Franciscan Retreat Reports December 10 2014

by Peter Carlson on December 11, 2014

It is the custom of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group to provide the opportunity for those of us who have participated in a retreat to talk about the retreat experience.  Much of what transpires in a retreat is subtle and out of conscious awareness, so talking about the experience with knowledgeable people helps to integrate what was attained in conscious awareness, thereby making the learning more accessible and useful in the future.

Peter will be on a two week self-retreat until December 26, so there will be no more dhamma dialogue postings until early January.  Our hope is that all who listen to these talks are benefitted, and that each enjoys a safe and happy holiday season.

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Franciscan Center December 6 2014

by Peter Carlson on December 8, 2014

During this second evening of the weekend retreat at the Franciscan Center, Peter summarized the previous talks and instructions during the retreat, fostering increasing skill in the practice of anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing.  He read an excerpt from the Anapanasati Sutta, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, downloaded from the site “Access To Insight”, that illustrated what he had described previously.  A progressive degree of the more subtle details of the sensation of breathing was used to explain how the process of awakening develops: first, complete identification with internal narrative as definitive of lived experience (that is, ignorance, from the Buddhist perspective), through a “half-and-half” awareness of narrative and breath awareness, to full breath awareness with no intrusive narrative.  This is the cultivation of Samadhi, concentration.  The practice of vipassana was described as a revisiting of the narratives, with enough “dispassion” (viraga in Pali) to see the narratives as mental fabrications, impermanent and non-self.  These insights constitute the process of awakening.

This practice was related to the cultivation of the Seven Awakening Factors: Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena, Energy/Right Effort, Joy, Tranquility, Concentration and Equanimity.

Hopefully, the next posting will include the recording of the Wednesday night dhamma dialogue, a review of the retreat experience by those present who participated in the weekend retreat.

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Franciscan Retreat December 5 2014

by Peter Carlson on December 8, 2014

This recording was made during the first night of the weekend retreat at the Franciscan Center, a delightful retreat facility on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, Florida, from December 5th to the 7th.  This recording is extraordinarily long, almost 95 minutes.  The first part is Peter’s introduction to the practice of anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing.  Included in the talk is a description of the “three refuges”: “I take refuge in the Buddha…I take refuge in the Dhamma…I take refuge in the Sangha.”  Peter described the Buddha as the reality of awakening, not with an emphasis on nirvana, but on the release each person can experience from the burdens of craving and clinging.  The Dhamma was described as the principles and practices described in the Buddhist tradition that foster awakening, from the perspective of what is called “Secular Buddhism”, that is, the Westernized approach that is relatively free from traditional rites and rituals, and draws on scientific research that validates the important insights of mindfulness meditation practices.  The Sangha was presented as the community of “truth seekers” who gather for the practices leading to awakening.

The last 45 minutes of the recording involves a guided mindfulness of breathing meditation session that provides useful periodic comments to foster “noticing distractions, disregarding them and returning to the practice of aiming and sustaining attention to the in- and out-breath”.

This posting is accompanied by a recording from December 6, during which Peter described the different levels of intimate breath awareness that can be acquired with diligent attention to the in- and out-breath.

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Practice Questions II

by Peter Carlson on December 4, 2014

During this dialogue, Peter described the basic principles and practices associated with cultivating lovingkindness, as a manifestation of the Noble Eightfold Path factor of Right Intention.  Following this, the practice of vipassana (insight) was described as the more mature application of the Seven Factors of Awakening.  The process of vipassana was then associated with the cultivation of lovingkindness, and, more particularly, with Tibetan Buddhist Lojong and Tonglen (compassion) practice.

Next week’s dialogue will provide participants with an opportunity to report on their retreat experience (There is a retreat December 5-7).  The comments of the participants help them review and integrate what was experienced during the retreat as well as providing inspiration for those who weren’t on the retreat to consider the benefits of the intensive practice experience.

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Thanks Giving

by Peter Carlson on November 27, 2014

Since we meet on Wednesday evenings, the night before Thanksgiving has been focused on a Buddhist perspective on gratitude and the increasing spirit of generosity that emerges from dedicated mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation practices.  The participants in the group each talked of their experiences related to their practice and this time of year.

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Opportunity for Service

For those that aren’t able to make OIMG’s December retreat, on Saturday, December 6, 2014 OIMG has an opportunity to work with our friends at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando during their upcoming volunteer day at the Second Harvest Food Bank. Second Harvest provides tremendous community support. Join us as we work together to sort […]

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Practice Questions

During this talk, Peter answered questions from the sangha members attending the meeting, with an emphasis on practical applications of mindfulness meditation to daily life routines, particularly the benefits of slow walking meditation. Next week’s talk is on Thanksgiving Eve, so the dialogue will focus on gratitude, from the perspective of both receiving and giving.

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