Explore “Why am I here?”; become quiet enough to listen to your own heart, the “stammering voice;” initial answers usually conceptual; go deeper into your body; go beyond words and rest there; what arises brings us in touch with natural knowing present in experience.
Instructions for primary practice; primary practice: how to come into experience as it arises right now; being in the experience, as opposed to observing experience; relationship to shamatha and vipassana.
Skipping steps in the primary practice suggests ignoring or suppressing; ascent and descent; three types of shame: shame from acting inconsistently, shame from violating social norms, shame from compromising personal ideals; how do we come to terms with shame and all experiences?; four powers: regret, reliance, remedy and resolve; the impact of practice on relationships.
Three types of practices: practices of presence, of purification, and of energy transformation; relationship between primary practice and the rest of life; how to live in a way that supports spiritual practice; guidance from others is not absolute; train to recognize imbalance and move in the direction of balance; patterns create imbalance; bodhisattva vow — an aspect is never to indulge our own confusion; open to everything all of the time.
Increasing our relationship to emotional material through practices of loving-kindness, compassion and devotion; awareness of body is key; Mahamudra pith instructions; “body like a mountain, breath like the wind, mind like the sky; heart and mind not distinct; difference between method and result; developing capacity by stopping before attention dissipates; relationship of Mahamudra to primary practice.
The effect of eye gaze in meditation; four ways of working: power (based on coercion, demands), ecstasy (connection through opening), insight (seeing into things) and compassion (being present with another’s pain or when another is in pain); which operate in our close relationships?; three bases of relationship: mutual benefit, shared aim and emotional connection.
Learning to be nobody; allowing a space for problems to resolve; answers to questions regarding compassion and taking and sending; being present in difficulty; developing capacity to be present and open to pain, negativity, even criminality; discussion of different kinds of offerings.
Understanding the rhythm of practice; with attention, peace and openness eventually arise; “Look in the resting, rest in the looking.”; summary of Ken’s approach in four principles: everything is evolving, evolution isn’t toward anything, actions have consequences, and we can’t know all of the consequences; approach life without expectation, recognize both mystery and significance in what occurs, and see what happens as part of a process.
Letting go of idealism; danger to spiritual life from institutional mindsets; counteracting with compassion; walking meditation instruction; being no one in a position of leadership; creating conditions that allow others to do what’s needed; discussion of ten methods of mind-killing and how they corrupt practice.
Advice regarding thoughts of life after retreat; importance of the four reminders: precious human existence, death and impermanence, karma and samsara; why traditionally loving-kindness practice is not to be directed at a child; primary practice; what is Mahamudra?; refreshing the mind through resting.; devotion as means of transforming energy; explanation of the guru yoga prayer, “The Magic of Faith: A Teacher Practice with Niguma.”
Speaking from direct experience as a practice of power; the importance of developing power is often ignored both in our society and in traditional Buddhist practice; shamatha is main practice for developing power; explanation of prayer “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good;” investigate why you are here; look at mind, heart, body, intellect, emotions and intuitions, and open to all the answers that arise.
The “five whys” of “why am I here?” as a way to explore more deeply, moving from conceptual to emotional level; discussion of Kalu Rinpoche’s “Essence of the Dharma;” refuge as setting a direction; awakening mind; four great vows from the Zen tradition; mantras: “what protects the mind”; preparatory practices (ngondro); finding your own path.
Learning to sit in the mess; discussion of the mind-training principle: “Rely on the principal witness;” avoiding institutional mindsets; path as a process of growth; importance of sangha; more discussion of “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good.”
Point of practice; paramitas; being without reference; discussion of protector principle and the relationship of protector principle to protector rituals; transmission rituals; longing can easily degenerate into greed; further discussion of “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good.”
Emptiness and compassion as the two components of awakening mind; the impediment of despair; discussion of Longchempa’s advice: “Practice these two together (goodness and pristine awareness);” the notion of progress in society and spiritual life; instructions for the dispersion practice, a practice for balancing energy.
Middle way as holding both extremes in attention at the same time or “How can I experience this and be at peace at the same time?”; discussion of “Vajra Song Recognizing Mind as Guru;” spiritual path as individual exploration; learning from mistakes; letting go of inner holding; look at life as the field of practice; notice space in which experience arises.
Importance of clear intention; when translation problems arise in source material for practice, problems often result in practice; practice is developing capacity to experience whatever arises; constraints due to limits on willingness, capacity or know-how.
Practice questions: discussion of the evolution and iterative nature of the five step practice; experiencing “the mess” rather than attempting to name what arises; thought, sensation and emotion are all forms of movement in mind; notice the movement.
