Background information on text, author, and structure of opening verses.
Background information on text, author, and structure of opening verses.
Background information on text, author, and structure of opening verses.
Comments on paying homage (verse 1), intention (verse 2), what it is meant by study, reflect, and meditate/cultivate (practice 1), what is meant by ‘experience has no coming and going’, suffering as the result of fighting experience, traditional and internal interpretations of the eight unrestful states, the five individual advantages and the five circumstantial advantages that make practice of Dharma possible. Translated text available on the website.
Questions on previous session’s content including importance of sequence in lists, how to approach a mythic cosmology in a rational culture, translation points around “spiritual heir”, comments on leaving your homeland (practice 2) including the three levels of meaning (inner, outer, and secret), the need to take action, two levels of ignorance, three poisons, and the six realms; comments relying on silence (practice 3) including what it means not to engage disturbances or distractions, relationship between clear vivid awareness and confidence. Translated text available on the website.
Translation Questions: ‘forget the conventional concerns’ (practice 4) and ‘ordinary gods’ (practice 7). Reflection Questions: What is a relationship, actually? (practices 4 and 5), How do we construct a world out of thoughts, feelings, and sensations? What is the relationship between teacher and student? (practice 6), What does ‘give up bad friends’ mean? How do you work with negativity? (practice 5), What does it mean to take refuge? (practice 7). Meditation Questions: How do you work with this material in your own practice? Buddhist ethics as a description of awakened behavior vs. a prescription for how you should behave. Translated text available on the website.
Translation Questions: ‘awakening mind’ (practice 10), Are spaciousness and wisdom synonymous with emptiness? Reflection Questions: Does ‘even if your life is at risk, don’t engage in destructive actions’ mean exactly that? (practice 8), What determines the morality of an action? (practice 8), What is the resistance to dying to reactive behavior? (practice 8). Note: Due to technical difficulties there are two short gaps in this recording. Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions, continued: What if you engage in a destructive action? (practice 8), How do you deal with a sense of rebellion about being told hold to behave? (practice 8), How do you avoid hardening to experience?, What is meant by ‘this highest level of freedom is one that never changes’? (practice 9), What arises when you reflect on ‘if they are still suffering, how can you be happy?’ (practice 10). Note: Due to technical difficulties there is a short gap towards the end of this recording. Translated text available on the website.
Translation Questions: ‘driven by desperate want’ (practice 12), ‘wanting your own happiness’ (practice 11), ‘exchange completely your happiness for the suffering of others’ (practice 11). Reflection Questions: What is this ‘I’ that wants to be happy? (practice 11). Note: Due to technical difficulties this recording contains a few brief sections that have electronic static which couldn’t be corrected. Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions, continued: Are desire and want okay so long as one doesn’t cling to the results? (practice 11), What, if any, are appropriate boundaries in interactions with people? (practices 12 and 13), What is compassion when dealing with a thief? (practice 12), But don’t you ultimately need to be happy or have a sense of well-being? (practice 11) What is the appropriate response when you are falsely accused? (practice 13) Note: Due to technical difficulties this recording contains a few brief sections that have electronic static which couldn’t be corrected. Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions: In what circumstances is violence appropriate or warranted? (practice 13, follow-up from previous session), You say “this approach works”, but what does that mean? Does it resolve situations? (practices 14 – 17), How does “experiencing what arises” end suffering? Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions, continued: What do you have to do to actually do this? (practices 14 – 17), How can you prevent ‘coming into awareness’ from becoming just another concept?, How do these practices compare with the Christian teaching of turning the other cheek? Understanding the intention of these practices (practices 14 – 17), How are we supposed to lavish our worst enemy with love when that runs so counter to what society does? (practice 14) Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions: Why is existence described as magnificent? (verse 19), How can I achieve balance between the two extremes described in these verses? (verses 18 & 19), How does taking and sending work? (verse 18) Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions, continued: Verse 19 doesn’t seem directly related to taking and sending. What is the intention behind it? Why does giving things away through taking and sending feel better than regarding them as an empty experience? (verse 18), How can I maintain sufficient attention and awareness to do these practices so my patterns finally dissipate? Translated text available on the website.
