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Saturated with Awareness

By | 3/20/2022
As a spring-fed pond wells up with water from its cool depths,
and also receives rain from above
sent by the rain-god from time to time,
so that the rain from above and the spring water from below
mingle,
this pond will become washed through and radiant with fresh
water.

Following Dreams with Equanimity - Day 8

By | 3/20/2022
I lunched quickly and went back to my room to think through a few questions I intended to ask at 12:30 pm after the formal Q&A session open to all students was over, as I had prearranged a private meeting through the server managing the course. I headed up eagerly to the Dhamma Hall at 12:20 pm so I might get an extra minute or two with him in case he wasn’t meeting with another student and I could also catch the tail end of the official Q&A period.

Opening the Cage

By | 3/5/2022

The Rabbit's Foot: Personal Responsibility as a Step towards Liberation

By | 3/5/2022

When I was a child I believed, as did many my age, that carrying a rabbit's foot in my pocket had the power to bring me luck. I never left home without my precious lucky charm, and I would close my eyes while rubbing the fetish, hoping that my latest wish would come true. This ritual was not unlike the fervour I put into my evening prayers, kneeling with my hands folded: "God, please let me have a new pair of skates for Christmas!" or "God, please don't let my mother find out I broke her mirror!"

At some point I had to face the fact that my prayers were rarely answered, and so the rabbit's foot eventually ended its career at the bottom of a trash can along with my declaration: "That thing doesn’t work!"

My Mind

By | 3/5/2022

My mind races and rides
through its maze byzantine
as it reads the blogs and views
of people on the news.

Golden Bamboo

By | 2/20/2022

Mind Metamorphosis - Day 7

By | 2/20/2022

I reflected on all the positive benefits that I had drawn with only a week of employing the Vipassana technique and how seismically my mindset and behavioral orientation was tilting in a new and positive direction. I then started to think about what it would be like when I returned to my life as a consultant, with clients and colleagues, and with my friends and family who had all known and experienced me previously in a certain way.

A case in point—I had come to a fairly informed conclusion that I would find it easy to give up alcohol because I had discovered that my preexisting logical basis to consume it to relax the mind was flawed at its core, if I was also to believe that continuous happiness can only be achieved through a highly vigilant and equanimous mind, which runs counter to consuming substances that can overpower or numb the senses. I reckoned most of my family wouldn’t mind my resolve to abstain from drinking, but certain friends, colleagues and clients might find it more than a bit odd and potentially off-putting or anti-social in its appeal.

In Service to Circumstance

By | 2/20/2022

The Buddha's inheritance
is enlightenment's imminence 
in a lineage of eminence 
and unequaled benevolence.
The path that he represents 
is walked in full confidence 
by disciples of excellence 
beyond all comparisons.

Flying Anyway

By | 2/6/2022

Learning Trust and Connection at Pigeon's Cave

By | 2/6/2022
Driving along what could barely be called a road, a group of children and teens noticed us—some waved exuberantly; most looked astonished. The occasional motor bike, scooter, or jeep might pass through here from time-to-time, but a van filled with a dozen people from around the world was certainly a first for them. When the not-quite road came to an end, we all hopped out, excited to stretch our legs and start our walk through this exquisite valley and up the mountain side to the Pigeon’s Cave, a remote haunt that the Buddha used to retreat to from time-to-time.

Surprising Resolve - Day 6

By | 2/6/2022
I had been impressed with the teaching methods thus far: explaining theory after self-observed experimentation, progressive learning, preparing the mind for complex tasks through acceleration of mental faculties, the totally immersive nature of the program, among various other subtle aspects like the unidirectional, clock-wise garden walks to avoid eye contact with other students. This impression led me to trust that there must be some deep rationale for surprising us with having to make a determination to achieve a fairly audacious and seemingly impossible goal. If I had known something like this would be expected of us by this stage in the program, I would have built up my resolve by achieving a smaller goal like sitting in the same position for at least half an hour in previous days.

