Author: Sabitre (page 1 of 8)

10/05/2017 “Uposatha: Deepening Practice” with Rich Howard

Uposatha: Deepening Practice
Since the time of the historical Buddha, the days of the full moon and new moon have been special days (and nights!) for Buddhist practice. Laypeople living near a monastery might visit, bring offerings, and stay to listen to a dharma talk and meditate with the monks or nuns. If they cannot participate at a monastery, laypeople can still deepen their practice by meditating for a longer time, chanting, reading texts, or giving in a special way. This October 5 is a full moon day. We will celebrate Uposatha by having our normal sitting and break. After the break, SIM Community Mentor Rich Howard will give a brief description of the observance of Uposatha and answer any questions. We will then have an optional period of chanting, sitting, and walking meditation. We may also have another break for tea or additional sessions of chanting. You may stay as long or as short as you like; Rich will stay until midnight or until the last person has left!

There are several suttas that are specifically recommended for study on Uposatha days. Several alternative translations from Access to Insight are listed below; they are not found in “In the Buddha’s Words.”

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09/28/2017 “Not Holding to Fixed Views?” with Lori Wong

Not Holding to Fixed Views. How do we bring awareness to our views and implicit biases and open our hearts to see each other?

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Prior to the talk, Lori lead the Introduction to Meditation session. Click below to listen to the questions that she fielded after the session.

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09/21/2017 “Is Your Meditation Working?” with Diane Wilde

Is your meditation “working?”

Is the same practice suitable for everyone? How do I know if this is the right practice for me?  The important point is: Have you fallen into a practice that is no longer evaluated and has become as “habitual” as many other facets of your life. After a person has been meditating for some time, it’s important that he or she evaluate how the practice is developing. Is it working? Does it need adjustment? Is it even the right practice to be doing? Can it be improved? Some of this evaluation can be done on one’s own, some with a teacher or with friends. Join us for an important discussion.

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09/07/2017 “Which Way to the Middle Path?” with Tony Bernhard

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08/31/2017 “Spiritual Bypass – Can We Be Too Good?” with Laura Rosenthal

Contemporary Buddhist practitioners and teachers sometimes talk about “spiritual bypass.” This term is not found in classical Buddhist texts. What does it mean? How does it affect our practice, both in formal meditation and in every day life? Can we be too good for our own good? Join Laura Rosenthal for a dharma talk and group conversation about this very practical topic. 

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Labor Day cancels 12 Step Sangha

The Monday night Recovery Sangha will not be meeting on Labor Day evening, Monday September 4th.  The group has been meeting on all the other holidays, but not this one this year.

08/24/2017 “Five Spiritual Faculties” with Rich Howard

Five Spiritual Faculties

The faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom are our constant helpers on the path of awakening. They operate as a spiral rather than a straight line, deepening and supporting each other as we progress. This evening we will begin our exploration of these faculties.

Several suttas that mention the five faculties are presented in Chapter X, Planes of Realization, of “In the Buddha’s Words.” Text X,4(2) on pages 406-407 (The Trainee and the Arahant; SN 48.53) is one example; Bhikkhu Bodhi’s brief introduction to this text is in the first full paragraph on page 381. However, the introduction and texts in this chapter discuss the five faculties in the context of stages on the path to awakening. This will not be the focus of this discussion. A more useful text for our purpose of a general introduction to the Five Spiritual Faculties can be found in Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation of the Indriya-vibhanga Sutta (SN 48.10).  There is also a brief but useful essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi on the Five Spiritual Faculties.

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08/17/2017 “Karma and Rebirth – continued” with Diane Wilde

Karma and Rebirth (continued) 

Why the emphasis both in meditation and daily life on the present moment? And why is it so difficult to maintain our focus on what is happening in the present moment? Yet this is the core instruction we are continually reminded of as we navigate the Buddha’s path to awakening. The present moment is the only place where we have the liberating opportunity to create our own karma, thus creating a future of much more ease and contentment. By remaining oblivious to the present moment, we stay in delusion…continuing our habitual reactivity mentally and to the episodes in our lives which perpetuates discontent and unhappiness. We might consider that each moment we are “present” is an opportunity for rebirth… to “wake up” to our lives.

