I have always enjoyed working with practitioners who are continuing to deepen their practice. In the many long retreats I teach at both IMS and Spirit Rock, I feel free to pass on the deepest pointings I’ve found in the teachings of the Buddha in the Pali Canon. Those are my guiding lights in practice and understanding.
It is fun for me to take the most difficult concepts and put them into accessible language, to unwrap the mystery. So I try to find ways to explore the breadth of concepts like "emptiness" -- to see how the entire path can be explained in terms of this synonym for nibbana. One of my aims is to bring the goal of freedom into the here and now. This way practitioners get a taste of freedom, so they know what they are heading toward on their journey to liberation.
The tools of mindfulness and lovingkindness can be picked up by anyone. They are easy to understand and they bring immediate benefit to our lives. The essence of vipassana is ideally suited to western society, especially to the resonance between our psychological turn of mind and our quest for spiritual understanding.
Mindfulness of breathing has been the most widespread meditation in Buddhism since its beginning. It is included within mindfulness of the body and offers specific benefits as well. The talk also describes some of the obstacles practitioners may encounter with this technique.
It may seem that the Buddha's teaching on emptiness is incompatible with his teaching on karma, which connects the result of an action with the same being who performed it. But actually, the two teachings need each other to make sense.
The five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, formations, and consciousness are empty in two ways. There is no ongoing self in the center, which points to the emptiness of self. All the aggregates are insubstantial, which points to the emptiness of all phenomena.