Spring 2012 Shamatha Retreat
Summary: Dharma talks and guided meditations given six days per week during the Spring 2012 eight-week Shamatha retreat at the Thanyapura Mind Centre in Phuket, Thailand, with B. Alan Wallace. Podcasts will be posted daily during the retreat.
Aspiring for genuine happiness. Unguided meditation not included. Q&A What do i have to do to achieve stage 4 outside of retreat? What does full enlightenment mean?
We proceed directly into meditation with loving kindness for ourself, then spend the remaining time with Q&A. Q&A (at 24:51) * Subtlety of subjectivity in lucid dreams. * Achieving shamatha while dreaming. * Sleep paralysis and false awakenings. * What is deja vu? * Relevance of learning the Tibetan language today. * Unpacking the terms "reality-based" and "let reality rise up to meet you."
We are encouraged to practice the four immeasurables in a spirit of looking back on our retreat and broader past. Then we receive advice around the question, "How do we prepare for death when we have months, days, hours, seconds?" (27:19)
Enter your practice in the spirit of loving-kindness, particularly when the mind is prone to rumination. Consider the analogy of the horse saved from a burning barn, scared and frantic—never would you be hard on such a horse, it needs only gentle kindness. Only this brief but essential advice tonight, before we practice and open the floor to questions. Q&A * As an aid in settling the mind in its natural state, which types of mental events can be generated to find the space of the mind? * Recommended dzogchen reading. * When expanding awareness in the four directions, must it be returned to center? * Nyam, flashbacks, and the placebo effect.
How to help people ? What aspects of dharma speak of developing these abilities and is there a first aid guide for specific ailments ?
Our shamatha practice can help keep us cognitively tuned while back in the big world, even if we can only practice briefly during the day. In times when we are fatigued from stress, full-body awareness in the shavasana pose is the most healing; on brimful days when the mind is agitated, mindfulness of breathing can bring the best benefit; when we're more relaxed and grounded, settling the mind in its natural state or awareness of awareness can be the tonic that enriches our lives. Alan gives us 'le grande tour' of the paths available in dharma; how buddhahood can be attained by various combinations of realizing emptiness and rigpa, cultivating bodhicitta, samadhi, and different options and complements of the practices. Silent meditation 45:38 Q&A 01:10:40 * Techniques to calm the pranas in preparation for meditation. * Distinction between attachment and commitment. * Drug use for spiritual gain.
Alan explains why the four immeasurables build a perfect system by each backing up one of the others. Silent meditation
We expand upon the two methods given by Panchen Lama Rinpoche of managing incoming thoughts: in the first, after flicking an arrow of thought, what remains in its place is awareness—a knowing devoid of thought. It's as if you get your own built-in dzogchen master. Phet! In the second method, letting thoughts arise and evaporate, you begin to perceive all thoughts, your body, and awareness itself as empty and identityless. It is said, while in between sessions, one should act as an illusory being. Though we dismiss thoughts as unwanted, we must be thankful for they provide the whetstone with which we sharpen the stability and vividness of our awareness. When people and events of the outer world come and go just as thoughts, we can be grateful too for their contribution to our practice. Silent meditation at 30:20 Q&A at 55:41 * Distinguishing between awareness of awareness and settling the mind in its natural state. * Introspection in awareness of awareness. * When the distracting thought is a mantra. * Defining locality in awareness of awareness. * Resting without thoughts and a subtle thought stream. * Awareness (vidya) vs. consciousness (jñana, vijñana) vs. mind (citta). * Subject and object in awareness.
Alan gives the remaining two of Buddhaghosa's fourfold analyses of the four immeasurables, those of empathetic joy and of equanimity. The analyses consist of the false facsimile, the diametric opposite, the immediate catalyst, and the sign of success of each quality. Silent meditation not included.
When performed in the method described by Panchen Lama Rinpoche of letting thoughts emerge and dissolve on their own like a raven on a ship, awareness of awareness qualifies as a practice of shamatha, vipassana, and dzogchen. The latter two require a supplementation of theory and view, but the practice is pertinent to all three and in its polyvalence can contribute to the deep shift in perspective yielded by each. Confidence of correct practice is essential, strengthened by realizations asserted by the experience of a diminishing of the five obscurations. Doing practice that produces pragmatic benefits which linger for weeks or years gives this perfect confidence. Silent Meditation starts at 45:00 Part 2 starts at 01:09:56 No Q&A session tonight.
Alan elaborates the four modes of enlightened activities: 1. Pacifying color white 2. Enriching color gold 3. Power color red 4. Ferocity color blue Silent Meditation
The stillness experienced in awareness of awareness is due to the absence of grasping. In sustaining this awareness we are observing nothing other than the substrate consciousness itself, though veiled by the course mind. Compare this to the possibility of observing rigpa while practicing dzogchen's open presence meditation. We may then know reality is not like a dream, but is a dream; nothing existing from its own side, objectively or subjectively. Q&A * Advice on effectively helping self absorbed complainers. * Comparing Hinayana with Theravada and Mahayana. * The feasibility of doing a one-year shamatha retreat. * Practicing gratefulness. * Which variety of awareness of awareness to practice in a personal retreat. * Does one realize any emptiness by achieving the first jhana?
While attending to sentient beings always think... It's because of you're kindness that i have the opportunity to achieve enlightenment.
As if we've become disciples in the 17th century, this evening we listen to the 4th Panchen Lama Rinpoche's teachings on awareness of awareness. Alan reads this translation to exemplify the uniformity through the ages of these acultural teachings. Silent Meditation at 40:14 Q&A (1:06:32) * Evaluating one's authentic motivation. * How rigpa relates to karma's influence of substrate consciousness. * How hell realms exist. * Practices for redeeming transgressions.
May we be a light that inspires others to draw on their own inner resources! Silent meditation not included.