As a monk, I bring a strong commitment, along with the renunciate flavor, to the classic Buddhist teachings. I play with ideas, with humor and a current way of expressing the teachings, but I don't dilute them.
Sitting in a field of fifty to eighty people really starts my mind sparking. Since I don't prepare my talks ahead of time, I find myself listening to what I'm saying along with everyone else. This leaves a lot of room for the Dhamma to come up. Just having eighty people listening to me is enough to engage me, stimulate me, and create a nice flow of energy. The actual process of teaching evokes ideas that even I did not realize were being held somewhere in my mind.
Different teaching situations offer their own unique value. In retreat, you are able to build a cohesive and comprehensive body of the teachings. When people are not on retreat and come for one session, it opens a different window. They are more spontaneous and I'm given the chance to contact them in ways that are closer to their "daily-life mind." This brings up surprises and interesting opportunities for me to learn even more.
I'm continually struck by how important it is to establish a foundation of morality, commitment, and a sense of personal values for the Vipassana teachings to rest upon. Personal values have to be more than ideas. They have to actually work for us, to be genuinely felt in our lives. We can't bluff our way into insight. The investigative path is an intimate experience that empowers our individuality in a way that is not egocentric. Vipassana encourages transpersonal individuality rather than ego enhancement. It allow for a spacious authenticity to replace a defended personality.
On this renunciant retreat, we have been encouraged to rest back into simplicity. Letting go of the emotional uprisings and self-identification, shift into the presence of embodiment here and now. Here we find the capacity that’s able to be with and not waiver.
We practice to develop skillful reflexes in response to our human condition. Use body as a reference point when unplugging from mind’s unskillful habits and reactions. Meditation is an occasion to sense the quality of ungrasping and letting go.
Mind can be useful, but keep it in its place, the world of abstractions. It doesn’t do well in the living organic world. Meet the inconclusive impossibilities of life with heart’s fundamental quality to open and include.
A review of the key teachings – how to practice with body, heart and mind in a way that leads to liberation. Firming up faith, restraining from unskillful habits, exerting the mind in skillful investigations, enjoyment and contentment of the mind.
The development of insight comes from feeling experience as it arises. Detachment, dispassion and relinquishment enable the allowing of phenomena, witnessing of change, and letting go of making it personal. We’re able to be truly present and in touch with what’s happening.
The beginning of insight is knowing what’s helpful and not, recognizing causes and conditions. We learn to meet difficult thoughts and feelings in skillful ways. Calming the body, using gentle and receptive gestures, we learn to listen to and soothe the crazy mind. One starts to see that negative experiences are not the problem but the sense of self that identifies with all of it.
We’re conditioned to make a self out of sense consciousness, but everything simply arises out of causes and conditions. We practice with right view and deep attention to meet what arises directly, see it as phenomena arising and changing.
We use a meditation theme like mindfulness of breathing to bring about the factors of awakening. These factors are not things we can do, they come about under the right conditions. Tend to the heart and body energies, bringing them together to hold your ground against the hinderances and make way for the factors of awakening.
As we begin our meditation, establish a reference that helps us to be with rather than be in. Be the ‘knower of the worlds’, aware of the danger and getting stuck. Body can be that reference, it gives a sense of here-ness. Widen awareness and be choosy with attention.
Breathing gets conditioned by how we live our lives – energy can be mottled and unbalanced. It is a signifier of the heart. We can take time during retreat to take samādhi as a way of life, unifying body, heart and mind to bring into fruition the factors of awakening.