During this pandemic, especially as we see it strengthening again this summer, fear is a part of the landscape for many. Even for those not directly afraid of the virus, meeting life with its immense uncertainty is often challenging. How do we find a calm steady place in our practice to meet fear and not knowing with equanimity?
We often hear of taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. How do we relate to refuge through the lens of an unstable, destabilizing world and political environment and a virus that has upended our lives? In this talk I explore these questions and bring refuge back to this very moment – to the freedom we can find here and now, even in these very challenging times.
Buddha taught that the ultimate human suffering arises from creating a fixed idea of self and clinging to “I” and “mine.” We often feel this imagined self is flawed and incomplete and must be fixed. Letting go of this identification leads to compassion, interconnection and freedom.
In this talk I describe my intensive practice with zen koans. I also explain how it laid the groundwork for deep inquiry into challenging life questions and how this practice can lead to insight and liberation. The talk includes a guided inquiry meditation.
The radical teaching of Buddhist mindfulness is cultivating presence when the mind wants to turn away. We begin to remember that all emotions and moods are sankhara – impermanent conditioned states and not our identity. This is a doorway to freedom.
The Buddha said these two people are hard to find in the world – the one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done. When we practice gratitude, we incline our hearts toward generosity and kindness. Gratitude, for both the welcome and the difficult in our lives, also brings us a greater sense of connection, expands our container of awareness beyond the separateness of “I, me and mine” and into a deeper connection with life.
I spent a week at Cloud Mountain meditating and it was wonderful. Yet inevitably, challenges both big and small can arise in the course of deep practice. Some are comical, some poignant. I share a few of these experiences in this talk.
Each moment is unique and precious because it will never come again. Buddha recommended contemplating impermanence so we can better appreciate and wake up in this moment, our only moment. Out of this awareness of the fleeting nature of life arises deep gratitude. The Japanese call it Ichi-go Ichi-e, one chance in a lifetime, never to come again.
How do we keep our hearts open and remember interconnection even when so much of our world is polarized right now? This talk explores these questions and focuses on what the Buddha recommends about kindness and compassion, even for our “enemies.”