Bok TowerLegacyBok Tower Gardens provides a peaceful setting for a day of meditation.  Participants will enjoy:

  • Introduction and Dharma talks with time for questions and discussion
  • Sitting and walking meditation for beginning and experienced meditators
  • Easy access to outside garden space as an alternative for walking meditation
  • Covered dish vegetarian lunch coordinated by members of the Central Florida Insight Meditation Society. Drinks and paper goods provided.

Course Taught by Peter Carlson
Peter has practiced meditation for more than thirty years and taught Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for more than twenty years. His training includes three-month courses at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. Peter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Winter Park, Florida.

When: Saturday, April 19, 2014 | 9AM – 5PM
Where: Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida 33853
Fee: $25 includes entrance into Bok Tower Gardens
Please bring a vegetarian dish to share with the group

To register, please contact Andy Quinn, 863-683-9600

It is customary in our sangha to provide the opportunity for a person who just completed a significant retreat to “think out loud” about the retreat experience, as this supports integrating the deep changes retreats foster into regular life routines more effectively.  Robert just completed a three month retreat at the Providence Zen Center in Rhode Island.  He spoke of his experience, followed by a question and answer period.

This dialogue follows upon the previous week’s exploration of the hindrances, particularly sense desire.  Peter described how MRI research shows that the more times a particular neural pathway is activated, the more enduring and “self-defining” it becomes.  This was related to how much our consumer culture feeds unrelenting dissatisfaction and desire.  Peter pointed out that hindrances not only interfere with meditation practice, but also disturb peace of mind and clarity during daily life routines.  He also emphasized that spiritual enhancement is hindered when meditation practice is dominated by the intense mental preoccupations and energy turbulence arising from the action of the hindrances.  This was followed by discussion of the impact that group members experience related to the hindrances.

Rebirth is a core theme of classical Buddhism, in all the various groupings of doctrine and practice that have emerged over the centuries.  As I’ve contemplated Buddhism for over 30 years, my take on rebirth is that the self-organization of the 5 aggregates re-forms on a moment-by-moment basis, and that the notion of being born again into some sort of organism is purely speculation.

Whenever anyone approached the Buddha with questions or speculations about what happens after death, he would refuse to respond for or against that belief.  I believe there are several reasons for this.  The Buddha would say: “The Tathagata [the name he used, generally translated as “Thus Gone”, or maybe “Suchness”] is here to develop understanding about the cause of dissatisfaction and the ways and means to alleviate dissatisfaction-that is all!”  In this paraphrasing, it seemed to be an agnostic view, that is, not knowing one way or another what happens after death. I assume that he did know as much as is humanly possible about the nature of being alive, perhaps even the answer to that question, but chose not to answer because to hold onto any view for or against would hinder a person’s awakening process.

One of the core accomplishments of Buddhist spiritual development is to cultivate ongoing, mindful awareness without the burden of identifying with any particular view of life.  My resolution for this is to just focus on ethical development and cultivating clear awareness; at the end of my life, events will unfold according to the Dhamma, that is, the natural order of the universe.

Having said this, I recently read an article in Salon, which is an online magazine, and it provided me with some intriguing information.  It seems that a woman who had an aneurysm in an artery at the base of her brain required surgery that would cool her body down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, drain the blood from her body, leaving here essentially in a deep, brain-dead coma.  The aneurysm was successfully repaired, and when she was “brought back to life,” she reported events and objects that she couldn’t possibly have consciously witnessed, and which were verifiable as there was adequate telemetry to prove her brain was inactive, and there were 8 witnesses in the room, who could verify her account.

This is what is called a Near Death Experience, and the author of the article described some of the ongoing research and controversy about this phenomenon.  What is especially interesting about the report is the objective data that substantiates the report, rather than anecdotal information.  It certainly has stimulated my thinking! Here is the article.  I hope you find it to be interesting.  I wish you well.  Peter

During this talk, Peter described how stimulation through the “sense bases” is transformed into the disruptive and energy draining process Buddhism calls panca nivarana, the Five Hindrances.  He described the nature of sense desire as a hindrance, focusing on the activities of the amygdala (fear orientation) and nucleus accumbens (associated with addictive behavior) are examples of craving and clinging from a classical Buddhist perspective.  Setting aside sense desire frees up the internal energy flows, cultivating joy, one of the awakening factors, establishing an internal source of happiness, rather than the false promise of the objects of sense desire.  Next week’s discussion will explore the hindrance of aversion and ill-will.

This talk begins several weeks of exploration of the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, dhammanupassana.  During the discussion, Peter pointed out that Mindfulness of the Body and of Feelings are projected onto the Third Foundation, that of consciousness, and that the culminating practice of this teaching is to notice the interactions between the foundations, Mindfulness of Mental Phenomena. He also suggested that the word “dhamma” conveys something static, a thing; however, a dhamma is transient, lasting a fraction of a second, and therefore is best considered as a dynamic process that commingles the four foundations.  During the next several weeks, the dhamma called the five hindrances, the dhamma called the five aggregates, the dhamma called the six sense bases (which he terms “the six sense functions”, the dhamma of the seven awakening factors, and the dhamma called the full realization of the Four Noble Truths (which he called the Four Ennobling Truths) will be explored.

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This dialogue explores the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, cittanupassana, translated as mindfulness of the mind.  After reading the content of the third foundation from Analayo’s book on satipatthana, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Peter related this to what our era calls “mood”, that is, a pervasive emotional state.  The neurological and hormonal aspects of mood […]

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Lovingkindness Meditation

taught by Peter Carlson Basic teaching of Buddhist meditation to develop: A gentle, open heart Compassion and forgiveness Support for the happiness of others Acceptance of what life has to offer Peter has practiced Buddhist meditation since 1982 and is the founding teacher of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group. As a psychotherapist, he facilitates integrating […]

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