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Podcast Episodes from Fall 2011 Shamatha Retreat

We come to our very last session with a meditation on loving kindness and dedication of merit (0:50)

Afterwards our group prepared such a lovely closing ceremony that we figured other people might like to cultivate some empathetic joy :)

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We come to the last day of the retreat, where Alan invites us to reboot our mind by way of shamatha. Silent meditation starts at 01:16 Afterwards Alan shares a story and shows us how through shamatha, for a moment … Continue reading

Alan leads the group, who has started talking now, through a shamatha session (02:13) designed to bring the mind down from agitation to calm. He speaks to a question (35:53) regarding the Dzogchen view of rigpa and the extent to which one can provide a reason as to why one who awakens from the dream of reality won’t fall asleep again.

Note: The first 5 or 10 seconds were missing because Alan started talking before the computer had finished loading. Sorry about that! We were coming back from our (hectic) group photo session so he was talking about that, and that’s also why this session is shorter.

Alan briefly speaks on how to infuse a busier day with shamatha and mindfulness. He also announces that he will do 6 months retreat at the end of 2012, so there will be no 8 week shamatha retreat in Spring … Continue reading

There are three strategies to protect from the tornado of thoughts in the mind. The first is to go to a shelter which is mindfulness of breathing – releasing and releasing the thoughts. The second is the tornado chasers who learn a great deal about tornadoes without getting caught in them – that is settling the mind in its natural state. The third is to go up into the tornado and come out on the other side in the expanse of blue sky – that is awareness of awareness. Silent meditation starts at 04:18

Questions (29:02)

Were the four immeasurable taught as a part of the year of shamatha practice with Gen Lamrimpa?

Could you discuss further the role of the observer participant related to frozen time.

We are beginning our final descent. The deva realm of Tushita and the pure land of Tushita sit side by side. In the deva realm when it is time for a deva to leave their flowers fade and they suffer great mental anguish over leaving. However in Tushita, the pure land, beings have been training their minds in dharma and leave there because of their great compassion to help suffering sentient beings. So when they leave it is a time of celebration. Likewise, if we were at the sports and leisure center down the street we might feel sadness to be leaving the sun and the pool and the fit people. But since we are leaving the mind center with the intention to offer our best to those we meet it is not a cause of sadness but a cause of celebration.

Silent meditation starts at 22:34

Silent meditation (no introduction) starts at 0:18

Questions (25:28):

1. Comment on the concepts of time and space.

2. What role do the “Hidden Lands” play in the context of Buddhist practice?

3. In the Vajrayana, there is the practice of the illusory body. Is there anything like this in the Mahayana? What is the concept of “wilderness” in practice?

4. What is the role of devotion and reverence in practice?

5. Pondering the metaphor of the carriage and the Four Immeasurables being like four horses,

I have explored what the other parts of the metaphor are in my own practice. For example, the reins (which must be held not too tight or not too loose) are the discipline of my practice in the hands of the driver—who might be inattentive or alert, a good driver or not so good on any given day. The wheels and undercarriage are the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind (Precious human existence, Death and Impermanence, the Law of Karma, and the Defects of Samsara). Who is inside the carriage (a passive passenger or a master who knows the destination and the route to it and can keep the driver going in the right direction). Are there other interpretations? A similar metaphor appears in the Upanishads. Is there an expanded metaphor in Buddhist text?

Relying on hedonic pleasure is like a town that relies on a coal-fired generator. We begin to realize how much pollution this represents and seek more environmental friendly energy sources. In the same way we can begin to gradually shift into the “solar panels” of genuine happiness, by way of simplicity and contentment.

Alan comments how even the Dalai Lama has stopped watching TV as he says it clouds his mind.

Silent meditation starts at 8:30

This last Monday afternoon’s session, which we can say that is indispensable to listen to, Alan offered a huge number of pieces of advice that are extremely useful for those that are going to do a long retreat, for those that are going to meet their daily activities and for all of us that want to keep practicing Dharma the rest of our lives: how can we deal and respond to the eroding of our Shamatha practice and the striking back of our OCDD? What is a balanced Dharma practice and the role of Shamatha within it? With the aspiration of undertaking a long retreat: how to avoid a waiting attitude and neglecting the practice in the present day? How to avoid being like the cat that is either flapping in the surface of a pond or sinking to its bottom, but rather become like the happy elephant in a long term retreat? Also, how to avoid expectations but keeping joy and gratitude during it? What to do when we have days during which we cannot even count until three? And most important: how is our Dharma practice affecting our way of viewing reality, others and our values?

And many many more jewels that you will find in this session with inspiring anecdotes.

So as you can see, Alan has been very generous again.

Then as it is usual for these last days, the session was in silence (51:24), followed by two questions (76:26): clarifications about the sequence of Shamatha methods taught in Padmasambhava’s Natural Liberation; and how to keep inspiration, faith and enthusiasm for our practice as Westerners?

So, please make yourself comfortable and enjoy… See you around

The root of all Buddhist teachings and practice is compassion. We start out with the reality of suffering – something that we have all experienced. The background radiation of anxiety has got to go. It is the result of grasping onto what is not – what is not is “I” and “me.”

We must discover who we really are. We are born with inborn ignorance then we learn some more fabricated ignorance. Go to that which I am before I reified all my human roles.

Shamata is not easy. There is nothing left of who you thought you were. The substrate consciousness is bare, raw being. Go in and observe the agent – who, who, who? Is there anything more than a concept?

Karma must ripen.

Silent meditation starts at 21:03