Three Thursdays, January, 23, 30, February 6, 7:30 – 9 pm
In the dining room
Let us slip out for a walk. The day reveals, perhaps, no special wonders of nature, no prodigies of beauty. But solitude is its own event … The best nature can do for us is to show us the simple truth, to show us ourselves, so that if we are ready we might see through the flashy wraps of concepts and conceits. –Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, Landscapes of Wonder
In the history of spiritual endeavor, those who are remembered are often those who were marginal in the great unfolding of events. Their fame comes later, though they have also been considered heretics. What many of them – the Buddha, desert saints, mystics, hermits, and solitudes – experienced was deep isolation and silence, chosen and unchosen, in the midst of the human world and of the natural world. It can be tempting to idealize their experience and possibly to imitate it, but it requires an unusual commitment, a form of faith that most of us are not able to pursue except in small doses.
Yet we can study and consider it, even engage in what it suggests. And deeply appreciate the promise of experiencing as more than tourists what the indifferent context of the natural world has to offer.
In the midst of that, there is the constant destruction of wilderness at the service of our desires, aversions, and wish for comforts – mining for minerals and ores that support the construction of buildings, cars, computers, airplanes, and so on; tree plantations, free trees, and bamboo, cut to build homes, musical instruments, furniture, and provide fuel, and so on; and the destructive aspects of agriculture, fishing, and animal husbandry.
The main text for the class is Landscapes of Wonder: Discovering Buddhist Dhamma in the World Around Us by Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano. The text offers a mostly non-politicized overview of Buddhist teaching in the context that the class will be studying. Other references and reading materials will also be offered.
Fees: $76; $68 current SFZC members; $45 limited income. Some partial scholarships available.
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