Living on the Inner Edge: A Practical Esoteric Tale by by Cyrus Ryan (Author)

To be published on Dec 14, 2018

A mystical story, breaking traditional boundaries, new thought, practices, insights, and a way of knowledge. Everyone walks their own path but in the New Age of Spirituality the idea of Group Work was born from the works of the Tibetan Master D.K., where he introduced the idea of group work on the physical plane and in the higher spheres of the Soul, and the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky Work which was accomplished through intense group meetings and personal interaction. Living on the Inner Edge is a foray into the world of experimental Group Work which lasted for over 30 years, constantly evolving and synthesizing the essence of different Esoteric Traditions into a new body of discipline that achieved extraordinary results.

About the Author
Creativity and spiritual experiences have marked Cyrus Ryan’s life since a young age. He has spent time in India and Tibet, where he gained insights into the practices of esoteric Buddhism. An artist, writer and lecturer, Cyrus has lectured at The Theosophical Society, the Association for Higher Awareness (AHA), the New Jersey Metaphysical Society, and the University of Seven Rays. He has published articles in a variety of new age periodicals including The Beacon. Cyrus has been exploring esoteric knowledge for over forty years. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

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How To See Past Lives & Why Its Important | Ajahn Brahm

Published on Sep 18, 2018
Ajahn Brahm answers a question about how we can know about past lives.

The Five Hurdles to Happiness: And the Mindful Path to Overcoming Them by Mitch Abblett (Author)

A practical approach to becoming aware of the “five hindrances”–the negative qualities that inhibit living the awakened life–and to breaking free of them in order to live more mindfully, effectively, compassionately.

Five obstacles stand in between you and true happiness. What are they and how can you overcome them? Buddhist traditions teach that there are five negative qualities, or hindrances, that inhibit people from living an awakened life.

Here, Mitch Abblett gives this teaching a modern, secular interpretation and helps you identify the hurdles that are blocking your contentment—desire, hostility, sluggishness, worry, and doubt—and how you can take your first steps to overcoming them. Combining traditional wisdom with contemporary psychology and using examples from his psychotherapy practice, Abblett uses the hurdles as a frame for engaging you in a process of contemplating your own life and learning to lean into your experience rather than merely repeating bad habits. By doing this, you can break free from the hurdles and live more mindfully, effectively, and compassionately.


Dr. Mitch Abblett is a clinical psychologist, author, consultant and speaker. As a clinician, his services focus on work with children, teens, parents, families and adults with whom he creates solutions for a range of concerns or desired growth areas. A clinician in the Boston area for over 15 years, he brings a wealth of clinical experience from various settings (hospitals, outpatient clinics, residential facilities and therapeutic schools) to his practice. For 11 years he served as the Clinical Director of the Manville School at Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston – a Harvard-affiliated therapeutic school program for children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties. He has also served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy.

As a consultant and speaker, Dr. Abblett empowers changes clients through collaborative, tailored interventions. His consultative and training work focuses on mindfulness, compassion and value-driven action and empowering clients to communicate skillfully and authentically. He improves clients’ school and work effectiveness, reduces the effects of stress, and increases skills for health self-management and daily productivity. Dr. Abblett’s writing includes a mindfulness-based book for clinicians (The Heat of the Moment: Mindful Management of Difficult Clients; WW Norton & Co.), Mindfulness for Teen Depression and Helping Your Angry Teen (both with New Harbinger), five decks of mindfulness practice cards such as Growing Mindful: A Deck of Mindfulness Practices for All Ages: PESI Publishing). His upcoming book, The Five Hurdles to Happiness-and the Mindful Path to Overcoming Them will be released by Shambhala Publications in August 2018. He also blogs regarding mindfulness applications in family and relationships on Mindful.org.

The Colorings Of Consciousness – Jack Kornfield

Consciousness is colored by the states that visit it.—Buddha

“Eh,” my teacher Ajahn Chah would peer at me when I was having a hard time, “caught in some state again?” In the forest monastery we were constantly being directed both to look at consciousness itself and to precisely name the states that rose to fill it throughout the day: frightened, bored, relaxed, confused, resentful, calm, frustrated, and so forth.

Ajahn Chah would sometimes ask us out loud about our states so that we could acknowledge them more clearly. To a recently divorced monk from Bangkok he chided, “Is there sadness? Anger? Self-pity? Hey, these are natural. Look at them all.” And to a confused English monk he laughed, “Can you see what is happening? There is distraction, confusion, being in a muddle. They’re only mind states, you know. Come on. Do you believe your mind states? Are you trapped by them? You’ll suffer for sure.”

Once we became more skilled at noticing, he would up the ante. He would deliberately make things difficult and watch what happened. In the hottest season, he would send us out barefoot to collect alms food on a ten-mile round trip, and smile at us when we came back to see if we were frustrated or discouraged. He’d have us sit up all night long for endless teachings, without any break, and check in on us cheerfully at four in the morning. When we got annoyed, he’d ask, “Are you angry? Whose fault is that?”

In popular Western culture we are taught that the way to achieve happiness is to change our external environment to fit our wishes. But this strategy doesn’t work. In every life, pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame keep showing up, no matter how hard we struggle to have only pleasure, gain, and praise. Buddhist psychology offers a different approach to happiness, teaching that states of consciousness are far more crucial than outer circumstances.

More than anything else, the way we experience life is created by the particular states of mind with which we meet it. If you are watching a high school soccer playoff and your daughter is the nervous goalie, your consciousness will be filled with worry, sympathy, and excitement at each turn of the game. If you are a hired driver waiting to pick up someone’s kid, you will see the same sights, the players and ball, in a bored, disinterested way. If you are the referee, you will perceive the sights and sounds in yet another mode. It is the same way with hearing Beethoven, pulling weeds, watching a movie, or visiting Mexico City. Our awareness becomes colored by our thoughts, emotions, and expectations.

“Just as when a lute is played upon,” the Buddha says, “the sound arises due to the qualities of the wooden instrument, the strings, and the exertions of the musician, in the same way do moments of experience and consciousness appear and, having come into existence, pass away.”

Our consciousness becomes colored or conditioned, taking on whatever qualities happen to arise with it. When we see this process clearly with loving awareness, then we don’t get caught in each changing state or mood. We can smile and say “Oh yes, here’s that one again.” With mindfulness we open to an inner ease and freedom of heart that serves us wherever we go.

Stephen Snyder ‘The Transformative and The Transcendent’ Interview by Iain McNay

Published on Apr 18, 2018

Stephen Snyder ‘The Transformative and The Transcendent’ Interview by Iain McNay
Stephen is the co-author of ‘Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable PA Auk Sayadaw.’ 

