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“Even two mountains of gold are not enough…”: Livelihood, scarcity, & the dukkha of individualism

It’s “Super Tuesday” as I write this, and though I’m mainly worried that the Dems will mess this up and the world will get another 4 years of the current situation, I’m also amazed. Never in my life have two of the leading contenders for president been strong progressives, each with intelligent progressive economic ideas that if enacted would change …

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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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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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Reflections on/of the Heart Sūtra

I began formal Zen practice in 1993, in a tiny rural monastery in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico known as Bodhi Mandala (now Bodhi Manda — hippie era mistranslation finally corrected after 30-some years). They gave me a cot in a rickety old ex-Catholic dormitory, a black robe in two pieces called kimono and hakama that I had …

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“Like throwing loaded dice”: Right Intention, the root of skillful action

The second limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, and the all-important hinge from View (limb 1) into Action (limbs 3-5), is Right Intention, sammā-saṅkappa. (Here’s the talks from the first part of this series, on Right View.) And what, bhikkhus, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention. SN 45.8: …

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The Noble Eightfold Path to the End of Dissatisfaction: Part 1, Right View

A new dive into the Noble Eightfold Path (8FP), 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. It is described many …

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Buddhism & Yoga: Integrating the Traditions

Buddhism and Yoga are two major branches on the family tree of South Asian spiritual practice, whose roots we can glimpse in ancient texts called upaniṣads. Both branches focus on transformative practice aimed at the end of suffering and stress. From a deeply interwoven beginning, each tradition branched into many different schools and practice systems, remaining in dialogue and sharing …

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