Modern shift in religions from transcendence toward embracing the human condition; ending reactivity so we can experience whatever arises; living with uncertainty using the four steps of standing up; acting without categories.
Clarifying your questions; trusting the unknown; three vows: individual freedom, bodhisattva,Vajrayana; dealing with difficult emotions; experiencing resistance.
Meditating when in pain; distinction between being stretched and being stressed; key is not hardening against experience; overuse of the terms “samadhi” and “mindfulness”; working with reactive emotions by welcoming them; Rumis’ poem “A Guest House”; bodhichitta; practice intensely with little fanfare.
Answering questions on thoughts and “subconscious gossip”; mantras; taking and sending; obstacles in the body from experiences we were unable or unwilling to fully experience; Dzogchen and Mahamudra; dakinis; groundlessness.
Working with emotional energy in practice; not seeking to eliminate emotion; faith and devotion; removing emotions from practice limits engagement in experience.
Responding to questions on longing and desire; faith and refuge; vajrayana vows; Mahamudra instructions :“no placing, no reference, no missing the point” and “no distraction, no control, no working at anything;” ending wars; martial imagery; Tao Te Ching and groundlessness.
Major traditional metaphors in Buddhism include war and farming; sometimes more useful metaphors are space, weather and evolution; courage and faith needed to engage reactive emotions with loving-kindness; combining tenderness and effort.
Mahamudra, translation, and how to read texts like Tilopa’s Ganges Mahamudra; the metaphor of space; relating to thoughts and other “movements of mind” in mahamudra; looking in a different way and resting in the looking; the three kayas.
Four pitfalls of Mahamudra: making an object out of experience; thinking you can make thoughts or experience empty; thinking that naming things is enough; “buy now, pay later” — practicing to get enlightened.
Commentary on “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good;” resting deeply; practices such as primary practice and four immeasurables to transform energy and deepen resting; natural awareness taking expression as compassion; working with comparing mind by coming back to body.
Continued discussion of “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good;” ordinary mind; danger of dullness; when goal-seeking arises, return to the body; why texts were deliberately hidden
Practice of sky gazing; working with intense experiences; the five step practice (from the Anapanasati sutra); imagining experience at a distance — and reeling it in slowly — to attenuate painful intensity; taking and sending as a way of forming relationships with alienated aspects of ourselves; more on the three kayas.
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Teaching as a role, not an identity; creating learning situations and deep listening; giving away positive virtues such as trust, generosity, etc.; distinguishing information and knowledge; learning how to learn; transmission; teaching as a shared aim relationship.
Recognizing and countering four forms of “mind killing” in which reactive patterns are used to induce us to act against our own interests; idol of the cave: attempts to replace our experience with others’ goals; idol of the marketplace: language is used to mislead us; idol of the theater: theories or philosophies are used to overwhelm us; idol of the tribe: more cohesion is assumed than actually exists.
Karma as instruction vs. karma as belief, meditation as building a capacity of attention, resting in the experience of breathing, Q&A
Living life without a belief system, the four conditions that generate karma and their four results, Q&A
Q&A session on teaching, making the practice your own, and working with the breath and body in meditation, collective (or national) karma, what is life, ultimate and relative truth
Q&A based on students’ meditation on karma and how patterns shape experience.
Overview of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions, problems of factionalism and sectarianism, and a short Q&A
The characteristics of patterns (mechanicality, resonance, crystallization, habituation, layering, webbing), patterns, personality, presence. Meditation instruction on physical reactions when a reactive pattern begins to run.
Q&A on individual responsibility in political and social issues, relationship between compassion and insight, and instruction on the ‘one breath’ meditation
Paired exercise on experiencing reactive patterns; additional instruction on working with reactive patterns
Recognizing reactive patterns, beliefs as fully crystallized patterns, recognizing choice points within patterns, how a pattern impacts all areas of life
Q&A on dealing with reactive patterns, instruction on working with the undischarged feelings within patterns
Q&A on working with what arises in the body. Paired exercise on how reactions in others triggers one’s own reactivity (based on the six realms)
Reaction to, and continuation of, exercise in AFB 9a. Q&A on speaking in attention, anger and non-violence
Using form as a mode of training attention, importance of resting in attention
The eight components of a pattern and their relationship to the five elements and six realms, suggested reading material
The need for ruthlessness with patterns; using mortality as motivation; attention, intention, and will; the four steps to undoing reactive patterns; ways of working with patterns
Releasing physical and emotional sensations behind reactive patterns; not protecting any area of one’s life from practice; keeping things in balance; closing meditation instruction
Retreat’s daily schedule and routine; subject matter for retreat (Buddhahood Without Meditation); sitting with questions rather than trying to answer them intellectually; the challenge of doing nothing; the importance of silence; resting & seeing.
