Schedule & Info resuming June 15, 2016

This is the entire holy-life, Ananda, that is, good friendship, good companionship, good comradeship.   the Buddha, Connected Discourses 1.3.18

Insight Meditation

Meditate, don’t be negligent, lest you may later regret it!

Insight Meditation is a non-sectarian method to train one's mind/heart towards peace and happiness. It can also be the cornerstone for a transformative meditative spiritual path. Each of us will choose how much or how little we want to give or take from our spiritual lives. With Insight Meditation we train ourselves to directly observe all experience without reaction, without judgement, without concept. A mind/heart without reaction allows us to rest into what is happening right now. A non-reactive mind is at peace, our deepest happiness.                                           Allan Cooper

All are welcome

Beginners and experienced students are welcome. Personal instruction and private conversations with Kalyanamitta (spiritual friend) Steve Katona are available by arrangement.

Steve has a practice history since 1989 beginning with Rinzai Zen under Seiju Bob Mammoser and Kayozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi. After that and for six years he practiced Vipassana meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka and Mother Sayamagyi in the tradition of U Ba Khin. This included several ten day retreats and shorter intensives.

For the last five years he has studied Theravada Buddhism and practiced Mahasi Vipassana with Allan Cooper, Sayadaw U Vivekananda, Sayalay Daw Bhaddamanika, Sayadawgi U Pandita, Sayadaw Pannathami, Sayadaw U Thuzana and others. His practice history includes a three month and a four month silent retreat in Nepal at Panditarama Lumbini and numerous twenty-one to thirty day silent retreats.

Here is a link to an elaboration about the word ‘uposatha.’ It seems interesting but is definitely in the nice to know, not need to know category.

Uposatha Vihara

The location of Uposatha Vihara [UV] (Pali for Buddhist Day of Observance Lay Monastery) is 205 Natalie Ave NW Albuquerque NM 87107   Email to UV should be addressed to          For more information  call 505 604 6828                                       

The current schedule at the UV is posted below. Changes in the schedule for holidays or other reasons will be posted clearly on this site. Please check or call before your planned attendance.

It will be appreciated if your arrival is at least five minutes before sitting begins. The entrance is on the driveway side of the house and not the front door facing the street.

Chanting beginning the morning sits consists of homage to the Buddha, taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and the five lay precepts. This takes less than two minutes and is in English. Yogis may chant or not.

The evening schedule is one sit of 55 minutes. Following that will be a brief (less than 10 minutes) period of metta chanting in English. Look at the page of chants for content.

Metta (with boundless friendliness)


Practice on your own is encouraged. AVS from 6:30 pm until 8 including meditation and frequent Dhamma talks


AVS 6:30 am chanting and sitting until 7:30 am

UV 5:30 pm sitting until 6:25 pm followed by metta chanting 


AVS 6:30 am chanting and sitting until 7:30 am

UV 5:30 pm sitting until 6:25 pm followed by a five minute break and then metta chanting 


AVS 6:30 am chanting and sitting until 7:30 am

UV 5:30 pm sitting until 6:30 pm


AVS 6:30 am chanting and sitting until 7:30 am; no evening service at UV in lieu of Dharma talk and sitting at the Albuquerque Vipassana Sangha. They often have guest teachers and interviews available. You can check here:


AVS 6:30 am chanting and sitting until 7:30 am; no evening sitting 


Encouragement for home practice ad lib


The Balanced Way

by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Like a bird in flight borne by its two wings, the practice of Dhamma is sustained by two contrasting qualities whose balanced development is essential to straight and steady progress. These two qualities are renunciation and compassion. As a doctrine of renunciation the Dhamma points out that the path to liberation is a personal course of training that centers on the gradual control and mastery of desire, the root cause of suffering. As a teaching of compassion the Dhamma bids us to avoid harming others, to act for their welfare, and to help realize the Buddha’s own great resolve to offer the world the way to the Deathless.

