There is no “Buddhist response” to social, economic, and political issues of our time.
The world we have known is changing in very fundamental ways and those changes do evoke unsettling feelings
The idea that one has to be engaged with the problems of the world to be a real Buddhist is a very recent notion.
How prayer can put us in touch with something that is infinitely greater than we are—that is, mind itself
Conclusion, part 2: Questions and comments on prayer text, magnetization, taking refuge in mind itself, the continual process of meeting what arises in experience, reactive emotions like desire, the eight concerns, working with the type of practice that best engages your internal material.
Conclusion, part 1: Questions and comments on prayer text, magnetization, taking refuge in mind itself, the continual process of meeting what arises in experience, reactive emotions like desire, the eight concerns, working with the type of practice that best engages your internal material.
Protector, part 2 : Description of protectors and commentary on related text, importance of moderation in protector practices, connection between the three roots (guru, deity, and protector) and the three marks of existence (suffering, non-self, impermanence), questions on above.
Protector, part 1 : Discussion on enchantment with dakini and protector practices and how that connects with the origin of these practices, protector meditation instruction and questions.
Deity, part 2: Practice questions regarding pride and compassion, the three classes of deities: peaceful, semi-wrathful, wrathful, review of Tsulak Trengwa’s poem How I Live The Practice (text available on website) which describes the flavor of deity practice, questions regarding deity practice.
Deity, part 1: Comments on the Buddhist concept of ‘no self’. Yidams or deities as expressions of awakened mind, deity meditation instruction, questions about this how to do this practice.
Guru, part 3: Questions regarding faith and compassion, balance in a guru-student relationship, the three types of faith and the three doors of freedom, questions from participants regarding this practice.
Guru, part 1: Comments on the teacher-student relationship, the responsibilities of the teacher and student, methods that teachers use to reveal presence, provide instruction, and point out student’s internal materialGuru, part 2: Devotion reveals student’s internal material, difference between faith and belief, three types of faith and how they transform the three poisons, commentary on guru yoga and related prayer (text available on the website), questions from participants
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Spiritual growth in Buddhist practice in the modern world takes a wide variety of forms, drawing from traditional Asian models, traditional and contemporary models from Christianity and Judaism, modern psychological and educational models and any number of professional or business models. Much may be learned from all these sources...
While Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva has been translated into English many times, in this translation, Ken McLeod takes pains to use plain and simple English to reflect the simplicity and directness of the original Tibetan. His commentary is full of striking images, provocative questions and inspiring descriptions of what it means to be awake and present in your life...
In A Trackless Path Ken McLeod presents a fluid contemporary translation of this poem, accompanied by a deeply moving and insightful commentary. The combination makes Jigmé Lingpa’s mystical poem relevant and accessible to today’s seeker...
In 1970, I met my principal teacher, Kalu Rinpoche, at his monastery outside Darjeeling and began my study and practice of Buddhism. Kalu Rinpoche was a senior meditation teacher in the Karma Kagyu tradition and the lineage holder of the Shangpa tradition...
Unfettered Mind is a Buddhist service organization that provides instruction, training programs, and guidance in Buddhist methods for being awake and present in your life...
This website is the online repository for Ken McLeod’s work in translating and teaching the practice of Buddhism. This work falls into four categories:Teachings: podcasts and transcripts of Ken’s teachings from classes, retreats and workshops Practices: meditation practices that Ken has composed for students Translations: contemporary English renderings of traditional Tibetan texts, prayers and practices Articles: long and short essays published in Tricycle, The Buddhadharma and other national publications as well as in Unfettered Mind’s newsletters
Books by Ken McLeod: A Trackless Path, Reflections on Silver River, An Arrow To The Heart, Wake Up To Your Life
Change: False and true dualities; all experience as an expression of knowing & not-knowing; experiencing change in the inner, outer and hidden worlds; experience of non-duality; participant’s questions; meditation instruction on change.
Two Aspects of Death: The results of meditating on death & impermanence; dilemma of uncertainty of death; 2 aspects of death: death is inevitable, could die at any moment; other forms of dying besides physical: dying to the idea of getting our emotional needs met, dying to the idea of being somebody; life is ordered and chaotic.
Six Ways to Meet Death with Confidence: Participant’s experience with meditation on life’s paradox; letting go of our identities as death; experiencing identities; Milarepa’s Six Ways to Meet Death with Confidence; true freedom is including both order and chaos in our experience; being no one; relaxing in the experience of what is; 10 virtues and their use in engaging life; experiencing effortless good; energy of attention permeating experience; wisdom & means as the two aspects of presence.
Stages of Dying: Falsity of subject/object duality; world we experience is born with us; our world composed of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and void; five elements as a spectrum; in death the world of our experience dissolves; stages of dying as the dissolution of the five elements; death of self; death of a relationship; practice instructions; stages of stillness of mind.
Conclusion: Resting in experience; dissolution of the fixation on the elements; meditation instruction: do nothing as if dead; 3 worlds of change: senses, body, thoughts & beliefs; the sense of “I” as just another experience; using the question “Am I going to die?” to move into knowing.
Conclusion: Summary of earlier discussions; review of The Four Steps to Standing Up; serving the direction of the present; anger signals “an enemy out there” ; compassion: method and result; a discussion of practices, compassion and living fully in the world.
Morality: Morality as a description of the behaviour of an awakened person; commitments and guidelines; learning versus doing; Four Steps to Standing Up.
Outlook, Practice, Behavior: Outlook, practice, behavior as a framework for navigating our lives; application of this framework to the retreat theme; seeing an “enemy” as an experience and not as a fact.
Living Life Fully: Story of drinking tea from “Tales of the Dervishes”; coming to terms with our own experience of life; navigating our lives better; transcending life vs living life fully and without regret; discussion of retreat prayers and their relationship to our overall spiritual practice; instruction in meditation based on four foundations of mindfulness.
Mindkilling: Reactivity due to collapsed attention; opening to all experience including opposition; reasons for collapsed attention: for survival, getting our emotional needs met, and our identity; mindkilling is deliberately provoking someone’s reactive patterns so they will do something against their interests; various forms of mindkilling.
Actual and Shared Experience: World of actual experience vs world of shared experience; shared continuum; to live fully is to live and function fully in both worlds; role of meditation in correcting an imbalance caused by living in a world of shared experience; creating ideals in the world of shared experience.
Practice as life, life as practice: Historical tendency of practice being both separate from and more important than other daily activities; stabilization of attention (with and without activity) as the only type of practice; why incorporating practice into your life doesn’t work; why incorporating your life into your practice does work; using the primary practice continually; including your whole life in everything you do; the only thing you can know is what you experience; a knowing that is immediate and direct but not conceptual; find appropriate response through the four steps of standing up; open to both poles of a reactive pattern to step out of it.
Acting In Ways That Leave You In Peace: Conduct and behavior as ways to both set conditions for practice and enhance / deepen practice; the story of Mrs. Foo; applying the principle of the middle way; tightening up your life and keeping your intention clear; two lists of metaphors for conduct and behavior; engaging in a chosen behavior so as to experience in yourself the related reactive emotions.
The View: Participants’ accounts on using tools described in previous sessions; discussion on guru yoga, negative emotions, and faith; instruction and questions on sky gazing; instruction, discussion, and experiences on using the breath and questions to learn how to rest in the view.
The Tap On The Shoulder: The hunter and the three bears; how different sets of instructions point to the same thing (Asanga, mind-training, mahamudra, dzogchen); forms of knowing; letting direct experience soak in to your core; the sense of self and ant colonies; the nature of experience; form and emptiness.
Why not do what you want?: Question regarding translation of Dogen’s Genjokoan; If objects and experiences are empty and there is no self, why does it matter what I do?; the struggle between patterns and ethical/virtuous behavior; Buddhist ethics as a way to create the conditions for a quiet mind; what would life be like if you could experience fully whatever arises?; intention; meeting what is there; what is buddha nature?
Recognizing and resting: Seeking ‘the experience’; the illusion of choice; recognizing what is arising and resting; useless and useful planning; resting as a means, not an end; the nature of mind; working with resistance; meditation instruction; emptiness and awareness; what is meant by ‘May I know that mind has no beginning.’
The Futility Of Effort: The story of tea; commentary and questions on The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good and understanding apparent contradictions in the text.
Dzogchen & willingness, know-how, and capacity: Participants’ accounts of what is like to do nothing; overview of Dzogchen from the perspective of outlook/view, practice, and behavior; willingness, know-how, and capacity and related tools for Dzogchen practice
Verses 31 - 37: Questions from participants on meditation and prayer, knowing when to refine or change meditation practices, mindfulness and reading. Commentary on what is meant by go into your own confusion (31), undermining yourself when grumbling about others (32), squabbling undermining learning (33), and brief commentary on remaining verses. Observations from participants on what they will take away from the retreat.
