During this first dhamma dialogue of the new year, Peter began a series of explorations of one of the core teachings of Buddhism, the Anapanasati Sutta, the discourse on mindfulness of breathing

(See notes.)

It was  pointed out that this discourse is perhaps the only one in the Pali Canon to include an extensive “prelude” to the actual teaching, during which the dedication and attainments of those attending were expounded upon by the Buddha.  Why such emphasis?  Peter quoted an exchange between the Buddha and Ananda in which the Buddha said that the Sangha is crucial for spiritual development (the quote is in the accompanying notes posted before this one).

This was related to modern social science which emphasizes that humans are essentially social animals, with the advantage of language and the capacity for abstract conceptual processing.  This was also related to the recent development of peer “accountability partners”, using the extensive development of the various 12-step communities dedicated to the overcoming of addictive and compulsive behaviors.  It was also noted that modern business organizations are using accountability partnerships to further professional goals.  Peter wondered how this could effectively be applied for the Orlando Insight Meditation community.  This was followed by discussion.

Next week will begin the more extensive exploration of the teachings within the sutta, emphasizing more refined breath awareness and increasing ability to integrate breath awareness into daily life routines.