The Buddha provided a check-list of sorts which helps us focus on what is taking place. This list is the ten unwholesome actions — in thought, word, and deed — and their counterparts, the ten wholesome actions. As you read them, you may notice a category or categories in which you struggle — or have ignored — which has caused unhappiness for yourself and others. We will discuss these “wholesome and unwholesome actions” and how effectively to work with them.
In preparation for the evening’s discussion, please read “V. The Way to a Fortunate Rebirth” Chapter 2 (page 156 – 161) in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s book, “In the Buddha’s Words.”

  • To review Diane’s previous talk on this topic, click here.

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08/10/17 “The Arising of Wisdom: Experiencing ‘The Characteristic of Nonself'” with Dennis Warren

The Arising of Wisdom – Experiencing “The Characteristic of Nonself”

Wisdom (Insight), from a Buddhist perspective, arises from “hearing” (listening to the Dharma), study and reflection capped by non-conceptual direct experience. This formula involves intentionally focusing the mind and attention on a number of different and particular experiences, supported by the underlying psychology outlined by the historical Buddha.
This will be the first in a series of interlocking talks about the arising of Wisdom (Insight) by focusing on the experience of “nonself” or “notself.” Dennis’ two most recent talks on the process of suffering thru clinging (becoming attached) to, then identifying with five separate, but tightly related features of human experience commonly referred to as the “Five Aggregates” will service as a foundation for these new talks.

  • Audio from talk 20170619: The Arising Of Wisdom Through Engaging “The Five Aggregates”
  • Audio from talk 20170720: The Arising Of Wisdom Through Engaging “The Five Aggregates” – Part 2
  • Talk Handout (PDF):
    • Dalai Lama & Chodron: Short & Long Term Practice Perspectives on Emotions
    • Guy Armstrong: Foundations of Wordly Happiness vs Liberation & Piers Moore Ede: Whenever Possible, Basic Procedures Are Complicated

Please reflect on the comments of the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron about Short & Long Term Practice Perspectives On Emotions. What might this have to do with the nature of suffering associated with being and becoming, on the one hand, and the experience of nonself or notself, on the other???
For those who are using In The Buddha’s Words – An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Cannon, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi as a reference, please read the following: VII. The Path To Liberation – Introduction, pages 301-309, and suttas at pages 326 – 345.

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08/03/17 “In the Buddha’s Words: Approaching the Dhamma – Part 2” with Rich Howard

In the Buddha’s Words: Approaching the Dhamma – Part 2

(You can listen to a recording of Part 1 here: July 13th Audio Dharma post)

“It is fitting for you to be perplexed, O Kalamas.” These words spoken by the Buddha to the citizens of Kesaputta ring true for us today. How do we approach the teachings of the Buddha, when there are so many competing spiritual, philosophical, and secular teachings, so many schools of Buddhism, and so many interpretations and teachers even within our own Insight (vipassana) tradition?

This evening, we will continue our exploration of Chapter III, Approaching the Dhamma, from In the Buddha’s Words, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi. On July 13, we discussed the most familiar part of the Buddha’s teaching to the Kalamas (AN 3:65), a list of the 10 things one should not rely on to decide which teachings to follow. This time, we will look at Bhikkhu Bodhi’s point of view on the context for this first part of the Kalama Sutta. We will then move on to lesser known aspects of the sutta, including how to practice and what benefits result from the practice. If there is time, we will explore when, if ever, we might arrive at a place in our practice where we might accept teachings beyond the range of our personal experience. We will also look at the brief two paragraphs presented as the first text in this section. To prepare for this evening, please read the Introduction to Chapter III starting on page 81 through the first incomplete paragraph at the top of page 86, and texts III,1 and III,2 (pages 88-91). If you do not have the book yet, here are some alternative citations from

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