Verses 25 - 30: A question about anger; commentary on verses regarding the six perfections: generosity, morality, patience, effort, meditative stability, wisdom
Verses 22 - 24: An in-depth discussion on: whatever arises in experience is your own mind (verse 22), let go attachment (verse 23), and when you run into misfortune look at it as confusion (verse 24). Questions from participants.
Meditation on Verse 21: What is like in your meditation practice when you don’t fight as much? Working with sleepiness and noise. Opening to what arises and to the experience of attachment.
Verses 18 - 21: Questions on pain as a messenger, Buddha nature and emptiness. Commentary on compassion as action in the world, staying sane in difficult situations, balance as ongoing adjustments
Verses 12 - 17: Working with anger, practicality and perfection, balance in relationships, pain and compassion, working with slander, shame and enemies, is practice for building skills or for being present
Verse 11 and Taking & Sending: Questions on practices 4 – 10, compassion as the centerpiece of practice, two meditations on taking and sending along with question from participants
Verses 4-11: When everything is going well in life, what is practice about? Letting go of conventional concerns, finding a good teacher and the functions of teachers, the prison of patterns, refuge prayer, karma as instruction instead of karma as explanation, creating conditions so you can listen to what’s inside you, the illusion of control, embracing life fully.
The Four Steps of Standing Up: Staying present in the experience of acceleration. Receiving feedback from the environment and adjusting. The Four Steps of Standing Up: 1) Show up. 2) Open to what is. 3) Serve what is true. 4) Receive the results. Exercise: Showing up in your body. Story: The thief, the samurai, and the warlord. Do what is required, no more. Primary practice, revisted. Fairy tale: The Two Inns
Receiving The Result: Whatever the outcome, work with that: The Four Steps of Standing Up as a way of living, continually cycling. Four stages of conflict: Pacification, Enrichment, Magnetization, Destruction. Balance, boundary, and the ethics of power. Obligation and the three bases of relationship. Courage. How power differs from other gestures (ecstasy, insight, compassion). Fairy tale: Ransom, Return, Recognition
Artist and Critic: Exercise: Artist and Critic. If you live for respect, you give your life over to others. How the sense of urgency often accelerates things, and we get swallowed up in the acceleration. Evolutionary paradigms: providing the _conditions_ for certain things to evolve. Applications to meditation. Fairy tale: Black Sheep
Serving What Is True: Difficulties in serving what is true when it doesn’t accord with expectations and understanding. Fairy tale: The Old Man with Red Eyes How fairy tales describe internal realms of experience vs. the world of shared experience. Attention vs. Intention vs. Will. Exercise: 4-person flocks. Obstacles as simply features in the landscape to be negotiated.
On Posture: How we hold ourselves carries/conveys meanings. Posture exercises: Advance-retreat; rise-lower; widen-narrow.
Opening To What Is: How familiar situations trigger old scripts, whose function is to dissipate attention. Exercise: Push hands, back-to-back. How triggered scripts corrupt intention. Power is the ability to implement intention, by staying present. Instead of focusing on what you want to do, include the entire situation. Fairy tale: The Old Witch and the White Bird
On Showing Up: Revisiting the primary practice: not to ‘get it right’ but to experience what happens, the totality of your life. Balancing exercises: how slowly thinking happens, but the body knows how to maintain balance. Applications in meditation. Nothing undercuts a distracting story so well as returning to the body. Fairy tale: The Black Castle
Power and Opposition: Engaging with power, you have no idea what you’re going to be called upon to do. In the experience of opposition: something in yourself that you’re not willing to admit or experience. Exercise: Walking the gauntlet. How training develops capacity to respond in complex situations. Fairy tale: The Sleeping Giants
Forming A Relationship With Power: The ethics of power: the warrior’s sword vs. the predator’s sword. Exercise: Taking the sword. Four ways of working. Five mysteries associated with power: power, balance, presence, truth, freedom. Fairy tale: The Straw, the Egg, and the Book of Knowledge
Who Am I Functionally?: Who am I functionally? Who am I in the family environment? Who am I in the work environment? Who am I acting in each of the six realms?
Who Am I Ultimately?: Who am I ultimately? Am I my name, my body, my feelings, my thoughts, what I experience? sense of self; impermanence of self; independence of self; irreducible aspect of self.
Who Am I Conventionally?: Introduction of participants; workshop outline; meditation instruction; Who am I conventionally speaking? What are my interests, talents, influences, gifts? Where am I going?
On Being Nobody: our situation consists of: nothing at the core, emotional reactions from roles, world of stories; tools: black box, middle way, interdependence; closing.
Beliefs that prevent me from seeing: Determining our destiny is a myth; the sense of self is a fiction we construct to endow the chaos of our lives with a semblance of rational consistency; what stories do we believe?; order vs chaos; what beliefs do I hold and what do they prevent me from seeing?; participant’s experience; spectrum of possibilities between extremes; no truth, just what happens.
Looking At Our Lives: See clearly, know what is, act without hesitation; focus on how can I help instead of focusing on survival, emotional needs or identity; guided meditation; response vs reaction; open to the whole of your life.
Translating principles into strategies: Principle – the middle way, strategy – include both extremes; principle – 4 noble truths, strategy – 8 fold path; 4 steps to problem resolution: problem, genesis, solution, implementation; genesis vs conditions; group exercise; building circles of support.
Releasing through bare attention, part 2: Q&A based on students’ experience with bare attention, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on the four foundations.
Releasing through taking and sending, part 1: Taking emptiness and compassion as the framework, difference between actual and projected experience, working with actual experience, instruction in five-step method that uses taking and sending (tonglen) to release emotional reactions.
Releasing through taking and sending, part 2: Q&A based on the students’ experience with taking and sending, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on taking and sending
Releasing through direct awareness, part 1: Taking original mind, direct awareness, as the basis, all experience as the expression of awareness, instruction in a five-step process based on direct awareness (mahamudra and dzogchen), cautions and pitfalls.
Releasing through direct awareness, part 2: Q&A based on the students’ experience with direct awareness, simplified instruction in the five steps, common difficulties and how to work with them, connecting the three methods, how to use these in life, the student-teacher relationship, challenges in practice.
Releasing through bare attention, part 1: Emotional reactions, what they are, why they are problematic, what does releasing mean, difference between releasing and suppression, instruction in five-step method of releasing from Thich Naht Hanh based on bare attention and the four foundations of mindfulness
The Three Gates Of Freedom: Attention enables us to perceive experiences as more fluid; three Gates of Freedom: no characteristics, no hope and no ground (emptiness); two typical errors people fall into when they encounter emptiness: actions don’t matter and despair; despair as a form of checking out, avoiding experience; meditation: How do I live when I can’t know what this experience of life is — or whether anything follows it?
The Three Gates Of Freedom: Attention enables us to perceive experiences as more fluid; three Gates of Freedom: no characteristics, no hope and no ground (emptiness); two typical errors people fall into when they encounter emptiness: actions don’t matter and despair; despair as a form of checking out, avoiding experience; meditation: How do I live when I can’t know what this experience of life is — or whether anything follows it?
How Do I Live This Experience Called Life?: Group contemplation: “I can’t know what this experience called life is — and I can’t know what follows it. So how do I live this life?”; observing mortality brings you back into life; meditating on impermanence gives you faith, the willingness to open to everything and the energy to do so.
Forms Of Death: Many forms of death throughout life: death of beliefs, death of trust, death of enmity; we know we are aware and we are going to die; response / inquiry contemplation.
I Am Going To Die And I Don't Know When: We can die at any time: chaos; we need to live day to day: order; the many ways we can die; are there any circumstances in which you could be guaranteed not to die?; middle way: life is neither just order nor just chaos; meditation: “I’m going to die. And I have no idea when.”
Everything changes, nothing stays the same: Ozymandias; exploration of “Everything changes, nothing stays the same” by means of a group contemplation called response / inquiry.
Groundwork: Motivation for Chö: transforming our experience of disturbances and negativity as embodied in the eight demonic obsessions; outer, inner and mystical refuge: opening to the totality of experience; visualizing and inviting Machik Labdrön and the four guests.
Ritual 3: Recitation of daily Chö ritual; guided visualization; purification practice; simpler form of transference practice; white feast and red feast visualizations.
Ritual In English: Other methods of Chö ritual; simpler form of Chö ritual; guided visualizations.
Beginning Of Ritual: Section by section performance of the daily Chö ritual, utilizing the practices described in the preceding podcast; short Q&A at the end.
Ritual 2: Recitation of daily Chö ritual with commentary; opening the door to the sky transference; visualization instruction combining syllables, colours, body and six realms; commentary on transference.
Blasting Obsessions: Pointing out the meaning of the perfection of wisdom; cutting the four demonic obsessions; four stages of Chö practice.
Dying: Power comes at the moment of dying; death as your friend; guided meditation : dying to expectation; participants questions.
Mind Killing: Definition of mind killing and examples; six methods of mind killing; dying as remedy to mind killing.
