Compassionate Relationship

by Peter Carlson on November 19, 2015

This discussion began with a quote from the Upaddha Sutta: “…Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life…” because the emphasis for this week focuses on the lojong commitments regarding interpersonal responsibility.  Three commitments were described: “Don’t indulge in malicious speech or sarcasm”, “Revenge is not sweet, but toxic”, and “Don’t throw your pain at others”.  These commitments were modified by Peter to be more applicable to contemporary relationships from a Buddhist perspective on Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.

After the explanation, participants offered their observations regarding how these principles bring benefit to relationships.  Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  RESPONSIBILITY IN RELATIONSHIPS

Next week’s regular meeting will occur on Thanksgiving Eve, so following the routine for at number of years, the discussion will be organized around the benefits of gratitude for daily living.

Working With Unpredictability

by Peter Carlson on November 12, 2015

This talk focuses on the lojong commitment “Don’t Rely On Consistency”, which emphasizes how social norms put pressure on individuals to conform, even when such conformity violates the Buddhist principle of benevolent intention.  One example would be the pressure to conform with materialistic drives regarding the upcoming holiday season–the perfect party, the perfect gift, etc.  Another example is the conformity of ethnic prejudice, that is, the culturally conditioned feeling of aversion around someone who looks Muslim.

The discussion also focused on the struggle of individuals to conform to their own conditioned expectations of themselves, and the frustration experienced when one doesn’t meet a standard of performance.

During the discussions, Peter repeatedly referred back to aphorisms discussed in prior meetings, such as being a “child of illusion” and the importance of daily meditation practice to build the capacity to be mindful and nonreactive to cultural pressures that conflict with benevolent intention.

Here are the notes for this discussion:  Working With Unpredictability

Universal Wholesome Mind Conditioners

by Peter Carlson on March 5, 2015

This is the first of two discussions about the wholesome cetasikas, the mind conditioners that foster the process of awakening.  The seven factors are confidence, mindfulness, wholesome conscience, fear of consequences (respect for karma), non-attachment, non-aversion (lovingkindness), and equanimity.  Peter described the process of identifying and cultivating these factors as “feeding the angels”.

During the discussion, Peter encouraged participants to develop the ability to quickly identify each mind conditioner as another way to see the impersonality of life experience, that is, that there are moments of awareness of the associated mind conditioners, not a separate, enduring self.

These conditioners are essential elements in the practice of vipassana, developing the process of awakening.  Next week’s discussion will investigate the remaining wholesome conditioners, especially those 12 called “the beautiful pairs”.

The notes for this discussion are found in the next posting.

Mindfulness As An Awakening Factor

by Peter Carlson on September 4, 2014

During this dharma dialogue, the awakening factor of mindfulness was described.  Peter referred to a Wikipedia definition of metacognition, a psychological term developed without reference to Buddhist psychology, that seems to be synonymous with mindfulness.  The neurological research describing which parts of the brain activated in the process of mindful awareness was described as well.  Following this, there was a brief guided meditation to emphasize recognition of the present function of mindfulness of the body as a stable point of reference supporting vipassana practice.

Here is the .doc file of the notes prepared for this week’s discussion:  SATI As A Factor For Awakening

Next week’s discussion will explore dhamma vicaya bojjhanga, the awakening factor for the investigation of mental phenomena.

Cultivating The Awakening Factors

by Peter Carlson on August 28, 2014

This is the first of several dialogues exploring the bojjhangas, the seven factors of awakening.  During this talk, Peter describes the relationship between the awakening factors and the five powers.  He also described the evolution of the factors through the process of setting aside the hindrances preparatory to the practice of vipassana.  The awakening factors that comprise vipassana were described.  Next week’s dialogue will explore the individual factors in detail, with guided meditations to facilitate recognizing their function.

Here are the notes prepared for this presentation and for the next few meetings:   BOJJHANGA-7 AWAKENING FACTORS

2014 One Week Retreat Review

Much of the transformation in the brain during a retreat occurs outside of conscious awareness.  We’ve realized over the years of retreat experience that talking about it, “thinking out loud”, with a group of well-informed people helps integrate the learning and insight, making it more clearly understood and accessible in daily life.  This dialogue reviewed […]

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Seven Awakening Factors 2014

During this talk, Peter explained how these seven factors, led by mindfulness, function.  Initially, in their undeveloped, weakest form, they apply a counter to the action of the five hindrances.  As the hindrances are set aside and the function of the mind becomes clarified, coherent and energized, the seven factors are matured in their function: […]

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