Online, Together, Meditating, Secular: An Event Announcement from New Zealand!
For those who don’t know, New Zealand has a lively Secular Buddhist community: https://secularbuddhism.org.nz/ http://www.onemindfulbreath.org.nz/ http://abet.nz/ Last month, the prominent Ramsey Margolis announced via his newsletter that he wanted to try to lead a free, online meditation using Zoom similar to SBA US’s Practice Circle. Not only had he gone out of his way to…Read More
Practice: The Four Strivings
When we practice, we strive to become proficient. The Sanskrit term for meditation, “bhāvana”, actually means “development” or “cultivation”, near synonyms for “practice” itself. Indeed, meditation is central to the Buddhist path: to meditate is to develop wholesome mental states through mindfulness and concentration. In the Cūḷavedalla Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 44.12), the lay follower Visākha…Read More
Practice: Working with the Hindrances
The first and biggest problems we all have in meditative practice are those constant bothers that the Buddha termed “hindrances”, clouding the clear water of awareness. He counted five, usually translated: sensual desire, ill-will, restlessness, sloth-and-torpor, and doubt. When I first heard these, I wondered, why these five? They sound like a miscellaneous grab-bag of…Read More
Strategies of Secular Buddhist Practice
As Ted Meissner and Mark Knickelbine have been emphasizing, practice is an essential part of any Secular Buddhist path. But it took me quite awhile to find my way to a really worthwhile practice. For many years I followed a Zen-based form of what I would term ‘free form’ meditation, oriented around samādhi, or focus…Read More
Weekly Practice (Causes & Conditions)
Last week we began our exploration of the first noble truth, dukkha, or suffering. We have a good idea of what suffering is and that there is more to it than we may have initially thought. But one of the amazing things about Buddha’s teachings was that he didn’t stop there. Instead, he explored deeply into the processes that cause suffering to arise. This week we are going to dig into the second noble truth, the causes and conditions of suffering.Read More
Weekly Practice (Dukkha, or Suffering)
We’ve covered a lot of ground in these Weekly Practices, and now you should have a good idea of what mindfulness and concentration are and how meditation develops both. We’ve also looked closely at the impermanence of everything, including the five aggregates that we tend to mistake for a static self. Lastly, we took a good look at craving and attachment.
This week we’ll examine dukkha, often translated as suffering. Dukkha is also the third mark of existence and the subject of the noble truths.Read More
Weekly Practice (Clinging & Craving)
Over the past few weeks, we focused on exploring how the feeling of me, mine, and I arise from the five aggregates: body, feeling tone, perceptions, fabrications, and consciousness. Each of these arise as a part of the human condition. In fact, they’ve been necessary to our evolution as a species. Without a feeling of I, you might not bother to feed yourself.
The problems of the aggregates comes from not recognizing them as the processes that go into the making of a perception of self, not recognizing that these are impermanent, and the focus for this week, how we cling to them and crave for more.Read More
Weekly Practice (Not Self & Review)
If you’ve been following along each week, first with impermanence, then with mindfulness and concentration, and then with body and feelings, and lastly with mental formations, you may have caught on to the repeated question, “Is this thought, feeling, body sensation, emotional reaction a solid, unchanging self?”Read More
Weekly Practice (5 Aggregates: Mental Formations)
This week we’ll examine the last three aggregates: Perception, Fabrication, and Consciousness. All three of these are mental formations, what the mind does.Read More
Weekly Practice (5 Aggregates: Feeling & Body)
By now, in meditation, you may be seeing that focusing on the breath increases concentration, and noticing whatever arises to interrupt your concentration increases your mindfulness.Read More