Generosity for the Orlando Insight Meditation Group

by Peter Carlson on November 26, 2017

Supporting The Orlando Insight Meditation Group

One of the traditional ways that individuals can foster their own spiritual development is through the practice of generosity (Dana, in Buddhist terms).  OIMG is dedicated to supporting the development of Buddhist principles and practices through providing introductory courses and periodic retreats.  As a registered non-profit corporation since the early 1990’s, the primary sources of income for OIMG have been the income generated by the introductory courses and donations from the community.  All profits are dedicated to providing the most affordable retreat fees, including partial and full financial subsidies for those who want to attend a weekend or one-week retreat who would otherwise be unable to do so.

During this time of year, people often send charitable contributions to various worthy organizations.  Some use these as deductions from income tax.  OIMG would be grateful if you would consider practicing Dana with our organization.  We cannot offer the number of retreats we would like because of budgetary limitations, so your contribution would go a long way towards fostering the benefits of mindfulness and lovingkindness practice in our communities.

We are arranging a one-week retreat in early 2019, led by a guest teacher, Shaila Catherine, a very well-respected author and teacher of the Dharma.  This will involve a significant increase in the production costs for the retreat, involving transportation costs from California to Florida and back.  In order to pay for this retreat, we need additional financial support.  An important commitment of Buddhist practice is the Bodhisattva Vow, which manifests a commitment to alleviating suffering for all sentient beings.  Considering the increasingly stressful times we live in, your contribution will have a ripple effect, allowing people from all over the U.S. and elsewhere to benefit from Shaila’s teaching.

We will respond to your contribution with a letter acknowledging the donation for your tax purposes.  You may contribute online through PayPal or mail a checks made out to Orlando Insight Meditation Group to Peter Carlson, 1818 Carrigan Avenue, Winter Park, Florida, 32789.

Thank you for your practice, and I wish you well.
Peter Carlson, founding teacher and president of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group

Benefits Of Lovingkindness December 6 2017

by Peter Carlson on December 7, 2017

During this talk, Peter described lovingkindness as an expression of the Wisdom aggregate of the Noble Eightfold Path, that is, Right Intention (which he renames Benevolent Intention).  The four Divine Abidings  were described: lovingkindness, compassion, empathetic joy/generosity and equanimity.  The first three focus on overcoming greed and hatred, and the fourth, equanimity, aligns with insight practice (vipassana) to investigate and bring balance to the first three.  Peter also read a translation of the Metta Sutta, then placed emphasis on current psychological research the indicates that the degree of kindness that a mother manifests towards her child brings great benefit to the development of a healthy personality structure.  This was accompanied by an explanation of the psychological and neurological impact of sincere silent repetition of a metta mantra.

At the end of his explanations, he read an excerpt from an editorial article by the Dalai Lama published in the New York Times recently advocating the benefits of compassionate action in the midst of current cultural and environmental turmoil.  This was followed by general discussion among those attending on the benefits of lovingkindness practice.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk, including the Metta Sutta, the metta mantra, and the NYT excerpt by the Dalai Lama.

Mike’s Retreat Report

by Peter Carlson on December 2, 2017

It is customary for sangha members to have the opportunity to review an important retreat experience upon their return.  Mike attended a 5 day retreat at the Bhavana Society, the monastery created by Bhante Gunaratana, a very well-respected Dharma teacher.  Mike spoke enthusiastically about the atmosphere of a genuine Buddhist monastery, located in West Virginia, and the warm reception he experienced from the monks and others attending the retreat.  After his description, the benefits of such a retreat experience, offered entirely through dana (voluntary contributions), was discussed by those attending.

Next week’s talk will focus on the importance of the cultivation of lovingkindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity are for a wholesome life and the process of Awakening.

The Refuge Of Gratitude

by Peter Carlson on November 23, 2017

It is the custom of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group to dedicate the Thanksgiving Eve talk to the topic of gratitude.  Peter described the Three Refuges of traditional Buddhism, that is, taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha from a different perspective:  the potential we all have for awakening, the principles and practices that foster the awakening process, and the intentional community of individuals who want to practice the Dharma in relationship.  This was followed by each person attending “thinking out loud” about his or her gratitude for what Buddhism provides for spiritual development.

The Dharma And The 12 Steps

by Peter Carlson on November 17, 2017

An important factor in developing the process of awareness is to live a balanced and serene life.  During recent posts, Peter emphasized various psychological dysfunctions that hinder this development, and recent posts described how the Dharma can address addictions and relationships.  This week’s talk describes a system originating in Alcoholics Anonymous called the 12 steps, which has been used extensively by other “anonymous” organizations over the years.  A core aspect of the 12 steps is the acknowledgement of a “Higher Power” for recovery, which may or may not involve an acceptance of the traditional God.  Peter disclosed his view of a Higher Power is the Four Noble Truths.  Peter is a Certified Addictions Professional as well as a psychotherapist and has worked with many people struggling with the various manifestations of addiction.  As a result, he has recognized the congruence between the 12 steps and Buddhist principles and practices.  He and another Sangha member, Mitch Sullen, talked about their understanding of each of the 12 steps, compared with Buddhist principles and practices.  Peter suggested that the addiction that brings someone to AA, for example, is the “ticket into cultivating serenity in one’s life”, as the absence of serenity (often due to an unaddressed psychological problem such as depression) is what supports addictive behaviors and the vulnerability to relapse.  An emphasis was placed on the 11th step, which focuses on daily meditation and prayer to develop persistent self awareness and self discipline for a serene life and how the 12th step commitment to service has similarities to the Bodhisattva Vow.  This commentary was followed by discussion among those attending the meeting regarding this topic.

Here are the notes Peter prepared for this talk:  THE DHARMA AND THE 12 STEPS

Next week’s meeting is on Thanksgiving Eve.  Following the established routine, the discussion will focus on the value of gratitude for well-being and spiritual development.

Codependency And The Dharma

Two weeks ago, the posting focused on Addictions and the Dharma; last week’s focus was on Relationships and the Dharma.  It seems reasonable to discuss how addictions affect relationships in the form of codependency.  Peter, who is a Certified Addictions Professional, described the history and dynamics of codependency, followed by how Buddhist principles and practices, […]

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Relationships And The Dharma

In the Upaddha Sutta, the Buddha explains to his attendant Ananda the crucial importance of relationship for realizing the Four Noble Truths (the quote is found in the notes attached to this posting).  Modern psychological research validates this belief–we are inherently social animals and co-create each other through our interpersonal exchanges.  the concepts are described […]

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