Fall 2013 Shamatha and the Bodhisattva Way of Life

00 Welcome and introduction to the retreat

03 Sep 2013 Transcript available

Alan welcomes the participants at the Thanyapura MindCenter and explains some of the groundrules for the 8-week Fall 2013 retreat. Alan begins by presenting some logistics followed by the content - t…

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01 Settling the Body, Speech and Mind in its Natural State

04 Sep 2013

Moving right into the foundational practice of settling the body, speech and mind in its natural state. Learning how to breathe – to let the respiration flow naturally without being forced or restri…

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02 Motivation and Seven-Point Mind Training

04 Sep 2013

Guided meditation to take stock of each person’s specific and unique reasons for coming here. Four fold vision quest to answer these four questions: What is your own unique vision of a meaningful l…

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03 Gratitude for recognising dukha and settling Body Speech and Mind in its natural state

04 Sep 2013

Being grateful for that feeling of ill at ease. If the mind feels just fine, the is no incentive for pursuing anything other than hedonic well-being. There would be no incentive for pursuing a spir…

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04 Mindfulness of breathing and Precious Human Rebirth

04 Sep 2013

Balance of learning how to unwind the body and mind so they are at ease, allowing yourself this freedom, whilst still maintaining the clarity. That’s a skill! Recognising that we are free for the n…

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05 Mindfulness of breathing - phase two

05 Sep 2013

Normally sustained focus comes at the cost of relaxation, we concentrate by contraction. This is exactly what is not done here. The balance is to increase the stability of attention, which entails so…

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06 Mindfulness of breathing and Death and Impermanence

05 Sep 2013

We return to mindfulness of breathing, with a gradual and persistent cultivation of stability, which is really getting the mind to calm down. Maintian a continuity of attention, a flow of mindfulness…

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07 Mindfulness of Breathing

06 Sep 2013

We immediately start with a meditation session. After the guided meditation, a question comes up about the role of pain in meditation, based on a comment from an abbot who claimed that pain is a goal…

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08 Mindfulness of Breathing

06 Sep 2013

The third phase of mindfulness of breathing is discussed before entering into the guided meditation. This third phase is a classical Theravada method in which the focus is directed to the tactile sen…

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09 Mindfulness of Breathing '

07 Sep 2013 Transcript available

Before the morning meditation, Alan raises a question: what makes a practice Dharma? Is, for example, mindfulness of breathing Dharma in and of itself or is there something else necessary to make it…

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10 Mindfulness of breathing

07 Sep 2013

This afternoon we complete the cycle of mindfulness of breathing. Before we go into the final practice, Alan addresses one of the participant’s question about experiencing tingling/vibrating sensatio…

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11 Settling the Mind in it's Natural State

09 Sep 2013

In this next practice “Setting the mind in it’s Natural State” we withdraw our attention from the space of the body and observe the state of the mind and the mental events occuring within. Here we be…

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12 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

09 Sep 2013

Alan explains how the natural state differs from the habitual state of mind. This practice “melts the ice” of our habitually configured consciousness to get to the substrate consciousness. To assist…

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13 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

10 Sep 2013

Our usual mode of thinking is obsessive because of an involuntary flow of thoughts. It is compulsive because our attention is drawn in by the thoughts and delusional because we think whatever we are…

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14 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

10 Sep 2013

The essence of the practice of settling the mind in its natural state is as a translation of the Tibetan, not distracted – no grasping. The Tibetan term for awareness is rigpa – loss of awareness or…

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15 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

11 Sep 2013

Prefaced with brief elusion to the third of those four thoughts that turn the mind about - focusing on the reality of suffering. Why do we have to suffer at all? This deepest dimension of suffering…

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16 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

12 Sep 2013

Note: We had a problem with the computer while recording and could only recover the session from a weaker source. Hence we kindly ask you to bear with us. Thank you. Alan prefaced the meditation wit…

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17 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

12 Sep 2013

Observer participance: In the practice of settling the mind in its natural state, awareness is in the space of the mind entangled with what we are observing, so it is bound to have an affect. The act…

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18 Settling the Mind in its Natural State

12 Sep 2013

What is the object of mindfulness in the practice of settling the mind in it’s natural state? Most people don’t get it, it’s good to know what you are attending to because your words are guiding your…

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19 Settling the Mind in Its Natural State

12 Sep 2013

Dr. Wallace makes a presentation on the four sequential modes of mindfulness as one evolves on the path of Shamata: (a) Single pointed mindfulness, (b) Manifest mindfulness, (c) Absence of mindfulnes…

