Zen mast Dogen taught that "...to study the Buddhist way is to be Intimate with all Things." This talk reviews the often unconscious ways that we habitually block intimacy and two trainings of attention that foster a natural sense of belonging to this living world and to timeless presence.
A reflection on the metaphor of "awakening" as a process rather than a "state" of "enlightenment", which is followed by a reading of the Buddha's First Sermon (Turning the Wheel of Dhamma) in which he presents this awakening as being concerned with the living process of the Four Noble Truths.
Transformation in practice, whether in mindfulness or metta practice, occurs through repetition, patience, understanding and faith, in a sometimes mysterious way. Using poems and stories, we explore the nature of lovingkindness (metta) and the kinds of transformation that occur as we practice.
A reflection on the Buddha's parable of the "poisoned arrow" (Malunkyaputta Sutta M63). This key text illustrates how the Dhamma is therapeutic, pragmatic and not concerned with metaphysical questions, which the Buddha regards as irrelevant and refuses to comment upon. What he does comment upon is the Four Noble Truths. The talk concludes with a reflection on the Buddha's account of his awakening as an insight into conditioned arising.
The awakening of this first step on the path gives us the impetus to practice. As understanding grows through continued practice, ultimately we come to a place of unshakable faith – born out of tasting the Truth of the dharma.
On this first evening of the retreat, we explore the nature of mindfulness in general and how we practice mindfulness of the body in particular. We then examine the five "difficult energies" (nivarana or "hindrances"), and how they make mindfulness difficult and how to practice when they are present.