"Clear, strong mind" - Meditation group aims to help students focus on the moment

By Nancy Cicco, Portsmouth Herald, Dec 13, 2004

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire -- "May you be safe. May you be peaceful. May you be healthy. May you be at ease." Meditation class participants at the Portsmouth Center for Yoga and the Arts sat on plush purple and indigo cushions and chanted this "maitri," or contemplation, Sunday morning as part of a class on the teachings of Ane Pema Chodron.

<< Stephen Clarke, left, leads a group of students in Tibetan meditation at the Portsmouth Center for Yoga and the Arts. Photo by Andrew Moore

Chodron - a Shambhala Buddhist nun from Nova Scotia, Canada, who is a master of meditation - is the author of "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times."

The book, her latest in a series, aims to teach readers and those who practice meditation "how to keep (an) open heart in the midst of pain and suffering," said Stephen Clarke, a meditation instructor and Buddhist chaplain who led the class of about 20 participants.

Clarke?s students did not need to have read Chodron?s book before attending the session. The $5 class was the second of two focused on Chodron?s book.

Clarke, 28, a Buddhist chaplain, moved to Portsmouth in August and plans to begin weekly classes at the Portsmouth Center for Yoga and the Arts next month. He said he hoped Sunday?s 90-minute class would offer a good introduction for people who may be unfamiliar with meditation and its purpose.

"Meditation is basically a tool you can use to train oneself to be in the present moment," he said just prior to the start of the class Sunday.

"Just as any athlete would need to train to be at the top of their game to have the skills you need, meditation is a tool you practice with. The goal of meditation is to have a calm, clear and strong mind."

Class participants Sunday also performed a "tonglen" contemplation.

"That literally means sending and taking," Clarke said of the word.

During this exercise, participants "breathe in the suffering of others, and when we breathe out, we send (sufferers) whatever will help them," he said.

Portsmouth resident Amanda Donovan, 60, came to the class because she wanted to feel connected to a group, she said afterward as others gathered their jackets and put on their shoes before returning to their everyday lives.

"It?s a nice feeling to be part of a group of people all breathing," she said of meditating. "It?s just a way of being able to be centered and think of things differently."

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv