Fall 2010 Shamatha Retreat

Session 01: Mindfulness of Breathing in the Infirmary

15 Nov 2010

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Session 02: Intro to Loving Kindness

15 Nov 2010

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Session 03: Mindfulness of Breathing, Abdomen

15 Nov 2010

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Session 04: Expanding the Circle of Loving Kindness

15 Nov 2010

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Session 05: Mindfulness of Breathing, Apertures of the Nostrils

15 Nov 2010

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Session 06: Dreaming Big in our Loving Kindness Practice

15 Nov 2010

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Session 07: Intro to Settling the Mind in its Natural State

15 Nov 2010

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Session 08: Intro to Compassion

15 Nov 2010

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Session 09: Deepening the Practice of Settling the Mind

15 Nov 2010

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Session 10: Compassion and the Five Obscurations

15 Nov 2010

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Session 11: Settling the Mind and Scientific Inquiry

18 Nov 2010

In this session Alan gives a short explanation on the modern neurocentric view which sustains that mental events are either equal to the brain, emergent properties of the brain or mere functions of i…

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Session 12: Compassion and the Deepest Dimension of Suffering

18 Nov 2010

This evening Alan leads us into the practice of compassion by attending to the 3rd and deepest dimension of suffering and its causes, completing the process of merging wisdom and compassion. After th…

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Session 13: Intro to Awareness of Awareness

18 Nov 2010

Hello All you Lovelies out in Computerland or iPodland, This morning’s meditation technique is Awareness of Awareness. Padmasambhava, in his book Natural Liberation, calls this meditation technique…

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Session 14: Intro to Empathetic Joy

18 Nov 2010

This afternoon Alan started giving a brilliant lecture about the third of the Four Immeasurables, empathetic joy, which means taking delight from other’s joys, fortunes and virtues. He addressed that…

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Session 15: Awareness of Awareness, Taking the Fruit as the Path

18 Nov 2010

Alan’s introduction to today’s practice aimed to differentiate Awareness of Awareness from Settling the Mind in its Natural State. The culmination of any Shamatha method is the dissolution of the min…

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Session 16: Empathetic Joy, Rejoicing in Happiness and Virtue

18 Nov 2010

Alan leads a guided meditation on Empathetic Joy, the third of the Four Immeasurables. This is the practice of rejoicing in our and others’ happiness, kindness, and virtuous actions. This practice co…

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Session 17: Awareness of Awareness, An Empowering Practice

18 Nov 2010

By clearly stating “Nobody has direct access to the mind as you do” Alan speaks briefly about science and Buddhism, especially in terms of defining who we really are, where the scientific conclusions…

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Session 18: Intro to Equanimity

18 Nov 2010

At first glance, Equanimity seems anticlimactic after Loving Kindness, Compassion and Empathetic Joy. In fact, Equanimity is the culmination of the Four Immeasurables. It is an emotional state of bal…

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Session 19: Expanding our Awareness (of Awareness)

18 Nov 2010

We enter the final day of the first 10-day cycle of meditations in this retreat and the last phase of Awareness of Awareness in which we “expand our sense of our space of the mind.” The practice come…

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Session 20: Equanimity, Breaking Down the Barriers

18 Nov 2010

Breaking down the barriers to others and our preferences for some over others is the basis of the practice of equanimity. We find ourselves in the grip of our own mental afflictions unless we are abl…

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Session 21: Back to the Infirmary

18 Nov 2010

Here we go again! Alan turns the wheel of dharma from the beginning of the cycle emphasizing the great benefits of the infirmary practice and the supine position, which we can use to make a habit out…

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Session 22: Deepening Loving Kindness for Ourselves

18 Nov 2010

Loving-kindness should be saturated with wisdom, that is, knowing what’s conducive to well being. So we need to envision a conducive place to live, including partners for who you feel genuine affecti…

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Session 23: Mindfulness of Breathing (Abdominal), Cultivating Stability and the Five Powers

18 Nov 2010

This morning we were honored with the visit of Klaus Hebben, founder and director of PIA. After expressing his gratitude to him, Alan gave an explanation of bala, which literally means power. Referri…

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Session 24: Attending to Others with Loving-Kindness

18 Nov 2010

This afternoon we revisit some of the main points of Immeasurable Loving-Kindness, and also the issue of how to develop one’s practice of all Four Immeasurables in a natural way, both in and out of f…

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Session 25: The Healing Power of Mindfulness of Breathing, Apertures of the Nostrils

