by Peter Carlson on May 29, 2017

Peter is recruiting people who are interested in deepening their understanding of key Buddhist concepts and practical applications for an eight-week study group.  The topic for this series of meetings will be the Five Hindrances, mental conditions that create conflict, confusion and distress.  There are two approaches to the hindrances—the first is to disregard them in order to cultivate clear attention and persistent calmness; from that perspective the second approach is applied, that is, the ability to notice how hindrances are created, how to overcome them and to gradually eradicate their influence.  The Buddha said that hindrances can be cut off, as weeds are, but will regrow; the more complete approach is to use mindful investigation to uproot them.  During this course, both approaches will be explored.  The emphasis will focus on overcoming the hindrances during daily life experience as well as during formal meditation practice.

As with previous courses, the participants will be encouraged to practice at least 45 minutes of mindfulness meditation each day (It might be the case that individuals will learn how to set aside whatever hindrances might interfere with consistently reaching that goal!).  As with previous study groups, meetings will be on Tuesday evenings from 7-9, and will be organized as a seminar, that is, each person will discuss with Peter how their practice is developing, followed by general discussion regarding that exchange.

The course costs $160, and will begin as soon as there are 6 committed participants.  For further information, contact Peter at or 407 339-5444.

The Benefits Of Perfecting Wisdom June 21 2017

by Peter Carlson on June 22, 2017

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 the result of craving and clinging).  Peter suggests a different rendering of Wisdom in practice: substituting Clear Awareness for Right Understanding, and Benevolent Intention rather than Right Intention.  Clear Awareness is the flow of experience free from the five hindrances, and Benevolent Intention is the orientation towards kindness, compassion, generosity and patient tolerance in one’s thoughts and actions.  This explanation was followed by discussion of how Wisdom is cultivated.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  The Wisdom Parami

Next week, the focus will be on another Parami, Energy/Persistence.

Renunciation Exercise

by Peter Carlson on June 1, 2017

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.

A significant portion of the evening’s discussion involved participants talking through the examples, while Peter commented on how that relates to renunciation.

Here is the worksheet developed for this exercise:  RENUNCIATION WORKSHEET

Peter will be away for a few weeks.  Various guest teachers will present their discussions over the next few meetings.  These talks will not be recorded for posting.  During Peter’s next talk on June 21, the Parami of Wisdom will be explored.

The Benefits Of Renunciation

by Peter Carlson on May 25, 2017

This talk explores the benefits of the Parami of renunciation, which is the ability to disregard any self-state organization that interferes with the process of liberation from distress and confusion.  Peter quoted excerpts from an article that describes different applications of renunciation: from physical phenomena, from mental formations and from craving and clinging.  The practice of noting what has distracted attention from breath awareness, then renouncing the distraction to redirect attention back to the breath was described as the fundamental practice of renunciation.  Renunciation is related to detachment from mental phenomena and dispassion regarding mental phenomena, essential capabilities required for liberation.  Peter then described the neurological processes related to renunciation, that is, an enhanced executive function of the prefrontal cortex, which regulates the reactivity generated by the amygdala and nucleus accumbens.  This explanation was followed by discussion of the concept of renunciation by those in the meeting.

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion:  THE BENEFITS OF RENUNCIATION

Next week’s meeting will involve exercises related to the practice of renunciation.

The Value Of Virtue

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

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, […]

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The Benefits Of Generosity

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 […]

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