Participants’ accounts of what is like to do nothing; overview of Dzogchen from the perspective of outlook/view, practice, and behavior; willingness, know-how, and capacity and related tools for Dzogchen practice
Participants’ accounts on using tools described in previous sessions; discussion on guru yoga, negative emotions, and faith; instruction and questions on sky gazing; instruction, discussion, and experiences on using the breath and questions to learn how to rest in the view.
The hunter and the three bears; how different sets of instructions point to the same thing (Asanga, mind-training, mahamudra, dzogchen); forms of knowing; letting direct experience soak in to your core; the sense of self and ant colonies; the nature of experience; form and emptiness.
Question regarding translation of Dogen’s Genjokoan; If objects and experiences are empty and there is no self, why does it matter what I do?; the struggle between patterns and ethical/virtuous behavior; Buddhist ethics as a way to create the conditions for a quiet mind; what would life be like if you could experience fully whatever arises?; intention; meeting what is there; what is buddha nature?
Seeking ‘the experience’; the illusion of choice; recognizing what is arising and resting; useless and useful planning; resting as a means, not an end; the nature of mind; working with resistance; meditation instruction; emptiness and awareness; what is meant by ‘May I know that mind has no beginning.’
The story of tea; commentary and questions on The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good and understanding apparent contradictions in the text.
Conduct and behavior as ways to both set conditions for practice and enhance / deepen practice; the story of Mrs. Foo; applying the principle of the middle way; tightening up your life and keeping your intention clear; two lists of metaphors for conduct and behavior; engaging in a chosen behavior so as to experience in yourself the related reactive emotions.
Historical tendency of practice being both separate from and more important than other daily activities; stabilization of attention (with and without activity) as the only type of practice; why incorporating practice into your life doesn’t work; why incorporating your life into your practice does work; using the primary practice continually; including your whole life in everything you do; the only thing you can know is what you experience; a knowing that is immediate and direct but not conceptual; find appropriate response through the four steps of standing up; open to both poles of a reactive pattern to step out of it.
Intention and working the edge of practice, the three difficult points as described in The Great Path of Awakening, being specific in one’s effort, faith as the willingness to open to whatever arises, finding clarity through relaxing and resting in what arises, clarity as the nature of mind, meditation instruction on complete experiencing
Not getting caught up in distractions, overview of retreat content, form as all sensory experience (the difference between observing and experiencing): posture and sitting, walking, and interacting with objects, four reactions at the level of sensory experience
The relationship between what is experienced and experiencing; is form an illusion?, the worlds of personal and shared experience, objective reality as an abstraction of individual experiences, meditation instruction on working with sensory experience
Knowing things completely, the four factors of emotional chaos: prejudice, shutting down, contraction, and envy; the purpose of life in the world of shared experience v. the purpose of life in the world of personal experience, meditation instruction on working with the four factors of chaos at the level of emotional experienc
Follow-up on life’s purpose in the world of personal or total experience, practice questions from meditation instruction in CAC 4 and from life experiences, how to transform prejudice, shutting down, contraction, and envy
The four factors of chaos in awareness: disturbance, fixation, control, and dependence; meditation instruction on experiencing these factors
Explanation of purposes behind a paired exercise held earlier in day, reading from the Diamond Sutra’s passage on being ruled or not ruled by objects, expansion on various commentaries regarding above passage, Q&A regarding material covered during the retreat
Origins of Chö from the Diamond Sutra; Machik Labdron and Padampa Sangye; definition of Chö as creating difficult experiences and developing the ability to experience them completely; Chö vs Shi-jé; relationship between Chö and taking and sending; outer, inner, and secret Chö.
Motivation for Chö: transforming our experience of disturbances and negativity as embodied in the eight demonic obsessions; outer, inner and mystical refuge: opening to the totality of experience; visualizing and inviting Machik Labdrön and the four guests.
Section by section performance of the daily Chö ritual, utilizing the practices described in the preceding podcast; short Q&A at the end.
Recitation of daily Chö ritual with commentary; opening the door to the sky transference; visualization instruction combining syllables, colours, body and six realms; commentary on transference.
Recitation of daily Chö ritual; guided visualization; purification practice; simpler form of transference practice; white feast and red feast visualizations.
Other methods of Chö ritual; simpler form of Chö ritual; guided visualizations.
