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.
Take away the track of conditioned intentions – better, more efficient, goal orientation. Learn to sense into the intention of the citta here and now. Effort informed by the spiritual faculties is a means to stave off hindrances. The first right effort is to dwell in what is skillful.
Our conditioning and underlying programs have us aiming at unattainable benchmarks. We come to believe it’s possible to make everything work, make things efficient, clear, comfortable. But this only sets us up for suffering. So we practice to purify intention and attention, widening the range of what our citta can bear with and accommodate. We’re then able to be with the uncomfortable without suffering.
We can learn to relate to the conditioned world with a sense of knowing it doesn’t work, dealing with the inevitable clashes and frictions with a mind that is spacious, that can digest the chafing. Nourish and strengthen citta through qualities of goodwill, patience and acceptance facilitate disengagement. Then the heart is not troubled by things not going its way.
With devotional practices we choose to direct ourselves in terms of awakening. Pūjā gives the occasion to settle in our Refuge quality rather than our personal kamma. This is the way we build up a reference point to cultivate and clear the kamma of the person within the field of sangha.
The deeply ingrained reactivity to jump from unpleasant feeling is saṇkhāra. We leave the richness and intelligence of embodiment for the virtual world of programs and drives. Steadying and stabilizing the bodily energies with ānāpānasati develops a different kind of saṇkhāra, one that responds to phenomena with non-demand and acceptance.
Creating a feedback loop to keep citta refreshed and nourished strengthens our ability to meet the uncomfortable. This can’t be done through the virtual realm of the intellect; take time every day to touch into bodily presence without adjusting anything or turning away. That steady presence becomes the place of regeneration and refreshment.
Q1: ways of strengthening the citta; Q2 31:37 How can one best work with the citta? Q3 34:01 What is the relationship of intuitive awareness to the citta? Q4 36:56 Could you say something more about the sacred? Q5 40:10 greed and aversion – are they two sides of the same coin? Can one exist without the other? Q6 46:46 What is animita (signless) samādhi as opposed to nimitta samādhi or jhāna?
The habit of clinging stems from a search for safety and security, yet we cling to that which can never provide security. It’s not easy to give up clinging, so an inner strengthening is required – energetically, psychologically and emotionally.
Phenomena that are mutable, not solid, and dependently arisen become experienced as fixed and solid by unconscious grasping and holding on. The relationship is then one of fixation. A more mature relationship is not based on eliminating displeasure but on responsiveness and flexibility. With practice one can feel comfortable with things that are uncomfortable.