September 29, 2010

This Sunday - Cultivating the Mind Part 2

Greetings everyone,

Hope that you are all enjoying your Indian Summer. I am subbing for Anthony this Sunday and will be teaching for the next two following Sundays as well. Here is the line-up: This Sunday, Cultivating the Mind Part 2, Next Sunday, the 3rd of October will be Mindfulness and Cultivating Wisdom, and the Sunday after, October 10th will be The Difference Between Ordinary Happiness and True Happiness.

So this Sunday will be both a continuation of my last talk on Cultivating the Mind that I offered to all of you way back on August 1st before I went off on retreat and a logical progression of the Five Aggregates that Rebecca has offered in the last two Sundays of deconstructing the self. I will be offering on the cushion and off the cushion practices on mind training to bring more ease in our daily lives, encouraging being more fully present and engaged especially with those we come in contact with.

I will also be reading and investigating with all of you, short passages from the Dvedhavitakka Sutta or Two Kinds of Thought from the Majjima Nikaya number 19. Those of you who have this book of suttas, can read ahead before we meet on Sunday. It's an inspiring sutta for several reasons. First, the Buddha brilliantly came up with organizing the mind as engaging in two kinds of thoughts: a set of unwholesome thoughts and another corresponding set of wholesome thoughts. With beautiful visual metaphors, he explains the process of working to incline the mind towards more wholesome thoughts. By so doing, we can virtually eliminate the mental activities that tend to habitually cause us distress if not totally, at least to the point that we recognize its arising in the mind and can then decide to incline away from this tendency. The other cool thing is that he did this investigation and practiced with these two kinds of thoughts before he became fully enlightened! So you see there is hope for all of us in this lifetime with a little knowledge of effective techniques and diligent practice! Remember, we can't control our bodies - they will continue to age, sag and become sick but we can definitely control our minds to help decrease our suffering in daily life!

Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday,

Metta and gratitude for your practice and generosity, Pauletta

--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/

September 24, 2010

This Sunday: What the Aggregates Mean

Dear Friends,

I hope you've had a chance to observe some of the "processes of being" at work in your very own mind this week.  I'm looking forward to our meeting Sunday, when we will put our observations together to see what they tell us about our true nature.

Which of the Aggregates, the categories of processes, have you observed most?  In my own experience, seeing Vedana is very hard.  I know it's happening, I can feel the results of that instantaneous liking or disliking, but it's hard to see at the moment it happens.  That's OK, though.  Just knowing that I have this like or dislike because, well, it just automatically happened, allows me to hold my preferences a little more lightly.

It's interesting to observe what happens with these hitch hiker attitudes, once we start making decisions.  In fact, it's this process that I find easiest to observe:  Sankhara, where mental formations morph into motive, or volition.  And it's soooo informative to watch this process.  We can learn so much about how bad decisions are made!  :-)    If you haven't yet, you might try the Practices # 8 - 10 on the handout from last Sunday, which I e-mailed out on Monday.

I just got an e-mail today with some information that explains a lot about American politics while illustrating the point Buddha made repeatedly, that we should beware of our own tendency to cling to views.  Here's the (scanned & virus free) main points:

In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

How can we have things so wrong, and be so sure that we're right? Part of the answer lies in the way our brains are wired. Generally, people tend to seek consistency. There is a substantial body of psychological research showing that people tend to interpret information with an eye toward reinforcing their preexisting views. If we believe something about the world, we are more likely to passively accept as truth any information that confirms our beliefs, and actively dismiss information that doesn't. This is known as "motivated reasoning." Whether or not the consistent information is accurate, we might accept it as fact, as confirmation of our beliefs. This makes us more confident in said beliefs, and even less likely to entertain facts that contradict them.

Also, you might just take a quick look at Practices 11-13 over the weekend, because I suspect we'll get around to talking about these questions Sunday evening. 

Can't wait,
Rebecca

--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/


September 21, 2010

Working with the Aggregates or Processes of Being

Dear Friends,

On Sunday evening, we discussed Buddha's teaching on how to cut through the ignorance about our true nature which is at the root of clinging -- the cause of suffering.  This teaching works not through intellectual reasoning but through direct experience, through certain practices.  I presented the diagram that's attached to this message and elaborated on how the 5 categories, or Aggregates, operate together.  The diagram lists 13 practices related to this teaching on the Five Aggregates.

