The Story of the Buddha

The meditation techniques presented in this course were originally taught by the Buddha, four to five hundred years before the birth of Christ. Buddha means Awakened One, and refers to a prince who is believed to have lived in the Ganges Valley of northeastern India. He is sometimes called Gautama Buddha (Gautama was his family name) or Sakyamuni Buddha, the Silent Sage of the Sakyas (his Legend has it that when the Buddha was born, astrologers told his father that the child would become either...

Desire versus Reality

Another way desire arises in meditation is in the form of expectation a desire for results. Sometimes expectation comes masked as effort, but its really the wanting mind. Expectations can come when you're bored and start wanting something to happen, or when the mind gets attached to the excitement that comes with some interesting experience. The comparing mind also fuels expectation. You compare this sitting with the last sitting, and maybe its different or more difficult, so an expectation...

The Mechanics of Karma

The Buddha taught that karma is volitional activity that is, it consists of intentional or willed actions. These are the seeds in our minds that ultimately and inevitably bear fruit. When you observe a seed, its easy to overlook the enormous power it holds.Yet, as we know, a tiny acorn will grow into an enormous tree. This little seed contains both the potential and the blueprint for tallest, strongest oaks that ever existed. In exactly the same way, each of our intentional actions contains the...

Lesson Five Concepts And Reality

When we speak ot insight meditation, we're actually using a loose translation of the Pali word vipassana.The literal meaning of vipassana is to see clearly specifically, to see our experience clearly. This refers to our inner experiences, such as physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions and also to the natural laws, like impermanence, that we experience all around us as well. One ot the natural laws that we seek to see clearly is the selfless nature of all our experience (in the Buddhist...

The Eight Vicissitudes

Ancient Taoists referred to the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows of existence. The Buddha was more specific. He defined four particular joys and their respective opposites as conditions that we should expect to encounter again and again throughout our lives not because we're being rewarded or punished, but simply because these conditions reflect the fullness of our experience. The eight vicissitudes the Buddha taught are In our culture, we're routinely encouraged to aspire to...

Meditatiqn Supplies

The three most common types of meditation support are & Zafus (zah-foos) The most traditional and widespread of the meditation cushions, the zafu is a flattened, round cotton case filled with kapok or buckwheat. It is generally about fourteen inches in diameter and ten inches in height. The crescent zafu is an innovation designed to provide extra hip support. Inflatable zafus are also available for traveling meditators. Gomdens These firm, rectangular cushions were designed for Western...

Why Is the Truth Sd Hard to

Our conditioning begins very early in life. Often, families try to shield their children from the difficulties, conflict, and fear that inevitably arise in any human situation. A great and ignoble silence descends.This is not the silence of clear seeing the silence we use in meditation to discover, nurture, and honor our own vision of what is true. It's the silence of denial and avoidance. Terrible abuse or violence may be going on, but they're just not spoken about or if they are spoken about,...

The Experience df Karma

The mind retains impressions of all our actions, and these impressions reappear, sometimes for many years afterward. We experience such memories as sources of great joy or great regret. Past wholesome actions arise in the mind coupled with delight, whereas memories of unwholesome actions can trigger painful remorse. Remorse, as Sharon noted in Lesson Four, can be a purifying process. Bringing attentive awareness to an unresolved situation helps undo old knots and contractions. Significant...

Six Categories Four Phrases

Traditional metta practice is a carefully structured path to a fully opened heart. The practice comprises six graduated categories that gently expand our lovingkindness from ourselves to all beings everywhere. With each category, we use four phrases that express lovingkindness through the focus of our attention. These phrases can be used just as they appear here, or may be adjusted to conform more closely to your own experience of lovingkindness. In the six categories of classical metta...

Cutting the Knot

The belief in a separate self is so habitual and deep-rooted that it may seem impossible to cut it with even the sharpest sword.Through the millennia, however, countless meditators have discovered that the sustained practice of mindfulness and awareness gradually reveals the true nature of experience. We begin to see all the constantly shifting elements and conditions that give rise to the objects and events we perceive, and in time, the notion of self is worn away. It is said that a man once...

Lesson Nine Loving Kindness

Throughout this course, we've been exploring the possibilities of a mind free of the forces of craving, aggression, and delusion. One ofthcTgreat fruits of such a mind is the power of unobstructed, unconditional lovingkindness. The Pali word for lovingkindness is metta. Sometimes, metta is translated simply as love. We often speak of love, but lovingkindness is a less familiar term to most of us. In our culture, the notion of love has assumed a complexity that obscures its true nature....

Guided Meditation Metta

You will find a recorded version of this guided meditation on CD 2, track 3. Use either that one or the one that follows (or both) to become familiar with the structure of metta practice. This is a meditation you can return to again and again, particularly in times of difficulty. The first instruction the Buddha gave for doing metta meditation is to sit comfortably. That means literally that is physically Sit comfortably, relax, be at ease in your body. It also means to be at ease in your mind,...

Guided Meditation Pleasant and Unpleasant Feelings

Use the following meditation to explore the feeling tone of your experience. Equanimity is brought to life and practiced through becoming aware of what Buddhist psychology calls feeling. Feeling doesn't refer only to emotion, as we in the West tend to think of it. Rather, it refers specifically to the quality of pleasantness, unpleasantness, or neutrality that is a part of every single moment's experience. The Buddha said that we experience the universe in six ways through seeing, hearing,...