Anagarika wrote:Mike, your posts are really very good, and point out some of the challenges that we face in the west when trying to do the practice as the Buddha taught it, with jhana being a big part of that. Even living near a big city in the US, as I do, it's hard to find practice centers, teachers, and a sangha that feels comfortable. Zen centers are somewhat plentiful, but my experience has been mixed when I have sought out zendos in order to have a sangha to sit with. Some cities have Thai wats for example, but these often serve the Thai and Lao community, and instruction in English is not always available.
There is a Thai "forest temple," about 1.5-2 hours from here. I will contact them to see if they have anything available by way of visiting/staying short periods, or meditation instruction. Their website only mentions special day observances and services, etc.
What I liked very much that I saw in Thailand, was that lay people could be monks for a weekend (how awesome is that?), a week, a month, or indefinitely. Here, lay people are lay people, and access to brief stays at temples seems much more limited. There are opportunities for registering with groups of others for various scheduled retreats, but they are usually infrequent and kind of far away. Don't get me wrong, the retreats look very beneficial, but such opportunities for me are limited by being away from my kids for too long.
I tried making my own little place like a temple. I don't listen to music or watch tv, I don't drink, eat meat, and I even tried some no-meals-after 12 recently. Thank goodness nobody here to enforce that last one on an ongoing basis
(it was however, very much worth investigating).
Next on my agenda is to seek some inspiration and tips from historical or fellow laypeople. I know there are biographies like that out there, I could rotate material like that into my Dhamma reading.
Thanks again, for posting feedback