Translation Questions: If the opponent inside is one’s own anger, what is the opponent outside? (verse 20) Why is the word “subdue” used if we aren’t suppose to fight our experience? (verse 20) What do you mean by “subject-object fixation”? (verse 22) What is meant by the word “experience” in ‘whatever arises in experience is your own mind’? (verse 22) What is meant by the word “object” in ‘any object that you attach to, right away, let it go’? (verse 21) When subduing anger, why are loving kindness and compassion recommended instead of patience? (verse 20) Does the word “fixation” in ‘subject-object fixation’ mean a hardening around the idea of self and other? (verse 22) Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions: What are some ways of working with anger? (verse 20), Is anger always a reactive pattern? (verse 20), Isn’t there such a thing as righteous anger? (verse 20), What is vajra anger and how does it apply here? (verse 20), How do you let go of something you desire? (verse 21), Doesn’t letting go of desire seem joyless? (verse 21) Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions: If the perspective of subject-object isn’t real and we aren’t to take things we enjoy or things that cause suffering as real, then what is real? (verses 22 – 24) Why does it seem easier to do taking and sending with attraction instead of aversion? (verses 23, 24). This is followed by a discussion and hands-on example of how the mind is like a mirror, the fallacy of subject-object perspectives, and the nature of reality. Note: The discussion of the first question is joined in progress. Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions: What makes the ‘six perfections’ perfections? In other words, what makes a generous act the perfection of generosity? (verses 25 – 30), How can you explain something without using an explanation? (verses 25 – 30), Is the order of the six perfections important? (verses 25 – 30), What quality permeates the perfections? (verses 25 – 30) Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions: What does it mean to be ‘completely free of irritation or resentment’? (verse 27), What does it mean to ‘pour your energy into practice’? (verse 28), [Note: Due to technical difficulties, there is gap at this point in the recording.] What do insight, stillness, and stability refer to? (verse 29), What does it mean to be “free of the three domains”? (verse 30). Comments on the Bodhisattva Vow including the vow as intention, the vow as will, commitments at the level of intention and commitments at the level of will. Translated text available on the website.
Translation Questions: In some prayers there is a request to ‘give me the energy to let confusion subside on its own.’ Doesn’t this contradict the line to ‘constantly go into your own confusion?’ (verse 31). Reflection Questions: What does it mean “not to say anything about the imperfections of others on the path”? What should you do about the harmful actions of others? (verse 32), What does it mean to let go of any investment in our families and circles of support? (verse 33), Isn’t it sometimes necessary to speak in a way that upsets others? (verse 34). Comments from students on what it was like to put these verses into practice. Reminder not to view these verses as dictums on how to behave but rather to weigh them against your own experience and see if they offer a beneficial approach. Translated text available on the website.
Translation Questions: What are the three spheres? (verse 37). Reflection Questions: In previous classes, you have said not to fight experience. Why then are we being instructed to “crush reactive emotions”? (verse 35), How do you ‘go into the experience’ during daily activities and still function? How does practice 36 differ from being in a constant state of mahamudra? Exactly how do you direct the goodness you generate from the practices to awakening? Translated text available on the website.
Reflection Questions (continued): Are the 37 practices a description or a set of instructions? How does knowing what is happening in your own mind or own experience help others? (verse 36). Comments from students on what it was like to meditate on these practices and put them into action in daily life. (Note: There is a gap in the recording at this point due to technical difficulties.) Comments on the closing four verses and preparation for taking the Bodhisattva Vow. Translated text available on the website.
The origin of the text, about the author, emptiness as a means to an end (compassion), meditation, commentary on first three verses
When everything is going well in life, what is practice about? Letting go of conventional concerns, finding a good teacher and the functions of teachers, the prison of patterns, refuge prayer, karma as instruction instead of karma as explanation, creating conditions so you can listen to what’s inside you, the illusion of control, embracing life fully.
Questions on practices 4 – 10, compassion as the centerpiece of practice, two meditations on taking and sending along with question from participants
Working with anger, practicality and perfection, balance in relationships, pain and compassion, working with slander, shame and enemies, is practice for building skills or for being present
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What is like in your meditation practice when you don’t fight as much? Working with sleepiness and noise. Opening to what arises and to the experience of attachment.
