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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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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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