Browsing Category "Talks"
12 Apr
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The “And” Practice

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of dharma talks that Phillip Moffitt has given at the Marin Sangha because there he’s primarily focused on Dharma Practice in Daily Life (as opposed to most of the talks from Spirit Rock, which are usually in a retreat setting).

At the beginning of the one I listened to last night (Exploring the Many Dimensions of Metta), Phillip took comments from the sangha members about their experience using the Metta phrases. One woman said that her favorite phrase was: May you be at peace. She said she often repeats it to herself as she goes about her day. And then just recently, while she was on her way to the office, someone darted out in front of her car and she blurted out: Oh you asshole! But then right after that, she found herself thinking: May you be at peace.

(Everyone laughed.)

Phillip said, “That’s what I call the ‘And… Practice.’ It’s like: I’m so mad…. or It’s so unfair… then you add the ‘and….

“The ‘And… Practice’ is what connects you back to a wholesome state when you’ve moved to an unwholesome state of mind. You’re already having the unwholesome mind state, so you accept that, and then the ‘and…’ is your intention to go back to the wholesome state. Maybe you go back and maybe you don’t, but that’s your intention. The practice connects you back to your deepest intention.”


I love that!

I don’t think I’ve ever heard it explained quite like that before. I’ve heard of using “and” instead of “but” in conversation, as a way of being inclusive and to keep from being argumentative, but never as a way to re-connect with a deeper intention.

I’m going to try it.


The whole talk is a terrific, by the way. Click here to listen.

2 Apr
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The Body Infused with Awareness

I led the Sunday Sangha sitting group this past weekend in the Metta for the Body mediation, using instructions from Phillip Moffitt’s Daylong Retreat for Experienced Students.

What to try this at home? Here’s the text:

Today we’re going to be doing Loving-kindness as a meditation, but we’re going to be doing it for the body. The body itself. Not for “me,” not for “my” body… The liver is not concerned about being “my liver.” The liver has it’s own experience in it’s “liver-ness.” Not as a self-reflective consciousness. But as an actual experience as having tension or heaviness or whatever various kinds of things that could be going on with the liver. The same with the heart, the lungs… So we are treating each of the body parts as an experience in itself.

We’re not saying oh, I want to “fix my knees.” There’s no judging, comparing, or fixing at all. We’re not trying to do some kind of magic. Rather, we’re building concentration through Metta practice because Metta is a concentration practice. It’s a mantra practice, and all mantra practices – whether they are Hindu or Christian or Buddhist or whatever – are concentration practices. The repetition itself defines a kind of concentration.

The phrases I use are:
May I be safe and feel protected.
May I be happy, just as I am.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I live in the world with ease.

The orientation towards these phrases (what we mean by “safe” and “happy” etc.) is the kind of well-being that can come to the body when the body is infused with awareness. You may feel only the slightest amount of this well-being, or you may feel a lot of it. If we were doing this once a day over many days or if we were doing this all day long, you’d be more likely to feel more of it. But for however long you are doing it, the more relaxed you are, the more you’re able to take it easy with your body — the more you will be able to develop concentration.

But you are keeping your mind on the phrases. You’re not pausing and wandering around in your mind. You are keeping continuity from one moment to the next. It’s one phrase, then the next, the next, the next…  We want it to be steady. You can have a changing rhythm – you might start slow and it might speed up, for example – but you are aware of your rhythm, of the pacing, and there’s a continuity within whatever’s going on at the time. So you don’t say one phrase fast and then slow down on the next one. It’s not jerky like that at all. The steadiness is part of what builds the concentration.

You may at times get images of your body as you’re doing this. Those images are fine. They’re not a distraction. But you keep your words in the forefront and let the images be in the background. You may find yourself really getting into the awareness of a particular sensation—some kind of tension in the neck, for example—and thoughts might start to come, like: “oh, this tension is a kind of fear that’s showing up in my neck,” which may be true, but this is not our investigation time. You could do that some other time. But for now, we’re keeping those thoughts in the background. You’re not getting rid of the thought; you’re not denying it; you’re just moving on. Another day you could do it differently, but not now.

We’re going to move through the body. Top to bottom and back up, if you’re comfortable like that. Or else straight down each time, or up each time if you’re more comfortable with that.

