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.
What supports lovingkindness is the sincere caring we give in each moment as we say a metta phrase. What obstructs metta are its near and far enemies; affection with attachment and aversion such as sadness, fear, anger, or judgement.
It's very helpful to reflect on the way we experience change in the course of our human life, including our own aging and death. But even more freeing is discovering the direct insight into the momentary arising and passing of all phenomena through our practice of mindful observation.
This talk explores fear as a form of craving and also several particular fears, such as death, judgement, and emptiness. It concludes with practical instructions on working with fear in meditation, which can lead to a fearlessness with all difficult states.
Although humans have a bias toward falsely seeing permanence, we can develop the insight into the truth of impermanence. In the depths of meditation, we are able to discern the moment to moment dissolution of our experience at the six sense doors.
Dharma practice has two functions: First it makes us healthy, then it makes us free. The talk explores both these phases, as well as their accompanying attitudes, and explores the process of healing in relation to fear.
When we engage with metta practice we receive either metta (purity) or the inner obstacles to metta, which provide the material for the purification of heart. This talk describes how to relate with self-judgement and fear through metta, as well as the supportive factor of concentration, another aspect of innate purity.
The practice of metta brings five wonderful qualities into our Dhamma practice. It makes the heart softer and more responsive; it purifies the heart; it brings us into connection with all of life; it develops concentration; and it leads to happiness. Lovingkindness is the quality of friendliness toward oneself and others developed through the practice of metta. This talk describes how the practice works as a protection, a healing, a purification of heart, and a boundless state of mind.