An in-depth discussion on: whatever arises in experience is your own mind (verse 22), let go attachment (verse 23), and when you run into misfortune look at it as confusion (verse 24). Questions from participants.
A question about anger; commentary on verses regarding the six perfections: generosity, morality, patience, effort, meditative stability, wisdom
Questions from participants on meditation and prayer, knowing when to refine or change meditation practices, mindfulness and reading. Commentary on what is meant by go into your own confusion (31), undermining yourself when grumbling about others (32), squabbling undermining learning (33), and brief commentary on remaining verses. Observations from participants on what they will take away from the retreat.
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
Discussion on the issues of developing and maintaining your own meditation practice.
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
Sufi teaching story: “The Story of Fire”; examples of ways traditions move away from direct experience and straightforward application in life; what do we seek in practice?; guided meditation: primary practice; expanding to include the full field of experience, and resting; discussion of uses of such an experience; explanation of reasons that traditional texts were restricted.
Meditation on “What am I searching for?”; resting in the full experience of this question; meditation: “I practice in order to be at peace with the world.” ; samsara as the chaotic process of moving among different ways of experiencing different worlds; “I” as a narrative that is constructed in order to give a semblance of rational consistency to this chaotic process.
Fascination with tools we develop in practice; skandha map; human tendency to worship; honor and appreciation toward those who show us something valuable; discussion of Pure Lands; falling into worship, moving into projection and away from living awake.
Wisdom; meditation: observing what changes when we rest and relax with a problematic experience; experiencing what is actually arising and being at peace at the same time; spiritual opening as memory, idea, belief; beliefs vs ideology; compassion; emptiness as the means to compassion; compassion and ideology.
Discussion of the View section from The Lamp of Mahamudra by Tselek Rangdrol and the Shamatha section from Clarifying the Natural State by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal). Sketch of history and relevance of Mahamudra. The view can be seen as a response to life’s basic questions such as ‘What Am I?’ and ‘What is this experience we call “life”?’; the connection between essence and experience; contrast of clarity and openness of natural awareness with the stuff of ordinary experience; how emotional reactions and the six realms arise; examination of the kayas as a way to see things as they are; working with a teacher as one way to transform emotional energy into attention; seeing what you are by seeing what you are not, description of three types of meditations to do while taking this class, questions from class participants.
A story about meeting the spiritual path; review of practice experiences from the previous week; three necessary qualities: capacity, know-how, willingness; understanding v. knowledge; incorporating practice into all areas of life; practice is primarily about developing capacity; two capacities — resting and looking; developing the capacity for looking; investigation of the nature of mind is a response to the question “What am I?”; investigation of the nature of thought and sensation is a response to the question “What is life?”; life as sensations, feelings, and thoughts; the worlds of shared experience and actual experience; mind (awareness, what I am) cannot be separated from thought and sensation (experience, what is life); meditation instruction for the upcoming week; questions from class participants.
Mahamudra – a way to experience things as they are; the world of actual experience and the world of projection; The Ruler of The Universe; the value of accumulating ability and experience; being completely in the experience of what arises; pointing out instructions for the union of resting and seeing; questions from class participants
Questions from participants including: Is there an absolute?, What to believe in?, What is meant by ‘the single mind is the seed of everything’?, What is meant by ‘don’t dwell on the present’?; how we stop experiencing the way things are; lack of capacity vs. lack of understanding; practicing to build capacity; additional questions from participants; the eight ways we stray from mind nature
Comments and questions from class participants; practicing during formal meditation and during ensuing activities; resting in, and stabilizing, shifts in attention; using thoughts and experiences to develop wakefulness; three ways of resting that maintain wakefulness; creating conditions so you can relax from the inside out; leaving your mind as it is naturally; the knowing which knows without identifying; questions on the text.
Questions from class participants including, What can I do about being bored while being in my experience?, What is the difference between ‘dwell on the present’ and ‘being in the present’?, What is meant by ‘conjure and multiply’ in the text?; creating the conditions for practice’; engaging in life’s activities as a way to enhance practice; becoming an ongoing response to what is arising; willingness, know-how, and capacity; the stages of Mahamudra practice
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 life Intention: 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.
