about aloha sangha
This website offers personal insights into the early Buddhist teachings as a source of practical wisdom and happiness anyone can follow no matter how busy and chaotic their lives seem.
We can realistically bring about true happiness, true contentment in our lives just as they are. Now when I say our lives as they are I really do mean just as they are.
Many forms of spiritual practice which have found a home here in the West advocate extended meditation retreats, which is great. But I am often asked the following question about this kind of approach to spiritual cultivation:
Are extended meditation retreats necessary?
One very rich area, which unfortunately I don’t see discussed thoroughly enough, is how practical some of these ideas regarding meditation are for most of us. Some forms of meditation practice have been adapted to our contemporary society from renunciate, ascetic origins in the East.
Many of us first encountering these adapted forms of spiritual and contemplative development understandably may be just a little are put off by the emphasis placed on the value of extended meditation retreats. However, allow this point to settle in:
Our ordinary lives are where the action is
This website strives to offer an alternative to many retreat-focused approaches to contemplative spirituality, as it recognizes that a huge portion of our society simply cannot afford the expense nor the time involved in undertaking retreats.
And it presents the point of view that spiritual development is at times more thorough-going when undertaken in our lives as they are — and for many of us that means living paycheck to paycheck, or raising kids, or taking care of our aging parents.
What I present here are simply my own personal findings of a 40 plus year journey through Buddhist systems of meditation and contemplation. But please know that my approach to teaching is thoroughly secular and contemporary, incorporating poetry and ecology.
No one tradition holds all the answers
I hold very dear the teachings of early Buddhism. I also find the some of the contemplative practiced described in Christian, Islamic, and Jewish mystical traditions especially helpful in illuminating a path for busy “householders.”
I hope that you find something here that makes sense for you.
Hi. My name is Tom Davidson-Marx and I have been teaching Buddhist-inspired meditation in Honolulu since 1998, in our home on the island of O’ahu.
I trained in both the vipassana approach to meditation in the USA and Burma as well as the anapanasati practice in Sri Lanka. I spent three years training as an ordained Buddhist monk practicing these forms of meditation.
I find the simple breath awareness practice, which leads to a profound, abiding peace, to be the one of the most effective meditative approaches in our group meetings.
Over the 30 plus years I have teaching meditation, I continue to emphasize discovering joy and fulfillment in our ordinary, every day life.
My first exposure to meditation was with Maezumi Roshi at the Los Angeles Zen Center (ZCLA) in 1980; he was my first teacher. I moved into a local Buddhist center within walking distance to ZCLA in 1981–the International Buddhist Meditation Center. It was there, in 1981, that I met my second teacher, the American named former monk Shinzen Young.
In Shinzen I found a brilliant combination of Buddhist erudition and brass-tacks meditation know-how. It was cut to the chase dharma. He had done hard time in Buddhist monasteries in Japan, and possessed the keen ability to shift through the non-essential aspects of traditional Buddhist training and present gems of insight that would leave me stunned.
He also introduced me what was to become the all consuming passion for the following 40 years of my life–> vipassana meditation and the teachings of the historical Buddha preserved in the suttas of the Pali Canon.
Training in Asia
After attending some 30 or so vipassana retreats of varying lengths (from 10 days to the 3 month retreat in Barre, Massachusetts in 1983) I left the USA to study and practice in Sri Lanka. I was ordained as a Theravada monk in February of 1985 in Sri Lanka, where I spent a year training in anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) meditation.
I explored further meditation training in the Mahasi Sayadaw style of intensive practice for two more years in Burma and Thailand. I also completed a long course of study at Sakya College in Rajpur, India before giving back my robes in December of 1988 and returning to live at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles.
Aloha Sangha founding
In 1990 I moved to Hawaii, where I met my wife Katina the following year. I also went to nursing school here, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I have work full-time as an RN at an acute, inpatient forensic psychiatric hospital for the past twenty five years. I also served as the coordinator of the local chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship here on O’ahu for some years. We have two adult children.
We founded Aloha Sangha in February of 1998.
Aloha Sangha 25th Anniversary
Here is a photo album from our 25th anniversary celebration with sangha old-timers we had in March of 2023. Just click on link below:
and a few more pics
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