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.
Contemplation of how form manifests as the 4 great elements – earth, air, fire, water. When sensed externally and internally, materially and mentally, the biases that create separateness, and hence identity, begin to soften.
The 5 aggregates represent the sum total of our conditioned experience. When the direct experience of them is penetrated, and the activations of body and mind calmed, one gains insight into the momentary, concocted, selfless nature of experience itself.
The I/me sense arises within a field of kamma. This requires consistent relational practice as we respond to both phenomena (object-experience) and activations (subject-experience) in the field. Mindfulness and a good somatic sense are the keys to relate to experience without clinging or proliferation.
1) The difference between tanhā and upādāna – which is more important to address? 2) Stream entry – what is it, what helps get to the next level, different definitions of the ‘noble disciple’. 3) Questions about citta – difference between citta and citta saṅkhāra, between mano and citta. 4) Jealously, loneliness, lack of love. 5) Ānāpānasati sutta – is it sequential, do we develop each step in every sitting? 6) Ajahn’s one word of advice. 7) Questions on identity and anattā.
On the occasion of Vesak we are encouraged to make a commitment to training the heart. Then to steer the world of space and time we live in around that commitment. This is how actions (kamma) can build up helpful results and lead to the end of kamma.
We put energy into territory that can’t be under our sway, seeking security in systems and customs. What we do have sway over is this embodied mind. It can be trained to orient around wholesome qualities, and to realize that it’s most secure when clinging is released.
The balance required in standing supports an uncontracted body. Lengthening, widening and deepening the somatic field, discordant energies, which may manifest as troubled moods, thoughts or impressions, can be ventilated and released.
Clinging can’t be dealt with by the person. Meet it instead in the body where it manifests as stuck or numb places. Appropriate attention and the rhythm of breathing encourage constricted places to release, smoothing out the entire bodily field.
Our reality is assembled from selected material that comes through the sense bases. As a result of craving and clinging, consciousness lands on particularly poignant material and continues the cycle of becoming and rebirth. Citta can be trained to handle material with dispassion rather than craving, awareness rather than clinging. The release of consciousness can be known.