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Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category

The Eno River Buddhist Community (ERBC) will host a women’s retreat, November 6-8, focused on establishing mindfulness of the body through contemplation of the four elements. Callie Justice, long-time leader in ERBC, will lead the retreat, drawing on her extensive study and practice with the early Buddhist teachings on establishing mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna). Here is the brief description:

The Buddha taught contemplation of the four elements as a practice for establishing mindfulness of the body, which is a key aspect of right mindfulness—the seventh factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. Contemplation of the four elements (earth, water, fire, wind) appears as a core teaching on cultivating right mindfulness in all currently available versions of the early discourses. On this retreat, participants will be supported to develop mindfulness of each element both internally—within our individual bodies—and externally—as we encounter the elements in the world around us. The interweaving of mindfulness of the elements throughout the activities of the day as well as during meditation will be encouraged.

This women’s retreat will be limited to 11 participants. A framework will be provided as a container for the practice of the group as a whole. Within that framework, there will be space for each individual to discern what she needs to do at any given time in order to wisely develop her personal retreat experience. The retreat will be held in noble silence. The retreat environment will be structured to support the cultivation of continuous careful attention (yoniso manasikāra) both on and off the cushion. Dhamma talks, instruction in breath meditation, guided contemplations and interviews with Callie will be offered. The retreat is intended to benefit both those who are new to the Buddha’s path and those who are more experienced.

The retreat will be held in the Pelican House at the Trinity Center on Emerald Isle. For more information and to register, please see the retreat flyer, or contact Callie at justice.callie@yahoo.com.

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We’ve been studying and practicing the teachings on the four establishments of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna) on Monday evenings for the last several months. As we’ve done this, we’ve focused on the earliest form of this practice that can be gleaned by studying early Buddhist texts. Here are some resources if you would like to study this topic further or continue to develop your practice of it.

Callie and I have found Bhikkhu Anālayo’s work on satipaṭṭhāna to be especially helpful. He has compared the Pāli and Chinese versions of the “Discourse on Establishing Mindfulness” to clarify what is likely to have been the earliest form of this teaching. His article, Exploring the Four Satipaṭṭhānas in Study and Practice, is particularly helpful as a summary of how this approach can be applied as an integrated practice.

A guided meditation by Bhikkhu Analayo, leading one through all seven of the contemplations found in the earliest form of satipaṭṭhāna, is available on the Dharma Seed website.

For those wishing to explore this topic in depth, Ven. Anālayo’s book, Perspectives on Satipaṭṭhāna, is a detailed comparison of the Pāli and Chinese versions of this discourse. The book also discusses the implications of what emerges from this study and how to practice with it.

Callie and I have found these writings, as well as teachings on this topic given by Bhikkhu Analayo on his retreats, very valuable as we’ve looked into satipaṭṭhāna practice over the past year.

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On Monday evenings at the Eno River Buddhist Community in June and July, we are investigating mindfulness of feelings (vedanā) – the second of the four Satipaṭṭhānas taught by the Buddha for cultivating Right Mindfulness.

Through guided meditations, Dhamma talks and discussion, we have the opportunity to become more attuned to the nature of our lived experiences related to feelings.  We learn to notice the pleasant, unpleasant (painful), or neither painful-nor-pleasant tone which the Buddha taught accompanies every experience.

Gradually, over time, we become more tuned-in to key understandings which support increasing tranquility and wisdom.  We see the ever changing nature of feelings.  We notice that pursuing happiness through grasping after ‘worldly’ pleasant feelings is always ultimately unsatisfactory.  We become increasingly able to cultivate pleasant feelings that are not based in greed, hatred or delusion (e.g., the feelings that accompany acts of generosity or practices such as loving-kindness meditation or the development of Right Concentration).  We loosen the tendency to identify with feelings as ‘self.’

Newcomers and visitors are always welcome at Monday evening practice sessions.  We value the opportunity to revisit previously discussed topics, and encourage participation for people at all levels of experience with the Buddha’s teachings.

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For our summer program at ERBC, on the first and second Mondays of May through August we will draw on Dhamma talks by Bhikkhu Sujato on the theme of developing meditation practice. Supplementary readings from the suttas will be offered. There will be opportunities for discussion as well.

Bhante Sujato is an Australian monk and scholar, formerly abbot of Santi Forest Monastery, who was trained in the Thai Forest tradition. He is a primary teacher for the members of ERBC’s program committee.  We regularly draw from his online teachings as resources for planning programs.  We’re happy to offer samplings from these teachings to inform and inspire our Monday evening investigations in support of deepening the practice of meditation.

Many of Ven. Sujato’s Dhamma talks, in both audio and video form, can be found on the Dhammanet website. (Video versions of many of these talks are also posted on Dhammanet’s YouTube Channel.) The Santi Forest Monastery website has many talks by Bhante Sujato on their audio page, as well as his essays and books on their Santipada page.

Our beginning program in May drew from Bhante Sujato’s recent talk on the relationship between wholesome pleasure, or happiness (sukha), and the development of concentration or jhāna.

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