The Unwholesome Mind Conditioners February 25 2015

by Peter Carlson on February 26, 2015

This talk continues the exploration of the section of the Anapanasati Sutta that refers to “…sensitive to the mind conditioners…calming the mind conditioners”.  The focus of tonight’s discussion are the 14 unwholesome mind conditioners.  During the dialogues, Peter emphasized that the elaborate categorization of the various mind conditioners isn’t intended to be just a scholarly, intellectual analysis, but rather a way to notice that each moment of self-experience is composed from different elemental conditioners. The practice of vipassana trains the mind to be agile enough and insightful enough to “see with the mind’s eye”  how the various conditioners can be noted, demonstrating that there is no solid, enduring self.

This recording is accompanied by the preceding post, containing notes for the presentation.  Next week’s exploration will begin to focus on the wholesome mind conditioners, as they function to overcome the unwholesome conditioners and build momentum towards awakening.


The Unwholesome Mind Conditioners

by Peter Carlson on February 26, 2015

These notes accompany this week’s dhamma dialogue, and the .mp3 recording has the same title: THE UNWHOLESOME MIND CONDITIONERS


Generosity: Gifts from the Heart

by admin on February 22, 2015

The Buddha taught the cessation of suffering. He shared that suffering can be minimized and even eliminated. We learn there is no separate world we each live in and we are reliant on each other and our environment on endless levels for wellbeing and happiness. In understanding this interconnectedness, we learn that all things are shared.

The Orlando Insight Meditation Group (OIMG) shares these teachings. We shine light on the path to wellbeing, happiness, and interconnectedness by providing space and time for sits, Dharma talks, classes, residential retreats, a website full of resources, and scholarship support during residential retreats.

OIMG is intentional when providing scholarship support during retreats. Scholarships are offered to those whose life circumstances do not afford them the financial means to go on retreat. This has helped many people over the years who were facing life challenges such as loss of employment, financial difficulties, divorces, illnesses, and other challenging times – events that could happen to any of us at any time.

Being on retreat surrounded by love, acceptance, safety, and support during a major life challenge can be a lifesaving event for some and should not be limited to those who can afford them.

Need for scholarships has increased in the past several years due in large part to the increasing number of retreats held and the increasing number of retreatants. Please help fund retreat scholarships with your donation.

  •  $50 provides partial retreat support.
  • $600 provides full scholarship for the upcoming 9-day retreat.
  •  A donation in any amount will be gratefully received.

You can make a donation at any amount online or by check made out to the Orlando Insight Meditation Group and mailed to:

c/o Tommy Harrison
245 Stevenage Drive
Longwood, FL 32779

OIMG is a 501(c)(3) and donations are tax-deductible. OIMG is all-volunteer, pays no salaries, and has no regular source of income. We would welcome your support; please consider joining us with these intentions to share the Buddha’s teachings and help someone during their time of need

We end with the following guidance from the Dhamma:

How a person of integrity gives a gift

“These five are a person of integrity’s gifts. Which five? A person of integrity gives a gift with a sense of conviction. A person of integrity gives a gift attentively. A person of integrity gives a gift in season. A person of integrity gives a gift with an empathetic heart. A person of integrity gives a gift without adversely affecting himself or others.”

From our hearts to yours,
Peter Carlson, Founder
Tommy Harrison, Treasurer & Retreat Coordinator


Benefits of a Nine-Day Retreat

by Peter Carlson on February 22, 2015

The Orlando Insight Meditation Group is producing our first nine-day retreat from March13 – 22 at Deerhaven, a retreat center in Lake County, on the southern border of the Ocala National Forest. During and after previous 7 day retreats, different participants approached me, expressing a wish for longer retreats, and this retreat is in response to those requests. I want to provide some insights as to the benefits that come from a long residential retreat.

My good friend Andy recently told me, “I find going on retreats a priceless opportunity, and when I leave a retreat I feel like big chunks of my pain have been left behind! I finished a one week retreat at IMS two months ago and the effects are still with me!”

My friend Mitch said about retreats: “I have difficulties in my life, suffering in my life, just like anyone else. Going on retreats allows me to leave all that behind…I’m able to let it all go in the practice of mindfulness of breathing. I’m looking forward to learning how to use full-body awareness to help me even more.”

Another friend, Daniel, said: “This promises to be a safe, nurturing opportunity to dive deeply into the dharma. We have the advantage of being in the presence of an advanced teacher who we know, love and trust. After the nine days we re-emerge from the retreat a new person. It gives us a kind of rebirth.”