Sacrifice: Sacrificing our conditional personality; the appropriate opponent; the function of reactive patterns, emotional core of patterned mode of experience; passive and reactive poles of a pattern; guided meditation: cutting the opponent.
Warrior Ethics: Ethics as comprised of a set of five principles: presence, balance, boundary, obligation, and courage; what these are and what they mean
Intention: the ability to direct attention; process of awakening; guided meditation practice for working with intention.
Conclusion: Antidotes to mind killing; middle way vs compromise; summary of warrior’s solution: perceive imbalance, intention, sacrifice, dying, rest; participant’s questions.
Relationships: Imbalance and relationships; entering vs observing emotions; experiencing a broken heart; patterns as addiction; various forms of obsessions and remedies.
Resting Without Reference: Shamatha and cultivating a basis of attention; infallibility; the end of suffering as a process, not an end state; resting in whatever arises; guru yoga.
The Nature Of Experience: Discussion with participants on the origin of attention; thoughts, mind, and freedom from reacting; inference, intellect, and experience; discomfort and the death of duality; mirror, mirror on the wall; the importance of stability.
Bringing Life Into Practice: Common mistakes and pitfalls regarding emptiness and Mahamudra (believing emptiness is a thing, attempting to offer explanations to those who do not practice, etc.); a reading of One Sentence Pith Instruction and Recognizing Mind as Guru; integrating practice and life; questions from participants.
Seeing and Resting: The utility of deception; faith, trust, and not knowing your reaction to what you haven’t experienced; the union of seeing and resting (guided meditation); what it the teacher in one’s experience; questions from participants.
Buddhism And How You Actually Live: Satori, enlightenment, and laypeople; parallels with martial arts training; what compassion is really like; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
Awareness: The problems of idealizing; seeing the mirror; awareness; commentary on Aspirations for Mahamudra.
Consequences, vows, and commentary: Consequences of ignoring what arises from meditation; what is meant by sentient beings are infinite, I vow to save them all; comments on Verse on the Faith Mind; questions from participants; sky-gazing instructions.
Prayers and Practice: Overview of rituals and prayers used in retreat; the ‘primary’ practice described, related guided meditation, and participants’ experience with this meditation; relaxing and resting.
Concluding verses, closing thoughts: Questions from participants, a practical application of taking and sending, commentary on concluding verses, the 8 worldly concerns, living a life of no regret, a fable on taking and sending, instructions on working with the difficulties and challenges arising from practice, opening to whatever arises
Point 7: Guidelines: Difference between commitments and guidelines. Commentary on guidelines, including: using one practice and one remedy; the two things to do, patience in everything; never compromise your practice; the three challenges, three key elements, three kinds of damage, three faculties; train on every object; practice what’s important now; don’t get things wrong (proper placement of priorities)
Point 6: Commitment: Function of Buddhist ethics; descriptive v. prescriptive; importance of ethics; benefits of memorization. Commentary on mind training commitments including: the three basic principles, intention and behavior, giving up hope for results; not forming an identity around practice; working with reactive emotions; not hoping to profit from sorrow.
Point 4: Summary and Point 5: Proficiency: Origins of lists and reasons for their use in contemporary life; summary of essential instructions: the five forces, instructions on dying; measures of proficiency: the one aim, rely on your own clarity, deep and quiet joy, practice as a natural response. Proficiency isn’t attainment; regret v. guilt; working with emotions that arise from taking and sending.
Taking and sending, Point 2: Main practice: Knowing whatever arises for what it is; the natural response of compassion; the three poisons and dualistic thinking; why taking and sending works; taking and sending & the four immeasurables; the three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue; meditation instruction for awakening to what is apparently true, taking and sending; questions from participants
Questions and Applications, Point 3: Applications: Questions from participants on taking and sending, including: Is it okay to focus just on the meditation’s imagery of smoke and light rather than specific emotions? How specific should one be with taking and sending? How much do you sent out? How do you deal with running out of energy? Is taking and sending to be taken literally or figuratively? A variation of the taking and sending meditation from the previous session; applications of mind training, including: making adversity the path; driving blame into one; being grateful to everyone; emptiness as the ultimate protection; the four practices; working with whatever one encounters
Experience and awareness, Point 2: Main practice: Clarity in intention; the world of shared experience, the world of personal experience and the myth of integration; What am I? What is life?; subject and object; Where does experience reside?; the dream analogy; What is awareness?; thoughts as experience; meditation instruction on awakening to what is ultimately true
Origin of Mind Training in Seven Points, Point 1: Groundwork: Education, training, and learning in Tibetan and Western cultures; brief biographies of Atisha and Chekawa Yeshe Drorje; secret teachings and transmissions; mind-training as a way to refine experience; refining v. training; empty compassion (emotion-free); illusion of choice as an indication of the lack of freedom; meditation instruction on groundwork.
Session 8: Presence, purification, energy: 3 types of practice; Dakini practice as purification, transforming reaction chains into presence; Personal practice balances these elements; Two modes of completing practice: symbols and lights; Statements associated with elements, related to emotional patterns
Session 10: Explanation of element reaction cycles: earth, water, fire, air and void; walkthrough of corresponding dakini practices; hollowness; knowing; pristine awareness arising within reaction. This class was recorded to help students with the Dakini practice.
Session 7: Putting it all together as ongoing practice; Blindness to significant patterns.
Session 9: Presence, purification, energy: 3 types of practice; Dakini practice as purification, transforming reaction chains into presence; Personal practice balances these elements; Two modes of completing practice: symbols and lights; Statements associated with elements, related to emotional patterns
Session 6: Void dakini instructions; the usefulness of “zero”: void makes everything possible; terror; destructive aspect of spiritual practice, constant letting go; Tilopa’s instructions
Session 5: Air dakini instructions; practice may become more difficult as the elemental energy becomes more subtle; Relation to c`hi, anxiety, panic
Session 3: Water dakini instructions; Issues of avoidance, flow, clarity
Session 4: Fire dakini instructions; Issues of isolation, volatility, passion; importance of experiencing reactions; what to do with the experience of boredom
Session 2: General practice guidelines; outline of generic sequence for yidam/deity practice; emotional reactivity vs volitional action; earth dakini instructions, particularly loss of balance and internal stability; nature of “practice”
Q&A: Participant’s questions and Ken’s responses: individual and shared experience, attention penetrating patterns, expressive and receptive poles of a pattern, taking and sending. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Guidelines: Bring attention to all activities; learn to use a few tools very deeply; whatever happens, it is not necessarily about you; use intention to die to life of conditioned existence; be in what you are experiencing right now; how to interact completely with your teacher/experience; engage the three faculties: body, speech and mind. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Proficiency and Commitments: Proficiency: knowing what you want from your practice, achieve a sense of balance, joy as a consequence of no separation; commitments: be clear about your intentions, appropriate action, relate to the totality of your experience; behave naturally; don’t talk about others’ shortcomings; don’t dwell on others’ problems. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Five Forces: Five forces in life Intention: being clear about your intention in every aspect of your life; familiarization: clearing away obstacles to presence; seeds of virtue: taking care of the interior environment; repudiation: dying to the past; aspiration: using faith to reinforce intention. Five forces in death: generating virtue, aspiration, repudiation, intention and familiarization.The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Application: Participant’s experience and questions; resting attention in experience; letting patterns open to you; resting in the experience of adversity. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Direct Awareness, Taking & Sending: Vajrayana approach to taking and sending; exploring imbalances in experience; moving right into experience.
Four Steps To Direct Awareness: The primary practice as a method to awakening to what is ultimately true. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
The Four Aspects Of Being: The 4 kayas: dharmakaya, nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, svabhavikakaya; the four practices: accumulate merit, confess evil actions, fill obsessions with awareness, nourish wakefulness in your life. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Taking & Sending and Mind Nature: Dissolving sense of other; progression of mind training practice; stopping the mind; groundwork as motivation to explore life as more than the world of shared experience. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Guidelines: Guidelines as support for mind training; use one practice to do everything; use one remedy for everything; two things to do: one at the beginning, one at the end; whatever happens, good or bad, be patient; keep these two, even at the risk of your life; train in the three problems; work with the three primary factors; don’t allow three things to weaken; keep the three essentials; train on every object without preference, training must be broad and deep. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Commitments: Always train in the three basic principles: respect your intention, act in ways that support your practice and include all experience; the six realms as a structure for exploring all experience; change your attitude and stay natural; don’t talk about others’ shortcomings; don’t dwell on others’ problems. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Four Practices, Five Forces: Listening while talking; walking meditation; last two of the four practices: filling obsessions with awareness, and nourishing wakefulness in your life; five forces: setting intention, train deeply, sowing virtuous seeds through acts of goodness and kindness, feeling regret about reactive states of mind or destructive actions, and aspiring; five forces in death. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Transformation In Taking And Sending: Transformation; make adversity the path of awakening; attention, intention, will; drive all blame into one. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
What Is Ultimately True: Practice on awakening to what is apparently true: taking and sending. The audio for this series of podcasts was originally recorded on audio cassette. As such you may find the sound to be of a lower quality.