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 Eyes How 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
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The aim of Buddhist practice; What is a relationship? Three types of relationship: 1) mutual benefit, 2) shared aim, 3) emotional connection; What’s possible in a relationship? What gets in the way — or how projections arise in relation to the Three Marks of Existence (impermanence, suffering, and no self); How relationships are undermined by disagreement or lack of clarity about their basis; How we can become awake in relationships.
What can we actually know in a relationship? The story of Nasrudin, the smuggler and the customs agent; The world of shared experience and the world of individual experience; The Four Steps of Standing Up in a Relationship: 1) Stand up — actually be there, 2) Open to what is happening, 3) Serve what is true to the limit of your perception, 4) Receive the result; Useful tools for being awake in relationships: deep listening, four questions for opening up difficult situations, the rule of three, returning confusion to its source and not picking up what isn’t yours.
Conflict as the experience of resistance to change when two or more worlds interact; Locating the resistance; The inevitability of conflict and how to engage in it skillfully; The Four Stages of Conflict (from Vajrayana Buddhism) — pacification, enrichment, magnetisation and destruction; How to be awake in conflict using the same tools as for being awake in relationships and by remembering the Three Marks of Existence.
The Four Immeasurables as higher emotions not based on a sense of self, and their transformative quality; The Four Immeasurables in the context of relationship and conflict and the ways these manifest in relationships; How equanimity manifests as judgement at the base level, up through impartiality, aloofness or detachment, and patience to full acceptance with no sense of judgement; The two aspects of true equanimity; How loving-kindness manifests as attraction or sexual desire at the base level, up through affection and caring to the selfless wish that others be happy; How compassion manifests as pity at the base level up through sympathy, fearlessness to be with another person’s pain to the genuine wish that they not suffer; The complexity and richness of compassion; Joy as competition or paranoia at the base level, up through elation or delight to joy in being and knowing what needs to be done and just doing it. Loving kindness and compassion as the appropriate efforts in intimate relationships; The shared aim relationship with a spiritual teacher; A summary of conflict as resistance to change demanded by the third world created when two people interact.
Participant’s questions; experiencing the body; relationship as the experience of interaction; relationship types: mutual benefit, shared aim, emotional connection; reactive needs vs present needs; “I” as an experience; balance, betrayal.
Guided meditation: opening to imbalances in a relationship; participant’s experience; developing the skill to experience life without “I”; emotional correspondence vs emotional connection.
Hope as a manifestation of belief vs a manifestation of faith; conflict as the experience of the resistance to change when two or more worlds interact; fear arising from conflict; interpretation vs actual experience; undischarged feelings leading to conflict.
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.
The Four Noble Truths are about finding a way to live without struggling with what we experience; why “struggle” may be the more appropriate term in English to dukkha; the Eightfold Path as a description of a way of living, but usually interpreted as a prescription for practice; confusion of descriptions of results with means of practice and problems that arise; the fallacy of rational decision making and utility theory as a basis for economics, sociology, and spiritual practice; examination of the first four elements of the Eightfold Path from the perspective of practice; right view is practiced by bringing attention to how you view things; the result will be the traditional description of the characteristics of right view; right intention is to bring attention to intention, what am I doing right now and why?; right speech is to bring attention into the act of speaking, listening to the sound of your own voice when you speak; right action is to bring attention into the experience of action, leads to a relationship with power, makes action more effective.
Review of main points from first talk; two practical frameworks for implementing right action; right livelihood is to bring attention to how you provide for life; livelihood in terms of how we interact with others around earning our living; economies based on consumption vs economies based on intention; right effort is to bring attention to how we are making an effort; four dimensions of capacity; right attention, or mindfulness, is to bring attention to how we are direct attention; right absorption or samadhi is to bring attention to how we rest in attention.