 He has been a Buddhist practitioner for over 40 years. In the 70’s he read ‘Three Pillars Of Zen’ which started him on his path of meditation and then a few years later he had a significant awakening experience which showed him the nature of reality. He discovered the Jhana path of meditation and found he strongly connected with that. 

He now works with Tina Rasmussen teaching meditation and is also a practicing lawyer. He has found that it is really important to work on the Transformative and The Transcendent and talks in detail about this in the interview. http://www.awakeningdharma.com

Thich Nhat Hanh Explains the Art of ‘Letting Go’

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist master, has some interesting advice about what it means to truly let go.
Many people mistake detachment or non-clinging to be a form of aloofness, or emotional disconnect from others, but as Hanh explains, truly letting go often means loving someone more than you have ever loved them before.

The Buddha taught that detachment, one of the disciplines on the Noble Path, also called ariyasaavaka, is not a physical act of withdrawal or even a form of austerity. Though the Buddha teaches of a “non-action which is an integral part of the Right Way,” if it is taken out of context it can give the impression that we should develop a lack of concern for others, and that we should live without truly feeling or expressing our emotions – cutting ourselves off from life.

These type of misinterpretations are sadly common, since there are not always direct translations from the Paali language into English.

This form of “detachment” is an erroneous understanding of the Buddha’s message. Master Hanh states that to truly let go we must learn to love more completely. Non-attachment only happens when our love for another extends beyond our own personal expectations of gain, or our anticipation of a specific, desired outcome.

Hanh describes four forms of complete detachment, which surprisingly, aren’t about holing yourself up in a cave and ignoring everyone who has broken your heart, or ignoring your lust or desire for a romantic interest. This is not detachment. Letting go, means diving in. For example:

Maitri (Not the Love You Know)

Hanh describes the importance of Maitri, not love as we normally understand in a Westernized use of the word. He states,

“The first aspect of true love is maitri (metta, in Pali), the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness. To develop that capacity, we have to practice looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy. If you offer your beloved something she does not need, that is not maitri. You have to see her real situation or what you offer might bring her unhappiness.”

In other words, your detachment may come in accepting that certain things you would normally do to make another person feel loved and appreciated may not be what the person you are actively loving now, needs. Instead of forcing that behavior on another person, with an egoic intent to “please” them, you simply detach from that need in yourself, and truly observe what makes another person feel comfortable, safe, and happy.

Hanh further explains,

“We have to use language more carefully. “Love” is a beautiful word; we have to restore its meaning. The word “maitri” has roots in the word mitra which means friend. In Buddhism, the primary meaning of love is friendship.”
Karuna (Compassion)

The next form of true detachment is compassion. When we let go, we don’t stop offering a compassionate touch, word, or deed to help someone who is in pain. We also don’t expect to take their hurt or pain away. Compassion contains deep concern, though. It is not aloofness It is not isolation from others.

The Buddha smiles because he understands why pain and suffering exist, and because he also knows how to transform it. You become more deeply involved in life when you become detached form the outcome, but this does not mean you don’t participate fully – even in others’ pain.

Gratitude and Joy

In truly letting go you practice gratitude. Mudita, or joy arises when we are overcome with gratitude for all that we have, such that we no longer cling to some other longed-for result. The Buddha’s definition of joy is more like “Unselfish joy.” It means that we don’t only find happiness when something good happens to us, but when others find happiness.

If you’ve ever had to say goodbye to a love or friend so that they could continue on their life’s path – one that may not have continued to intertwine with your own – you may have felt pain when they found someone new to love, or made a new friend that seemed to take your place. This is not true detachment. Joy arises when you find happiness even when others find joy – and it has little or nothing to do with you.
Upeksha (Equanimity)

Master Hanh describes the final quality of true love which sheds inordinate light on the true process of letting go.

He states,

“The fourth element of true love is upeksha, which means equanimity, non-attachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go. Upa means “over,” and iksha means “to look.” You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other. If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging in it, it is not true love.

People who do not understand Buddhism sometimes think upeksha means indifference, but true equanimity is neither cold nor indifferent. If you have more than one child, they are all your children. Upeksha does not mean that you don’t love. You love in a way that all your children receive your love, without discrimination.”

Hanh explains that without this quality our love tends to become possessive – a stomping ground of the ego. We try to put our beloved in our pocket and carry them with us, when they are more like the wind, or a butterfly, or a stream, needing to move and flow, or risk dying. This is not love, this is destruction.

For love to be true love, it must have elements of compassion, joy, and equanimity – and thisis truly letting go.

The Art of Letting Go is Artless

The real secret is that letting go is not an art, it is an allowing, a being. A non-attached relationship is healthy, strong and filled with effortless love, kindness and compassion. It is completely selfless because your sense of ‘self’ is no longer asserted in every situation. If you want to truly let go, you’ve got to love more, not less. This is the most common misunderstanding about this priceless teaching of the Buddha.

Featured Image: Photo © Unified Buddhist Church.
Source: The Mind Unleashed

How to Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax (Author)

In How to be Human, Ruby Wax tries to come up with some answers to that niggling question about how we can learn to like and love ourselves. With the input of a Buddhist monk (an expert on our inner lives) and a neuroscientist (an expert on the brain), Ruby explores how to find happiness in the modern world – despite the constant bombardment of bad news, the need to choose between 5,000 different types of toothpaste, and the loneliness of having hundreds of friends who we’ve never met and don’t know us.

Filled with witty anecdotes from Ruby’s own life, and backed up by scientific authority, How to be Human is the only guide you need for building a healthy, happy relationship with yourself.

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)

We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.

I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.


Ruby Wax, OBE (born Ruby Wachs; 19 April 1953) is an American actress, mental health campaigner, lecturer, and author who holds both American and British citizenship.

A classically-trained actress, Wax came to prominence as a comic interviewer, playing up to British perceptions of the strident American style, which she replicated in the TV sitcom Girls on Top. She also appeared in Absolutely Fabulous, where she doubled as script editor. Her memoirs, How Do You Want Me?, reached the Sunday Times best-seller list.