Considered in isolation, renunciation and compassion have inverse logics that at times seem to point us in opposite directions. The one steers us to greater solitude aimed at personal purification, the other to increased involvement with others issuing in beneficent action. Yet, despite their differences, renunciation and compassion nurture each other in dynamic interplay throughout the practice of the path, from its elementary steps of moral discipline to its culmination in liberating wisdom. The synthesis of the two, their balanced fusion, is expressed most perfectly in the figure of the Fully Enlightened One, who is at once the embodiment of complete renunciation and of all-embracing compassion.

Both renunciation and compassion share a common root in the encounter with suffering. The one represents our response to suffering confronted in our own individual experience, the other our response to suffering witnessed in the lives of others. Our spontaneous reactions, however, are only the seeds of these higher qualities, not their substance. To acquire the capacity to sustain our practice of Dhamma, renunciation and compassion must be methodically cultivated, and this requires an ongoing process of reflection which transmutes our initial stirrings into full-fledged spiritual virtues.

The framework within which this reflection is to be exercised is the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, which thus provides the common doctrinal matrix for both renunciation and compassion. Renunciation develops out of our innate urge to avoid suffering and pain. But whereas this urge, prior to reflection, leads to an anxious withdrawal from particular situations perceived as personally threatening, reflection reveals the basic danger to lie in our existential situation itself — in being bound by ignorance and craving to a world which is inherently fearsome, deceptive and unreliable. Thence the governing motive behind the act of renunciation is the longing for spiritual freedom, coupled with the recognition that self-purification is an inward task most easily accomplished when we distance ourselves from the outer circumstances that nourish our unwholesome tendencies.

Compassion develops out of our spontaneous feelings of sympathy with others. However, as a spiritual virtue compassion cannot be equated with a sentimental effusion of emotion, nor does it necessarily imply a dictum to lose oneself in altruistic activity. Though compassion surely includes emotional empathy and often does express itself in action, it comes to full maturity only when guided by wisdom and tempered by detachment. Wisdom enables us to see beyond the adventitious misfortunes with which living beings may be temporarily afflicted to the deep and hidden dimensions of suffering inseparable from conditioned existence. As a profound and comprehensive understanding of the Four Noble Truths, wisdom discloses to us the wide range, diverse gradations, and subtle roots of the suffering to which our fellow beings are enmeshed, as well as the means to lead them to irreversible release from suffering. Thence the directives of spontaneous sympathy and mature compassion are often contradictory, and only the latter are fully trustworthy as guides to beneficent action effective in the highest degree. Though often the judicious exercise of compassion will require us to act or speak up, sometimes it may well enjoin us to retreat into silence and solitude as the course most conducive to the long-range good of others as well as of ourselves.

In our attempt to follow the Dhamma, one or the other of these twin cardinal virtues will have to be given prominence, depending on our temperament and circumstances. However, for monk and householder alike, success in developing the path requires that both receive due attention and that deficiencies in either gradually be remedied. Over time we will find that the two, though tending in different directions, eventually are mutually reinforcing. Compassion impels us toward greater renunciation, as we see how our own greed and attachment make us a danger to others. And renunciation impels us toward greater compassion, since the relinquishing of craving enables us to exchange the narrow perspectives of the ego for the wider perspectives of a mind of boundless sympathy. Held together in this mutually strengthening tension, renunciation and compassion contribute to the wholesome balance of the Buddhist path and to the completeness of its final fruit.

©1987 Buddhist Publication Society. You may copy, reformat, reprint, republish, and redistribute this work in any medium whatsoever, provided that: (1) you only make such copies, etc. available free of charge and, in the case of reprinting, only in quantities of no more than 50 copies; (2) you clearly indicate that any derivatives of this work (including translations) are derived from this source document; and (3) you include the full text of this license in any copies or derivatives of this work. Otherwise, all rights reserved. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. BPS Newsletter cover essay no. 8 (Winter 1987). Last revised for Access to Insight on 5 June 2010.

Get Started Today

Rapid technological advances. Increased wealth. Stress. Stable lives and careers come under the pressure of accelerating change. The twenty-first century? No, the sixth century B.C.E.—a time of destructive warfare, economic dislocation, and widespread disruption of established patterns of life, just like today. In conditions similar to ours, the Buddha discovered a path to lasting happiness. His discovery—a step-by-step method of mental training to achieve contentment—is as relevant today as ever.

