The Benefits Of Perfecting Lovingkindness August 9 2017

by Peter Carlson on August 10, 2017

This week’s talk continues the exploration of the Paramis, the perfecting of mental characteristics during the process of awakening, focusing on Metta, lovingkindness.  This week’s presenter is Mike Maldonado, who has participated in a two week lovingkindness retreat and made a significant effort to research this topic.  Mike began by describing the characteristics of metta, which emphasize the benefits of a quality of loving friendliness towards all beings.  He reviewed the classical definitions of the practice of metta and facilitated a lively discussion of how one might cultivate lovingkindness on a daily basis.

Here are the notes Mike prepared for this talk:  The Benefits Of Perfecting Lovingkindness

Next week’s talk will focus on the Parami of Equanimity

Brian’s Retreat Review

by Peter Carlson on August 5, 2017

As is our custom, one of the sangha members, Brian Tamm, talked about two recent retreat experiences: a 10 day retreat in the manner taught be S. N. Goenka, followed by a weekend retreat in the Korean Zen tradition.  He described the daily practice schedules followed during the first retreat, emphasizing the technical teachings of what Goenka called “vedanupassana”, mindfulness of feelings, the second of the four foundations of mindfulness.  The retreat provided several days of intensive focus of attention on the sensation of breathing at the rim of the nostrils or the upper lip to cultivate a stability of concentration, followed by several days of repeatedly, systematically moving investigative attention from one small area of focus to another over the entire surface of the body.  The goal of the practice is to develop the ability to focus on subtle vibrations that occur naturally throughout the body, eventually with the ability to notice the vibrations wholly throughout the body.  This practice cultivates one of the seven awakening factors, investigation of mental phenomena.  The intention of the practice is to notice the impermanence of experience along with the changing nature of self-state organizations that occur within the context of bodily experience; this practice is called vipassana, or insight into the impermanent nature of reality, dissolving the illusion of a separate, enduring self.  The Zen retreat was more formal and ritualized in practice, with emphasis placed on the shared experience of the participants, combined with in-depth contemplation of kong-ons (koans) to further insight into the impersonal nature of reality.

Next week’s discussion will involve a presentation on lovingkindness as a Parami, that is, a quality of intention that is perfected during the process of awakening.  The talk will be presented by Mike Maldonado.

The Benefits Of Perfecting Determination

by Peter Carlson on July 27, 2017

This week’s talk focused on the Parami of Determination (Adhitthana in Pali).  The current English word determination can have two applications: the first is resolve or commitment and the second is the ability to be clear about what delineates an object (an example would be involve determining the total cost of an item).  Peter used this opportunity to relate how determination supports the development of all the Paramis in specific ways.   This was followed by discussion regarding how determination applies to everyday life from a Buddhist awakening perspective.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Benefits Of Perfecting Determination

Next week’s talk will be a review by a Sangha member who recently completed a 9 day retreat in the Goenka practices, combined with his report on a retreat this upcoming weekend involving Korean Zen practice.

The Benefits Of Perfecting Truthfulness

by Peter Carlson on July 20, 2017

This talk focuses on the Parami of Truthfulness (Sacca in Pali).  Truth is a core concept of Buddhism, most importantly at the core of the Four Noble Truths.  The traditional application of this Parami relates to verbal action, that is, Right Speech.  In this talk, Peter refers to the recently talk entitled “Buddhism And Existentialism”, posted on July 12.  Existential terms such as freedom, anguish, bad faith and authenticity can be understood from a Buddhist perspective as sunnata (emptiness), dukkha (distress and confusion), tanha and upadana (craving and clinging) and sanna (wisdom, that is, clear awareness and benevolent intention).  Peter emphasized that truthfulness is perfected as internal subjective experience is guided by mindfulness, investigation and benevolent intention.  This explanation was followed by discussion among the participants regarding how to bring truthfulness to fruition.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Benefits Of Perfecting Truthfulness

Next week’s talk will involve a report by a sangha member on a 10 day retreat in the Goenka body sweep practices.

Buddhism And Existentialism by Armando Garcia

by Peter Carlson on July 13, 2017

This week’s talk involved a guest speaker, Armando Garcia, who recently wrote a book entitled “Buddhism & Existentialism-Not Self, Nothingness And Being”.  This was the topic of the evening’s discussion.  Armando explained the basic assumptions of existentialism, a Western philosophy developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries in Europe.  This philosophy has striking similarities to the concepts of anatta (the absence of an enduring as autonomous self) and anicca (the transient nature of reality).  What is absent in existentialism is clarity about the nature of dukkha (dissatisfaction, distress and confusion) and the ways and means to resolve dukkha.  Existentialism describes “bad faith” as the absence of responsibility for the consequences of the inevitable choices life presents to human experience, and proposes life as presenting the opportunity to repeatedly choose an “authentic” life.  This has similarity to the nature of dukkha, but existentialism doesn’t provide the Noble Eightfold Path strategies for cultivating authentic responses to life.

Armando’s book can be purchased through Amazon.

Next week’s discussion will resume the exploration of the Paramis with “Truthfulness”.  This Parami can be understood as the attainment of an existentially “authentic” life.

The Benefits Of Perfecting Patience

Patience is the ability to train the mind to be non-reactive enough over a period of time for effective, mindful investigation to function well.  Most often, impatience is driven by urgency and attachment to an expected outcome, and is experienced as reactive impulsiveness.  During this talk, using the Four Noble Truths model, Peter suggested different […]

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The Benefits Of Perfecting Right Effort And Persistence

This week’s talk focuses on the perfection of viriya, typically translated as Energy/Right Effort/Persistence.  Peter described contemporary understanding of energy as the provision of glucose and oxygen to the neural pathways associated with wholesome or unwholesome self-state organizations.  This awareness suggests that the process of awakening involves careful attention to the flow of the energy […]

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