Wax pursued a distinguished academic career, graduating in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and gaining a master’s degree in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy from Oxford University. Wax is currently a Visiting Professor in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Surrey.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by S Pakhrin (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

How To Be Human | Ruby Wax

What do you get when Ruby Wax, a monk and a neuroscientist team up to write a book? How to be Human: The Manual – which has already been described by Joanna Lumley as ‘wise, practical and funny’. ‘How to Be Human is wise, practical and funny. It is a handbook for those in despair. Ruby, the Monk and the Neuroscientist are today’s Magi’ Joanna Lumley

Ruby Wax in conversation with a Neuroscientist, a Monk & Louise Chunn

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the ‘Evolutionary Hunger Games’ by the fact you’re on all 2’s and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – but most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? Why have we started treating ourselves like machines and less like humans? But even as technology takes over the world, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’ – and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness. It’s time to upgrade your mind as often as you upgrade your iPhone. Hear Ruby Wax, monk Gelong Thubton and neuroscientist Ash Ranpura discuss her new book, How to be Human, covering everything from addictions to relationships, via evolution, sex, kids, compassion, and the future of humanity. ————————————————————————-

Tina Rasmussen ‘Living The Enlightenment Drive’ Interview by Renate McNay

Published on Apr 1, 2018

Tina RasmussenLiving The Enlightenment Drive’ Interview by Renate McNay

Tina teaches Jhana Meditation and helps students recognise their deeper nature, both on the cushion and in daily life. She wrote the book “Practicing the Jhanas” with her teaching partner Stephen Snyder. She also worked as an organisation development consultant and coach for more the 25 years and published several books on humanistic business practices.

Tina learned to meditate at age 13 and had been attending long silent meditation retreats. For years she practiced in Buddhist and Non-Dual traditions. She had a natural talent for concentration meditation and undertook an intensive year-long solo retreat during which a profound awakening to true nature occurred. 

After life-changing experiences Tina felt the strong pull to become a “cave yogi” but as the awakening matured, it was compelling to her to function in the world from an awakened perspective. 

She was the first Western Women who completed the entire Samatha path including the eight Jhanas and was authorised to teach by Burmese meditation Master Ven.Pa Auk Sayadaw. She is also practicing the “Diamond Approach” by H. A. Almaas. http://www.awakeningdharma.com

A Japanese Buddhist Master reveals 21 rules of life that will blow your mind By Lachlan Brown –

For years I struggled to find the peace I really wanted.

You know the dream:

Happiness

Not overthinking

No anxiety

Physically fit

And the to live every moment without being distracted by the past or the future.

During that time, I lived with anxiety, insomnia and way too much useless thinking going on in my head. It was never easy.

One of the reasons I was never truly at peace was because of one recurring problem: I couldn’t learn to “accept” where I was without wishing it were different.

Because avoiding and fighting against what is happening inside you only makes it worse.

Unfortunately, acceptance is also really hard to cultivate. We’re practically wired to not accept the moment if it’s not 100% comfortable.

So, what can we do?

What helped me was coming across Japanese Buddhist master Miyamoto Mushashi’s 21 rules of life.

Known as Japan’s greatest ever swordsman, he wrote these 21 rules 2 weeks before his death.

Each rule teaches you to accept your circumstances in life, detach from outside forces you can’t control and be comfortable with who you are.

I find these rules powerful because the only way to cultivate acceptance is through continued practice in your actions and your attitude. The two things we actually have control over.

And these rules give you the necessary guidelines to do just that.

It might take months to rewire your brain, but it’s well worth it.

Check them out:

1) Accept everything just the way it is.
Acceptance is perhaps the most important attitude to overcome mental challenges in life.

It’s a state of mind. There’s no destination or goal with acceptance. It’s simply the process of exercising the mind to be tolerant of anything life throws at us.

Why is it powerful?

Because instead of fighting against negative emotions like anxiety and stress, you’re actually accepting them the way they are. You’re not bitter, and you’re not creating more negativity out of your negativity.

Through acceptance you pave the path for negative emotions like anxiety to become less powerful. You’re not fighting against them and making them worse.

But to be clear: Acceptance is not the following: It’s not indifference or apathy. It does not involve giving up or not trying. It’s simply about accepting things without judging them.

It is what it is. Whatever happens happens. It’s about being patient and allowing the natural flow of things to take place.

2) Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
As humans, we’re unhappiest when we become dissatisfied with what we have, and decide that we want more.

When we seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake, we put ourselves in an endless loop of desiring that’s only temporarily satisfied when we experience that pleasure.

But feelings don’t last forever. And before you know it, you’ll be back desiring again.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy pleasure when you experience it. It just means you won’t be constantly seeking pleasure for its own sake. You appreciate what you have in every moment, and sometimes that will be pleasurable emotions.

But you also won’t be unhappy when you aren’t experiencing pleasure.

3) Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
Same as above, feelings don’t last forever. Emotions are transient. You won’t be happy all the time, and wanting to be so will only make you unhappy.

4) Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
When you think of yourself too much, you amplify your ego and your insecurities.

Happy people are the ones who focus on helping others. There’s a beautiful Chinese Proverb which describes this perfectly:

“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

In other words: Be humble, don’t take yourself too seriously and focus on helping others.

5) Be detached from desire your whole life long.
Buddhism says that desiring leads to suffering. Why? Because when you’re desiring, you’re dissatisfied with what you have right now.

And when you get what you want, this leads you down an endless loop of desiring.

If you can forget about the idea of wanting, you can learn to be comfortable and grateful for what you have right now, which is key to inner peace.

6) Do not regret what you have done.
Regret is a useless emotion, isn’t it? You can’t change what’s happened. Yes, you can learn from what happened, but that doesn’t involve experiencing regret.

I know that sometimes we can’t help but regret things in life, but it’s important not to dwell on it. It’s useless to do so.

7) Never be jealous.
Another useless emotion. It also means you’re insecure with yourself, because you’re envious of someone else.

Instead, look inside yourself and be grateful for who you are and what you have.

8) Never let yourself be saddened by separation.
It sucks to separate from someone you want to be with. But getting sad over it won’t help you or them.

Sometimes you just need to toughen up and appreciate what you have, not what you lose.

9) Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
Again, complaining without action doesn’t help you achieve anything. It only serves to raise your toxic energy.

And don’t let what other people do affect you as well. You’re not in control of what they do. But you are in control of how you react to what they do.

10) Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
This one’s probably a controversial one for many. For me, too. I think we can all agree that you don’t want to be guided by lust. It’s similar to chasing emotions that don’t last forever and will only give you temporary fulfilment.

Love, however, is a different story. I don’t know about you, but I think that love is one of the most important emotions to be guided by. Your family is everything, whoever they are, and your life is much more fulfilled when you do whatever you can for them.

11) In all things have no preferences.
Similar to desiring, by having preferences, you’re not happy with what you have right now. You’re dissatisfied and unable to enjoy the present moment.

So if you can, try not to prefer something over something else, especially if you can’t control it.

12) Be indifferent to where you live.
If you can change where you live, then by all means go ahead. And don’t stop looking for opportunities to do so.

But besides doing that, it’s more fulfilling to appreciate where you are right now, rather than wishing it were different.

