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Have you ever tried to maintain a meditation practice and struggled with it? Do you get blissful on the cushion, yet still act in negative ways in your life? Have you never tried meditation at all?
Sacred Earth Sangha is the Philadelphia-region branch of the Hollow Bones zen order. Hollow Bones, in the Rinzai lineage, was founded by Junpo Denis Kelly, Roshi in 1999 ("Roshi" means he is a Dharma heir, authorized to teach). Junpo brought forth the Mondo Zen training in 2009 as an antidote to common misunderstandings about meditation, and to give meditators experiential context and daily-life tools to maintain a meaningful and fruitful practice.
Mondo Zen is a facilitated dialog for experiencing and grounding in the clarity of pure awareness, and provides personalized tools to enlighten one's mental and emotional habits in daily life. One need not "become Buddhist" to benefit from from Mondo Zen. It is a practice that can be enjoyed by anyone from any spiritual tradition. Infinite, imperturbable Silence has no affiliation, so let us meet here.
Sacred Earth Sangha was named for two reasons: First, on the eve of his enlightenment, the historical Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, was challenged by Mara the Tempter. Mara claimed the seat of enlightenment rightfully belonged to him. Mara's spiritual accomplishments were greater than Siddhartha's, the demon said. Mara's grotesque soldiers cried out in unison, "I am his witness!" Mara confronted Siddhartha, "Who will speak for you?" Siddhartha reached out his right hand, touched the ground, and Earth itself declared, "I bear you witness!" Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha.
Secondly, the sangha (which means "community") was also named as a reflection of the #1 practice element in Hollow Bones: Sacred Stewardship. Spiritual talk and practice have little to stand on if they do not include caring for and healing this precious planet which allows us this human experience. We must face and transform today's environmental issues if there is to be hope for the human race. Doing so with fierce and compassionate clarity, cultivated by a strong zen practice, is one truly effective way.
Sacred Earth Sangha gatherings are held twice a month. One session is for chanting, silent meditation, qi gong and open dialog to support our practices. The other is for experiencing the Mondo Zen process. Occasional 1-day and 3-day retreats will be held as well. For more information on Hollow Bones and Mondo Zen, including the free PDF of the Mondo Zen Training Manual, visit www.mondozen.org.
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