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20 Settling the Mind in Its Natural State and Unborn Awareness

13 Sep 2013

The guided meditation is settling the mind in its natural state. Before this meditation starts, Dr. Wallace points out the two types of vividness (qualitative and temporal) and the continuity of stab…

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21 Settling the mind in its natural state and gentle vase breathing

14 Sep 2013

Today is the last day in the cycle of settling the mind in its natural state. Before the practice, Alan introduces one complimentary practice called gentle vase breathing to be used along the settlin…

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22 Settling the mind in its natural state and pristine awarness

14 Sep 2013

Before the final (silent) meditation session on settling the mind in its natural state, Alan compares this mode of Shamatha with Vipassana (four applications of mindfulness). While settling the mind…

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24 Shamatha Without a Sign

16 Sep 2013

Alan continues “taking off another layer” and assisting us to overcome our addiction to doing and trying in this meditation. He gives an analogy of a car in neutral gear. Not going forward or backwar…

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23 Shamatha Without a Sign

16 Sep 2013

Alan introduces us to this practice also known as Awareness of Awareness, practiced by all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism by reading us Padmasambava’s Instructions. Here it is said the view arises…

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25 Shamatha Without a Sign - Concentrating and Releasing

17 Sep 2013

From Padmasambava – Natural Liberation Place your mind in its natural state. Alternate between observing who is concentrating inwardly and who is releasing. What is the very agent that releases the…

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26 Shamatha Without a Sign - Releasing the mind in a state of non-grasping

17 Sep 2013

“The essential nature of the path is resting in the substrate” the ultimate substrate: the union of ultimate nature of reality (dharmata) and ultimate nature of the mind (citta). Vajra Essence – Prev…

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27 Shamatha Without a Sign - Padmasambhava instructions

18 Sep 2013

Alan goes straight into the practice. He reads Padmasambhava’s instructions direct from text with a little commentary. Alan gives Padmasambhava’s concluding paragraph, ‘summing it up’. He explains…

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28 Shamatha Without a Sign and text, up to the end of Ultimate Bodhicitta

18 Sep 2013

Alan goes straight into the meditation practice. Alan states that ‘settling the mind in its natural state’ and ‘Shamatha without a sign’ are notorious for catalysing karma. Alan defines ‘nyam’ an…

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29 Shamatha Without a Sign - Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen

19 Sep 2013

Alan introduces a complementary approach to this practice, which is an ingenious integration between settling the mind in its natural state and shamatha without a sign. The root text is Panchen Losan…

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30 Tong Len practice and commentary

19 Sep 2013

The classic, developmental approach is to alternate between ultimate and conventional bodhicitta. It is so important to balance the cultivation of ultimate truth with development of the heart. Anothe…

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31 Shamatha Without a Sign

19 Sep 2013

Dr. Wallace continues with the text from Panchen Lozang Chokyi Gyaltsen. He explains that the movement of awareness is caused by grasping. The object of mindfulness in this practice (awareness of awa…

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32 Tong Len Practice and commentary

20 Sep 2013

The session continues with the practice of Tong Len. Before the meditation, Dr. Wallace talks about related issues, such as the meaning of intent to other people with compassion and loving-kindness;…

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33 Shamatha without a sign

21 Sep 2013

Today is the last day of the cycle of the Shamatha without a sign. Before the morning meditation, Alan reads instructions from Penchen Rinpoche, where he explains that whenever thoughts arise, when t…

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34 Tong Len practice and Loving-kindness commentary

21 Sep 2013

We begin the afternoon session with Tonglen meditation. After the session, Alan explains the second component of Tonglen, which is loving-kindness. Alan explains how loving-kindness is often compared…

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35 Merging the Mind with External Space

22 Sep 2013

Alan introduces this last of four Shamata practices with concise instructions from two traditions. He then talks briefly on Tummo and Prana. Questions: - How are imprints stored in the substrate co…

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36 Three Objects: Three Poisons: Three Roots of Virtue

23 Sep 2013

Alan explains equanimity and how we can use this Lo Jong text to transform each moment of our waking life into Dharma practice. He gives practical examples of how we can confront the afflictions of a…

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37 Merging the Mind with External Space

24 Sep 2013

Intent of Samantabhadra – Placement exam – different practices for those of superior, middling and inferior faculties. Those with supreme faculties hear teachings and experience the direct crossing…

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38 Loving Kindness to Oneself

