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The Radical Inquiry of Buddhist Mindfulness

One of the most prolific and brilliant Buddhist scholars of our generation is the German Theravāda monastic, Ven. Anālayo. His vast research on the texts and doctrines of Early Buddhism has transformed both the academic study of Early Buddhism and the practice of meditation and mindfulness in lineages connected to it, especially Insight Meditation. His dissertation on Satipaṭṭhāna is the …

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5 Foundations of Practice: Giving, Ethics, Heavens, Dangers, Renunciation

We begin 2019 with a series on foundational practices: what the Buddha often taught as the beginning of a series of “progressive instructions.” This is a style of teaching that presents the path to awakening step by step, often given to folks who are not yet believers, who have not yet taken refuge or who have just done so. It …

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Liberation and Finality: Does this Path have an end?

A series of talks on the difficult descriptions of liberation in the Theravāda system: the Four Paths and Fruits. We talked mostly about Stream-entry, emphasizing some of the most mysterious aspects of this idea. Finality. Completion. Perfection. To engage or not? Is that even the right question? We’ll talk about “enlightenment” all month at Satsang, using a text called “The …

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Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Converting (or not) Your Parents

On TG week, a talk about gratitude, focusing on the very traditional practice of being grateful for our parents (no matter how they voted), and how it’s impossible to repay their offering of life to us. Except by bringing them to the Dharma. I told the story of the elder monk Sariputta going back to his mother’s house before he …

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Wildfires, Unrighteous Rulers

The worst fire ever in California history in terms of death toll (the “Camp Fire”) just burned down the entire town of Paradise, outside of Chico. And the president, as usual, said unfactual, unhelpful, unkind things (like that if people had just raked leaves more, like they do in Finland, this wouldn’t have happened). Wow. In so many ways. So …

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Election Night, Hopelessness, Saṃsāra

We gather in a small group on election night 2018, before the results came in for the midterms that would initially look meh but roll slowly into a nice blue wave, with a few big disappointments (Gillum, Abrams, O’Rourke) and some big delights, particularly the wave of women and POC who just retook the House for the Dems. But it’s …

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Mettā is a Prayer for World Peace

A few days after the Pittsburgh Synagogue bombing by an anti-semitic white nationalist, we practice and discuss the radical communal prayer called mettā (Loving-kindness, benevolence, friendliness). How radiating mettā to All Beings, including the difficult ones, is the same as praying for world peace. Meditation: Breath, whole body, and radiating mettā to all beings (10.30.18) Talk: Mettā is a prayer …

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Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, I talk here more about the value of anger, and differentiating types of strong aversive emotion. Anger, rage, critique, and tone. What’s skillful or unskillful for individual or communal liberation? Self-protective nervous system responses, tone-policing, who gets to decide who speaks and how, and how a classical Buddhist approach might not actually be the same as …

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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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