In the course of these two online seminars, Stephen will explore how faith in the Dharma serves to empower the imagination. By disentangling faith from belief and imagination from fantasy, we will consider how their creative tension is a necessary and dynamic feature of the middle way itself. Drawing on a wide range of sources, we will look at faith both in its secular and religious forms, while the imagination will be treated as a crucial dimension of an ethical as well as an artistic life. Each session will include two talks, breakout groups, plenary discussions and periods of meditative reflection.
The talk begins with an introduction to the Four Brahmaviharas and an exploration of how they are distinct (drawing on Ven. Analayo's sun simile). We then explore what equanimity is and how it supports metta when it comes to keeping our hearts open to those we find difficult. We also explore how equanimity helps us to stand up for what we believe in. The talk ends with a song based on a Thich Nhat Hanh poem about how to face injustice and hatred and still continue on.
Place attention on themes that hold the mind and heart steady, using body to anchor the tangle of reactivity. Heart (citta) can then step back from phenomena and return to its own center that is knowing, equanimous, open. Investigation and handling of the somatic and emotional effects, rather than the topics, lead out of the tangle.