A pervasive but often invisible source of suffering in our culture is self-aversion. We are a busy culture, and we move through our life feeling anxious and dissatisfied, but not fully conscious of how we neglect or judge our inner experience. We suffer from a lack of belonging: to our own bodies, to each other and to the earth. When we practice Buddhist meditation, we learn how to listen deeply and hold our life tenderly.
The open space of compassion allows us to realize that our thoughts and emotions are not who we are; they are waves in our ocean. This gives us the freedom to live more wisely and love more fully.
For over thirty-five years, I've been exploring the awakening of awareness with yoga, meditation, a clinical psychology practice and relationships in spiritual community (sangha). Since the untying of emotional knots is an essential part of "waking up," it is natural for me to weave these elements into my Buddhist practice and teaching. With formal practice, and a genuine engagement in sangha, we can cultivate the qualities of heart and awareness that allow for deep emotional healing and spiritual freedom.
Buddhism guides us in slowing down, quieting and paying attention in an honest and caring way. Through our mindfulness and compassion practices, we establish a sense of intimacy and belonging to our life. We discover that there is no Buddha "out there." Rather, we realize that our true refuge is the wakefulness, openness and love of our own natural awareness.
One understanding of the spiritual path is relating wisely to fear. Our conditioned reaction is to feel aversion to fear and do anything but simply experience it. We discover freedom when instead of reacting, we recognize and open to fear with a kind, committed presence. While fear might or might not remain, with awareness, the suffering of being identified as a fearful self dissolves.
In Part I of this talk, we look at how to recognize the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral facets of the body of fear. In Part II we explore a range of pathways for cultivating a healing and freeing presence in the midst of fear.
Courage is the greatness of heart that allows us, in the face of fear, to be true to what matters. This talk is a reflection on how we can become increasingly courageous in those parts of our lives where we have held back from living and loving fully.
As consciousness evolves, there is a deepening understanding of the interdependence of all of life. This wisdom naturally leads to an authentic humility--an awakening from the burden and violence of self-importance. In this talk we explore the relationship between being humble of heart, and living with kindness and compassion. There is particular attention to the necessity of humility and deep listening--as individuals and societies--if we are to respond to conflict in a way that can bring peace to this earth.
The spiritual path can be understood as forgetting and remembering. We suffer when we lose sight of truth, of love, of awareness. And we touch freedom in the moments of remembering. This talk includes guided reflections on three gateways to remembering: three refuges--buddha, dharma and sangha--that are the foundation of classical Buddhist teachings and profoundly relevant in our contemporary lives.
Our dedication to not pushing anyone--or any part of ourselves--out of our hearts, serves the healing of our world. This talk includes a short guided meditation on opening to our human vulnerability and forgiving another person.
While the heart of meditation is resting in open awareness, our conditioning to be distracted and reactive can keep us on the wheel of suffering. We awaken from trace by developing skillful ways of paying attention that create the environment for natural presence. This natural awareness, while sometimes hidden, is always here: It is our true home.
While generosity and gratitude are natural capacities, our conditioning to want life different can often keep us from living from a free and open heart. This talk explores three gateways to awakening and expressing love in our daily life.
At the center of the Buddhist teachings is the understanding that the passing phenomena of this world--sounds, sensations, thoughts, bodies and minds--have no self at the center, no self as owner, and are not happening to a self. In other words, our familiar sense of self is an illusion. When there is full presence, a presence not filtered by thoughts, this illusion dissolves, freeing us to realize our true nature. This talk exploring the teachings of no-self, or emptiness, includes several reflections and practices that guide us in awakening to this essential and liberating truth.
The Buddha taught that when our understanding of impermanence is direct and non-conceptual, it is liberating. By directly opening to the radical impermanence of all experience, including the truth of our own mortality, we discover the natural capacity to let go. With this "mind that clings to no thing" awakens wisdom, authentic spontaneity and a natural cherishing of life.
The Buddha described three basic and interrelated insights into nature of reality that are revealed through a clear and deep attention. Called "the three characteristics," these insights include dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), annicha (impermanence) and annata (selflessness or emptiness). In the first of this three week series of talks, we explore the meaning of dukkha, how we directly recognize the varied expressions of dukkha and it's gift when met with full presence.