Jack Kornfield QuoteA Path With Heart by Jack KornfieldThe Happiness Study Group will start discussing our new book, A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield on Tuesday, July 11th as we continue our exploration of vipassana meditation.  The subject is predominantly the same as our last book, but the approach this time is decidedly western.

Jack Kornfield bio from his website:  “Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India and Burma. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. After graduating from Dartmouth College in Asian Studies in 1967 he joined the Peace Corps and worked on tropical medicine teams in the Mekong River valley. He met and studied as a monk under the Buddhist master Ven. Ajahn Chah, as well as the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. Returning to the United States, Jack co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with fellow meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein and the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. Over the years, Jack has taught in centers and universities worldwide, led International Buddhist Teacher meetings, and worked with many of the great teachers of our time. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a father, husband and activist.”

Anyone is welcome to join the study group and no prior readings are required.  We read, study, discuss and meditate and simply ask that you try your best to keep up with the reading, usually only one chapter each week.

The book is available at Amazon in all formats.

Please check the Happiness Study Group  Facebook page for updates and information about our weekly meetings.


June Not Church

The last regular-season Not Church  – We officially welcomed the newest member of the community…Athena Isabella, just weeks old.  Bernie Zimney at 100 + a couple months was also present along with Athena’s mom, Ruthie and Ruthie’s mum visiting from the UK.  Choir-oke was in fine form and even threw back a few shots of tequila…We certainly are NOT church.

July will find us in summer mode and everything is changing.  The first Not Church gathering of summer will be in the same place–Poco Cielo, but it will be on THURSDAY, July 13th and at 5pm.  The theme for July will be Summertime: The Brighter Side of Life.

Salvation in May

Of course we missed Erin, but May’s gathering was of the most powerful Not Church Sundays in a while with personal, moving stories from Steve Wayles and John DiCecco, a beautiful reading by G. Ian Huntington of Mary Oliver’s “The Journey,” and Choir-oke’s “Lusty Month of May.”  Ron touched some hearts with his meditation, but he was most enthralled with the new, lovely Athena Isabelle.

The Journey – Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Liberation – April 2017

Not Church - La Misión, Baja California, MexicoThanks to everyone who participated for another wonderful Not Church gathering.
Choir-oke gets better every month…it’s amazing what can be accomplished with a little practice and some margaritas.

Not Church - La Misión, Baja California, MexicoGratitude for the present moment and letting go help unlock the doors to liberation as we were reminded in Martina’s story..

Liberation is not a destination
by Bodhi Martina

For many reasons, I left the church at 14. I loved Jesus, but this God they talked about who was vindictive and judgmental and liked to smite people….was pretty frightening. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when I was told that it was God’s will that my mother, suffered a 10 year battle with cancer and died at 43, leaving 3 children. I wondered, “What kind of God was that?!”

But it was this – that began my spiritual search. 20 years later and books, therapy and teachers. I was still searching this illusive understanding of the truth. I wanted to be happy. Why couldn’t I make that happen? I love to write, so I wrote a book, Call From the Heart, that told of my spiritual travels. I took the manuscript to the Shaman whom I had been following. She gave me a ceremony to do in order to birth the book. I had chosen not to bring children into this world, until I was sure I could make them happy. This wise woman said the book was my baby. Following her instructions, I journeyed to southern Baja and camped on the beach at the edge of the exquisite Gulf of California – a cathedral of nature – was for me the true church. I climbed a little mountain to its top.

When I was finished, I did not feel relieved. I felt frustrated and angry. I still did not understand, what I was after? Why couldn’t I rest? I was still in a state of deep yearning for something I could not name. I looked into the vast blue Baja Sky and crying out to the invisible guiding ones, I begged. “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? I HAVE TO KNOW NOW!” It sounded more like a wail, than a prayer.

Suddenly, it was like being thrust into that blue sky above…a clarity overcame this very small Martina. This “me” I thought myself to be disappeared into the vastness. There was nothing! Yet it was everything! IT was VASTNESS no words or names could touch. It was so sudden, I was filled with wonder and awe.

I began to laugh. The pure joy of laughing consumed me and I could not stop. I knew everything and it was nothing at all. I came down the mountain in a state of euphoria for days in the beauty of land, sea and sky. The great birds spoke to me of freedom. Yet, ever so slowly, the egoic mind began to nibble away at the experience, until I found myself “me” again. A “me” with a name, a story, a past and a hopeful future. I was truly saddened, “I” thought I’d lost “IT”…but you can’t lose what is not an object.

Since this mountaintop experience, there have been many more such gifts of awareness, as well as painful challenges, rising up to test the truth. But they are an experience and as we are learning, these experiences are subject to change. Experience is impertinent, joy comes and goes, pain comes and goes, LIFE comes and goes and so does the experience of Liberation. For most of us, Liberation is never complete, it is always unfolding like the lotus. Moment to moment Liberation. You can’t speak of liberation, because as soon as you put it into words, it is only a story of an experience in the past. We can only hope that the story points out the direction. Each moment is an awakening experience. Mental thoughts and words cannot touch the Vastness of being. What we seek, is Here and Now, so simple it is overlooked. SIMPLE? Yes, but not easy. Our minds don’t see simple. The mind looks for something really hard to do. That is its job. In order to attain, we have to work hard. The ego does not want to lose its job, so it sends us on a search outside of ourselves – as we have been taught to do.

We have entered a new millennium and this gift of the Universal Life Force, that some call God, is so very present, right Now, HERE in this room, in each beating heart. Liberation happens when the yearning for something other than what we have, STOPS. The search is over, when finally we have absolutely no doubt in the VASTNESS that has NO name.

Not Church - La Misión, Baja California, MexicoNot Church - La Misión, Baja California, Mexico

Come join us May 7 at Poco Cielo for the next Not Church gathering.

Wisdom – March 2017

Photos from our March gathering on the topic of Wisdom, completing three sections on the Serenity Prayer. Choir-oke was back and now they’re even practicing!

Join us next month, April 2nd 10AM at Poco Cielo.  The theme will be Liberation.

Choir-oke March 2017

Sandy March 2017 John March 2017 Marti March 2017 Ron March 2017