September 3, 2012

Practice for the Week: The Six Sense Spheres: Fetters

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for coming last night on this beautiful holiday weekend. Remember to save the dates! Saturday November 10th from 9-5 pm will be our first daylong at the church. All three of us will be teaching and leading the day of practice.

Sunday, December 2nd, the Sunday after Thanksgiving weekend, the nuns from Aloka Vihara will be coming to visit us and we can request they do a dharma talk. Here is the link to their website to find out all about them. Do please listen to the dhamma talks by Ayya Anandaboddhi and/or Ayya Santacitta as one of these nuns will be coming along with a novice to visit us. It would be good to get a flavour of how they teach before you come. They are here:

In the second set of instructions of the Buddha, he showed us how to work with the fetters that arise when they meet one or more of the 6 sense spheres through which we experience moment after moment in  our daily lives.

To prevent an unarisen fetter from arising, think of the triggers that usually bring the episode of greed, hatred or delusion and set the intention to avoid it, sidestep it or find another way of meeting it when it appears. i.e. if you know that you tend to drink too much at business parties, set the intention to not drink or only drink water before entering the party and notice what could be different about one's experience of the party.

In knowing what conditions led to the arising of the fetter, reflecting back on times during which we have been steeped in greed, hatred or delusion and seeing the patterns of behaviour or situation that comes up that encourages this fetter to make its appearance in our relations with ourselves and others. Working with the body sensations when the fetter is present, makes for good practice for future transgressions because the body can clue us in to the arising of red flag warnings that we may be about to say or do something unskillful.

If we get caught and find ourselves in the middle of acting out a fetter, there is still hope! Backtrack to vedana, discerning whether it's pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, whatever the sense object is at the moment, how it feels in the body, and just staying present with all that is happening - thoughts, sensations, contractions, etc at that moment. Noticing the increased mental activity attempting to add more fuel to the fire, etc.

As we are staying fully present in the craving and clinging step of Dependent Origination (see second attachment sent in previous email) and apply Wise Attention, we may actually get to see the process of craving and clinging end without having acted out on it in an unwholesome way. When this happens, really highlight and enjoy this moment of being out of the grip of whatever it was that led one to believe that we need this in order to be happy.

Then, reflect on how this fetter can be prevented from arising in the future. Avoiding sitting at the computer just to "browse" and check out my wish lists on various retail websites, know that walking by my favorite bakery is going to tempt me to have just one cookie, etc etc.

And last but not least, remember that Mahasi Sayadaw is known to have said: "100% of our dukkha is due to the defilements of the mind" It's never too late to engage in Mind Training now!

When I return to teach again on October 14th, I will begin offering teachings on the counterparts to the main three fetters/poisons/defilements of greed, hatred and delusion which are generosity, lovingkindness and wisdom respectively.

with much gratitude and metta for your practice,


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