13) Do not pursue the taste of good food.
Interesting one. Focus on eating to be healthy and for nourishment. Desiring delicious food can lead to addiction and attachment. This goes for alcohol and drugs, too.

14) Do not hold onto possessions you no longer need.
It’s easy to get cluttered with junk that you don’t need. But if it’s not benefiting your life, get rid of it. More space and clear thinking is what’s needed. Not more stuff.

15) Do not act following customary beliefs.
Follow your own common sense. Do what makes sense to your own values, not what other people think. Decide for yourself.

You know what’s right and wrong. You don’t need someone else to tell you.

16) Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
A tribute to his swordsman time, but we can apply this for our lives, too. It’s better to be an expert in one thing, than okay at everything.

17) Do not fear death.
Extremely hard to do. But it’s something none of us will escape. We can either learn to accept that our own and our close one’s time will eventually come, or fight against it causing anxiety and sadness for the rest of our lives.

18) Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
What good will they do you when you’re gone? Only collect what is useful. Don’t waste your time.

19) Respect Buddha and the Gods without counting on their help.
Take responsibility for yourself. Don’t count on luck or god to pull you through. Tackle the endeavors you know are within your capabilities. Keep doing the right thing and everything else will fall into place.

20) You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor.
Don’t do anything that you won’t be able to live with for the rest of your life. Your actions define you, not your beliefs.

21) Never stray from the way.
Stay humble, do the right thing and always keep learning and growing.

Looking to reduce stress and live a calmer, more focused life? Mindfulness is the easy way to gently let go of stress and be in the moment. It has fast become the slow way to manage the modern world – without chanting mantras or finding hours of special time to meditate.

Neuroscience Has A Lot To Learn From Buddhism – Matthieu Ricard

Posted on December 18, 2017
by Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer: A scientist and a monk compare notes on meditation, therapy, and their effects on the brain…
Can training the mind make us more attentive, altruistic, and serene? Can we learn to manage our disturbing emotions in an optimal way? What are the transformations that occur in the brain when we practice meditation? In a new book titled Beyond the Self, two friends—Matthieu Ricard, who left a career as a molecular biologist to become a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and Wolf Singer, a distinguished neuroscientist—engage in an unusually well-matched conversation about meditation and the brain.

Below is a condensed and edited excerpt.

Matthieu Ricard: Although one finds in the Buddhist literature many treatises on “traditional sciences”—medicine, cosmology, botanic, logic, and so on—Tibetan Buddhism has not endeavored to the same extent as Western civilizations to expand its knowledge of the world through the natural sciences. Rather it has pursued an exhaustive investigation of the mind for 2,500 years and has accumulated, in an empirical way, a wealth of experiential findings over the centuries. A great number of people have dedicated their whole lives to this contemplative science.

Modern Western psychology began with William James just over a century ago. I can’t help remembering the remark made by Stephen Kosslyn, then chair of the psychology department at Harvard, at the Mind and Life meeting on “Investigating the Mind,” which took place at MIT in 2003. He started his presentation by saying, “I want to begin with a declaration of humility in the face of the sheer amount of data that the contemplatives are bringing to modern psychology.”It does not suffice to ponder how the human psyche works and elaborate complex theories about it, as, for instance, Freud did. Such intellectual constructs cannot replace two millennia of direct investigation of the workings of mind through penetrating introspection conducted with trained minds that have become both stable and clear.

Wolf Singer: Can you be more specific with this rather bold claim? Why should what nature gave us be fundamentally negative, requiring special mental practice for its elimination, and why should this approach be superior to conventional education or, if conflicts arise, to psychotherapy in its various forms, including psychoanalysis?

Ricard: What nature gave us is by no means entirely negative; it is just a baseline. Few people would honestly argue that there is nothing worth improving about the way they live and the way they experience the world. Some people regard their own particular weaknesses and conflicting emotions as a valuable and distinct part of their “personality,” as something that contributes to the fullness of their lives. They believe that this is what makes them unique and argue that they should accept themselves as they are. But isn’t this an easy way to giving up on the idea of improving the quality of their lives, which would cost only some reasoning and effort?

Modern conventional education does not focus on transforming the mind and cultivating basic human qualities such as lovingkindness and mindfulness. As we will see later, Buddhist contemplative science has many things in common with cognitive therapies, in particular with those using mindfulness as a foundation for remedying mental imbalance. As for psychoanalysis, it seems to encourage rumination and explore endlessly the details and intricacies of the clouds of mental confusion and self-centeredness that mask the most fundamental aspect of mind: luminous awareness.

Singer: So rumination would be the opposite of what you do during meditation?

Ricard: Totally opposite. It is also well known that constant rumination is one of the main symptoms of depression. What we need is to gain freedom from the mental chain reactions that rumination endlessly perpetuates. One should learn to let thoughts arise and be freed to go as soon as they arise, instead of letting them invade one’s mind. In the freshness of the present moment, the past is gone, the future is not yet born, and if one remains in pure mindfulness and freedom, potentially disturbing thoughts arise and go without leaving a trace.

Singer
: What you have to learn then is to adopt a much more subtle approach to your internal emotional theater, to learn to identify with much higher resolution the various connotations of your feelings.

Ricard: That’s right. In the beginning, it is difficult to do it as soon as an emotion arises, but if you become increasingly familiar with such an approach, it becomes quite natural. Whenever anger is just showing its face, we recognize it right away and deal with it before it becomes too strong.

Singer: It is not unlike a scientific endeavor except that the analytical effort is directed toward the inner rather than the outer world. Science also attempts to understand reality by increasing the resolving power of instruments, training the mind to grasp complex relations, and decomposing systems into ever-smaller components.

Ricard: It is said in the Buddhist teachings that there is no task so difficult that it cannot be broken down into a series of small, easy tasks.

Singer: Your object of inquiry appears to be the mental apparatus and your analytical tool, introspection. This is an interesting self-referential approach that differs from the Western science of mind because it emphasizes the first-person perspective and collapses, in a sense, the instrument of investigation with its object. The Western approach, while using the first-person perspective for the definition of mental phenomena, clearly favors the third-person perspective for its investigation.

I am curious to find out whether the results of analytical introspection match those obtained by cognitive neuroscience. Both approaches obviously try to develop a differentiated and realistic view of cognitive processes.

What guarantees that the introspective technique for the dissection of mental phenomena is reliable? If it is the consensus among those who consider themselves experts, how can you compare and validate subjective mental states? There is nothing another person can look at and judge as valid; the observers can only rely on the verbal testimony of subjective states.