The context for the four immeasurables in Buddhist practice, how they differ from other emotions including their power to transform ordinary experience into presence; how different traditions view the immeasurables; clarifying pain, hurt, suffering and harm; the purpose, cost and benefit of practicing the four immeasurables; meditation instruction on equanimity practice, Q&A
Reading assignments for class; participants’ experience with equanimity meditation including preference and prejudice towards one’s self; willingness, know-how and capacity in applying the immeasurable; reaction to ‘experiencing the world knowing me just as I am’; judgement versus discernment; sitting in experience versus deduction and analysis. Commentary on the two types of experience: social/shared experience and individual/actual experience; being complete in the world of individual experience; how equanimity arises naturally in the world of individual experience; questions from participants on the two worlds of experience; meditation instruction for loving kindness.
Participants’ experience with loving-kindness meditation including opening to what arises; doesn’t wishing oneself to be happy actually separate you from certain experiences; is it unrealistic to think of the world wishing you happiness and peace; how this meditation impacts life off the cushion; is there a specific order to the immeasurables; how to work with fear; what is meant by ‘opening’ to experience; the purpose of practice and its effect on one’s life; is our natural state to be open or closed to what arises. Commentary on decay and corruption in the four immeasurables; meditation instruction for compassion.
Participants’ experience with compassion meditation and related reading including experiences with heartbreak and movement of energy; being present in the suffering of others; are goals useful in practice; intention and results; compassion and boundaries; what is meant by ‘the open space of no response’; what is meant by ‘non-residing’; working with the line ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’; the satisfaction of despising. Commentary on adolescence striving and parental mind; meditation instruction for compassion.
Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: Should we say the verses used in these meditations aloud or to ourselves?; Does the line in the compassion meditation, ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’, impose an unrealistic ideal upon the world?; difficulty in extending these verses to include others; the relationship between compassion, despair, and joy; What are you opening to when being compassionate towards others?; How does one find the balance between justice and compassion Commentary on social and adult expressions of the four immeasurables and spiritual longings passage from the reading assignment; meditation instruction for joy.
Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: joy, passion, excitement, and fun; what is meant by the line “May I experience the world celebrating my efforts”; sympathetic joy; is “the world celebrating my efforts” a form of external validation; how impermanence may appear to contradict cause and effect; how can I “enjoy the activities of life itself” when life becomes sticky; what does one do if you can see a situation clearly but may not have the capacity to act as the situation demands. Commentary on energy transformation passage from the reading assignment; what participants got from the class; where to go from here.
Studying ancient texts in modern times; three approaches: study/reflection/practice; texts to be covered; looking for the questions behind the answers; participant’s questions about text/course. The Jewel Ornament of Liberaton by Gampopa, class covers Introduction
What is the question for which Buddha nature is the answer?; what is Buddha nature; Buddha nature is not a thing; difference between knowing and understanding; Buddha nature and emptiness; why it is possible to awaken; exploring potential and motivation; questions and answers. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 1.
What makes it possible for the heart/mind to grow quiet? What makes it possible for me to know?; the five types of potential (families); interpreting the mythic; transformation of motivation; the process of spiritual maturation; Q & A. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 1.
What is the question for which “this precious human body” is the answer?, what is meant by “body,” the eight unfavorable conditions that make practice difficult, the ten factors that must be present for practice, the three types of motivation for practice. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 2.
The rare combination of circumstances that allow for the opportunity to practice; students’ reports of experiences with faith and belief; defining faith (the willingness to open to whatever arises in experience) and belief (unchallengeable positions through which one filters experience); faith and experience; the three types of faith: trusting, longing, and clear; in what do we actually have faith?; trust the knowing; the ten factors that must be present for practice; the three types of motivation for practice. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 2. zebra
Recap of previous discussion on faith and belief from a perspective of how suffering is viewed in Christianity and Buddhism; students’s reports of what they experience when working with a teacher; what is the question for which “meeting a teacher” is the answer?; three reasons why a person needs a spiritual teacher: scripture, logic, simile; retranslating omniscience, merit, and purifying obscurations. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 3.
The teacher-student relationship as origin of understanding; the importance of questions; experience as teacher; the four classifications of teachers; defining nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and bodhisattva; ways to approach the mythic language of classical texts. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 3.
Respect for, and service to, one’s teacher as expression of importance of one’s own spiritual practice; eastern and western perspectives on the teacher-student relationship; knowing when motivation for practice comes from presence and not patterned behavior; devotion and reverence towards one’s teacher as expression of one’s own emotional attitude toward spiritual practice; practice and persistence (the individual responsibilities of teachers and students); three ways to receive teaching. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 3.