24 Sep 2013

Discussion of Jesus taking on all the suffering and sins of others on the cross. Two views – Jesus suffering on the cross and Gnostic vision in which he is laughing and joyful. May both be true with…

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39 Merging Mind with Space

24 Sep 2013

The end of the explanation of shamatha without a sign by Padmasambava in the 14th century, the very last line is ‘bring your mind to space and leave it there’. Dujong Lingpa’s mind treasure in the 1…

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40 Tong Len Meditation and third point of Atisha's seven point mind training

25 Sep 2013

Straight into Tong Len meditation. Begin on the 3rd point of Atisha’s 7 point mind training. A story about Dontonpa - ‘give up all attachment to this life, and make you mind Dharma’. From the text…

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41 Merging Mind with Space

26 Sep 2013

Two points about this practice. Like riding a bicycle, once we are in the flow we don’t need to remember to push with our left left leg, then our right leg and so on. Similarly once we are in a stead…

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42 Tong Len Meditation and Self Centeredness

26 Sep 2013

Straight into meditation and then unpacking “Blame everything on one culprit” aphorism from the seven point mind training. Here the one culprit is self grasping. There are two reasons we suffer, sel…

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43 Merging the Mind with Space

26 Sep 2013

We immediately go into the guided meditation. After the meditation, merging the mind with space, Alan shares and comments on various quotes from Asanga and Tsongkhapa on the implosion of the five sen…

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44 Tong Len Meditation and Mental Afflictions

27 Sep 2013

The session starts with the Tong Len meditation. After the guided meditation, we go back to the aphorism “Blame everything on the culprit”, using a verse of Shantideva (chapter 4, verse 34 of the Bod…

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45 Merging mind with space and the importance of a genuine path (marga)

28 Sep 2013

We start today’s morning session with the last (silent) meditation in the cycle of merging mind with space. After the meditation, Alan gives a big-picture context of the path (marga) in Mahayana Budd…

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46 Tong Len practice and kindness of difficult people

28 Sep 2013

We begin the evening session with the practice of Tong Len, focusing on gratitude towards all those people in our lives who enabled our physical survival, then those who helped us on our spiritual pa…

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47 Return to Mindfulness of Breathing and Excitation

29 Sep 2013

We return to Mindfulness of Breathing after Alan cautions us to avoid putting pressure on ourselves to try harder. Relaxing rather than pushing down is prescribed and Alan suggests the infirmary or m…

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48 The Intersection of Emptiness and Lojong

30 Sep 2013

Here we look at how an understanding of emptiness informs the Lojong teachings with a meditation asking questions designed to help us understand the origin, location and destination of the mind. Know…

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49 Mindfulness of breathing - rise and fall of the breath at the abdomen

01 Oct 2013

We go right into meditation on the rise and fall of the breath at the abdomen. Burmese method to stabilize the mind. Stage 2 of Shamatha is reached when you can stabilize your mind for up to a minu…

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50 Three spaces meditation

01 Oct 2013

Alan starts the session by describing his first interview with His Holiness on the topic of pride in one’s dharma knowledge. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche presented three approaches to learning and practi…

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51 Mindfulness of Breathing

01 Oct 2013

Alan discusses the Theravada classical approach of attending to the sensations and the tip of the nostrils, as described by Buddhagosa. Although the Buddha did not teach this specific technique, we…

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52 Seven Point Mind Training - four kayas and meditation on inner and outer space of mind

02 Oct 2013

Line from Seven Point Mind Training - ‘By meditating on delusive appearances as the four kayas, emptiness is the unsurpassed protection’. Alan gives an analogy of lucid dreaming and the 'waking stat…

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53 Mindfulness of Breathing: Asanga's method

02 Oct 2013

As in the three fold space meditation, where we are trying to view space from the perspective of rigpa, here in Asanga’s method we are trying to attend to the object from the perspective of the subst…

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54 Three spaces meditation and the four practices

03 Oct 2013

Again returning to the three space meditation, this time front loaded with a readings from the Bāhiya Sutta and instruction from Sera Khandro Dewé Dorje, an accomplished yogini. Also references to th…

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55 Mindfulness of Breathing

03 Oct 2013

The morning session starts with a footnote on the subject of yesterday’s evening session, i.e. spirits. Then we continue with a silent meditation on mindfulness of breathing (not recorded). After th…

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56 Continuation of commentary of "Scientific View" from 17th Century (Thomas Sprat) to nowadays

04 Oct 2013

After el short introduction, we go into a silent meditation session on the three spaces. Right after the meditation, we go back to the theme of the “spirits”. Alan talks about how scientific studies,…

