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.
Remember the gift of mind. It can seem such a tangle at times. The untrained mind is difficult and can be deadly. The trained mind is a beauty, it can be liberated – deathless. This is choice. Attending to what’s worthy of attention; attending to what gives rise to beautiful states that lift and brighten. Withdrawing attention from states that become burdensome, confusing, useless. The gift of attention, use it wisely.
Three references for standing: anatomy, sensations and energies. Setting aside what isn’t needed and firming up what is useful, allowing the body to complete itself and come into balance. Free from obstruction, free from intrusion, free from harm.
We tend to get the situations that will work on us. Our approach, if we get wise, is to meet dissatisfaction in the body. There is a possibility to unhook from the tides of affliction that cause us to form up in these challenging situations. We can pause, unhook, and bear open, steady presence. Shifts occur by themselves.
Rather than following the mental movements of the mind, there’s the possibility to just open to the manifest with no particular engagement. The particular point is meeting dukkha – where we chafe, want, resist – and recognizing it as it is. At the moment the engagement changes, the mind releases. Then the world doesn’t have to be that good.
Walking from your center, finding fluidity of movement, sensing with the torso rather than the eyes. [Ends 10:10] For reclining, laying flat on one’s back, allowing front of body to completely open up, extending awareness from the feet to the head and the space around.
Mindfulness of body is not just in reference to the outer form, but to energetic sensitivity. Data from the body is direct, not filtered through the mind. If we track it and tune into it, it can release blocked areas, clear psychological effects and bring clarity. Approach with goodwill and softness of attitude.
As we enter retreat, we may feel a certain amount of jangle and disorientation. Our embodiment can provide a source of strong, inner orientation. This inner form has its own language, rhythms and moods that can ground and settle us into the real here and now.
Instructions for sitting and standing meditation are offered. In both, sensing ground, balancing of outer and inner forms, rhythmic flow of in and out breathing, allowing the beauty and intelligence of subtle forms to come forth.
Guidance to keep putting things aside, and keep establishing ‘here,’ a bodily feeling that serves as a guide to what’s always here.
In the space of open awareness, we can ask ourselves every day: What is the most important thing? And the answer may change each time. For the retreat time, we consider silence and goodwill as the most important things.