Medieval context; definition of lamrim; translation issues; four reasons (obstacles) why we aren’t already awake: taking experience as fact, habituated tendencies to satisfy cravings, mistaking peace for being awake, and not knowing what to do to wake up; if experience isn’t real or a fact, what is experience?; differences in the meaning of “ego” as used in Buddhism and psychology; manufacturing vs. growth process; remedies to the four obstacles; impermanence and the four ends. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 4.
Viewing mythic descriptions of the outer world as descriptions of internal processes; meditating on death as a means to detach from social conditioning, increasing clarity in life, and savoring every moment; why be concerned about death if our “experience isn’t real”?; the balance created by contemplating the fact death can come at any time; working with physical reactions and sensations that arise with contemplating death; emotional parallels between contemplating physical death and experiencing death of patterns. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 4.
Appreciating and living the three facts of impermanence: death is certain, time of death uncertain, and we take nothing with us into death; regret and death; moving beyond child-like morality of right and wrong; impermanence and the intensification of life experience; value of being able to experience life fully; how to do reflective meditations such as death and impermanence; how to use physical and emotional reactions in these meditations. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 4.
Recap of chapters previously covered; about the word dukkha; what “suffering” means in Buddhism; what is the question to which “the vicious cycle of samsara” is the answer?; why not just eat, drink, and be merry?; relating the three types of suffering to the three poisons and the three types of faith; exercise on experience and our reaction to experience; a closer look at the first two types of suffering. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 5.
Review of the first two types of suffering; the third type of suffering and the six realms; how a society’s cosmology (medieval or modern) reflect its psychology; how we experience the six realms in daily life (anger as hot hell, hate as cold hell, etc.); how the development of numbering systems impacted mythic descriptions; perception of time and the realms; personal values and social norms; the four major and four minor sufferings of the human realm. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 5.
Three analogies for karma: God’s will, gravity, and evolution; God’s will as explanation of mystery; gravity as absence of justice, etc.; evolution as contrast to cause and effect; karma’s function in spiritual life; karma is conditioning through intention and action; the three types of karma. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6.
Follow-up on free will and karma; ten non-virtuous acts; motivation/intention; the full ripening result; the results of a specific non-virtuous actions (taking life); the problem with purity; By not taking these mythic descriptions literally, are we somehow shutting the door to the mystery of life?; the three categories of non-virtuous acts; beliefs which prevent us from relating to what actually is; avoiding obsession; making the dharma relevant in western culture; Buddhism as “a” way or “the” way; karma and attachment to meditative states; description of janas; meditation for the upcoming week: the experience of lying. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6.
Participants reflection on intentionally engaging in a non-virtuous act; patterned behavior as a way to avoid experience; ascription, inevitability and karma; how to respond to questions like “Do you believe in evil?”; loving-kindness and compassion as remedies to attachment to the pleasure of peace; the maturation of motivation and practice; is compassion the natural outcome of awareness or something one must cultivate?; meditation instruction for upcoming week: what is it like to receive kindness? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.
Participants report their experience with previous week’s meditation assignment; a tale of warm fuzzies and cold pricklies; reactions to giving and receiving kindness; three steps to staying present when receiving kindness: recognizing, acknowledging, and appreciating; the natural response (love) to staying present in kindness; extending this response to “all sentient beings”; the difference between loving-kindness and compassion; the contraction that occurs in the presence of suffering that prevents loving-kindness and compassion from arising; meditation for the upcoming week: what do I actually trust? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 7.
Participants’ experience of previous week’s meditation on trust; an exercise in trust; overview of material covered to date; the importance of a foundation to spiritual practice; origin of refuge; in what can one trust; outer, inner and mystery interpretation of the three jewels; each jewel meets a different motivation; meditation instruction for the upcoming week: what needs to happen for me to take refuge seriously? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 8.