Pointing out the meaning of the perfection of wisdom; cutting the four demonic obsessions; four stages of Chö practice.
Value of contemplating death and impermance; accept change and not hold on to what’s time has passed; sit in the whole mess; meditation: “Everything changes, nothing stays the same.”
Ozymandias; exploration of “Everything changes, nothing stays the same” by means of a group contemplation called response / inquiry.
We can die at any time: chaos; we need to live day to day: order; the many ways we can die; are there any circumstances in which you could be guaranteed not to die?; middle way: life is neither just order nor just chaos; meditation: “I’m going to die. And I have no idea when.”
Many forms of death throughout life: death of beliefs, death of trust, death of enmity; we know we are aware and we are going to die; response / inquiry contemplation.
Attention enables us to perceive experiences as more fluid; three Gates of Freedom: no characteristics, no hope and no ground (emptiness); two typical errors people fall into when they encounter emptiness: actions don’t matter and despair; despair as a form of checking out, avoiding experience; meditation: How do I live when I can’t know what this experience of life is — or whether anything follows it?
Group contemplation: “I can’t know what this experience called life is — and I can’t know what follows it. So how do I live this life?”; observing mortality brings you back into life; meditating on impermanence gives you faith, the willingness to open to everything and the energy to do so.
The value of retreats; making the transition from retreat to ordinary life; you can’t take this experience with you; finding the peace and clarity that exists in any situation; defining awakening as experiencing whatever arises as expressions of peace and clarity.
Dakini practice as a way of refining experience, comparison with Mahamudra practice; dakini practice as tool to raise energy; review of elements in relationship to emotional patterns and as descriptions of experience; nature of dakinis: “know dakinis to be one’s own mind”; symbolic nature of dakinis & relation to wisdom awarenesses; overview of five wisdom awarenesses: evenness (balance), mirror-like, distinguishing, effective action, totality; overview of practice instructions
General practice guidelines; outline of generic sequence for yidam/deity practice; emotional reactivity vs volitional action; earth dakini instructions, particularly loss of balance and internal stability; nature of “practice”
Water dakini instructions; Issues of avoidance, flow, clarity
Fire dakini instructions; Issues of isolation, volatility, passion; importance of experiencing reactions; what to do with the experience of boredom
Air dakini instructions; practice may become more difficult as the elemental energy becomes more subtle; Relation to c`hi, anxiety, panic
Void dakini instructions; the usefulness of “zero”: void makes everything possible; terror; destructive aspect of spiritual practice, constant letting go; Tilopa’s instructions
Putting it all together as ongoing practice; Blindness to significant patterns
Presence, purification, energy: 3 types of practice; Dakini practice as purification, transforming reaction chains into presence; Personal practice balances these elements; Two modes of completing practice: symbols and lights; Statements associated with elements, related to emotional patterns
Presence, purification, energy: 3 types of practice; Dakini practice as purification, transforming reaction chains into presence; Personal practice balances these elements; Two modes of completing practice: symbols and lights; Statements associated with elements, related to emotional patterns
Explanation of element reaction cycles: earth, water, fire, air and void; walkthrough of corresponding dakini practices; hollowness; knowing; pristine awareness arising within reaction. This class was recorded to help students with the Dakini practice.
Retreat structure and intention, comments on the Vajrayana path – how it is different and the same, how it is based on compassion and emptiness, which naturally evolve into mindfulness and presence
Are you suitable for Vajrayana? two dangers, review of prayers used in the retreat, questions regarding the retreat structure
Comments on the teacher-student relationship, the responsibilities of the teacher and student, methods that teachers use to reveal presence, provide instruction, and point out student’s internal material
Devotion reveals student’s internal material, difference between faith and belief, three types of faith and how they transform the three poisons, commentary on guru yoga and related prayer (text available on the website), questions from participants
Questions regarding faith and compassion, balance in a guru-student relationship, the three types of faith and the three doors of freedom, questions from participants regarding this practice
Comments on the Buddhist concept of ‘no self’. Yidams or deities as expressions of awakened mind, deity meditation instruction, questions about this how to do this practice
Practice questions regarding pride and compassion, the three classes of deities: peaceful, semi-wrathful, wrathful, review of Tsulak Trengwa’s poem How I Live The Practice (text available on website) which describes the flavor of deity practice, questions regarding deity practice
Discussion on enchantment with dakini and protector practices and how that connects with the origin of these practices, protector meditation instruction and questions
Description of protectors and commentary on related text, importance of moderation in protector practices, connection between the three roots (guru, deity, and protector) and the three marks of existence (suffering, non-self, impermanence), questions on above
Questions and comments on prayer text, magnetization, taking refuge in mind itself, the continual process of meeting what arises in experience, reactive emotions like desire, the eight concerns, working with the type of practice that best engages your internal material
Questions regarding sky gazing and protectors, a story about yidams, a story about protectors, review of various lines of transmissions and lineages
What is Mahamudra? It can be seen as another way of looking at what the Four Noble Truths are about. Or it may be approached by asking: to what questions might those practices provide answers? What are my questions?