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57 Mindfulness of breathing and the sixth stage ofthe Shamatha path

05 Oct 2013

The morning session starts with a silent meditation on mindfulness of breathing of our preferred mode (not recorded). After the meditation, stage six of the Shamatha path is commented, which is: paci…

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58 Tong Len meditation and The Seven Point Mind Training

05 Oct 2013

We begin the evening session with a silent Tong Len meditation by focusing on a person, group of people, or other sentient beings - those who come to mind. The session is briefly introduced by Alan r…

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59 Return to Settling the Mind

06 Oct 2013

We return to this practice also known as Appearances and Awareness as the Path. Alan reminds us to examine the essential nature of the thought arising rather than the content or referent and discusse…

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60 Whatever you encounter immediately apply it to meditation

07 Oct 2013

Here Alan continues the Lojong text and addresses how we can eliminate the tug of war between dharma and our everyday life by transforming everything into dharma. We look at different ways of viewing…

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61 Settling the mind in its natural state

08 Oct 2013

What makes us so vulnerable to suffering? We identify so closely with the body and mind. This meditation starts to put some distance as you roll back from the environment, roll back from your body an…

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62 Meditation uniting ultimate and relative Bodhicitta

08 Oct 2013

Meditate for half the session on shamatha without a sign – probing right into where you think the observer is – this can lead to ultimate Bodhicitta. Spend the second half of the session on Tonglen,…

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63 Settling the mind in its natural state and the 9 stage of shamatha

08 Oct 2013

Focus simply on the observation of the so call objective appearances that appear in the space of the mind. When we have difficulty doing this practice, the way to counter is to learn to relax more…

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64 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta meditation and the 'power of prayer' from the text

09 Oct 2013

Silent meditation on relative and ultimate Bodhicitta (not recorded) at 6:08. Fourth point of the text ‘To synthesise the essence of this practical guidance, apply yourself to the five powers’, the…

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65 Settling the mind in its natural state and achieving Shamatha

09 Oct 2013

We revisit an important facet of settling the mind in its natural state: to observe not so much the objective appearances to the mind, but the subjective impulses to the mind. This is not as easy as…

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66 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta meditation and scientific evidence

10 Oct 2013

Silent meditation session and then a continuation of yesterday’s theme related to the ‘power of prayer’. “We don’t believe in anything without sufficient evidence”. That’s the creed of scientists and…

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67 Settling the Mind in Its Natural State

10 Oct 2013

Before the meditation, Dr. Wallace starts with a prelude to the meditation of settling the mind in its natural state. The focus should now be on the ongoing flow of mindfulness, whether thoughts and…

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68 The Positive and Negative Aspects of Modern Science and the Future of Contemplative Inquiry in All Religions

11 Oct 2013

Before the guided meditation, Dr. Wallace comments on Malala, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan, who currently fights for the right of education for women amidst Taliban death threats against her. Aft…

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69 Settling the mind in its natural state

12 Oct 2013

This morning we start with the last session in the second cycle of settling the mind in its natural state. Alan gives a short preamble before we go into a silent meditation emphasizing the utter simp…

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70 Practice of the stage of generation of Avalokiteshvara

12 Oct 2013

Today’s evening session begins with the continuation of the discussion on the power of prayer and blessings. Alan gives a few examples of how blessings work and their possible bandwidth and draws ana…

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71 Return to Awarness of Awareness or Shamatha Without a Sign

13 Oct 2013

Alan front loads this session by looking at the difference between this practice and Dzogchen - grasping - and looks at how practice is ideally couched in a supportive way of life. After the meditati…

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72 The Mahayana teaching on transferring consciousness is precisely these five powers...

14 Oct 2013

Alan again front loads the meditation by comparing Atisha’s Lam Rim texts and Seven Point Mind Training text and the role of discursive meditation in both. We can be encouraged that although Ultimate…

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73 Awareness of awareness

15 Oct 2013

We lock onto an object, reify it and then attachment or aversion arises. The discovery model allows the mind to heal itself by doing nothing but maintaining cognizance. Discussion of blessings ari…

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74 Ultimate and relative Bodhicitta

15 Oct 2013

Meditation – continue as described yesterday with one meditation on ultimate Bodhicitta and one on relative Bodhicitta. Continuation of the discussion on transmuting the death process. If have ha…

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75 Shamatha without a sign

15 Oct 2013

For the practices of awareness of awareness, Alan begins by saying to release your awareness into space with no object, then let awareness of beginning ware be most explicit. Then begin the oscillat…

