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.
The primary sense of settling doesn’t come from the mind but from embodiment. So, calm and soothe the somatic energies of the body by resonating the meanings of ‘safe’ and ‘welcome’. This is how one uses the body to train the mind, and aspiration to settle the body.
Time on retreat can be intense, but strength and skills are gained when we can meet the difficulties of our lives. The encouragement is to sustain regular occasions of sitting with the Buddha. Prompts for review and reflection are offered.
Following up from the brahmavihāra guided meditation, the powerful potential of the practice is described. Taken in depth, these qualities offer a means for feeling steady and comfortable, a home base from which to clear fear mistrust and loss of heart.
Cultivation of the brahmavihāras is based upon generating perceptions and felt senses through various bases. This guided meditation refers to the bodily and mental bases, in addition to primary sympathy – anukampa – as the underlying basis, to bring these boundless qualities into fullness. They then can serve as soothing orientations within the tribulations of this human realm.
How does one maintain one’s center in the world? What are the 8 worldly “winds” and how to relate to them? What do we ask forgiveness for from Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha in evening chanting? How to balance energy between personal practice and moral duty to respond to suffering in the world?