18 Nov 2010

Hello to All You Worldwide Sweeties, This morning, Alan returned to instructions on Mindfulness of Breathing at the nostrils. He had one word of caution. This is very important. If any pressure start…

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Session 26: Loving Kindness and Being of Greatest Benefit to Others

18 Nov 2010

Once again, Alan shared with us some very inspiring reflections about our own capacity and potential. Remembering a question from H.H. Dalai Lama: What is our deepest impulse? He answers that our dee…

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Session 27: Settling the Mind, A Thought-Provoking Practice

18 Nov 2010

Before the meditation, Alan explained to us the importance of this practice –Settling the Mind is a crucial Shamatha practice and also has qualities of Vipassana. The practice was introduced by the B…

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Session 28: Returning to Compassion, the Best Response to Suffering

18 Nov 2010

When we experience suffering there is a risk that we will respond with grief or anger. Instead Alan guides us to meditate on compassion, which is the heartfelt yearning: “May we all be free of suffer…

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Session 29: Settling the Mind and Pushing Past the Ceiling on our Shamatha Practice

18 Nov 2010

Alan begins the first session of this week by a useful explanation on the sources of suffering in Modernity and the impediments that arise in our path to bliss, luminosity and non-conceptuality. Mode…

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Session 30: Compassion in Response to the Suffering of Change, “Dukkha”

18 Nov 2010

What are the real causes of suffering and what are the catalysts? Dukkha, the suffering of change, affects everyone. Even if samsara is turning out well for you now it’s inevitable that tragedy will…

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Session 31: Settling the Mind in the Space of the Mind

18 Nov 2010

With this morning’s practice of Settling the Mind in its Natural State, we shift attention to the background of the events of the mind – the space of the mind. This space is none other than the subst…

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Session 32: Compassion, the Path that Addresses All Levels of Our Suffering

18 Nov 2010

The core sense of grasping derives from a delusion that all sentient beings share. In this session Alan explains the causes of suffering, how it arises and how it may dissolve. In his guided meditati…

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Session 33: Awareness of Awareness, Buddhist Cosmogony, Non-Dharma and Renunciation

18 Nov 2010

WoW! Alan was on a roll this morning. He went from discussing Shamatha and how to gain confidence in it (using awareness of awareness as an example), through the different ways of viewing the Univers…

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Session 34: Empathetic Joy (Mudita) and Attending to Virtue

18 Nov 2010

The third Immeasurable attends to actuality; it is not an aspiration like the first two: Loving-Kindness and Compassion. Empathetic Joy is rejoicing in the well-being of others. Isn’t that extraordin…

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Session 35: Awareness of Awareness and Responding to Fear of Annihilation

18 Nov 2010

In this session we practiced awareness of awareness. According to Padmasambhava, by doing this practice you may realize Rigpa or Pristine awareness. Alan talked about the differences between coarse i…

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Session 36: Entering the Path, A Wisdom Perspective on Empathetic Joy

18 Nov 2010

This afternoon we look at Empathetic Joy – the aspiration for all beings to never be parted from happiness and its causes – and explore what this means from a wisdom perspective. Ultimately we look a…

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Session 37: Awareness of Awareness and Alan’s Wrath toward the Neurocentric View

18 Nov 2010

Good Morning to All Human Beings, This is the third morning for Awareness of Awareness Shamatha Meditation. Alan was speaking like a wrathful deity this morning. He is wrathful about the way some sci…

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Session 38: Tending to Special Relationships in the Cultivation of Equanimity

18 Nov 2010

This afternoon Alan delighted us with his lecture. He gave us advice in how to continue practicing after one has finished a retreat and has to go back to the usual activities of daily life. He questi…

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Session 39: Awareness of Awareness, Stretching our Awareness of the Space of the Mind

18 Nov 2010

Alan’s introduction was very interesting. He explained to us that, according to the teachings of Padmasambhava, this practice is designed to go straight to the nature of the phenomena of consciousnes…

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Session 40: Equanimity, a Balanced Foundation for Practice

18 Nov 2010

Alan makes two important points about equanimity and balance. Alan’s first point is that equanimity is the balanced foundation needed to achieve Bodhicitta. Just as Shamatha provides the cognitive ba…

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Session 41: Addiction/Withdrawal, A Review of the Practices, and a Trip Back to the Infirmary