The practices are meant to be done in order.  In other words, work with simply identifying which category you're experiencing and observe it changing, first -- don't skip way down the list. 

Note that consciousness is aware of all the other categories, and in this way they influence each other.  Practice # 9 says to watch how Sanna influences Sankhara.  # 10 asks what other factors influence Sankhara, or Volition.  Here it's asking you to explore what mental factors might come to your awareness such as past experiences, attitudes, assumptions and mental habits.

Don't worry about doing this 'right.'  Any exploration you do of these "processes of being" can provide valuable insight into your true nature and how to reduce -- even end -- your suffering.

Wishing you the best,
Rebecca

--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/


September 17, 2010

This Sunday: What Are We?

We know that clinging is the cause of suffering -- but what is the cause of the clinging?  It is ignorance about our true nature, causing us to live in delusion and make mistakes over and over.

Buddha gave a teaching that can cut through this delusion and ignorance, not intellectually but through direct experience. 

Join us this Sunday from 7 to 8:30 pm and find out how to look directly into the workings of your own mind.  See what "you" are made of and why the truth is so different than most people think.

The "Five Aggregates" is a teaching that is often misunderstood.  My goal for the evening is to make it not just simple but readily available for you to use on a daily basis so that you can free yourself from the mistakes and suffering that so often plague our lives.

I'm looking forward to seeing you again,
Rebecca
--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/


September 15, 2010

INQUIRING MIND BENEFIT/DANCE PARTY - OCT. 2nd

Hello everyone,
 
Here is a nice dharma event coming up by Inquiring Mind a BUddhist magazine that I wanted all of you to be aware of.
Hope you are all having a great week!
 
Metta, Pauletta
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Dennis Crean <dcrean@inquiringmind.com>
Sent: Tue, September 14, 2010 11:21:19 AM
Subject: INQUIRING MIND BENEFIT/DANCE PARTY - OCT. 2nd

Friends and Inquiring Mind Readers,

Just a reminder about the first-ever Inquiring Mind Benefit/Dance Party coming up on Saturday, October 2nd. This will be a fun opportunity for the Bay Area Dharma Community to come together to dance, be entertained, and just have a great time—while helping to support the journal that has been part of this community for 27 years. I hope to see you there!

All the details about this event are in the attached flier. Here are the bullet points:

            Date and Time:  Oct. 2, 7:30 –10:30pm
            Place:  Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, 94707
            Music by CLASSIFIED  (a great dance band!)
            Performances by Wes Nisker and Nina Wise
            Special Musical Guest: Kevin Griffin
            Suggested Donation:  $20 - $100 per person
            (Proceeds to support the continuing publication of Inquiring Mind)
 
Tickets are available for purchase by regular mail, postmarked by Sept. 20th. Checks only. Please include your email address so we can send you a confirmation. Mail your donation to: Inquiring Mind Dance Benefit, PO Box 9999, Berkeley, CA 94709
 
Tickets will also be available at the door—by Cash or Check only.
 
Please forward this message to other people you know who are part of the Dharma community, or readers of Inquiring Mind, or friends who just might enjoy an evening out!
 
Please do come and help make it a great evening!
 
Peace,
 
Dennis Crean
Managing Editor
Inquiring Mind




--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/


September 13, 2010

So what do we do once we unmask the root underneath the hindrance?

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for your sharing last night - it was really rich and much courage was revealed overall to work with the Hindrances (Nivarana).

So if fear underlies aversion, we can investigate and see if it is based on a belief about what may or may not happen in the future, whether there is anything we can do to alleviate it, either through further examination, discussion with someone who would understand what we are going through, and to try to relax and breathe into the part of the body that contracts in the fear.

If sensual desire is masking sorrow, unmet needs, stress, or other things we may be trying to avoid by indulging in the sensual desire, this is where our real work begins. We need to first be with the sorrow, unmet need, stress etc. feel it in the body, how it manifests and then when some acceptance of it arrives, begin to investigate it further if necessary.

