Students of the Path Discord Turns 3, and hits a milestone

Over three years ago I helped found an online sangha with a few friends. Today we are an international sangha of men and women, both monastic and laity, who come together to practice, study the suttas, and support each other as “Students of the Path”.

Our premier event is a sutta reading and study that happens every Sunday at 6:30pm Eastern, called “Sutta Smunday”. Smunday because for some of our members who attend the event, it’s actually Monday for them, but Sunday for us still in the states. Over three years ago we started out with Majjhima Nikaya #1, and 5 people, Tomorrow tonight we are about to finish the Majjhima with #152, with 30+ people. We’ve come a long way.

The Channel tag line/summary is as follows :

“Students of the Path is a Buddhist discord server centering around the practical study and application of the Early Buddhist Texts (EBTs) as contained in the Pali Nikayas and Chinese Agamas. We host a number of events and conversations across all living Buddhist traditions so that we may better understand and practice the Buddhist Path together.”

We have live events throughout the week, as well as a variety of chat and dhamma resource channels, and an active community of practitioners to learn from and practice with. We do events over voice and text, including Uposatha talks and more.

In the early days we actually had 3-4 monastics online for these sessions, including Bhikkhuni friends from Australia, but alas as these things tend to go, people had to move on. If you are a monastic who studies and lives by the Early Buddhist Texts and would be interested in becoming active in this community, send me a message. The monastics on this channel do not simply give talks, but engage in dialogue and discussion about the suttas with the laity, Any monastic that joins would also need to understand they will be coming into an already established community with norms and rules that may not match what they are use to.

This channel was NEVER meant to be “my” channel, as these things tend to happen with monastics, I, and the lay community, would love for there to be numerous monastics, both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, on the channel with us to share in the dhamma.

If you are interested in checking us out, watch this short video, which, while old, covers the basics still pretty well, and join the link in the description of the video, or here : https://discord.gg/YBAzGcV

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

Request for Transport

This is a request post. As many know I am doing a fair bit of traveling these days ( 7 months out of 12 I have some travel to share dhamma somewhere), and I am blessed to have a small group of people who are usually able to drive me between Bhavana and Dulles/DC to connect with flights and buses. This time however our schedules could not match.

I have some upcoming flights in June and August that I could use help in transportation back and forth between Dulles and Bhavana. If anyone is willing to help with this transport, or be willing to drive myself or another monastic from Bhavana(Bhante Seela and I travel fairly often) in the future, it would be appreciated. Send me an email at bhikkhujayasara@gmail.com

Just a few housekeeping reminders for Maggasekha.org

First thing I wanted to mention is that when I first was able to get the website link maggasekha.com people had mentioned to me that it would be better if it were an org, and actually I agree with that so I was able to procure https://maggasekha.org/ as well.

My idea with maggasekha(student of the path) is to eventually perhaps make it into some kind of organization, whether official as a non profit, or unofficial, for the dissemination of Dhamma in the west, not to dissimilar to Bhante Yuttadhammo’s https://www.sirimangalo.org/.

Of course our online Sangha on Discord is also MaggaSekha/Students of the Path. We just celebrated our 3rd year and are more active then ever, coming close to finishing the Majjhima Nikaya from front to back in our Sunday Sutta Sessions.(learn more and join : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ouyuRStlwM)

I also just wanted to make a reminder to check the various sections at the top of the blog page for various audio links and articles.

https://maggasekha.org/articles/

contains all the major article series I’ve written in the past. I have many ideas in the pipeline for future articles that I hope to get to once I have more time and energy.

Audio Dhamma : Unity and Division

audio file – https://clyp.it/c/unitydivision

Audio Dhamma Talk : Unity or Division : Building Bridges or Demolishing Them?

 
This is going to be a rough post, and a bit outside the norm of what I usually do, as it delves into the outside world a bit(I already can’t believe im doing this), but still related to dhamma, and those who wish to practice it. This post, and the audio dhamma talk associated with it, is the summation of 2 years of observation and contemplation, but first a little history.
 
As many of you have heard me say before, I’ve always been a bit weird in many ways. One of which was that I always tended to end up being a neutral or middle party between two opposites. When my family would get into tiffs growing up, I’d always be the one to try and calm everyone down to interact rationally and discuss… my sisters nick named me “Switzerland”.
 
Many also know that I was heavily involved in politics and activism for most of my adult life. In fact I was even the chair for most of the southern part of my state in my party for a few years. Here again I am a bit weird, I was never either of the two major parties, I was neither a conservative, or a liberal, nor a progressive, nor have I ever voted for a candidate for either major party, but I always voted.
 
Over the years of my experience in politics it showed me that there is actually very little difference between the two major parties, and they often work together to suppress and control , more then being opposed. They are coke and pepsi, mcdonalds and burger king, supposed rivals who are always right next to each other…hmm ;).
 
I use to always watch the news, and no not my just a favorite news channel, but all of them, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, all heavily biased and focusing on only the parts of the story they want. I watched them all because I believed that they all had partial truths that could be combined into as close to the actual truth I’d get in any news event. Towards the end I was even including BBC and Aljezera for more views and biases to add to the mix.
 
This was when the era of the “pundits” arose, people who worked for the news but who’s only job was to point out how stupid and evil the other side was and to get you angry about what was going on.
 