Putting the Buddha’s discovery into practice is no quick fix. It can take years. The most important qualification at the beginning is a strong desire to change your life by adopting new habits and learning to see the world anew.

Each step along the Buddha’s path to happiness requires practicing mindfulness until it becomes part of your daily life. Mindfulness is a way of training yourself to become aware of things as they really are. With mindfulness as your watchword, you progress through the eight steps laid down by the Buddha more than twenty-five hundred years ago—a gentle, gradual training in how to end dissatisfaction.

Who should undertake this training? Anyone who is tired of being unhappy. “My life is good as it is,” you may think; “I’m happy enough.” There are moments of contentment in any life, moments of pleasure and joy. But what about the other side, the part that you’d rather not think about when things are going well? Tragedy, grief, disappointment, physical pain, melancholy, loneliness, resentment, the nagging feeling that there could be something better. These happen too, don’t they? Our fragile happiness depends on things happening a certain way. But there is something else: a happiness not dependent on conditions. The Buddha taught the way to find this perfect happiness.

If you are willing to do whatever it takes to find your way out of suffering—and it means confronting the roots of resistance and craving right here, right now—you can reach complete success. Even if you are a casual reader, you can benefit from these teachings, so long as you are willing to use those that make sense to you. If you know something to be true, don’t ignore it. Act on it!

That may sound easy, but nothing is more difficult. When you admit to yourself, “I must make this change to be more happy”—not because the Buddha said so, but because your heart recognized a deep truth—you must devote all your energy to making the change. You need strong determination to overcome harmful habits.

But the payoff is happiness—not just for today but for always.

Let’s get started.

From Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha’s Path, © 2001 by Henepola Gunaratana.

A Recurring Problem – Solved

A year or so ago, while on silent retreat in Lumbini, Nepal, one of the teachers gently commented that my interview reports were dominated with sentences containing me, my, mine, I. She was right. After that interview, I went to great lengths while giving my reports to use such syntactical constructions as ‘this yogi,’ ‘that yogi,’ and so on. If you try this you will quickly see this is awkward and unnatural. The retreat was over before I could figure out how to get advice to deal with the problem.

Because this yogi tends to obsessive compulsive tendencies there can be difficulty making simple statements and asking simple questions. The reader can probably see what this writer means.

Frequently, I have made myself tired ad nauseum trying to avoid using the pronouns ‘I’, ‘You’, ‘They’, etc. Surprise! The Buddha addressed this issue in The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, ( Samyutta Nikaya) 1 25(5), (ppgs 61-64), page 102 The Buddha speaks:

“If a bhikkhu is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say, ‘I speak’?
And would he still say, ‘They speak to me’?”

“If a bhikkhu is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
He might still say, ‘I speak,’
And he might say, ‘They speak to me.’
Skilful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.”

“When a Bhikkhu is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Is it because he has come upon conceit
That he would say, ‘I speak,’
That he would say, ‘They speak to me’?”

“No knots exist for one with conceit abandoned;
for him all knots of conceit are consumed.
Though the wise one has transcended the conceived,
He still might say, ‘I speak,’
He might say too, ‘They speak to me.’
Skillful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.”

–SN 25(5), translation by Bhikkhu Bodhi (see above reference)

Finally, canonical justification for relaxed, everyday speech forms. I found this treasure as a result of wandering through the website:

Highly recommended. This also brings up Mr. Wasam Willbe whom we need to get acquainted with if your reading of Joseph Goldstein hasn’t already done so. But that’s for another time…metta

Quick look at Panditarama Lumbini, Nepal

This link is to the Facebook site of the monastery in Lumbini where I spent 3 months in 2013 and 4 months Nov. 2014-Mar. 2015 on silent retreat. It’s a good thing we’re not together while you look at the many great pictures of daily life there as I believe I could talk non-stop for at least an hour while looking at them with you. And we weren’t supposed to be looking at anything but the ground at our feet or the backs of our closed eyelids. Oops, busted!