Hut by the Stream

By | 1/22/2022

An Ode to Vipassana Centres

By | 1/22/2022
It can be overwhelming to think about the unfairness of life, the complexity of its problems, the impossibility of solutions, and the ignorance, irrationality, pettiness and selfishness of humans, myself included. But it helps to remember Vipassana centers, places that do makessense. Places that seem too good to be true. Unrealistic. A system, an environment, an organization that I would never believe to be true without first-hand experience.

Webu's Meditation Hut

By | 1/22/2022

 


Dedication: I think of Webu’s sick-bed inside his dwelling, the renovated meditation hut next door that we could share. Beyond a  devotional exercise, which is present, the following explores an underlying feeling of strangeness, or perhaps it’s an unfamiliarity that doesn’t feel strange, or unpleasant to experience. It reaches into a gratitude that wants to be precisely expressed.

Observing the Flow

By | 1/14/2022

In Hot Water

By | 1/14/2022
In January 1973, at the Burmese Vihāra in the village of Bodh Gayā, Goenkaji conducted a nine-day course after his annual self-course. In those days the Vihāra consisted of a walled compound containing a main, two-story, concrete building for the few monks who resided there, workers' quarters and kitchen, a dozen or so brick-and-thatch huts, and a cowshed.

Nowhere

By | 1/14/2022

It hurts.

It hurts to confront myself.

It’s not rainbows and butterflies.

There are parts of me that I don’t want to look at…that I’ve protected…that I hide from the world and from myself.

Not Self

By | 12/30/2021
Perhaps the most central aspect of the Buddha’s teaching is insight into the absence of a permanent self anywhere in subjective experience. In addition to the philosophical perspective of denying the existence of a permanent entity, important practical dimensions are the countering of self-centered conceit and of a tendency to appropriate ideas or objects as “mine” through possessiveness and clinging. The three dimensions of the teaching on not self that emerge in this way are conveniently expressed in a standard phrase found repeatedly in the early discourses, according to which one should contemplate any aspect of subjective experience as not being “mine,” not being what “I am,” and not being a “self.”[1] Contemplating any aspect of subjective experience in this way can target craving, conceit, and mistaken views in turn.

Holding on to Nothing is Liberation

By | 12/30/2021

Pull down the blind, tune out the time. Sitting hour after hour, from 4:30 in the morning until 9:00 o'clock at night. In silence. One day, two days, three days...

I sit, get up, stretch, sit, repeat. I observe the mind, coming and going. I recognize myself running away from the inevitable. I nod off the accumulated fatigue of the previous months. I procrastinate, postponing concentration with thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. I know the process well (or so I think), and still the mind plays tricks.

The Cow: In the Absence of Rumination, What Remains is Peace.

By | 12/15/2021

Geneticists tell us that cows and humans share about 80 per cent of their genes. Two eyes, two ears, a nose, lungs, liver, a heart, etc. Moreover—because of genetics—both have something else in common: they ruminate.

The cow brings up food already swallowed to chew it again, while humans bring up long-gone events, to chew them again.

Over millennia, the cow has slowly developed this ability, which has contributed to her very survival. Grazing too long in an open meadow, in danger, she has cultivated the ability to minimally chew grass and swallow it quickly, and then regurgitate and rechew it calmly later, out of the sun and away from predators.

Biologists call this intelligence. Can we say the same about humans?


Taming the Wild Bull

By | 12/14/2021

Adhiṭṭhāna

By | 12/7/2021
Aching,
Shaking,
Backbreaking.
Tranquilly sensed but, Painstaking.


The Tree of Merits

By | 12/5/2021
By the late nineteen fifties, the Indian community in Burma was divided. There were those who were sure they saw the handwriting on the wall. Being convinced that sooner or later a socialist regime would be installed, these people reasoned

Goenkaji's Italian Messenger of Dhamma

By | 12/5/2021

DHAMMA MAHI - August 1988

The first two courses at Dhamma Mahi in Louesme, France, were conducted by Goenka and managed by Gerhard and me (Pierluigi). The courses were hosted in a big white tent where about a hundred students participated in each course. In the second course, there were approximately 30 Italian students. Probably the influence of an Italian manager with 30 Italian students gave Goenka a particular idea.

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