Understanding Intention January 17 2018

by Peter Carlson on January 18, 2018

During the discussion of January 10, 2018 “Understanding Karma”, the importance of cetana, intention, was mentioned.  This talk elaborates on cetana, which is one of the “universal mind conditioners” that function in every moment of consciousness.  Peter quoted excerpts from Van Gorkam’s book “Cetasikas” describing the coordinating and motivating function of intention in the formation of each moment of selfing.  The relationship between intention and the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination was also described.  These understandings were aligned with an excerpt from Siegel’s “The Mindful Brain” regarding the neuroscientific research on intention that supports the traditional Buddhist view.  Ways to cultivate mindful intention were discussed associated with the practice of mindfulness of breathing.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  UNDERSTANDING INTENTION

Next week’s topic will be understanding the practical benefits of cultivating virtue, a core aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path, from a psychological as well as spiritual perspective.


Understanding Karma January 10 2018

by Peter Carlson on January 11, 2018

During this talk, Peter describes the Buddhist concept of karma, the intentional application of various mental conditioning factors that form the sense of self.  The traditional concepts about the various attributes of karma were described, then compared to current psychological and neuroscientific research that clarifies how karma actually operates in the human brain, and how neuroplasticity supports changing karmic formations in the mind.  This was followed by discussion among those attending about the implications of traditional and modern understandings of karma for cultivating mental clarity, peace of mind and kindness.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Understanding Karma

Next week’s talk will focus on cultivating beneficial intentions in life.

Intensive Study Group

by Peter Carlson on January 6, 2018

Peter is actively recruiting participants in the next 8 week Intensive Study Group.  The topic is the four Divine Abidings: lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity.  Participants will commit to practicing lovingkindness meditation 45 minutes per day for the duration of the course.  Participants will be provided with worksheets to enable a richer and more integrative understanding of the use of these self-state organizations.  The meetings are on Tuesday night from 7:30-9, and will be conducted in a seminar manner, that is, Peter will interview someone about their practice, with the intention to help increase understanding and application of Benevolent Intention, an important component of Buddhist Wisdom.  The interview will be followed by general discussion among those present.  There will be as many of these exchanges as time allows each week.  The series will begin after at least 6 people have committed to the group; at this point, there are 4 commitments.  The fee for the series is $160, payable to Peter, and the group will meet in his home office in front of the meditation hall.  Please email Peter at Peter@orlandoinsightmeditation.org to get more information or to commit to the series.

Peter’s 2017 Year End Retreat Report

by Peter Carlson on January 5, 2018

The theme for this retreat was Adaptation And Surrender, continuing to explore the concepts presented by Rodney Smith.  During the last posting of December, Peter referred to his book “Stepping Out Of Self-Deception”; the retreat addressed the concepts presented in his book “Awakening-A Paradigm Shift Of The Heart”.  Peter described the format of the retreat, then reported on how the theme Adaptation And Surrender was explored during periods of sitting practice.  Adaptation represents the “horizontal” concept put forth in the December talk, that is, adapting one’s internal narrative to changing circumstances; surrender represents total letting go of narrative or preferential regards to what is directly experienced (This state is described as choiceless awareness), and relates to the “vertical” concept of the December talk, that is, no consideration of time or separating experience into myself or other.  Peter also referred to Smith’s cautionary note which focuses on not misrepresenting the choiceless awareness as anything more than another example of craving and clinging to the notion of a separate, enduring self, although much more subtle.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  ADAPTATION AND SURRENDER

Next week’s talk will focus on karma.

Opening To Stillness

by Peter Carlson on December 14, 2017

During this talk, Peter described his intentions for his upcoming annual two-week self-retreat, organized around applying the concept and practices derived from reading (multiple times) “Stepping Out Of Self Deception-The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching Of No-Self” and “Awakening-A Paradigm Shift Of The  Heart”, by Rodney Smith.  The books develop a concept of two relationships to the universe, the horizontal (time-bound, afflicted by craving and clinging) and the vertical (timeless, limitless, unbound by craving and clinging).  The vertical dimension is the eternal Now, the only moment of reality that is not inherently affected by craving and clinging, and can be realized through awareness of “stillness”, a quality of attention undisturbed by narrative, experienced holistically as “suchness”, an awareness described by and manifested by the Buddha.  Peter’s intention is to cultivate samadhi/passadhi (stable attention/tranquility) including full sensational awareness of body sensations, sound, light, etc. and abide in that flow to investigate and understand the experience of stillness.  This was followed by comments from those attending the meeting.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:OPENING TO STILLNESS

Here is the handout provided for those attending, illustrating an excerpt from the Numerical Discourses, Udana 8.1, and an adapted graphic illustrating the horizontal and vertical concepts from the book “Stepping Out Of Self Deception-The Buddha’s Liberating Teaching Of No-Self”:  Opening To Stillness handout

The next posted talk will not be available until early January as a result of Peter’s retreat, during which there will be no dharma talks.  It is hoped that all reading this posting will enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!


Benefits Of Lovingkindness

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 […]

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Mike’s Retreat Report

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, […]

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