Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reading: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness (The Satipatthana Sutta)

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. This evening we meditated on Mindfulness of the Body. The full audio of the meditation will follow in the next week or so for those of you who weren't there, or who would like to repeat the meditation.

In introducing it I read the following passages from The Satipatthana Sutta. The full sutta can be found here. I highly recommend reading through it all.

“Bhikkhus, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realisation of Nibbāna—namely, the four foundations of mindfulness.  
“What are the four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.
[...] 
“Again, bhikkhus, when walking, a bhikkhu understands: ‘I am walking’; when standing, he understands: ‘I am standing’; when sitting, [57] he understands: ‘I am sitting’; when lying down, he understands: ‘I am lying down’; or he understands accordingly however his body is disposed. 7. “In this way he abides contemplating the body as a body internally, externally, and both internally and externally … And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world. That too is how a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body.

Passages © Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2009)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Metta Letter: Happiness

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Generating Metta (Lovingkindness) for a Benefactor [AUDIO]

In this meditation we focus on generating lovingkindness (Metta) for a 'benefactor' - someone who we feel deep gratitude towards.

When we do the full Metta Bhavana (Cultivation of Lovingkindness) practice we usually just use four specific people to practice with:

  • Our self
  • A friend
  • A 'neutral' person
  • An 'enemy', or difficult person
We have covered these all in detail in previous posts. However, traditionally there was an extra person introduced. This person was the 'benefactor' - someone who you had a deep feeling of gratitude towards. When the meditation was originally taught it was within a monastic tradition, and the monks would have taken a brave step of depending on the kindness of others to live. Thus the importance of the benefactor.

For us we still have many people who we owe gratitude towards. Whether it be our parents who gave us life, our teachers along the path or even those who did things to us we disliked but we learned from. Whoever they are, we introduce them in this meditation and practice both gratitude and deep, unconditional love.


The full audio, including a 30 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Generating Lovingkindness for an Enemy [AUDIO]

In this meditation we focus on generating lovingkindness (Metta) for an 'Enemy' or difficult person.

As you may have seen from my previous post, I was unable to use the audio from our meditation session in the studio, so instead I chose to re-record the introduction based on my notes. So this isn't exactly what I said in class, but it is close!

The full audio, including a 30 minute guided meditation is below.



If the embedded audio player above doesn't work for you, please click here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Yangsi: Movie Recommendation


I today watched the beautiful documentary "Yangsi", and would like to recommend it to all of you who are interested in other meditation cultures. It is a 'fly on the wall' movie about the life of Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, a young boy who at the age of four was recognized as the rebirth of the great teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The film follows him from the age of four through to his first teaching at seventeen.

For me I found this at first fascinating, and then incredibly moving as you saw him blossom into his life as a teacher. The film is very honest about his humanity, and I came away with a profound feeling of devotion to the young master.

If (like me) you enjoyed the movie "Boyhood," which showed an ordinary boy in America growing up you won't fail to find interesting parallels in this movie about a very different boyhood.

Tibetan beliefs and rituals can seem very foreign to us in the West, and it is fascinating when the movie covers his first teaching tour of the US. The cultural difference is palpable, and yet at the same time you can see how we are all seeking the same happiness.

This is a short documentary of about 80 minutes, and I highly recommend it if you would like a glimpse into the inner workings of Tibetan practices.

You can read more about the movie here. The movie is available on Netflix or on DVD or streaming from Amazon.