Mindfulness And Gratitude

This talk was recorded on Thanksgiving Eve, as it is customary for our group to have the opportunity to reflect on gratitude regarding the benefits of studying Buddhist concepts and cultivating mindfulness of breathing meditation.  Various excerpts were quoted that validate the health and mental well-being that is developed through daily gratitude reflections and how important cultivating these states of mind are for effectively maintaining a positive sense of life in these stressful times.  The quotes and supportive comments are followed by comments by some of those present in person or via Zoom that reflect gratitude for how his or her life has benefited from regular meditation practice.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Mindfulness and Gratitude

This talk was preceded by a “Guided Gratitude Contemplation”, which was recorded and posted in the Guided Meditation page of this website.



Contemplating the Five Aggregates of Clinging

This talk continues an extensive review of the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, focusing on a Buddhist theory of personality, the Five Aggregates of Clinging.  This concept provides a way to investigate the impersonal nature of one’s subjective experience, leading to insight regarding anatta, the absence of an enduring and autonomous self.  The concept does not suggest that one’s personality is blank, rather that the self-experience is a process that coordinates the interactions between external stimuli and internal interpretive processes.  This psychological discipline provides opportunities to investigate how the sense of self forms and can therefore be modified to provide a “better fit” for changing environmental circumstances, a useful skill in these trying times.

The complementary “Guided Five Aggregates Contemplation”, recorded the same night as this talk, is found in the Audio Archive of this site.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Five Aggregates of Clinging Review

The topic for next week’s review is the core Buddhist concept “Dependent Origination”.  During the talk, a more contemporary rendering of the concept will be provided, “Contingent Provisional Emergence”.


Reviewing Mindfulness of Feelings

Mindfulness of Feelings is the second area of focus within the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse.  During this review, the importance of understanding the way pleasant or unpleasant feelings drive thoughts and behaviors through direct observation is emphasized.  Contemporary psychological research uses the terms affect approach to describe pleasant feeling and affect avoidance in describing unpleasant feeling.  Being able to mindfully investigate the experiential urgency of affect with detachment and a wholesome non-reactive response is essential for cultivating the skills required in the process of Awakening.  The neurological processes involved in the experience of affects and the effective regulation of them are also reviewed.  Peter describes how he practiced mindfulness of feelings regarding his current experience of Covid-19 and the process of recovery.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  MINDFULNESS OF FEELINGS

The topic for the next talk will be the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, Mindfulness of the Mind.


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.


Mindfulness of the Mind Review

The topic for this Dharma talk is the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, Cittanupassana.  During this review, the appropriate section of the discourse is described in more detail regarding various states of mind that can be known through well-developed mindful investigation with the understanding that what is observed is a phenomenon of nature, not an enduring/autonomous self.  Contemporary neuropsychological insights are also reviewed, such as complexity theory, chaos theory and the strange attractor concept, which, although derived from mathematics and physics, are also applicable to how consciousness operates.  There is a “Guided Mindfulness of Mind Contemplation” recording posted and archived that is intended to accompany this talk.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Mindfulness Of The Mind Review

The next talk will provide a review of the first element of the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, a contemplation of the Five Hindrances.


The Joy Awakening Factor July 1, 2020

Piti (pee-tee) is the fourth of the seven Awakening Factors, and is typically translated as joy or rapture; another rendering is engaged enthusiastic interest regarding whatever is emerging into conscious awareness.  This characteristic of human experience is a normal part of human subjective experience but clear, vivid awareness of piti is obstructed and distorted by the five hindrances, particularly evident with sloth/torpor and skeptical doubt, but also adversely affected by the other hindrances, sense desire, aversion/ill-will and restlessness/worry.  Peter talks about how classical Buddhism describes piti as an ecstatic state only fully realized when experiencing jhana, states of the mind accomplished through extensive training of attention on an exclusive object like breath sensations.  This sort of awareness is not easily accessed and contemporary commentaries suggest that piti can be understood and brought to the practice of vipassana (vee-pah-suh-nah), insight into the basic characteristics of experience, anicca (ah-nee-chah), impermanence, dukkha (do-kah), basic unsatisfactoriness and anatta (ah-nah-tah), the absence of and enduring/autonomous self.  Clear awareness of these three characteristics liberates the mind from dukkha, the primary goal of Buddhist training.  As applied in the practice of vipassana piti is an engaged interest in how the mind is forming meaning and creating a self; this interest is crucial for maintaining the persistence of investigation and mental discipline required for the liberation process.  This explanation is followed by brief discussion for clarification among the participants.

Here are the notes prepared for the is talk: The-Joy-Of-Awakening

Next week’s topic will be the Tranquility Awakening Factor