An exchange on working the edge in one’s practice (from Releasing Emotional Reactions 4), questions on feeling tones that aries from practice, how does one find the edge in practice, how to remedy a lack of intention, working with the intention to be present.
Bringing attention into actions as the eightfold path’s core practice (from Eightfold Path 2), questions on concentration and attention, how meditation increases attention, and emotional energy.
A discussion on attention and intention from the Pointing Out Instructions retreat followed by questions on shamatha, whether a regular sitting practice is required, and resting in attention.
Meditating to experience life in a different way; meditating to be a better person; attention in speech; coming to terms with who you are; taking and sending; living in a world that ignores impermanence.
passage from article: Compassion is the difference between a faith that opens you to what life brings and beliefs that force you to close down to protect what you cannot or will not question.
Meditation as a way to build abilities, distinguishing between thinking and thoughts, fundamentals of meditation practice, creating the right conditions for practice, resting in the experience of breathing
passage from article: What is freedom? It is the moment by moment experience of not being run by one’s own reactive mechanisms. Does that give you more choice? Usually not.
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.
passage from article: Time and time again, we are told that we are buddha, that the buddha qualities are present now, but that we just don’t know it. The problem, for many of us, is that this knowing is not a form of knowing that we are used to.
passage from article: Many problems in meditation practice come from confusion about what we think should happen, what we want to happen, and what actually happens. One way to clear up this confusion is to be clear about the purpose, method, effects and results of meditation practice.
passage from article: From the Buddhist point of view the mind-body system with which we identify has the seed of attention within it already. We simply provide conditions for sustained active attention to develop. The practice of meditation is the practice of providing those conditions. This is how we cultivate attention, just as we would a plant or tree.
passage from article: The most effective effort is to listen to ourselves as we are talking. This effort brings attention to our speech. When we do this, we will hear when what we say doesn’t fit the situation, when it isn’t what we intended to say, or how we intended to say it. We will hear, with our own ears, the different emotional patterns that take over our speech. We will hear how what we say doesn’t fit with our intention, how it comes out of our confusion, how it doesn’t quite fit with the situation. And as we make this effort over and over again, we will find that we begin to speak with attention in exactly the same way that we come to breath with attention in our meditation.
passage from article: Increasingly, money has become the only medium for exchange between people in our culture. The human part of us resists this as we feel that there is more than simply financial value in our interactions. But money is now used to determine the value of time, the value of any material article, the value of culture, the value of social programs, etc. It is this seeming willingness to measure every aspect of life in money that indicates the true extent to which we have engaged this collective thought.
passage from article: As we cut through our confusion over and over again, returning to the breath, we find that a whole realm of experience begins to open up to us: thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, sounds, images, memories. Our conditioned tendency is to regard some of these as good and some as bad. Through power, we have established a place for our attention to rest. Now we make an effort in ecstasy…
passage from article:When I look back on my first years of Buddhist practice, let’s say the first ten to twelve years, my practice was essentially a reaction to suffering. Most of the time I didn’t know what I was reacting to. I put a great deal of effort into practice, into study, into serving my teacher. I learned a great deal. But it didn’t ease anything inside me.
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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: 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
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.
How do you know your next step in the spiritual path? This class explores this question through three different approaches: a traditional path, a path based on cutting through four types of conditioning, and a path based on personal experience.The book Wake Up To Your Life describes one traditional path: developing attention through basic meditation, cutting through conventional notions of success and failure, recognizing patterns, and working with the five elements. This leads to breaking down emotional reactions and dismantling the sense of “I”. The section closes with comments on about additional practices, the need to adjust practice to the student, and the importance of working with a spiritual teacher.
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.
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
Using form as a mode of training attention, importance of resting in attention
Reaction to, and continuation of, exercise in AFB 9a. Q&A on speaking in attention, anger and non-violence
summary: Intention: the ability to direct attention; process of awakening; guided meditation practice for working with intention.
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: 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.