The Six Entanglements

This Sunday Payton led a discussion on the Six Sense Bases (the usual five plus the mind), which Gil Fronsdal calls the “Six Entanglements” based on a different interpretation of the word usually translated as “fetter” into English. The discussion was centered around a talk by Gil linked here:

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/6452.html

The talk invited us to explore the way in which we perceieve objects that contact our senses. When we see a book, we are usually clear that our seeing (the experience of our eye sense) is separate from the thing seen (the book). That separation is less clear when we talk about our thinking (the experience of our mind sense) being separate from our thoughts. Either way, it’s usually not the sensing itself that causes problems, either with the book or the thought, but our “entanglement” with the sense object.

Sharing and Generosity

For our initial meditation this past Sunday, we listened to a guided practice by Guy Armstrong in Choiceless Awareness. Joey then offered excerpts from a dharma talk by Ruth King on Sharing and Generosity.

One important question asked by both Joey and Ruth: what keeps us from generosity? When and why do we hold back?

The guided meditation is available here: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/79/talk/32492/

The talk on Generosity is here: http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/271/talk/6122/venue/IRC/20151021-Ruth_King-IRC-principles_of_cordiality_sharing_and_generosity.mp3

The Brahmaviharas

This past Sunday, Zac led the discussion on the topic of the four Brahmaviharas or “Noble Abodes” of the mind. These four practices are prescribed by the Buddha and can sometimes be described as four types of Love: Loving-Kindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Sympathetic Joy (Mudita), and Equanimity (Upekkha).

Zac emphasized that the traditional mantras used to practice these mind states are not the only way to find them. Here is the talk he played:

Gil Fronsdal: The Brahmaviharas: Introduction: http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/5096.html

And here are some texts that go deeper into these teachings:

The Four Sublime States: Contemplations on Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity by Nyanaponika Thera http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

Karaniya Metta Sutta: The Buddha’s Words on Loving-Kindness translated from the Pali by The Amaravati Sangha http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.08.amar.html

Social Practice

This past Sunday, Adam guided our reflections on using the dharma in social settings. Adam writes, “While most of us have not lived a monastic life, we all have the opportunity to practice in other social settings that are perhaps not as highly structured. I am interested in how we create opportunities to expand our Buddhist practice in more informal social settings, and how when we do so we naturally have the experience of anatta.”

Here is a talk that Adam played from Joseph Goldstein: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/282/

Mystery

This Sunday Sam guided the discussion on Mystery, centering our discussion on aspects of the path that defy easy categorization.

Sam began with some quotes, reproduced below, and followed with a recorded talk.

“Nothing is more fruitful – all mathematicians know it – than those obscure analogies, those disturbing reflections of one theory in another; those furtive caresses, those inexplicable discords; nothing also gives more pleasure to the researcher. The day comes when the illusion dissolves; the yoked theories reveal their common source before disappearing. As the Gita teaches, one achieves knowledge and indifference at the same time.” – Andre Weil

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.” – Albert Einstein

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” –Thoreau

“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”
— Richard Feynman

Here is a link to the talk that we listened to, given by Brian Lesage: http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/484/talk/31722/

Fear and anxiety

This past week Mike Blouin guided our reflections on Fear — a factor of mind that can produce effects from subtle unease to total panic, with effects that radiate into our own lives and the lives of those around us.

In addition to a very productive discussion, we listened to excerpts from several recorded talks:

Creative Engagement with the Eight Worldly Winds

Today Payton led a discussion on ways we can engage with the Eight Worldly Winds in a skillful manner, without being caught by the sense of self.

Here are some notes on the Winds:

Praise: there is a difference between accepting praise and needing it.

Blame: if someone blames me does it mean that they are blaming the whole of me?

Gain and Loss: having something does not necessarily say something about me; the loss of something does not take away from my sense of worth.

Pleasure and Pain: appreciate pleasant things knowing they will not last forever; don’t be afraid of painful things because they won’t last forever.

Fame and Disrepute: does my sense of self depend on fame? What can I learn from disrepute? Where does our sense of worth come from? Where does our sense of contentment come from?

Creatively engage with views, ideas, thoughts: We often think, “I am my thoughts. I propose my thoughts to somebody. If somebody rejects my thoughts, I think they are rejecting me.” When we feel that someone is refuting my whole being, then we get angry. But if instead we can remain open, not defensive, then a dialog develops and we may come to realize a new idea which is better than the first one.

The discussion was supported by a talk from Martine Bachelor, available on Dharmaseed here:

http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/119/talk/11907/

Praise and Blame: Our Response to Criticism

Margaret led our reflections this past Sunday on how we respond to real or perceived criticism. What are our own responses to our perceptions of criticism from within and without? How about praise? How can we respond wisely when these “worldly winds” blow in our lives?

The talk was supported by this recording of James Baraz:

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/86/talk/17337/

Meditations on Breath

Last Sunday, Michael directed our reflections on breath, dividing the session into two parts. First was the way the Buddha described his own default practice during the long rains retreats as a “sacred dwelling, a noble dwelling, and a tathagatha’s dwelling. To explicate this, we began by listening to a short excerpt (minutes 11-27) from a talk by Stephen Batchelor.

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/169/talk/27499/

To explore breathing from a physical standpoint, and vary our breathing patterns without necessarily controlling them, we undertook some sensory awareness experiments with the breath. And of course, we explored our discoveries in practicing meditation on breathing.