You can choose from a number of different ways to do this. Sometimes I only do the organs. Sometimes I’ll only do the bones. Or sometimes I just do whatever comes up as I move from my head down to my feet. You choose whatever you think would work for you.

You can use whatever phrases you’re used to. You can also decrease the number of phrases, if you prefer that. And you can modify them, if that seems right.

For example:
May these knuckles be safe and feel protected.
May these knuckles be happy, just as they are.
May these knuckles be healthy and strong.
May these knuckles live in this body with ease.

Part of doing this practice is really opening to, imagining your body having this well-being. Well-being is relative to what’s possible. I can not imagine well-being as though I were 25 years old. That isn’t within the realm of what’s possible. But I can imagine the various parts of my body as having well-being within the range of their condition right now. And that works quite beautifully. Otherwise you’re getting unreal. You’re falling into magical thinking. And it’s not magical thinking.

There is a feeling of well-being that can develop in the body from doing this, in part just because there’s a kind of deep relaxation going on. And part of it is because energy follows awareness, so you’re energizing the parts of the body, and that energizing is very wholeness for the body. Part of it is that you are letting loose of certain tensions that are held and it’s like doing yoga of the mind for the body. And there’s a mysterious aspect. It’s just mysterious as to why this has a certain well-being-ness to it, but it does mysteriously happen.

Remember, we’re not trying to “get it right.” We’re just looking to experience the experience. There is as little “doing” as possible when we’re “doing” meditation. (Despite all these instructions!) It’s very light.

OK. So let’s start…..


I’ve modified this slightly. (For example, I offered the phrases I like to use because Phillip didn’t include his.) If you want to hear Phillip himself, click here. His instructions for this meditation start at about the 1 hr and 50 minute mark.

16 Mar
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Entering the Stream

More on “personality view” from Ajahn Sucitto. (I know this post is really long, but I just couldn’t bear to cut it.)

“The Buddha presented 10 “fetters” or “knots” that are released at Awakening. Awakening has several stages to it. At the first stage, the first three fetters all go at the same time. It’s not 1, then 2, then 3… because the first three fetters are really aspects of the same experience.

“The first is sakayaditthi (literally: ‘the view of being in this body,’ which is generally translated as ‘personality view‘). This is the isolated individual. It’s the belief in the individual as a separate reality and also that it can provide a good foundation.

“But as we practice, probably we begin to recognize that the personality is something that we have to be able to release, rather than to establish as a foundation. It doesn’t mean that there’s no sense of self. It means that we can begin to recognize that the personality is kind of like a structure, or a series of mental actions and perceptions that have been established through past karma and particularly through the social/domestic experience. So our personality forms as a response to the world around us.

“And so this is very much associated with the second fetter, attachment to ‘systems and customs,’ because that’s exactly what the personality gets indoctrinated into — systems and customs: Do this, do that. Get a job, get a mortgage, get two-point-five kids, get a dog, be happy. That’s it.

“I’m being humorous, of course. But there’s also nationalism, religious dogmatism — these are also aspects of systems and customs. What it leads to is a certain automatic quality, where we operate automatically according to certain socially generated norms.

“Neither of these mean that you don’t have any personality. Personality is a natural form. The citta (heart) develops a sort of skin, you could say, to interact in the world. But you don’t believe that that’s your final “statement”. That’s just the clothes you wear, you might say.

“I want to get that clear because in terms of people with a lot of deep practice, or who are said to be or understood to be or seem to demonstrate quite realized qualities — they still have a personality. But often it can be that they can kind of turn it off, as well. It’s not a fake thing. It’s just that when there’s a time for interaction, the personality is the appropriate way to interact.

But their personality is often quite light and flexible. It’s appropriate. They’re not trying to boost it, or emphasize it.

And certainly they can use systems and customs as is appropriate, as is suitable. Because if handled properly, systems and customs can be a ground for harmony: Let’s all do it this way. Fine. Then we know where we are and we don’t have to concern ourselves too much about these behavioral things.

“Also someone like this is aware of the rationale behind systems and customs. For the sake of harmony or out of mutual respect or imbued with conscience and concern, one can use a meditation system without it turning into: This is it. It’s the only way. I’ve got to be good at this… Instead: Ah, this is actually providing the ground for calming or steadying or it’s making me realize where the hindrances are. This is good! And one can use a range of those systems. One really sees the value of them and can use them rather than being disoriented without them or being dogmatic about them.

