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By | 9/17/2022

With the fire eyes of samādhi

By | 9/17/2022

With the fire eyes of samādhi,

I feel my body on every part.

With the warm glow of anicca,

I melt the darkness from my heart.

Still Meditating in Troubled Times, Part 3 of 3

By | 9/17/2022
Today there is a burgeoning field of research called positive psychology, defining an optimal life. The most popular course ever taught at Yale University was given by the psychologist, Dr. Laurie Santos, “Psychology and the Good Life.” Half the university signed up for this one course, which had to be given by video transmission into numerous overflow halls. Its online edition has had one hundred seventy thousand people from one hundred and seventy countries enrolled. It is interesting for a Vipassana meditator to notice how much of positive psychology was already available 2500 years ago in the teaching of the Buddha. Let’s look at a few features of the Buddha’s dispensation which have now been trumpeted as important discoveries of positive psychology, and which might help us as we meditate in troubled times.

Musical Jhāna

By | 9/3/2022

Still Meditating in Troubled Times, Part 2 of 3

By | 9/3/2022
Noble Truths: We are always in danger but usually we find ways to keep this unsettling truth at bay. In the legend of the Buddha, he ran away from home to seek wisdom when he understood the pervasive reality of illness, old age, and death, the very factors that compound to make our coronavirus pandemic so powerful. We are current members of all the generations who have had to come to grips with the recognition that illness is intrinsic to existence, and can be perceived either grimly, or can be taken as a provocation to promote the kind of insightful living that life actually demands of us.

Still Meditating in Troubled Times, Part 1 of 3

By | 8/20/2022
We are all feeling the pressure bearing down on us due to the war in Europe. A Vipassana talk on any other topic might seem as if he were ignoring the elephant in the room. Because of its relevancy, the presentation below is a revision of my 2017 lecture “Meditating in Troubled Times”.

Parenting and Practicing Vipassana

By | 8/20/2022

There are two days in my life that have left a bigger impact on me than any other days: the day I learned Vipassana and the day my son was born.

When asked when one should first sit a course, Goenka answered in the mother’s womb, before birth. My son was fortunate to experience this. The course was quite late in the pregnancy, and he was already a little wild. Placing my hand on his mother’s belly, I would often feel him moving about, kicking his little legs. But during the course he calmed down completely, and it continued like that until he was born. Even after he was born, he seemed calmly aware of his surroundings, always looking around with curiosity.

3 haikus

By | 8/10/2022

Perfectly present,
In sync with a metronome—
it’s time to let go.

Cause and effect rules:
All actions are subject to
concentric circles.

A spawn of nature
thrusted into existence,
hence the momentum.

Therikā’s Meditations on a Ruined Meal

By | 8/10/2022
Consider one of the more obscure disciples of the Buddha described in the Pāli canon and its commentaries. Her name may have been Therikā, but it is impossible to be sure. A poet, she left only a single four-line verse that has survived to modern times. Yet by following several different threads in the ancient sources it may be possible to understand something of her life and accomplishments, both literary and spiritual.


By | 7/18/2022
10 days at sea, 
adrift I float,
Secure and serene in my 
Dhamma boat.

Though the waves tower high,
Though the wind does whip,
Nothing can disturb me 
In my unsinkable ship.

Mountains as Mountains, Rivers as Rivers

By | 7/18/2022
Mountains as Mountains, Rivers as Rivers

"Before I had studied the Dharma for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and rivers as rivers. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and rivers are not rivers. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and rivers once again as rivers."
― Qingyuan Weixin, 9th Century

Right Understanding

By | 7/18/2022

Right understanding has to illuminate every single part of the practice of Vipassana.

