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.
What is your vision of happiness? How much do you really need? After several weeks of intense practice, people might be re-evaluating their priorities. There is a possibility of dissolving the mind into the substrate.
Perhaps you see that you might need long-term retreat of a year or more. But is it worth the risk of two years of practicing? Is it a good investment? What if you don’t achieve shamatha? You have to have your motivation rooted in reality: see how the cultivation of attention contributes to the causes of sanity. You want to live longer so that you can practice dharma more.
Long-term retreat has to be at the right time. You cannot just ditch young children for two years. If you find the timing is right, you have to ask “What do I bring to the practice?” For this two-month retreat we have the right conditions for basic training: a good environment with most of our needs met and few distractions.
In shamatha, continuity is the key. You can’t get fire by rubbing sticks together for a few seconds or minutes until you get bored or tired. You have to keep up the friction.
The prerequisites for long-term retreat:
1. Contentment: if you can’t sit and do nothing, you’re not ready for it
2. Few desires: you have to have a radical shift from seeking hedonic pleasure to seeing genuine happiness. For many people, #1 and #2 are deal makers or deal breakers.
3. Ethics: don’t do anything with your body, speech or mind that imbalances your practice or anyone else’s practice. What is the impact of our behavior? (i.e. Don’t throw sand into your car’s gearbox).
4. You must have very few activities and concerns. You have to reboot your life, do a forced shut-down from your old lifestyle. It’s hard.
5. During and between sessions, get rid of all obsessive, compulsive thoughts.
Meditation (33:30) on settling the body, speech, and mind in the natural state. Do not shortchange this process: Mindfulness of breathing.
1. Discussion of nyam (transient experience – physical or psychological – that is an anomaly and is the result of correct practice) Prana, the subtle energy, is being activated. You are getting an extreme makeover.
2. Discussion of taking refuge. Dharma is the most important. As for a teacher, you want a “genuine happiness doctor/dentist” who can pull the “unwisdom teeth” of hostility, craving, and delusion. Your teacher should know more than you about the path. His/her motivation is altruistic/to be of service/from compassion. You should feel you are getting benefit. Being accomplished, or at least a lineage holder, is important.
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