Exercise

What sensations do you feel with the in out of the breath or the rising falling of the chest or abdomen Common sensations with the passage of the breath at the nostrils are coolness, warmth, tingling, vibration, pulsing, and itching. Common sensations when being with the rising and falling are movement, stretching, releasing, tension, pulsing, and pressure. Sometimes the sensations are experienced as a smooth flow, sometimes as staccato bursts. You may feel all of these, some of them, or...

Purifying u r Karma

Karma is not a mechanistic, closed system. Nothing is fixed, because our present actions continuously feed in to a stream of cause and effect, influencing both its direction and its power. The Buddha talked of covering or surrounding unskillful acts with skillful ones. The present purity of our actions, he said, attracts the results of past wholesome karma and likewise, present unskillful actions create a field that attracts the results of past unwholesome karma. What we do 111 the present...

Getting the Most from Ydlir Meditation

All of the instructions and suggestions in Insight Meditation come down to the cultivation of mindfulness. Here are some powerful exercises that can help you strengthen mindfulness in every area of your life. & Keep a daily sitting log. Each day, record in a small notebook how long you practiced and the quality of your meditative experience, such as sleepy, mind full of planning, or calm and spacious. Then use another sentence or two to describe the general quality of your day overwhelmed...

Resource List

The following is a partial list of sources. Although no single outlet carries all the items listed above, you'll be able to find the item of your choice from one of these merchants. PO Box 509, Micaville, NC 28723 (888)267-5366 http www.zafu.net Cushions and benches. (Website has a helpful article on selecting your mode of support.) Peter Catizone (617)548-4444 http www.catizone.com Specialized meditation benches. 405 Waltham Street, Ste. 234, Lexington, MA 02421 (800)794-9862 http...

Cm pas s i n

Compassion is our caring human response to suffering. The compassionate heart is nonjudgmental. It recognizes that all suffering our own and others' is deserving of tenderness. After his enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have decided not to teach his new understanding, because he was afraid no one would understand its profundity. Then he surveyed the world with his eye of wisdom. He saw beings everywhere seeking happiness and yet, out of ignorance of the true cause of happiness, doing the...

Desire and Aversion Question and Answer Session

Q When I practice I notice some boredom and an even greater fear of boredom. What should I do A Boredom is actually a form of aversion. When we truly experience it with the power of mindfulness, we discover that boredom comes from lack of attention. We don't like what's happening, so we withdraw our attention, which leads to boredom. Fritz Perls said, Boredom is lack of attention. If we recognize boredom, it becomes a useful signal to pay closer attention. We break through to a whole new level...

Eyes

Let your eyelids fall closed, without squeezing them shut. If you find yourself dozing off, open your eyes slightly and let your gaze drop to the ground about six feet in front of you. Resist the temptation to let your eyes glaze but at the same time, don't focus fiercely on whatever's in your field of vision. Let your gaze be soft. Relax your jaw and mouth, with your teeth slightly apart. It's said that your lips should be parted just enough to admit a grain of rice.

Guided Meditation Eating

Record the following guided meditation, have a friend record it, or trade off reading it out loud with your friend. Procure some raisins, nuts, or some other small food items. Bring them to your meditation space and have them within reach as you prepare to sit. Eating is a common daily activity that provides a very good opportunity for us to practice bare attention, free from the many concepts that may arise around it. Typically, the mind is quite heavily conditioned in various ways around...

Karma Question and Answer Session

Q I don't believe in reincarnation, so it's hard for me to buy the view that I'm reaping the karma of actions I performed in a previous life. It's even harder for me to believe that innocent children are suffering because of something they did before they were born. A You don't have to believe in reincarnation to experience the effects of your actions. When you extend generosity and lovingkindness toward others, it comes back to you. When you approach the world with aggression or grasping, if...

Lesson Five Glossary

Anatta selflessness Pali insubstantiality beginner's mind a mind that is open to the experience of the moment, free of conceptual overlays (coined by Suzuki Roshi see resource list, page 226) ego the pattern of conditioned habits that we mistake for a solid self wrong view the tendency of the mind to cling to concepts at the expense of reality taking what is impermanent to be permanent, what is dissatisfying to be satisfying, what is selfless to be self In the last lesson, we contrasted living...

