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New Class – Refuge 101

This class examines what it means to “become” a Buddhist. Refuge formalizes your affiliation with the Buddha’s lineage, based on a commitment to safeguard ourselves and others by avoiding the causes of suffering. Refuge is synonymous with “taking a safe direction” because refuge vows rely on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for establishing certain boundaries with our body, speech and mind.

This class is designed for those considering taking refuge vows and precepts of a lay practitioner, and/or those who would like to revisit the meaning of the vows and precepts they have already taken. Registration for this class is required, and students should have some previous experience with Buddhist teachings. Required reading includes a collection of essays. 101 Buddhist View - Starts 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 2, (4 weeks). Taught by Dan Black

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News about retreats

There are several retreat opportunities in the Treasure Valley and beyond that are worth noting. It is worthwhile to do some research about what kind of schedule is planned, what sorts of practices are done and the background of the teacher. After reading the full explanations on the different groups’ websites, always feel free to call the contact person for more information or simply ask around at your Dharma center or BIBS class.

John Travis – April 11-16

The Sun Valley-area retreat will feature this teacher of mindfulness and insight. Details are at https://sites.google.com/site/mountainsriverssangha/home

Lama Zopa Rinpoche April 19

Serious tantric practitioners will want to know about this extremely rare and precious opportunity to take a Vajrasattva inititiation from Kjabye Zopa Rinpoche at Maitripa Institute on April 19 in Portland. http://www.maitripa.org/event_LZR_SPRING_2014.html

B. Allan Wallace: May 11-18

Several Boise-area Dharma practitioners will be going to Santa Barbara for a retreat with B. Alan Wallace, from May 11-18. Details can be found at http://www.sbinstitute.com/retreats?q=SBI_Retreats

Ven. Thubten Chodron Memorial Day Retreat

There are several retreats at Sravasti Abbey, in eastern Washington. The Memorial Day retreat is a favorite with several Boise practitioners.

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Strong Boise connection

I remember moving to Boise in 1999, when there were very few opportunities to hear Dharma teachings. There were two sitting groups but very few teachings offered. In the spring of 2000, Ven. Robina Courtin was invited by the Open Path Sangha and she taught to a surprisingly large gathering of about 175. Soon after, more teachers were invited and the general education level of Buddhist practitioners greatly improved, as they studied key texts, Buddhist philosophy, ritual and psychology. Several new Dharma centers opened their doors such as Treasure Valley Dharma Friends, the Dharmata Foundation, Shri Singha and others.

Some of those inspired practitioners moved away, and new folks have energized the community. It’s nice to reflect on our good fortune of the past, but it is better still to get authentic teachings and practice effective Dharma. All are invited to welcome Ven. Robina back to Boise this Saturday and Sunday in this new era of listening, contemplating and practicing the teachings.

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Regarding the supplemental booklet…

The requested donation per book is $8 to $15. Actual printing costs were $14.50 per piece. There will be other material from Venerable Robina’s Liberation Prison Project available.

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Venerable Robina Courtin to Teach March 8 & 9

Get Real, Get Clear:

A Modern Buddhist Finds the Path

robinaaPlease join the Boise Institute for Buddhist Studies in welcoming Venerable Robina Courtin for a special weekend of teachings, dialogue and clarity. 

The seminar will show how to direct your own spiritual trajectory. The Buddha’s tool kit includes unshakable compassion and revealing our luminous, naturally-present  Buddha nature. Robina shares her unique perspective from radical politics to a 30-year career as an ordained nun and Dharma teacher. She initiated prison programs worldwide and has helped thousands of inmates find meaninfgul activity training their minds.

Attending this course is appropriate for those on all levels of the Buddhist path. No registration required. Questions, contact Dan.

Schedule for both March 8 & 9

9:30 -10 Coffee, light  snacks
10 –12   Teachings
1:30 – 3:30 Teachings


3450 W. Hill Road, Boise (ICAN Hall on Hill Road)

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Reasons for practicing? Try gratitude

Some elements of Buddhism might sound ethereal or abstract. Other teachings are down to earth and practical. A modern practitioner establishes a steady diet of things that are interesting, wholesome and bring wellness for themselves and others. So it makes sense there are teachings we can use right now and others that take a few days, weeks or years to develop, mature and blossom.

The classes that introduce Buddhism for a complete beginner are perhaps the most difficult to teach. That’s because where the mind, ego and worldview are already set – there is little room to learn something new. An aspiring Buddhist needs to put some things aside for now. A spiritual wanderer doesn’t need to make a commitment.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said it is not necessary for a person who wishes a meaningful spiritual life to become a Buddhist. In fact, it is better for that person to look within his own culture. That said, it is every person’s right to explore other religions, especially if there was something lacking in their original faith system. Each person has a unique temperament and unique spiritual needs. If Buddhism provides the solace, logic, meaning and fulfillment, then by all means, they should practice the Dharma.

Finding books, tapes, classes or video of the Dharma teachings is one of the great benefits of being born in this age of vast communication. Likewise, a benefit to being in Boise at this time, is the ability to freely form a community of like-minded fellow practitioners, no matter what the tradition.

But easy access has the counter-effect of taking access for granted. To support one’s spiritual aspirations, the reflective side of one’s self, means making time for teachings, for retreat, for practice.

I can’t help wanting to encourage the practice of gratitude. This means taking stock of what we have available – our minds, our hearts, our loved ones, the leisure time we have available, the teachings, our Dharma friends. These are all qualities the Buddha spoke about. The practice of gratitude is where all other practices begin. Through it, we utilize the tools we have to create our own flourishing, our own genuine, authentic best selves.

I am in awe of Ven. Robina Courtin, who clearly teaches how to look within, take stock of one’s personal resources and expand our capabilities. Maybe we’ll practice together when she’s here March 8 & 9. I’ll post details very soon.
- Dan Black

(Sources: The Dalai Lama lectures on the importance of reflecting on the precious human rebirth at nearly every teaching. Likewise, the beginning chapters of the Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism in the Lam Rim genre of texts on the Gradual Path, and all the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism recall the same. The Buddha’s discourses on Mind and its Functions emphasize awareness itself as the liberating quality of the path. Clearly every being with a mind has the potential for extricating itself from the habit energy that creates causes for repeated suffering. Its catalyst is a meta-cognition of those habits – self reflection, and assessment or gratitude for the virtuous states.)

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