Four fundamental questions to consider are: How do I know what is real? How do I know what is true? How do I know what is right? How do I know what to do? The beginnings of answers may be found in he Four Reminders (precious human existence, death and impermanence, teachings of karma, shortcomings of samsara).
Practice: deep listening, More questions from the Perfection of Wisdom: What do I trust? How do I relate to people/things/experience? What can I know?
Building capacity, Shamatha meditation, Energy transformation practices, The practice of devotion: guru yoga
Practicing without reference points: Milarepa’s Song to Lady Paldarboom, verses 2-6, Doing nothing: Six Words of Advice from Tilopa, A question of teaching: keeping our intention clear
Stillness and movement: Milarepa’s Song to Lady Paldarboom, verses 8-17, Learning to breathe underwater: finding stillness in experience
Basis-of-everything consciousness and awakening, Teachings on View: how we look at things
Pointing-out instructions, The resting knowing mind, Nothing that arises in experience is different from us
An overview of the Aspiration for Mahamudra and the Vajradhara Prayer
Overview of different meditation practices: presence, energy transformation, purification; mind-training as a way to clear away self-cherishing; meditation instruction for resting with the breath; feeling the breath with the heart; variations in translation of the mind training text.
Education, training, and learning in Tibetan and Western cultures; brief biographies of Atisha and Chekawa Yeshe Drorje; secret teachings and transmissions; mind-training as a way to refine experience; refining v. training; empty compassion (emotion-free); illusion of choice as an indication of the lack of freedom; meditation instruction on groundwork
Clarity in intention; the world of shared experience, the world of personal experience and the myth of integration; What am I? What is life?; subject and object; Where does experience reside?; the dream analogy; What is awareness?; thoughts as experience; meditation instruction on awakening to what is ultimately true
Knowing whatever arises for what it is; the natural response of compassion; the three poisons and dualistic thinking; why taking and sending works; taking and sending & the four immeasurables; the three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue; meditation instruction for awakening to what is apparently true, taking and sending; questions from participants
Questions from participants on taking and sending, including: Is it okay to focus just on the meditation’s imagery of smoke and light rather than specific emotions? How specific should one be with taking and sending? How much do you sent out? How do you deal with running out of energy? Is taking and sending to be taken literally or figuratively? A variation of the taking and sending meditation from the previous session; applications of mind training, including: making adversity the path; driving blame into one; being grateful to everyone; emptiness as the ultimate protection; the four practices; working with whatever one encounters
Origins of lists and reasons for their use in contemporary life; summary of essential instructions: the five forces, instructions on dying; measures of proficiency: the one aim, rely on your own clarity, deep and quiet joy, practice as a natural response. Proficiency isn’t attainment; regret v. guilt; working with emotions that arise from taking and sending
Function of Buddhist ethics; descriptive v. prescriptive; importance of ethics; benefits of memorization. Commentary on mind training commitments including: the three basic principles, intention and behavior, giving up hope for results; not forming an identity around practice; working with reactive emotions; not hoping to profit from sorrow.
Difference between commitments and guidelines. Commentary on guidelines, including: using one practice and one remedy; the two things to do, patience in everything; never compromise your practice; the three challenges, three key elements, three kinds of damage, three faculties; train on every object; practice what’s important now; don’t get things wrong (proper placement of priorities)
Questions from participants, a practical application of taking and sending, commentary on concluding verses, the 8 worldly concerns, living a life of no regret, a fable on taking and sending, instructions on working with the difficulties and challenges arising from practice, opening to whatever arises
Review of lineage; 5 practices on awakening to what is ultimately true: regard everything you experience as a dream, examine the nature of unborn awareness, the remedy itself releases naturally, the essence of the path: rest in the basis of all experience, in daily life, be a child of illusion. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Practice on awakening to what is apparently true: taking and sending. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
summary: Transformation; make adversity the path of awakening; attention, intention, will; drive all blame into one. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
The 4 kayas: dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, svabhavikakaya; the four practices: accumulate merit, confess evil actions, fill obsessions with awareness, nourish wakefulness in your life. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Listening while talking; walking meditation; last two of the four practices: filling obsessions with awareness, and nourishing wakefulness in your life; five forces: setting intention, train deeply, sowing virtuous seeds through acts of goodness and kindness, feeling regret about reactive states of mind or destructive actions, and aspiring; five forces in death. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Always train in the three basic principles: respect your intention, act in ways that support your practice and include all experience; the six realms as a structure for exploring all experience; change your attitude and stay natural; don’t talk about others’ shortcomings; don’t dwell on others’ problems. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Guidelines as support for mind training; use one practice to do everything; use one remedy for everything; two things to do: one at the beginning, one at the end; whatever happens, good or bad, be patient; keep these two, even at the risk of your life; train in the three problems; work with the three primary factors; don’t allow three things to weaken; keep the three essentials; train on every object without preference, training must be broad and deep. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Dissolving sense of other; progression of mind training practice; stopping the mind; groundwork as motivation to explore life as more than the world of shared experience. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
The primary practice as a method to awakening to what is ultimately true. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Vajrayana approach to taking and sending; exploring imbalances in experience; moving right into experience.
