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Archive for the ‘Insight Meditation’ Category

As part of my practice, I listen to Dharma talks.  It’s hard to do that in person, given how far we are from any center.  We are able to have occasional weekend retreats by various teachers—our sangha invites Rodney Smith and other guest teachers for weekend retreats once or twice a year.  For longer retreats, Teresa and I can go to Cloud Mountain or other retreat centers.

On a more daily basis, I turn to Dharma talks on the web. As you might guess from my earlier post about my problems with listening, I find recorded talks helpful as I can listen to them again and again to hear those parts my mind skipped over the first time!

The quantity and variety of talks available on the web is increasing rapidly. Every time I search the web for Dharma resources, I find more sites I hadn’t seen before and existing sites that have more and better organized information. My focus is on Insight Meditation/Vispassana and the Theravada Forest Tradition. There are extensive resources for other Buddhist traditions but this is the one I follow.

The first teacher I sat with regularly was Gil Fronsdal of the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA.  So that’s where I look first for talks, and IMC’s Audio Dharma library is extensive.  The largest online collection is probably the Dharma Seed library, with talks from 1974 to the current time.  The Seattle Insight Medication Society is the center closest to us and they have a collection of talks by Rodney Smith and guest speakers on their web site.

In the Theravada Forest Tradition, the teacher that I have been most attracted to is Thanissaro Bhikkhu of the Metta Forest Monastery.  The monastery has a large collection of his talks, although I prefer the audio quality of his talks in the Insight Meditation Center’s library.

To help people find talks, I have compiled this list of the sites I have found most valuable.  In the list of pages on the right, click on Dharma on the Web for list of sites and links to them.

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Our sangha has been listening to Joseph Goldstein’s The Body—Abiding in Mindfulness, Vol 1.  Recently, Joseph talked about the Bahiya Sutta, one of the Buddha’s teachings that crystallizes the path very concisely:
Bahiya, this is how you should train yourself: Whenever you see a form, simply see; whenever you hear a sound, simply hear; whenever you taste a flavor, simply taste; whenever you feel a sensation, simply feel; whenever a thought arises, let it be simply a thought. Then “you” will not exist; whenever “you” do not exist, you will not be found in this world, another world or in between. That is the end of suffering.

As a practice for this week, we were looking at how we elaborate every seeing, hearing, tasting, sensing, or cognition to build a story and how that creates the sense of a “self,” an “I”.

As I listened to Rodney Smith’s talk on the sutta, I saw that thoughts kept arising.  Each thought would result in a host of new thoughts and I’d be carried away with thinking about things “I” was doing.  When I returned to listening, an unknown period of time had passed.  I don’t know how much of the talk I actually heard—a third, a quarter, less?  I’ve always had problems with lectures and recorded talks and this experience has helped me understand better what is happening.  Mindful listening is something I must pay more careful attention to.

(For more information on the sutta, Doug Phillips of the Empty Sky Sangha in Massachusetts has two talks: here and here. Rodney Smith has two talks on the SIMS web site: http://www.seattleinsight.org/talk.aspx?id=37 and http://www.seattleinsight.org/talk.aspx?id=38.  Gil Fronsdal of the Insight Medication Center in Redwood City, CA also has two talks: Bahiya and the Simplicity of Freedom and The Story of Bahiya.)

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Welcome to my new blog

I plan to use this blog to talk about things that come up as part of my meditation practice.  I’ll also talk about related issues that seem relevant to our sangha–including notes on computer use and pointers to other sites I have found interesting.

My hope is that members of our sangha will post comments so we can all learn.

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