9/14/2014 – Anxiety

Payton led this the discussion this past Sunday on the topic of Anxiety, based around a talk by Matthew Brensilver.


Some other good talks on the topic include a talk by Donald Rothberg and one by Michael Grady.

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7/6/2014 – Mara and the Hinderances

Payton led this the discussion this past Sunday on the topic of the concept of Mara as a
personification of the Hinderances in traditional Buddhist thought, as well as how the Buddha used the recognition of Mara in his liberation.

There were excerpts from three talks played. Below are the talks and some notes for each:

Noah Levine – Dealing with Mara: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/133/talk/20775/

Noah stresses that Mara is **just** the mind, the human condition, and not something outside of ourselves. He says that the second foundation of Mindfulness — feeling tone (positive, negative, or neutral) — is the core practical technique for ending suffering. Delusion arises all the time, so when we hear ourselves say, “I’ll be happy if…”, “I’ll be happy when…”, that’s s key that Mara is present.

Howard Cohn – Skillfully responding to the voices of Mara: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/82/talk/20212/

Life is **sensual**, meaning that each of the six senses can provide great pleasure, or great discomfort. Mara doesn’t want you to do evil, just to stay stuck in the wheel of samsara, to search for happiness in ways that cannot bring you lasting satisfaction. You can’t get rid of Mara; desires are endless. The key is to recognize and to know Mara when he’s present. The five voices of Mara (the five Hinderances) create internal pressure in the mind which causes the mind to begin story telling, to build up “a case for the prosecution”. Mara keeps us engaged in the story, so we must break out of the story and notice what is really going on. Howard also reads several poems, one from a 14th-century Samurai.

Jake Dartington – Mara and the Hinderances: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/382/talk/17254/

Just recognizing the Hinderances, “I know you Mara”, is very powerful. Once you see the delusion of wanting and then you can learn to trust and be ok for no reason at all. Much of the Dharma is simple truths are a series of reminders to be aware. This is a 2000yr old practice, this helps recognize that these hinderances are not personal. If you can say, “I know you Mara”, you can recognize the reaction and not be governed by it.


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6/8/2014 – Verified Faith

Payton lead our reflections on the aspect of Saddhā, usually translated as Faith, Trust, or Confidence. There are many kinds of Faith in Buddhist practice, but we explored the concept of “borrowing faith” and verifying it for yourself as discussed in a talk by Andrea Fella.

The Pali term is literally, “to place one’s heart upon”. This is a good metaphor for the open-minded quality needed to be able to “run the experiment” (to use Andrea’s words) of dharma practice.

The talk is here:


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6/1/2014 – Aloneness

Wendy led our reflections on exploring aloneness and how it can bring, not isolation and withdrawal, but connectedness.  Anchoring her presentation is a talk by Christina Feldman.

The talk is available here: http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/44/talk/263/  

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4/06/2014 – Consciousness – Dependent Arising 3

Michael led our reflections on the third link in the chain of Dependent Arising, Consciousness (Pali Viññana; Sanskrit Vijñana).  After a framing talk, our explorations took the form of guided meditation in which we explored the differences between Consciousness, Attention and Awareness, seeing something of their relations and uses in meditation, as well as daily life.

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Since we are exploring the Buddha’s key teaching of Dependent Arising at a number of our meetings, it may be of some use to those who wish to re-trace the ground or explore more widely, to have some reliable guides at hand.

The Wikipedia article offers a standard overview of the 12 nidanas


One of the several places that the chain of Dependent Arising is given in full in the canon is in the Maha-nidana Sutta: The Great Causes Discourse, in the Digha Nikaya #15, pts D ii 55


IMS teacher Nikki Mighafori’s hour long talk on Dependent Origination covers all 12 nidanas sequentially, and can be found at


An in-depth view, including considerable quotation from many suttas, plus explanation and commentary, can be found in Ajahn Thanissaro’s book “The Shape of Suffering,” offered in its entirety on line at


To request a printed copy of this book, please write to: Metta Forest Monastery, P.O. Box 1409, Valley Center, CA 92082, USA.


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3/30/2014 – Relationship as Spiritual Awakening

Chris and Shery shaped today’s exploration of the centrality of relationship in our practice, as a way of uncovering the deep truths of spirit. As the dhamma moved beyond the monastic community, relationship has moved to an every more central place in dhammic practice.  Tara Brach’s talk on this topic, drawn upon for today, can be found at



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