This past week, Michael led an exploration of a non-dualist approach to meditation and mindfulness, guided by the work of Rupert Spira, from whose week-long retreat he recently returned.  If you are interested in exploring some of the unique approaches to these familiar topics which non-dualism offers, here are a few of the literally hundreds of YouTube videos in which Spira explores them.

Meditation: Being Aware of Being Aware is the Highest Meditation (43 minutes)
Awareness is not located in the body (8 minutes)

Rupert Spira Shows What Non-Duality Really Is (audio: 18 minutes)

Dharma and climate crisis

This past Sunday, Lorilee moderated our discussion, a reflection on a Buddhist approach our global climate crisis. An excerpt by a recent dharma talk given by James Baraz at Spirit Rock, entitled “Internally & Externally – Holding It All” was followed by personal and shared reflection.  How does greed, aversion and delusion  manifest in our reactions to notions about climate change?   How can the cultivation of joy, in fact, be a potent tool toward solving this existential problem for humankind?

The talk by James Baraz is here:

Emptiness from several angles

Mike Blouin led our discussion this past Sunday on the concept of Śūnyatā, or emptiness, from a few different angles including natural history, poetry, and Buddhist philosophy.

We looked at the phenomenon of emptiness through poetry and prose, and read and talked about the Heart Sutra as well.  There was no audio, but this article from Thich Nhat Hanh provides helpful context:

We also read some passages from a book called Stirring the Mud by Barbara Hurd, and The Tree by John Fowles, plus some Rainer Maria Rilke poetry from The Book of Hours

Social Equanimity

Patrick’s presentation this past week included a talk from Gil Fronsdal called Social Equanimity.

In the talk, he reviews the Brahma Viharas in general, talks about the role that equanimity plays in relation to the others, and its application in everyday life, including consideration of the limits of equanimity and how to apply it in difficult or painful situations.

It’s also worth considering whether or not equanimity pushes us to live with a very restrictive emotional range, or if it’s primarily a tool for handling harsh emotions.

The talk by Gil is available here:


This past Sunday, Jeffrey presented the 10 Stages of Meditation by Culadasa, a particular path of practice designed to foster insights and Awakening [complete detachment from “Self”].  Jeffrey provided a brief overview of Culadasa’s stages and guided the discussion to the idea of stages in general. How do people feel about progressive stages? Is this model useful for householders who practice on our own, often without one specific teacher or group of adepts to guide us? Is it useful to identify signposts and milestones on “the way”? Is there a downside to this approach?

A few members were already, or interested in starting, working with Culdasa’s Stages. We agreed to check in about July, and October, to assess the value of his approach.

Audio clips from:

Meditation Intro: Training the Mind (I used audio from 7:40 – 9:35)

Intro to 10 Stages of Meditation ~ CULADASA with Stephanie Nash

Mastery of Stages ~ CULADASA with Stephanie Nash

Culadasa on the way to practice with the Ten Stages (starts about 12:30 mark)

Video of Robert Wright & Bhikkhu Bodhi [The Wright Show] in which, about 12:30 into the video, that Robert Wright asks Bhikkhu Bodhi if he has attained liberation.

Sources for the Overview:

How to Master the Art of Meditation: A Complete Guide to the 10 Stages of Meditative Development BY CULADASA (JOHN YATES Ph.D.)

Progressive Stages of Meditation in Plain English – Culadasa

The Mind Illuminated – Culadasa

An interesting annotated reading list


Based on her recent retreat at the IMS, this past Sunday Margaret shared some of Christina Feldman’s reflections on karma, within the Buddhist framework.  (Recall that karma appears as the fifth of the five recollections: ) Karma simply means actions. The focus of the reflections was karma as ethical choices in the present;  karma as contribution, not retribution. 

Practice and Community

This Sunday Ginny guided our reflections, focusing on practice as the ground for, and source of our capacity to be present to and show up for the fullness of life in community.  As James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Sources of Wisdom and Resilience

This past Sunday, Zac guided our explorations of the fundamentals of practice that we can return to as a sources of wisdom, guidance, and resilience in the many conditions we find ourselves in.

Here are the three talks of which Zac played excerpts:

Connecting and Clowning

This week we had a more active Sangha. Sojun guided us to practice an connection and awareness exercise derived from the Clowning tradition and viewed through the lens of Zen. We explored what it was like to fail and what that failure meant, and then how it felt to be held in community even in failure.