Dharmachanics

Dharmachanics is a growing, peer-led, experimental, global online sangha.

We are a group of beings from a variety of traditions supporting each other in our practices. We meet online using a Zoom room or Google Hangouts for peer to peer groups, silent meditation sessions, book groups and discussions on relevant topics. We use both Google Plus and a forum to communicate and share with each other. All members are welcome to participate and encouraged to suggest and create more content and discussions.

Those interested in joining, email contact@dharmachanics.com

Logo by member John Simon

In January, we did our first 7-day silent online retreat with Leigh Brasington, on The Jhānas, Insight and Dependent Origination - which was amazing. We did a post-retreat survey to compile information for Leigh.

Over the past 2 years we have had book group discussions of these books:

Right Concentration -Leigh Brasington
The Craving Mind - Judson Brewer
The Untethered Soul - Michael Singer
The Science of Enlightenment - Shinzen Young
The Mind Illuminated - Culadasa, Immergut & Graves

Why Buddhism is True - Robert Wright

We have had live informal Q&A sessions with:

Shinzen Young

Judson Brewer

Leigh Brasington

Culadasa & Matthew Immergut

Christine Skarda

Twice Daily Silent Sitting sessions via Zoom

3 Peer-2-Peer Weekly groups

Meditation & Daily Life Journaling

Example Topic Discussions - weekly sessions

Transformative Media - current
Three Marks of Existence & Insight
Lucid Dreaming
What the heck are the Jhanas?
The Minds Eye: Aphantasia
Bedtime Dharma Stories
Drawing Your Own Path/Contemplative Drawing
Compassion based Cognitive Training
What Just Happened?
Practice Wrap-Up

We’ve also taken Coursera and Wisdom Publications courses together, and had our own weekly discussions of the course material.

Shamatha Course - B. Alan Wallace
Introduction to Dzogchen - B. Alan Wallace
Buddhism and Modern Psychology         - Robert Wright


Here’s a recap of our January 2018 activities as posted on our Google Plus feed, that gives a sense of our text presence, even though the heart of the community is in the video-conference face to face discussions.

This month, we had our virtual 7 day retreat with Leigh Brasington. As an experimental sangha, this kind of thing is right up our alley. Many thanks to Ron S who set it up, and all who participated for the benefits they derived for themselves, Leigh, our sangha and all sentient beings.

Jenny J gave us a steady flow of noteworthy Rupert Spira talks, for the Transformative Media sessions, and quotes, including this concise metaphor:

“The movie seems to comprise a multiplicity and diversity of objects and selves. But when we go close up to the movie and touch the stuff that it is made of, it is one single, indivisible, infinite whole. The screen. Experience seems to be a multiplicity and diversity of separate objects and selves.  But if we go up close to it and touch it or know the stuff that it is made of we find that it is one single, indivisible, infinite whole. Pure knowing. Infinite consciousness. God's infinite being. The common name for which is I.

All that is necessary is to explore one's experience, come to this understanding and live a life that is consistent with it.” - Rupert Spira

Jack F shared a perspective on the merits of sangha. The findings described in this article confirm why I feel so good in recent years being part of this community and contributing to sanghas in person and digitally worldwide. Even the recent empty nest situation wasn't too painful as a result. Compassion, generosity, altruism over grit and self-willpower. Sounds familiar? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/opinion/sunday/the-only-way-to-keep-your-resolutions.html

Francis L clued us in to another insight provoking podcast source:  Two interesting themes explored on the Invisibilia podcast last season. In Emotions, they explore a novel theory of emotions going against the common view that emotions are hard-wired and universal. The other explored theme is around Reality and the many worlds co-existing.

https://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/530718193/emotions
https://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/531902291/reality?showDate=2017-06-08

Linda W pulled together this selection of short talks that’s the basis of our upcoming Thursday night Transformative Media session on art and music.

Rupert Spira is also a an artist who works with ceramics. Here are some videos on the theme of making Art & Music as a way to the source. The first one - an exploration in Non-Duality for Painters - is a particularly interesting exercise.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30_eqE_5CuA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbFtZX8yFRs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4juZiL0cYVg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-4U_a_UA8g

… and Bob C passed along a moving cello piece,  which was a fitting prelude for the discussion that followed.

Following up on Rupert Spira's talks about art and music, here is a piece written by the late John Tavener for Yo Yo Ma.  It is for solo cello and orchestral cello section (here played by just three cellos) and it is titled "Wake up and Die" and I'd be surprised if anyone in Dharmachanics would find that a contradiction.  This can't be listened to casually, for the point is to get completely lost in the music.  By that I mean lost as if you had walked into a magical forest and though everything outside the forest no longer exists, or seems ever to have existed, you are completely awake to everything: a leaf that drops, a bird that flutters on a branch behind you.  Here's what the composer had to say about the piece:

"The Kingdom of God is for none but the thoroughly dead."  - Meister Eckart
"Die before you die." - Jalud-Dim Rumi

“It was while pondering these traditional dicta that I began to write the opening solo melody for the cello.  It is in fact a palindrome because waking and dying are like two sides of a piece of paper.  If you wake up spiritually, then you will die to all that is not of God.  In the middle section, which is also a palindrome, the orchestral cellos join in the paradoxical meditation, providing a platform, as it were, while the cello line takes on a much more melismatic and decorative character. In fact the whole work is a series of intellectual contradictions, realized by the simplest of musical metaphysics.  Dying life, life dying, waking up, in order to die.... the solo cello always represents the individual mind dying, and the individual mind waking up. Then, of a sudden, just before the end, the solo chant begins again, only to be cut off by a distant sentimental memory...   the memory of "the blues", reminding us of ordinary human emotion, and of our fallen state.  The very end suggests a waking up into a kind of peace (not soul slumber, since after death the soul becomes more intensely alive):  but we know nothing of that, so the music fades beyond our ears.”


Also looking forward, we’ll likely have our much anticipated hangout with Tom Sidebottom on Heidegger’s experiential model of the mind, on a Saturday, early afternoon, late this month or in early March. I’ll let everyone know as soon as the time is settled. - Ron S