Lesson Seven Karma

Earlier, we discussed the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path.The first step on this path is right understanding and this, in fact, is the foundation of the entire spiritual journey. Right understanding directs all our actions appropriately, it leads us further on the path of liberation, and it harmonizes in every way with the dharma. Without right understanding, we're left with basic misdirection, confusion, alienation, and unease. Central to right understanding is the realization that every act of...

Lesson Three Desire And Aversion

The Buddha often talked of how difficult the mind is to train. He said it's as if we're surrounded by a thousand enemies.Through tremendous courage, steadfastness, and perseverance, we manage to overcome these enemies but then we have to do it again, a thousand times more. The Buddha said that single-handedly overcoming a thousand enemies a thousand times is easier than coming to a full and complete understanding of the nature of mind. So we've undertaken a very difficult task. It's not...

Lesson Three Glossary

Aversion hatred anger the tendency to push away unpleasant experiences desire greed addiction the tendency to grasp at and try to prolong pleasurable experiences dharma carrying, holding that which supports Sanskrit the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha nirvana extinction of suffering Sanskrit a state of bliss that is attained through fully apprehending the nature of reality samsara journeying Sanskrit the ocean of worldly suffering the state of bein governed by the five hindrances

Living the Extremes

Once, 011 our way to Australia, Joseph and I went to India. Our teacher Dipa Ma was getting rather old, so we took the opportunity to stop over and visit her. We arrived in Calcutta in the middle of the monsoon season. We went immediately to Dipa Ma's home, where we stayed all that day. Outside it was raining torrentially sheets of rain were driving down. We were so happy to be with Dipa Ma that we didn't pay any attention to what was going on outside her little room. When we left her at dusk...

Lovingkindness

The Pali word for lovingkindness is metta. More closely translated, metta means both gentle as in a gentle rain that falls indiscriminately upon everything and friendship. Thus, metta refers to a steady, unconditional sense of connection that touches all beings without exception, including ourselves. To understand this connection better, it helps to see karma as working over many lifetimes. It cannot be fully understood within the context of a single life. The clearest evidence for this is the...

Overcoming Inner Torment

The Buddha said, The mind is naturally radiant and pure it is because of visiting forces known as defilements that we suffer. In Pali, the word defilement is klesha - which, more literally translated, means torment of the mind. It's unfortunate that kilesa came to be understood as defilement a word redolent of prudish and judgmental connotations. Torment of the mind, on the other hand, is an experience we all recognize. When certain mind states arise strongly, they do have a tormenting quality....

Restlessness

We've discussed two of the five classical hindrances to concentration desire, or grasping and aversion, with its manifestations of anger and fear. Now we'll turn to the remaining three. The third of the hindrances is the state of sloth or sleepiness a heaviness or dullness in the mind. Perhaps you sit down to meditate and suddenly, your eyes get heavy and you just want to go to sleep, even if you had perfect rest all night long. Everything is murky, confused you feel disconnected. Sloth or...

Right Effdrt

Its possible and, in fact, not uncommon - to be perfectly aware, but in the context of wanting something to happen. We could call this in order to mind I'm watching the breath in order for a certain experience to arise. This can feel like right effort (the sixth step on the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path see page 10) but right effort actually refers to the effort to be aware of what's arising in the moment. Expecting some wonderful spiritual experience, or even just a time when your knee will...

S u fferi n g Question and Answer Session

Q I get pretty depressed when I contemplate the truth of suffering. Most of the time, I prefer not to read or watch the news, because it makes me feel unhappy and helpless. Are you saying that I should force myself to look at all the mayhem in the world around me A You don't have to watch the news to be aware of suffering. The pain of existence presents itself to you every day, in the form of illness, losses of all kinds, frustrations, unfulfilled longings the list goes on and on. There's...

