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Buddhism

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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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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Samadhi & Nervous System Health

A talk I gave at Insight Meditation South Bay on samādhi in the context of the 7 Awakening Factors. After the cornerstone Factor, Mindfulness, this list is divided into 3 energizing Factors: Investigation of States, Energy, and Rapture; and 3 calming Factors: Tranquillity, Focus (samādhi), and Equanimity. If we read the list as a sequence as well as a set, …

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Mahayana View: Vastness & Collective Liberation

A series of talks and meditations I began at the lunar new year (Yang Earth Dog), on Śivaratri, that look at practice as understood by the visionary Buddhist movement known as the Mahāyāna, or “Great Vehicle.” I think it rambled a bit to start, especially the one on whether our practice is progressing, which almost veered into “Is American Buddhism …

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The [Poisoned] State of the Union

On the evening our beleaguered president gives his first State of the Union address, I give mine. I talk about the early Buddhist framework for understanding the world in terms of three interwoven causes of pain and unskillful action: The 3 Poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion. Meditation: the Central Column as felt alignment leading to Eliot’s “still point at …

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Impermanence

Three talks on the first of the 3 Characteristics, or Marks (tilakkhaṇa): Impermanence (anicca). As is our practice often lately, the meditations include the Refuge and Precepts pūja. A talk on the quality and practice of refuge, and how we both need a refuge from impermanence, and we take refuge in impermanence. Meditation: mindfulness of change A talk on mindfulness as memory …

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The Whole Path

Opening 2018 with a talk on the “Whole Path” of Buddhist purification and liberation. I used the verse that is often chanted as a summary of the path (Dhammapada 183) as the basis. sabba-pāpassa akaranam kusalassupa-sampadāsacitta-pariyo-dapanam etam buddhāna-sāsanam Do no harmful actions,do what’s skillful,purify your mind.This is the legacy of the Buddha. Meditation: Delight, deepening the breath, intimacy

Intervention vs Observation in Mindfulness Meditation

A short talk and discussion given at Spirit Rock during a Thursday morning yoga and meditation class. I talked about the difference between Bare Awareness styles of instruction and Cultivating Wholesome States styles, and how they relate to each other. Talked a bit about how understanding them as different ways of engaging in practice shines a light on some of …

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A new meditation and yoga retreat format

If you’ve sat a meditation retreat at Spirit Rock, IMS, Insight Retreat Center, or any of the other Insight Meditation spots around, you know the standard retreat schedule well: basically a day of alternating 45 minute sitting and walking meditation periods, dharma talk in the evenings. All in silence except for a 15 minute check-in with a teacher every other …

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