Review of previous week’s discussion on outer, inner, and secret interpretations of the three jewels; participants’ experiences with meditation on trusting the three jewels; participants explain why taking a vow of refuge was important; description of refuge ceremony from text; what is meant by “realise all phenomena are nonexistent and have no form, no perception, and no characteristics…”; experience when completely present; function and importance of ritual and ceremony; discussion of various trainings in refuge; overview of pratimoksa; meditation instruction for upcoming week: contemplate doing something unwholesome. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 8.
Students’ experience with previous week’s meditation exercise on engaging in wholesome and unwholesome activities; reading behind the lines when a text references other text (using opening of Chapter 8 as an example); what is bodhicitta, what cultivates it, and what it means to be awake; a different perspective on what it means to help all sentient beings; discussion of some of the 22 similes for bodhicitta; meditation instruction for upcoming week: study similes. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
summary: Participants’ experience with meditation exercise; the four stages in the development of awakening mind; two aspects of awakening mind: apparently true and ultimately true; translation points on these two terms; aspiration and engagement awakening mind; attention, intention and will; meditation assignment for upcoming week. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
summary: Participant’s experience with meditation on attention, intention, and will; living life at the level of intention or will in order to help others wake up (bodhicitta); Is bodhicitta or desire to help others awaken a natural instinct?; the four geneses of bodhicitta; meditation instruction for upcoming week: when you doing something you know is wrong, what needs to happen to lay it to rest? The four stages in the development of awakening mind; two aspects of awakening mind: apparently true and ultimately true; translation points on these two terms; aspiration and engagement awakening mind; attention, intention and will. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Participant’s experience with meditation on laying to rest wrong action; taking the bodhisattva vow in the presence of a teacher; does spiritual understanding lead to appropriate action; insight and compassion; preparation for taking the vow: offerings (developing generosity), clearing away non-virtuous action (remorse, remedy, resolve, reliance); meditation instruction for upcoming week on rejoicing in virtue. Due to a recording error, the meditation instruction was added later. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Participant’s experience with meditation on rejoicing in virtue; meeting the deficiency inside ourselves so that we may aspire to bodhicitta; planting virtuous roots; prayers used in class: Prayer to the Perfection of Wisdom, Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind, Refuge and Awakening Mind, Four Immeasurables, Dedication, Aspiration for Awakening Mind, Good Fortune; bodhisattva vow ceremony; celebration; meditation instruction for upcoming week on succumbing to despair with regard to helping others. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Participant’s experience with meditation on succumbing to despair and rejecting others; aspects of the bodhisattva vow associated with Dharmakirti; moving from intention to will; benefits of taking the vow, disadvantages of losing and factors leading to the degeneration of the bodhisattva vow; vow renewal; bodhicitta as an ethic of compassion; meditation instruction for upcoming week: repeat bodhisattva vow daily, how do you respond to the ceremony and to forming this intention? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Participants’ experience with meditation on bodhisattva vow; creating conditions for bodhicitta to arise in oneself; five training principles: don’t close your heart to anything, be mindful of the benefits, nurturing goodness and awareness, spread and deepen attitude within, avoiding four black dharmas and instilling white dharmas; meditation assignment for upcoming week on experiencing the four black dharmas. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9 and Chapter 10.
Participants’ experience with meditation on the four black dharmas; genesis and fruition vehicles; three moral trainings; Buddhist frameworks: ground, path, fruition; six perfections: generosity, morality, patience, effort, meditative stability and wisdom; their specific evolutionary order; their characteristics; generosity as letting go; paramita; meditation assignment for upcoming week on the difference between giving with and without a sense of I and other. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 11.
Generosity; participants’ experience with meditation on giving with and without a sense of I and other; rational choice theory; advantages of practicing and disadvantages of refraining from generosity; action vs. motivation as basis for morality; essential gesture; classification; primary characteristics; economic systems; 4 methods for increasing the power of generosity; moving from ordinary generosity to the perfection of generosity; end outcome of generosity; meditation assignment: the difference between doing the moral thing because you know its the right thing to do and doing the moral thing because it is natural. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 12.
