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.
Understanding how karma works gives us clear guidelines to find simple human happiness or the highest happiness of liberation, which is described as the end of karma. The talk also describes how the working of karma depends on the truth of not-self (anatta).
The first two links of dependent origination say that ignorance gives rise to volitional formations, or impulses. This talk describes successive layers of obscurations that form from ignorance, to a belief in self, to afflictive emotions, to unskillful actions. The path undoes these layers by focusing, in order, on virtue, meditation, and wisdom, finally penetrating to Nibbana.
This talk looks at the question of not-self using the five aggregates as the Buddha spoke of them in his second discourse, the Characteristic of Not-Self. As we learn to see ourselves simply as an aspect of nature, both physical and mental, the burden of self lifts and life becomes much lighter.
This talk describes the two shifts needed to transform our relationship to afflictive emotions, one of attitude and one of wisdom. We come to understand an emotion by learning to see its expression in mind, in body, and in the thoughts that make up its underlying view or story.
The near enemy of metta is attached affection, common in romantic love. The far enemy is aversion, which takes many forms, such as resentment and fear. The talk explores these responses and how to work with them in metta practice.
This is the second of two talks outlining key developments in the evolution of Buddhist schools in India between the death of the Buddha and the emergence of Dzogchen. This talk covers briefly the origins of the Mahayana, Naganjuna, Yogacara and Vajrayana.
This is the first of two talks outlining key developments in the evolution of Buddhist schools in India between the death of the Buddha (463 BCE) and the emergence of Dzogchen (ca. 6th cent.). This talk covers the stages of classical (or Nikaya) Buddhism up to the beginning of the Mahayana.