Book/Discussion Group Begins July 23

The Heart is Noble

Monsoons and a new Buddhist class! What could be better in Tucson in the summer? 

rebel buddha

 

Please join us for “The Noble Rebel: Wisdom and Compassion in Action,” a 5-week discussion group based on two books: Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and The Heart Is Noble by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. This course is open to everyone, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, who seeks lovingkindness and social justice. Using a syllabus designed by senior teachers from Nalandabodhi international, we will consider how we can plant and nourish the seeds of compassion in ourselves, and then expand our open-heartedness to our local community and then to the global community.

The book/discussion group is free to attend, but books are required. You can purchase them—10% off—at Antigone. Bring a friend!

Thursdays, July 23–August 20, 2015
6pm–7:30pm
Led by members of Nalandabodhi Tucson Study Group
Hosted by Antigone Books, 411 N. 4th Ave, Tucson
For more info: NBTucson@gmail.com

“The Noble Rebel” Syllabus

Tucson, Arizona

Required texts 

The Heart Is Noble by the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Class meeting July 30, 2015:  “Contemplating the Journey”

Readings

The Heart Is Noble

Chapter 2: “A Meaningful Life: Anything Is Possible”

Chapter 10: “Spiritual Paths: Integrating Life and Spirituality”

Rebel Buddha  

Chapter 2:  “What You Should Know”

Questions for Contemplation and Discussion

  • How do you relate to the infinite ground of possibility your life is built on?
  • How can you build a meaningful life within whatever shifting circumstances you find yourself?
  • How do the concepts of “interdependence” and “emptiness” help us? Does shifting your view of your life to include these concepts change your perspective on your life?
  • What kind of balance would be useful when looking at the needs and desires of others side by side with our own needs?
  • How can knowing who we are help us to understand “inner goodness” and a different way of living in the world?
  • If real wisdom is when you find a real question, how can the search for our personal question lead to a new view of the world and our place in it?
  • Does the view that we are spiritual rather than religious fuel a different perspective on how we move through our lives?
  • How do we find the balance between the “rhythm of our lives” and the “rhythm of our jobs”?
  • Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche suggests that the Buddha is saying that “the solution to our doubts is not to adopt the blind faith of ‘true believers.’ . . . Instead it’s an unshakeable certainty, a complete trust in our own hard-won understanding about the nature of things.” What do you think about this? How are you working toward this “unshakeable certainty”?

Class meeting August 6, 2015:  “Moving from Discontentment to Freedom”

Readings

The Heart Is Noble

Chapter 5: “Consumerism and Greed: Contentment Is the Best Wealth”

Rebel Buddha  

Chapter 3:  “Getting to Know Your Mind”

Chapter 5:  “The Way to Go”

Questions for Contemplation and Discussion

  • Can you see how you are caught in gross and subtle ways by consumerism? How does this impact your identity and your quest for a meaningful life?
  • What can you do to curb your consumption of natural resources? Can you phrase it in terms of an aspiration?
  • Are you ever lulled or tricked into making purchases by advertising? What are the hooks for you? Do your purchases make you happy? Which ideas and approaches in The Heart Is Noble and Rebel Buddha might assist you to arm yourself against your tendency to “bite the hook”?
  • His Holiness tells us, “To the degree that greed controls us, we are basically living inside a cage created by our own selfishness. . . . In a similar way, our self-centeredness also locks us away in a sort of prison” (p. 64). Ponlop Rinpoche likewise tells us, “Layer by layer, we have constructed a solid reality that has become a burden, locked us into a small space, . . . locked [ourselves] inside the prison walls of our conceptual world” (p. 37). What concepts imprison you?
  • What suffering do you want to be free from?
  • Both His Holiness and Ponlop Rinpoche state that we are tricked by desire and our habits of mind. They have different suggestions for working with it. His Holiness talks about assessing want vs. need, and Ponlop Rinpoche suggests that we remind ourselves about our desire for individual freedom. How do you think these different approaches might be applied in your own life?