Ricard: It is the same with scientific knowledge. You first have to rely on the credible testimony of a number of scientists, but later you can train in the subject and verify the findings firsthand. This is quite similar to contemplative science. You first need to refine the telescope of your mind and the methods of investigations for years to find out for yourself what other contemplatives have found and all agreed on. The state of pure consciousness without content, which might seem puzzling at first sight, is something that all contemplatives have experienced. So it is not just some sort of Buddhist dogmatic theory. Anyone who takes the trouble to stabilize and clarify his or her mind will be able to experience it.Regarding cross-checking interpersonal experience, both contemplatives and the texts dealing with the various experiences a meditator might encounter are quite precise in their descriptions. When a student reports on his inner states of mind to an experienced meditation master, the descriptions are not just vague and poetic. The master will ask precise questions and the student replies, and it is quite clear that they are speaking about something that is well defined and mutually understood.

However, in the end, what really matters is the way the person gradually changes. If, over months and years, someone becomes less impatient, less prone to anger, and less torn apart by hopes and fears, then the method he or she has been using is a valid one.An ongoing study seems to indicate that while they are engaged in meditation, practitioners can clearly distinguish, like everyone who is not distracted, between pleasant and aversive stimuli, but they react much less emotionally than control subjects. While retaining the capacity of being fully aware of something, they succeed in not being carried away by their emotional responses.

Singer: How do you do this? What are the tools?

Ricard: This process requires perseverance. You need to train again and again. You can’t learn to play tennis by holding a racket for a few minutes every few months. With meditation, the effort is aimed at developing not a physical skill but an inner enrichment.In extreme cases, you could be in a simple hermitage in which nothing changes or sitting alone always facing the same scene day after day. So the outer enrichment is almost nil, but the inner enrichment is maximal. You are training your mind all day long with little outer stimulation. Furthermore, such enrichment is not passive, but voluntary, and methodically directed. When you engage for eight or more hours a day in cultivating certain mental states that you have decided to cultivate and that you have learned to cultivate, you reprogram the brain.

Singer: In a sense, you make your brain the object of a sophisticated cognitive process that is turned inward rather than outward toward the world around you. You apply the cognitive abilities of the brain to studying its own organization and functioning, and you do so in an intentional and focused way, similar to when you attend to events in the outer world and when you organize sensory signals into coherent percepts. You assign value to certain states and you try to increase their prevalence, which probably goes along with a change in synaptic connectivity in much the same way as it occurs with learning processes resulting from interactions with the outer world.Let us perhaps briefly recapitulate how the human brain adapts to the environment because this developmental process can also be seen as a modification or reprogramming of brain functions. Brain development is characterized by a massive proliferation of connections and is paralleled by a shaping process through which the connections being formed are either stabilized or deleted according to functional criteria, using experience and interaction with the environment as the validation criterion. This developmental reorganization continues until the age of about 20. The early stages serve the adjustment of sensory and motor functions, and the later phases primarily involve brain systems responsible for social abilities. Once these developmental processes come to an end, the connectivity of the brain becomes fixed, and large-scale modifications are no longer possible.

Ricard: To some extent.

Singer: To some extent, yes. The existing synaptic connections remain modifiable, but you can’t grow new long-range connections. In a few distinct regions of the brain, such as the hippocampus and olfactory bulb, new neurons are generated throughout life and inserted into the existing circuits, but this process is not large-scale, at least not in the neocortex, where higher cognitive functions are supposed to be realized.

Ricard: A study of people who have practiced meditation for a long time demonstrates that structural connectivity among the different areas of the brain is higher in meditators than in a control group. Hence, there must be another kind of change allowed by the brain.

Singer: I have no difficulty in accepting that a learning process can change behavioral dispositions, even in adults. There is ample evidence of this from reeducation programs, where practice leads to small but incremental behavior modifications. There is also evidence for quite dramatic and sudden changes in cognition, emotional states, and coping strategies. In this case, the same mechanisms that support learning—distributed changes in the efficiency of synaptic connections—lead to drastic alterations of global brain states.

Ricard: You could also change the flow of neuron activity, as when the traffic on a road increases significantly

Singer: Yes. What changes with learning and training in the adult is the flow of activity. The fixed hardware of anatomical connections is rather stable after age 20, but it is still possible to route activity flexibly from A to B or from A to C by adding certain signatures to the activity that ensure that a given activation pattern is not broadcast in a diffuse way to all connected brain regions but sent only to selected target areas.

Ricard: So far, the results of the studies conducted with trained meditators indicate that they have the faculty to generate clean, powerful, well-defined states of mind, and this faculty is associated with some specific brain patterns. Mental training enables one to generate those states at will and to modulate their intensity, even when confronted with disturbing circumstances, such as strong positive or negative emotional stimuli. Thus, one acquires the faculty to maintain an overall emotional balance that favors inner strength and peace.

Singer: So you have to use your cognitive abilities to identify more clearly and delineate more sharply the various emotional states, and to train your control systems, probably located in the frontal lobe, to increase or decrease selectively the activity of subsystems responsible for the generation of the various emotions.An analogy for this process of refinement could be the improved differentiation of objects of perception, which is known to depend on learning. With just a little experience, you are able to recognize an animal as a dog. With more experience, you can sharpen your eye and become able to distinguish with greater and greater precision dogs that look similar. Likewise, mental training might allow you to sharpen your inner eye for the distinction of emotional states.In the naïve state, you are able to distinguish good and bad feelings only in a global way. With practice, these distinctions would become increasingly refined until you could distinguish more and more nuances. The taxonomy of mental states should thus become more differentiated. If this is the case, then cultures exploiting mental training as a source of knowledge should have a richer vocabulary for mental states than cultures that are more interested in investigating phenomena of the outer world.

Ricard: Buddhist taxonomy describes 58 main mental events and various subdivisions thereof. It is quite true that by conducting an in-depth investigation of mental events, one becomes able to distinguish increasingly more subtle nuances.Take anger, for instance. Often anger can have a malevolent component, but it can also be rightful indignation in the face of injustice. Anger can be a reaction that allows us to rapidly overcome an obstacle preventing us from achieving something worthwhile or remove an obstacle threatening us. However, it could also reflect a tendency to be short-tempered. If you look carefully at anger, you will see that it contains aspects of clarity, focus, and effectiveness that are not harmful in and of themselves. So if you are able to recognize those aspects that are not yet negative and let your mind remain in them, without drifting into the destructive aspects, then you will not be troubled and confused by these emotions.Another result of cultivating mental skills is that, after a while, you will no longer need to apply contrived efforts. You can deal with the arising of mental perturbations like the eagles I see from the window of my hermitage in the Himalayas. The crows often attack them, even though they are much smaller. They dive at the eagles from above trying to hit them with their beaks. However, instead of getting alarmed and moving around to avoid the crow, the eagle simply retracts one wing at the last moment, letting the diving crow pass by, and extends its wing back out. The whole thing requires minimal effort and is perfectly efficient. Being experienced in dealing with the sudden arising of emotions in the mind works in a similar way. When you are able to preserve a clear state of awareness, you see thoughts arise; you let them pass through your mind, without trying to block or encourage them; and they vanish without creating many waves.

