Browsing Category "Talks"
12 Feb
2019
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What Beauty!

I have family business to attend to tomorrow, so I won’t post again till Thursday. In the mean time, I leave you with this little nugget (edited) from the very last minute of Ajahn Sucitto’s talk, Body — The Last Outpost of Sanity:

Recognizing the distortions and possible pain that can be generated through grasping at the aggregates of Feelings, Perceptions, Intentions, Physical Forms, Consciousness — if the impurities of Identification and the misunderstanding of Self-and-Other could be cleared away — what beauty could be born, and shared.

With a mind of goodwill; with a mind that’s sensitive — oh what beauty could be born!  

7 Feb
2019
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What is this Boundary Boundary-ed by?

Ajahn Sucitto: “…I think one of the not-quite-correct understandings, in my opinion, of the aggregates (physical and mental experiences) is that these are one’s self. Actually, it’s my understanding that they are the cosmos — which can be personally experienced.

“So it’s thoughts, moods, impressions, form external, form internal, perceptions as they arise in the minds of others, speech that one hears, etc… It’s a complete thing.

“It’s not like: I am this mass of aggregates. It’s: there is this mass of aggregates — which creates the impression of somebody here and somebody else there. They create a duality of self and the world. They create me and my mind. They create me watching my anger. They create the sense of distinction, in which the aspect that one’s so often dealing with is the isolated person who is confronted by forces that she or he feels challenged by, within what they call ‘themselves’ — their moods, their obsessions, their worries — and qualities they call ‘other people’ — other people’s moods, obsessions, and problems. Or indeed things of the non-human nature — creatures and even disembodied spirits and so on!

“So, in meeting that edge, whereby there’s a differentiation — self and other, me and my mind, my good side and my bad side, my aspiration and my frustrations, my stupid behavior and my attempts to do better — this differentiation, there’s an edge there. It’s really at that edge where the quality of the softening and the goodwill and the accepting and the non-separation has to be encouraged.

“Non-separation doesn’t mean ‘we’re all one’. It means that we’re letting it all be met as a undivided, even problematic cosmos of different energies, differing dispositions, different qualities, datus (elements), indrias (authorities, powers)… And then just opening the map up — external/internal, myself/yourself, all this as it is.

“So really, this boundary — what is it boundary-ed by? Is it bounded by I am better? Is it bounded by I am worse? Is it bounded by anxiety? This boundary — this is the bit we can really know. The rest of it is guesswork, actually. The boundary is the piece that we can really know. Because whatever else it is, we know — this particular edge is causing problems.”

***

This is the first 5 minutes or so of a very rich talk by Ajahn Sucitto on the Aggregates, Stream Entry, Liberation, and much more. It’s called: Body — The Last Outpost of Sanity. Click here to listen.

5 Feb
2019
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Beauty of Being Freed from Regret and Remorse

Note: I have jury duty tomorrow, which could go on for an additional day or two, so I won’t post tomorrow for sure, and maybe not on Thursday or Friday either. Stay tuned.

Ajahn Sucitto: “Our citta — awareness — is all mixed up in forms and feelings and perceptions and memories and thoughts — it’s all mixed up in that. Citta is a kind of intelligence, a primary awareness, and it’s all flooded and mixed up in this aggregated mass [of bodily and mental experiences].

“The expression that’s used in the sutta is that one’s citta is ‘chewed up’ by the aggregates [forms, feelings, perceptions, intentions, consciousness]. It’s broken into bits and pieces: we see that we have a physical body; there are visual objects; we have memories; we have a past, the future; cousins, aunts; our good side, bad side; emotions; feelings; all these bits and pieces. All of them containing something — citta is hovering and invested in all of this.

“Even though we recognize that all of this is in some way incomplete, broken up, not satisfactory, still the extracting of the citta from this mass of suffering is a graduated and moderated process, so that the results can be properly integrated. It’s not a sudden wrench. The end result is that we’re still a functioning human being, on one level, with a personality and things we do and things we say. We can think. And feel. But it’s not this heavy, weighty, tangled stuff. It’s not the regret and criticism and all the negative aspects. It’s not the hungry, craving person. It’s the sappurisa — the true person, the person who is in ‘true’, is properly aligned, who resonates with truth. There’s no mixed-up-ness in it.

“It’s as if one extracts and then permeates the personal world, the personal fabric, with the beauty of the citta when it’s become freed from regret and pain.

“When the breathing is purified, it saturates the body and is experienced as subtle pleasure radiating through the pores of the skin in absorptions. Just as the citta, when it’s freed from the taint of regret and remorse and hostility — has the great luminosity of metta that can then radiate and emanate and into one’s life and the life of others.

“It’s said that just practicing metta meditation, one’s complexion becomes serene and bright… Tissues are tissues, but there is a certain luminous beauty to the features of people who are illuminated in this way… Their faces are serene and bright. Their countenance is pure and bright. It’s because of the purity of citta radiating through the personal, the specific form.”

***

This is the first five minutes of the same talk I quoted from yesterday: The Luminous Citta. Click here to listen.

