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Deerhaven 2016 Fourth Night Talk

by Peter Carlson on December 24, 2016

The core mental conditions to foster liberation through the practice of vipassana are called the “Seven Factors For Awakening”: mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/effort, joy/enthusiastic interest, tranquility, concentration and equanimity.  This talk describes their functions in the process of awakening and how to cultivate them.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  BOJJHANGA-7 AWAKENING FACTORS











Turning Poison Into Medicine

by Peter Carlson on July 30, 2015

During this talk, Peter introduced one of the lojong aphorisms, classically stated  “When evil fills the world and its inhabitants, change adverse conditions into the path of awakening.”  He suggested an alternative: “Be mindful whenever possible so everything provides an opportunity for practice.”   The talk provided an opportunity to review the progression of the training: First, establish a regular meditation practice to cultivate stability of focus and relief from the influence of the five hindrances, then to realize during meditation that all thoughts are transient “fantasies”.  During regular daily routines, cultivate an attitude of perceiving life’s roles as a “game”, rather than as having certainty.  Practice transforming unwholesome self-states into compassionate awareness (the tonglen practice).  The current topic involves integrating the training mentioned above sufficiently so that every difficulty encountered becomes an opportunity for liberation from confusion and distress.

Those present during the evening were provided with a copy of the aphorism and invited to write opportunities that come to mind for turning “poison into medicine” in their lives.  This provided opportunities to relate the progression described at the outset of the discussion to the incidents reported.

Here are the notes prepared for the presentation:   TRANSFORMING ADVERSITY INTO OPPORTUNITY

Next week’s discussion will involve the aphorism “Focus on your responsibility for alleviating suffering; don’t displace it to outside sources.”

Lojong Introduction

by Peter Carlson on July 16, 2015

This talk introduces a new topic, the Tibetan Buddhist Lojong trainings.  These trainings were developed around the year 1,000 C.E. to support integrating Buddhist principles and practices into daily life routines.  The core of Buddhist teaching is compassion, that is, the path leading to liberation from distress.  This core practice is integrated into Lojong through Tonglen, which is a Tibetan compassion meditation.  The most famous contemporary representative of the benefits of Lojong is Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama.

The talk provides an overview of the training; over the next several weeks, different training points will be explored.  Peter’s approach to this training is an attempt to make the archaic nature of the training aphorisms more understandable for contemporary American meditation students.

The notes prepared for this talk will be posted after this posting.

Self State Integration

by Peter Carlson on October 16, 2014

During this talk, Peter summarized the effect of overcoming the five hindrances through the cultivation of the seven factors of awakening.  The interaction between the mind’s idealized expected outcome and the self organization that emerges, producing stress, was described as “self state conflicts”.  The example used was “I’ll do this perfectly and everyone will be grateful and admire me” to illustrate that this expectation will not show up as predicted, producing stress and confusion.  Peter described how activating and perfecting the cooperative functioning of the seven awakening factors produces “self state integration”, the clarity and stability of which provides support for using vipassana for “self state transcendence”, the process of awakening, which will be explored at the next meeting.

Here are the notes that were prepared for the talk:


Cultivating Jhana

by Peter Carlson on August 21, 2014

Peter described the characteristics of jhana from both the “sutta jhana” and “Visuddhimagga jhana” models.  The benefits of jhana practice were reviewed, suggesting the real benefit of jhana practice is the cultivation of the seven Awakening Factors, which will be discussed in depth during next week’s discussion.  Peter’s notes for this talk are posted above this posting, including URL addresses for downloading an ebook relevant to jhana practice, and a page from Leigh Brasington’s site with various articles about the jhanas.

Mindful Breathing And Insight

This Dhamma dialogue reviews three levels of awareness related to mindfulness of breathing and how they interact with the practice of vipassana, that is, insight into the impermanent and selfless nature of personal experience.  The first level is simply being aware “This is the in-breath, this is the out-breath”.  The second level is a cultivated […]

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