Participant’s experience and questions; resting attention in experience; letting patterns open to you; resting in the experience of adversity. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Five forces in lifeIntention: being clear about your intention in every aspect of your life; familiarization: clearing away obstacles to presence; seeds of virtue: taking care of the interior environment; repudiation: dying to the past; aspiration: using faith to reinforce intention. Five forces in death: generating virtue, aspiration, repudiation, intention and familiarization.The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Proficiency: knowing what you want from your practice, achieve a sense of balance, joy as a consequence of no separation; commitments: be clear about your intentions, appropriate action, relate to the totality of your experience; behave naturally; don’t talk about others’ shortcomings; don’t dwell on others’ problems. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Bring attention to all activities; learn to use a few tools very deeply; whatever happens, it is not necessarily about you; use intention to die to life of conditioned existence; be in what you are experiencing right now; how to interact completely with your teacher/experience; engage the three faculties: body, speech and mind. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Participant’s questions and Ken’s responses: individual and shared experience, attention penetrating patterns, expressive and receptive poles of a pattern, taking and sending. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
summary: Review of basic meditation, basic means foundational, rest in the experience of breathing; breath is life; relinquishing control and the repeated experience of failure; the body breathes, brings attention to the experience of the body; letting the body find its way to sit vs. imposing a posture; fine points in attuning to the body; attention consists of resting and listening, how to rest and how to listen; short Q&A session
Working with the second of the four noble truths; attraction, aversion and indifference as impulses, and the reactions they initiate; concerns about making things last or getting rid of them; the formation of emotional needs and why they are impossible to meet; the need to be somebody conditioned by both family and society, practice instructions on finding peace and understanding in the experience of emotional impulses; Q&A
The six realms, projections of emotional reactions; anger and the hell realms, greed and the hungry ghost realms, instinct and the animal realms, fun and busynesss in the human realm, jealousy in the titan realm, pride in the god realm; meditation practice on experiencing the six realms; Q&A
Habituation as a form of addiction; the dynamics of addiction from an experiential perspective; the dynamics of addiction from a biochemical perspective; stepping out of addiction to habitual reactions; process through which freedom is found; meditation practice on emptying the six realms; Q&A
Retreat experience to date, locking up in the body, what to do about it, guided meditation on how the six realms appear in daily life, venturing into the mystery of not living in any realm.
Stepping out of the six realms, doing nothing, three aspects of doing nothing, connection with the three marks of existence; no distraction, not holding onto things, differentiating between thoughts and thinking; no control, not trying to control what we experience, connection with suffering; not working at anything, not being somebody, opening to the totality of experience; meditation instruction.
Retreat format, structure, and materials; what is the view?; error of taking refuge in specific experiences; the mistaken notion of self vs. skillful interactions; the illusion of choice.
Overview of rituals and prayers used in retreat; the ‘primary’ practice described, related guided meditation, and participants’ experience with this meditation; relaxing and resting.
Shamatha and cultivating a basis of attention; infallibility; the end of suffering as a process, not an end state; resting in whatever arises; guru yoga.
Consequences of ignoring what arises from meditation; what is meant by sentient beings are infinite, I vow to save them all; comments on Verse on the Faith Mind; questions from participants; sky-gazing instructions.
Discussion with participants on the origin of attention; thoughts, mind, and freedom from reacting; inference, intellect, and experience; discomfort and the death of duality; mirror, mirror on the wall; the importance of stability.
