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
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.”
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.
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:
SELF STATE INTEGRATION
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.