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.
A guided meditation to establish a balanced upright posture upon which the rest of the body can relax and let go. It may not do so quickly, so be patient with how the body actually is, always attending with a mind of sympathy and goodwill.
Attention forms a focus that is by definition, only a part of the whole field (especially the visual focus). So if a ‘watchful’ focus is making your practice tense and try, relax attention and cultivate intention – it covers it all. Intention has a certain motivation, it steers attention. The intention for freedom from stress and pain is what citta is looking for.
Referring to the text, see what’s not there – there’s no mention of one-pointed attention. This is a common misunderstanding. Consider instead a one-pointed intention, to bear in mind, and return again and again to the process of breathing.
Fabricated formations, such as clock time, are useful for some things but not for liberation. Use the ritual of puja to transcend circumstantial reality; recognize there is a place in citta to stand outside of self – in faith and devotion. The belief that an end to suffering is possible is the initiator of Dhamma practice. Where there is no faith there is no practice.
When standing we don’t stand stiff, but fluid. Balanced posture and alignment allow muscles to release so energy can move through the form in a supportive way. Over time we become supported by the body’s energy rather than its muscles.
How to peel off the layers of saṅkhāra? Do with an intent to undo. Although we unconsciously give energy to our hindrances and programs, if we withdraw energy and interest, they wither. This is right effort. When citta is cleared of hindrances and is no longer pulled out into the abstract, it gains its own strength and you can trust it.
What is the body? Not the picture of it but the direct experience of it. Referring to instructions given in the Ānāpānasati Sutta, guidance is given to directly experience the body in its diverse manifestations of energy, feeling and sensation. Breathing in, breathing out, allow the process to occur at its own rate and stay with what’s unfolding for you.
Dhamma practice is the channel for direct experience: that which is entered through the door of feeling. This is not the ‘mental’ knowing: the somatic sense responds to feeling. Your place of practice is this direct ‘feeling-knowing’ – pājānati – through mindfulness of the body.
Residues of the heart empty into the body and its vitality gets clogged. We tend to recycle the damage, returning to the scene of the crime, trawling the residues that haven’t discharged as resentment, unworthy, the need to be something else. To discharge this dukkha, we use the somatic field, which gives an energetic release. A mind of goodwill – patient and loving acceptance – will ease the process.