Shaila Catherine, has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience. She 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. Shaila Catherine has practiced under the guidance of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw since 2006; she authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana to help make this traditional approach to meditative training accessible to western practitioners. She is the founder of Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley.
Desire is usually described as a hindrance to meditation, but to realize deathless liberation we must want to be free. A burning desire to awaken opens the heart and mind to a possibility of freedom otherwise not known. This talk examines the force of desire as both a form of craving that perpetuates suffering, and as a necessary and wholesome factor that supports the realization of nibbana (nirvana) and the end of suffering. We examine hindrances, pain, and obstacles from which we want to be free in order to realize unconditioned awakening. Working with desire has some risks, but it is a powerful force that encourages curiosity, investigation, and openness to possibility—the possibility of discovering a profound fearlessness, and enduring happiness, the possibility of enlightenment.