This year the approach to the dhamma dialogues on Wednesday nights will be a little different. The Anapanasati Sutta (usually translated as the “Mindfulness of Breathing Discourse” will be explored in depth.
This teaching from the Pali Canon provides specific instructions on how to cultivate breath awareness to a very high degree of skill, providing deep insights into the process of awakening. It can be considered as a companion to the Satipatthana Sutta (usually translated as “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse”), both of which are ways to cultivate the Sambojjhanga (usually translated as “The Seven Awakening Factors”). The seven factors are: mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/effort, joyful interest, tranquility, concentration and equanimity.
During the Wednesday night meetings, Peter will alternate between explaining the various elements of the sutta with training meditations during the 45 minute meditation periods that normally occur at the start of the evening at 7. This process will hopefully help the attending sangha members deepen their understanding of the mindfulness of breathing practice. The intention of this format is to provide ways to discuss how to integrate mindfulness of breathing into daily life routines, furthering the ability to cultivate virtue, that is, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.
The discussions will also include the information Peter has gathered during his research into modern scientific evidence that supports Buddhist psychology. Back in the early centuries of the development of Buddhism, the cultures involved relied on their understanding of the universe, mainly their beliefs regarding gods and supernatural forces. In this modern scientific era, our understanding of the universe is derived from scientific inquiries into physical, biological and psychological phenomena; in a sense, the new “priests and priestesses” are garbed in lab coats!
This series of explorations work best for all concerned when those interested in Buddhist practices to attend the Wednesday night meetings and participate in the training sessions as well as the regular dhamma dialogues. I hope you can join us. The dhamma dialogue on the 7th, next Wednesday, will explore why the Anapanasati Sutta is perhaps the only one in the Pali Canon that has an extensive “prelude” that describes the qualities of the group of meditation students who heard the original discourse from the Buddha.