A new dive into the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha's brilliant scaffolding for integrated individual and collective liberation. We start, as is traditional, with Right View: the turning of the …
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This month at Satsang (June 2019)
Insight Meditation Satsang
At least through June at Satsang, we’re taking a new dive into the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s brilliant scaffolding for integrated individual and collective liberation.
We start, as is traditional, with Right View: the turning of the heart toward reality and away from delusion. Right View is both the prerequisite for wisdom to arise and the manifestation of wisdom when it matures. So we’ll start with some portion of this, and then unfold into the 8FP map more or less stepwise.
As always, talks and practices weave together personal, relational, and systemic inquiry, exploring the inseparability of individual and collective liberation.
Insight Meditation Satsang
Namaste Yoga + Wellness
2820 7th st, Berkeley
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Meditation with instructions based in the Insight Meditation tradition and its sources in Thai and Burmese Theravāda Buddhism. The focus of the group is on deepening in both traditional Buddhist practice as understood in the Theravāda traditions, and exploring the links between individual & systemic liberation in the form of social justice and collective healing practice.
Did the Buddha teach mindfulness? What were the first monastics actually doing in their meditations? Modern practices of mindfulness and meditation can be traced back to a set of instructions in the earliest layer of Buddhist history, preserved in Pāli and Chinese texts. Recent comparative study of these two traditions suggests that these first practices were a set of simple but profound reflections on the nature of the body, and a path to cultivating deeply wholesome states of mind and heart.
Ven. Anālayo, a German-born monk and scholar in the Sri Lankan tradition, has put together a simplified version of these early practices called Satipaṭṭhāna Meditation, based on the framework of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. This elegant formal practice uses body scans, visualization, and whole-body awareness to explore the central Buddhist insights around impermanence, mortality, and the nature of the self.
This class is oriented toward meditation practitioners with experience in silent sitting practice, and exposure to Buddhist teachings on impermanence, selflessness, and compassion. The practice engages with material that can bring up deep emotions and core wounds, especially around our relationship to our own bodies, and to the reality of death. This can be powerful and healing, but also challenging, and we will move through the practice tenderly, spending time sharing our experiences, discussing the challenges of this kind of practice, and understanding the transformative experience this kind of practice aims to bring about.
Many people find both physical and emotional healing on the yoga mat and meditation cushion. Yoga’s ancient roots as a mental, emotional, and energetic purification can still be felt in the physical exercises that are the heart of modern practice. But while yoga and meditation can support healing, they can also increase distress for folks with trauma, whether rooted in individual or systemic harm.
This practice and study weekend will weave together Classical Hatha Yoga frameworks for embodiment, breath, and spiritual practice with contemporary neuroscience on trauma physiology to help practitioners diminish symptoms such as anxiety, overwhelm, and vigilance, and grow into increased resilience and joy.
On the first day, we’ll learn the basics of nervous system biology and yogic energy work, and how to begin to shift our relationship to our bodies, emotions, and inner stories. On the second day, we’ll look specifically at how to bring the model to life while practicing or teaching yoga, or in any kind of facilitation, focusing on language and empathic mindfulness.
In a beautiful and famous discourse, the Sigālaka Sutta, the Buddha taught a framework for lay people (non-monastics) to build and sustain healthy communities. He used the model of the Six Directions, where the practitioner thinks of themself in a web of relationships: with their parents (east), teachers (south), partner and family (west), friends and colleagues (north), employees and dependents (below), and with religious renunciates and charities (above). Because very few people have intact relationships in all of these “directions,” the practice becomes a framework for healing, and processing the wounds we bear as members of families and communities of many kinds.
The model can help us feel into the gifts and support we receive from, and give to, people in all these different relationships to us. It becomes a reflection on ethics, wise action, social engagement, and the sustaining of beloved community by learning to honor the distinct gifts and challenges of each type of relationship. We will explore ways to care for and heal the harm and trauma that has come through many of these relationships through compassion and forgiveness practices. And cultivate the beautiful qualities of gratitude and generosity that are the glue that holds the whole web together. We will explore this beautiful model through reflection, writing, discussion, meditation, and a group ritual to honor the maṇḍala of the Six Directions and the web of interdependence that is all of life.
It’s said that the moment the Buddha’s first student realized liberation, the whole universe resounded with celebration, and the “Wheel of Dharma” began to turn. Since that first turning, millions of men and women, giving their lives to practice, have realized the end of suffering, and through their dedication to practice and teaching, spread the Dharma around the world.
In this introduction to Buddhist history, we’ll look at the origin and spread of Buddhism as a world religion. We’ll weave between mythic and historical modes of understanding and storytelling: Bodhidharma crossing the ocean on a single reed, Buddhist emperors of Tibet conquering most of China then being themselves conquered, evidence in texts and art throughout Asia of the richness and complexity of Buddhist culture.
We’ll talk about cultural exchange, empire and politics, oral tradition and translation, how the monastic order spread across Asia, and how the Dharma arrived in North America with Asian immigrant communities, eventually taking root in non-Asian communities as well. Learning about the paths this beautiful tradition has taken to arrive here, whether it is our primary faith or not, depeens our practice of tolerance, cultural fluency, and gratitude that the Wheel of Dharma continues to turn for the benefit and blessing of beings in all time and space.
In addition to lecture and discussion, we will explore simple meditation practices from several of the major Buddhist lineages.