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.
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.
This talk is accompanied by the preceding Lovingkindness meditation training that focuses on the fear and uncertainty which affects the world as a result of the pandemic. Peter reviewed how craving and clinging can be investigated and released through the training provided by regular meditation practice. He emphasized how we can become preoccupied with the long-term impact of the pandemic, which interferes with the ability to effectively cope with the uncertainty of our mortality. He reviewed Atisha’s Nine Contemplations on Mortality, a regular part of Tibetan Buddhist life. He also mentioned that many of the lifestyle choices we are conditioned into by consumerism will “die” as a result of the disruption of commercial and social norms.
Due to continuing unfamiliarity with the auditory recording process, the questions and comments of those participating were not recorded, and Peter apologizes for this mistake and this will be corrected for the next meeting, which will focus on what contemporary psychology calls resilience, the ability to effectively cope with conflict. This research also explores how individuals emerge from traumatic events with a heightened appreciation for life and an enhanced ability to find meaning through adversity; this view is very compatible with the goals of regular mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation practice. That meeting will also include a training meditation focused on Mindfulness of Feelings, the Second Foundation of Mindfulness.
This is the first attempt by Peter to facilitate a talk and discussion via Zoom and unfortunately he neglected to turn on either recording program so there is no recording of this talk; however, the training meditation was successfully recorded and is posted, even though there are intrusive sounds during the recording. This is a good example of how dukkha manifests as distress and confusion, as managing the Zoom program and both the recording devices represents confusion regarding the procedures; fortunately with minimal distress, as Peter practices turning humiliation into humility on a regular basis. Hopefully the next recorded meeting on April 1 will be successfully accomplished.
The talk was focused on how combining specific attention to the breath sensations can be integrated with peripheral awareness of other body sensations to provide a stabilizing platform from which to notice and let go of intrusive and disruptive internal narratives. This ability was related to the benefits of adapting to the increasingly stressful circumstances of the pandemic through the development of the Four Noble Truths.
Hi Fellow Travelers–Thanks to the causes and conditions provided by the Covid-19 virus there will no assemblies in our meditation cottage until the circumstances make it safe to assemble in groups. I hope this supports and maybe even expands the outreach of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group, the goal of which is to provide training in mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation and practical applications of the Wisdom found within these concepts that will support us as we go through these trying times. Last week’s recording was a first attempt at streaming and hopefully the recording of April 1 will be more effectively posted; the microphone will be muted until the Dharma talk so the meditation will not be interrupted by the sounds of folks entering into the group.
The meeting operates through the Zoom software (OIMG has subscribed for one year at a cost of $150). The URL for the meeting is: https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUuf-2srDMtnERzureO8f2K4iQeRCf-dQ and the meeting password is 620329. As I understand how it works, you must preregister at the site the URL in order to participate in the events and registering one time will provide access to all the upcoming meetings, as long as we continue streaming them (Which may become a problem when we resume meeting in the meditation building which has weak reception from the server in my home; hopefully sometime later in the Spring we can safely assemble again in the cottage). The meetings will be audio only and, once again as I understand the way it works, the meeting can be accessed by smartphone as well as any internet-connected computer system. The meetings will be recorded and posted on the website as usual. Please be patient with me as I find my way into the world of internet streaming and hopefully we can all benefit from this crisis.
The topic for the meeting on March 31 will combine a contemplation from the First Foundation of Mindfulness, The Four Elements, which involves using noting sensations of pressure, movement, temperature and liquidity to interrupt the narratives that accompany the hindrances; this interruption creates more stability, clarity and tranquility, which is of great benefit in these trying times. The talk will focus on how the pandemic relates to the Four Noble Truths and interdependence. i hope you will participate in the streaming meeting and I wish you well. Peter
I have known Andy Quinn for 25 years or more; I introduced him to mindfulness of breathing meditation and he is now the founding teacher for the Lakeland Meditation Group. Andy has registered for a one month retreat later this year at the Forest Refuge, an important meditation center where I have practiced long retreats within before. He and his wife are putting a daughter through college and it is stretching their budget for him to go to this retreat. He created a GoFundMe page to support this spiritual practice and my wife Paula and I have contributed $100 to support his efforts–May the merits of his practice benefit everyone he meets! If you know Andy and want to contribute to his spiritual development and the advancement of the Lakeland Sangha, please consider a contribution. Here is the URL to the GoFundMe website: https://www.gofundme.com/f/andy-quinn-long-meditation-retreat-2020