The problems of idealizing; seeing the mirror; awareness; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
Satori, enlightenment, and laypeople; parallels with martial arts training; what compassion is really like; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
The utility of deception; faith, trust, and not knowing your reaction to what you haven’t experienced; the union of seeing and resting (guided meditation); what it the teacher in one’s experience; questions from participants.
Common mistakes and pitfalls regarding emptiness and Mahamudra (believing emptiness is a thing, attempting to offer explanations to those who do not practice, etc.); a reading of One Sentence Pith Instruction and Recognizing Mind as Guru; integrating practice and life; questions from participants.
Introduction to retreat themes and practices. The relationship between power and presence: finding peace under pressure. Exercise: pushing, resisting, giving way. How quickly power accelerates and takes over. Instruction in the primary practice.Fairy tale: The Journey Begins
Staying present in the experience of acceleration. Receiving feedback from the environment and adjusting. The Four Steps of Standing Up: 1) Show up. 2) Open to what is. 3) Serve what is true. 4) Receive the results. Exercise: Showing up in your body. Story: The thief, the samurai, and the warlord. Do what is required, no more. Primary practice, revisted. Fairy tale: The Two Inns
Forming a relationship with power. The ethics of power: the warrior’s sword vs. the predator’s sword. Exercise: Taking the sword. Four ways of working. Five mysteries associated with power: power, balance, presence, truth, freedom.Fairy tale: The Straw, the Egg, and the Book of Knowledge
Power and opposition. Engaging with power, you have no idea what you’re going to be called upon to do. In the experience of opposition: something in yourself that you’re not willing to admit or experience. Exercise: Walking the gauntlet. How training develops capacity to respond in complex situations. Fairy tale: The Sleeping Giants
On Showing Up. Revisiting the primary practice: not to ‘get it right’ but to experience what happens, the totality of your life. Balancing exercises: how slowly thinking happens, but the body knows how to maintain balance. Applications in meditation. Nothing undercuts a distracting story so well as returning to the body. Fairy tale: The Black Castle
Opening to What Is. How familiar situations trigger old scripts, whose function is to dissipate attention. Exercise: Push hands, back-to-back. How triggered scripts corrupt intention. Power is the ability to implement intention, by staying present. Instead of focusing on what you want to do, include the entire situation.Fairy tale: The Old Witch and the White Bird
On posture. How we hold ourselves carries/conveys meanings. Posture exercises: Advance-retreat; rise-lower; widen-narrow.
Serving What is True. Difficulties in serving what is true when it doesn’t accord with expectations and understanding. Fairy tale: The Old Man with Red EyesHow fairy tales describe internal realms of experience vs. the world of shared experience. Attention vs. Intention vs. Will. Exercise: 4-person flocks. Obstacles as simply features in the landscape to be negotiated.
Exercise: Artist and Critic. If you live for respect, you give your life over to others. How the sense of urgency often accelerates things, and we get swallowed up in the acceleration. Evolutionary paradigms: providing the _conditions_ for certain things to evolve. Applications to meditation.Fairy tale: Black Sheep
Receiving the Result. Whatever the outcome, work with that: The Four Steps of Standing Up as a way of living, continually cycling. Four stages of conflict: Pacification, Enrichment, Magnetization, Destruction. Balance, boundary, and the ethics of power. Obligation and the three bases of relationship. Courage. How power differs from other gestures (ecstasy, insight, compassion).Fairy tale: Ransom, Return, Recognition
Aim of the retreat, overview of content including levels of practice and meditation methods, initial instruction.
Emotional reactions, what they are, why they are problematic, what does releasing mean, difference between releasing and suppression, instruction in five-step method of releasing from Thich Naht Hanh based on bare attention and the four foundations of mindfulness
Q&A based on students’ experience with bare attention, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on the four foundations
Taking emptiness and compassion as the framework, difference between actual and projected experience, working with actual experience, instruction in five-step method that uses taking and sending (tonglen) to release emotional reactions.
Q&A based on the students’ experience with taking and sending, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on taking and sending
Taking original mind, direct awareness, as the basis, all experience as the expression of awareness, instruction in a five-step process based on direct awareness (mahamudra and dzogchen), cautions and pitfalls.
Q&A based on the students’ experience with direct awareness, simplified instruction in the five steps, common difficulties and how to work with them, connecting the three methods, how to use these in life, the student-teacher relationship, challenges in practice.
Retreat summary prepared by grateful students.
Frame work to aid in making the right effort; how we experience; subject/object frame work as an abstraction; dropping sense of I/other; undoing misperceptions of our experience; contemplating change: outer changes defined as objects of our senses, inner changes defined as bodily changes, hidden changes defined as emotions & thoughts; participant’s questions.
