Nuts & Bolts - Practice paths

Is Vajrayana an appropriate path if you have with limited access to your root guru or if you’re unlikely to attend a three-year retreat? After a new practitioner has worked with the breath to gain experience and develop stability, should they then meditate on impermanence or the four immeasurables? How do you incorporate what what you learn from teachers in other Buddhist traditions?


Sutra Session 37

How can I determine if I am in active or passive awareness? I haven’t meditated in over two years. Do you have any advice? I have yet to realize an effect in my life after studying and meditating on The Four Immeasurables for a year. Is that to be expected? How do I work with my prejudices? I have an adverse relationship with the world. How do I work with that? How can I deal with anger? Are childish ways of interacting with the world a type of pattern?

Translation - Prayer

Opening a Path to the Ocean of Awakening Mind

passage from translation:
I and all beings, in their infinities,
Whether demonic, crippling or alien,
Are, in the end, the same in emptiness.
Confused is the person who takes what is empty as real.


Four Immeasurables

passage from text:
May I be happy, well, and at peace.
May I open to things just as they are.
May I experience the world opening to me just as I am.
May I welcome whatever arises.


A Trackless Path II 15

Uchiyama’s “How to Cook Your Life” as a commentary on the four immeasurables; equanimity through seeing life as no more and no less than what we experience; building capacity to relate to life in ways that end suffering (without afflictive reactions); experiencing completely can be painful but not disturbing; joy.


A Trackless Path II 12

Commentary on “The Wisdom Experience of Ever-Present Good;” resting deeply; practices such as primary practice and four immeasurables to transform energy and deepen resting; natural awareness taking expression as compassion; working with comparing mind by coming back to body.

Podcast with transcript

Mahayana Mind Training 4

Knowing whatever arises for what it is; the natural response of compassion; the three poisons and dualistic thinking; why taking and sending works; taking and sending & the four immeasurables; the three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue; meditation instruction for awakening to what is apparently true, taking and sending; questions from participants

Podcast with transcript

The Four Immeasurables 6

Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: joy, passion, excitement, and fun; what is meant by the line “May I experience the world celebrating my efforts”; sympathetic joy; is “the world celebrating my efforts” a form of external validation; how impermanence may appear to contradict cause and effect; how can I “enjoy the activities of life itself” when life becomes sticky; what does one do if you can see a situation clearly but may not have the capacity to act as the situation demands. Commentary on energy transformation passage from the reading assignment; what participants got from the class; where to go from here.

Podcast with transcript

The Four Immeasurables 5

Participants’ comments and questions on compassion meditation including: Should we say the verses used in these meditations aloud or to ourselves?; Does the line in the compassion meditation, ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’, impose an unrealistic ideal upon the world?; difficulty in extending these verses to include others; the relationship between compassion, despair, and joy; What are you opening to when being compassionate towards others?; How does one find the balance between justice and compassion Commentary on social and adult expressions of the four immeasurables and spiritual longings passage from the reading assignment; meditation instruction for joy.

Podcast with transcript

The Four Immeasurables 4

Participants’ experience with compassion meditation and related reading including experiences with heartbreak and movement of energy; being present in the suffering of others; are goals useful in practice; intention and results; compassion and boundaries; what is meant by ‘the open space of no response’; what is meant by ‘non-residing’; working with the line ‘May I experience the world wishing me freedom from pain’; the satisfaction of despising. Commentary on adolescence striving and parental mind; meditation instruction for compassion.

Podcast with transcript

The Four Immeasurables 3

Participants’ experience with loving-kindness meditation including opening to what arises; doesn’t wishing oneself to be happy actually separate you from certain experiences; is it unrealistic to think of the world wishing you happiness and peace; how this meditation impacts life off the cushion; is there a specific order to the immeasurables; how to work with fear; what is meant by ‘opening’ to experience; the purpose of practice and its effect on one’s life; is our natural state to be open or closed to what arises. Commentary on decay and corruption in the four immeasurables; meditation instruction for compassion.

Podcast with transcript

The Four Immeasurables 2

Reading assignments for class; participants’ experience with equanimity meditation including preference and prejudice towards one’s self; willingness, know-how and capacity in applying the immeasurable; reaction to ‘experiencing the world knowing me just as I am’; judgement versus discernment; sitting in experience versus deduction and analysis. Commentary on the two types of experience: social/shared experience and individual/actual experience; being complete in the world of individual experience; how equanimity arises naturally in the world of individual experience; questions from participants on the two worlds of experience; meditation instruction for loving kindness.

Podcast with transcript

The Four Immeasurables 1

The context for the four immeasurables in Buddhist practice, how they differ from other emotions including their power to transform ordinary experience into presence; how different traditions view the immeasurables; clarifying pain, hurt, suffering and harm; the purpose, cost and benefit of practicing the four immeasurables; meditation instruction on equanimity practice, Q&A


Relationship and Conflict (tele-teaching) 4

The Four Immeasurables as higher emotions not based on a sense of self, and their transformative quality; The Four Immeasurables in the context of relationship and conflict and the ways these manifest in relationships; How equanimity manifests as judgement at the base level, up through impartiality, aloofness or detachment, and patience to full acceptance with no sense of judgement; The two aspects of true equanimity; How loving-kindness manifests as attraction or sexual desire at the base level, up through affection and caring to the selfless wish that others be happy; How compassion manifests as pity at the base level up through sympathy, fearlessness to be with another person’s pain to the genuine wish that they not suffer; The complexity and richness of compassion; Joy as competition or paranoia at the base level, up through elation or delight to joy in being and knowing what needs to be done and just doing it. Loving kindness and compassion as the appropriate efforts in intimate relationships; The shared aim relationship with a spiritual teacher; A summary of conflict as resistance to change demanded by the third world created when two people interact.

Podcast with transcript

Releasing Emotional Reactions 4

Taking emptiness and compassion as the framework, difference between actual and projected experience, working with actual experience, instruction in five-step method that uses taking and sending (tonglen) to release emotional reactions.

Podcast with transcript

Releasing Emotional Reactions 3

Q&A based on students’ experience with bare attention, common difficulties and how to work with them, additional instruction on the four foundations