My first retreat lasted 14 days in 1982. In 1981 I went through some significant life upheaval and I was ready for something that would change my life. I had just read “The Experience of Insight” by Joseph Goldstein, and it had a great impact. I went to the first available retreat and never considered the length of it or the cost—I knew deeply that this would be an important experience, and mindfulness practice has been a valuable part of my life ever since. Since then, I’ve been in so many long retreats, (including two 3 month retreats), that I can’t count them all–certainly more than 30. The last few years, I’ve been in two 2 week retreats a year, in the cottage in our back yard that doubles as the meeting site for Orlando Insight. I often tell people “I’m no longer warding off the demons; instead, I’m feeding the angels!”

Perhaps 15 years ago, I attended several 9 day retreats in the form established by the late S. N. Goenka, and found the vedanupassana (mindfulness of feelings, the second of the four foundations of mindfulness) practice, also called “body sweep”, he promoted to be valuable. Interestingly, my first teacher, Ruth Denison, was trained in vedanupassana, U Ba Khin, in Burma, so I was exposed to the practice from the onset.

The body sweep practice makes use of the concentration, tranquility and persistent effort cultivated during the first several days of the retreat when practicing mindfulness of breathing. These two practices decrease the interference of the five hindrances significantly. Shifting from breath awareness, we practice a systematic movement of investigation throughout the body, starting with noticing the sensations in the area of the head, a sort of tingling sensation similar to the experience we have when the foot “goes to sleep” (except the sensation is much milder and more pleasant). Once the sensations are noted all over the face, scalp, ears and neck, then the process proceeds to include the arms, hands, torso, legs and feet. The result is increasing awareness of a tingling, vibrating feeling throughout the body.

What’s the purpose of this? A benefit of body awareness, (including breath awareness), is that observed sensation doesn’t involve an internal commentary, a story. The stories we experience in life constitute a major element in what I call “selfing” that is, fabricating an identity that demands to be defended or gratified, which may or may not be adaptive to life circumstances. The vedanupassana experience significantly adds to the “power” of sensational awareness, channelling the energy of life away from an emerging selfing story, thereby contributing to the practice of awakening.

Of course, cultivating this takes time; therefore, there’s benefit in the retreat length increasing from 7 to 9 days. There’s no guarantee that you will experience the full body awareness, but it is definitely possible with diligent practice. However, whether full awareness is achieved, the practice of investigating various sections of the body during the retreat significantly enhances competency in vipassana, insight into the conditioned nature of our life experiences.

Many people are daunted by the prospect of such enduring meditation practice, particularly in silence. I can assure you it is worth the commitment and effort, and I have never regretted being on retreat. My long retreat experience suggests that just deciding to deal with each day and each meditation period as it is, without building a story about difficult sensations or projecting into the future makes the process much easier. A major benefit of body awareness is that attending to present sensations definitely minimizes the tendency to focus on the past or the future. I can also assure you that strong commitment to the practice during the retreat will open up new levels of experience—after a few days of concentration practice, colors are more vivid, sounds more pure—all the senses, including the mind, operate at a higher efficiency, and that, to me is well worth the effort.

I hope you can join us for this retreat, or at least commit to a residential retreat some time in your life. I wish you well.

Peter Carlson, founding teacher of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group.


The Universal and Occasional Mind Conditioners Notes

by Peter Carlson on February 19, 2015


In exploring the section of the Anapanasati Sutta related to training oneself to be “…sensitive to mental fabrication…calming mental fabrication”, there’s benefit in understanding the nature of the factors that fabricate each moment of self-awareness. These fabrications emerge from the categories of conditioning factors called cetasikas. The meaning of the term is “that which is associated with the mind”. This term is a kind of categorical listing of what are called sankharas, a term synonymous with karma. Both are derived from the word karoti, which means “to do”. If you imagine the cetasikas to be just the conditioners, then the “action potential” is karma. For me, the basic value of the cetasika “system” is to “deconstruct” the notion of a separate, enduring self.

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Universal and Occasional Mind Conditioners

This talk continues the exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta.  The topic this week is “…sensitive to the mind fabrications…calming the mind fabrications”, regarding the cetasikas, the categorically listed functions of the mind.  Specific attention was given to the universal cetasikas, involved in every moment of cognition, and the particular or occasional cetasikas, which may or […]

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Calming the Mind Fabricators

During this dhamma dialogue, Peter explored the transition from cultivating a calm and stable focus of attention to the practice of vipassana, insight into the conditioned nature of subjective reality.  He described the meanings of kamma (karma in Sanskrit), sankhara, cetasikas and cetana.  Kamma and sankhara are almost synonymous and the cetasikas are categories of […]

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