15 May 2016

Alan began the session with the warning that this afternoon’s session would be dense, which prompted laugh from everyone in the room, given that all previous sessions have already been pretty dense! He then elaborated on the three higher trainings (ethics, samadhi and wisdom), saying that in the beginning of the path, the importance of ethics could not be overemphasized. He gave some detail on how to cultivate ethics, namely exploring its two facets: non-violence (both overt and covert) and benevolence, with the aim of highlighting the importance of having a solid ethical foundation, so that the impact of our meditation can be optimized. As a way to make these comments practical, Alan paraphrased Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, namely on how to deal with mental afflictions (from chapter 5, “Be like a piece of wood!”). Bypassing comments on shamatha, which we’ve explored extensively, Alan then moved on to foundational teachings on vipashyana on the nature of the mind, by citing some quotes of the Buddha, from the Pali Canon.

After the meditation, we returned to the Panchen Lama text, with Alan recovering an earlier section from stanza 45, to which he gave additional commentary. The remaining time of the session was dedicated to exploring a contradiction in assessing levels of realization mentioned in the Panchen Lama’s text (on the equivalence between the yoga of non-elaboration and the first bodhisattva stage), with Alan recovering a quote from Gampopa’s “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation”, to elucidate on this contradiction. The rest of the session was an inspiring discourse on the importance of being careful when assessing levels of realization, namely given all the differences of perception that exist between mere beginners and highly realized beings.

Meditation is silent and not recorded.

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