Deepening our Practice: Life Lessons from the Sutras
Sun, October 28
- Sun, October 28 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, November 11 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, December 2 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, December 16 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, January 13 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, January 27 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, February 10 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
- Sun, February 24 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
– A Fall-Winter "Deepening Our Practice" Group for Experienced Practitioners –
The core of the Buddhist tradition concerns the well-lived life. How do we reduce our suffering and the suffering of those around us? And, how do we live our lives joyfully, mindfully, and compassionately? In this Deepening our Practice class we will explore these questions as we look deeply into two Buddhist sutras.
The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone, the Bhaddekaratta Sutta, is a discourse from the early teachings of the Buddha. Thich Nhat Hanh explains in his commentary that the sutra teaches “that we must struggle to get back our freedom, to be able to live the moments of our daily lives deeply. … ‘Living alone’ means living to have sovereignty over ourselves, to have the freedom that comes from not being dragged away by the past, not living in fear of the future, and not being pulled around by strong emotions caused by the circumstances of the present.”
The Diamond Sutra is an early Mahayana Sutra especially treasured in the Chan and Zen traditions. Searching for a way to describe the inexplicable “interbeingness” of all things, the sutra asks the practitioner to reconsider what he or she believes to be real. As Thich Nhat Hanh elucidates, the Sanskrit name of the sutra, Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita, reveals its aspiration:
Vajracchedika means “the diamond that cuts through afflictions, ignorance, delusion, or illusion.” … Prajñaparamita means “perfection of wisdom,” “transcendent understanding,” or “the understanding that brings us across the ocean of suffering to the other shore.” Studying and practicing this sutra can help us cut through ignorance and wrong views and transcend them, transporting ourselves to the shore of liberation.
In our consideration of these sutras, we will read Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation and commentaries from the collection Awakening of the Heart. Core readings will include selections from The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom by Red Pine, The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World by Mu Soeng, and other translations and commentaries.
The class will meet alternately in Takoma Park and in Columbia, from 1-3:30 pm on eight Sundays (Oct 28, Nov 11, Dec 2, Dec 16, Jan 13, Jan 27, Feb 10, and Feb 24).
Throughout the class we will be also exploring our own aspirations and the circumstances in daily life that most challenge us. Between sessions, participants will support each other in groups of 2-4 participants, meeting in person or virtually, at a time that is agreeable to the members of each group.
The class will be facilitated by Mitchell Ratner, Still Water’s Senior Teacher. To ensure that there is a shared understanding of mindfulness practice in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, we ask that participants have at least six months of experience with mindfulness meditation gained through regular participation at the Still Water MPC or at another practice center. The recommended mindfulness practice commitment is daily sitting and walking meditation, along with other practices that nourish mindful attention throughout the day.
If you have questions about whether your preparation is appropriate, or other questions about the study and practice groups, please email Still Water at Info@StillWaterMPC.org, or call 301 270-8353.
The Deepening Our Practice Groups are offered in accord with the spirit of Dana. Participants are encouraged to make a donation to the Still Water MPC that accords with the promptings of their heart and their personal circumstances. The tax-deductible contributions are used to support the community and its projects. All donations are appreciated. The suggested donation range for this four-month study and practice group is $160 to $320. Please feel free to contribute less or more depending on your circumstances.
A page from the Diamond Sutra, printed in the 9th year of Xiantong Era of the Tang Dynasty, i.e. 868 CE. Currently located in the British Library, London. According to the British Library, it is “the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book.”