Buddhahood: The three kayas or forms of buddhahood (dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya) and their characteristics; special traits of buddhahood; understanding the activities of buddhahood as the natural response of compassion instead of viewing them as special abilities; thanks and acknowledgments to everyone who helped manage the class and make the podcasts possible. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 20 and Chapter 21.
Perseverance: Working hard; participants’ experience with meditation on experiencing what one seeks to avoid by exiting into impatience; translation issues around “perseverance, diligence, effort, etc.”; working hard the right way; virtuous, spiritual and practical aspects of working hard; passivity vs laziness; 3 types of laziness and remedies; translation issues around laziness; 3 types of diligence; 3 efforts; natural enthusiasm in working hard at virtue; efforts on one’s spiritual path; working hard with no sense of effort; meditation assignment for upcoming week on exploring one’s experience with enthusiasm and lack of enthusiasm in everyday life. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 15.
Meditative stability, pt. 1: Meditative stability; participants’ experience with meditation on enthusiasm and lack of enthusiasm in everyday life; stability vs. concentration; results of agitated mind; clairvoyance as a mistranslation of what can happen with a stable mind; stable attention gives rise to compassion; natural virtue of resting mind; stopping distraction; primary characteristics, genesis and faults of fragmentation of attention and solitude; evaluating what brings meaning, value and peace to us; clear intention leads to stable attention; meditation assignment for upcoming week on comparing experience in actions with clear and unclear intention. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 16.
Meditative stability, pt 2: Meditative stability; participants’ experience with meditation on actions with clear and unclear intention; remedies for the following reactive emotions: desire, anger, instinct/blind stupidity/ignoring, jealousy, and pride; experiencing vs acting out or suppressing emotions; remedies are used to develop unfragmented attention; three kinds of stable attention; meditation assignment for upcoming week on exploring the difference between doing routine, simple activities as usual and doing them with a resting mind.The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 16.
Perfection of Wisdom: Perfection of wisdom; participants’ experience with meditation on the difference between doing routine, simple activities as usual and doing them when one has dropped into the clear resting mind; importance of means and wisdom; perfection of wisdom is knowing precisely what you are experiencing or know directly that all experience arises from no thing; translation points, change “realize” to “know directly” and “phenomena” to “experience”; entering into the mystery of “what am I? what is this experience I call life? what is time?”; approaching experience as just experience; practice instructions; meditation assignment: ewhen and how do I experience time in daily activities and meditation? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 17.
The Five Paths: The problems and advantages of charting spiritual progression; spiritual growth is rarely linear; the five paths as a way of organizing accumulated wisdom; The Path of Accumulation (gathering resources), mindfulness, perfect abandonment, and miracle powers; The Path of Application or Accommodation (no independent existence), the four stages and four noble truths, the five powers and strengths; The Path of Insight (seeing the nature of things); The Path of Meditation and the noble eight-fold path; The Path of Perfection (attention and seeing are stabilized). The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 18.
The ten bodhisattva bhumis and buddhahood: Discussion of the highly coded text used in these last chapters; overview of the ten bhumis or stages and how they relate to one’s experience; how the stages reflect specific, real-life experiences and shifts; division of stages into impure and pure. Discussion of the first (nature) of the two aspects of the pristine awareness of Buddhahood; evaluating experience; resting in experience and seeing what is, bringing these two together; seeing things as they are, knowing how they appear; meditation instruction for upcoming week. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 19 and Chapter 20.
Bodhicitta, pt. 2: Participants’ experience with meditation exercise; the four stages in the development of awakening mind; two aspects of awakening mind: apparently true and ultimately true; translation points on these two terms; aspiration and engagement awakening mind; attention, intention and will; meditation assignment for upcoming week. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Bodhicitta, pt. 3: Participant’s experience with meditation on attention, intention, and will; living life at the level of intention or will in order to help others wake up (bodhicitta); Is bodhicitta or desire to help others awaken a natural instinct?; the four geneses of bodhicitta; meditation instruction for upcoming week: when you doing something you know is wrong, what needs to happen to lay it to rest? The four stages in the development of awakening mind; two aspects of awakening mind: apparently true and ultimately true; translation points on these two terms; aspiration and engagement awakening mind; attention, intention and will. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Bodhisattva vow, pt. 1: Participant’s experience with meditation on laying to rest wrong action; taking the bodhisattva vow in the presence of a teacher; does spiritual understanding lead to appropriate action; insight and compassion; preparation for taking the vow: offerings (developing generosity), clearing away non-virtuous action (remorse, remedy, resolve, reliance); meditation instruction for upcoming week on rejoicing in virtue. Due to a recording error, the meditation instruction was added later. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Bodhisattva vow, pt. 2: Participant’s experience with meditation on rejoicing in virtue; meeting the deficiency inside ourselves so that we may aspire to bodhicitta; planting virtuous roots; prayers used in class: Prayer to the Perfection of Wisdom, Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind, Refuge and Awakening Mind, Four Immeasurables, Dedication, Aspiration for Awakening Mind, Good Fortune; bodhisattva vow ceremony; celebration; meditation instruction for upcoming week on succumbing to despair with regard to helping others. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Bodhisattva Vow, pt. 3: Participant’s experience with meditation on succumbing to despair and rejecting others; aspects of the bodhisattva vow associated with Dharmakirti; moving from intention to will; benefits of taking the vow, disadvantages of losing and factors leading to the degeneration of the bodhisattva vow; vow renewal; bodhicitta as an ethic of compassion; meditation instruction for upcoming week: repeat bodhisattva vow daily, how do you respond to the ceremony and to forming this intention? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Training in bodhicitta, pt. 1: Participants’ experience with meditation on bodhisattva vow; creating conditions for bodhicitta to arise in oneself; five training principles: don’t close your heart to anything, be mindful of the benefits, nurturing goodness and awareness, spread and deepen attitude within, avoiding four black dharmas and instilling white dharmas; meditation assignment for upcoming week on experiencing the four black dharmas. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9 and Chapter 10.
The six perfections: Participants’ experience with meditation on the four black dharmas; genesis and fruition vehicles; three moral trainings; Buddhist frameworks: ground, path, fruition; six perfections: generosity, morality, patience, effort, meditative stability and wisdom; their specific evolutionary order; their characteristics; generosity as letting go; paramita; meditation assignment for upcoming week on the difference between giving with and without a sense of I and other. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 11.
Generosity; participants’ experience with meditation on giving with and without a sense of I and other; rational choice theory; advantages of practicing and disadvantages of refraining from generosity; action vs. motivation as basis for morality; essential gesture; classification; primary characteristics; economic systems; 4 methods for increasing the power of generosity; moving from ordinary generosity to the perfection of generosity; end outcome of generosity; meditation assignment: the difference between doing the moral thing because you know its the right thing to do and doing the moral thing because it is natural. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 12.
Moral Discipline: Morality; participants’ experience with meditation on morality; discussion of external authority; morality as discipline; morality as skillful means; advantages of practicing and disadvantages of refraining from moral discipline: exercise of discipline as stepping out of conditioned behavior; essential gesture: moral discipline is learned through interaction; classification: restraint, generating the good and wholesome, wake up to every aspect of our experience; primary characteristics; generating good and wholesome outcomes; descriptive guidelines for living awake; moving from ordinary moral discipline to the perfection of moral discipline; end outcome; meditation assignment: when you find yourself being impatient, what are you unwilling or afraid of seeing? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 13.
Patience; participants’ experience with meditation on impatience; impatience arising from feeling weaker than what opposes you; anger conditions quickly and deeply; essential gesture: compassion creates a sense of ease; classification: patience when interacting with others, patience with self in spiritual practice, patience with fear of no-self; primary characteristics; developing patience with self; working with anger; patience with ending reactive patterns; patience which allows us to know just how things are; meditation assignment: work more deeply to experience what one seeks to avoid by exiting into impatience. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 14.
Bodhicitta, pt. 1: Students’ experience with previous week’s meditation exercise on engaging in wholesome and unwholesome activities; reading behind the lines when a text references other text (using opening of Chapter 8 as an example); what is bodhicitta, what cultivates it, and what it means to be awake; a different perspective on what it means to help all sentient beings; discussion of some of the 22 similes for bodhicitta; meditation instruction for upcoming week: study similes. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 9.
Refuge, pt. 1: Participants’ experience of previous week’s meditation on trust; an exercise in trust; overview of material covered to date; the importance of a foundation to spiritual practice; origin of refuge; in what can one trust; outer, inner and mystery interpretation of the three jewels; each jewel meets a different motivation; meditation instruction for the upcoming week: what needs to happen for me to take refuge seriously? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 8.
