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.
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.
We usually think of renunciation as giving up what we cherish, but true renunciation can be a practice that springs from a sense of well being, giving up what no longer serves us to find greater happiness.
Even though we talk a lot about mindfulness, we often don't fully understand what the Buddha meant by "samma sati" or right mindfulness. This talk explores samma sati and also "sati-panna"-mindfulness wisdom: the wisdom that naturally develops when we pay attention.
Patience, one of the paramis, is a quality that we don’t often appreciate, even though it is tremendously important in our practice and our lives. To be patient is to be fully present for what is, to be with difficulty and challenge without resistance. Patience allows mindfulness and wisdom to deepen, as we meet our experience without agendas or expectations.
We often hear about and experience the suffering caused by greed and aversion, yet delusion, the third of the kilesas, or torments of mind, is in some ways a more fundamental cause of suffering, because if we weren’t deluded, we wouldn’t believe that by grasping or pushing away we could avoid suffering. The challenge with delusion is its very definition is that we don’t it is operating. This talk examines the many ways that delusion manifests, so we can begin to bring more clarity and understanding to our experience.
The Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths – the truths of suffering, the cause of suffering , the end of suffering and the path to the end of suffering – not as a philosophy, but as practices that we can use here and now to understand why we suffer and how to find release. Using this template to gain insight into our lives can bring a radical shift to the way we relate to our experience.