Fall 2011 Shamatha Retreat

01 Introduction (teaching only)

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan welcomes the participants and gives an overview of what the retreat will entail. He also talks a little about the Thanyapura Mind Centre and its vision. Note: Several sections c…

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02 Mindfulness of Breathing: Full body awareness

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of full body awareness (aka the infirmary), starting by settling the body, speech and mind in their natural state. The meditation starts at 4:51

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03 Loving-kindness for oneself and Q&A

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of loving-kindness for oneself, a vision quest answering 4 questions: 1. What would bring you a true sense of well being and happiness? 2. What would you…

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04 Mindfulness of breathing: focusing on the abdomen

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of mindfulness of breathing, focused on the abdomen sensations of the breath in order to cultivate stability. The meditation starts at 4:16

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05 Loving-kindness for oneself and others and Q&A

02 Sep 2011

In this session we continue with the practice of loving-kindness, beginning with ourselves and then gradually extending outwards where it’s easiest The meditation starts at 4:39 QA starts at 29:24: 1…

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06 Mindfulness of breathing: Sensations at the nostrils

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces a subtler practice of mindfulness of breathing, focusing on the sensations at the tip of the nostrils in order to enhance vividness. This is a method that can be used…

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07 Loving-kindness in all directions and Q&A

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of loving-kindness extended in all directions. The meditation starts at 9:34 QA starts at 34:40: 1. Why is the question “what would make us happy” instea…

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08 Settling the mind in its natural state

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of settling the mind in its natural state, this time first starting by focusing on the visual, auditory and tactile senses, and then switching to the ment…

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09 Compassion focused on alleviating pain and Q&A

02 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of the cultivation of compassion, focused on alleviating pain, especially the one caused by behavior. The meditation starts at 32:52 QA starts at 57:50: 1…

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10 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 2

02 Sep 2011

In this session we continue with the practice of settling the mind in its natural state, now starting by focusing on the space of the body and whatever tactile sensations arise within it, to then pro…

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11 Compassion focused on suffering of change and Q&A

03 Sep 2011

In this session we continue with the cultivation of compassion, now focusing on the suffering of change, which we typically see as a source of happiness. The meditation starts at 39:55 QA starts at 6…

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12 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 3

03 Sep 2011

In this session we continue with the practice of settling the mind in its natural state. In shamatha, one must maintain constant flow of knowing at all times. When there is no mental object in the fo…

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13 Compassion, part 3

03 Sep 2011

Teaching: Alan introduces the 3rd type of suffering—ubiquitous or all-pervasive suffering—and the last two of the eightfold noble path—authentic intention and authentic view—which belong to wisdom.…

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14 Awareness of Awareness

03 Sep 2011

In this session Alan introduces the practice of awareness of awareness, or shamatha without a sign. Alan first reviews mindfulness of breathing and settling the mind in its natural state. In the prac…

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15 Empathetic Joy

03 Sep 2011

Teaching: Alan introduces the 3rd immeasurable: empathetic joy, defined as taking delight in virtues of oneself and others. While an antidote to grief and general negativity in life, beware of pr…

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16 Awareness of Awareness, part 2

05 Sep 2011

Practice comes in phases. There is a withdrawal from appearances, and inversion into the very nature of awareness, and a release (like a flower opening in all directions into a space of no object, no…

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17 Empathetic Joy, part 2

05 Sep 2011

Uplifted and inspired. If you want to start the week in this way, I recommend this podcast. This afternoon Alan explained one feature in common between the 3 practices of settling the mind in its nat…

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18 Awareness of Awareness, part 3

06 Sep 2011

A discussion of substrate, substrate consciousness and pristine awareness. How klishtamanas comes out of the alayavijñana creating a sense of “I am” and subject and object. Also a discussion of the d…

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19 Equanimity

06 Sep 2011

Equanimity - the “crown jewel” of the Four Immeasurables In both Shamatha and the Four Immeasurables, we cultivate balance and a sense of “evenness of heart.” The Four Immeasurables are immeasurabl…

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20 Awareness of Awarenesss, part 4

07 Sep 2011

Introduction Description of the difference between Awareness of Awareness practice and Open Presence/Open Awareness. Imagine you are in a sensory deprivation tank so have no sensory input and Merl…