Refuge, pt. 2: Review of previous week’s discussion on outer, inner, and secret interpretations of the three jewels; participants’ experiences with meditation on trusting the three jewels; participants explain why taking a vow of refuge was important; description of refuge ceremony from text; what is meant by “realise all phenomena are nonexistent and have no form, no perception, and no characteristics…”; experience when completely present; function and importance of ritual and ceremony; discussion of various trainings in refuge; overview of pratimoksa; meditation instruction for upcoming week: contemplate doing something unwholesome. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 8.
Loving-Kindness and Compassion, pt. 2: Participants report their experience with previous week’s meditation assignment; a tale of warm fuzzies and cold pricklies; reactions to giving and receiving kindness; three steps to staying present when receiving kindness: recognizing, acknowledging, and appreciating; the natural response (love) to staying present in kindness; extending this response to “all sentient beings”; the difference between loving-kindness and compassion; the contraction that occurs in the presence of suffering that prevents loving-kindness and compassion from arising; meditation for the upcoming week: what do I actually trust? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 7.
Karma, pt. 3 & Loving-kindess and Compassion, pt. 1: Participants reflection on intentionally engaging in a non-virtuous act; patterned behavior as a way to avoid experience; ascription, inevitability and karma; how to respond to questions like “Do you believe in evil?”; loving-kindness and compassion as remedies to attachment to the pleasure of peace; the maturation of motivation and practice; is compassion the natural outcome of awareness or something one must cultivate?; meditation instruction for upcoming week: what is it like to receive kindness? The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.
Karma, pt. 2: Follow-up on free will and karma; ten non-virtuous acts; motivation/intention; the full ripening result; the results of a specific non-virtuous actions (taking life); the problem with purity; By not taking these mythic descriptions literally, are we somehow shutting the door to the mystery of life?; the three categories of non-virtuous acts; beliefs which prevent us from relating to what actually is; avoiding obsession; making the dharma relevant in western culture; Buddhism as “a” way or “the” way; karma and attachment to meditative states; description of janas; meditation for the upcoming week: the experience of lying. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6.
Karma, pt. 1: Three analogies for karma: God’s will, gravity, and evolution; God’s will as explanation of mystery; gravity as absence of justice, etc.; evolution as contrast to cause and effect; karma’s function in spiritual life; karma is conditioning through intention and action; the three types of karma. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 6.
The Suffering of Samsara (pt 2): Review of the first two types of suffering; the third type of suffering and the six realms; how a society’s cosmology (medieval or modern) reflect its psychology; how we experience the six realms in daily life (anger as hot hell, hate as cold hell, etc.); how the development of numbering systems impacted mythic descriptions; perception of time and the realms; personal values and social norms; the four major and four minor sufferings of the human realm. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 5.
The Suffering of Samsara (pt. 1): Recap of chapters previously covered; about the word dukkha; what “suffering” means in Buddhism; what is the question to which “the vicious cycle of samsara” is the answer?; why not just eat, drink, and be merry?; relating the three types of suffering to the three poisons and the three types of faith; exercise on experience and our reaction to experience; a closer look at the first two types of suffering. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 5.
Impermanence (pt. 3): Appreciating and living the three facts of impermanence: death is certain, time of death uncertain, and we take nothing with us into death; regret and death; moving beyond child-like morality of right and wrong; impermanence and the intensification of life experience; value of being able to experience life fully; how to do reflective meditations such as death and impermanence; how to use physical and emotional reactions in these meditations. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 4.
Impermanence (pt 2): Viewing mythic descriptions of the outer world as descriptions of internal processes; meditating on death as a means to detach from social conditioning, increasing clarity in life, and savoring every moment; why be concerned about death if our “experience isn’t real”?; the balance created by contemplating the fact death can come at any time; working with physical reactions and sensations that arise with contemplating death; emotional parallels between contemplating physical death and experiencing death of patterns. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 4.
Impermanence (pt. 1): Medieval context; definition of lamrim; translation issues; four reasons (obstacles) why we aren’t already awake: taking experience as fact, habituated tendencies to satisfy cravings, mistaking peace for being awake, and not knowing what to do to wake up; if experience isn’t real or a fact, what is experience?; differences in the meaning of “ego” as used in Buddhism and psychology; manufacturing vs. growth process; remedies to the four obstacles; impermanence and the four ends. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 4.
Spiritual Teachers (pt 3): Respect for, and service to, one’s teacher as expression of importance of one’s own spiritual practice; eastern and western perspectives on the teacher-student relationship; knowing when motivation for practice comes from presence and not patterned behavior; devotion and reverence towards one’s teacher as expression of one’s own emotional attitude toward spiritual practice; practice and persistence (the individual responsibilities of teachers and students); three ways to receive teaching. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 3.
Spiritual Teachers (pt. 2): The teacher-student relationship as origin of understanding; the importance of questions; experience as teacher; the four classifications of teachers; defining nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and bodhisattva; ways to approach the mythic language of classical texts. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 3.
Faith & Belief (This precious human body, part 2): The rare combination of circumstances that allow for the opportunity to practice; students’ reports of experiences with faith and belief; defining faith (the willingness to open to whatever arises in experience) and belief (unchallengeable positions through which one filters experience); faith and experience; the three types of faith: trusting, longing, and clear; in what do we actually have faith?; trust the knowing; the ten factors that must be present for practice; the three types of motivation for practice. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 2.
This precious human body (pt. 1): What is the question for which “this precious human body” is the answer?, what is meant by “body,” the eight unfavorable conditions that make practice difficult, the ten factors that must be present for practice, the three types of motivation for practice. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 2.
Buddha nature, part 2: What makes it possible for the heart/mind to grow quiet? What makes it possible for me to know?; the five types of potential (families); interpreting the mythic; transformation of motivation; the process of spiritual maturation; Q & A. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 1.
Buddha nature, part 1: What is the question for which Buddha nature is the answer?; what is Buddha nature; Buddha nature is not a thing; difference between knowing and understanding; Buddha nature and emptiness; why it is possible to awaken; exploring potential and motivation; questions and answers. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa, commentary on Chapter 1.
Life as experience: Uchiyama’s “How to Cook Your Life” as a commentary on the four immeasurables; equanimity through seeing life as no more and no less than what we experience; building capacity to relate to life in ways that end suffering (without afflictive reactions); experiencing completely can be painful but not disturbing; joy.
Trusting the Unknown: Clarifying your questions; trusting the unknown; three vows: individual freedom, bodhisattva,Vajrayana; dealing with difficult emotions; experiencing resistance.
Emotion in Practice: Working with emotional energy in practice; not seeking to eliminate emotion; faith and devotion; removing emotions from practice limits engagement in experience.
Obstacles in the Body: Answering questions on thoughts and “subconscious gossip”; mantras; taking and sending; obstacles in the body from experiences we were unable or unwilling to fully experience; Dzogchen and Mahamudra; dakinis; groundlessness.
Welcoming Reactive Emotions: Meditating when in pain; distinction between being stretched and being stressed; key is not hardening against experience; overuse of the terms “samadhi” and “mindfulness”; working with reactive emotions by welcoming them; Rumis’ poem “A Guest House”; bodhichitta; practice intensely with little fanfare.
Faith: Responding to questions on longing and desire; faith and refuge; vajrayana vows; Mahamudra instructions :“no placing, no reference, no missing the point” and “no distraction, no control, no working at anything;” ending wars; martial imagery; Tao Te Ching and groundlessness.
Engaging Reactive Emotions: Major traditional metaphors in Buddhism include war and farming; sometimes more useful metaphors are space, weather and evolution; courage and faith needed to engage reactive emotions with loving-kindness; combining tenderness and effort.
Understanding and applying texts: Mahamudra, translation, and how to read texts like Tilopa’s Ganges Mahamudra; the metaphor of space; relating to thoughts and other “movements of mind” in mahamudra; looking in a different way and resting in the looking; the three kayas.
Continued discussion of text: Continued discussion of “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good;” ordinary mind; danger of dullness; when goal-seeking arises, return to the body; why texts were deliberately hidden.
Commentary on text, practice concerns: Commentary on “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good;” resting deeply; practices such as primary practice and four immeasurables to transform energy and deepen resting; natural awareness taking expression as compassion; working with comparing mind by coming back to body.
Four pitfalls of Mahamudra: making an object out of experience; thinking you can make thoughts or experience empty; thinking that naming things is enough; “buy now, pay later” — practicing to get enlightened.
Sky gazing and other practices: Practice of sky gazing; working with intense experiences; the five step practice (from the Anapanasati sutra); imagining experience at a distance — and reeling it in slowly — to attenuate painful intensity; taking and sending as a way of forming relationships with alienated aspects of ourselves; more on the three kayas.
Teaching as a role, not an identity: Teaching as a role, not an identity; creating learning situations and deep listening; giving away positive virtues such as trust, generosity, etc.; distinguishing information and knowledge; learning how to learn; transmission; teaching as a shared aim relationship.
