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?
Prayers and rituals to evoke the emotions of devotion, loving-kindness, and compassion in order to be clear, present, and open during meditation, the importance of intention, concluding meditation by letting go of judgement and attachment
Major traditional metaphors in Buddhism include war and farming; sometimes more useful metaphors are space, weather and evolution; courage and faith needed to engage reactive emotions with loving-kindness; combining tenderness and effort.
Increasing our relationship to emotional material through practices of loving-kindness, compassion and devotion; awareness of body is key; Mahamudra pith instructions; “body like a mountain, breath like the wind, mind like the sky; heart and mind not distinct; difference between method and result; developing capacity by stopping before attention dissipates; relationship of Mahamudra to primary practice.
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 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’ 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.
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.
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.
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