November’s Learning Resources
December Theme: Returning Home
LEARNING RESOURCES & ACTIVITIES ✨
Reflect and discuss: 🧐
- Looking back on 2022: How would you describe the last year? What are some things you can celebrate? What were some of your challenges or obstacle? What are you grateful for?
- As you look towards 2023: What are you looking forward to in the coming year? What would you like to start doing? What is one small step you can take toward a habit you would like to develop? What do you need to let go?
Watch & Listen: 🎧
- 3 questions to build resilience — and change the world (Ted.com)
- How to Change Your Habits | Katy Milkman (Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris, tenpercent.com)
- Compassion (Tonglen) Meditation for Easing Holiday Stress. Whether you’re looking for comfort after a difficult holiday gathering or preparing yourself for one, you may find this special Compassion practice with Lama Tsomo helpful. We can’t guarantee you a stress-free holiday season, but we can assure you that these 10 minutes will be 10 minutes well spent.
This month’s book recommendation: 📚
- The Church of 80% Sincerity by David Roche.*
From Lama Tsomo: “David was born with a swollen tangle of veins in various places on his face. They tried very hard to correct as much disfigurement as possible, as well as helping his mouth to be able to function, but their methods were rather barbaric, and in some ways disfigured it more. He went deeply into the Catholic religion, but found that he kept feeling guilt about not being perfect enough, and fearful of burning in hell as a result. Out of all of this suffering was born his “theology” of 80% sincerity. He doesn’t really mean it as a new religion, but he does hope that people can find their way to happiness by loving themselves with all their flaws. He’s done it and he’s happy, with a great sense of humor, and great compassion. With humor and thoughtfulness, he does a beautiful job of helping us to find our way there too.”
* Namchak Foundation and Lama Tsomo do not receive any monetary or other benefit from the purchase of this book.
Learning Circle Spotlight ☸️
This month we hear from Steve, one of our past Compassion in Action Fellows. Steve is a student at Portland State University.
Hi, I’m Steve and I am an intense guy committed to climbing all the way to the peak of consciousness through spiritual practices. It is a wasted effort if I climb only halfway up the mountain only to come back down again and miss the opportunity for higher dimensions of eternal heaven and boundless ecstasy.
I want to experience the fullness and the boundlessness of life. I am unwilling to have only a small slice of life’s fruit. Even though it takes waiting and intense practice, it’s better to have an unlimited supply of fruits, which is undefined without slices.
Thank you for sharing, Steve! If you would like to read more, you can find the full blog here. 💗
One Community Activities
💫 Opening, Community Commitments, Check-Ins (15-20 min)
- Invite a moment of silence and give rise to Bodhicitta.
- Read Community Commitments.
- Check-in question: What does returning home mean to you?
🎥 Watch Video of Justin's Talk on Seeing Clearly (30-40 min)
- Justin Kirkwood has been studying and practicing Buddhism for over twenty years and has been working as a Tibetan translator and interpreter for more than ten. He lived in India for eight years, studying and practicing with many great teachers and spent three of those years as a monk, studying Buddhist philosophy in a Tibetan monastic seminary. He now works at the Namchak Foundation as a translator of texts, as Namchak Khen Rinpoche’s interpreter, and as a meditation teacher.
- This video (1:36:59) includes Justin’s talk on seeing clearly in addition to questions from the community and a bonus Q&A session after the gathering was finished.
- The full video is 1 hour 26 min. We recommend that you watch this video over the course of two or three Learning Circles, so that you still have time to meditate together and discuss the concepts from Justin’s talk. Decide with your Learning Circle over how many Circles you would like to watch the video. Then divide up the time accordingly.
🗣️ Discussion (15 min)
- After watching 30-40 minutes of the video, discuss with your Learning Circle anything that stood out to you from the teaching. What are some questions, curiosities, insights or reflections you have about the teachings?
💜 Meditation and Reflection (15 minutes)
- You can practice this Three-Minute Shamata and Intro to Insight Meditation with your Learning Circle. For a longer session, we recommend that someone set their timer for 5-10 minutes after the guided meditation is done (depending on how much time you have left) and to continue with the instructions Lama Tsomo has given during the guided practice.
- After the session is finished, reflect with your Learning Circle members on how that meditation was for you. What happened? How do you feel afterwards? Do you have any insights, curiosities, or questions about the practice and ‘returning home?
🙏 Dedicate the merit (1 min)
may suffering be transformed into peace.
May the hearts of all beings be open,
and their wisdom radiate from within.
Learn to ground yourself in the present moment by gaining full awareness of the experience of being embodied or being connected to your own body. To do this, we start by paying attention to the sensation of breathing, subtle movements in the body, and other somatic experiences as techniques to help bring awareness to our emotional landscape and ease anxiety.
Our Human Nature
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that as human beings we are part of the natural world, intricately connected to all forms of life and to the planet itself.
Taking Action in the World
Expanding from our own communities to the world at large, we consider what matters most to us, the issues that we care about, and how we define ways to help ease the suffering of others and bring happiness. We examine three essential questions: “What do I care most about?” “Who do I care most about?” and “What am I going to do about it?
There is no going it alone. We live our lives with others, part of interconnected communities, known as “Sangha” in Tibetan Buddhist practice. We explore the ways we can cultivate awareness within ourselves and grow as we engage with those around us, ultimately living happier and more meaningful lives and contributing to the same for others.