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 fifth and last in a series of talks discusses the troublesome patterns of mind and volitional action that we identify as self, and how we can step out of them with the tools of dharma practice. The Buddha said that one who is fully awake has found an end to karma, and end to compulsive formations.
This fourth in a series pf talks on the formation of self explores how volitional actions, known as karma, occur in repetitive patterns and lead to lawful consequences in this life and even in a future life through rebirth. once we understand them, we can use these patterns to shape our lives in the direction of happiness.
This third in a series of talks explores the formation of self through the chain of dependent origination, a detailed description of how we suffer. It then outlines approaches in meditation that let us step out of the chain of suffering and into a state of "unentangled knowing" in which we discover the possibility of freedom here and now.
The second in a series of talks explores the formation of self through the five aggregates, a list which describes our total human experience. The Buddha talked about the activities of "I-ing" and "my-ing" as creating a self view around each one of the aggregates.