Web of Connection Newsletter
September, 2019

Web of Connection is a non-profit organization aimed at integrating
the Dhamma,  deep ecology and restorative ways of living 
into our modern day experience. 
                                                                     painting (behind Buddha) by Anagarika Sucinno

In Mid-August, Ayya Dhammadhira joined twenty-five
 other Dharma teachers from the Front Range for a three day conference at the Rocky Mountain Eco-Dharma Retreat Center outside of Boulder Colorado. One of the topics that the group discussed was the relevance of the Dharma to the current ecological crisis. This discussion yielded many insights and will lead to further collaboration among the participants. 

While it is not uncommon for the Mahayana Buddhist tradition to address such matters,  the Theravada school has been historically reticent to speak on matters related to social and political issues. Following in the footsteps of the famous Thai monk Bhikkhu Buddhadasa,  Bhikkhu Bodhi and Bhikkhu Analayo are notable exceptions. These scholarly monks show that the teachings of early Buddhism have much light to shed on our current predicament. In the words of Bhikkhu Analayo, 

       "Viewing the ecological challenge in terms of the states of mind that
       are responsible for it can help to keep a focus on the main issues
       at hand and avoid generating personal animosity toward certain
       individuals in political and economic leadership positions. It also
       serves as a reminder that these states are common to human beings,
       which can aid in creating a sense of commonality and thereby
       engendering precisely the type of mental attitude needed to tackle
       the crisis."                          (His entire article can be found here)

In the article below, Ayya Dhammadhira shares her reflections on how mindfulness is incomplete without the clear comprehension of life in all its facets. 

Clearly Comprehending  

What does mindfulness look like when its not part of the egoic consumer culture as was described in last month's newsletter? Surely, there is some intrinsic value for this essential teaching to have have persisted for over 2,500 years. But how exactly can mindfulness manifest in a way that engages with modern day issues instead of merely coping with their stresses? Is there an approach that addresses the roots of suffering within systems as well as on an interpersonal level? It is my understanding that there is such an approach and that this is just the medicine that is needed in our ailing society.

The necessary companion to mindfulness is clear comprehension (Pali: sampajanna). In the commentaries, clear comprehension delineates four aspects that bring in a context of wise understanding and interconnectedness. Without clearly comprehending these four things, we might be practicing a form of mindfulness but not "right mindfulness" as laid out in the noble eightfold path.

The first aspect of clear comprehension is that of purpose. More than just knowing what I am doing in the present moment, it is knowing why I am doing it. Does my intention take into consideration the interconnected nature of all things? As the Buddha instructed his own young son Rahula, one should consider before, during and after speaking and acting whether such conduct would lead to one's own affliction, to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. In this way, mindfulness is not just about being in the present moment. It also acknowledges that our actions will make an impact on what is to come.

The second aspect of clear comprehension is called suitability. This means that I need to examine the means by which my purpose is being carried out. To use a mundane example, one does not use a hammer to tighten a screw. Similarly, if we intend to live a life of harmlessness, we need to examine the suitability of our everyday actions. Is it suitable to move through the world with a large carbon footprint when we know that the earth is literally burning? We may hold the ideal of non-harming (and defy the gross actions committed by others) while at the same time be throwing sticks into the fire by continuing a way of life that is complicit with systems that are extracting the Earth's limited resources. 

The third aspect of clear comprehension is acknowledging that the domain of mindfulness is wherever we are. Spiritual practice is not just on the cushion or during certain segmented times of our life. Ideally, it should pervade everything at all times. It's no small thing to escape from systems of exploitation. We all participate in them to some extent because alternatives are few and far between. How can I bring wise attention to what is happening right here in all the processes that I participate in: what I choose to purchase, eat and wear, who I work for, my need for entertainment, etc...? 

Finally, clear comprehension points us in the direction of non-delusion. This requires seeing when the mind is infected with greed, aversion and ignorance. It means admitting when clinging to our opinions prevents us from finding out a more complete picture. Due to the complexity of the systems that we find ourselves embedded in, we are often prevented from knowing the direct impact of our actions. This makes it all the more important to take an active role in increasing our awareness instead of ignoring facts for convenience sake. 

In sum, living a life of true mindfulness requires the companion of clearly comprehending our predicament, both internally and externally, individually and collectively. It's not a duality of "either-or", but the coming together of "both- and". Finding this balance can be challenging but it is possible. As we take care of  our deepest needs, we also take care of others. As we take care of others, we at the same time take care of ourselves.

                                                                              by Ayya Dhammadhira

The Web of Connection wishes to extend deep gratitude toward all who continue to support the community as it grows in breadth and depth. The generosity that "pays it forward" is what makes it possible for the priceless Dharma to be shared for the benefit of all beings. May your hearts be nourished by the kindness that you share. 


                    Web of Connection Welcomes You 

Saturday Meditation and Inquiry, from 4-6 pm weekly. All are welcome to attend these gatherings where we develop meditation skills, investigate Dharma themes and discover how they apply to our daily lives.

Dharma Contemplation, 6:30-8:00 pm, 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the monthThis is a contemplative practice that gives each participant the opportunity to be still, reflect and respond to a particular text within a supportive structure. Listening to the responses of other participants also helps to expand one's perspective and understanding. Each time we meet a different passage will be explored. All are welcome; no prior experience is necessary. For more information on the methodology of Dharma Contemplation, see this link.


Fridays in the Garden, 8:30-11:30 am,  Here's an opportunity to participate in our community garden for whatever amount of time you can offer. We will have activities for people of all ages and abilities (children are welcome too!) Working together mindfully we will plant, water, weed, harvest and touch the Earth with kindness. 

Deer Park Learning Center is located at 15 Columbia Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. The house and meditation hall are set back off of Columbia Road, just North of Pikes Peak and before you get to Buffalo Lodge. Turn onto the alleyway and then into the driveway on the left.

  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Web of Connection is a 501(c)(3) federal non-profit organization. All donations that you make are tax deductible.                       EIN#: 81-4552275 

As an alms mendicant living outside the support structure of a monastery, Ayya Dhammadhira relies on the ongoing support of individuals like you to continue her practice and service in community. Your monthly contributions are much appreciated. 

Your generosity is what makes it possible for our programs to continue to touch the lives of many people. As our community develops, we will be able to provide a more extensive example of a sustainable lifestyle that nourishes body, mind and spirit. Each one of us is an integral part of this WEB. Thank you for your support!

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Web of Connection · P.O. Box 6848 · Colorado Springs, CO 80934 · USA

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