Contemplating Gratitude Thanksgiving 2021

Since we meet Wednesday evenings, one meeting each year occurs on Thanksgiving Eve, so we dedicate that time to provide opportunities for those participating to reflect on how Buddhist concepts and practices support the cultivation of gratitude, which I believe is closely aligned with Lovingkindness and Sympathetic Joy, two of the four Divine Abidings in Buddhism.  There are changes in volume during the talk, inevitable variations due to the challenges of recording both in-person and Zoom comments from participants.

Here are the notes prepared for the talk, including a questionnaire intended to prompt contemplation of the various ways gratitude might be focused: CONTEMPLATING GRATITUDE

The focus for next week’s meeting will be on the contemplation and nurturing of saddha (sah-dah), a Pali word translated as faith or confidence.  Buddhist faith is enhanced through direct internal investigation of the concepts and practices put forth by Buddhist practitioners over the centuries.


Reviewing the Progressions of Insight

This talk provides conceptual understanding of an important aspect of Theravada Buddhism derived from the Visuddhimagga, an ancient and extensive treatise on vipassana and the process of Awakening.  The Progressions of Insight are stages of insight awareness that can be noted by a meditation student and then validated during a review with an experienced teacher.  Each of the stages are reviewed during the talk.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  STAGES OF AWAKENING

The focus of next week’s meeting, which can now be attended in the meditation hall while wearing a mask, as well as through Zoom online, occurs on Thanksgiving Eve, and the topic is gratitude–for the teachings, one’s meditation practice and uplifting reflections on the blessings of life.


From the 8-Fold Path to the 10-Fold Path Review

This talk reviews the final stanzas of the Satipatthana Sutta, which focuses on how the development of the four foundations of mindfulness fulfills the potential of the Four Noble Truths for total liberation from distress and confusion.  The commentaries describe how the Noble Eightfold Path, when fully realized, becomes the Noble Tenfold Path, as the Wisdom aggregate is directly known–Right Understanding becomes Right Knowledge and Right Intention becomes Right Release.  This transforms the other elements of the Eightfold Path radically.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Fulfilling the Satipatthana Path

The focus of the next talk will be the Progressions of Insight, a Theravaden commentarial description of discernible stages of insight that are noted as one gets closer to the experience of Nirvana.


Review of the Seven Awakening Factors

This talk is part of an extensive investigation of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, and provides a review of how undeveloped characteristics of the Seven Awakening Factors within the Fourth Foundation can be identified while meditating, accompanied by a more thorough description of the mature manifestations of the individual factors.  Emphasis is placed on the role of the first four of the factors–Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena, Energy/Right Effort and Joy/Enthusiastic Interest–in the manifestation and increasing power of the remaining three factors, Tranquility, Concentration and Equanimity.  Ultimately, all seven factors are integrated, with high levels of functioning in the practice of vipassana, insight into the impermanent manifestation of self-states that are interdependent with one’s environment.

This talk is intended to be complemented by “Contemplating the Seven Awakening Factors”, found in the Audio archives of this website.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  THE SEVEN AWAKENING FACTORS

The focus of the next talk will be on the final stanzas of the Satipatthana Sutta, the realization of the Four Noble Truths.


Contemplating The Seven Awakening Factors

This guided meditation is intended to provide suggestions for recognizing the characteristics of the undeveloped seven Awakening Factors as they can be identified during daily meditation experience.  it is also intended to complement the Dharma talk of November 3, 2021, which is a review of the characteristics of the more fully developed Awakening Factors.


Deerhaven 2021Retreat Review

It is customary during the meeting following a significant retreat experience to provide an opportunity for those who attended the retreat to have a chance to “think out loud” about the experience.  Going to a one-week or longer residential retreat ha the same effect on the mind and body as would be the case when a musician or athlete participates in a long and immersive series of practice events–the neurological connections associated with the skills being cultivated become stronger and more useful.  Having the chance to talk with others who understand what is being discussed increases the clarity and accessibility of the experience in normal life circumstances.  Additionally, it can inspire others to participate in such events in the future as they hear of the benefits.  Each person reports on her or his experience during the meeting, followed by questions or comments from those attending the Zoom meeting.