The topic of this talk is “What Is Awakening?” During the talk, Peter emphasized that awakening is a process that is not a place or a definable experience, but can be known as meditation practice matures. Every time the mind turns away from unwholesome self-states and re-engages in the cultivation of wholesome self-states, awakening occurs. He emphasized that the way to foster awakening is to use the skills manifested in the practice of the seven awakening factors to focus on process rather than content. Focusing on content is the manifestation of craving and clinging. Through attending to the process involved in the emergence of a momentary, contingent self-state organization, liberation is in operation.
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.