Study Guide — “Untangling Karma”

Prompts for contemplation, journaling, and discussion

WWII and No-Self

  1. What is your relationship to your ethnicity and how does that impact your life?
  2. How do you relate to the Buddhist teaching of no-centralized-self or no-self? Do you have any inroads into understanding Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote: “I am made up of non-I elements?”
  3. Has war or violence impacted you or your family?

The Dock Retreat

  1. Where do you find pauses and silences in your day and if you do find them, how does that impact your day?
  2. How do you integrate any formal spiritual practices you have like going on retreats or setting aside time each day for formal meditation with your ordinary day-to-day life? Do you have any post-meditation, during the day, awareness practice?
  3. If you are married and have children, how do you work spiritually within these demanding conditions? Or how do you bring your mindfulness to the challenge and pressures of our jobs and work life?
  4. What are your reactions when you touch into the underlying spaciousness, the open boundaries, the inter-being of the nature of our being?

Untangling Karmic Knots; My Tale of Healing

  1. What do you do when you want to escape the negative feelings or emotions of the present moment? Do you have avoidance strategies or addictions?
  2. Do you experience healing as a journey? Does this journey feel straightforward, zigzag, back and forth? How much feels in your control or mysterious?
  3. What has been your relationship to community as you heal? Has being in community helped you? Has another person helped you? Does healing need a “we?”
  4. Do you find a relationship between your personal healing and the changes you hope for in society? Are they connected?
  5. Have you experienced trauma being passed down from generation to generation?

Wash your bowl

  1. How do you relate to these slogans: Do the next right thing. One day at a time. If there is nothing to do about the problem today, turn it over and let it go?
  2. Are there any daily chores that you could turn into mindful rituals?
  3. How could you be helped by mindfulness in your parenting?

Do not misuse sexuality

  1. How did the patriarchal religions you grew up with impact your relationship with your sexual energy?
  2. What, if any, are the difficulties in your intimate relationships?
  3. Describe your body image. What would you want to change in your body because of your relationship to your sexuality?
  4. What assumptions do you carry about men and women and how might they prevent you from knowing a partner?
  5. Mindfully watch when your sexual energy arises. Is it associated with love, tension, compulsion, caring, loneliness, desire for communication, greed, pleasure, aggression and so forth. Also, notice when sexual feelings are absent.

Inner fortitude

  1. How has your spiritual life supported you in times of difficulty?
  2. What has helped the most when you have been in physical pain?
  3. Has the spiritual dimension helped you in times of grief and in healing?

Malissa and the Legacy of Enslavement

  1. How are you affected by the enormousness of the racial issue and living in the sea of daily racial inequality?
  2. What relationships have you had with people of another race? Was there a need to negotiate the relationship in terms of race or ethnicity? If you don’t have inter-racial relationships, what is the obstacle to forming them?
  3. What does it feel like for you to live with the lack of a clear solution to racial problems? How do you handle the uncertainty of knowing “what is right” or “what should be done?” Or the knowledge that these issues might not be resolved in your lifetime?
  4. How does your age affect the racial issue – Boomer, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z?
  5. What did your mother give you or not give you? If you are a parent, how has that affected your parenting?