18 Nov 2010

We are starting for the 3rd time the cycle of meditations starting with the Infirmary, this wonderful practice to get grounded and enhance relaxation. In his opening 20-minute lecture, Alan talked t…

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Session 42: Loving Kindness and Going Against the Grain

18 Nov 2010

In the prelude to this afternoon’s meditation, Alan reminds us that mainstream society is in a frenzy to consume the earth. We are categorized as consumers and told to get spending to stimulate the e…

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Session 43: Synergy and Balance - Mindfulness of Breathing with Stability

18 Nov 2010

Alan discusses synergy this morning. In the “infirmary” this is experienced while one balances maintaining the initial state of clarity with deepening relaxation. With this practice alone one can dis…

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Session 44: Loving Kindness and Attending to Others with the Correct Magnification

18 Nov 2010

Alan reminds us that the practice of loving-kindness first begins with loving ourselves. As so often is the case in meditation practice, we often discover our own shortcomings rather than our assets.…

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Session 45: Mindfulness of Breathing (Apertures of the Nostrils) and Fighting the Good Fight

18 Nov 2010

This morning Alan raised the emotional issue of the warrior returning home from the front. Going down memory lane he recalled the various ways heroes have been greeted upon their return. Some were we…

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Session 46: Extending the Field of Loving Kindness

18 Nov 2010

This afternoon Alan deepens into the subject of Loving-Kindness. He cites sources from the Mettā Sutta  found in the Pali Canon; the Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification) written by Buddhaghosa ,…

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Session 47: Settling the Mind and Avoiding Reification of Appearances and Emotions

18 Nov 2010

This can be a challenging practice. In today’s approach, drawing from the teachings of the Buddha to Bahia “In the seen let it just be the seen”, we applied it to the visual field, then the auditory,…

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Session 48: Two Approaches to the Four Immeasurables and a Practice in Compassion

18 Nov 2010

This evening, as we return to the theme of Immeasurable Compassion, Alan offers an expansive and truly remarkable presentation of how the Buddhist approach to suffering runs directly against the grai…

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Session 49: A Discussion of the Elements and Settling the Mind Without Conceptual Designation

18 Nov 2010

Good Morning,
This Mediation is settling the Mind in Its Natural State.
Alan said that because he didn’t answer two questions last night he would answer them this morning.
The first question was abou…

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Session 50: Compassion Practice for the Suffering of Change and the Dissatisfying Nature of Hedonic Pleasure

18 Nov 2010

This evening Alan taught us more about the cultivation of compassion, but now going deeper, from the compassion for the blatant suffering of sentient beings to the compassion of the suffering of chan…

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Session 51: Settling the Mind in its Natural State and the Ever-Present Substrate

18 Nov 2010

Alan starts the session with an explanation of mindfulness of breathing, saying that, with time and practice, there may be a moment where you do not detect the breath anymore, and you can no longer f…

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Session 52: Compassion For Those Who Are Grasping

18 Nov 2010

Grasping the “real I” and “really mine” is at the root of suffering. How do we get rid of grasping? All of Dharma. After 8 weeks we may find that although our thoughts are still like a cascading w…

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Session 53: Keeping it Simple in our Awareness of Awareness Practice

18 Nov 2010

Awareness of awareness is “the most profound practice” according to the Buddha, and he gave us this morning very meaningful advice on how to know we’re doing it correctly.You may wonder that if you’r…

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Session 54: Empathetic joy and Achieving Greater Balance by Attending to the Good in the World

18 Nov 2010

Strong mental afflictions catch our attention. We do not notice good deeds as much as bad. This is especially true of the media. We need to make a conscious effort to have an antenna up for joy.…

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Session 55: Awareness of Awareness and Cutting Firewood

18 Nov 2010

If you want firewood, you can trim off all the leaves and branches and wait for the tree to die and fall over. OR you can cut the tree down at its base - at the root, and you have firewood now. Lik…

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Session 56: Taking Delight with Empathetic Joy

18 Nov 2010

Alan reviews for us the process of cultivating empathetic joy. It is possible to find many rewards in this practice as he explores the unfolding of empathetic joy in its three flavors: Attending to…

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Session 57: Awareness of Awareness and More on Catatonia-Inducing Materialism

18 Nov 2010

The point of awareness of awareness is NOT to prove that there’s no one who is aware because there is. Not finding any-specific-one who controls the attention and concluding that we don’t exist (and…

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Session 58: Equanimity, Karma, Free Will and Penetrating Past Appearances