Class meeting August 13, 2015:  “Transforming the View: Anger to Kindness”

Readings

The Heart Is Noble

Chapter 3: “Healthy Relationships: Orienting Ourselves Toward Others”

Chapter 9: “Conflict Resolution: Anger Is the Problem”

Rebel Buddha  

Chapter 9:  “Beyond Self”

Chapter 10:  “The Altruistic Heart”

Questions for Contemplation and Discussion

  • What is the role of anger in your life? What makes anger a challenge for you?
  • How can you be a peacemaker in your world?
  • His Holiness states, “If you wish to avoid unhappiness, avoid its causes” (p. 129). What are the causes of unhappiness and anger in your life?
  • Ponlop Rinpoche talks about aggression, both in its subtle, covert form and in overt acts of violence, as “one of the most destructive mental states and our biggest problem now” (p. 94), and His Holiness speaks of anger as a poison or mental illness. How does your anger poison yourself and others? What have you lost because of your anger?
  • Ponlop Rinpoche talks about appreciating our own neurosis and being kind to ourselves before we take on difficult people (pp. 99, 105), and His Holiness suggests that “when we work to solve conflicts, . . . the best place to start is with ourselves” (p. 140). What do you think of this advice? Is this something you do or something you aspire to do? If you do it, how do you do it?
  • His Holiness states, “The more closed-minded or hardheaded someone seems, the more reason there is for us to be open-minded and gentle when interacting with them” (p. 131), and Ponlop Rinpoche suggests, “If you’re sincere in your desire to work with others, you should expect neurotic people and be willing to work with their confusion” (p. 100). We also need to work with our own desire for others to meet certain requirements if we are to help them (Rebel Buddha, p. 109). What preconditions do you have to extending compassion or care? What expectations do you have regarding some kind of return for helping others?
  • We often view compassion as soft and nice, but both authors talk about bringing discrimination and wisdom, sharpness and clarity to aid our compassion. How does this quality of sharpness and clarity change how you think about helping others or how you think about compassion in general? Can you think of a situation where being kind required sharpness or precision?
  • Ponlop Rinpoche asks: “How far are you willing to go?” with your compassion. What is your answer to that? How far are you willing to go?

Class meeting August 20, 2015:  “Turning Aspiration into Action”

Readings

The Heart Is Noble

Chapter 6:  “Social Action: Caring for All”

Chapter 7:  “Environmental Protection: Cultivating New Feelings for the Earth”

Chapter 11:  “Sustainable Compassion: Grounding Ourselves in Courage and Joy”

Rebel Buddha  

Chapter 11:  “What’s in Your Mouth”

Questions for Contemplation and Discussion

  • What are the things you value, both personally and globally? What is your definition of “success”? How do your values inform your vision of success?
  • His Holiness tells us, “Once we are committed to carrying true compassion into our life, we can embrace it in even the smallest act. . . . Our life can be translated into love” (pp. 164­165). He also states that love is not optional. Ponlop Rinpoche suggests, “The shift from aspiration to action takes place in our day-to-day activities. We start to reverse some of our egocentric habits and replace them with words and actions that benefit others” (p. 123). What stops you from living a life of love? How have you or how can you make small changes in your world?
  • What sort of world do you imagine as a utopia? How can you bring that into reality?
  • Ponlop Rinpoche suggests that “at some point, we really need to leap from our comfortable spot and go beyond imagining this road to freedom to actually traveling it” (p. 136). His Holiness tells us, “It is not sufficient for your compassion to remain within you, as an attitude of inner practice. You must express it through your speech and through your physical actions. Every single step can become a manifestation of your compassion” (p. 165). And he makes several suggestions about how to do that. What stops you from leaving your cozy spot and leaping? How does our desire for results or appreciation hamper our efforts?
  • His Holiness tells us, “We need to be careful not to confuse economic success with personal happiness. Just because we have a market economy does not mean that we need to have a market society” (p. 76). How do you manifest that in your own life?
  • Both authors discuss some of the misunderstandings about compassion (we don’t believe we already have it, we focus on suffering not on the being who is suffering, we think compassion is easy, we confuse it with pity or attachment or virtue, we stay at the level of our heads not our hearts, etc.). How can we work with these misunderstandings to enhance our personal capacity for compassion?
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