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76 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta and the fifth point from Atisha's text, 7 Point Mind Training

16 Oct 2013

Before the meditation Alan discusses from which perspective you can do the tong-len practice - from your ordinary self or from the platform of Avolokishrvara. Alan explains how shamatha can be devel…

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77 Shamatha without a sign

16 Oct 2013

From the substrate, which is in the nature of delusion, a stirring of karmic energies eventually leads to the full elaboration of conceptual designation, everything crystallising in its place with it…

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78 Ultimate and Relative Bodichitta and the sixth point from Seven Point Mind Training

17 Oct 2013

The two bodhicittas may seem incompatible, if there is not someone really there, then how to feel compassion? From the other side, when seeing someone in anguish, it seems so real. This is falling to…

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79 Shamatha Without a Sign

17 Oct 2013

The session starts with a short explanation of today’s meditation (silent meditation, not recorded), a variation of Shamatha without a sign as taught by Padmasambhava. After the meditation, Alan talk…

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80 Shamatha Without a Sign, Lucid Dreaming and The Pledges of the Seven Point Mind Training

18 Oct 2013

The session starts with a silent meditation on the two Bodhichittas. After the meditation, Alan talks about ultimate and relative bodhichitta and their connection. Next, we go to the subject of luci…

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81 Shamatha without a sign

20 Oct 2013

This morning we have our last silent meditation in the second cycle of Shamatha without a sign. Alan gives a short preamble, stressing the importance of having contentment in once’s practice: knowing…

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82 Meditation on two bodhicittas and Pledges of the Seven Point Mind Training

20 Oct 2013

Tonight we return to the meditation on the two bodhicittas. Before the silent meditation, Alan give a short preamble on the importance of motivation for one’s practice. Once one engages in any virtuo…

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83 Return to Merging the Mind with Space

20 Oct 2013

In this short session Alan front loads our week of meditation practice speaking of how we can rollback the layers of conceptual overlay to conceptual and then primal mentation - the first raw sense o…

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84 The Practices of Seven Point Mind Training

21 Oct 2013

Tonight the meditation is front loaded by looking at two ways we can view the adversity that will no doubt effect us and those we see as belonging to us. Firstly, non lucidly with relative bodhichitt…

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85 Merging the mind with space

22 Oct 2013

As you merge the mind with space, maintain a flow of knowing of the sheer absence of thought. It is a knowing of emptiness that can lead to an open expanse. Meditation starts at: 6:40 (silent, not…

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86 Aspirational Meditation

22 Oct 2013

Alan begins with two quotes from William James regarding aspiration. The guided meditation is on developing your personal aspirations and the causes to fulfill them. Discussion of Aspiring Bodhicit…

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87 Merging Mind with Space

22 Oct 2013

This practice is a variation for shamatha without a sign. The method this morning being balancing earth with sky: shamatha with support, with quasi support and without support. Alan taught more on…

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88 Ultimate and Relative Bodhicitta Meditation and the Seventh Point from Seven Point Mind Training

23 Oct 2013

From the seventh point of Atisha’s mind training: ‘Adopt the three principle causes’ These causes are: 1. Following a qualified mentor - Alan told the story of the first person to encounter the Budd…

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89 Merging Mind with Space

24 Oct 2013

Silent session, followed by one question regarding the origin of people within a lucid dream. They all stem from the substrate consciousness. Even when lucid, they are not puppets on your string. As…

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90 Ultimate and relative bodhicitta and point seven of seven point mind training

24 Oct 2013

Meditation front loading: The porousness of the mind. It is possible that influences can go both into and out from the mind. Like when praying to your guru and getting a response. Does the response c…

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91 Merging Mind With Space and How to Apply the Teachings in Daily Life

24 Oct 2013

Before the session’s meditation, Alan raises the issue of retreat and expedition for after the retreat is over. After the meditation, there are a few questions about the relevance of doing short-term…

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92 Merging Mind With Space and the Final Aphorisms of the Seven Point Mind Training

25 Oct 2013

Before the silent meditation, Alan mentions a few points about Bodichitta. After the silent meditation, we go back to the last few aphorisms of the Lo-Jong. We finish the Seven Point Mind Training w…

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93 Merging the Mind the Space and a Discussion of Kalachakra

25 Oct 2013

Follwing the silent meditation, Alan gets to a few remaining questions, including one about his experience with Shambala and Kalachakra. A fascinating discussion and series of stories follows. Medi…

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