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)
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?
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.
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.
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: http://www.leighb.com/5drult.htm ) Karma simply means actions. The focus of the reflections was karma as ethical choices in the present; karma as contribution, not retribution.
Although insight into the absence of a Self seems elusive, Joseph Goldstein outlines three practical ways in which we can glimpse this insight in daily life. Sam guided our reflections on Joseph’s strategies this past Sunday.
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.”
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.