Investigating body and mind

Pleasure and the Happiness of Release

The Buddha taught that happiness comes not through gaining or possessing things, but through release. You might inquire into your own experience to see if this is true. When you desire some pleasurable experience or object, notice the experience that surrounds that desire: What do you need to go through to get it? What does [...]

A thought is a thought

At our weekly meditation group we are continuing the exploration of self-construction. In the discussion yesterday, one member described how she witnessed her mind constructing a notion of self through believing a series of thoughts and speculations. Another member equated the sense of self with a discernible feeling of stuck-ness. Indeed, we create the “self [...]

Conveying the past into the present

This post is an "at home practice" for our Walking the Path course participants, June-July section. Investigate and reflect on to the process of conveying the past into the present. In what ways do you find that you might be "conveying the past into the present"? Consider your work life, social life, meditation practice, self [...]

I-making and mine-making – What are the five aggregates?

Buddhist teachings use the model of the five aggregates to describe the material and mental conditions that come together to create human experience. These five aggregates include materiality, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. When we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think, or experience any event, an intricate interaction of mind and body occurs enabling [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:51-08:00May 29th, 2013|Investigating body and mind, Not-Self|

Intention and the Power of Thought

Intention is a powerful form of thought. Intention is the key to the ethical, moral, or kammic (karmic) dimension of experience. Observing our intentions we see how a thought leads into an action. We do not live with a single intention that determines all our actions. Instead, intentions arise moment by moment and flavor the [...]

Five aspects of obstacles to understand

Here is the list of five ways of overcoming obstacles to meditation discussed at last Saturday's day long. It is from the Satipatthana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta number 10, paragraph 36): In regards to each hindrance the meditator: 1. Understands when the hindrance is present in me. 2. Understands when the hindrance is absent in [...]

Three Questions and Responses about Sankhara

Through sutta study groups and via email questions recently, I have been involved in several discussions about sankhara. Sankhara is usually translated in English as mental formations, volitional formations, activities, inclinations, or fabrications. Sankhara appears as a factor of the Twelve Links of Dependent Arising and as one of the Five Aggregates. This factor tends [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:51-08:00February 28th, 2013|Investigating body and mind, Sutta Study|

Has Mara visited you today?

There is a mythical figure in the Buddhist teachings named Mara. He arrives on the scene in many disguises and disrupts a meditator’s concentration, interferes with the clarity of insight, or tries to seduce the practitioner into wrongful acts. We might see Mara as the personification of hindrances, unskillful impulses, self-doubt, self-destructive habits, and any [...]

Equally balanced in meditation and shopping

Saturday we focused on cultivating a joyful and balanced mind—finding equanimity in the midst of our lives, coming back to balance whenever we 'lose it', cultivating balanced effort in the meditation, discovering the support of a dynamically balanced posture, and developing depth in the meditation by balancing our faculties (faith and wisdom, energy and concentration, [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:51-08:00August 20th, 2012|Daily Life Practice, Investigating body and mind, Meditation|

Right View and the Danger of Fixation

We concluded our six-week series on Right View last night with a talk and discussion on the Dangers of Fixation. Audio recordings will be posted at: The experience of right view does not require adherence to a set of beliefs or doctrines; it is not a theoretical position or social position. Right view occurs with [...]

2012-02-22T16:00:42-08:00February 22nd, 2012|Investigating body and mind, Mindfulness Practice|

On detachment

"Detachment describes the ease of a mind not adhering, not fixated, and not identified with the fleeting stream of lived events."—Shaila Catherine, Wisdom Wide and Deep, page 398. Often people bring negative associations to the term detachment—thinking it implies cold indifference. However, in the context of meditation practice, detachment refers to a vivid and liberating experience [...]

2012-02-13T15:50:58-08:00February 13th, 2012|Investigating body and mind, Mindfulness Practice, Sutta Study|

Are Sense Pleasures Suffering?

We often link happiness to the attainment of sensory pleasure; or we expect sensory pleasures to bring happiness. The emphasis on the unsatisfactoriness of conditioned experiences, as taught in the Buddhist tradition can, at first, seem disheartening.  Why equate innocuous and natural pleasures with suffering? Is the Buddhist path life-denying? We had a rousing dialog [...]

Where do you look for fresh insight?

"Where do you search for fresh insight? Do you turn to classes, books, teachers, or nature? Meditation invites us to look carefully into our own material and mental experience."—from Shaila Catherine. Wisdom Wide and Deep, page 389 Instead of looking outside of yourself for understanding and insight, sit quietly and look into your own experience [...]

Guinea pigs

Last week I traveled to the University of Wisconsin to participate in a scientific study of experienced meditators. It seems to be a rigorous study that is looking at the effects of mindfulness and loving kindness on stress, sleep, lifestyle choices, brain function, attention, and compassion. I don’t really know exactly what they are studying [...]

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