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“Do not ignore the effect of Right Action”: Ethics, kamma, and the Eightfold Path

The Right Action limb of the path covers the first 3 precepts, starting with non-harming. We’ll look at this excerpt from a sutta called “Intentional” (AN 10.217) to start off, which describes how (and which) actions always have consequences. “Mendicants, I don’t say that intentional deeds that have been performed and accumulated are eliminated without being experienced. And that may …

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8 Yoga Texts Every Student Should Read

These excerpts are taken from the handout to our 20-hour YA-approved “Yoga Humanities” course: Intro to the History of Yoga: Philosophy, Practice, Transformation. Each excerpt is followed by a reflection question for use in class or individual study based on reflection questions in the course. Each of these excerpts is from a text that is central to its particular era, …

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“You Have to Burn Through It”: Remembering Robert Hall

I first met Robert Hall in an interview room at Spirit Rock, during the February part of the 2-month retreat in 2000. I had just started practice there the previous summer, and this was my first long silent retreat. I had found my way to Insight Meditation the way lots of folks did, by stumbling across Jack Kornfield’s book, A …

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How [and why] to have hard conversations! (Family holiday edition)

Here come the turkeys. It’s time once again for the increasingly ragged American tradition of sitting around a cluttered dinner table with people you love but have issues with, trying to make the occasion about gratitude, and trying not to trip any of the land mines nestled between the cranberries and gravy. Chief among the nestled dangers for many of …

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Speech like flowers, speech like honey: The discipline & art of Right Speech

We begin looking at speech — the first aspect of the 3 Limbs of ethical action, or sīla. For many of us, speech is one of the most overt ways we find the practice of the ethical precepts challenging. It’s certainly one of the places where our actions very clearly can be seen to have effects in the world and …

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Cultivating Home in Our Hearts: For Adult Adoptees, Fostered, & Child Welfare System Survivors

This page houses the talks and meditations given by Sean Oakes and Lev White at our Nov 2, 2019 daylong workshop at East Bay Meditation Center. This class was for us who experienced separation from birth families at early ages to explore the heart of the Buddha’s teachings: that pain and loss are built into life and are the seeds …

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“The ford where all the Buddhas cross”: Ethics as the ground of liberation

Continuing in our exploration of the Noble Eightfold Path, we’re entering the limbs of Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood, collectively known as the Ethics (sīla) section. A discourse called “The People of Sālā,” offering a standard list of the elements of Buddhist ethics, breaking down the limbs of Speech and Action into their subgroups, is at the bottom of the …

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Ancestral Trauma & the Insight into Previous Births

The Buddha’s insights into the nature of identity and its relationship with pain and distress are expressed in three important concepts: Dependent Origination (paṭiccasamuppāda), wandering (saṃsāra), and selflessness or insubstantiality (anattā). These are among the most challenging teachings in the tradition partly because they are based in phenomena that few practitioners can observe directly: past lives, the process of cause …

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