Working With Sympathetic Joy

Sympathetic Joy, Mudita in Pali, is the quality of consciousness that happily celebrates the success and happiness of others, regardless of any material or status benefit for oneself.  The cultivation of mudita involves integrating lovingkindness with the in-born capacity we all have for empathy.  This talk reviews the classical understanding of mudita and how contemporary psychological research supports how this awareness is formed in the brain through the practice of mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena and Right Effort.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Working With Mudita

Next week’s talk will be provided by Lezlie Laws, one of the teachers who is being mentored by Peter.  The topic she reviews will focus on how the core teaching of Buddhism about impermanence affects our contemporary issues of time management.


Working With Compassion

This talk reviews the characteristics and cultivation of compassion, which results from the developed application of mindfulness, investigation and Right Effort on the built-in capacity of humans for empathy.  Contemporary research shows that the parts of the brain associated with internal awareness and interpersonal empathy, essential components of compassion, are developed and matured through ongoing mindfulness meditation practice.  Following the talk, there was discussion about the usefulness of cultivating compassion in one’s life.

here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Working With Compassion

The topic for next week’s review will focus on the intersection between empathetic joy and generosity.


What Is Secular Buddhism?

This talk provides a review of a contemporary non-religious practice of Buddhism called Secular Buddhism, which represents an attempt to understand the original teachings of Buddhism without the cultural religious add-ons that have accumulated over the centuries that are not appreciated as relevant for these transitional times.  It is well-known that the percentage of the population who identifies with current religious traditions is diminishing significantly, especially among younger people, while this population largely identifies with spiritual inclinations.  An important aspect of this practice that is being reviewed includes the close association between contemporary concepts and practices involving mindfulness and lovingkindness that are being taught and current neuroscientific and psychological research that largely validates the beneficial effects of regular meditation practice for physical, mental and social well-being.  Also reviewed is the impact of the internet on the world-wide dispersal of this information.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  What Is Secular Buddhism

The topic for next week’s talk will be a review of how Buddhism understands and practices cultivating compassion, including contemporary research that demonstrates the benefits derived from this training.


Understanding Dukkha

Typically, the meeting after Peter’s annual year-end retreat is dedicated to his recounting of the retreat experience, with the hope his review will help him integrate the experience as well as provide others more insights about what can happen on retreat.  This retreat was significantly disrupted by the unusually 3-day freeze that occurred over Christmas, as the plants in the yard where the retreat cottage is needed to be covered, and then uncovered after the freeze.  This created the opportunity for Peter to contemplate the nature of dukkha, the First Nobel Truth, a fundamental concept within Buddhism.  There are three aspects of dukkha that are reviewed during the talk: The dukkha of inhabiting a body, the dukkha of experiencing unexpected changes, and the dukkha of how the mind fabricates a self.  The third aspect is the primary focus of mindfulness meditation.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Understanding Dukkha

The topic for next week’s talk will focus on reviewing what is called Secular Buddhism.


Mindful Decision Making

This talk expands a review of the Four Clear Comprehensions, an important Buddhist concept, that was mentioned during the talk entitled “Mindful Consumerism” on December 7, 2022 and found in this site’s archives.  The Four Clear Comprehensions provides a formula for decision making that originated as a spiritual pathway towards Awakening; this is still valid and important, but the emphasis during this talk is focused on using the formula for decision making regarding mundane lifestyle issues related to personal, social, environmental as well as spiritual issues.  During the talk, participants are invited to write down the four aspects and then apply them–some participants shared their efforts.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Mindful Decision Making

The topic for next week’s talk will be on how Buddhist practice can be associated with the Winter Solstice, as the meeting will occur that day.