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.
There are places where the mind slips and slides into injurious patterns, subtle points of misconduct that do harm. Develop qualities of sīla to guard and protect the citta, shaping it according to Dhamma rather than to worldliness or old kamma.
The Offering of Truth: After making the dedication of offerings, a guided meditation that invites the qualities of generosity is provided. Through this, we recall what we’ve received from teachers, parents, the earth – and the challenges that have caused us to grows. As we recollect, we offer our ongoing aspiration.
Associating with good people is the nutriment that leads to true knowledge and liberation. We learn what’s most important from other people, not from books and ideas. To find good people, start by being one.
Cultivating equanimity (upekkhā) begins with touching into primal sympathy. As this develops, we are more able to meet experience without shrinking from it or becoming feverish for it. This paves the way for insight and release.
Liberation begins with appreciation of one’s own heart, one’s sensitivity. Learn to linger in it, and speak to it with kindness. Gladness and ease naturally arise, and the mind becomes concentrated. This is the natural Dhamma process.
Wherever intention is, there is citta. So we begin formal meditation practice there, establishing intentions based on goodwill, sensitivity and relinquishment. With these themes resonating in one’s heart, what can be put aside now?
Citta is made stronger and deeper through cultivating patience and resolution. It gains an imperturbable stillness and serenity that lets things pass through. Steady in the face of the pleasant and unpleasant alike, this ‘soft strength’ refuses to give way to the tides of ill will.
The territories of the somatic field and qualities of goodwill are offered as a clear, firm foundation for wisdom. Having cultivated them on retreat, we need to integrate liberation, purity and goodwill into our lives.
We use careful attention – yoniso manasikāra – to steward the meditative process. It helps us know the appropriate technique to use and to discern what is skillful to give attention to and what is not. Without it, clinging coopts experience and makes an ‘I’ out of it. With it, there is non-clinging – lucidity – and the cessation of dukkha.