Dismantling patterns using a process based on the four noble truths (from Awakening From Belief 11), working with patterns that prevent behavioral changes, how to deal with physical sensations that may arise when working with patterns.
passage from article:When I did open to everything, there was no opposition — there was no enemy. I didn’t have to struggle with experience. At the same time, there was no truth, no state of perfection, no ideal, no final achievement. Again, years later, in a conversation with another teacher about this experience, he said, “Don’t worry about truth. Just develop devotion so strongly that thinking stops, and rest right there.”
Recognizing and countering four forms of “mind killing” in which reactive patterns are used to induce us to act against our own interests; idol of the cave: attempts to replace our experience with others’ goals; idol of the marketplace: language is used to mislead us; idol of the theater: theories or philosophies are used to overwhelm us; idol of the tribe: more cohesion is assumed than actually exists.
passage from article: Imbalance in a relationship, whatever the basis of the relationship, inevitably leads to lack of respect on one side and resentment on the other. Relationships can and do endure periods of imbalance. Sooner or later, however, the imbalance must be addressed if the relationship is to continue.
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: Fear is a reactive mechanism that operates when our identity (including the identity of being a physical entity) is threatened. It works to erode or dissipate attention. We move into one of the six realms and react: destroy the threat or seek revenge (hell being), grasp at safety and security (hungry ghost), focus on survival (animal), pursue pleasure as compensation (human), vie for superiority (titan), or protect status and position (god). Because we are less present to what is actually taking place, our actions are correspondingly less appropriate and less effective. We go to sleep in our beliefs and ignore the consequences of maintaining them.
passage from article: Finally, we come to the training in natural presence… Many people approach this naively, feeling that a drastic simplification of their life will be sufficient (adoption of a monastic life, living simply in nature, stepping off the fast track, etc.), but we usually bring our baggage with us when we make these moves. The first effort here is to rid ourselves of accumulations from the past… The second effort is to let go of the future. …
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: …The comparison reveals where your habituated tendencies have been reinforced by your work environment and are pulling you out of balance. Now you know where to start. As your priorities change, you will spend time in areas you neglected and shift responsibility for things you used to do to others. People around you will react in different ways: those for whom your old ways were convenient will resist the changes, while others will welcome them. You will, inevitably, see more clearly how your work environment systemically reinforces reactivity in you and in others.
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.
passage from article: Take a simple behavioral pattern such as starting something before we finish what we are currently doing… Once in place, such patterns permeate our lives. We repeat the same dynamic over and over again. We are complete automatons. We may appear to be as graceful and delicate as a fern, but it’s pattern, all the way down.
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.
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
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.
Question regarding translation of Dogen’s Genjokoan; If objects and experiences are empty and there is no self, why does it matter what I do?; the struggle between patterns and ethical/virtuous behavior; Buddhist ethics as a way to create the conditions for a quiet mind; what would life be like if you could experience fully whatever arises?; intention; meeting what is there; what is buddha nature?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Habituation as a form of addiction; the dynamics of addiction from an experiential perspective; the dynamics of addiction from a biochemical perspective; stepping out of addiction to habitual reactions; process through which freedom is found; meditation practice on emptying the six realms; Q&A
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: 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, 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
The eight components of a pattern and their relationship to the five elements and six realms, suggested reading material
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)
Q&A on dealing with reactive patterns, instruction on working with the undischarged feelings within patterns
Recognizing reactive patterns, beliefs as fully crystallized patterns, recognizing choice points within patterns, how a pattern impacts all areas of life
Paired exercise on experiencing reactive patterns; additional instruction on working with reactive patterns
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 based on students’ meditation on karma and how patterns shape experience.
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.
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.
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.