This Sunday, Mike Blouin guided our reflections on the central topic of Generosity, with some additional thoughts from Gil Fronsdal.  Generosity is a foundational and transformational element in the dharmic path, and a cornerstone of practice.

The first talk was here:

The second talk was here:  (parts 3 and 6 from the generosity section).

Buddha’s Begging Bowl

Michael guided our reflections this Sunday focusing on the ways in which Zen, Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhism have found implications for our practice in the bowl which the Buddha carried with him early and late in his career.  In sacred art, spiritual endeavor, and daily life, the bowl figures as a strong and yet nuanced way of relating to experience.

Links and material forthcoming

A different way to respond to suffering

This Sunday, Payton guided the Sangha discussion on the topic of how we experience injustice and dissatisfaction in our minds, and if there is a way to take action in the world without greed, aversion, or delusion.

Payton played a talk by Andrea Fella which is available here:

Some of the notes from the talk follow.

When anger is not present, our mind can see suffering and we can more naturally act out of compassion rather than acting out of anger or fear.

Our minds are confused. We see only the greed or aversion, rather than what’s actually happening and we want to resolve the greed or aversion, not the thing that’s happening.

It’s not a mistake or a problem that things are unreliable and always changing, it’s actually just the way things are. We are confused because of our desire for reliability and the sense of being able to control things.

Wisdom wants us to allow both truth and wanting for happiness without craving for a particular outcome.

“If we use scissors to cut a tangle out, we are left with a whole in the fabric.”

Ajahn Sumedho’s insights into life and practice

This week Patrick guided our reflections around Ajahn Sumedho’s talk titled “Watch Your Mind.” Sumedho is one of the great elders of the western Buddhist movement. His free ranging discourse weaves together insights on mental formations, concentration, monastic life, and suffering in his characteristic down to earth style.

The talk is here:

And here’s a pdf of one of his books, as a way to explore more of his writing:

Walking Meditation

This Sunday, under the skilled guidance of Zac, explored walking meditation as a powerful practice on the path of awakening. It is a way to touch the depths of insight while moving through the world, and an invaluable resource when sitting practice isn’t possible.

Zac played a section of: Winnie Nazarko: 2017-07-11 The Other Retreat

These are the five rewards for one who practices walking meditation. Which five?

He can endure traveling by foot; he can endure exertion [one is fit for striving]; he becomes free from disease; whatever he has eaten & drunk, chewed & savored, becomes well-digested; the concentration he wins while doing walking meditation lasts for a long time.

These are the five rewards for one who practices walking meditation.

Ajahn Sucitto said:

Can you walk without a “there”?

Walking as a way to undo “headism”:

a form of bodily discrimiation called “headism.” It says, “I’m on top, everything is secondary to me,” and it drags everything underneath it around. Headism can be overcome by operating through the body rather than through the head. It can be practiced in walking meditation.

Every posture tells the mind different things, or creates a different tone in the body (power poses, for example). Sitting crosslegged is about being here (you can’t even get up quickly). What does walking tell us? Retrain the mind that walking is about being here too…

Practices… you can do any practice while walking. Eg:

  • 6 senses
  • Sattipathana (all four)
  • Feet – close following, lifting, moving, placing…
  • Settling into the rhythm
  • Metta
  • Imaginal – body of buddha
  • Breath
  • Inquiry (whos walking? What is walking? How do I know I’m walking?)
  • Faith: walk to awakening practice: every step a step closer to liberation

Cultivating Samadhi

Joey led our meditation practice this week with guidance by Chris Cullen in how we can gather our attention and enjoy cultivating spacious awareness while still being grounded.

From Chris Cullen’s instructions for collecting and gathering the attention:

Insight comes from cultivation of collectedness. The six Jhana factors are tools in collecting the heart-mind.

  • Viveka: Stepping back from busyness of the day, disentangling, withdrawing the investment in thoughts and re-investing in the body, grounding.
  • Vitaka: Re-directing the attention into what is more steady: feet, seat, hands, the in-breath. Prioritizing, re-positioning the attention like saying to a puppy: Stay.
  • Vichara: How to stay? With receptive sensitivity, receiving, sensing, listening in, tuning into the level of effort in doing this.
  • Pitti: Appreciative fullness, fullness of enjoyment, hosting the pleasantness of the in-breath, fully receiving the quiet OK-ness of the hands, filled with expanding awareness, fully to host the body even if some areas feel unpleasant.
  • Sukkha: Ease, relaxation, contentment, letting go. Smoothing the nervous system’s energies; tuning into contentment.
  • Ekhagata: To become one, cohere, harmonize, allowing and integration of body, awareness, present moment.

The talk Joey played is on Reflections on Anatta/Non-Self

Right Effort

During this week’s Sangha, Jeffrey facilitated the topic of Right Effort. A talk by Ayya Anandabodhi and the discussion focused on improving one’s practice through pursuit of Right Effort, the 6th element in the Eightfold Path.

Right Effort addresses the quality of effort, proper amount of effort, and finding the appropriate approach to each situation. All of that constitutes skillfulness. The Buddha laid out Four Tasks or Exertions that constitute Right Effort:

  1. Preventing the arising of unwholesome states
  2. Abandoning unwholesome states that have arisen
  3. Cultivating the arising of wholesome states
  4. Maintaining wholesome states.

Jeffrey chose the topic because he felt his practice was stagnant. A vibrant practice includes curiosity, energy and joy. The group discussed their experiences in meditation and how curiosity, energy and joy can be cultivated.

– Talk on Right Effort by Ayya Anandabodhi:
– The Joy of Effort – Thanissaro Bikkhu:
– “Right Effort” in The Noble Eightfold Path – Thannissaro Bikkhu: