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Sean Oakes

4 Modes of Attention

One way to think about mindfulness and effort in meditation practice is to imagine a graph where the X axis is volition (doing things on purpose), and the Y axis is consciousness, or being aware of what’s happening. Here’s a talk on this model, some pictures, and a handout to put on the fridge. Meditation: stillness of body, stillness of …

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Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 1

Reevaluating anger and rage on a week where writing about rage, and especially women’s rage at injustice, is hitting threshold in my community. A simple promo post for this talk initiated a lovely, spread out conversation with folks on FB, including Rebecca Solnit, who has written eloquently (as always) on this. There’s a bunch of good links in the comment …

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Reflections on Right Speech After the Kavanaugh Hearings

Like so many folks, I was troubled by the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for the Supreme Court. Besides the disgusting display of male privilege and delusion the entire thing displayed, AND the heartbreakingly familiar ritual of powerful men completely dismissing a woman’s fully respectable testimony, there was the lying, plain and simple. And of course this is an …

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Positionality is Ancestral Karma

Two talks on the complex current discourse known as “positionality”, which basically means that the social roles and conditioned state we experience the world through determine how and what we can perceive and know. I propose that the practice of inquiry into positionality is both a foundation for the insight into the emptiness of the sense of self (anattā), and …

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Mindfulness and its Discontents

A series of talks on “Mindfulness,” the great universal self-improvement practice. Ok, not quite. But mindfulness is awesome. Just not in the way the magazines want you to think. We’ll start with the basics of Buddhist Mindfulness. What it is and may not be, how we can discern its presence or absence as an embodied state, why it’s so important, why …

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Organic Intelligence basics for yoga & meditation practice

Four talks on the basics of Organic Intelligence (OI) as it might be applied to yoga and meditation practice. These talks were given in the context of a “Trauma-Sensitive Yoga” weekend at Namaste (June 2018), and look at the building blocks of OI using the common practice of yoga class and posture work as the main examples. Some of what …

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The Great Demons: Systemic trauma & social action

Based in our recent exploration of the Diamond Sūtra and the ideal of the Bodhisattva, we begin a series of discussions of what I’ll call the Great Demons, the systemic ills we struggle with and which so clearly are conditions for global suffering right now. We’ll work with three core models for understanding systemic ill, all of which I’ll explain …

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Seeking the Deathless: chanting & stories of the Buddha for Vesak 2018

Vesak is the celebration of the Buddha’s birth, liberation, and death, falling this year on the late May full moon. We took a break from the social justice series we’re in the middle of to chant and hear stories remembering the life and insight of Siddhartha Gotama (mostly from the Lalitavistara Sūtra), who became the Buddha of our age, 2500 …

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Resilience & Trauma Resolution in Buddhism & Yoga

As Buddhist and Hindu Yoga lineages take root outside of Asia, their insights into human nature, the causes of suffering, and the paths to joy and liberation are finding fertile soil in sincere seekers and dedicated spiritual practitioners worldwide. As many of us find our personal and collective journeys deeply served by contact with these ancient teachings, we are also …

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Vastness & Engagement: Exploring the Diamond Sutra

Coming out of a few weeks of conversation about foundational themes in the Buddhist systems called Mahāyāna, or “Great Vehicle,” we look at one of the most important and beloved texts of the Mahāyāna school known as the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā), the Diamond Sutra (vajracchedikā sūtra). I’m reading through it slowly, in Red Pine’s ch’an/zen-oriented translation, and reflecting on some …

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