2018 Deerhaven Fifth Night Talk: The Seven Awakening Factors

During this talk, the focus is on the Sambojjhanga, the Seven Awakening Factors: Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena, Energy/Right Effort/Persistence, Joy, Tranquility, Concentration and Equanimity/Balance.  These qualities are operating in every moment of wholesome self-state organization, and become more and more potent when the Five Hindrances have been set aside in the mind’s functioning.  Emphasis was placed on the Investigation of Mental Phenomena, as this manifests as the maturation of the initial meditation instruction to aim attention at the breath sensation (vitakka in Pali) and sustain that awareness through the whole of the in-breath (vicara in Pali).  The collaberative functioning of the seven factors is essential in the practice of vipassana, which is the primary tool fostering the awakening process.  This explanation was followed by discussion of the day’s practice and the information received during this talk.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  BOJJHANGA-7 AWAKENING FACTORS



The Seven Factors for Awakening

During this talk, Peter described overcoming the five hindrances as “warding off the demons”; cultivating the Seven Factors For Awakening represents “feeding the angels” of liberating awareness.  Each of the seven was described and explained as to their function in the process of awakening, related to the recently discussed Wholesome Cetasikas.  This was a very difficult topic to discuss with the thoroughness warranted to understand and apply these factors; these accompanying notes provide a more thorough exploration of their function and the ways and means to cultivate them:  bojjhanga-7-awakening-factors

Next week’s meeting will provide opportunities to reflect on how Buddhist practice fosters gratitude on the eve of Thanksgiving.

Deerhaven 2015 Seventh Night Dhamma Talk

During this talk, Peter explains the “fulfilling of the seven factors of awakening”, as described by the Anapanasati Sutta, quoting the translation by Gil Fronsdal.  During the explanations, Peter used a graphic illustration of what are called the “panca bala”, the five powers, to describe the dynamic balancing of energy-tranquility, combined with the balancing of concentration-investigation.  This process is ongoing due to the reality of impermanence, and the resulting dynamic equilibrium is equanimity.

Preview of the 2015 Dhamma Dialogues

This year the approach to the dhamma dialogues on Wednesday nights will be a little different. The Anapanasati Sutta (usually translated as the “Mindfulness of Breathing Discourse” will be explored in depth.

This teaching from the Pali Canon provides specific instructions on how to cultivate breath awareness to a very high degree of skill, providing deep insights into the process of awakening. It can be considered as a companion to the Satipatthana Sutta (usually translated as “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse”), both of which are ways to cultivate the Sambojjhanga (usually translated as “The Seven Awakening Factors”). The seven factors are: mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/effort, joyful interest, tranquility, concentration and equanimity.
During the Wednesday night meetings, Peter will alternate between explaining the various elements of the sutta with training meditations during the 45 minute meditation periods that normally occur at the start of the evening at 7. This process will hopefully help the attending sangha members deepen their understanding of the mindfulness of breathing practice. The intention of this format is to provide ways to discuss how to integrate mindfulness of breathing into daily life routines, furthering the ability to cultivate virtue, that is, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.
The discussions will also include the information Peter has gathered during his research into modern scientific evidence that supports Buddhist psychology. Back in the early centuries of the development of Buddhism, the cultures involved relied on their understanding of the universe, mainly their beliefs regarding gods and supernatural forces. In this modern scientific era, our understanding of the universe is derived from scientific inquiries into physical, biological and psychological phenomena; in a sense, the new “priests and priestesses” are garbed in lab coats!
This series of explorations work best for all concerned when those interested in Buddhist practices to attend the Wednesday night meetings and participate in the training sessions as well as the regular dhamma dialogues. I hope you can join us. The dhamma dialogue on the 7th, next Wednesday, will explore why the Anapanasati Sutta is perhaps the only one in the Pali Canon that has an extensive “prelude” that describes the qualities of the group of meditation students who heard the original discourse from the Buddha.