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

by Peter Carlson on July 6, 2017

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 focal areas that might stimulate impatience along with how the cultivation of stable, serene attention (samadhi/passadhi) through mindfulness of breathing cultivates patience.  The simple act of becoming mindful of the craving and clinging that accompanies an itch and learning to be patient with the experience of discomfort and urgency can provide the capability to be patient with other circumstances, such as being patient with a person’s behaviors or an unexpected turn of events that counter one’s plans.

During the discussion, the participants were invited to fill out a worksheet regarding how to recognize impatience and how to address the urgency of craving and clinging effectively.  The insights derived from this exercise might inspire a person using the worksheet to contemplate for a period of time how often impatience affects daily experience and how to use mindfulness and renunciation strategies during the day to cultivate patience.  Here is the worksheet:  Patience Worksheet

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion:  The Benefits Of Perfecting Patience

Next week’s meeting will involve a guest speaker, Dr. Armando Garcia, a practicing Buddhist who has written a book entitled “Buddhism And Existentialism-Not Self, Nothingness, and Being”.  Existentialism is a philosophy developed during the 20th century that emphasizes the fabricated nature of human experience and the responsibilities that emerge from that creative process.  Buddhism has strong elements of existential considerations that predate by many centuries this philosophy.  Dr. Garcia will talk about the congruence between Buddhist insights into reality and existential philosophy.

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 of attention and channeling it towards minimizing craving and clinging.  Right Effort is comprised of 4 applications: to notice and channel attention away from arisen unwholesome states, to notice the potential arising of wholesome states, to promote the fulfillment of arisen wholesome states, and the notice and prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states.  The progress towards Awakening occurs initially in “starving” the five hindrances, then channeling the energy of attention towards nurturing sufficiently sophisticated internal investigation for discovering the characteristics of subjective reality, that is, impermanence, nonself, and the distress and confusion that comes as the result of craving and clinging.  When Right Effort is sufficiently developed through persistent practice, the renunciation of duality, that is, self-and-other, supports the realization of nondual awareness.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Benefits Of Perfecting Right Effort And Persistence

Next week’s talk will focus on the Parami of patience.

The Benefits Of Perfecting Wisdom

This discussion continues to explore the qualities of mental functioning called Paramis (or Paramitas in Sanskrit), and the focus is on Wisdom (Panna, pronounced pahn-yah).  This quality represents the product of the application of the Noble Eightfold Path, that is, the realization of anicca (impermanence), anatta (nonself), and dukkha (the distress and confusion that is […]

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Renunciation Exercise

This evening’s project is to use the worksheet attached below to list various beliefs, values and expectations we experience on a hierarchical scale, in order to practice noticing how craving and clinging occurs as well as how to activate and strengthen nekkhamma, renunciation, to free the mind from attachment to outcomes in daily life experience. […]

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