Mind killing and reactive patterns: Recognizing and countering four forms of “mind killing” in which reactive patterns are used to induce us to act against our own interests; idol of the cave: attempts to replace our experience with others’ goals; idol of the marketplace: language is used to mislead us; idol of the theater: theories or philosophies are used to overwhelm us; idol of the tribe: more cohesion is assumed than actually exists.
Ending Reactivity: Modern shift in religions from transcendence toward embracing the human condition; ending reactivity so we can experience whatever arises; living with uncertainty using the four steps of standing up; acting without categories.
Movement of Mind: Practice questions: discussion of the evolution and iterative nature of the five step practice; experiencing “the mess” rather than attempting to name what arises; thought, sensation and emotion are all forms of movement in mind; notice the movement.
Conclusion: Middle way as holding both extremes in attention at the same time or “How can I experience this and be at peace at the same time?”; discussion of “Vajra Song Recognizing Mind as Guru;” spiritual path as individual exploration; learning from mistakes; letting go of inner holding; look at life as the field of practice; notice space in which experience arises.
Four Principles of Practice: Learning to be nobody; allowing a space for problems to resolve; answers to questions regarding compassion and taking and sending; being present in difficulty; developing capacity to be present and open to pain, negativity, even criminality; discussion of different kinds of offerings.
Progress: Middle way as holding both extremes in attention at the same time or “How can I experience this and be at peace at the same time?”; discussion of “Vajra Song Recognizing Mind as Guru;” spiritual path as individual exploration; learning from mistakes; letting go of inner holding; look at life as the field of practice; notice space in which experience arises.
Protector Principle: Point of practice; paramitas; being without reference; discussion of protector principle and the relationship of protector principle to protector rituals; transmission rituals; longing can easily degenerate into greed; further discussion of “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good.”
Rely on the Principal Witness: Learning to sit in the mess; discussion of the mind-training principle: “Rely on the principal witness;” avoiding institutional mindsets; path as a process of growth; importance of sangha; more discussion of “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good.”
Practice of Power: Speaking from direct experience as a practice of power; the importance of developing power is often ignored both in our society and in traditional Buddhist practice; shamatha is main practice for developing power; explanation of prayer “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-present Good;” investigate why you are here; look at mind, heart, body, intellect, emotions and intuitions, and open to all the answers that arise.
Four Principles of Practice: Understanding the rhythm of practice; with attention, peace and openness eventually arise; “Look in the resting, rest in the looking.”; summary of Ken’s approach in four principles: everything is evolving, evolution isn’t toward anything, actions have consequences, and we can’t know all of the consequences; approach life without expectation, recognize both mystery and significance in what occurs, and see what happens as part of a process.
Idealism and Ideology: Letting go of idealism; danger to spiritual life from institutional mindsets; counteracting with compassion; walking meditation instruction; being no one in a position of leadership; creating conditions that allow others to do what’s needed; discussion of ten methods of mind-killing and how they corrupt practice.
Refreshing the Mind: Advice regarding thoughts of life after retreat; importance of the four reminders: precious human existence, death and impermanence, karma and samsara; why traditionally loving-kindness practice is not to be directed at a child; primary practice; what is Mahamudra?; refreshing the mind through resting.; devotion as means of transforming energy; explanation of the guru yoga prayer, “The Magic of Faith: A Teacher Practice with Niguma.”
The Four Ways of Working and Relationships: The effect of eye gaze in meditation; four ways of working: power (based on coercion, demands), ecstasy (connection through opening), insight (seeing into things) and compassion (being present with another’s pain or when another is in pain); which operate in our close relationships?; three bases of relationship: mutual benefit, shared aim and emotional connection.
Pith Instructions : Increasing our relationship to emotional material through practices of loving-kindness, compassion and devotion; awareness of body is key; Mahamudra pith instructions; “body like a mountain, breath like the wind, mind like the sky; heart and mind not distinct; difference between method and result; developing capacity by stopping before attention dissipates; relationship of Mahamudra to primary practice.
Finding Balance: Three types of practices: practices of presence, of purification, and of energy transformation; relationship between primary practice and the rest of life; how to live in a way that supports spiritual practice; guidance from others is not absolute; train to recognize imbalance and move in the direction of balance; patterns create imbalance; bodhisattva vow — an aspect is never to indulge our own confusion; open to everything all of the time.
Shame and the Four Powers: Skipping steps in the primary practice suggests ignoring or suppressing; ascent and descent; three types of shame: shame from acting inconsistently, shame from violating social norms, shame from compromising personal ideals; how do we come to terms with shame and all experiences?; four powers: regret, reliance, remedy and resolve; the impact of practice on relationships.
Primary Practice: Instructions for primary practice; primary practice: how to come into experience as it arises right now; being in the experience, as opposed to observing experience; relationship to shamatha and vipassana.
Part 2: What generates the problem? Confusion about money points to confusion about what we value in our lives; when you see things in terms of money, you are inevitably in one of the six realms; guided meditations: survival, getting emotional needs met, and self-image; intention versus self-image; valuing what can be taken away places life in other people’s hands.
Part 3: Possible directions towards a solution. The world of shared experience and the world we actually experience; money exists in the world of shared experience and of materialism; definition of materialism; comparison of the bases of life in world of materialism and world of well-being; comparison of spiritual ideal and being fully alive; Questions: What would you do with your life if you knew you would die in one year? If you were free from trying to get your emotional needs met? If you weren’t concerned with being somebody?
Part 4: Theoretical and practical concepts of what might be done. Traditional Buddhist method of The Noble Eightfold Path; footnote on the word “right”; four bases of success – curiosity, persistence or enthusiasm, understanding of genesis and conditions, creativity in framing questions; seven steps of manifestation; Questions: What am I going to do next week? Next month? Next year?
Where Do You Go Now?: An exercise on understanding the distinction between what you actually want and what you’re asking for; particpants’ reaction to exercise; how relating directly to experience through awareness leads to being more awake and alive; What do I stand for?; attend, intend and commit
What Do You Do Now?: How to attend: gathering information (internal and external), check for balance; How to intend: get a symbol, generate possibilities; How to commit: take action (even a small action), keep cycling, watch signs, stay in touch with body and feelings, think evolution; participants’ comments; reminder to stay in your own experience.
Four Foundations For Success: Interest in understanding things; persistence that continues after exploration; close attention to genesis and causation (and the difference between the two); creativity in framing questions (and reversing the six forms of mind-killing as a way to develop them)
Taking practice into our lives: Questions from class participants including, What can I do about being bored while being in my experience?, What is the difference between ‘dwell on the present’ and ‘being in the present’?, What is meant by ‘conjure and multiply’ in the text?; creating the conditions for practice’; engaging in life’s activities as a way to enhance practice; becoming an ongoing response to what is arising; willingness, know-how, and capacity; the stages of Mahamudra practice.
The Ruler Of The Universe: Mahamudra – a way to experience things as they are; the world of actual experience and the world of projection; The Ruler of The Universe; the value of accumulating ability and experience; being completely in the experience of what arises; pointing out instructions for the union of resting and seeing; questions from class participants.
Recognizing awareness: Questions from participants including: Is there an absolute?, What to believe in?, What is meant by ‘the single mind is the seed of everything’?, What is meant by ‘don’t dwell on the present’?; how we stop experiencing the way things are; lack of capacity vs. lack of understanding; practicing to build capacity; additional questions from participants; the eight ways we stray from mind nature
Supporting Practice In Daily Life: Comments and questions from class participants; practicing during formal meditation and during ensuing activities; resting in, and stabilizing, shifts in attention; using thoughts and experiences to develop wakefulness; three ways of resting that maintain wakefulness; creating conditions so you can relax from the inside out; leaving your mind as it is naturally; the knowing which knows without identifying; questions on the text.
Practice: A story about meeting the spiritual path; review of practice experiences from the previous week; three necessary qualities: capacity, know-how, willingness; understanding v. knowledge; incorporating practice into all areas of life; practice is primarily about developing capacity; two capacities — resting and looking; developing the capacity for looking; investigation of the nature of mind is a response to the question “What am I?”; investigation of the nature of thought and sensation is a response to the question “What is life?”; life as sensations, feelings, and thoughts; the worlds of shared experience and actual experience; mind (awareness, what I am) cannot be separated from thought and sensation (experience, what is life); meditation instruction for the upcoming week; questions from class participants.
A talk on the life of the great Tibetan yogi, Khyungpo Naljor, an important figure in the Shangpa Lineage.
A talk on the life of the great Indian yogini, Sukhasiddhi, an important figure in the Shangpa Lineage.
Compassion: Wisdom; meditation: observing what changes when we rest and relax with a problematic experience; experiencing what is actually arising and being at peace at the same time; spiritual opening as memory, idea, belief; beliefs vs ideology; compassion; emptiness as the means to compassion; compassion and ideology.
Worship: Fascination with tools we develop in practice; skandha map; human tendency to worship; honor and appreciation toward those who show us something valuable; discussion of Pure Lands; falling into worship, moving into projection and away from living awake.
