Investigating The Mind

One of the key factors involved in the process of Awakening is Dhamma Vicaya, translated as Investigation Of Mental Phenomena.  It is the second of the Seven Awakening Factors, and the cultivation of this factor is described in the Satipatthana Sutta, the Four Foundations Of Mindfulness Discourse.  Peter explained that the cultivation of this factor begins with the fundamental instructions for mindfulness of breathing practice, that is, intentionally bringing attention to the beginning of the inbreath (vitakka in Pali), then sustaining awareness for the duration of the inbreath (vicara ‘vee-chah-rah’, in Pali).  The development of this process continues as one notes the arising of a hindrance and redirects attention back to the breath.  When attention stabilizes on breath awareness unencumbered by the hindrances, the maturation of Dhamma Vicaya is attained, and this is a key element in the practice of vipassana, the goal of which is the liberation of the mind from dukkha.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Investigating The Mind

There is mention of the cetasikas in this talk, so the cetasikas chart is reposted here:  CETASIKAS POSTER


Peter’s 2017 Forest Refuge Retreat Report

It is customary for an evening’s discussion to be dedicated to a review of a significant recent retreat experience.  Peter spent the month of March at the Forest Refuge, part of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts.  The retreat’s theme involved what is called “The Gradual Training” in Theravada Buddhist terms, with a major focus on cultivating high levels of concentration.  The leaders of the retreat were Shaila Catherine, a well-respected teacher and the author of “Wisdom Wide And Deep”, accompanied by Sayadaw U Jagara, a well-respected Buddhist monastic and teacher of French Canadian background.  Peter described the retreat routines and provided a handout regarding the Gradual Training produced by the teachers.  During the retreat, great emphasis was placed on cultivating persistently vivid mindful awareness of breathing, leading up to the highly concentrated states of jhana, or preparatory to the practice of vipassana, that is, insight into impermanence, the dissatisfaction resulting from craving and clinging and realization of the absence of an autonomous self.  This was followed by a lively discussion of the topics by the participants in the meeting.

Here are the notes prepared by Catherine and the Sayadaw in .pdf format: 2017 Forest Refuge Samatha Retreat docs

Next week will begin a series of talks about what are called the Paramis (Paramitas in Sanskrit), the qualities of mind to be cultivated for perfecting the process of awakening.


Deerhaven 2016 Fifth Night Talk

This talk fosters understanding a key concept of the Buddhist process of awakening, paticca samuppadha, typically translated as dependent origination.  Peter develops a different understanding of this concept, contingent provisional emergence.  This view is intended to emphasize the non-linear aspects of what conditions each moment of awareness, in the hope this will clarify the concept and make it more applicable to intensive retreat practices.  The ability to be aware in a non attached way to the direct experience of feelings as just internal impulses either toward or away from emerging self-state organizations is essential for vipassana practice to provide liberation from distress and confusion.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Contingent Provisional Emergence

Deerhaven 2016 Fourth Night Talk

The core mental conditions to foster liberation through the practice of vipassana are called the “Seven Factors For Awakening”: mindfulness, investigation of mental phenomena, energy/effort, joy/enthusiastic interest, tranquility, concentration and equanimity.  This talk describes their functions in the process of awakening and how to cultivate them.

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











Six Pairs Of Wholesome Mind Conditioners

Continuing the exploration of the Wholesome Mind Conditioners that began with last week’s posting “The Universal Wholesome Mind Conditioners”, the twelve following cetasikas were listed as cooperative pairs–cetasikas, reflected in the mind: Tranquility of cetasikas and mind, Lightness of cetasikas and mind, Pliancy of cetasikas and mind, Wieldiness of cetasikas and mind, Proficiency of cetasikas and mind and Uprightness of cetasikas and mind.  These qualities of mental functioning develop with consistent practice of mindfulness of breathing, and become most effective when the mind is unaffected by the five hindrances.  Their development is essential for the effective practice of vipassana, insight into how the mind creates a meaningful sense of selfhood.

After describing the pairs, the assembled students discussed them, seeking clarification regarding their functioning, which is to promote the process of awakening beyond the level of functioning termed “good mental health”

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:   six-pairs-of-wholesome-cetasikas

Next week’s talk will describe how the Wholesome cetasikas foster the development of the Seven Awakening Factors: Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena, Energy/Right Effort, Joy/Enthusiastic Interest, Tranquility, Concentration and Equanimity/Balance of Energy and Attention.