The Selfing Story

During this talk, A Buddhist understanding of anatta, the absence of an enduring, autonomous self was described.  The Western term “ego” was presented as a process that winnows through all the sensations stimulating the 5 sense doors, creating a dynamic flow of experience that, through inattentiveness and ignorance, is misperceived as something substantial, a separate self.  This was related to the Buddhist concept of the Five Aggregates: form (physical sensation), feeling, perception, fabrication and consciousness.  Due to the Buddhist understanding of anicca, impermanence

Peter then described the current perspective of “the narrative self”, that is, the primary importance of the internal narrative that is self-creating in the context of relating to others in the world of subjective experience.  This description was followed by a lively discussion by those attending of the implications of this approach to life.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk, including a diagram describing the Five Aggregates:  MINDFUL SELFING

Next week’s talk will be focused on “deconstructing and reconstructing the self”, to describe how mindfulness practices promote self-state liberation from distress and confusion.

Notes For The Anapanasati Sutta Fourth Tetrad

These notes were written by Peter in preparation for the talks presented over the last several weeks.  The fourth tetrad of the sutta provides training for the practice of vipassana (insight), emphasizing awareness of impermanence, dispassion, liberation and letting go.  Here are the notes: ANAPANASATI SUTTA FOURTH TETRAD

The next recording posted will review all four tetrads as representative of the four foundations of mindfulness.

Anapanasati And Anicca

During this talk, Peter briefly reviewed the cultivation of samadhi/passadhi (concentration/tranquility) in the first three tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta, then read a translation of the fourth tetrad, which is focuses on vipassana. The four characteristics to be investigated during the breathing in and out cycle are impermanence, dispassion, cessation and renunciation.  The primary focus of discussion was on impermanence, which is more usefully termed inconstancy.  This was associated with dukkha, dissatisfaction.  This explanation was followed by a discussion of how different folks at the meeting experience inconstancy and the benefits of this investigation on the path of Awakening.

Next week’s talk will revisit the fourth tetrad, with more emphasis on the cultivation of viraga, dispassion.

Stages Of Awakening

During this talk, Peter described satta visuddhi, the stages of awakening developed to provide “markers” of spiritual attainment after the time of the historical Buddha.  Beginning with fulfilling the precepts and setting aside the effects of the hindrances, the cultivation of the seven factors of awakening and vipassana reveals the three characteristics of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and non-self at deeper and deeper levels of awareness.  The realization of these different stages develops gradually and progressively, eventually leading to the experience of nibbana (nirvana).

Here are the accompanying notes:   STAGES OF AWAKENING

Next week’s discussion will focus on the various understandings of the unconditioned from the Buddhist perspective.

Right Relationship in the 21st Century

Continuing the discussion of Right Livelihood as manifesting in a culture much more complex than what the Buddha knew, this dialogue focuses on how relationship dynamics relate to the three characteristics the Buddha emphasized, that is, impermanence, dissatisfaction and interdependence.  Modern research regarding attachment security and how levels of anxious arousal degrade a couple’s ability to negotiate conflict was explored.  We also discussed modern relational psychoanalysis as related to mutual interpersonal influence.