Upasaka-Sk’s Blog-Help is here:

Inspire yourself to overcome challenges and strive for your highest potential. Shaila Catherine, 2011, p.57

Recently a fellow meditator mentioned that she had been meditating for twenty years and was disappointed with the results. “When is something going to happen?” she asked. I believe there are a lot of us that share this feeling just with different details.

Practice is not easy. There is no simple solution to ‘getting something to happen.’ Actually, practice is difficult and what is easy is to keep doing what we’ve been doing and getting what we’ve been getting. That shouldn’t be a surprise. But if what we’re getting is not satisfactory, on some level, it might be time to step back and take a look before another twenty years passes or we run out of opportunity.

The most valuable time you could spend on your practice, at some point, might be an evaluation of what you’re actually doing when you sit. And when you’re not sitting. Does the thought of this kind of an evaluation make you uncomfortable? Why is that? Where do you feel what you’re feeling when you take a critical look at what you’re doing that you call practice? Firstly, if you look for it, the feeling will be in the body, the most accessible, the least susceptible to misinterpretation, the first skhanda (khanda Pali). Is it pleasant (desire)? Is it unpleasant (discomfort)? Is the feeling neutral? These three feelings are inherent and present in every object that arises in consciousness. These are not emotions–another topic. These are feelings of like, dislike, neither like nor dislike. 

Shaila Catherine’s quote may point us to issues of challenges and potentials directly. But perhaps the particulars of overcoming and striving are our tasks. If we don’t define our challenges how can we make a plan to overcome them?

Does striving mean doing more of what we’ve been doing but with more energy and more frequency?

It may be useful to answer these questions in order to clearly know the obstacles and where and how to apply the energy for most skillfulness.

Another meditator told me that he liked not having a detailed process to engage with when his butt and cushion came together. He continued, then what happens during sitting practice is a surprise, a new discovery. This keeps his interest high, he said. Might his interest then be ‘what is there to discover’ instead of what is this.

Meditation is, in many ways, like any other task with a goal. There is no magic here. There is no woo-woo. There should be no hesitancy defining goals, recognizing recurring problems, naming challenges, figuring out how to more skillfully apply time and energy to the process. It is a process and like everything else, it changes. Should we continue without ever evaluating that process and its results? What are the challenges? How can we overcome the challenges? What can be done to  strive more effectively?


Composing Your Intentions

This is an example…but please compose one that is meaningful to you

Today I have a fortunate opportunity, not easily come by, supported by the sacrifice, trust, and generosity of many benefactors. Let me not waste this precious chance to free the mind from habitual obstructions, to unclog the conditioned tendencies of judging, selfing, craving, and distraction.

May my practice this day be energetic and bright, earnest, steadfast in the face of any difficulty, concentrated, focused, unwavering.

Happily, I apply myself with vigor, until the mind is utterly freed. Beyond the range of grasping, having willingly done what needs to be done.


You can diligently nurture your practice, but maturation occurs due to the ripening of conditions, not from how fervent your wishes are.

From Focused and Fearless, p. 77, 79 by Shaila Catherine

Upasaka-sk’s Blog-Meal Blessing

1/15/16 Meal Blessing


After sitting this morning, I went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast and was slightly dissatisfied contemplating the granola, almond milk, and fruit that I eat most days. Looking in the fridge I found cooked soy beans, leftover brown rice, and the broth from a pot of black beans and bell peppers that I finally finished last night. Putting them all together, I used an immersion blender to make a thick gruel, microwaved that for a couple of minutes and with a squirt or two of Sriracha Hot Chile Sauce, breakfast was ready.

Then I sat down, folded my hands in the universal mudra of supplication and recited a traditional meal blessing.

With the intention that the light of Dhamma be spread all over the world.

May the light of Dhamma brighten this world.

With the appearance of light may the darkness disappear.

With the eradication of the defilements (greed, hatred, and delusion), may the light of the path brighten.

May the light of Nibbana be attained immediately.

May the light of Dhamma be spread all over the world. 

I take this food not to beautify the body nor for sensual pleasure but to enable me to practice Buddha Sasana, so that existing disease may be cured and new disease not arise and so that I may be comfortable in the four bodily positions.

I vow to eat this food with appropriate mindfulness and gratitude.

