Reviewing The Mind Conditioners–Part 1

This is a first of a series of talks that review the cetasikas, “Those factors that condition the mind”.  There are 52 mind conditioners in Theravada Buddhist doctrine, and this review focuses on the first two subsections, the Universal and Particular cetasikas.  The remaining subsections, the Unwholesome and Wholesome cetasikas will be covered in future talks.  The benefits of understanding these concepts are realized when they can actually be noted while practicing mindfulness meditation, as they indicate the impersonal and fabricated nature of self-experience.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Reviewing Mind Conditioners-Part 1

The focus of the next talk will begin a review of the Unwholesome mind conditioners, which are the primary cause of dukkha, the distress and confusion of life.


Working With Karma February 19 2020

This talk focuses on what is probably the most frequently used Buddhist term karma, which is often misunderstood.  During the talk Peter explained the various complexities of this term that the Buddha described as “only understood fully by an Arahant”.  Other terms were provided by Peter: karmaphala, vipaka, cetana and sankhara, all of which can be almost synonymous with karma, with subtle but practically useful differences.  The karmic process was related to contemporary neuroscientific, psychological and sociological concepts.  Peter then reviewed how cultivating mindfulness of breathing, applied to mindfulness of feelings can change the manifestation of karma in beneficial ways.  This was followed by general discussion of how understanding karma can be beneficial to those attending the talk.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Working With Karma

Next week’s talk will begin and extensive exploration of what can be considered the most useful of all the Buddhist suttas, the Satipatthana Sutta, the Discourse On The Four Foundations of Mindfulness.


Abhidhamma A Psychology For Awakening

During this talk, Peter described the Abhidhamma, the Buddhist approach to psychology.  A distinction was made between the term cetasika, which is a category where memories are “stored” and sankhara, the content of the stored memory.  This analysis was followed with a lively discussion period.

The next talk will begin more in-depth exploration of the cetasika categories, leading to ways to understand how Abhidhamma can foster deeper understanding of the awakening process.

Here are the notes for this talk: abhidhamma-cetasikas

Calming the Mind Fabricators

During this dhamma dialogue, Peter explored the transition from cultivating a calm and stable focus of attention to the practice of vipassana, insight into the conditioned nature of subjective reality.  He described the meanings of kamma (karma in Sanskrit), sankhara, cetasikas and cetana.  Kamma and sankhara are almost synonymous and the cetasikas are categories of the different functions of the personality that are organized into kamma by cetana, intention.

This was followed by discussion of how kamma functions in action and how breath awareness interrupts the formation of self-states, allowing opportunities to modify the mind conditioners toward more wholesome and adaptive functions.

Next week’s discussion will focus in on the cetasikas, to foster a deepening insight into how self-states are formed, deconstructing the misperception of a separate, enduring self.

Notes For Calming the Mind Fabrications

This week’s discussion focuses on the next stanza in the Anapanasati Sutta, again downloaded from the Access To Insight site, translated by Thanissaro:
“On whatever occasion a monk trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out sensitive to rapture’; trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out sensitive to pleasure’; trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out sensitive to mental fabrication’; trains himself, ‘I will breathe in…&…out calming mental fabrication’: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — careful attention to in-&-out breaths — is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.”