This talk continues a review of the Four Noble Truths, with a focus on how the mind is liberated from dukkha through dissolving the potency of craving and clinging, the topic of the Second Noble Truth. Various views relevant to the Third Noble Truth are described, such as sunnata, translated as emptiness, and anatta, the absence of an enduring/autonomous self, which is another way to understand sunnata. Different approaches to the experience of Nibbana, the Unconditioned, are reviewed, either through cultivating highly developed levels of concentration called jhanas, or through what is called “dry vipassana”, insight into the nature of craving and clinging and either liberating the mind momentarily, through letting go, or ultimately, through realizing Nibbana. The traditional Theravada understanding that four levels of experiencing Nibbana are required for total liberation is also reviewed.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Reviewing the Third Noble Truth
Next week’s talk will begin a step-by-step review of the Fourth Noble Truth, the Noble Eightfold Path.
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During this talk, Peter continued to describe the elements of the fourth tetrad of the Anapanasati Sutta, emphasizing the coordinating functions of examining impermanence, dispassion, cessation and renunciation through ongoing breath awareness. The process of awakening can be experienced on two levels: letting go of unwholesome self-states, and, ultimately, letting go of the process of craving and clinging.
Future discussions will describe how this integrating process fosters realizing the potential of the four foundations of mindfulness and the seven factors of awakening.
This is the final dialogue focused on the Four Noble Truths for this year, culminating with a discussion of the various definitions of Nirvana and the difficulty with describing such an extraordinary experience.
Here are the notes for the discussion: Understanding Nirvana
Next week’s dialogue will be facilitated by a guest speaker, Robert Lockridge of the Orlando Zen Circle, and the topic will be the Bodhisattva Vow.
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.
During this talk, Peter summarized the effect of overcoming the five hindrances through the cultivation of the seven factors of awakening. The interaction between the mind’s idealized expected outcome and the self organization that emerges, producing stress, was described as “self state conflicts”. The example used was “I’ll do this perfectly and everyone will be grateful and admire me” to illustrate that this expectation will not show up as predicted, producing stress and confusion. Peter described how activating and perfecting the cooperative functioning of the seven awakening factors produces “self state integration”, the clarity and stability of which provides support for using vipassana for “self state transcendence”, the process of awakening, which will be explored at the next meeting.
Here are the notes that were prepared for the talk:
SELF STATE INTEGRATION