Dharma practice is medicine for the mind -- something particularly needed in a culture like ours that actively creates mental illness in training us to be busy producers and avid consumers. As individuals, we become healthier through our Dharma practice, which in turn helps bring sanity to our society at large.
Giving dharma talks offers me the opportunity to express gratitude for my Thai teachers -- Ajahn Fuang Jotiko and Ajahn Suwat Suvaco -- in appreciation of the many years they spent training me, which came with the understanding that the teachings continue past me. Giving dharma talks also pushes me to articulate what I haven''t yet verbalized to myself in English. This in turn enriches my own practice. When you help a wide variety of people deal with their issues, it helps you practice with yours.
When giving a talk, I try to remain true to three things: my training, my study of the early Buddhist texts, and the needs of my listeners. The challenge is to find the point where all three meet -- not as a compromise, but in their genuine integrity.
For this, I play with analogy. Meditation is a skill, and our meeting point as people, whatever our culture, lies in our experience in mastering skills: how to sew clothes, cook a meal, or build a shelter. So I've found that one of the most effective ways of explaining subtle points in meditation is to find analogies with more mundane skills. Through the language of analogy we find common ground from which our practice can grow to meet our individual needs, and yet remain true to its universal roots.
RESPECT FOR SUFFERING
The suffering that arises in the practice is a noble truth, something worthy of respect. You can’t just push it away. If you’re going to end suffering you have to give it space, understand it, and approach it systematically.
Interconnectedness is not always pretty. It means that our bad actions can have endless repercussions, and that our happiness is dependent on a very fragile web. But by becoming more skillful in our actions we can turn the principle of interconnectedness into a good thing: a path to a happiness that’s truly independent.
The quieter you are, the more you see. Being quiet is a form of doing, and sometimes it’s the most skillful thing you can do: You learn perspective and sensitivity, and you position yourself in the best spot to recognize insight when it arises.
THE WORLD IS SWEPT AWAY
Instead of trying to find our happiness in a world of change, we take that changing world and turn it toward the changeless, look for that which is unchanging right here, right now.
THE THREE CHARACTERISTICS
The teaching on the Three Characteristics is meant to liberate the mind from unnecessary burdens. The normal mind shadows everything that happens, but as you bring the mind to every more subtle levels of stillness and ease, you can detect ever more subtle levels of inconstancy and stress, and so naturally let them go.
FIVE TALKS ON ONE CASSETTE OR CD