What has always engaged me is working with practitioners who are deepening their commitment to the Dharma and then seeing them take a quantum leap in their understanding. My contribution to this commitment is working towards conveying a Theravadan practice with a Mahayana spirit.
The Theravadan practice of vipassana provides simple, direct instructions that can be immediately understood and applied in daily life as well as retreat practice. The Mahayana spirit has the beautiful attitude that we practice not for ourselves alone, but for all sentient beings. Between the two, the unfolding of liberation for ourselves and others becomes a simple, down-to-earth practice that anyone can do.
It is fun for me to take the most difficult concepts and put them into accessible language, to unwrap the mystery. So I try to find ways to explore the breadth of concepts like "emptiness" -- to see how the entire path can be explained in terms of this synonym for nibbana. One of my aims is to bring the goal of freedom into the here and now. This way practitioners get a taste of freedom, so they know what they are heading toward on their journey to liberation.
The tools of mindfulness and lovingkindness can be picked up by anyone. They are easy to understand and they bring immediate benefit to our lives. The essence of vipassana is ideally suited to western society, especially to the resonance between our psychological turn of mind and our quest for spiritual understanding.
The three characteristics of existence -- impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self -- summarize the state of this world as in constant dissolution. Yet, a refuge can be found in an ever-available awareness.
Renunciation of the activities and relationships in our daily life is one of the chief supports of meditative deepening on retreats. Because renunciation is the active practice of non-desire, it leads to greater peace and happiness.
This talk explores the role of heart practices in general, and the brahma viharas in particular, in our overall dharma practice. When we ask, "Is insight enough?" our answer might depend on our relation to the bodhisattva ideal.
When we let go of our habitual strategies of greed and aversion, we discover in meditation a spaciousness that can be unsettling at first. As we explore the openness, we find our refuge in an awareness that is the very nature of the mind.