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21 Equanimity, part 2

07 Sep 2011

Introduction Discussion of self cherishing and why it arises. Developing new habits – reconfiguring using the four immeasurable culminating in equanimity. Settling the mind in its natural state – no…

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22 The infirmary

07 Sep 2011

What does the preparatory practice of settling the body, speech and mind have to do with rats, fleas and the Black Plague? Why are we in modernity actually still living in the Dark Ages? All is rev…

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23 Loving kindness for oneself

08 Sep 2011

Return to loving kindness and the world of possibility. In imagination and in dream, one can create one’s reality completely. Alan adds visualization to the loving kindness practice and explores th…

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24 Mindfulness of Breathing, second phase

09 Sep 2011

Observing the rise and fall of the abdomen is the most effective method for the subsiding of compulsive thoughts and to help quiet the mind. Coarse excitation is the primary imbalance in Stages 1-4…

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25 Loving kindness, part 2

09 Sep 2011

Alan discusses on developing loving-kindness for even disagreeable people by starting with oneself (as for myself, also for you). Beware to avoid its near enemy: self-centered attachment. The trig…

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26 Mindfulness of Breathing, third phase

10 Sep 2011

Mindfulness of Breathing - focusing on the sensations at the apertures of the nostrils. Here we have the full synergy of relaxation, stability and vividness. As we relax the breathing slows down an…

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27 Loving Kindness, part 3

10 Sep 2011

In this session we continue with the practice of loving-kindness. Alan starts by talking on the meaning of having a day off from a contemplative perspective. He then discusses the possibility that pr…

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28 Settling the Mind in its Natural State, part 1

12 Sep 2011

This is the most used method in the Dzogchen tradition. Allowing thoughts, images, perceptions to arise in the space of the mind without labeling, categorizing, preference. Watch them arise from th…

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29 Compassion focused on blatant suffering

12 Sep 2011

Vast and Profound, it’s the minimum we can say about this afternoon’s session. Alan gave us an exquisite exploration of the mechanics of the practice of Settling the mind in its natural state: how by…

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30 Settling the Mind in its Natural State, part 2

12 Sep 2011

In this session Alan talks about the parallels of settling the mind in its natural state with rigpa. Nirvana and samsara are of one taste and without preference from the perspective of rigpa. Relatio…

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31 Compassion focused on the suffering of change

13 Sep 2011

Dharma talk: Meditative cultivation of Compassion and the Suffering of Change On the “most wanted” list of mental afflictions is hatred. Craving/attachment is the #1 culprit in the suffering of cha…

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32 Settling the Mind in its Natural State, part 3

15 Sep 2011

Talk Comparison of breathing meditation and settling the mind in its natural state. Breathing meditation is best done in a quiet environment – settling the mind can be done in a noisy active environ…

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33 Compassion focused on ubiquitous suffering

15 Sep 2011

Talk Last night’s discussion of pointing out instructions may have left some feeling hopeless as so many of the qualified teachers have died. Important to know that if receive authentic teachings th…

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34 Awareness of Awareness, part 1

15 Sep 2011

“Not in a million years”. Alan discusses modern concepts of mindfulness and meditation practice, which involve mere non judgmental attention to the present moment and whatever arises in that moment…

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35 Empathetic Joy, part 1

15 Sep 2011

Alan discusses how to approach one’s shamatha practice in a wise way - not by focusing upon “how it went” but rather on one’s application and effort. One should see that in every moment, no matter h…

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36 Awareness of Awareness, part 2

16 Sep 2011

Shamatha without a sign is a process of discovery and exploration rather than development. It involves experiencing and discovering, through one’s own experience the natural states of mind of bliss,…

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37 Empathetic Joy, part 2

16 Sep 2011

Alan continues his talk by emphasizing that hedonic pleasure cannot be the sole measure of something good/beneficial. Only through difficulties we encounter with others can we develop the paramitas.…

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38 Awareness of Awareness, part 3

17 Sep 2011

Shamatha without a Sign - all discovery no development. With Awareness of Awareness we discover bliss, luminosity and non-conceptuality of the substrate consciousness. Alan discusses the things tha…

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39 Equanimity, part 1

17 Sep 2011

Back to meditative cultivations of equanimity, Alan emphasizes maintaining the equilibrium in the face of whatever arises. Alan also talks about the cognitive and affective aspects of equanimity. Med…

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40 Awareness of Awareness, part 4