4 Feb
2019
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Heart Comes First

Ajahn Sucitto: “There are meditation systems, but prior to that… you have to find the place where your mind will meditate — rather than just struggle, trying to get some system going.

“There are a number of systems that could do that, as long as one enters from there.

“Heart comes first. Faith comes first — what one has confidence in, where one gets the sense of: yes, I can do this; this works for me — that comes first.

“Energy will gather there. Citta (heart) will collect there. Panna (wisdom) can be developed from there.

“So we take our time with that. It’s often quite specific. You have to work through the very personal, circumstantial activations of the aggregates (mind and body) — the activation of “today,” or that strange habit that one has, or this unresolved regret, or guilt that one has that keeps nagging and coming back.

“These are not just silly details. They are often the lead-in to this mass of suffering. This is where the person got stuck. And so, as you come in there, you start to unpick: feeling, perception, activations…. And it will take you — you will find your path — through this personal life into something beyond.

***

This little snippet is the last 2 minutes of one of Sucitto’s gorgeous new talks: The Luminous Citta. It was given during the final week of a month-long retreat at the Forest Refuge, so he’s addressing experienced meditators and does use some Pali words and classical references (the Five Aggregates) without spelling them out, but don’t let that get in the way. Just go with the flow — and the feeling — of what he’s saying.

It will be worth it.

28 Jan
2019
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Very Little Effort

Beginning tomorrow, one of my brothers will be staying with me for a much-looked-forward-to visit, so I won’t be posting on Dharma Town till he goes back home early next week.

In the mean time, I leave you with Ajahn Sucitto’s very interesting instructions for standing meditation, in which he encourages the movement of “attention from the more activated areas [of the body] to parts that have no activation at all.

“Beginning with the sense of balance and cohesion, guidance is provided to sense through the entire body, sustaining a soft attitude with no time frame and a quality of very little effort.”

***

Even if you’re not interested in actually doing the exercise he suggests (although that would be best!), I still think you’ll enjoy listening to him talk about how we can find ease in the mind and body without it becoming yet ONE MORE THING WE HAVE TO DO!

Standing Meditation: Where There is No Activation in the BodyClick to listen.

25 Jan
2019
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Path and Fruit

from Ajahn Sucitto:
“The Buddha says that cultivation of the Noble Eightfold Path brings great fruit — ‘great benefit’ — but the word is ‘fruit.’

“The terms that are used — ‘path’ (magga) and ‘fruit’ (phala) — are pretty literal, straight-on translations.

“Magga definitely means ‘path.’ It’s never anything other than ‘path.’ Phala always means ‘fruit.’ It never means anything but ‘fruit.’

“So a path, which is a track in the woods….no mangos grow on that! A path doesn’t give rise to fruit.

“It takes you to a place, right?  A path — if you follow it — it takes you to a place.

“So how can a path take you to a fruit? It can take you to a place, but it doesn’t take you to a fruit — unless you’re going to a fruit store, I guess. [laughs]

“It’s because the path — in walking that path — you start to learn. Through stumbles and dealing with the curves and the dips and the gulches and the traffic and all that — you’re beginning to learn a relationship.

“And relationship is where the fruit — that you didn’t know was there — begins to ripen. Out of that path.

“It’s a slightly different set of cause-and-effect, you might say, than the way we would normally assume it…

“Fruit arises from how one walks, not from where one goes.”

***

(excerpt from: Anapanasati–A Model for Cultivation and Freedom.) 

21 Jan
2019
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There’s a Quality of Happiness…

Ajahn Sucitto: “The manifestation experience of faith is the ah-ha moment when something in you opens up… Something happens in the mind…

“Something shifts. Something tingles. Something urges. Something vibrates. Something resonates…

“It’s a time when we experience ourselves as being deeply alive. In ourselves. Intimately alive.

“Not lit up by some obsession. Not lit up by something happening. Not lit up by, you know, praise and success and so forth, but somehow quietly illuminated in presence…

“There’s a quality of the happiness that’s the happiness of taking a weight off your back. Not the happiness of burrowing into something, but the happiness of ahhhhhhhhh. Taking off the burden.

“These are not often of long duration, these realization moments, and that burden can be the burden of one’s constant need to be something. Constant need to be running forward. Constant need to be succeeding. Constant need to be approved of, or something that’s just — uhh, I’ve had enough! — and that — that’s fantastic.”

***

The photo above is of Ajahn Sucitto. The excerpt above is taken from his talk on Intention and Effort, starting at about the 43 minute mark. (But listen to it all, beginning to end, to really get what he’s talking about.) Enjoy!

17 Jan
2019
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The Ability to Pour Forth

Ajahn Sucitto: “Another very important quality of heart — we sense this as an aspect of what we might call love — is the ability to pour forth, to bring forth, to give.

“We can do this in our work: we want to really give ourselves to something we really care for or are interested in. Or to another person, to give to a child or to a partner: we want to really offer something from ourselves.

