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.
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?
Practicing for release follows the trajectory of knowing (ñāṇa) and culminates in realization (aññā). We review the aggregates with dispassion, recognizing their causal basis, and stop taking them to be self. Devotional practices support the shift from self-consciousness to trackless consciousness where self, other, future, past are no longer concocted. This is the turning towards the deathless.
The inability to feel difficult emotions causes closure of heart and body. If things haven’t been allowed to arise, they don’t pass. Using the practice of calming and insight, we calm just enough to make difficult feeling manageable and let it move through the body, then apply the skill of insight to look into just this experience without proliferation. Dispassion, clarity, and a wide attentive heart remain.
Relationship of tanha to chanda. How to arouse urgency for someone whose sankharas are geared more toward on desire? How to contemplate kamma as an object? How does wholesome “becoming” (bhava) happen?
[Citing from AN4:171] The ignorance that underlies volition conditions our ways of perceiving and being. As a result we bring stress and pressure into our bodies, hearts and minds. We train to come out of this by moderating attention and gentle persistence to everyday tasks. Communing with nature is also a resource.