Singer: That reminds me of what we do when we encounter severe difficulties that require fast solutions, such as a complicated traffic situation. We immediately call on a large repertoire of escape strategies that we have learned and practiced, and then we choose among them without much reasoning, relying mainly on subconscious heuristics. Apparently, if we are not experienced with contemplative practice, we haven’t gone through the driving school for the management of emotional conflicts. Would you say this is a valid analogy?

Ricard: Yes, complex situations become greatly simplified through training and the cultivation of effortless awareness. When you learn to ride a horse, as a beginner you are constantly preoccupied, trying not to fall at every movement the horse makes. Especially when the horse starts galloping, it puts you on high alert. But when you become an expert rider, everything becomes easier. Riders in eastern Tibet, for instance, can do all kinds of acrobatics, such as shooting arrows at a target or catching something on the ground while galloping at full speed, and they do all that with ease and a big smile on their face.One study with meditators showed that they can maintain their attention at an optimal level for extended periods of time. When performing what is called a continuous performance task, even after 45 minutes, they did not become tense and were not distracted even for a moment. When I did this task myself, I noticed that the first few minutes were challenging and required some effort, but once I entered a state of “attentional flow,” it became easier.

Singer: This resembles a general strategy that the brain applies when acquiring new skills. In the naïve state, one uses conscious control to perform a task. The task is broken down into a series of subtasks that are sequentially executed. This requires attention, takes time, and is effortful. Later, after practice, the performance becomes automatized. Usually, the execution of the skilled behavior is then accomplished by different brain structures than those involved in the initial learning and execution of the task. Once this shift has occurred, performance becomes automatic, fast, and effortless and no longer requires cognitive control. This type of learning is called procedural learning and requires practice. Such automatized skills often save you in difficult situations because you can access them quickly. They can also often cope with more variables simultaneously due to parallel processing. Conscious processing is more serialized and therefore takes more time.Do you think you can apply the same learning strategy to your emotions by learning to pay attention to them, differentiate them, and thereby familiarize yourself with their dynamics so as to later become able to rely on automatized routines for their management in case of conflict?

Ricard: You seem to be describing the meditation process. In the teachings, it says that when one begins to meditate, on compassion, for instance, one experiences a contrived, artificial form of compassion. However, by generating compassion over and over again, it becomes second nature and spontaneously arises, even in the midst of a complex and challenging situation.

Singer: It would be really interesting to look with neurobiological tools at whether you have the same shift of function that you observe in other cases where familiarization through learning and training leads to the automation of processes. In brain scans, one observes that different brain structures take over when skills that are initially acquired under the control of consciousness become automatic.

Ricard: That is what a study conducted by Julie Brefczynski and Antoine Lutz at Richard Davidson’s lab seems to indicate. Brefczynski and Lutz studied the brain activity of novice, relatively experienced, and very experienced meditators when they engage in focused attention. Different patterns of activity were observed depending on the practitioners’ level of experience.Relatively experienced meditators (with an average of 19,000 hours of practice) showed more activity in attention-related brain regions compared with novices. Paradoxically, the most experienced meditators (with an average of 44,000 hours of practice) demonstrated less activation than the ones without as much experience. These highly advanced meditators appear to acquire a level of skill that enables them to achieve a focused state of mind with less effort. These effects resemble the skill of expert musicians and athletes capable of immersing themselves in the “flow” of their performances with a minimal sense of effortful control. This observation accords with other studies demonstrating that when someone has mastered a task, the cerebral structures put into play during the execution of this task are generally less active than they were when the brain was still in the learning phase.

Singer: This suggests that the neuronal codes become sparser, perhaps involving fewer but more specialized neurons, once skills become highly familiar and are executed with great expertise. To become a real expert seems to require then at least as much training as is required to become a world-class violin or piano player. With four hours of practice a day, it would take you 30 years of daily meditation to attain 44,000 hours. Remarkable!

This article has been adapted from Matthieu Ricard and Wolf Singer’s book, Beyond the Self: Conversations Between Buddhism and Neuroscience.

Source: The Atlantic

  The Lifetimes When Jesus and Buddha Knew Each Other: A History of Mighty Companions by Gary R. Renard (Author)

Two and a half decades ago, Ascended Master Teachers Arten and Pursah appeared to Gary Renard and held a series of conversations with him that elaborated on the teachings of two spiritual classics, The Gospel of Thomas and A Course in Miracles. Gary immortalized what he learned in the books of his best-selling series: The Disappearance of the Universe, Your Immortal Reality, and Love Has Forgotten No One. This fourth book is a companion to the original trilogy, yet written to stand alone, an invitation for new readers into this fascinating work.

This book explores six of the lifetimes in which the incarnations of Jesus and Buddha lived together, beginning in 700 B.C. when they were known as Saka and Hiroji. Arten and Pursah, through the spiritual lessons that Jesus and Buddha learn on their path, clarify the difference between duality and non-duality. When you are able to internalize these lessons, you will be saved countless years in your spiritual development.

Gary R. Renard underwent a powerful spiritual awakening in the early 1990s. As instructed by two ascended masters who appeared to him in the flesh, he wrote his first best-selling book, The Disappearance of the Universe, over a period of nine years. He was later guided to speak in public and has recently been described as one of the most interesting and courageous spiritual speakers in the world. Gary’s second and third books, Your Immortal Reality, and Love Has Forgotten No One, were also best-sellers.

Over the past 14 years, Gary has spoken in 44 states, 31 countries, and was the keynote speaker at the International A Course in Miracles Conferences in Salt Lake City, Chicago, and San Francisco. He is also a recipient of the Infinity Foundation Spirit Award, given to a person who has made a meaningful contribution to personal and spiritual growth. Past recipients include Dan Millman, Ram Dass, Gary Zukav, James Redfield and Neale Donald Walsch. Website: http://www.GaryRenard.com

[INTERVIEW] Gary Renard – Untold Secrets of Jesus & Buddha’s Lifetimes + OUTTAKES – ACIM

In this video I interview Gary Renard about his new book:
“The Lifetimes When Jesus and Buddha Knew Each Other” which is released on November 14th 2017.

He tells us some untold secrets about Jesus and Buddha and how they were romantic partners in previous lifetimes and how they learned from Plato.