False and true dualities; all experience as an expression of knowing & not-knowing; experiencing change in the inner, outer and hidden worlds; experience of non-duality; participant’s questions; meditation instruction on change.
The results of meditating on death & impermanence; dilemma of uncertainty of death; 2 aspects of death: death is inevitable, could die at any moment; other forms of dying besides physical: dying to the idea of getting our emotional needs met, dying to the idea of being somebody; life is ordered and chaotic.
Participant’s experience with meditation on life’s paradox; letting go of our identities as death; experiencing identities; Milarepa’s Six Ways to Meet Death with Confidence; true freedom is including both order and chaos in our experience; being no one; relaxing in the experience of what is; 10 virtues and their use in engaging life; experiencing effortless good; energy of attention permeating experience; wisdom & means as the two aspects of presence.
Falsity of subject/object duality; world we experience is born with us; our world composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and void; five elements as a spectrum; in death the world of our experience dissolves; stages of dying as the dissolution of the five elements; death of self; death of a relationship; practice instructions; stages of stillness of mind.
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summary: Explanation that this retreat is based on two letters by Takuan Soho: The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom and The Clear Sound of Jewels (these can be found in a collection of his writings entitled The Unfettered Mind); the three requirements to practice in the way described in The Unfettered Mind: ability, principles, technique; responding versus reacting; overview of what will be done in the retreat’s body movement sessions.
Knowing versus understanding; mind as experience; the relationship between mind and reality; Buddhism as a set of tools to understand how things are; seven techniques for mind nature practice: letting the mind settle, dropping the mind, opening the mind, looking at the mind, letting the mind go, focusing the mind, and joining the mind with the object; questions from retreat participants; instruction on sky gazing.
Review of previous day’s talk (recording of talk not available due to technical difficulties); defining integrity; integrity as a value; integrity as balance (rather than standing on principle); addressing imbalance as the essence of ethics; becoming an ongoing response to the pain and suffering of the world; questions from retreat participants.
What is meant by ‘immovable wisdom’ in the text The Unfettered Mind; how to know imbalance; taking action to address imbalance; seeking the lost mind; how integrity looks in action; seeking balance in the whole; questions from retreat participants.
Nothing to push against; notion of “enemy” arises in us when we resist; key terms of retreat: relationship, conflict, enemy; retreat progression.
World of actual experience vs world of shared experience; shared continuum; to live fully is to live and function fully in both worlds; role of meditation in correcting an imbalance caused by living in a world of shared experience; creating ideals in the world of shared experience.
Reactivity due to collapsed attention; opening to all experience including opposition; reasons for collapsed attention: for survival, getting our emotional needs met, and our identity; mindkilling is deliberately provoking someone’s reactive patterns so they will do something against their interests; various forms of mindkilling.
Story of drinking tea from “Tales of the Dervishes”; coming to terms with our own experience of life; navigating our lives better; transcending life vs living life fully and without regret; discussion of retreat prayers and their relationship to our overall spiritual practice; instruction in meditation based on four foundations of mindfulness.
Outlook, practice, behavior as a framework for navigating our lives; application of this framework to the retreat theme; seeing an “enemy” as an experience and not as a fact.
Morality as a description of the behaviour of an awakened person; commitments and guidelines; learning versus doing; Four Steps to Standing Up.
Summary of earlier discussions; review of The Four Steps to Standing Up; serving the direction of the present; anger signals “an enemy out there” ; compassion: method and result; a discussion of practices, compassion and living fully in the world.
summary: Introduction; how to live in power without being controlled by it; the three illusions — survival, control, being somebody; how they inhibit the exercise of power; five mysteries: power, balance presence, truth & freedom; primary practice; attention, intention and will.
summary: Intention: the ability to direct attention; process of awakening; guided meditation practice for working with intention.
Ethics as comprised of a set of five principles: presence, balance, boundary, obligation, and courage; what these are and what they mean
Sacrificing our conditional personality; the appropriate opponent; the function of reactive patterns, emotional core of patterned mode of experience; passive and reactive poles of a pattern; guided meditation: cutting the opponent.
Imbalance and relationships; entering vs observing emotions; experiencing a broken heart; patterns as addiction; various forms of obsessions and remedies.
Power comes at the moment of dying; death as your friend; guided meditation : dying to expectation; participants questions.
Definition of mind killing and examples; six methods of mind killing; dying as remedy to mind killing.
Antidotes to mind killing; middle way vs compromise; summary of warrior’s solution: perceive imbalance, intention, sacrifice, dying, rest; participant’s questions.