddha's discourses, the Pali suttas and the Chinese agamas. Early Buddhism was superseded by the Abhidhamma period, which infiltrated and influenced later suttas, and lead to the development of the historical schools delineated by scholars and polemicists. Here, we are especially interested in the practical liberatory core 'Buddhayana.'
Kevala, whole, complete; wholeness. An important religious term in various religious traditions of Buddha's time. In Early Buddhism, the ultimate wholeness is when we are no longer fragmented by egoistic thinking and have stopped feeding the fires of greed, hatred, fear, delusion, pride, confusion, envy, and their cousins.
The Pali suttas are the "discourses" attributed to the historical Buddha and leading disciples recorded in the Pali language and preserved in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Originally preserved through oral transmission, they were written down beginning a couple centuries after the Buddha's passing and finished (or "closed") a couple centuries later. There are five "collections" or nikayas. Many have parallels in the Chinese agamas.
Personal Retreat means a period of individual study-practice within conditions of noble silence, withdrawal from the usual distractions of one's life, relative solitude, and simplicity. At Kevala Retreat, as at Suan Mokkh, responsibility is up to the practitioner. We encourage intelligence & creativity in designing a retreat to meet your own needs & circumstances. It can include meditation, movement practices (e.g. qigong), study, journaling, "sweat dana," and walks in the woods and midst wild flowers. Or, it might be primarily all-day meditation. We endeavor to support you in mindfully, skilfully cultivating a well-rounded path. Santikaro and Jo Marie will be available for regular consultation, guidance, listening, and instruction. Each person must motivate, discipline, and supervise their own practice.
Suan Mokkh, Garden of Liberation, is any place that fosters 'spotlessness,' liberation from the greed, aversion, fear, confusion, and egoism that tarnish that natural clarity and luminosity of mind. One pioneering model of this is the Suan Mokkh founded by Ajahn Buddhadasa in Chaiya District, Southern Thailand, in 1932. Suan Mokkh is also the mind that is spotless and free; as well as the quality of spotless freedom itself. (Mokkha is a Pali word meaning 'liberation, release'; mok is a Southern Thai word meaning 'spotlessness, without blemish.') There is a Suan Mokkh website.