We also hear about how to apply the Holy Spirit in terms of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) correctly and let it move through us.
At the end we have some funny outtakes for you, because what would life be if there isn’t a good laugh.

TRANSCRIPT:
1:40Min – How did Jesus/Buddha get to be Jesus/Buddha?
2:35Min – Jesus & Buddha were romantic partners
4:30Min – Chart of Jesus & Buddha’s Lifetimes
4:59Min – Type of Teachers of Jesus & Buddha
5:32Min – What Jesus & Buddha learned from these Teachers
6:07Min – Unreality & Reality
6:27Min – Why non-dualistic teachings rarely survive?
6:57Min – How Jesus & Buddha learned not to be affected by the world
7:42Min – Presentation of Christianity
9:56Min – Putting belief into reality
10:10Min – Continuous forgiveness work during several lifetimes – Jesus & Buddha
11:08Min – Jesus & Mary Magdalene’s (romantic) relationship
12:23Min – Jesus & Buddha more advanced than Plato
13:09Min – What inspired Gary to write a 4th book?
15:36Min – How to use Holy Spirit correctly?
17:14Min – How to save yourself a lot of time in the ascension process?
17:55Min – Why nothing can have an effect on Jesus & Buddha?
21:13Min – How religions are started by dualistic concepts
23:16Min – D. Patrick Miller’s influence on Disappearance of the Universe
24:08Min – Why Gary is ESPECIALLY excited about this book?
27:15Min – Unconscious resistance to forgiveness
27:34Min – How does Gary Live His Happy?
30:57Min – How to experience the Kingdom of God?
31:39Min – When is Gary’s book “The Lifetimes When Jesus and Buddha Knew Each Other” out?
33:50Min – Funny OUTTAKES 🙂

Kittisaro and Thanissara – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Kittisaro and Thanissara have been married since 1992. They spent 7 years as guiding teachers of the Buddhist Retreat Centre KwaZulu S. Africa and then went on to found Dharmagiri Sacred Mountain Retreat on the border of Lesotho and South Africa. They co-founded several HIV/Aids Outreach Programs and currently support Kuluingile Project, a home for children left vulnerable due to HIV/Aids run by Sister Abegail Ntleko, award winner of the Dalai Lama Unsung Hero Award. They lead retreats in S.Africa, UK, U.S.A and Israel and regularly host one to three-month retreats at Dharmagiri. They currently reside in Sebastopol, CA.

Kittisaro is from Tennessee, USA. He graduated from Princeton as a Rhodes Scholar. He ordained with Ajahn Chah in 1976 in the Thai Forest Tradition. He was a monk for 15 years and helped found several monasteries in the UK. His practice has also been informed by the Chinese school of Master Hua since 1980. Kittisaro completed two one year silent self retreats and is co-author of ‘Listening to the Heart.’ He has taught extensively since the 1980’s and is a core teacher at Insight Meditation Society, MA, founding teacher of Chattanooga Insight, TN and affiliated teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA.

Thanissara is from an Anglo-Irish family in London. She started Buddhist practice in the Burmese school in 1975. She spent 12 years as a Buddhist nun in the Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah where she was a founding member of Chithurst Monastery and Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in the UK. Thanissara has an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy Practice from the UK. She has taught extensively since the late 1980’s, is the author of several books, including two poetry books. Her latest is ‘Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth’.

Books:

Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism
Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes (Sacred Activism)
Empty Hands, A Memoir: One Woman’s Journey to Save Children Orphaned by AIDS in South Africa (Sacred Activism)
The Heart Of The Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra

Website: http://dharmagiri.org

End Worrying Forever With These 5 Buddhist Teachings

The Way of Shiva and Buddha – Sadhguru 

A questioner wonders, what is the difference between the way of Buddha and of Shiva? Sadhguru answers, it is not a question of difference, rather, of which aspect of Shiva that Buddha explored. He describes the way in which the spine of the spiritual process offered by Shiva was spread through the work of Agastya Muni, Buddha and others.

Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes (Sacred Activism) by Thanissara (Author)


Time to Stand Up retells the story of the historical Buddha, one of the greatest sacred activists of all time, as a practical human being whose teachings of freedom from suffering are more relevant than ever in this time of global peril. Evolving onward from the patriarchal template of spiritual warriors and their quests, former nun Thanissara explores awakening from within a feminine view where the archetypes of lover and nurturer are placed as central and essential for a sustainable world.

Vital is an investigation into the pinnacle of Buddhist practice, the realization of the “liberated heart.” Thanissara questions the narrative of “transcendence” and invites us into the lived reality of our deepest heart as it guides our journey of healing, reclamation, and redemption. As the book unfolds, the author examines traditional Buddhism–often fraught with gender discrimination–and asks the important question, “Can Buddhist schools, overly attached to hierarchal power structures, and often divorced from the radical and free inquiry exemplified by the Buddha, truly offer the ground for maturing awakening without undertaking a fundamental review of their own shadows?”

Chapter by chapter, the book relates Siddhartha Gautama’s awakening to the sea-change occurring on Earth in present time as we as a civilization become aware of the ethical bankruptcy of the nuclear and fossil fuel industry and the psychopathic corporate and military abuse of power currently terrorizing our planet. Thanissara relates the Buddha’s story to real-life individuals who are living through these transitional times, such as Iraq war veterans, First Nation People, and the Dalai Lama. Time to Stand Up gives examples of the Buddha’s activism, such as challenging a racist caste system and violence against animals, stopping war, transforming a serial killer, and laying down a nonhierarchical structure of community governance, actions that would seem radical even today.

Thanissara explores ways forward, deepening our understanding of meditation and mindfulness, probing its use to pacify ourselves as the cogs in the corporate world by helping people be more functional in a dysfunctional systems–and shows how these core Buddhist practices can inspire a wake-up call for action for our sick and suffering planet Earth.

About the Sacred Activism series
When the joy of compassionate service is combined with the pragmatic drive to transform all existing economic, social, and political institutions, a radical divine force is born: Sacred Activism. The Sacred Activism Series, published by North Atlantic Books, presents leading voices that embody the tenets of Sacred Activism–compassion, service, and sacred consciousness–while addressing the crucial issues of our time and inspiring radical action.

THANISSARA is Anglo-Irish and originally from London. She trained in the Burmese Vipassana School of Meditation for three years, and was a Buddhist nun in the Thai Forest School of Ajahn Chah for twelve years. She has taught Buddhist meditation internationally for thirty years, and has a Master of Arts in Mindfulness Based Core Process Psychotherapy and a Post-Qualification Master of Arts in Mindfulness Based Psychotherapeutic Practice from the Karuna Institute of Middlesex University in London. She is a cofounder and guiding teacher of Dharmagiri Meditation Centre (South Africa) and Chattanooga Insight (Tennessee), a core teacher at Insight Meditation Society (Massachusetts), and an affiliated teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center (California). She lives between South Africa and the United States. Thanissara and Kittisaro, her husband and teaching partner, coauthored Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism, and she has written two poetry books, Garden of the Midnight Rosary and The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra, and Time To Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for the Earth.