18 Nov 2010

Alan explains that Equanimity is similar to the Serenity prayer:God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference…

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Session 59: Having Appropriate Expectations in our Awareness of Awareness Practice

18 Nov 2010

In this session Alan made an analogy between the practice of visualizing a Buddha image in the first stages of shamatha and the clarity we can expect to have in the first stages of the practice of aw…

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Session 60: Tonglen Suffused with Equanimity

18 Nov 2010

This evening we return to the practice of Immeasurable Equanimity, with some profound instructions drawn from Karma Chagme Rinpoche, a great Tibetan master and patriarch of the Mahamudra and Dzogchen…

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Session 61: (Discussion Only) Encouragement for Practice, Expanding Awareness, Controversial Lamas, etc.

18 Nov 2010

We started with a silent meditation with free choice on practicing one or more of the Four Immeasurables. Then Alan gave a little bit of advice and encouragement to all the meditators about dealing i…

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Session 62: (Discussion Only) What it Means to Have a GREAT Meditation

18 Nov 2010

We started with a silent meditation with free choice on practicing one of the Shamatha practices. Then Alan gave some examples of the path of Shamatha. He joked that commenting on your daily meditat…

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Session 63: (Discussion Only) Spiritual Friends, Setting a Sleep Schedule, the Suffering of Bodhisattvas, etc.

18 Nov 2010

Following a silent meditation session, Alan addressed a wide range of questions from students:Post-retreat advice regarding refuge, ethics, and the importance of spiritual friends • Can I drink one o…

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Session 64: Back to the Infirmary and the Pure Land of Tushita

18 Nov 2010

Pressure in the head and headaches are not habits we should build while meditating. Therefore, this morning, Alan gave a detailed reminder of how this should be approached: back to Infirmary. Thi…

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Session 65: Freshening Up Our Loving Kindness Practice

18 Nov 2010

Discursive meditation, because it is repetitive, can become stale. Between sessions, look for sentient beings with whom to interact, each time is a fresh interaction. Add fresh yeast to the practice…

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Session 66: Refining Mindfulness of Breathing with Stability

18 Nov 2010

“So with the man who has daily inured himself to habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will stand like a tower when everything rocks around…

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Session 67: Loving Kindness and Achieving a State of “Not Going” (Nirvana)

18 Nov 2010

Once again cultivating loving kindness through the practice of Tonglen, Alan advises to start with ourselves as we concentrate on our own merit and then move outwards to others. As we continue throu…

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Session 68: The Build-up to Mindfulness of Breathing (Apertures of the Nostrils)

18 Nov 2010

This morning Alan used the Russian-dolls imagery (the dolls that stuck within each other) as his mold. First, he applied it to our mindfulness of breathing practice. Settling the body, speech, and…

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Session 69: Loving-Kindness Practice Drawing From the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana Traditions.

18 Nov 2010

Alan starts by mentioning that within all physical and mental impermanence, what remains always constant is a person that wants to be happy, loved and smiled back to. The Bodhisattva is a friend of t…

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Session 70: Settling the Mind and Being a Student of Buddhism

18 Nov 2010

This morning we began the cycle of Settling the Mind in its Natural state following the instructions that the Buddha gave to Bahia “In the seen let just the seen be…” “In the heard let just the heard…

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Session 71: Compassion and the Possibility of Ending Suffering in this Life

19 Nov 2010

This evening we return to compassion, with a focus on how Buddhism runs against the grain of modernity in terms of its approach to suffering. We can achieve lasting and total freedom from suffering w…

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Session 72: Settling the Mind and Applying No Antidotes

19 Nov 2010

Good Morning to All Shamatha Minded Sentient Beings,This morning Alan went into more detail on settling the mind in its natural state. He opened with a quote from Dujom Rinpoche. “Whatever comes up i…

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Session 73: The Five Obscurations Applied in Education and a Practice in Compassion

19 Nov 2010

Once more Alan gave us magnificent reflections about the 5 obscurations, which are responsible for the suffering of change. On this occasion he referred to these obscurations from a universal perspec…

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Session 74: Attending to the Space of the Mind, and a Discussion of Dharmadatu and Dharmata

19 Nov 2010

In the intro, Alan explained the difference between the space of the mind with its 6 fields of experience (dharmadatu) and ultimate reality, nirvana, emptiness, absolute space of phenomena (dharmata)…

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Session 75: Compassion Practice and the Urge to Become