19 Sep 2011

Instruction and meditation: Awareness of awareness (“The Shamata Express”) The most common question/concern asked by current retreatants about this practice is “Am I doing it correctly?” It is simp…

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41 Equanimity, part 2

19 Sep 2011

As riding a dolphin…Today, as the last session of a 10 day cycle on Shamatha and the 4 Immeasurables, the session was about equanimity conjoined with tonglen. Before jumping into it, Alan touched th…

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42 Loving kindness, part 1

20 Sep 2011

We have begun to see the promise and the obstacles - our minds bare and naked. We have seen some glimmerings of our potential. In the vajrayana path we can take the fruit as the path. Go where you ha…

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43 Mindfulness of breathing, part 1

20 Sep 2011

Alan mentions that he inverted the teachings. The Loving Kindness Immeasurable was given during the morning session. However, the teachings are complementary. Teaching: What is your vision of happ…

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44 Loving kindness, part 2

21 Sep 2011

Morning talk Four immeasurables – Loving Kindness. Why can’t all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness? In the Tibetan prayer it is posed as a rhetorical question because the a…

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45 Mindfulness of breathing, part 2

21 Sep 2011

Afternoon talk Mindfulness of breathing. Cultivating stability of attention while focusing on the rise and fall of the abdomen. Maintaining the same sense of relaxation. Breathe in to arise wakefu…

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46 Loving kindness, part 3

21 Sep 2011

Alan leads a meditation in which one utilizes one’s own experience of loving kindness from a person who embodies such qualities as a means to develop greater loving kindness in oneself. He notes tha…

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47 Mindfulness of breathing, part 3

22 Sep 2011

“When did the Buddha stop teaching?” Alan launches into a wide ranging discussion loosely revolving around shamatha but focusing upon the authenticity and reliability of the teachings of different B…

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48 Compassion focused on blatant suffering

23 Sep 2011

The most obvious form of suffering is blatant suffering, which is both physical and mental. Physical suffering involves lack of necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, health, while mental suff…

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49 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 1

23 Sep 2011

Alan begins by giving examples of how one could experience the substrate directly before achieving shamatha. As with emptiness and rigpa, such direct experiences of the substrate are veiled by conce…

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50 Compassion focused on the suffering of change

24 Sep 2011

Back to Compassion focusing on suffering of change because of the mental affliction of attachment. The internal antidote is samadhi. Alan relates a true story of a hyena and a lion which perfectly…

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51 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 2

24 Sep 2011

Alan starts by explaining the concept of rang dröl (self-liberation or natural liberation) in the context of shamatha practice. He then talks about the 5 obscurations and its antidotes, which are: T…

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52 Compassion focused on pervasive suffering

26 Sep 2011

Dharma talk on Compassion Suffering relates to the “conceit of ‘I am’” – the delusion that there is an “I” that exists outside of conceptual constructs. There is a current trend among some people th…

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53 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 3

26 Sep 2011

Alan started the session of this afternoon explaining why among the immense variety ofmethods to achieve shamatha, he presents these three, and how they are fit for modernity. Then he enlightened us…

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54 Empathetic Joy, part 1

27 Sep 2011

We come back to the cultivation of mediate, starting with oneself, but not an immutable self, a dependently arisen self. Alan again comments on our way of evaluating our practice: "Meditation, what…

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55 Shamatha without a sign, part 1

27 Sep 2011

Many people have expressed confusion about this practice, probably because of looking for something to happen that isn’t happening. Therefore, they miss what is happening. The basic practice is some…

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56 Empathetic joy, part 2

28 Sep 2011

Morning talk – Empathetic Joy – Finding commonality with others Meditation (13:12) Taking Joy in others joy – first in conventional joy, then in those creating virtue through their service to others…

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57 Shamatha without a sign, part 2

28 Sep 2011

We all experience taking voluntary action such as raising an arm. Who is the agent for voluntary actions? In Awareness of awareness meditation during the inversion into awareness, look for the agen…

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58 Equanimity, part 1

28 Sep 2011

Alan covers the prerequisites for the development of equanimity, which involve one transcending one’s ordinary deluded outlook. He discusses how one may become able to do this: how one may cultivate…

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59 Shamatha without a sign, part 3

29 Sep 2011

Alan expands upon some of the ideas from physics he dealt with in the previous day’s talk and explains how the Dzogchen view and the Prasangika-Madhyamika view are complementary. He weaves this with…