What Am I Searching For?: Meditation on “What am I searching for?”; resting in the full experience of this question; meditation: “I practice in order to be at peace with the world.” ; samsara as the chaotic process of moving among different ways of experiencing different worlds; “I” as a narrative that is constructed in order to give a semblance of rational consistency to this chaotic process.
How Experience Is Possible: What is a sutra; nature of student-teacher relationship; history of Heart Sutra; taking apart established ways of interpreting life; different maps for different notions of self: 5 skandas, 12 sense fields, 18 elements, 12 links of interdependent origination, 4 noble truths, time.
Experiencing Completely: How to read a sutra; form is emptiness, emptiness is form; world of shared experience vs world of actual experience; form as experience vs emptiness as the space in which experience arises; the value of nothing; “I” as an experience; rest, trusting the perfection of wisdom; no where to go; being at peace.
Application of The Perfection of Wisdom: Resting and looking; application: be completely in your experience at all times, the black box approach to relationships and practicing the middle way; take your life into your practice.
Conclusion Download Verses 22-end: review of last week’s meditation instruction; two qualities of mahamudra: resting and precipitating shift; experience without struggle; pitfalls of emptiness; aspiration vs ambition; cutting the root of mind; mind without beginning; transforming energy into attention; importance of faith.
Nothing To Save Us: Verses 15-21; participant’s response to last week’s question: what’s the use of non-referential experience?; find your own motivation; view, practice, behaviour, result; absolutely nothing to save us; actionless action; experiencing the pain of letting go of the conventional way of seeing the world; defining ourselves as what we oppose; recognizing sheer clarity; meditation instruction: in addition to first two steps add open your heart to everything you experience and ask the question – what experiences?
Non-referential Experience: Verses 10-14; feeling tones; effort in primary practice; increasing capacity; where is mind?; mind without reference and its use in day to day life; wanting prevents opening; no wandering, no control, no working at anything; the light of the teaching; rebirth in samaras; energy of teacher; question: what’s the use of non-referential experience?
Know Your Experience: Verses 1-9; being in vs watching our experience; opening to all of us; nothing to attain; meaning of “ mugu”; looking into space; looking into thoughts; sheer clarity of mind; content of experience vs experience; look in the resting, rest in the looking; meditation instruction: rest in breathing, open to sensory experience, open to thoughts and feelings.
Loving-kindness: Participants' experience with loving-kindness meditation including opening to what arises; doesn't wishing oneself to be happy actually separate you from certain experiences; is it unrealistic to think of the world wishing you happiness and peace; how this meditation impacts life off the cushion; is there a specific order to the immeasurables; how to work with fear; what is meant by 'opening' to experience; the purpose of practice and its effect on one's life; is our natural state to be open or closed to what arises. Commentary on decay and corruption in the four immeasurables; meditation instruction for compassion.
Compassion, part 1: Participants' experience with compassion meditation and related reading including experiences with heartbreak and movement of energy; being present in the suffering of others; are goals useful in practice; intention and results; compassion and boundaries; what is meant by 'the open space of no response'; what is meant by 'non-residing'; working with the line 'May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain'; the satisfaction of despising. Commentary on adolescence striving and parental mind; meditation instruction for compassion.
Equanimity: Reading assignments for class; participants' experience with equanimity meditation including preference and prejudice towards one's self; willingness, know-how and capacity in applying the immeasurable; reaction to 'experiencing the world knowing me just as I am'; judgement versus discernment; sitting in experience versus deduction and analysis. Commentary on the two types of experience: social/shared experience and individual/actual experience; being complete in the world of individual experience; how equanimity arises naturally in the world of individual experience; questions from participants on the two worlds of experience; meditation instruction for loving kindness.
Compassion, part 2: Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: Should we say the verses used in these meditations aloud or to ourselves?; Does the line in the compassion meditation, ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’, impose an unrealistic ideal upon the world?; difficulty in extending these verses to include others; the relationship between compassion, despair, and joy; What are you opening to when being compassionate towards others?; How does one find the balance between justice and compassion Commentary on social and adult expressions of the four immeasurables and spiritual longings passage from the reading assignment; meditation instruction for joy.
Joy: Participants' comments and questions on compassion meditation including: joy, passion, excitement, and fun; what is meant by the line "May I experience the world celebrating my efforts"; sympathetic joy; is "the world celebrating my efforts" a form of external validation; how impermanence may appear to contradict cause and effect; how can I "enjoy the activities of life itself" when life becomes sticky; what does one do if you can see a situation clearly but may not have the capacity to act as the situation demands. Commentary on energy transformation passage from the reading assignment; what participants got from the class; where to go from here.
Last Four Elements: Review of main points from first talk; two practical frameworks for implementing right action; right livelihood is to bring attention to how you provide for life; livelihood in terms of how we interact with others around earning our living; economies based on consumption vs economies based on intention; right effort is to bring attention to how we are making an effort; four dimensions of capacity; right attention, or mindfulness, is to bring attention to how we are direct attention; right absorption or samadhi is to bring attention to how we rest in attention.
Practices 31, 32, 33, 34: Translation Questions: In some prayers there is a request to ‘give me the energy to let confusion subside on its own.’ Doesn’t this contradict the line to ‘constantly go into your own confusion?’ (verse 31). Reflection Questions: What does it mean “not to say anything about the imperfections of others on the path”? What should you do about the harmful actions of others? (verse 32), What does it mean to let go of any investment in our families and circles of support? (verse 33), Isn’t it sometimes necessary to speak in a way that upsets others? (verse 34). Comments from students on what it was like to put these verses into practice. Reminder not to view these verses as dictums on how to behave but rather to weigh them against your own experience and see if they offer a beneficial approach.
Part 12a: Translation Questions: What are the three spheres? (verse 37). Reflection Questions: In previous classes, you have said not to fight experience. Why then are we being instructed to “crush reactive emotions”? (verse 35), How do you ‘go into the experience’ during daily activities and still function? How does practice 36 differ from being in a constant state of mahamudra? Exactly how do you direct the goodness you generate from the practices to awakening? [embed]http://audio.unfetteredmind.org/podcast/37P%2012a.mp3[/embed]Part 12b: Reflection Questions (continued): Are the 37 practices a description or a set of instructions? How does knowing what is happening in your own mind or own experience help others? (verse 36). Comments from students on what it was like to meditate on these practices and put them into action in daily life. (Note: There is a gap in the recording at this point due to technical difficulties.) Comments on the closing four verses and preparation for taking the Bodhisattva Vow.
Part 10a - Practices 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30: Reflection Questions: What makes the ‘six perfections’ perfections? In other words, what makes a generous act the perfection of generosity? (verses 25 – 30), How can you explain something without using an explanation? (verses 25 – 30), Is the order of the six perfections important? (verses 25 – 30), What quality permeates the perfections? (verses 25 – 30) Part 10b - Practices 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 (continued): Reflection Questions: What does it mean to be ‘completely free of irritation or resentment’? (verse 27), What does it mean to ‘pour your energy into practice’? (verse 28), [Note: Due to technical difficulties, there is gap at this point in the recording.] What do insight, stillness, and stability refer to? (verse 29), What does it mean to be “free of the three domains”? (verse 30). Comments on the Bodhisattva Vow including the vow as intention, the vow as will, commitments at the level of intention and commitments at the level of will.
Practices 22, 23, 24: Reflection Questions: If the perspective of subject-object isn’t real and we aren’t to take things we enjoy or things that cause suffering as real, then what is real? (verses 22 – 24) Why does it seem easier to do taking and sending with attraction instead of aversion? (verses 23, 24). This is followed by a discussion and hands-on example of how the mind is like a mirror, the fallacy of subject-object perspectives, and the nature of reality. Note: The discussion of the first question is joined in progress.
Part 8a - Practices 20, 21, 22: Translation Questions: If the opponent inside is one’s own anger, what is the opponent outside? (verse 20) Why is the word “subdue” used if we aren’t suppose to fight our experience? (verse 20) What do you mean by “subject-object fixation”? (verse 22) What is meant by the word “experience” in ‘whatever arises in experience is your own mind’? (verse 22) What is meant by the word “object” in ‘any object that you attach to, right away, let it go’? (verse 21) When subduing anger, why are loving kindness and compassion recommended instead of patience? (verse 20) Does the word “fixation” in ‘subject-object fixation’ mean a hardening around the idea of self and other? (verse 22) [embed]http://audio.unfetteredmind.org/podcast/37P%2008a.mp3[/embed]Part 8b - Practices 20, 21, 22 (continued): Reflection Questions: What are some ways of working with anger? (verse 20), Is anger always a reactive pattern? (verse 20), Isn’t there such a thing as righteous anger? (verse 20), What is vajra anger and how does it apply here? (verse 20), How do you let go of something you desire? (verse 21), Doesn’t letting go of desire seem joyless? (verse 21)
Part 7a - Practices 18, 19: Reflection Questions: Why is existence described as magnificent? (verse 19), How can I achieve balance between the two extremes described in these verses? (verses 18 & 19), How does taking and sending work? (verse 18) Part 7b - Practices 18, 19 (continued): Reflection Questions, continued: Verse 19 doesn’t seem directly related to taking and sending. What is the intention behind it? Why does giving things away through taking and sending feel better than regarding them as an empty experience? (verse 18), How can I maintain sufficient attention and awareness to do these practices so my patterns finally dissipate?