I’ve seen more deeply then the average folk how politics works,I’ve hit the streets, I’ve sat in at state gubernatorial (governor) debates, and when the time in my life arrived that all aspects converged as one, my knowledge of history(its all happened before, tell me about a modern politician and I can tell you about an ancient roman one), politics, and the growth of my Buddhist practice, I was ready to let it all go, and I did. This was a few years before I even went to the monastery.
 
Fast forward to the Election of 2016. All of a sudden people lost their minds. I wrote a post about unity and how humans are, and it was met with so much strong aversion and derision.
 
We had a retreat not 3 days after the election, and many of the people looked shell shocked and had so many questions. It was out of compassion for them and the feeling that I needed to be able understand what was going on so I could speak with them and do what I could to help them cope, that I delved deep into the political culture of the day.
 
Suddenly so many people were ” racist, sexist, biggot, homophobes” and there were now apparently Nazis running rampant in the streets that needed to be punched. There were SJWs and Anti- Sjws, Intersectional Feminists and Mgtows. I did a deep dive into it all. When I researched something I always delved into both sides, same as when I use to watch the news.
 
This was unfortunate for me, because it brought back all of the views and opinions I had practiced letting goes of years before. All of a sudden I started watching more and more videos about “the culture war” and the politics of the day. I fell into the same trap of many these days, mentally getting involved in the back and forth, my views and opinions feeding off of it, pushing me to know more and worry about the state of the country.
 
These days thankfully I am ramping back down from this, trying to bring myself back to focusing on my practice and building Bhavana. I have slowly begun to bring myself back to renouncing these worldly tangles, as a monastic is supposed to, and it’s bringing back the peace of mind I had when I let go years back.
 
I know most people in the world feel they cannot afford to do that, so what I’ve tried to tell people these two years, is that if you have to be involved in all of this and act, do so not when you are full of emotions like anger, but when you are calm enough to mindfully think about the most skillful way to act that is beneficial to yourself and others, and not harmful to yourself and others.
 
also that It is important for people to be able to develop the skill of listening to people of a diversity of views and opinions. This does not mean you agree with them, but that you can accept people think differently. This is also a great thing for helping you lessen your attachment to views.
 
I’ve sat across from all kinds of people in this world, from people who molested their grand children, to the leaders of gangs, and I always had a policy of treating others like human beings, they were not the sum total of their actions, and no being is the sum total of their political party or a singular view. I always listened to what they had to say, not only because I had to, but because I wanted to. It’s all to easy for us to dehumanize people we don’t like or who have different views then us, or who have done actions we don’t want to identify as human, since it hits too close to home for us.
 
In the end I’ve figured out what my message would be in this time, or should I say Buddha’s message, and that message is Unity. I’m not going to go preach it from the roof tops, nor do I expect whatever I say will make much of any difference, but when people ask questions about anger and dealing with situations in modern life, My message is one of Metta, bringing people together and building bridges, to fight against the political parties and social media algorithms that seek to divide us and inflame our anger. Divide and Conquer is the tactic of the day. I want to speak only words that unite people, not divide.
 
The Buddha told us to demolish the bridge of our craving, of our views, not of the connection we have with all of our fellow beings, not out of hatred or fear or anger.
 
So hence this dhamma talk, “Unity or Division”. This was not really a prepared talk, but it was a topic I wanted to speak about and see what came out. Topics include:
 
– our natural tendency for in group/out group categorization (or us vs them) and how many religions preach bringing more people into our in group, into our circle of “us”.
 
– trying to view things from various perspectives
 
– that you have the choice to destroy bridges, or to build them. You can bridge wide divides if you choose to.
 
– and more.

Audio : Sutta Readings and Commentary on Kamma in the EBTs

 

I’m Sharing this recording because it is , to date, my most complete summation of Kamma as taught by the Buddha in the Early Buddhist Texts. We go over what are probably the two most important suttas on Kamma (Majjhima Nikaya # 135 & 136 the Shorter and Greater Analysis of Kamma). I read and provide commentary and context , including what the Buddha has said from various other suttas in the EBTs.

 

THe Buddha said it would be an imponderable thing to understand the full workings of kamma, so it is wise not to over simplify it, however If I were to give a paragraph as to the Buddha’s summation of Kamma it would be this:

 

“Your actions matter, in this life and in future lives. Your kamma fully determines how you are born into life. Once born, Kamma continues to play a role, however the Buddha expressly states that not everything that happens to you is due to kamma, there are many other factors, such as environmental, social etc, however even in these situations kamma is interwoven to a greater or lesser degree.. you cannot escape the consequences of your actions, but you can choose how to respond right now in the present moment, because in the present moment, you create your future.”

 

 

This is from our weekly sutta reading on our discord Sangha “Students of the Path” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ouyuRStlwM) come join our international sangha of practitioners, link in description.

Project to Bring the Nikayas to Audio Book for Free(Librivox.org)

I recently found out about https://librivox.org/ , a neat organization where volunteers record themselves reading the classic books in the public domain for people to download and listen to the audio books, all for free.
 
I noticed they even have some recordings of the Dhammapada, and recordings of other religious texts like the bible etc.
 
I thought it would be a neat project to start recording suttas to put up on this website for anyone across the world to download/listen to for free.
 
If any monastics or lay people who can read the suttas well enough for recording, would like to volunteer to do this, send me a PM.