The First Teaching of the Buddha

This talk is the first of several that reviews what is considered to the be the first teaching of the Buddha after his Awakening.  The historical context of the teaching is reviewed as developing during a time of significant cultural transformation, on a much less impactful level than what is occurring in today’s world.  Using quotes from the discourse as reference, the values established by this first development of what would become known as Buddhism are discussed.  A key progression of the discourse describes how the Four Noble Truths are to first be conceptually understood, then developed through meditation and integration into one’s lifestyle, and then ultimately establishing liberation from dukkha.  The Four Truths and their value for adapting to the significant personal and sociocultural changes that confront humanity on into the future will be reviewed in greater depth during the upcoming series of talks, with extended emphasis on the the Fourth Noble Truth, the Noble Eightfold Path.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS CONCEPT

The focus for the next talk will be on the First Noble Truth, Dukkha, the distress and confusion that permeates every person’s life.


The Four Noble Truths And The Environment October 17 2018

This talk extends previous discussions regarding the application of the Four Noble Truths doctrine to the complex environmental degradation experienced by this and future generations.  This talk considered both the “cultural karma” of the industrial and consumer eras and the individual responsibility we all are faced with in deciding how to live in the world.  The Noble Eightfold Path provides practical suggestions for addressing these concerns; after descriptions were provided, participants talked about their concerns and possible lifestyle changes to address this problem.  “As difficult as it seems to be, we can only change the world one person at a time”.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Interdependence With The Environment

Next week’s topic will focus on the Four Noble Truths and the media.


Balancing Emotions As Circumstances Change

The focus of this talk is how the Four Noble Truths are manifested while applying the lojong mind training aphorisms.  Reviewing aphorisms discussed in previous meetings, Peter described how the cultivation of internally stable focus and emotional balance creates the optimal “platform of awareness” for the practice of vipassana.  Vipassana, in turn, reveals the physical, emotionally urgent driver of the internal narrative-the “selfing story”-and thi is the first Noble Truth, direct awareness of internal distress and confusion. This practice then reveals the “dreamlike” characteristics of the “selfing” process, distinguishing the difference between the internal narrative and the more fundamental experience of physical sensation, the craving and clinging characteristic of the second Noble Truth.  The decrease potency of emotional reactivity provides detachment and relief from the distress and confusion, characteristic of the third Noble Truth, and the fourth Noble Truth, the Eightfold Path, provides the ways and means to accomplish this.  This ability to combine clear awareness and benevolent intention fulfills the core teaching of lojong, tonglen, the Tibetan practice of compassion.  Here are the notes prepared for the talk:  Balancing The Changing Mind

Next week’s discussion will explore the importance of Right Speech in relationships.

Right Speech in the 21st Century

This dhamma dialogue continues on the theme introduced last week on the  contemporary meaning of the teachings of the Buddha found in the discourse on the Four Noble Truths.  In particular, the topic reviews the classical characteristics of Samma Vaca, Right Speech, then explores the modern view that the sense of self is largely realized through internal narrative, before emerging into the spoken word.  Peter emphasized that the impulse that generates the internal narrative is a feeling, which is the urgent impulse to either become enmeshed in a pleasant feeling, or to avoid an unpleasant feeling.  Therefore the focus of mindful investigation is most skilfully applied at the level of feeling in the body, to prevent being “enchanted” by the emerging narrative, through craving and clinging.  This focus is in agreement with the Buddha’s teachings on how to modify karma through wise attention to feeling, found in the doctrine of dependent origination.  In next week’s dhamma dialogue, the focus will be on contemporary approaches to Samma Kammanta, Right Action.

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Four Noble Truths Introduction 2013

During this talk, Peter introduces a long-term project, to revisit the Four Noble Truths concept from the perspective of the 21st century.  Much of the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta (the first teaching of the Buddha after enlightenment) contains cultural add-ons that were accumulated as Buddhism competed with Brahmanism over the centuries before it was written down.  Our current intention is to seek out the core concepts that are truly universal in application, supporting them with recent research that validates those concepts.

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