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Shaila Catherine's Dharma Talks
Shaila Catherine
Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
2013-09-10 Five Preconditions for Insight: Wisdom (the fifth precondition) 36:03
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for the development of meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another, with wisdom as the crowning jewel and chief. This talk explores the importance of wisdom for revealing the impermanent nature of all things. With the clarity of wisdom we discern the arising and passing of phenomena. This insight into impermanence undercuts habitual delusions that perpetuate blindly grasping and clinging transient things. Wisdom is important at all stages of the path. At the beginning of our practice, we need wisdom to discern the right direction, clarify our purpose and learn skillful methods; we need wisdom in the midst of the practice to make the many adjustments that sustain us on this path; and the path culminates in the wisdom that leads to release. With wisdom, we will see the changing nature of all things, and understand how we construct our perception of reality, discern the four noble truths of suffering, and recognize how we can realize the end of suffering.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-09-03 Five Preconditions for Insight: Wise Effort (the fourth precondition) 33:04
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for the development of meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another. This talk explores the role of effort and energy on the path of awakening. We make the effort to avoid and abandon unwholesome states, and to cultivate and maintain wholesome states. We apply our energy with diligence and balance. If too lax we will fall short of the goal and permit obstructions to distract the attention; if there is too much striving and forced effort we will exhaust ourselves and become discouraged. Right effort is balanced between relaxation and vigor; it is appropriate to the situation—applying just enough strength to meet the current conditions with wisdom and clarity. Skillful effort requires the commitment to endure difficult and painful situations without becoming disheartened. We persevere on our path, adjusting the quality of effort with mindfulness and sensitivity.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-08-20 Five Preconditions for Insight: Engage in Talk of the Dhamma (the third precondition) 21:35
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for the development of meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another. This talk explores the importance of engaging in dhamma talk, reflecting on the teachings, and wise speech as ways of nurturing the path of awakening. How do you know when to speak and when to remain silent? What kind of speech is most true and useful? What types of conversation will distract you from your goals, or support the realization of nibbana? Does your engagement in conversation encourage attachments, identification, self-grasping, or does it nurture letting go, release, and peace?
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-08-13 Five Preconditions for Insight: Virtue and Restraint (the second precondition) 22:34
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for the development of meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another. This talk explores the importance of restraint in a successful practice, and considers virtuous action to be an expression of wisdom. Ethical behavior and the inner respect that comes with the knowledge that we can refrain from unwholesome impulses is a foundation for practice. Precept training encourages wise reflection regarding the many choices that we make in our lives. We can reflect on the intention that initiates an action, the experience while engaged in the action, and the result that develops from an action so that we bring wisdom into every action and interaction. The five precepts, and the ten unwholesome and ten wholesome actions are presented. We have the power to choose what we develop with diligence and wisdom.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-08-06 Five Preconditions for Insight: Friendship (the first precondition) 36:21
The Buddha taught that there are five preconditions necessary for us to develop our meditation practice in seclusion—good friends, virtue and restraint, engaging in talk on the Dhamma, wise effort, wisdom. These preconditions, presented in the Meghiya Sutta, are developed progressively and support one another. This talk begins with a reflection on the cultivation of good friends. A good friend is one who support our progress on the Noble Eightfold Path. Sometimes we need someone to show us our potential, or to correct us when we stray from the Path. The inspiration, faith, kindness, and generosity that develops in a relationship with a good friend nurtures awakening.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-05-28 I-Making & Mine-Making Constructing Self 39:21
How is a sense of self constructed? What is the concept of not-self in Buddhist practice? How do we construct identity? This talk explores the traditional model of the five aggregates affected by clinging and explains how clinging occurs in contact with sensory experience. The five aggregates—materiality, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness—represent an early Buddhist model for understanding how suffering forms through misperception. Clinging to misperceptions produces a sense of continuity in experience that we conventionally call "I", and a relationship to experience the we conventionally call "mine". This model clarifies the precise objects contemplated in vipassana (insight) meditation practice. This talk explains each aggregate so that insight may liberate the mind from this subtle type of attachment.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-05-18 Intention and the Power of Thought 55:11
How are we using our minds? Where do our thought incline? The Buddha's teachings focus on the practical application of intention and the power of thought, rather than ritual, as the potent force behind action. Working with thought, we see how habits and tendencies develop and form patterns known as kamma (karma). We must be honest with ourselves and see any conceit, agitation, anger, greed, or restlessness that might be lurking as tendencies of mind. We can learn to use our thought skillfully, and guard the mind with diligent mindfulness. Wholesome and unwholesome thoughts are explored. There is nothing to fear from wholesome thoughts such as intentions toward renunciation, letting go, loving kindness, compassion, and generosity, and yet a concentrated mind will bring deeper rest. The path of liberation and awakening includes the development of morality and virtue, and also calmness, concentration, and wisdom.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley
2013-03-09 Deep Presence 31:36
Mindfulness brings a powerful quality of presence to our encounter with experience. By cultivating deep presence we meet life below the level of superficial concepts. We disentangle the mind from the story of self. More than charisma or social skills, deep presence implies a profound way of being which brings our momentary encounters into the immediate present.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Saturday Talks - 2013
2013-03-05 Boredom 37:18
Boredom not a state of relaxation. It is a manifestation of aversion and restlessness that arises when we are not bringing enough mindfulness, interest, energy, or attention to what is actually happening. The habit of seeking happiness in external events and sensory pleasures is fundamentally unsatisfying. The restless seeking of more stimulating experiences ignores the First Noble Truth of dukkha—that there is suffering in conditioned experiences; that unpleasant feelings arise in our lives. Boredom arises because the quality of attention is not well direction; it arises with unwise attention. We can counter boredom with mindfulness. Make the effort to observe the changing nature of things. Appreciate and enjoy what is worthy. Notice moments in which there is no clinging. Reflect upon your purpose and goal—aim for the highest liberation, complete awakening, the peace of release, nibbana.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Tuesday Talks
2013-02-09 Awakening 42:31
Awakening is the profound aim of the spiritual life. Awakening is not described as a mystical goal, we wake up to the four noble truths. We look squarely at the world and recognize that we cannot fix it, and through this clarity we realize the end of suffering. Enlightenment does not imply a separation from life, instead, it brings us to face the reality of lived experiences without resistance. Profound realization brings a deep equanimity and peace into every encounter; it is defined as the ending of greed, hatred, and delusion. Awakening is known through the result—the end of defilements, craving, and ignorance. This talk teases out the meaning of several difficult "D" words: disenchantment, dispassion, detachment. These terms do not imply an aversive response to experience, instead they play a vital role in the process of awakening. The talk explores profound spiritual experiences. It considers the danger of arrogance and conceit arising, clinging to, and corrupting enlightenment experiences. It discusses how to express, describe, and speak about our spiritual awakenings without identification.
Insight Meditation South Bay - Silicon Valley Saturday Talks - 2013

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