19 Nov 2010

The deepest level of suffering is caused by the three poisons, particularly the grasping to “I am.” While the “message of modernity” is that suffering is inescapable during life, Buddha’s message is…

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Session 76: A Clarification of Buddhist Mindfulness and Awareness of Awareness Practice

19 Nov 2010

There are some terms we shouldn’t misunderstand, because if we do, we can waste a lot of time of practice. Alan gave an explanation of such terms: mindfulness, open presence, Rigpa, according to the…

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Session 77: Empathetic Joy and Sacred Tension

19 Nov 2010

In the Theravada context, cultivating Empathetic Joy (Mudita) is cultivating an emotion. There is so much to take delight in! This will add yeast to life regardless of one’s world view. When we ge…

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Session 78: Deactivating the Coarse Mind with Awareness of Awareness

19 Nov 2010

Today we take an excursion into our experienced sense of being the observer and probe inward to investigate. The practice - awareness of awareness – deactivates the coarse mind, the mind with which w…

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Session 79: Happy Gratitude and Empathetic Joy

19 Nov 2010

Alan begins this session with an inspirational story about one of his foremost teachers, Geshe Rabten. This humble lama, who had completed years of scholarly work and consultation studies with the D…

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Session 80: Awareness of Awareness and Potentially the Last Soap Box Speech on Materialism

19 Nov 2010

This morning Alan took another stab at modern scientific reductionism – the tendency to reduce everything to an objective, solid reality, independent of an observer. He cited William James’ experien…

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Session 81: Going Outward with Equanimity

19 Nov 2010

Equanimity is understood as a sense of composure in engaging with life situations and persons as well as even heartedness. Is an attitude transformation that gives you freedom. Since you conceptuall…

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Session 82: Awareness of Awareness, Shamatha That Can Assist at the Moment of Death

19 Nov 2010

This morning we had the last guided Shamatha meditation. Alan explained how in this transient world in which all things that are born have to die, we can tap into the substrate consciousness and even…

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Session 83: Equanimity and a Great Encompassment of our Practices

19 Nov 2010

On this, the last night of led practice for this retreat, Alan first teaches on how the cultivation of shamatha and the four immeasurables are profoundly inter-related. With shamatha, we withdraw inw…

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Session 84: (Discussion Only) Some Brief Remarks on Selecting Your Shamatha Practice

19 Nov 2010

Alan offers some brief remarks on choosing which practice we’d like to engage in during these silent meditations. This is followed by an unguided 24 minute Gatika.

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Session 85: (Discussion only) The Four Immeasurables Keeping Tabs on Each Other

19 Nov 2010

This time Alan gave us advice on how to maintain protection from imbalances once we engage in daily life activities and that is becoming more and more familiar with the practices of the Four Immeasur…

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Session 86: (Discussion Only) Possible Effects of Shamatha on Cognitive Deterioration

19 Nov 2010

Alan offers some brief remarks on the 5 Dhana factors, as well some of the possible implications of Buddhist mindfulness on memory loss associated with aging. This is followed by a silent meditation.

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Session 87: (Discussion Only) Balancing Discipline and Gentleness and a Q&A Session

07 Dec 2010

In this talk, Alan encourages us to continue our practice in a spirit of loving-kindness for ourselves. He then answers questions about Arhats, colors of traditional monastic robes, and oracle to th…

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Session 88: (Discussion Only) Genuine Happiness in Everyday Life

07 Dec 2010

As we anticipate the end of retreat, Alan mentions that the effects of retreat will not be lost as we go out and engage with the world. Genuine happiness can certainly arise outside of a retreat, as…

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Session 89: (Discussion Only) Envisioning the Future You Would Love to Live

07 Dec 2010

Alan talks about envisioning something new for ourselves as we go back into situations that feel old and familiar.

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Session 90: (Discussion Only) Letting Our Minds Become Dharma

30 Dec 2010

Alan discusses bringing wholesome intentions into our daily lives as a way of letting our minds become dharma. Though we will continue to be mentally afflicted, if we can see our mental afflictions…

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Session 91: (Discussion Only) Bringing Good Motivation into Daily Life

30 Dec 2010

Alan encourages us not to be discouraged when life dishes up difficult situations, and instead to bring our best motivation to daily life.

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Session 92: (Discussion Only) A Final Teaching, and an Expression of Gratitude to Our Teacher

30 Dec 2010

Alan offers final words and we tearfully say goodbye. The session ends with a big group hug.

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