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.
Contemplating the internal experience of “me” and the way “me” reacts with external phenomena reveals how our identity is constantly manufactured by our reactions. Widening and relaxing supports a heart that is modest, clear and open, without stress and without identity; a heart that can comfortably meet and deal with what arises.
Who or what you think you are is not your fundamental home. Learning to contemplate the citta/ mind/ heart and the five aggregates (form, consciousness, perceptions, feelings and mental formations) reveals a way to dismantle the driven ego and liberate the citta from aging, sickness and death.
Identity is actually a process of making a self through clinging to what mind creates through contact with our environment and other people. This process comes down to the interplay of form, consciousness, perceptions, feelings and mental formations – the aggregates (khandha) But am I really any part of this? Investigation allows us to unclog the heart and release the inherent suffering. Ajahn recommends walking as a way of experiencing flow and fluidity. No identity is needed!
Investigation reveals this to be a mix of causes and conditions (inherited karma) along with actions and attitudes established through compulsive reactions. Using the Buddha's core teaching of the dukkha/ suffering that comes with clinging, we learn to use the feelings in the body as a guide to allow us to move out of this programmed self.
In understanding and relaxing the boundaries of self we step back and listen internally with goodwill, discovering what has to be set aside or investigated. Thus we begin to release the self from the habitual trap of cause and effect.
This Covid experience can give the felt sense of being trapped, corralled in. There’s a background sense of fear and uncertainty. That’s why it’s so important to generate lovingkindness, groundedness, steadiness – soothing the community atmosphere, internally and externally.
00:00 Working with people who have suffered trauma; 05:32 Helping someone into feeling the body or breath; 06:54 Relationships with others who are not spiritual; 09:06 Relationship between energy, intension and kamma; 17:57 The felt sense of being held; 20:36 Feelings of negativity when verbally attacked by family members; 23:24 Feeling sleepy; 25:29 Disorientation when trauma recedes; 28:55 The thinking mind; 32:02 When something is stuck; 34:27 Samādhi and concentration; 42:00 Is chanting helpful to the practice.
Holding on doesn’t provide you with the deep security of being held. That deeper security comes from trusting that something can carry you and you don’t have to do it. That’s what breathing does. Mindfulness of breathing sustains the right mode of attention – steady, not seeking anything, listening intently with no particular result. Relax into that and get the sense of freedom and love.