“This can be because the citta has realized something beyond the level of personal behavioral experience. It’s realized something deeper than that.

“So therefore it doesn’t have the third fetter: doubt (or lack of confidence). One is confident that this ‘me’ is not something I really have to concern myself about too much because there’s something more important here than my personality and what people think of me and whether I look good or…

“You also might say that this sense of right and wrong is much softer. Right and wrong often applies to dogmatic apprehension of experience: This is right and this is wrong. Instead one might say: This doesn’t seem to be very fitting right now.

“But the person where these fetters are really deeply embedded will have a lot of personality issues. Often complaining about themselves; the inner tyrant experience; critical mind; going on and on worrying about themselves. And also doing it to other people: She’s this and he’s that. Always focusing on the personalities of other people as a big issue.

“Without that, we can get on with a whole range of people because we’re not really making personality the main thing. So this makes life a lot broader and more expansive.

That really is the stream-enterer, but they still have things like sense-desire, ill-will, residences….. You know, they’ve still got stuff!

“I think that’s really helpful because if you’re aiming for total purity on day one, or you’ve got to let go of all your attachments, that’s a big ask. But that’s not it.

“So the next two fetters are: resistance (or irritability) and sense-desire. One’s mind is heated by the qualities of sense desire and one’s mind is also irritable. It’s not permanently irritable, but certainly you can sense that irritability to things, and resistances. Likes and dislikes. Even the once-returner [the second stage of Awakening] has still got that to a certain degree. Then that fades, wanes, as the foothold on what we’ll call the Deathless becomes more assured, so that one is experiencing a sense of comfort in it.

“The first realizations, or aspects of realization, are really not so much about feeling that great. The first thing that’s established, actually, is a sense of security. Or stability. Which is what ‘confidence’ means. Or ‘lack of doubt.’ You’ve touched something and you know… you don’t necessarily always feel great and comfortable and wonderful… but you know: This is it. And because of that, then the path is established. You know. Even though things are still somewhat uncomfortable — preferences, irritability — still you know: I have confidence; There is this; There is this place of refuge.

So the stream-enterer definitely has a refuge, a foothold on it. That’s why it’s called ‘entering the stream.’ They’re just getting their feet in it. They’re not totally buoyed up by it. So it’s just: There is a stream. It doesn’t mean one necessarily is completely immersed in it. [laughs] So the irritability and sense-desire are still there to a degree. But this doesn’t get in the way of what they’re doing.

“Another fetter is the attachment to meditation qualities: to fine mind-states, and then to even subtler mind-states — absorptions and calm and ease and spaciousness. Those are another two fetters. The stream-enterer still hasn’t really broken or released those.

“And there’s ‘conceit‘ — conceiving oneself to be something, either better or worse or the same-as. Having oneself as a concept, a ‘perceptual self’ you might say. Conceiving oneself as anything really — enlightened, half-enlightened, somewhat enlightened. That’s why the realized people just don’t say anything about being enlightened, generally. Because it doesn’t really make sense. [laughs] You just say: Suffering has stopped. 

“Then ‘restlessness,’ where the mind has still got some association with the conditioned realm. The conditioned mind is always shifting and moving. There’s an association with that, so the mind is being stirred. And the last is ignorance, or the lack of full comprehension. These then are not released — yet.

But stream-entry is perhaps the major breakthrough. The Buddha pointed to a mountain and then he pointed to the dirt under his fingernail and he asked: What do you think is greater — the amount of earth in that mountain or the amount of earth under my fingernail? And of course, the bhikkhus: Surely Lord…. [laughs] And then the Buddha said: Well, the amount of earth in that mountain, that’s what you shift at stream entry. And what I have under my fingernail, that’s the rest of it. So it’s considered a major breakthrough because then it is said that one is not going back. It’s going to continue. It’s going to deepen.

“The aim then is to keep referring the heart to that, keep establishing it, keep acknowledging what drags one out of it, and increasing the sense of enjoyment in it, and the comfortableness. And then working on the subsidiary fetters.

“You can notice what bothers you. So if you’re still worked up about him and her and myself and this-that-and-the-other, there’s some ‘personality view’ still there. Or if you momentarily get these irritable mind-states or a tendency to be critical, then you know that and your aim is to work on that.

