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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 nidanasānas

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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3/23/2014 – Dependent Arising – an Overview

Rebecca drew from Joseph gold stein’s new book-length examination of the Satipatthana Sutta, titled “Mindfulness,” to present an overview of Dependent Arising, as background for our continuing study

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3/16/2014 – Dependent Arising 2 – Habitual Patterns

Michael guided our reflections as we continue exploring the Buddhist understanding of cause and effect , focusing this week on the fabricating of habitual patterns (Sankhara), the stress that results, and the possibility of transforming them in practice.  Contemporary neurology as well as ancient scripture were brought to bear on this causal phase of suffering.

The work of neurologist Rick Hanson was of particular use here, not only in explaining humankind’s bias toward negative experience, but also in spotting and cultivating thought patterns which lead to sustained happiness.  Hansen’s books are “The Buddha’s Brain,” “Hardwiring Happiness,” and “Just One Thing.”  A respected teacher of meditation at spirit Rock, he is also recognized for his work in neuroplasticity but the scientific community.

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3/09/2014 – Dependent Arising 1 – Ignorance

This week Nancy offered the first look into the teaching that the Buddha himself called equal in importance to the Four Noble Truths – the teaching of Dependent Arising (paticca samupadda). This is the Buddhist rich and subtle understanding of causality, which focuses on how particular conditions give rise to our experience.

This systematic view is rich in practice possibilities – transforming neurotic patterns into healthy ones, extricating oneself from stuckness or downward spirals.  In the traditional sequence, the first of 12 links in the chain of Dependent Arising is Ignorance, and with Nancy we explored the ignorance of prana – energy in our own bodies – and ignorance of the Four Noble Truths, and the ways in which actively ignoring those truths increases our suffering.

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3/02/2014 – Grit

Even though our sangha meeting today was called off because of snow and ice which trapped several of us (including our presenters) in their homes, four members of the sangha made it to the studio and had a lovely quiet winter sit.

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