Part 6a - Practices 14, 15, 16, 17: Reflection Questions: In what circumstances is violence appropriate or warranted? (practice 13, follow-up from previous session), You say “this approach works”, but what does that mean? Does it resolve situations? (practices 14 – 17), How does “experiencing what arises” end suffering? Part 6b - Practices 14, 15, 16, 17 (continued): Reflection Questions, continued: What do you have to do to actually do this? (practices 14 – 17), How can you prevent ‘coming into awareness’ from becoming just another concept?, How do these practices compare with the Christian teaching of turning the other cheek? Understanding the intention of these practices (practices 14 – 17), How are we supposed to lavish our worst enemy with love when that runs so counter to what society does? (practice 14)
Part 5a - Practices 11, 12, 13: Translation Questions: ‘driven by desperate want’ (practice 12), ‘wanting your own happiness’ (practice 11), ‘exchange completely your happiness for the suffering of others’ (practice 11). Reflection Questions: What is this ‘I’ that wants to be happy? (practice 11). Note: Due to technical difficulties this recording contains a few brief sections that have electronic static which couldn’t be corrected. Part 5b - Practices 11, 12, 13 (continued): Reflection Questions, continued: Are desire and want okay so long as one doesn’t cling to the results? (practice 11), What, if any, are appropriate boundaries in interactions with people? (practices 12 and 13), What is compassion when dealing with a thief? (practice 12), But don’t you ultimately need to be happy or have a sense of well-being? (practice 11) What is the appropriate response when you are falsely accused? (practice 13) Note: Due to technical difficulties this recording contains a few brief sections that have electronic static which couldn’t be corrected.
Translation Questions: ‘awakening mind’ (practice 10), Are spaciousness and wisdom synonymous with emptiness? Reflection Questions: Does ‘even if your life is at risk, don’t engage in destructive actions’ mean exactly that? (practice 8), What determines the morality of an action? (practice 8), What is the resistance to dying to reactive behavior? (practice 8). Reflection Questions, continued: What if you engage in a destructive action? (practice 8), How do you deal with a sense of rebellion about being told hold to behave? (practice 8), How do you avoid hardening to experience?, What is meant by ‘this highest level of freedom is one that never changes’? (practice 9), What arises when you reflect on ‘if they are still suffering, how can you be happy?’ (practice 10).
Practices 4, 5, 6, and 7: Translation Questions: ‘forget the conventional concerns’ (practice 4) and ‘ordinary gods’ (practice 7). Reflection Questions: What is a relationship, actually? (practices 4 and 5), How do we construct a world out of thoughts, feelings, and sensations? What is the relationship between teacher and student? (practice 6), What does ‘give up bad friends’ mean? How do you work with negativity? (practice 5), What does it mean to take refuge? (practice 7). Meditation Questions: How do you work with this material in your own practice? Buddhist ethics as a description of awakened behavior vs. a prescription for how you should behave.
Practices 2 and 3: Questions on previous session’s content including importance of sequence in lists, how to approach a mythic cosmology in a rational culture, translation points around “spiritual heir”, comments on leaving your homeland (practice 2) including the three levels of meaning (inner, outer, and secret), the need to take action, two levels of ignorance, three poisons, and the six realms; comments relying on silence (practice 3) including what it means not to engage disturbances or distractions, relationship between clear vivid awareness and confidence.
The three important things: Impermanence, Compassion, and Faith
The difference between justice and vengeance, how to act.
Exploring the depth of intereactions between teacher and student when conducted in a western consultent-client setting.
Meditation as a way to build abilities, the fundamentals of meditation practice.
That which matters most: A story on loosing the vocabulary with which to talk with your friends about the things that are most important to you.
Working with emotions: How do I let go of guilt from bad decisions? Is there really such a thing as morality?
What's going to happen to you if you don't accept the concept of reincarnation? Karma isn't cause and effect. Why burden yourself with extra beliefs?
Given the impermanence of everything, who am I? Don't worry about it. Live according to what is really important to you.
How to meet what arises in experience Download Discussion on parents and children, how we as individuals come to know the the four immeasurables in our lives and how it relates to meeting what arises.
What differences are there between the various meditation practices and traditions?
What is the process for finding a path and finding a teacher?
The five-step mindfulness practice: Emotion, reaction, calm, ease, understanding
The different types of relationships, the importance of balance, how relationships can evolve, recognizing shifts.
What role do negative emotions play? Is it a sign to take action in some way?
Is there a difference between observing the breath and resting in the breath?
How do I stop doing during meditation?
Is it helpful to have many different practices?
Is it helpful to label or identify distractions during practice?
How do I deal with difficulties and distractions when starting a meditation practice?
How to bring meditation into daily life? How can I respond rather than react?
Shamatha and cultivating a basis of attention.
Be completely in your experience at all times. From Heart Sutra Workshop 4
A brief discussion on reincarnation from Death: Friend or Foe 7, questions on if one can have a serious practice without believing in reincarnation, karma and rebirth, and what reincarnates if there is no self.
Comments and questions on compassion meditation including: Should we say the verses used in these meditations aloud or to ourselves?; Does the line in the compassion meditation, 'May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain', impose an unrealistic ideal upon the world?; difficulty in extending these verses to include others.
A guided meditation on “Who am I?” (excerpt from from Who Am I? 2) questions on who/what wakes up, the experience of being no thing, and if ultimately there is anything to know.
What is meant by 'form is emptiness, emptiness is form.'
Faith and belief, the three important things: impermanence/change, compassion and faith, opening to doubt.
Viewing mythic descriptions of the outer world as descriptions of internal processes; meditating on death as a means to detach from social conditioning.
A discussion on who experiences the experience, questions on physical disturbances and learning from experiences.
How the four immeasurables differ from other emotions including their power to transform ordinary experience into presence.
The importance of keeping intention and letting go of practicing perfectly, questions on shamatha, cultivating attention for those who are not able to keep a regular sitting practice, and life out of balance.
How devotion reveals internal material, the difference between faith and belief, the three types of faith and how they transform the three poisons.
A guided meditation on what happens when you die, questions on dream yoga and treating all experience as a dream.
Questions on working with emotions as they arise, resistance to practice, nightmares, and fear of dying.
Questions on the basis of Buddhist ethics, service as expressed in the bodhisattva vow, and can someone have a serious meditation practice, yet not necessarily experience significant change in his life.
A meditation on compassion leads to a discussion on heartbreak, the movement of energy, and being present in the suffering of others.
In the Heart Sutra, at a gathering of bodhisattvas and monastics, Buddha is said to enter an absorption call Profound Radiance. This excerpt from UM's Heart Sutra Workshop series describes Profound Radiance, has a brief guided meditation which provides an experiential understanding of the absorption, and identifies three of the things you'll need to make it possible.
How attention causes one to focus and create results; lack of willingness, know-how, and capacity as a framework for understanding what prevents things from happening.
Demystifying ideas around karma, questions on whether karma from previous lives impact this life, karma and the death of children, and is there such a thing as burning off bad karma.
You know that you are aware and you are going to die. How do you live holding that knowledge?
A discussion on Mahamudra, questions on the differences between mahamudra and dzogchen, what aspects of the Kadampa teaching should be joined with the mahamudra practices, practicing either dzogchen/mahamudra or vipassana, or both.
Group contemplation: “I can’t know what this experience called life is -- and I can’t know what follows it. So how do I live this life?” If tears are allowed in the zendo, why not laughter?
Value of contemplating death and impermanence; accept change and not hold on to what’s time has passed; sit in the whole mess.
Origins of Chö from the Diamond Sutra; Machik Labdron and Padampa Sangye; definition of Chö as creating difficult experiences and developing the ability to experience them completely
Function of Buddhist ethics, descriptive v. prescriptive, importance of ethics.
Questions on the relationship between idealism and pragmatism, vegetarianism, and monastic life.
The Eightfold Path as a description of a way of living, but usually interpreted as a prescription for practice; confusion of descriptions of results with means of practice and problems that arise.
How do you practice right speech? As you speak, listen to the sound of your own voice as if you were listening to another person . . .
One of the things that I’ve come to appreciate is any time that you’re interested in living really really purely you’re basically motivated by anger. So this hardly falls in the category of right livelihood. Your very approach to living is reinforcing the anger that drives a lot of the quest for purity.
What the bodhisattva vow is saying is, you don’t indulge your own confusion.
A talk on buddha, dharma, and sangha.