Category: Audio Dharma (page 1 of 13)

11/16/2017 “The Atthakavagga: the original seeds that gave rise to Buddhist teachings” with Diane Wilde

The Atthakavagga: the original seeds that gave rise to Buddhist teachings
“The wise person does not oppose any other person’s doctrine.”  This is one of the reflections from one of the earliest books in the Pali Cannon, the Atthakavagga. Gil Fronsdal states in his introduction to his translation of the Atthakavagga:  “Here we find the Buddhist teachings pared down to their most essential elements, free of the more complex doctrines often associated with Buddhism.” The poems and verses from this small collection reveal a pattern of teachings that are much different — in their directness and simplicity — from the later sutta collections. Verses in the Atthakavagga often have an almost koan-like quality, which often seem open to interpretation. We will discuss the exegesis of the Atthakavagga and our own interpretations of a few of its seemingly “simple” verses.

Talk handout: Dutthatthaka Sutta (.pdf)

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11/09/2017 “Two Darts: How is that working for you?” with Rich Howard

Two Darts: How is that working for you?
The last few months have presented us with a seemingly unending string of tragic events. Natural disasters, human cruelty, and events combining both have caused death and destruction around the world. As we take all this in, how is our practice serving us? The Sallatha Sutta, SN 36:6, provides some clues. Are we adding to the pain or using our mindfulness to “endure courageously, with patience and equanimity?” SIM Community Mentor Rich Howard will lead a discussion of how this well-known sutta may help us with our current challenges.
To prepare, read “In the Buddha’s Words” page 21 and section I,2(1) The Dart of Painful Feeling, pages 31-32.

Talk handout: Two Darts (.pdf)

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10/19/2017 “Death and Dying as a Teaching” with Diane Wilde

Death and Dying as a Teaching
Just like in the Buddha’s time, death is not an easy topic for people to consider.  Fear, guilt, denial, and/or sadness all come to the surface when we speak of our own death, or the deaths of those close to us.  This is exactly why the Buddha recommended that we don’t turn away, but rather make this fact of our existence, a subject of frequent reflection. Maranasati, or Mindfulness of Death is a reflection on our death and the deaths of others.  Death of course, is inevitable, and when we can to begin to view it with the same acceptance as birth, we start the process of uprooting ignorance and delusion. We will discuss how we can begin incorporating a “friendly” attitude towards death in our daily lives.

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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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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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