Upavana Blog

Upaya - Skillful Means - Tahn Pamutto April 27, 2021

We dust off the shrine, light a few candles, chant some words of veneration, bow in the direction of the altar ... and then we sit and begin the practice of meditation. We might have the idea that our practice doesn't begin until we reach the cushion, but would we do the rituals if they didn't contribute to the overall experience? If these rituals settle the mind and warm the heart, perhaps they are as much the practice as following our breath.

The topic of skillful means is broad and general. In short, anything we do which encourages wholesome mindstates and diminishes unwholesome mindstates is a valuable accessory to our growth on the path. There's no one right answer or perfect ritual. We are given free license to experiment and explore until we find what works best for us.

Last night during the uposatha, Tahn Pamutto offered a reflection on skillful means, and how we can judge our strategies and techniques against a framework like the Four Noble Truths to determine if we're on the right track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQjTW3DPQWw

Blessings and Prayer - Tahn Pamutto April 26, 2021

If you ever go to a buddhist temple or spend a bit of time with monastics, you are likely to hear a lot of chanting. First thing in the morning and at every meal, a special ceremony whenever things are offered, blessings and puja in the evening - and even more on the holidays and lunar observances.

It's interesting to note, though, the content of these chants. Almost all of them were originally spoken words of the Buddha or his chief disciples. While in the present day we've put them to melodies and ascribed particular meanings and occasions for them, the verses themselves were just the wise and timely utterances of enlightened beings. To me, this speaks to the nature of right speech. When we've purified our speech, even if we don't intend to form rituals or devise poetic verses, our words are nevertheless well-spoken, pleasant, memorable and profound.

To an observer the chanting might seem like prayers, and certainly it shares many aspects of prayer. We might include well-wishing for others and aspirations for ourselves. But the chanting itself is wholesome, and so even if our prayers accomplish nothing else we know that at least it is pure conduct which we need not regret. Chanting might seem like a duty in the beginning but over time it becomes an irresistible part of the rhythm of a day skillfully lived.

Yesterday Tahn Pamutto gave his last talk after four months with the Indonesian Buddhist Family in New York. The topic was "Blessings and Prayer." You can see it here on theResidentofDhamma youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgl5u_FwHwE


Heart of the Community - Tahn Pamutto April 19, 2021

On Sunday, Tahn Pamutto and Tan Santi joined fellow monastics with Wat Thai Thavorn in visiting their Albany branch temple - along with a large contingent of of the Indonesian Buddhist Family.

The purpose of the trip was to inter the ashes of friend and family member Robby Mulyadi, as well as three others, at the base of freshly planted trees. The afternoon, from the generous potluck meal to the gathering of friends to the planting of the trees, was a wonderful example of how many facets of life are tied together by a temple.

The land was donated only a few years ago, and has needed work and donations to be ready to receive guests and host both laypeople and monastics for meditation. But, wanting to give charity, where better than the place where you and your family can go to get out of the city? Children played and adults shared stories, all in the peace of the quiet country neighborhood. When nobody is visiting, the resident monks use it as a quiet retreat for practice.

Looking around, one can't find anything that doesn't have someone's fingerprints on it, and they'll be able to reflect on their part in getting the place running for years to come. Most importantly for the task of the day, when loved ones come to remember those who have passed, they'll be combining it with the support of community and activities they enjoy.

Transitions - Tahn Pamutto April 16, 2021

On May 2nd, after over four months staying with the Indonesian Buddhist Family of NY, Tahn Pamutto will be departing and heading back to the woods of Massachusetts. Not enough can be said about the kindness and generosity of the community in NYC! This has been a wonderful experience and Tahn's only regret is that he'll be leaving just as the community is getting vaccinated and is beginning to think about gathering in person again.


The Vihara's Sunday online event will be cancelled this week to allow for a community gathering in Albany, NY, but will resume again on Apr 25.


