The theme of previous talks has been reviewing how Buddhist principles and practices can be beneficially applied to the extraordinary stresses of contemporary life. The current political conflict in the U.S. warrants a review of how mindfulness can bring clear awareness and equanimity to our social interactions which seem to be conflicted by the larger issues of partisanship as political propaganda influences us through negativity bias and confirmation bias. These biases create a divisiveness that is distorting and impeding our democratic process. Peter emphasized that we all live our lives in a relatively small “circle of influence” and how the contentiousness prevalent in Washington D.C., conveyed through the ever-present impact of mass media, intrudes on our more important social, workplace and familial relationships in distressing ways. He described recent research that proposes a focus on psychological liberalism and psychological conservatism and suggests that politically liberal people can be psychologically conservative as well as liberal, and that politically conservative people can be psychologically liberal as well as conservative. The regular practice of mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation can bring clarity and equanimity as we experience mindful investigation of mental processes and these practices can significantly reduce the distress and confusion that result from these circumstances. The clarity and equanimity supports a more creative process that can overcome the systemic disturbances that afflict current life and sets the conditions for Buddhist liberation. The explanations were followed by participant discussion regarding how mindfulness practice has benefited meditation practitioners in coping with political conflict.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: The Dharma And Political Conflict
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This is the second of a series of talks that explore how to apply the principles and practices of the Four Noble Truths to the extraordinary cultural stresses we experience these days. The specific focus of this talk is a review of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: The Eightfold Path In The World Of Today
Next week’s talk will explore the how to contextualize the Four Noble Truths relative to the current political controversies with the intention to develop Wisdom, that is, Right Understanding and Right Intention, to manage the internal and interpersonal conflicts that confront contemporary civil society.
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The conclusion of the long and arduous 2016 election cycle was surprising, perhaps even alarming for many people. During the course of spiritual development, it is often the abrupt, unexpected event that can provide the greatest insights beneficial for maturing one’s practice. Despite any differences regarding political policies, the attitudes and behaviors of the future President Trump restimulated some of the emotionally charged karmic issues for many, whether male or female. The Dharma isn’t realized just while meditating–the real benefits of the practice come from practicing “Turning poison into medicine”.
Using the Four Noble Truths as a structure for consideration of one’s immediate experience is key to the Buddhist Path towards Awakening. Peter emphasized the value of mindful investigation of the distress and confusion many experienced to discover the causes and conditions conducive of dukkha; this awareness forms the First Noble Truth. He commented on many social factors that we’ve all been affected by in the course of living in this culture in this era as examples of what “fills out” craving and clinging, the essential condition described as the Second Noble Truth. He then suggested how the cultivation of the Fourth Noble Truth provides liberation from dukkha, and this liberation is the Third Noble Truth.
This was followed by a lively and emotionally authentic discussion among those who participated in the meeting. Here are the notes Peter used in preparation for the meeting: the-four-noble-truths-and-current-politics
Next week’s topic will be explaining and discussing the Seven Factors For Awakening.
This week’s talk continues to explore how Buddhist principles and practices can support developing wisdom in the current political environment. Racism, sexism, homophobia and ethnophobia were described as themes woven into the fabric of political divisiveness. The intention regarding this presentation is to support being able to stay presently aware and compassionate when confronted by political “true believers” and prejudicial beliefs in either political party. A model for this practice is found in the Tibetan practice called “Lojong Mind Training”, the core of which is the practice of compassion.
The cultivation of mental clarity and emotional non-reactivity through regular meditation practice was emphasized; this provides the foundation for compassion, transforming fear-based contentiousness into compassionate interpersonal dialogue.
Peter reviewed some of the pertinent lojong training aphorisms to foster discussion about how these practices can be applied during our social encounters.
Here are the notes prepared for this discussion: BUDDHISM POLITICS AND NONSELF
Here is the document prepared by Peter previously to provide a more modern rendering of lojong mind training: Peter’s Lojong Practice Notes
Next week’s discussion will focus on conflict resolution dialogue and strategies, supported by the training provided by routine mindfulness and lovingkindness practices.