For the first two Mondays in June we (ERBC Program Leaders Steve Seiberling and Callie Justice) invite you to explore the relationship between two key practice areas—developing sense restraint and cultivating mindfulness of the body.
This past Monday night Steve led a discussion on the Buddha’s teachings on restraint (saṃvara) of the sense faculties. The handout with the two sutta passages used for this reflection is available here. Steve invited us to consider the happiness that comes with the freedom from grasping after pleasing sensory experience and from repulsion toward what is displeasing. In contrast, indulging the sense faculties without restraint can cause one to swing between “states of longing and dejection”. He highlighted the tendency of grasping after sense pleasure to escalate in a way that leaves us wanting more and more, even as the satisfaction from getting what we crave grows less and less (think of eating ever increasing amounts of chocolate). The suttas describe how cultivating “mindfulness directed to the body” can reduce these pulls that arise with our sensory experience.
Next Monday, Callie will lead the group in exploring how cultivating mindfulness of the body helps us to become more attuned to the negative effects of constantly reaching for pleasant sights, sounds, tastes, etc. We will also investigate how over time this practice inclines the mind to let go of the need to grasp after happiness through pleasant sense-based experiences.
One of the key practices taught by the Buddha for establishing mindfulness of the body is a contemplation of the parts of the body. A description of how the Buddha taught this practice in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta is available here. Next Monday we will reflect on this particular practice and look at related approaches to cultivating mindfulness of the body as well.
As always, newcomers and visitors are welcome.