The End of Suffering

Lest the first two noble truths discourage us, the Buddha also taught that we are definitely capable of putting an end to our suffering. He described two levels of nirvana, or freedom momentary nirvana, in which we're able to tame the forces oi greed, hatred, and delusion in the moment and a more ultimate form of nirvana a state described as the complete ending of the burden of suffering. According to the Buddha, there is no higher happiness than peace. This is the meaning of the third noble...

The Existence of Suffering

The world is full of hunger, illness, loss, and change. Yet somehow, we manage to live much of our lives denying these facts. Like children playing in a blazing house, we distract ourselves with momentary pleasures and ignore the heat and smoke surrounding us. The Buddha's first noble truth is that pretending in this way doesn't help us. No matter how we try to whitewash our experience, the body will age, decay, and die. Meanwhile, we continue to endure the pain of greed, hatred, and delusion....

The Four B rah maVi haras

Brahma-vihara is a Pali term meaning heavenly abode or best home. The Buddha taught that practicing these four qualities leads to the liberation of the heart which is love.The brahma-viharas are 8 lovingkindness 8 compassion sympathetic joy 8 equanimity The Pali word for lovingkindness is metta. More closely translated, metta means both gentle as in a gentle rain that falls indiscriminately upon everything and friendship. Thus, metta refers to a steady, unconditional sense of connection that...

The Fruits df Metta

There was a time when I was practicing metta intensively in Burma. It took me about six weeks of concentrated practice to go through the five categories myself, my benefactor, my friend, the neutral person, and the difficult person. After those first weeks, my teacher Sayadaw U Pandita called me into his room for an interview. He asked me, Suppose you're walking in the forest with your benefactor, your friend, your neutral person, and your difficult person. You run into a group of bandits, who...

The Mechanisms of Illusion

Early on in my practice, a teacher told me that experience is empty phenomena rolling on. Empty, in this case, means empty of self. Neither 1 nor anything 1 encounter has a separate, substantial existence. There is no one to experience, and nothing I can point to and say, That is the experience. Everything including this me around which the whole world seems to revolve is simply a reflection of the conditions arising in this moment. Clearly, then, the self is a mental fabrication. So why do we...

The Myth of Self

The concept of me arises in the mind. But what is the mind, if not me The mind is simply the ability to know. It is the faculty of cognizance. When we try to look for the mind, it's nowhere to be found. It's the basic consciousness that arises before we can label things good or bad right or wrong. Nonetheless, the mind is the crucial link between our senses and our understanding. A corpse still has a nose, but cannot know perfume. What's missing is the consciousness that knows I am experiencing...

The Origin of Suffering

Why do we continue to increase our suffering by avoiding the truth The Buddha taught that four attachments keep us bound to our own pain.These are 6 attachment to sense pleasures 9 attachment to opinions and views attachment to rites and rituals, at the expense of genuine spiritual experience I attachment to the belief that one exists as a solid, permanent self Thus, the origin of our suffering is our desire for pleasure and our attachment to a set of concepts designed to boost our sense of...

The Suffering df Cdnditidnality

The third kind of suffering the Buddha taught is very subtle. In some texts, it's defined as the suffering that remains after the other two kinds have been described. More directly, it's called the suffering of conditionalitv. Nothing stands apart from the conditions bringing it about no entity, experience, or action. Say, for example, that you want to eat a meal. That probably means you have to have a job, so that you have the money to buy food. You might need a car so you can get to the store...

The Suffering of Change

The second kind of suffering arises when we see that everything in life changes. All the pleasant feelings that come up in the body or the mind they are transitory. There's pleasure, and then there's pain. We have what we want, and then it goes away, breaks, or changes. When we're unable to understand and accept that this is the way things are, we add an enormous amount of suffering to the fundamental truth of change. It's actually possible to experience this fundamental truth without getting...

The Three Great Myths

Concepts become obstacles to clear seeing when we identify with them as solid, unchanging realities. Many concepts are deeply ingrained in our minds, creating a world of perception that has little to do with our actual experience. Three of the most pervasive and limiting concepts are the notions of time, place, and self. Although we know that time is an artificial construct, most of us take this concept very seriously. We label our experience of memories and reflections past, and behave as...

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,...