Tempel Smith spent a year ordained as a monk in Burma and teaches Buddhist psychology and social activism in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently part of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program.
To practice the divine abode of equanimity, we begin by reflecting on the need to be intimate with what is really happening. With this strength of heart we can soften our preferences and the fantasies they produce in order to bring out heart in steady contact with all unfolding phenomena.
There are two larger categories of meditation: samatha meditations and vipassana meditations. Samatha meditations are intended to calm, unify, balance and develop strengths of the heart, and vipassana meditations lead toward insight into our patterns of suffering, confusion, clarity and freedom. The samatha meditations can develop to the point where we are fully absorbed into our meditation subject. This talk describes this process.
A guided practice for letting go of specific objects or sense doors to practice open or choiceless awareness. For some people this is a more natural way of practicing. The intent is to become mindful of one’s mental activity as it is drawn to different experiences arising at any of the six sense doors. From this practice you can gain insight into how the mind works and find freedom no matter what the experience.
Inviting our heart to let go of all reservations and conditions to universal friendliness and kindness. This heart which can hold all beings in kindness becomes a refuge for our own well being and the well being of others.
Continuing from the Anapanasati sutta we turn to vedana, the 2nd foundation of mindfulness. With great courage. we can develop contentment no matter the pleasure, pain or neutrality of any give moment. In not understanding vedana we are forever imprisoned by our wrong views. When we can breath consciously in a greater range of pain, pleasure and neutrality we find the path to non-conditional contentment.
Instruction and guided meditation on the 2nd foundation of mindfulness called vedana (feeling tone). This is the factor of each moment of consciousness which is pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. Being able to be mindful of vedana allows us to cut off our reactivity.
In many discourses the Buddha gave very detailed instructions on how to develop Mindfulness of Breathing from our first awareness of breathing in and out through calming the mind into samadhi (concentration) and then steps to cultivate liberating insight. These 16 steps also include the cultivation of happiness and contentment as an aspect of the path to freedom.