This talk continues a review of the development of the different Buddhist traditions as the cultures they operated within were affected by the intrusion of European mercantile powers, especially the British Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries. The primary area of focus is on how Theravada Buddhism was forced to adapt to the intrusion of Christian missionaries into Sri Lanka, Burma (modern day Myanmar) and Siam (modern day Thailand). Key leadership personalities such as Ledi Sayadaw of Burma are reviewed, as they had a significant impact on several 20th century Western Teachers who were influential in Peter’s practice of mindfulness meditation.
The recording of this Zoom talk was significantly impaired by disruptions in the streaming signal, an unusual occurrence during the series of talks recorded since March of last year. Hopefully this will not recur.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Buddhism and Colonialism
The topic for the next talk will be on how Buddhism has spread throughout what we loosely call “The Western World” in the 20th and 21st centuries.
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This talk further develops understanding of how the primary Buddhist schools of the present–Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Chan, Seon and Zen– originated over the millennia since the time of the Buddha. This dynamic process was a manifestation of sociological and religious tensions between the schools and the also emerging Hindu religious traditions, along with the integration of indigenous tribal beliefs that historically preceded the introduction of the concepts and practices by various important teachers who traveled from India to Southeast and Far-Eastern Asia.
The intention of the talk is to foster an understanding of how Buddhism inevitably affects and is affected by the cultures into which it is introduced, to prompt contemplation of how this dynamic process applies currently and in the future of Buddhism in the U.S.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Development of Buddhist Schools
The focus of next week’s talk will be on the dynamic interactions between the various Buddhist schools and the onset of European colonization.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:07:35 — 123.8MB)
One of the benefits of mindfulness of breathing meditation is the neutral feeling tone of the sensations stimulated as air moves in and out of the nostrils. Another is the fact that this awareness is always focused on present-moment experience, whereas thought processes often create narratives that are trapped in fabricating recollections of the past or projections into the future. This guided meditation provides occasional reminders of this reality of experience, with suggestions to notice the distress and confusion that accompanies the past- or future-oriented narratives, compared to the clarity and peacefulness of breath sensations. It is also suggested that all sensations are facts of the present moment, whether they are body sensations, sounds, flavors, odors or visual in their nature. These sensations are also present-moment phenomena whether they are pleasant or unpleasant in feeling tone, and there are suggestions during the meditation that facilitate also using this awareness beneficially, to interrupt the craving and clinging associated with self-talk regarding the past or future.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 44:59 — 82.4MB)
This is the second in a series of reviews of the history of the Buddhist religion. The focus of this talk is on the development of the various schools of Buddhism–Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Chan, and Zen–over the centuries after the time of the Buddha and before the intrusion of Western culture and commerce. It is not a deeply scholarly review; the intention is to foster an awareness of the course of this history freed from the mythological additions over the centuries and and as they were affected by different societal norms. Perhaps this can have some relevance to the societal issues we confront currently.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Buddhist Institutional History
Next week’s talk will focus on the impact of Western Culture on the development of various Buddhist schools up to the 20th century.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:03:37 — 116.5MB)
This guided meditation offers training to use mindfulness of breathing as a stabilizing point of reference, comparable to how an anchor attached to the bow of a boat anchors the hull in the current of a river in a streamlined way. Attention is then directed to noticing the turbulence and drag that occurs when the mind becomes attached to a thought or mood that, like an object in the stream, bumps into consciousness. meditators are encouraged to simple let go of attachment to the turbulence, focusing persistently on investigating the subtleties of breath awareness, which becomes very quiet and subtle, with barely any in- or out-breath. Attention is finally directed to the subtle and ever-present expanse of consciousness unaffected by the turbulence of craving and clinging. This is a very subtle phenomenon because it is so quiet and peaceful, but can be realized with enough practice. The experience is expansive, seeming to be limitless in awareness.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 44:56 — 82.3MB)
Most current non-scholarly reviews of the life of the Buddha repeat the mythological attributions that are contained in the Suttas and Commentaries, which has some value. This review is an attempt to describe the life of this remarkable person in a way that is de-mythologized, attempting to provide a cultural context for his life and the revolutionary concepts that were developed to create what we call Buddhism. The Intention is to make his life and teachings more understandable and applicable to current life circumstances, with the hope that this will inspire more commitment to train the mind to deal more effectively with the stresses of contemporary life. Future talks will review the development of the various schools of Buddhism over the centuries following his death, the discovery of Buddhism by Westerners and its introduction into 20th century cultures, and finally the more recent neuropsychological and sociological research of the last 25 years regarding the beneficial effects of mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation, with the implications for our lives going forward.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Early Buddhist Life
As mentioned above, next week’s talk will focus on the development of the various Buddhist schools over several centuries and on several continents.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:12:15 — 132.3MB)