During this dhamma dialogue, the exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta was continued, with a focus on the stanzas: “…He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.’
Peter described an ongoing debate as to whether “the entire body” simply refers to the totality of the in- and out-breath cycle without interruption, or whether “the entire body” relates the calming effects of enduring breath awareness is coordinated with relaxing “the bodily fabrication”. The accompanying .mp3 recording of the training meditation that immediately preceded this dialogue orients towards the latter interpretation, emphasizing that the out-breath can coincide with briefly sweeping attention through the body to release and relax any tension that is noted. This strategy allows the body to become increasingly relaxed, the emotions to become increasingly calm, while the degree of internal investigation of the breath and body tensions actually increases internal alertness.
This explanation was followed by dialogues regarding how those participating in the training meditation experienced the practice of mindfulness of breathing. It was noted that suggesting that attention is a flow of energy that is simply nourishing either wholesome or unwholesome self-states, and that the breath is a wholesome factor in that process, as it interrupts the escalation of self-talk and fosters calming.
The next scheduled talk will focus on the effects of this mindful calming, the release of energy into awareness as joy and happiness.
This dialogue is the first of two explorations of samma samadhi, right concentration. Peter explained the terms samadhi and passadhi, and why he groups them together. Six considerations were illustrated to support the cultivation of samadhi-passadhi. The value of samadhi-passadhi in the practice of vipassana was explored. The explanations were followed by dialogue about the supportive considerations and the value of samadhi-passadhi in daily life. There is a post following this one containing the notes used for the evening’s discussion. the notes include a link to a website where Richard Shankman’s book “The Experience Of Samadhi” can be downloaded free in .pdf format. Next week’s dialogue will explore the practice of jhana.
While Peter’s wife is away for a week, he decided to practice integrating mindfulness more thoroughly into daily life routines. The primary changes included more meditation periods and more reading about Buddhist practices; otherwise, the routines were the same as before. During the talk, he reviewed various ways to increase the application of mindfulness during the day: the cultivation of samadhi/passadhi (concentration and tranquility) as a buffer against impulsive reactivity, using body awareness to interrupt intrusive unnecessary thoughts, and simply reflecting “Is _______ really that important or valuable right now?”, focused on distractions and intrusive thoughts. This was followed by dialogue with sangha members regarding ways to enhance daily practice of mindfulness. Next week’s talk will focus on understanding what sankhara (mental conditioners) are, related to understanding one of the Five Aggregates of Clinging, sankharakkhanda.
This dialogue is a continuation of the previous week’s discussion. During the discussion, Peter led a guided meditation on how to use the four elements contemplations to provide a consistent focus for interrupting the elaboration the mind creates in the “selfing story.” This exercise was followed by a sharing from the attending Sangha members regarding their experience during the exercise and discussion of how this practice can benefit the process of awakening. Next week’s exploration will include the contemplation of vedana (feeling) and sanna (perception), with the hope that this information will further the process of understanding the Five Aggregates of Clinging.
Continuing the ongoing exploration of the Four Noble Truths, Peter described the concept of the Five Aggregates affected by clinging, which is referred to in the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness teaching. Using a graphic illustration, he showed how the factors of perception and feeling create a “bridge” between incoming sense data and the further processing that occurs before conscious awareness (the graphic and accompanying notes are posted on the site as well). Without the benefit of mindfulness, concentration and tranquility, perception is biased and distorted by the conditioning factors, with the result that what is transitory and non-self is misperceived as enduring and a self. The practice of vipassana can reveal the misperception and reorient the energy of the mind toward clear awareness and benevolent intention. This is the process of awakening.
during the next dialogue, Peter will describe how a conceptual and experiential understanding of perception and feeling is contained within the doctrine of paticca samuppada, dependent origination. Peter will develop a different translation of this term, as “contingent provisional emergence”
Following on last week’s dialogue, Peter described how the mind “transforms energy into information”, and that the hindrances are “energy dumps” that distort perceptions and create distress. The setting aside of the hindrances through mindfulness of breathing creates a zone of clarity and non-reactivity, preparing for the investigation of emerging self-states that vipassana practice cultivates. […]
As a response to requests from various sangha members, I’ve written an article that includes the graphic regarding the “five powers” and how we can progress our practice beyond the influence of the five hindrances and towards the fostering of the seven factors of awakening. Click to download: FROM DEMONS TO ANGELS