This seems to be a very conflicted year in our culture–economic and ecological upheaval, political divisiveness and hostility abound. This talk begins a series of explorations of how the Four Noble Truths are relevant to current circumstances. Peter proposed that as soon as tribalism developed in early human development, politics emerged, focused in two ways: between tribal groups and hierarchical structures within tribes. It seems that these more primitive functions still operate in contemporary society. Buddhist emphasis on training the mind to be presently aware of how environmental circumstances are represented in consciousness, combined with an emphasis on empathic attunement in the form of lovingkindness, represents an effective way to “turn poison into medicine”, that is, political turmoil into deeper, more adaptive wisdom.
Next week’s talk will continue to explore these topical areas, with emphasis on how neuroscience suggests certain traits are associated with political orientations and how mindfulness practices are beneficial in supporting more effective responses to political pressures.
This week’s talk is dedicated to grieving the massacre at the Pulse nightclub on June 12. During the talk, Peter read a rendering of the discourse on lovingkindness, the Metta Sutta, and described how Buddhist concepts counter the human tendency towards hatred and aggression. Another quote from the Buddha’s teachings was written on the dry erase board: “Hatred isn’t resolved through more hatred; lovingkindness and compassion provide the solution. This is an ancient and comprehensive principle”. This was followed by opportunities for those attending to voice their grief regarding this and similar events in recent memory, along with how Buddhist principles and practices support “turning poison into medicine”.
Next week’s talk will begin and exploration of what Buddhist principles and practices can offer during this divisive political season.
During this talk, Peter reviewed last week’s topic, “The Selfing Story” and added to the concept of the Five Aggregates the additional concept of paticca sammuppada, typically translated as “dependent origination”. He substituted the term “contingent provisional emergence” as a more contemporary rendering of the concept. This revised meaning conveys the importance of recognizing that momentary experiences of “selfing” are holistic and non-linear, very complex and dynamically changing. The value of mindfulness of feelings as feelings, not as an enduring self, was emphasized.
Next week’s discussion will be led by Daniel Logan. Here is a brief synopsis of his topic: “Many practitioners find it difficult to let go of the doubts and fears that arise during sitting or in the course of their greater practice. The Buddha himself struggled with fear on the eve of his liberation. He acknowledges his experience of fear in an excerpt from sutta MN 36: “Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?’ I thought: ‘I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities.” The Buddha’s own words give hope to those of us who may not yet have found perfect ease and contentment on the cushion or off. This dharma dialogue will present a more hopeful antidote to heavy and afflictive states by focusing on the role of joy and contentment in one’s practice. It will be an interactive exploration and will include brief written exercises and structured dialogues with fellow yogis.”
During this talk, A Buddhist understanding of anatta, the absence of an enduring, autonomous self was described. The Western term “ego” was presented as a process that winnows through all the sensations stimulating the 5 sense doors, creating a dynamic flow of experience that, through inattentiveness and ignorance, is misperceived as something substantial, a separate self. This was related to the Buddhist concept of the Five Aggregates: form (physical sensation), feeling, perception, fabrication and consciousness. Due to the Buddhist understanding of anicca, impermanence
Peter then described the current perspective of “the narrative self”, that is, the primary importance of the internal narrative that is self-creating in the context of relating to others in the world of subjective experience. This description was followed by a lively discussion by those attending of the implications of this approach to life.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk, including a diagram describing the Five Aggregates: MINDFUL SELFING
Next week’s talk will be focused on “deconstructing and reconstructing the self”, to describe how mindfulness practices promote self-state liberation from distress and confusion.
During this talk, the Upaddha Sutta, Half (Of The Holy Life), was quoted, (translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu). In the sutta, the Buddha tells Ananda, his personal attendant, that relationship is a core aspect of the practice of the Four Noble Truths. Peter related this observation to current research which demonstrates that mindfulness of breathing meditation builds strength into the neural pathways associated with secure relationship bonds. The actual practice of attending to the breath, checking divergent thoughts and regulating emotional reactivity was explained. Daniel Goleman’s book “Social Intelligence” was also quoted to support this approach to relationship security. This was followed by discussion of the topic.
It is customary to allow someone who has just completed a significant meditation retreat to review the experience during a meeting. Brian completed a one week retreat with Tara Brach, a well-respected author and teacher. After the review, there was a lively question and comments discussion. Next week’s talk will be focused on “Mindfulness And […]
During this talk, the topic of “process addiction” was reviewed, qualifying addiction with 5 criteria: 1) often activated or contemplated, 2) increases in frequency and intensity over time, 3) becomes a lifestyle organizing function, 4) acted upon and defended despite the negative consequences, and 5) discomfort and confusion occurs when access is denied or prevented. […]