Is Vajrayana an appropriate path if you have with limited access to your root guru or if you’re unlikely to attend a three-year retreat? After a new practitioner has worked with the breath to gain experience and develop stability, should they then meditate on impermanence or the four immeasurables? How do you incorporate what what you learn from teachers in other Buddhist traditions?
Difference between teaching and learning, faith and belief; the three important things: impermanence/change, compassion, and faith; opening to doubt; the direction of the present. Questions from participants: What is the most productive question you’ve asked yourself? How do I not carry the past into the present? How do I stay focused on this path when at times I just want to be coddled?
Why meditate? Why practice taking and sending? What should I do when I find myself interrupting my meditation at the same point every day? Why meditate on death and impermanence? Why does it seem that my daily meditation doesn’t directly relate to my daily life? What is the difference between equanimity and indifference?
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.
Meditating on your last breath. Is doing your best enough? Incorporating what arises in practice. The inevitability of death. But I am not really dying. Letting go of what you feel you’re suppose to feel. Working with things you don’t like.
How do I deal with anxiety when meditating? Impermanence and the four ends. Guilt and morality. Shame and joy. What is the future of buddhism? Messing with your practice.
passage from article: This is the final step in letting go of any attempt to categorize our experience. The experience which comes out of this is non-thought. Out of this comes a confidence of possibilities within ourselves. We are increasingly able to act without second thoughts and do what is appropriate. In other words, we come to know the stillness of the mind that no longer depends solely on conceptual processes to formulate responses to the world of experience.
passage from text:
The happiness of the three worlds disappears in a moment,
Like a dewdrop on a blade of grass.
The highest level of freedom is one that never changes.
Aim for this — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.
Introduction to text; historical context; Tilopa and Naropa; three doors to practice; mahamudra as a way of experiencing; metaphors of space; letting experience be just as it is; meditation instruction for the next week: rest in experience of breathing, open to sensory experience.
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.”
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.
Ozymandias; exploration of “Everything changes, nothing stays the same” by means of a group contemplation called response / inquiry.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
The session begins by explaining there are different levels of understanding found in the first two spiritual paths (traditional path and path of cutting through conditioning). These paths have a vertical dimension. A person can become aware of new levels in two ways: through interaction with a teacher or through interaction with fellow students who have more experience. Practice only grows if one works at the edge of one’s practice. Working the edge can be difficult: it is often experienced in the body as panic or nausea and in the mind as uncertainty, or confusion. Finding the edge often requires interaction with a teacher, especially if the student experiences a feeling of not getting anywhere, staleness, or coasting in practice. Physical signs of being over the edge include a sense of being out of balance, engulfed, isolated, failing, or bewildered.The discussion then turned to different levels of practice, this time from the perspective of ‘doing what you know needs to be done’ as opposed to ‘being good.’
The second approach discussed is to cut through four types of conditioning: sociological, psychological, perceptual, and cultural. To cut through sociological conditioning one contemplates on death and impermanence. Contemplating on karma cuts through psychological conditioning. Breaking through the I-other framework cuts through perceptual conditioning. And development of compassion cuts through cultural conditioning. The third approach is based on personal experience: study and practice everything you can, make the path your own based on what works for you, and stand in your own knowing. Discrepancies between your intention and experienced results are reliable indicators that you are not standing in your own knowing. A flat or stale practice may indicate you’ve exhausted your intention and signal the need for redefining your intention in practice. Keep an eye out for chronic imbalances, as they indicate something is not working.The session ends with a group discussion on whether or not compassion or forgiveness towards oneself is important, especially if there is no self, and how to detect imbalance.
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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.
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.
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.