“And in puja [spiritual devotion] or in making commitments to one’s spiritual training or one’s practice: you really want to give yourself to the sacred — however that’s configured.

“And that’s quite important. To actually extend the range of that. So we give ourself to our duties, to our relationships, and even to the earth — how can we support, look after, and care for the earth — and to the sacred.

“So: How do I offer myself, open my mind, open my heart — to truth, virtue, beauty, clarity, purity…to those resonances.

“Can I reach to that range, which is ungraspable.

If it’s graspable, it turns into dogmatism, believe systems.

If it’s left un-grasped, it turns into this infinite opening of heart. It’s a very beautiful form of spiritual love.

“This is something definitely to get a handle on, to train in. Because it’s for one’s deep fulfillment — this pouring one’s self into.

“We long to do that. For most people this is expressed in one’s vocation. Or in their relationships. Or in their parenting. Or even in the way they look after a piece of land or something. They empty themselves into that.

“And there’s a lovely richness in that. We don’t lose, we are actually gained by the giving, enriched by the giving.

“This is a very important feature of practice.”

***

(from this talk by Ajahn Sucitto, beginning at about the 25 minute mark)

15 Jan
2019
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Metta is…

Since this is my Year of Getting to Know Goodwill, I am taking note when Ajahn Sucitto, in a recent talk at the Forest Refuge, described metta as “that which inclines toward nourishing.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite like that before.

Kind of gives it a different flavor, doesn’t it!

***

(quote from 11/11/18 Q&A session, beginning at about the 27 minute mark — click here to listen.)

8 Jan
2019
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It’s SUPPOSED to Feel Good

When asked to discuss the role of delight on the Buddhist path, when it should be cultivated, and when let go of, here’s what Ajahn Sucitto had to say:

“Well, there are many words that are used in the Buddhist lexicon, but I image that what the questioner is talking about is something like rapture and happiness piti and sukha.

“This is to be cultivated in order to counteract the hindrances — the effects of the hindrances, the traces of the hindrances.

“We can imagine that the citta [heat/mind] will flow down the most predominant tracks, the most deeply etched tracks, like a fluid will run down the tracks that are most deeply engraved, that are most habitual. So if our habitual tendency is worry, or negativity, or cynicism, or self-criticism, then the citta easily runs down that. At the drop of a hat, it rushes down it.

“When we meditate, we are deliberately blocking those channels, or turning away from those channels, and developing other channels. So, with puja [devotional rituals], sila [ethical behavior], metta [goodwill], dana [generosity] — all that — composure, breathing in and breathing out, and so forth — we are developing other things.

Those qualities become authorized by pleasure.

“We are quite simple creatures, really. We follow what’s pleasant. So, pleasure gives authority. We obey pleasure. And we obey pain.

“So when we begin to recognize qualities that give a sense of pleasure that is skillful, that we feel no regret around, that doesn’t gives us hangovers or burn-outs or harm anybody or cost anything — then, we go for it.

“And then the citta begins to get reset from these negative kamma [actions] to agreeable kamma. Agreeable kamma has good feeling associated with it.

“Agreeable kamma feels good. It’s not just morally correct. It feels good. And it’s important to recognize the feel-good quality of it. It’s not just correct. It should feel good.

If it doesn’t feel good, you haven’t really embedded in it yet, you haven’t really drunk it in yet, you haven’t made use of it. You should absorb it — till it makes you feel GOOD.

“Then it’s going to gain authority.

“So reflect a lot and wisely attend to skillfulness. Take it into the heart. How’s this feel? To avoid harming, to put aside cruelty, doesn’t that give you dignity, value, self-respect? Isn’t that good? Doesn’t that feel good?

“So we meditate — and part of the aim of meditation is to feel good. To feel these qualities of calm, and ease, and absence of pressure, and simplicity, freedom from obstructions… This is supposed to feel good! To make you happy!

“If you haven’t looked at that aspect of it, then you have deprived yourself of one of the main aims. Because the pleasant feeling definitely creates a momentum so that the citta will then go there. And then it loses track, it loses touch with the negative kamma. Gross negativity, that is. Those tendencies dry up. Because it’s gone the other way.

“This is the point of piti and sukha. These are embodied qualities. And the body itself begins to release some of its tensions, its somatic distortions. We can feel trapped in our chest or locked into our bellies or shut down in our throats. Then that starts to peel off. And you feel VERY NICE.

And it’s skillful.

“It should not be ‘let go of.’ Nothing is ‘let go of.’ Things become unnecessary. They fall off when they’re no longer needed.

“Letting go is not an action that you do. It’s something that occurs when: that’s finished; that’s enough of that.

“Then this quality of piti/sukha, when it’s done its work, strangely enough, something in the citta feels: I’d like to be just a little bit quieter. Yeah, that’d be nice. Just a little quieter. Yeah. Nice….

“So then the pleasure subsides. Into something more equanimous.

“OK. I think that’s enough for tonight.”

🙂

***

The above excerpt is from this talk, beginning at about the 48 minute mark.