♡ Awakening from Separation ♡ A Brilliant Dharma Talk about the Practice of Buddhist Meditation ♡

This talk “Awakening from Separation” given by Thanissara, also known as Linda Mary Peacock, impacted me quite deeply and I’m very happy to be able to share it with you here/now. Having listened to this talk several times, my hearing, learning and understanding of the practice continues to deepen. My desire and intention in posting this talk is simply to help share this Dharma, by getting the word out, and helping as many people as I can by providing links to the teachers, events and organizations that are helping the world to be more kind, compassionate, wise, generous and awake.

This talk was given as part of a free online conference (July 15-17 2016) that was presented by “Embodied Philosophy” and sponsored by the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. The free online event was called, “Radical Presence: Buddhist Teachings for Modern Life” and the talks featured some of the most respected voices in Buddhism. To find out how to purchase the complete set of talks email Embodied Philosophy at: fivetattvas@gmail.com

There is a lovely meditation instruction for cultivating Samadhi by gathering the body, mind & breath starting at 38:00 ♡ “The activity of wisdom is compassion” ♡

(38:26)“We turn our attention to the breath… following the rhythm of the breath… breathing in and breathing out… feeling the breath energy suffusing the body… breathing in and breathing out and training the attention to follow the breath… the attention goes to a subtle experience of breath… as sensations in the body… as we rest there this gathering starts to happen… directly experiencing the whole body… feeling with the whole body… feeling from the inside of the body… calming the mental body… the felt sense body… the physical body… this working with body and breath within the body is the ground and heart of the practice of Samadhi….

For more information about Thanissara her Website is here: http://www.dharmagiri.org/founders.ht…

Three Blessings in Spiritual Life, Part 1: Forgiveness, with Tara Brach


This 3- part series explores three capacities we all have, that when cultivated, bring spiritual awakening and serve the healing of our world. Drawing on an ancient teaching story from India, we explore together the power of a forgiving heart, the inner fire that expresses as courage and dedication, and the inquiry of “who am I” that reveals our deepest nature.

End Worrying Forever With These 5 Buddhist Teachings

Published on Jul 6, 2017

End Worrying Forever With These 5 Buddhist Teachings
Author Matt Caron for Sivanaspirit.com
Original text: http://blog.sivanaspirit.com/bd-sc-en…

Music by Incompetech
Photos by upsplash

This Moment Is the Perfect Teacher, Part 1

Can Spiritual Practice Heal Racism? – Tara Brach

Omega... In recent months there has been significant unrest in various parts of the country as a result of racially charged conflict between civilians and police…
What is the path to healing for a society with such deeply rooted racism, fear, and anger?

Tara: During the Baltimore riots I was reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

The first step in responding to strong emotions—our own or others’—is to seek to understand. What is the suffering giving rise to this anger? If we can pause, and instead of reacting or judging, look to see the suffering, our heart’s response will be compassionate and wise.

For those of us in the dominant culture, it’s challenging yet essential that we respond to the hurt and anger that has built up through generations of violence against people of color. The legacy of slavery requires that we in the dominant culture take responsibility for participating in a society that rewards us for our whiteness. Taking responsibility means seeking ways of reparation, ways to address the institutionalized injustice and inequities leading to one out of three African American men being imprisoned in their lifetime, twice as many blacks as whites unemployed, and median income of black households at less than 60% of white ones. And the inequities are widening!

As individuals in the dominant culture we need to start by educating ourselves to white privilege and stay present with our own reactivity to what’s happening—looking at our own fears and confusion, bringing an honest, kind, clear attention to our own experience. This certainly doesn’t mean believing our beliefs, it means bringing mindfulness to our own emotions. If we can be present and kind toward our inner states, we will start seeing how we create separation from others. This will enable us to be more clear and wise in bearing witness to others’ ways of expressing pain.

As communities, the deep, transformative healing can arise from collective dialogue. This means same race groups would look into their own wounds and blind spots with the intention of deepening self-understanding. Small interracial groups would form so that those of us who have locked into ideas of other as “enemy,” or “inferior,” or “wrong” can practice speaking and listening together with mindfulness and compassion and learn to see through each other’s eyes.

For instance, we need circles made up of police and civilian families who have been violated by police. These and other mixed race circles require a safe container, guidelines on communicating, and a commitment to stay, speak truthfully, and listen with as much heart as possible. There are a growing number of models for these processes of reconciliation—dialogue is happening in this country and elsewhere.

This domain of honest dialogue creates the groundwork for healing and awakening from the painful trance of separation. It can reconnect us to our sense of interconnectedness and caring. And importantly, it energizes action to relieve suffering. There will be no healing until those of us in the dominant culture join in solidarity with people of color to end institutionalized racism. This means confronting the ongoing discrimination against people of color—be it in the domain of education, employment, housing, or the judicial system.

Omega: How is your sangha (Buddhist community) addressing the issue of racism?

Tara: Much of our community is white, so we are exploring our own blindness around white privilege. Through a yearlong white awareness group, we’re looking at the ways we create separation, because as long as there is separation none of us is free. Most of our community’s white senior teachers and white board members are involved.

We have equity and inclusivity trainings, and experienced facilitators to help us look honestly at how we’ve gotten caught in certain perspectives and behaviors. We’ve created scholarships for people of color to participate in our activities and retreats. We have several teachers of color and leaders of color in our community and are looking to expand the number. We regularly bring in guest teachers of color. Our organization supports affinity groups within our community, and the People of Color group is flourishing. A small group of us are participating in a diversity sangha (community) dedicated to deepening our understanding and affiliation. And as individuals we’re engaging in solidarity with groups in the larger community that are dedicated to ending racism.

At the upcoming buddhafest.org event in DC on June 14, I’ll be part of a panel with Rev. angel Kyodo williams and others to talk about this work and its challenges.

Omega: Are there resources you would recommend for other groups looking to work with the issues of racism and white privilege?

Tara: A good place to start is with the three-part documentary Race: The Power of An Illusion. Watching this video can be a powerful way to begin to understand how racial dominance has been established and maintained. I also liked the book We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know by Gary Howard. Even though it focuses on education, it gives a great context for understanding white dominance, and outlines how we can create a positive, socially transformative white identity. You can also find resources and Dharma-based support for developing a racial awareness program at whiteawake.org.

Source: The Huffington Post

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