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60 Equanimity, part 2

30 Sep 2011

Equanimity is the final fruition of the path. In the Theravada tradition, equanimity is envisioned as a composure of imperturbability, of not being thrown out of balance by adversity or felicity. I…

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61 Shamatha without a sign, part 4

30 Sep 2011

Alan reviews the process of relinquishing control/agency in the 3 shamatha practices. Given the buddhist assertion that something true should appear truer with increasing scrutiny, the truth of empt…

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62 Loving kindness, part 1

01 Oct 2011

In this round, Alan will lay emphasis on the Mahayana approach to the 4 immeasurables. „Why can’t all sentient beings find happiness and the causes of happiness? May all sentient beings find happin…

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63 Mindfulness of breathing, part 1

01 Oct 2011

Once again we start the cycle, beginning with mindfulness of breathing. Alan first gives an overview of the whole path, from settling the body, speech and mind in their natural state, all the way up…

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64 Loving kindness, part 2

03 Oct 2011

Meditative cultivation of Loving Kindness: The focus was Great Loving Kindness, seeing through the outer manifestations of people, including ourselves, and attending to the essential Buddha nature of…

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65 Mindfulness of breathing, part 2

03 Oct 2011

Welcome to all! This afternoon Alan started by stating that stability is usually regarded as the core of the shamatha practice and how it is developed by the rope of mindfulness. Then following a tex…

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66 Loving kindness, part 3

03 Oct 2011

We continue with the practice of metta, or loving kindness, expanding out as in the Pali suttas, combined with the Tibetan liturgy of Mahamaitri (great loving kindness) Helping others can mean to hel…

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67 Mindfulness of breathing, part 3

04 Oct 2011

Instruction and meditation on Mindfulness of Breathing: the focus on anapanasatti (focusing on the sensations at the opening of the nostrils and/or on the upper lip under the nostrils) The problem w…

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68 Compassion, part 1

05 Oct 2011

Meditation on Compassion. Why couldn’t we all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering? There is a dearth of knowledge regarding the causes of suffering. When resting in awareness of awa…

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69 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 1

05 Oct 2011

Settling the mind in its natural state. When mental afflictions come up, if you recognize them as such, you have a choice regarding whether you act on them. If you don’t recognize them you will sim…

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70 Compassion, part 2

05 Oct 2011

“Give up attachment to this life and let your mind become Dharma” Alan explains how to approach the suffering of change and elaborates on the role of shamatha in dealing with this particular kind of…

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71 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 2

06 Oct 2011

Alan takes us through a comparative study of texts from the time of the Buddha up until the 19th Century, comparing the way shamatha has been dealt with amongst a variety of Buddhist traditions. Med…

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72 Compassion, part 3

07 Oct 2011

Compassion, understood as the suffering of conditioned phenomena, is conditioned by ignorance. Suffering in its broadest manifestation involves the understanding of a dualistic vision. How we tend…

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73 Settling the mind in its natural state, part 3

07 Oct 2011

Alan goes into greater detail about ascertaining the space of the mind between mental events in settling the mind. He explains the danger of complacency at Stages 4 and 7 and the importance of overc…

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74 Empathetic Joy, part 1

08 Oct 2011

Why couldn’t we all never be parted from genuine happiness free from suffering? Cultivating Empathetic Joy is not just an emotion but also an aspiration. When we take on the personal commitment, "M…

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75 Shamatha without a sign, part 1

08 Oct 2011

Alan talks about the up and downs of the practice and how to keep the enthusiasm and where to draw the inspiration from. Then he shares an excerpt from Dudjom Lingpa’s The Vajra Essence about the dif…

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76 Empathetic Joy, part 2

10 Oct 2011

Instruction and meditation on cultivating Empathetic Joy: Calling upon the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus for blessing and remembering that they are not outside of ourselves but within us. Medi…

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77 Shamatha without a sign, part 2

10 Oct 2011

Deep…During this extremely inspiring afternoon, Alan started by explaining how to recognize the object of attention of the practice of awareness of awareness for those that find this practice elusive…

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78 Equanimity, part 1

10 Oct 2011

We come back to equanimity and Alan talks about it from 3 different levels: Coarse mind - Shantideva: "If there is something you can do about it don’t worry. If there’s nothing you can do about it, d…

