The Value Of Virtue May 17 2017

by Peter Carlson on May 18, 2017

This continues a series of discussions regarding the Paramis, the qualities of the mind to be perfected in support of the awakening process.  Tonight’s topic is Sila (pronounced shelah), virtue.  During the talk, Peter read excerpts from the Sigalavada Sutta, within which the Buddha describes mental characteristics operating when virtue is absent and when it is functioning well.  This sutta also describes the different virtuous actions taken relative to different relationship circumstances.  He also quoted from Ajahn Buddhadassa’s book “Heartwood Of The Bodhi Tree-The Buddha’s Teaching On Voidness”, regarding the correlation between the absence of a separate self (voidness) and the expression of virtue.    Peter then considered how the cultivation of virtue may have evolutionary value, in the same way that the historical emergence of language enabled the development of civilization.  This was followed by engaged discussion among the people present during the meeting.

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

Next week’s topic will be the Parami of renunciation.

Letting Go Of Things

by Peter Carlson on May 11, 2017

This talk follows up on the talk last week involving the Parami of Generosity.  Each person attending was given a worksheet, (the .doc file posted below) to review, creating a hierarchy of valuing possessions, from relatively unimportant to the most important.  This was followed by a participatory group discussion of the items on the list, including how the attachment to that thing creates a sense of self that must be defended or gratified, thereby fostering distress and confusion, a resistance regarding the practice of generosity.

Here is the worksheet provided for listing and contemplating how the valuing process regarding material possessions contributes to selfing:  Generosity Worksheet 

For those participating in the meeting, please note that this posted document has two pages instead of one; the second page offers suggestions for contemplation.

Next week’s topic will explore the classical and contemporary commentary on the benefits of cultivating the Parami of Virtue

The Benefits Of Generosity May 3 2017

by Peter Carlson on May 4, 2017

This is the second of a series of talks exploring the Paramis, translated as the qualities of mind to be perfected during the awakening process.  The topic for this talk is dana, generosity.  Some references to how the Buddha’s teachings were reported, followed by contemporary research on the personal and social benefits of altruism.  This was followed by a discussion among those present about how generosity has been personally applied beneficially.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Benefits Of Generosity

The topic for next week’s discussion is the Parami of sila, the Pali term for virtue.

Perfecting Wholesome Mental Qualities

by Peter Carlson on April 27, 2017

This talk begins a series of explorations of the paramis, qualities of the mind to be perfected during the process of awakening.  The word parami is translated from Pali as perfection; in Sanskrit, the word is paramita.  These qualities emerge as the frequency and potency of wholesome self-state organizations flourish.  In describing the paramis, Peter emphasized the importance of cultivating attention through the combination of mindful investigation and benevolent intention. In the Theravada tradition, there are 10 paramis: generosity, virtue, renunciation, Wisdom, energy/persistence, patience, truthfulness, determination, lovingkindness, and equanimity/balance.  These were reviewed as a wholesome system for self-state integration and liberation, with an emphasis on the interpersonal/societal benefits as well as personal awakening.  This was followed by general discussion of the holistic “package” of the paramis, that is, how the function of one integrates with all the other paramis.  In forthcoming talks, each of the paramis will be explored more deeply, with an emphasis on practical applications in contemporary secular life.  The first parami, generosity, will be discussed at the next meeting.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk; please note the definition of the paramis follows a very traditional format, that is, characteristic description, specific function, its manifestation and proximal cause:  Perfecting Qualities For Awakening

Mike’s Retreat Report

by Peter Carlson on April 20, 2017

One of the Sangha members, Mike Maldonado, recently completed a one week retreat at the Insight Meditation Society Retreat Center in Massachusetts.  It is customary for a person who has completed a significant retreat to describe his experience in order for him to consolidate what he learned from the retreat and to inform and inspire others who may wish to go to a retreat, perhaps at the Insight Meditation Society, which is a premier facility.  Mike described the daily routine and talked of what he had learned fro the experience.

Next week’s talk will begin to explore the Paramis, the qualities of mental functions that are to be perfected on the path to complete awakening.

Four Clear Comprehensions

This talk focused on a commentarial addition to the Mindful Comprehension stanzas of the Satipatthana Sutta, (sati sampajanna), which emphasize integrating mindfulness into all activities, walking, eating, dressing, and other behavioral routines of daily life.  The commentary further divides the practice into four functions for effective decision making: determining a worthy goal, cultivating the suitable […]

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Peter’s 2017 Forest Refuge Retreat Report

It is customary for an evening’s discussion to be dedicated to a review of a significant recent retreat experience.  Peter spent the month of March at the Forest Refuge, part of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts.  The retreat’s theme involved what is called “The Gradual Training” in Theravada Buddhist terms, with a major focus […]

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