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Podcast Episodes from Spring 2011 Shamatha Retreat

In this final session, Alan brings us back to the first immeasurable of loving-kindness with a guided meditation which focuses on loving-kindness first for oneself, and then spreading out to all begins.

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Editor’s Note: Due to multiple recording errors, this afternoon’s podcast is an optimized recording from an iPhone. Because of this, it is difficult to hear clearly. My very sincere apologies. If anyone can improve the quality further, I would love to publish a better version. Please email Lizzy at podcasts@sbinstitute.com if you are interested.

Also, Alan requests that transcriptions of the afternoon sessions from the past two weeks be created. If you are interested in transcribing one or more afternoon sessions, please email ksnow@sbinstitute.com with the name of the podcast you want to transcribe. This will be of great benefit to many people.

This afternoon, Alan first guides a beautiful meditation that integrates shamatha, equanimity, compassion, and loving-kindness. He then summarizes the pith points of the last two days of discussion on the development of science and its relationship to the science of the mind of Buddhism.

After that, [55:00] Alan gives us tips for integrating back into the “outside world,” and we finish the afternoon with a comment from a participant.

This morning, Alan first speaks about Dharma practice during periods of transition. This is followed by an unguided meditation, which is not included.

Although there are two more days of retreat, this is our last afternoon session. Alan begins by jumping right in to a guided meditation in which he “puts us through the paces” of the three types of mindfulness of breathing, settling the mind in its natural state, awareness of awareness, and, finally, vipashyana.

This is followed by a long question and answer period. [26:55] Alan answers these questions from the group, particularly focusing on the final three questions.

1. I have noticed during the retreat how the English language, with personal pronouns an integral grammatical structure, both serves to assist the development of a concretized sense of self/ego and duality, and then becomes like their protector. (I understand most languages represent individuals or groups to a lesser or greater degree (except for Thai, Burmese, and Japanese).)

I experimented during the retreat with not using “I, me or mine” and it showed just how deeply ingrained the constructed sense of the world and self is in language.

What is your advice about negotiating the dissonance between language, encoding as it does samsara and ultimate reality, especially anatta, that we are seeking to understand and experience?

2. I am aware of the Tibetan custom of not talking about meditative experiences and realizations. As we begin to talk – and soon will be home and doubtless facing the questions of loved ones and acquaintances (“So how did it go? What did you get to?!?”) – do you have any advice on how we talk about our retreat? Or our plans for the future? Could you say a little about why the Tibetans take this attitude of saying little or nothing? Is it relevant for us and does it apply to a very ordinary level of experience?

3. Are vividness and clarity simply alternate translations of the same Tibetan/Sanskrit term or do they carry a difference in meaning? Also Gen Lamrimpa mentions ‘lucidity’ and ‘strength of clarity’; what is the distinction?

4. In one of the talks you mentioned briefly that after the Buddha lived, it did not take very long till different interpretations of his teachings started to emerge. Can you tell us a little bit more how the different schools of Buddhism were formed? (How long after the Buddha we can say there was ‘Buddhism’?)

5. How did Buddhism develop also to a religion and why do you think it did?

6. Do all schools of Buddhism share the [worldview + practice + way of life] being the heart of the teachings?

This morning we begin with an unguided meditation (not included in this recording) and then Alan answers the following questions from the group: 1. Could you clarify the terms mind, awareness, and consciousness? Do you use them interchangeably? 2. You … Continue reading

This afternoon Alan leads a guided meditation [6:25] that integrates the three different methods of vipashyana as taught by Padmasambhava.

After the guided meditation [31:40], Alan talks about the history and development of science by answering the following questions:

1. When did the different schools and interpretations of scientific discovery occur?

2. How did natural philosophy develop into science?

3, How did scientific materialism occur?

4. When did scientific materialism become state religion?

5. Do all branches of science share the same worldview?

This morning, Alan speaks about skillful means for evaluating our practice and determining whether our aspirations are being fulfilled or not. The following unguided meditation is not included.

In this afternoon session, (today’s morning session did not include any guidance or teachings and was not recorded) Alan Wallace continues to teach on vipashyana. We begin this afternoon with a 24-minute meditation [1:10] with guidance from the direct words of Padmasambhava. After the meditation, Alan elaborates and gives commentary on the text, which is available online. We conclude the session with a brief (7 minute) guided tonglen meditation.

This afternoon, we review the teachings from Saturday afternoon (#84) and practice in the same way. The unguided meditation is not included. There is no question and answer; instead, Alan gives some final remarks after the ~55 minute dharma talk and meditation period.

Link to the notes from this talk

This morning, Alan reminds us to continue to “downshift” and loosen up if we find we are unsatisfied with the quality of our meditation. This brief introduction is followed by an unguided meditation, which is not included.