With the transition from the city back to the forest, the flavor of Upavana's posts and offerings will begin to shift towards it's original goal - to support the founding of a practice community in the Theravada Forest tradition style. Tahn will begin May by returning to the practice of wandering in order to meet local practitioners and establish lines of communication. The online offerings are expected to continue, though they are going to be accompanied with in-person sittings wherever Tahn might be - until a more stable location for the summer is found.


Expect to see more photos of the transition and journey and feel free to join the online offerings every Wednesday, Friday, and Lunar Observance - the best support is your practice!

Time, Space, and Unity - Tahn Pamutto April 12, 2021

Last night, joined by dhamma friends observing the Uposatha and taking the Eight Precepts, Tahn Pamutto offered a dhamma reflection on the vastness of our reality and how to unleash the mind through the development of Equanimity in two phases - Equanimity based on Diversity, and Equanimity based on Unity.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eryl82JEpIU

Vipada Sunday Session - Tahn Pamutto April 12, 2021

This Sunday's session with Vihara Parivara Dhamma featured a dhamma talk by Bhante Santi titled "Room for Improvement", followed by Q&A.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp18mKIrT-4

Sunday New Moon Uposatha - Tahn Pamutto April 9, 2021

This Sunday is the Uposatha of the New Moon.

8pm EST: Every Uposatha there will be an evening observance program. A meditation will begin for 45 minutes at 8 PM, followed by the opportunity to take the refuges and precepts, dhamma talk, and open informal meditation period until midnight.

Come for all or part! Please note the passcode below to enter the Zoom meeting.

https://zoom.us/j/6578079769

Meeting ID: 657 807 9769

Passcode: upavana

Sunday Morning Dhamma Session - Tahn Pamutto April 9, 2021

Sunday Morning Vipada Session

This Sunday, join the Indonesian Buddhist Family of NY for precepts, a dhamma talk by Ven. Santi, and Q & A with the monastics.

When: Sunday, April 9, 2021

9:45am - 11 am EST

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85881330269?pwd=VEdSK3o2Yi90Um1DOXp2S1dINWRjUT09

Meeting ID: 858 8133 0269

Passcode: parivara

You may also access this talk through our Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheResidentofDhamma/live

Precepts in the Real World - Tahn Pamutto April 4, 2021

The Noble Eightfold Path can sometimes be summed up with three branches - "Sila, Samadhi, and Pañña", or "Morality, Mental Composure, and Wisdom". The positioning of Sila at the beginning of the list is not by chance - as many learn when they first experiment with Buddhist practice and try to meditate, they get only as far as their conduct allows. If their Sila is off their mind will be a mess of regret, desire and aversion.


Samadhi, the personal experience of peace, is dependent on moral living. Pañña, the seeing of things as they really are, will never arise without Samadhi. It all begins with Sila, and as we survey those beings further down the path towards Nibbana it is Sila that stands out as the most obvious criteria to gauge another's progress.


The first and most important step in the development of Sila is the taking of the Five Precepts. They are framed as 'trainings', and this is how they are meant to be held: not as rules to be followed, but as guidelines for moral living meant to be explored. In taking them up we are challenging the notion that we cannot change and grow. We are taking responsibility for our actions. And we inevitably discover first-hand the true meaning of the word 'Refuge'. The lessons we learn through developing our Sila and letting go of unskillful habits will be our first real taste of Pañña, and the peace we get after overcoming a bad habit will be well earned.


The development and understanding of the five precepts was the focus of this Sunday's morning session with Vihara Parivara Dhamma Acala. You can find the recording on TheResidentofDhamma YouTube channel, at:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-YkyeqAV-I

Sunday Session - Tahn Pamutto April 4, 2021

This morning's Sunday session with the Indonesian Buddhist Family of NY will begin at 9:45am EDT.

The talk will be given by Bhante Pamutto on the topic "Precepts in the Real World" and feature time for Q & A with the monastics after.

To Join Zoom Meeting: (room opens 9:30 EDT)

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85881330269?pwd=VEdSK3o2Yi90Um1DOXp2S1dINWRjUT09

Meeting ID: 858 8133 0269

Passcode: parivara

You may also access this talk through our Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheResidentofDhamma/live