This talk reviews the Wholesome Cetasikas “Right Action” and “Right Livelihood” in their classical rendering and then conjoins them into “Right Lifestyle” to reflect ways to be resilient to current stresses in these trying times. Contemporary lifestyles are deeply conditioned by indoctrination regarding consumerism and identification with roles and entitlements that are significantly challenged by the pandemic conditions and the ensuing unemployment and social disruption. The Four Noble Truths conceptual structure is reviewed as an effective resource for coping with the distress and confusion created by the pandemic, storms and fires created by global warming, as well as the current divisiveness in U.S. politics (the 2020 election is next week). There is an additional review of “The Four Clear Comprehensions”, part of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness commentaries that can be beneficially applied to decision making within the complexity of current life circumstances. This talk is meant to be accompanied by the “Guided Mindful Intention Meditation” posted on 10/29/20, which is intended to provide support for identifying and successfully adapting to lifestyle choices that are more adaptive to the changes required by current cultural stresses.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Right Lifestyle In Trying Times
Next week’s talk will focus on the importance of compassion in trying times.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:06:19 — 121.4MB)
This guided mindfulness of breathing meditation suggests a variety of tactics for cultivating mindful awareness of intention, the mind conditioning factor that coordinates every moment of self-organization in preparation for action. Meditators are invited to notice quickly and as precisely as possible the beginning of the in-breath and out-breath to establish stability of attention. Further suggestions bring attention to noting the intention associated with noting changes in physical sensations, alternating with noting the intentions associated with various mental formations such as alertness vs. dullness, stability vs. distractions, etc. This meditation is intended to accompany the talk entitled “Right Lifestyle In Trying Times”, which covers the cetasikas of Right Action and Right Livelihood.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 44:58 — 82.3MB)
During this dialogue about the practice of Right Action, Peter again emphasizes the importance of combining a deepening understanding of our internal processes through mindfulness practice with a revisiting of the classic concepts and jargon of the Buddha. Peter offered some information from modern neuroscientific research that suggests how karma is formed through memory consolidation, citing various areas of the brain and their functions. This was combined with how the cultivation of samadhi (concentration/tranquility) and sati (mindfulness/insight) produce a “buffer zone” of non-reactive awareness that allows the application of benevolent intention to emerging behaviors. This was followed by a lively discussion of the implications that are presented through this new understanding of ancient wisdom.
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During this talk, Peter again emphasized how different 21st century culture is from the time of the Buddha. During that era, it was assumed that a person’s karma was determined by what clan he or she was born into, and karma was equivalent to fate. The Buddha’s radical change was claim that a person’s salvation from suffering, related to karma, depends upon his or her ethical behaviors, not birth status. Peter further emphasized that modern scientific research also suggests that relief from suffering is ethical, in that the different regions of the brain recruited in the process of developing a personal narrative work best when the results represent kindness rather than self-absorption. During next week’s talk, this topic will be revisited to explore how modern neuroscience takes the place of old Brahmanic philosophy, to make sense of the universe of human consciousness.
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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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