Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
Shaila Catherine gave this talk on planning tendencies of the mind. Papanca is a Pali term that means proliferation. A lot of our planning is not preparation for action. Rather, it's a form of dukkha: chronic planning may be a manifestation of anxiety, restlessness, worry, or obsessive thinking about "who I will be." Planning is fuel for self-becoming, self-grasping; restless planning perpetuates the fantasy of a future we think we can control or predict, but such future may never happen. Instead of habitually indulging in planning tendencies, we can train our attention to be mindful of life as it actually unfolds. We can thus learn to calm fantasies that distract the mind, let go of expectations, and gradually strengthen concentration to be more fully present. We can also curb the tendency to become lost in imagined scenarios of hope and fear about life's events.
These seven qualities offer an effective framework for cultivating the mind, overcoming the hindrances, and balancing the energetic and calming forces that develop in meditation. When cultivated and balanced, the mind is ripe for awakening. This series will explore each factor to reveal its importance, function, and role in the process of awakening.
The Pali Canon includes over 5,000 discourses that document conversations and encounters that occurred during forty years of the Buddha's ministry. Over the centuries, certain teachings have risen to the surface with popularity and come to characterize our impression of what the Buddha taught. However, the vast collection of source material reaches beyond these well known teachings. For this speaker series, IMSB has invited teachers to focus on teachings that have been largely neglected by contemporary Buddhist groups. Each talk will share a lesser-known teaching, event, or instruction that will enrich our comprehension of what the Buddha taught. We will discover whether broadening our source material reinforces the dominant view of Buddhist practice or paints a different picture of meditation and the path of liberation.
Shaila Catherine gave the sixth talk in a series on Recollective Meditations. This talk explores the practice of devanusatti — contemplating the good qualities that lead to happiness in this life and future lives. This practice emphasizes five specific qualities: faith, virtue, learning, generosity, and wisdom. One first reflects on the superior qualities of the devas, and then contemplates those same qualities within oneself. By contemplating the success of celestial beings, we might realize that success is also possible for us. This practice can inspire us to develop those beautiful qualities of heart and mind.
This is the 4th talk in a 5-part speaker series titled "Balanced Practice." Shaila Catherine explores the compassion of protecting others and the wisdom of protecting oneself through the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness guards the mind and protects the mind from sliding into actions based upon unwholesome tendencies. Mindfulness also protects us from the unmindful actions that could easily cause harm. Mindfulness has a capacity of naturally drawing everything into balance, so the mind progresses with a balance of effort and ease, of tranquility and investigation, and of calm concentrated state and engaged state.
Shaila Catherine gave the fifth talk in a series on Recollective Meditations. This talk describes the recollection of the Sangha, reflecting on the virtues of a community of practitioners at various stages of awakening. This reflection uplifts the mind and reinforces those virtues, which in turn leads to the Path of awakening. When one recollects the Sangha, one's mind is not obsessed by greed, hate, and delusion. In addition, when we are temporarily discouraged in our practice, when we reflect on the Sangha, we can connect with a group of people who have been practicing the Path of awakening for centuries.
The art of Dhamma practice includes engaging skillfully with complementary aspects of practice. Sometimes we are called to actively cultivate qualities, while at other times, letting go is more appropriate. We use both our head and our heart; we engage both inwardly and in the outer world; we need both restraint and boldness. Sometimes qualities that at first appear to be in opposition, are actually inseparable -- like the front and back of a hand. This speaker series explores potential paradoxes and complimentary forces in meditation, as we learn to develop a balanced practice.
The Buddha taught a broad range of meditation practice -- far more extensive than simply observing sensations and breath. Practitioners can use six classic meditation subjects to nurture calmness, focus attention, inspire patience persistence, gain confidence in the efficacy of the path, and contemplate the nature of kamma, action, and mind. The six recollections are: Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, Virtue, Generosity, and Heavens.
This is the first talk in a speaker series titled "Recollective Meditations." Shaila Catherine speaks about the meditation practice known as recollection of the Buddha, Buddhanusati. The practice involves the contemplation of qualities associated with the awakened mind. Each quality highlights a feature that the Buddha brought to perfection — in conduct, virtue, mental development, wisdom, teaching abilities, social influence, and mental powers. The reflection on these virtuous qualities of the Buddha establishes faith, confidence and inspiration for the path, deepens concentration, inhibits hindrances, strengthens joy, and refreshes the mind. It also serves as a classic protection against doubt. By contemplating the accomplishments of the Buddha, we may sense the potential for awakening within our own lives.
This talk by Shaila Catherine is the first in the speaker series "Doorways to Insight." Shaila Catherine describes the importance that is placed on recognizing and contemplating impermanence. This is one of the three main characteristics that we observe in insight meditation practices. We see and know that things change. Everything is changing—thoughts, emotions, feelings, perceptions, sensations, tastes, and emotions. But when we don't see the impermanence of things, we tend to grasp and cling to them. We tend to want to make them to last, and thereby we identify and become attached. As a result of attachment, we suffer, because they are changing anyway. Can we see beyond things that change, and realize what might be called changeless or deathless, to awaken with insight, to realize nibbana?