RAIN is the universal mnemonic that we can use as a tool to learn to work with all things difficult: emotion, thoughts, hindrances.

R is for Recognition of what is arising that's difficult and challenging.
A is for Acceptance that it is present.
I is for Investigation when we attempt to detach ourselves somewhat from the difficulty so we can examine it more closely.
N is for Non-identification with the difficulty. Knowing that we are not the anger that is present nor that we are an "angry" person, that the difficult state like every other conditioned state that arises is impermanent and will pass.

May you all have a fruitful week of practice and living in your daily lives,

Pauletta



--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/

September 8, 2010

This Sunday: The Last 3 Hindrances

Hello Everyone,

Hoping to see all of you this coming Sunday for the last 3 hindrances:3)sloth and torpor 4) restlessness and worry and 5) doubt
I will present antidotes to help the challenging and difficult process of practicing with getting to know these hindrances when they arise, a little bit more palatable and less discouraging.

Much metta and gratitude for your practice, Pauletta

--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/

September 6, 2010

Practicing with the Hindrances of Sensual Desire and Aversion for the rest of the week - Antidotes, and quotes, announcement for a daylong on Practicing with Physical LImitations next Sunday at East Bay Meditation Center

Hello Everyone,

Really enjoyed coming back after a long time away last night. Welcome to Sue Baizerman who came for the first time.

For those who weren't there last night, Rebecca wanted me to announce that there will be a daylong course next Sunday at the East Bay Meditation Center on "Practicing with Limitations".

From Analayo on Sensual Desire, "The particular dynamic of sensual desire is such that, every time a sensual desire is gratified, the act of gratifications fuels ever stronger subsequent manifestations of the same desire."

Antidotes to sensual desire: contemplating the potential harm indulgence can cause, or the inevitable end of all things physical and how briefly satisfaction lasts (anicca or impermanence); Recall your intention to practice

Antidotes to aversion: realize that aversion itself is a form of suffering and offer loving-kindness to yourself and the object of your ill-will. As per Analayo, "...often the irritating or repulsive feature of phenomena has received undue attention." (here he is referring to anger or disgust one may have towards another being. He goes on to say, "A direct antidote to such one-sided perception is to ignore the negative qualitites of whoever is causing one's irritation, and to pay attnetion instead to whatever positive qualities can be found in him or her" (I'm definitely not denying the difficulty of practicing this antidote, because particularly in regards to the level of intensity of aversion we have towards someone, our mind just doesn't want to incline to looking at their positive qualities, however it is still worth trying. I've been successful a few times with one person in particular in my life, but then I seem to slide right back into aversion again the next time. But at least I'm recognizing it and not just automatically reacting anymore) Last antidote is to try to relax and bring warmth to the parts of our body that are manifesting the aversion strongly.

Next Sunday, I will be speaking about the remaining 3 hindrances, restlessness and worry, sloth and torpor and doubt. I look forward to hearing your check-ins if you decide to undertake some practice with the first two hindrances this week. Happy practicing! Remember metta and don't judge yourself harshly. The rewards will come slowly but in a deep way if we persist!

Much metta and gratitude for you all, Pauletta
--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/

September 1, 2010

The Hindrances (Nivarana, in Pali) - learn what hinders us in our sitting and daily life practices from clarity, being wise, getting concentrated and staying on track

Hello Everyone,

Very grateful to be back from the most difficult retreat I've ever done so far!!

This coming Sunday the 5th of September, we will be looking at the 5 Hindrances. They are basically blocks to our mindfulness practice on and off the cushion. I will be presenting them as the beautiful visual metaphors which the Buddha used to describe their arising, the antidotes to deal effectively with them and then the metaphors which he used to describe the liberating ways in which we feel when they are no longer there.
This is where our practice can get challenging, but the rewards are huge and empowering to our awakening minds and hearts.  Therefore, have courage, patience(khanti), viriya (energetic effort) and perseverence (aditthana) to embark on this journey with me!

Also, don't forget to consider taking the Satipatthana Sutta workshop with Rebecca and I starting the first Saturday morning in October! See flyer attached,

See you soon, Pauletta


--
Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website: https://sites.google.com/site/alamedasangha/