Returning from a Four Month Retreat

I recently returned from a four month retreat that was lead by the Venerables Pa-Auk Sayadaw and U Jagara in Massachusettes. It was a experiential approach to the Buddha's teachings that emphasized deep concentration (especially jhana) practice; the careful discernment and analysis of mental factors, cognitive processes, material elements, and causal relationships; and culminated in [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:56-08:00December 18th, 2011|Meditation, Sangha Practice, Uncategorized|

The Paramis

Shaila and the IMSB sangha have kindly invited me to be the resident teacher here for a couple of weeks, for which I am both grateful and honoured – both to the individuals and also to the dharma itself, expressed through all of us, which has opened this new door to serve and engage with [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:56-08:00June 22nd, 2011|Daily Life Practice, Guest Writers|

Embarking on a four month retreat

Ah, at long last, after months of organizing and arranging my worldly responsibilities, I am finally packing and preparing to embark on a 4 month meditation retreat that will be led by the Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw of Burma, and assisted by Venerable U Jagara. It will take place at the Insight Meditation Society in MA [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:56-08:00June 17th, 2011|Uncategorized|

Self Criticism

As I was puttering about the house this morning I heard a crash outside.  My neighbor’s teenage son had accidentally backed his own car into his brother’s car, scraping the side and ripping off the fender along the way. As he paced alongside the damaged vehicle, he repeatedly muttered, “It was so stupid…I was so [...]

THINK before you speak

My father used to advise me: “think before you speak.” Coming from Dad it seemed to be as much criticism as wise counsel, but if we don’t follow this advice, we may entangle ourselves in conflicts or misunderstandings. Recently, in a small group discussion, a student mentioned the acronym THINK as a way of reflecting [...]

2011-06-01T22:20:52-07:00June 1st, 2011|Daily Life Practice|

Happy Wesak

Today, on the full moon day in May, we are celebrating the Buddhist holiday known as Wesak. It commemorates the Buddha's birth, death, and enlightenment.  Today we reflect upon the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha—the three jewels. I love this holiday.  It is a time to remember the Buddha, celebrate his life and accomplishments, [...]

2011-05-17T21:29:04-07:00May 17th, 2011|Sangha Practice, The Buddha|

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 [...]

Breaking Out from the Shell

The plum tree near my driveway has a nest of robins--the eggs hatched a couple of days ago. The bird box that I hung on the eucalyptus tree outside our kitchen last year now is home to a family of small blue birds. Spring is a time when many creatures are diligently nurturing their young. [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:57-08:00May 12th, 2011|Enlightenment, Jhanas, Meditation|

Using situations of inconvenience to develop equanimity

A quotation from my book, Focused and Fearless, appeared as today’s quote of the day from Tricycle. It pertains nicely to my recent blog on equanimity: “Situations of inconvenience are terrific areas to discover, test, or develop your equanimity. How gracefully can you compromise in a negotiation? Does your mind remain balanced when you have [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:57-08:00April 25th, 2011|Daily Life Practice, Emotions, Working with suffering|

Equanimity or indifference

How do you know if you are experiencing equanimity, or just not bothering to care? People sometimes reject equanimity practice, concerned that the development of equanimity might flatten their feelings, or foster a cold and unconcerned approach to social issues. It is important to distinguish between equanimity and indifference in how we relate to the [...]

Metta in Nevada

I’m in Carson City, Nevada–teaching loving kindness (metta) practice. Teaching and practicing metta seems to put me in a marvelously good mood. May you all be happy and well! Metta is a traditional way of overcoming tendencies toward fear, anger, and ill will. It is a strong and profound attitude of non-contention and deep friendliness that, when [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:58-08:00April 18th, 2011|Loving Kindness and Compassion|

Sangha Service

At our community meeting last week, I was touched as volunteers spoke about their experience of getting involved in IMSB. I reflect on the energy and engagement of our members  often when I walk into an event–every chair and table was moved as a gift of service by a member; every flyer and arrangement was offered by volunteers; [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:58-08:00April 17th, 2011|Sangha Practice|

Just Relax

I opened last night’s dhamma talk with a quote from the eighteenth century Tibetan master Shabkar: “One must remain in the vastness, alert and lucid, letting one’s gaze encompass the infinity of the sky, as though seated on the summit of a mountain open to all the horizons.” This simple instruction invites a spacious, non [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:58-08:00April 13th, 2011|Daily Life Practice, Meditation, Not-Self|

Contemplating the 32 parts of the body

Tonight I will introduce the practice of contemplating the thirty-two parts of the body at our weekly meditation group. This traditional way of investigating the body supports the development of both concentration and insight, and dispels attachment to concepts about the body.  This blog post provides a basic list of the parts and a reminder [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:58-08:00April 5th, 2011|Body, Meditation|

A Question of Devotion

Perhaps the most obvious similarity between the representatives of the world religions at this interfaith symposium is their sweet devotion to their practices, faith, and gods. I must say that I feel a bit like the odd person in this group in this regard, because my relationship to the Buddha is not obviously one of [...]

2017-02-16T09:34:58-08:00March 29th, 2011|Emotions, Enlightenment, The Buddha|


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