Following this recitation, I ate as mindfully as I am able, being caught by or just noting random thoughts as they arose and passed away between the awareness of the flavors, the textures, the temperature, the spoon moving from bowl to mouth, the spoon’s shape and hardness, putting the spoon down between each bite and knowing the chewing.

Saying meal blessings before eating and not reading the paper, surfing you know what, or watching TV, is something I aspire to incorporate into my daily practice. Success seems related to how tired I am at mealtime.


There’s a story of a Zen Master—maybe Katagiri Roshi—who was sitting at a kitchen table reading a book and eating. A student walked by and stopped saying, “Roshi, you always tell us to only do one thing at a time and here you are eating and reading at the same time.”

Without looking up Roshi replied, “When you are reading and eating at the same time only read and eat,” and went back to his meal. And his reading.

What does this story mean? What it means is what it means to you. It will mean something different after the next five hundred hours of sitting. There are no shortcuts. But every hour on the path is an hour not off the path.

Accumulate moments of mindfulness whenever you can.


The gruel was delicious and just what was needed to replace the granola. Interestingly, while on a four month retreat in Lumbini, Nepal in 2015 the breakfast, to my recollection, was absolutely the same every day. Under those circumstances—noble silence, twelve or more hours a day of meditation, chanting and Dhamma talks six nights a week—the same breakfast didn’t get old. I think the sixth precept—no food after noon—was a contributing factor.

After that retreat, as I was telling someone about the repetitive menu, a friend who had been on the same retreat remarked that I was not correct. There were variations in the breakfast, he said. “When there was no electricity we didn’t get toast, just bread (baked daily at the monastery and really good). And some days we had chunky peanut butter and some days we had smooth.”

He was right. How easy it is to forget the small things that enrich the moments of this life. How easy and transparent it is to rewrite the past and believe that it’s true. When we didn’t have toast it was a treat. When we had toast it was a treat. But chunky is always better than smooth.


links that might be of interest:
The defilements
Eight Precepts
Buddha Sasana

Working with Difficult Thoughts

For this exercise, intentionally bring to mind a thought that will trigger some emotion. It may be a memory that sparks annoyance, anger, or sadness. It might be an expectation that causes envy, fear, or shame.

As you give rise to the difficult thoughts, be conscious that they form stories in your mind, but feel the impact of these emotionally charged thoughts in the body.

Is there tightness in your chest, shoulders, and face? Are there sensations in the belly or the limbs.

Notice how those physical sensations manifest and evolve.

Notice how the emotional quality shifts, perhaps from anger to fear, pity, sadness, shame, worry, love, melancholy, or desire.

Emotions are dynamic processes that are in a state of flux. If you don’t refuel them through obsessive thinking, they will change and fade.

We learn to be present to the full range of emotions by feeling their changing energetic expressions in the mind and body.

For example, anger might bring heated, agitated explosive feelings radiating from the chest; sadness might carry a sinking vulnerable quality in the belly; fear might create an unstable quivering sensation in the knees or throat. Attending to the physical manifestations of emotions keeps attention focused on the process long enough for you to learn directly about how these difficult states impact your mind.

When the mind is obsessed by a difficult emotion, it may construct repetitive stories about who did what and why. Caught in the storyline, you might dwell on painful narratives and not discover how to fee the mind from painful thoughts. Let go of the story and investigate the emotion directly. When you allow feelings to evolve through their natural changes, the emotional landscape clears, like cloud s passing on a stormy or windy day.

Quoted from Shaila Catherine, Focused and Fearless (Somerville Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications 2008) page 66

Kammatthana Sala

‘I realized that the profound Truth I discovered is difficult to perceive, and difficult to understand. It is calming and sublime. It is not to be gained by mere reasoning and is visible only to the wise. The world, however, is bent on pleasure, delighted and enchanted by pleasure. Such beings will hardly understand the Sacca Dhamma. Yet there are still those whose eyes are only a little covered with dust. They will understand the Truth. Here, bhikkhus, are trees. Here are empty abodes. Meditate bhikkhus! Don’t be negligent lest you feel regret later. This is our directive to you! ‘(A.N the 7s)

Here yogis are empty cushions, empty kneeling benches, empty chairs.