The Buddha called it sammā-diṭṭhi. In Pāli, diṭṭhi literally meant a view, or a philosophy. Then as now, there were many different kinds of philosophies in currency. But sammā-diṭṭhi, right understanding, has nothing to do any philosophy or intellectual position. Even with great devotion, an absolute and total conviction in every single word of the Buddha, will not liberate anybody. It merely becomes a belief-system like any other, and so it becomes a trap. The Buddha carefully used the word sammā meaning “right”, and sammā-diṭṭhi only becomes sammā when it is practiced. This is the critical difference, and this is what purifies the individual: the practice.

Dhamma Service

By | 6/22/2022


By | 6/22/2022
Day Zero. My hand shoots up ‘enthusiastically and emphatically’ (the centre manager’s words) when the request for an old student to sound the first gong is asked for. In the lead up, I have tried not to let thoughts roll around in my head of ’do I really want to’, or ‘will anyone else want to’. I am happy to give way — especially if another student has never gonged before. This time I am the only female volunteer. I request an additional alarm clock.

Let’s Talk About Mettā and Service

By | 6/22/2022

During a recent committee meeting at my local Dhamma center, we discussed alternative ways to encourage service because our meditation center, like many other Dhamma centers, is working through server shortages. This essay is my attempt to dive deeper into mettā and service and how they are essential for a complete practice.


By | 6/4/2022


By | 6/4/2022

This mind 

waits to enlight,

to befriend.

Simply remains still

holding close,

for a moment of awareness from within.

The Big Umbrella

By | 6/4/2022

Elaborating on the assertion that all beings seek happiness, the Buddha declared it impossible for anyone to be truly happy if he or she does not refrain from whatever harms the peace and harmony of others.

Since his teaching entered my life, I have recognized in my quest for personal happiness a social responsibility: my duty to be happy for the welfare of others. After all, no-one is interested in the hurtful things that I sometimes say about them, in enduring my blame and annoyance, in witnessing my worries and anxiety attacks, or in my insistence that things go my way.


By | 5/23/2022

The title is “Nirodha”. The seal in the upper right says: “Buddhist doctrine teaches: take all things as Impermanent and Imaginary”

Busted, Adjusted

By | 5/23/2022
In 1980, after the hot season from April to June, few Westerners remained at Dhamma Giri. And during the rainy season that followed there were fewer still. Most of the Indian servers too had departed. Goenkaji himself had gone to conduct courses in Europe and North America. During the monsoon Dhamma Giri is a magical place enswirled by leaden clouds and buffeted by pounding rain that abruptly gives way to dazzling sunlight. The parched hills turn emerald green with fresh grass and newborn waterfalls cascade off the surrounding mesas. How to dry your clothes and keep them from becoming mouldy, however, was an enduring problem.

Reflections on the Noble Eightfold Path in Practice and Daily Life, Part 4 of 4

By | 5/23/2022
The final installment of the essay on the Noble Eightfold path concerns the cluster of factors that address the cultivation of wisdom, or paññā. In the Buddha’s teaching, with a strong base of sīla, one is well-grounded to more easily tamp down the hindrances, which leads one to more easily develop strong samādhi. And with the sharpened mind, one can penetrate into the laws that govern existence, and uproot the tendency towards experiencing dukkha at the deepest level of the mind. Paññā is also called “insight.”

A Buddha for All Colours

By | 5/9/2022

Re-Awakened Reality - Day 11

By | 5/9/2022
I handed the instructions for the location over to the chosen driver and we started making our way to the destination. I closed my eyes for a few minutes in the back of the taxi and the meditation process started spontaneously despite all the sounds outside and the bright sunlight. I was delighted to note that I was able to meditate in an unusual setting like a car ride. Taxis and flights were a big part of my work week so it was comforting to know that I could meditate in such environments.

Finding Joy in the Practice of Insight

By | 5/9/2022
From the viewpoint of cultivating liberating insight, a central distinction to be made is that between avoiding the types of joy that lead to attachment while at the same time recognizing that there are commendable forms of joy. These are in particular the wholesome types of joy that come from deepening insight and learning to let go of clinging and attachments. Finding joy in such letting go can provide an important inspiration for dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to the continuity of practice and for this reason should not be underestimated.
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