As a monk, I bring a strong commitment, along with the renunciate flavor, to the classic Buddhist teachings. I play with ideas, with humor and a current way of expressing the teachings, but I don't dilute them.
Sitting in a field of fifty to eighty people really starts my mind sparking. Since I don't prepare my talks ahead of time, I find myself listening to what I'm saying along with everyone else. This leaves a lot of room for the Dhamma to come up. Just having eighty people listening to me is enough to engage me, stimulate me, and create a nice flow of energy. The actual process of teaching evokes ideas that even I did not realize were being held somewhere in my mind.
Different teaching situations offer their own unique value. In retreat, you are able to build a cohesive and comprehensive body of the teachings. When people are not on retreat and come for one session, it opens a different window. They are more spontaneous and I'm given the chance to contact them in ways that are closer to their "daily-life mind." This brings up surprises and interesting opportunities for me to learn even more.
I'm continually struck by how important it is to establish a foundation of morality, commitment, and a sense of personal values for the Vipassana teachings to rest upon. Personal values have to be more than ideas. They have to actually work for us, to be genuinely felt in our lives. We can't bluff our way into insight. The investigative path is an intimate experience that empowers our individuality in a way that is not egocentric. Vipassana encourages transpersonal individuality rather than ego enhancement. It allow for a spacious authenticity to replace a defended personality.
Energy has to be cultivated as a resource for practice. This process has three stages: gathering, specific application, and the strength that can release obstacles. The thinking mind uses energy but cannot generate it; energy is generated in the heart (citta) and in the body. Apply energy to empty out the negative and unskillful – the good and bright will arise on its own.
Sati – mindfulness – is only mentioned once in the Ānāpānasati sutta. ‘Directly feeling and knowing’ – pajānati – is the mode of practice. When we’ve attuned to this, we move to ‘training’. This phase of ānāpānasati begins with training in deeper sensitivity of the entire body.
Wisdom is the know-how faculty that discerns suffering and its end. It knows how the 3 intelligences (verbal, emotional, bodily) can work together to bring about the stilling of saṇkhāras. From it noble knowledge – realization – arises.
The 5 indriya are spiritual faculties that become activated by feeling them in the body. Starting with faith –the pivotal faculty for coming out of the personal and sensory realm – and culminating in wisdom – the ability to discern skillful from unskillful, non-stress from stress – these 5 indriya work to release the mind from the pressure of identity.
Placing one’s attention carefully and repeatedly into embodiment, listen to what manifests as body. Make the shift from conceiving of body to felt knowledge, from regarding body to being body. Clearing away what’s not needed and inviting what’s important, let the body speak and hear itself.
We’re endowed with 3 kinds of intelligence: bodily, heart and verbal/thinking. The priority given to the thinking mind has numbed and shut down the body and heart. We train in direct knowing and primary sympathy to reawaken our deep intelligences.
Scanning over the body we are appropriately sensitive, naming and lingering with awareness. There’s a certain sensitive touch and the body responds with warmth and subtle energy. It’s a matter of placing attention with the right intention.
Notice what one’s citta stores and brings out at potent moments. We tend to store the negative, and that which is most familiar becomes myself. Why not store the good? Store up qualities of the brahmavihāras – goodwill, compassion, gladness & equanimity – as energy in the body. These energetic effects are a resource for your long-lasting welfare.
Cultivate the quality of intention rather than objects of attention. Intention is broader, it encompasses everything. Correct intention neither holds on, nor resists. The quality of anukampā – primary sympathy – from which mettā arises. Puja acts as an emblem, it resonates meanings that open the heart. Beyond the physical body or personal state, rise up to the sign of the beautiful, worthy, admirable and the good.