Ever wondered why someone would enter Buddhism as a monk? The conventional answer might have something to do with enlightenment or nirvana or something. Still the question remains as to WHY they seek those things. Someone seeks enlightenment and/ or nirvana because s/he has recognized that life as it is lived by the masses is vastly problematic and unsatisfactory. Someone entering the monastic life is seeking something better. However, life in our contemporary world does not lend itself to hermitage. We live ever more connected lives. Some will continue to seek sanctuary in a monastery, but is this the only option - seclusion?
No. Your life can be your monastery.
The cornerstone of CPB's public outreach is its weekly practice, held at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis from 6:30-8pm each Thursday. This communal setting is an important supplement to the personal practice that acts as the nexus from which authentic Buddhist practice is made meaningful to one's daily life. CPB helps bridge the personal and the social to create the holistic Buddhist experience. Members and guests of CPB have the opportunity to practice with us as often as they like, and need not be Buddhist to participate and benefit from our approach to personal development. In fact, most of our participants do not consider Pragmatic Buddhism a religion. Our weekly practices are designed to suit the needs of our participants, and no prior training or background is necessary. A simple interest in meditation and its health benefits are reason enough to join us. An interest in Buddhist thought and its ability to enhance one's current understanding is an equally valid reason for participating with CPB. Once one determines that our practice at CPB is an effective way to cultivate positive self-transformation, we encourage him or her to join us in regular practice.
Zazen as it is known in the Japanese Zen tradition, is the practice of “just sitting in mindfulness.” It is not a matter of “stopping” the mind, but rather allowing the practitioner to become aware of his or her own thoughts, so that benefit can be had from a more intimate awareness of one’s present condition. The practice of sitting meditation allows for a relaxation and deep calm to result in the practitioner. The simple attention that results from just sitting allows for a nonjudgmental awareness of one’s circumstances, so that fewer negative mental labels are attached to one’s experiences “out in the world.” The practice of just sitting is most beneficial because it is readily employable in stressful situations in one’s everyday life. As you sit, simply "watch and be present."
In Pragmatic Buddhism, our primary tool for generating a deeper understanding of our world is the practice of awareness cultivation, or mindfulness meditation (zazen; "just sitting"). This is a method that has been used since the time of the historical Buddha—Siddhartha Gautama—some 2400 years ago. Mindfulness practice is an intentional, non-judgmental embracement of our own personal contingency and the experiences we have of our world. It is the moving away from a state of average everydayness, where we are largely unaware of our motivations and habits of bodymind. In mindfulness, we engage our world directly and, becoming aware of it, accept it for what it is: a world of causal relationships that are made possible through an interconnected, interdependent reality.
The Center for Pragmatic Buddhism does not charge for any services, including formal training. However, if you've received value from CPB and would like to make a donation to support our practice, you may do so below. Donations go to help cover the costs of the St. Louis local group, including rent for the space and meditation supplies. Your donation will also support the practice of formal students, including costs associated with our biannual retreats. All donations are tax deductible, as CPB is a 503(c)(3) organization. Thanks in advance for any contribution that you can offer!