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79 Shamatha without a sign, part 3

11 Oct 2011

Dharma talk and meditation on Awareness of Awareness with the focus on the observer: Is there someone in there? The Bahiya (of the Garment) Sutra. Bahiya received a short discourse from the Buddha…

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80 Equanimity, part 2

12 Oct 2011

Meditation on equanimity. Start with loving kindness for ourselves. Mental afflictions come to us just like the flu – don’t fuse your identity with the mental afflictions. The more loving kindness…

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81 Shamatha without a sign, part 4

12 Oct 2011

Reading from Vajra Essence regarding the difference between consciousness, substrate consciousness and Rigpa. Meditation on awareness of awareness expanding out to all directions (26:30) Questions (5…

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82 Envision the novel of the rest of your life

12 Oct 2011

“Shape your mind, shape your life.” Having completed the cycle of guided meditation, Alan speaks briefly about envisioning the transition from retreat into daily life, and in particular the differe…

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83 Lucid dreaming and dream yoga

13 Oct 2011

After a silent meditation (1:40) Alan gives an overview and brief ‘how to guide’ of lucid dreaming and dream yoga. Then questions (67:20) include eyes closing as we progress along the path of mindf…

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84 Maturation

14 Oct 2011

Experienced meditators can move through a process of maturation where the Dharma and practices become ever more central to their lives. They come to practice without preference for good or bad medit…

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85 Practicing after the retreat

14 Oct 2011

For those of us returning to our ordinary lives, Alan suggests that we avail ourselves of all the shamatha practices depending on our body and mind at that moment. For those of us continuing in retr…

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86 The Path

15 Oct 2011

The Four Immeasurables unguided meditation. Alan reiterates how important it is to have a sense of direction, a path. You really need to have a vision in your heart of where you want to go. He men…

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87 The built-in antidotes

15 Oct 2011

In this session Alan reminds us that shamatha is designed to dispel the 5 obscurations and as the imbalances are built-in, the remedies are also built-in. In the same way, among the 4 Immeasurables…

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88 Karma must ripen

18 Oct 2011

The root of all Buddhist teachings and practice is compassion. We start out with the reality of suffering – something that we have all experienced. The background radiation of anxiety has got to go…

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89 A wellspring of good advice

18 Oct 2011

This last Monday afternoon’s session, which we can say that is indispensable to listen to, Alan offered a huge number of pieces of advice that are extremely useful for those that are going to do a lo…

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90 Moving from coal to solar energy

18 Oct 2011

Relying on hedonic pleasure is like a town that relies on a coal-fired generator. We begin to realize how much pollution this represents and seek more environmental friendly energy sources. In the sa…

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91 Purifying our vision

18 Oct 2011

Silent meditation (no introduction) starts at 0:18 Questions (25:28): 1. Comment on the concepts of time and space. 2. What role do the “Hidden Lands” play in the context of Buddhist practice? 3. In…

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92 Whenever there's meeting, there's parting

20 Oct 2011

We are beginning our final descent. The deva realm of Tushita and the pure land of Tushita sit side by side. In the deva realm when it is time for a deva to leave their flowers fade and they suffer…

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93 The tornado of OCDD

20 Oct 2011

There are three strategies to protect from the tornado of thoughts in the mind. The first is to go to a shelter which is mindfulness of breathing – releasing and releasing the thoughts. The second…

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94 Infusing the day with shamatha

20 Oct 2011

Alan briefly speaks on how to infuse a busier day with shamatha and mindfulness. He also announces that he will do 6 months retreat at the end of 2012, so there will be no 8 week shamatha retreat in…

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95 From chaos to calm

20 Oct 2011

Alan leads the group, who has started talking now, through a shamatha session (02:13) designed to bring the mind down from agitation to calm. He speaks to a question (35:53) regarding the Dzogchen v…

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96 For a moment, everything can be ok

21 Oct 2011

We come to the last day of the retreat, where Alan invites us to reboot our mind by way of shamatha. Silent meditation starts at 01:16 Afterwards Alan shares a story and shows us how through shamatha…

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97 Finishing with loving kindness (and a lovely ceremony)

21 Oct 2011

We come to our very last session with a meditation on loving kindness and dedication of merit (0:50) Afterwards our group prepared such a lovely closing ceremony that we figured other people might li…

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