Category: Audio Dharma (page 1 of 12)

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. 

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

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.

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

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.

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

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.

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

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 accesstoinsight.org:

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

07/20/17 “Engaging the Five Aggregates – Part 2” with Dennis Warren

The Arising Of Wisdom Through Engaging “The Five Aggregates” – Part 2

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 experiences, supported by the underlying psychology outlined by the historical Buddha.
This is the second in a series of interlocking talks about the arising of Wisdom (Insight). The first talk focused on the dilemma of suffering thru clinging (becoming attached) to, then identifying with five separate, but tightly related features of human experience – form, feeling, perception, volitional or mental formations (deeply embedded habits of mind) and consciousness. It’s helpful to review the first talk in this series.

For those who are using the book In The Buddha’s Words – An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Cannon, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi as a reference, you can read the following: VII. The Path To Liberation – Introduction, pages 301-309, and the sutta at pages 335 to 337. In the alternative, follow these links to see Samyutta Nikaya 22, The Connected Discourses on the Aggregates, 56 (on https://suttacentral.net/):

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

07/13/2017 “Approaching the Dhamma” with Rich Howard

In the Buddha’s Words: Approaching the Dhamma

“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?

Dennis, Diane, and Rich have chosen a book called “In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon” edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, 2005) as the theme for presentations at SIM through the end of this year. This evening, we will explore Chapter III, Approaching the Dhamma. As a starting point, Rich leads a discussion of the Buddha’s teaching to the Kalamas (AN 3:65), including Bhikkhu Bodhi’s point of view on the message of this sutta.

To prepare for this evening, folks read the first half of the Introduction to Chapter III (pages 81-85, first paragraph), and texts III,1 and III,2 (pages 88-91). If you do not have this book, here are some alternative citations from accesstoinsight.org:

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

07/06/2017 “A Fortunate Rebirth” with Diane Wilde

A Fortunate Rebirth… A talk and discussion on what rebirth means, both in the future and in this lifetime, with Diane Wilde.

Raphael Calix will share his own story of rebirth as a former “lifer” in prison and the changes that came with his mediation practice.
Diane Wilde will lead a Dharma talk/discussion on rebirth, both from the orthodox viewpoint, as stated in the Pali Cannon, and as the rebirth of our authentic selves when we courageously look at our lives. We will discuss the importance of recognizing what is “kusala” (skillful) and what is “akusala” (unskillful) karma, and the importance of investigating our lives on and off the cushion.

Raphael Calix has been invited to share his own story. Raphael was an inmate at San Quentin prison until January 2017. As a “lifer,” he was told he would never be released. He created his own akusala karma as a young man, and yet found “freedom” with his mediation practice while incarcerated. As he pursued meditation and daily mindfulness practice, he began courageously facing the harm he caused others, as well as his own self-hatred. His story is a profound statement on the changes that can take place when each of us we are able to investigate ourselves with “scales falling from our eyes.”
If you are so inclined, please read pages 145 – through the first paragraph on page 147 In Bikkhu Bodhi’s book “In the Buddha’s Own Words”; the chapter on “The Way to a Fortunate Rebirth.” Please read the first sutta, “The Law of Karma” on page 155-156.

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

06/29/2017 “Engaging the Five Aggregates” with Dennis Warren

THE ARISING OF WISDOM THROUGH ENGAGING “THE FIVE AGGREGATES”

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 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). The first talk will focus on the dilemma of suffering thru clinging (becoming attached) to, then identifying with five separate, but tightly related features of human experience – form, feeling, perception, volitional or mental formations (deeply embedded habits of mind) and consciousness.

The notion of “The Five Aggregates” is a fundamental aspect of Buddhist practice which can easily seem like theory or philosophy – but it is anything but conceptual thinking. During this evening, we’ll explore how this aspect of practice can become a real and tangible gateway into understanding attachment, identification and suffering.

For those who are using the book 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 the sutta at pages 335 to 337.

In the alternative, follow these links to see Samyutta Nikaya 22, The Connected Discourses on the Aggregates, 56 (on https://suttacentral.net/):

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

To listen to Part 2 of this talk series, click here.

06/15/2017 “In the Buddha’s Words: Introducing Our New Theme” with Rich Howard

In the Buddha’s Words: Introducing Our New Theme

As our practice matures, we may be moved to explore the suttas (discourses of the Buddha) on our own, without interpretation from someone else. After all, our tradition emphasizes direct experience. Yet it may seem difficult to know where to start. There is some repetition, both within a sutta and in thematic material repeated in various suttas. Some translations may have archaic language. The suttas are not in chronological order. And it may be difficult to find a sutta to answer a particular question arising in our practice or daily life.

For over 10 years, practitioners, including many at SIM, have found access to the suttas using a book called “In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon” edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, 2005). In addition to presenting suttas edited to be more readable, Bhikkhu Bodhi organizes the material by theme and offers an excellent introduction to each section.

Dennis, Diane, and Rich have chosen this book as the theme for at least the next 6 months of presentations at SIM. Join us this evening as we begin the exploration of this helpful, wide-ranging text.

If you would like to download this talk, please right click and select “save as” here.

Talk Handout: 20170615-BuddhasWords.pdf

If you are interested in purchasing a paperback copy of “In the Buddha’s Words.” complete the form below to contact Rich Howard. The book cost will be $11.37.

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