Podcast

N&B: Self and No-self

No-self as a core insight of Buddhism (from Guru, Deity, Protector 4), questions on working with a sense of self, the stories we tell about self, self and suffering.


Article

Who Am I?

passage from article: Who am I? In the world of social conventions, the answer is a story. Lots of things may go into this story: interests, history, quirks, talents, achievements, background, likes, dislikes, successes and failures. And the story we tell changes according to the circumstances.


Translation- text

Cutting Through

In response to the earnest request of George Draffan, an experienced follower of the way, Ken McLeod, a blind man who stumbles over his own feet, translated this excerpt from Machik’s autobiography in 2006 in Los Angeles.


Translation - prayer

Devotion Pierces My Heart

passage from text:
Even with a free and well-favored birth, I waste this life.
The meaningless activities of conventional life constantly distract me.
When I work at freedom, which is truly important, laziness carries me away.
Because I am turning away from a land of jewels with my hands empty,
Guru, think of me: look upon me quickly with compassion.
Give me energy to make my life worthwhile.


Article

The First Precept: To Kill or Not to Kill

passage from article: Deep questions about values and ethics arise around the issues of abortion, life support, and elective suicide for those with debilitating and terminal illnesses. In these and other circumstances, call up compassion so that you see clearly, go empty in all the complexities so you know what is, and in that knowing act without hesitation.


Article

Imagine You're Enlightened

passage from article: A student asked Dezhung Rinpoche about visualization practice and deity meditation. Dezhung Rinpoche closed his eyes, scrunched his forehead, bobbed his head up and down as if he were concentrating very hard and said, “You visualize the head of the deity, then you visualize all those arms, then you visualize the implements, then the palace, then you try to see the whole deity clearly, but you lose one part, so you go back to visualize that… And it’s all gone. You start again, and the same thing happens, again, and again.” Then he opened his eyes wide, looked right at the student, smiled, and said, “And then you have a headache!”


Podcast

Relationship and Conflict 2

Guided meditation: opening to imbalances in a relationship; participant’s experience; developing the skill to experience life without “I”; emotional correspondence vs emotional connection.


Podcast

Relationship and Conflict 1

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.


Podcast with transcript

Surviving Stressful Times 2

Determining our destiny is a myth; the sense of self is a fiction we construct to endow the chaos of our lives with a semblance of rational consistency; what stories do we believe?; order vs chaos; what beliefs do I hold and what do they prevent me from seeing?; participant’s experience; spectrum of possibilities between extremes; no truth, just what happens.


Podcast

Anything Is Possible 2

Appearances and reality; what life is and staying present in it; the world in which we think we live and the world in which we actually live; where does Buddhism and politics come together; how does one work with psychological trauma in practice; working with fear; how does interdependent origination relate to our thoughts; karma, rebirth, and evolution; translating Buddhist poetry and spiritual writing; discussion of mantra at the end of the Heart Sutra


Podcast

Anything Is Possible 1

Appearances and reality; what life is and staying present in it; the world in which we think we live and the world in which we actually live; where does Buddhism and politics come together; how does one work with psychological trauma in practice; working with fear; how does interdependent origination relate to our thoughts; karma, rebirth, and evolution; translating Buddhist poetry and spiritual writing; discussion of mantra at the end of the Heart Sutra


Podcast with transcript

Heart Sutra Workshop 3

How to read a sutra; form is emptiness, emptiness is form; world of shared experience vs world of actual experience; form as experience vs emptiness as the space in which experience arises; the value of nothing; “I” as an experience; rest, trusting the perfection of wisdom; no where to go; being at peace.


Podcast with transcript

Who Am I? 3

Who am I functionally? Who am I in the family environment? Who am I in the work environment? Who am I acting in each of the six realms?


Podcast with transcript

Who Am I? 2

Who am I ultimately? Am I my name, my body, my feelings, my thoughts, what I experience? sense of self; impermanence of self; independence of self; irreducible aspect of self.


Podcast with transcript

Who Am I? 1

Introduction of participants; workshop outline; meditation instruction; Who am I conventionally speaking? What are my interests, talents, influences, gifts? Where am I going?


Podcast with transcript

Pointing Out Instructions 1

Retreat format, structure, and materials; what is the view?; error of taking refuge in specific experiences; the mistaken notion of self vs. skillful interactions; the illusion of choice.


Podcast with transcript

Then and Now, Class 33

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.


Podcast with transcript

Then and Now, Class 9

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.


Podcast

What Do I Do Now? 2a

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.’


Podcast

What Do I Do Now? 1b

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.


Podcast

What Do I Do Now? 1a

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.


Podcast

37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 12a

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.


Podcast

37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 10b

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.


Podcast

37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 10a

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.


Podcast

37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 9

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.


Podcast

37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 8a

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.


Podcast with transcript

Releasing Emotional Reactions 5

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


Podcast with transcript

Releasing Emotional Reactions 4

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.


Podcast with transcript

Releasing Emotional Reactions 3

Q&A based on students’ experience with bare attention, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on the four foundations


Podcast

Stalking Death 1

Frame work to aid in making the right effort; how we experience; subject/object frame work as an abstraction; dropping sense of I/other; undoing misperceptions of our experience; contemplating change: outer changes defined as objects of our senses, inner changes defined as bodily changes, hidden changes defined as emotions & thoughts; participant’s questions.


Podcast with transcript

Guru, Deity, Protector 4

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