Sally Clough Armstrong began practicing vipassana meditation in India in 1981. She moved to the Bay Area in 1988, and worked at Spirit Rock until 1994 in a number of roles, including executive director. She began teaching in 1996, and is one of the guiding teachers of Spirit Rock's Dedicated Practitioner Program.
Sally has always been inspired by the depth and the breadth of the Buddha’s teaching, as presented in the suttas of the Pali Canon, because the truth and power of the Buddha’s words still speak to us today. Her intention in teaching is to make these ancient texts and practices accessible and relevant to all levels of practitioner, from the very new to the dedicated meditator.
As we do the practice of samatha (tranquility) meditation, it is important not to strive towards any particular experience but rather to see the practice as a training of the mind that leads to well being and happiness here and now.
To deepen in concentration, we need to be willing to recognize whatever disturbances or hindrances might be present, however subtle, and to work with them skillfully, ultimately to release them. This allows the mind to settle to the next level of stillness. This talk is based on practice as described in Majjhima Nikaya (2), the Cula-Sunnata Sutta, The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness.
This powerful teaching form the Upanisa Sutta shows us how suffering when understood with wisdom leads to faith and is the beginning of a natural unfolding of beautiful qualities of the heart which provide the foundation for the mind to turn to awakening.
Richard Gombrich, a Buddhist scholar, called the Buddha a brilliant and original thinker on the level of Plato and Aristotle. But the Buddha wasn't interested in just speculative philosophy, but to understand why we suffer, and how to find freedom. The Four Noble Truths is his direct teaching on just that.