Morality; participants’ experience with meditation on morality; discussion of external authority; morality as discipline; morality as skillful means; advantages of practicing and disadvantages of refraining from moral discipline: exercise of discipline as stepping out of conditioned behavior; essential gesture: moral discipline is learned through interaction; classification: restraint, generating the good and wholesome, wake up to every aspect of our experience; primary characteristics; generating good and wholesome outcomes; descriptive guidelines for living awake; moving from ordinary moral discipline to the perfection of moral discipline; end outcome; meditation assignment: when you find yourself being impatient, what are you unwilling or afraid of seeing? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 13.
Patience; participants’ experience with meditation on impatience; impatience arising from feeling weaker than what opposes you; anger conditions quickly and deeply; essential gesture: compassion creates a sense of ease; classification: patience when interacting with others, patience with self in spiritual practice, patience with fear of no-self; primary characteristics; developing patience with self; working with anger; patience with ending reactive patterns; patience which allows us to know just how things are; meditation assignment: work more deeply to experience what one seeks to avoid by exiting into impatience. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 14.
summary: Working hard; participants’ experience with meditation on experiencing what one seeks to avoid by exiting into impatience; translation issues around “perseverance, diligence, effort, etc.”; working hard the right way; virtuous, spiritual and practical aspects of working hard; passivity vs laziness; 3 types of laziness and remedies; translation issues around laziness; 3 types of diligence; 3 efforts; natural enthusiasm in working hard at virtue; efforts on one’s spiritual path; working hard with no sense of effort; meditation assignment for upcoming week on exploring one’s experience with enthusiasm and lack of enthusiasm in everyday life. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 15.
Meditative stability; participants’ experience with meditation on enthusiasm and lack of enthusiasm in everyday life; stability vs. concentration; results of agitated mind; clairvoyance as a mistranslation of what can happen with a stable mind; stable attention gives rise to compassion; natural virtue of resting mind; stopping distraction; primary characteristics, genesis and faults of fragmentation of attention and solitude; evaluating what brings meaning, value and peace to us; clear intention leads to stable attention; meditation assignment for upcoming week on comparing experience in actions with clear and unclear intention. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 16.
Meditative stability; participants’ experience with meditation on actions with clear and unclear intention; remedies for the following reactive emotions: desire, anger, instinct/blind stupidity/ignoring, jealousy, and pride; experiencing vs acting out or suppressing emotions; remedies are used to develop unfragmented attention; three kinds of stable attention; meditation assignment for upcoming week on exploring the difference between doing routine, simple activities as usual and doing them with a resting mind.The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 16.
summary: Perfection of wisdom; participants’ experience with meditation on the difference between doing routine, simple activities as usual and doing them when one has dropped into the clear resting mind; importance of means and wisdom; perfection of wisdom is knowing precisely what you are experiencing or know directly that all experience arises from no thing; translation points, change “realize” to “know directly” and “phenomena” to “experience”; entering into the mystery of “what am I? what is this experience I call life? what is time?”; approaching experience as just experience; practice instructions; meditation assignment: ewhen and how do I experience time in daily activities and meditation? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 17.
summary: The problems and advantages of charting spiritual progression; spiritual growth is rarely linear; the five paths as a way of organizing accumulated wisdom; The Path of Accumulation (gathering resources), mindfulness, perfect abandonment, and miracle powers; The Path of Application or Accommodation (no independent existence), the four stages and four noble truths, the five powers and strengths; The Path of Insight (seeing the nature of things); The Path of Meditation and the noble eight-fold path; The Path of Perfection (attention and seeing are stabilized). The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 18.
Discussion of the highly coded text used in these last chapters; overview of the ten bhumis or stages and how they relate to one’s experience; how the stages reflect specific, real-life experiences and shifts; division of stages into impure and pure. Discussion of the first (nature) of the two aspects of the pristine awareness of Buddhahood; evaluating experience; resting in experience and seeing what is, bringing these two together; seeing things as they are, knowing how they appear; meditation instruction for upcoming week. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 19 and Chapter 20.
The three kayas or forms of buddhahood (dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya) and their characteristics; special traits of buddhahood; understanding the activities of buddhahood as the natural response of compassion instead of viewing them as special abilities; thanks and acknowledgments to everyone who helped manage the class and make the podcasts possible.. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 20 and Chapter 21.
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.
Recorded shortly after a tsunami in Asia, this talk centers on using one’s reactions to sudden tragedies as a basis for practice.