Even though stream-entry is a major breakthrough, a stream-enterer isn’t always clear about it. Because it’s not that solid. It’s solid in the way that it’s not going to turn back, but you can’t really feel fully enriched by it. Stream-enterers can still misbehave. But because they’re not attached to their personality, they can acknowledge it. They’re not defensive because they’re not trying to present themselves as an ideal person any more. Which is a great help.”


This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity and readability. It is Ajahn Sucitto’s answer to the question: “How would you characterize freedom from sakayaditthi (personality view)?” Click here for the full Q&A session.

13 Mar
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Conflict and Comparison

(continuing from yesterday’s post with excerpt from Ajahn Sucitto’s Q&A on the mental “fetters” that bind us to suffering)

The second fetter, attachment to rites and rituals (silabbata-paramasa), has to do with — not just rituals, lighting incense, or praying — but everything that’s automatic. It’s systems and customs. Any kind of system or custom.

Language is a system. It’s a series of sounds and words, but it’s a system, a custom. Everybody is operating according to systems and customs. For example, everybody goes to work at this time or everybody eats their meal at this time. Everybody’s following some kind of ritual/system/custom. These are things we operate with, but really, in truth, there’s no day or night, there’s no Monday or Thursday — that’s just the convention. We think: “Oh, this is Thursday, I have to do this. Or I can only do this on Sunday. Or it’s six o’clock!” But there’s no such thing as six o’clock. It’s just the convention. And when one gets attached to these things, then we live life like a robot. Like a puppet that’s moved along. This is a considerable fetter.

Doctrines can also be part of that. Even meditation systems can be things we get attached to: “This is the right way. I’m going it right. He’s wrong.”

The quality of these always separates us. So even when you call yourself a “Buddhist”, it’s tricky. Buddhism a good system, but it’s a system. And actually, there are no “Buddhists”, really, there’s just Dhamma practice. We can call ourselves “Buddhists” when we have to write something down on an official form, or whatever. So people know that this is the label and it probably means we’re good people. But we also understand this is just a system and a custom. It has to be seen in the light of: When does it become useful? When does it become something where we quarrel? As in: Who’s better — Buddhists or Christians? Mahayana or Theravada? And in meditation: Which practice style do we do? Mahasi Sayadaw or Ajhan Chah or U Pandita or U Tejaniya or Zen? Then we get stuck in these things.

The Buddha didn’t teach any of that. He said: “Purify the heart.” Is there a system for that? [laughs]

So attachment to systems and customs sets us apart from each other. And then we find there is comparison and conflict. There’s no liberation where there is comparison and conflict. There’s no ending of suffering where there’s comparison and conflict. There’s no ending of stress where there’s superior and inferior. Where there’s men and women. There’s no ending of it.

It only ends when you come to: Let go of that. There is a point at which these are relevant, and there’s a point where they’re irrelevant. For liberation, you must realize the depth where these things that separate us no longer occur. Because there’s no suffering in that. There’s no stress in that. There’s no holding on in that. There’s no need to hold it.

And doubt (vicikiccha), which is the final fetter that’s eliminated at “stream-entry”, is just the lack of understanding. Where we don’t really realize that there is a place beyond thought and beyond attachment, that you can rest in.

Because of not knowing that, we’re always creating something to hold onto, something to name, something claim, something to dispute. Because we haven’t really understood that there’s a place where none of that need happen. And where that doesn’t happen, there’s confidence. Confidence that isn’t about being right. It’s about having no right or wrong, just: This is true; It’s like this.

A lot of people are looking for the right opinion. You don’t need an opinion. Well, sometimes you do. But with the truth, you don’t need an opinion.

You just need to know: This is where the suffering stops; the stress stops; the pressure stops; the holding on stops. This is where it stops. And this is where it happens; this is what causes it to happen; and this is what causes it to cease.

Now any system, any way you can do that — that’s fine. That to me is the Dhamma world. Who’s in it? I don’t know. Buddhist? Sufis? Jews? I don’t know. But if you can get there: Good!


(You can listen to the entire Q&A session with Ajahn Sucitto here.)

12 Mar
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Personality View

I love the very accessible explanation of “personality view” (sakkayaditthi), which Ajahn Sucitto gave during a recent Q&A session in response to a question about whether or not a “stream-enterer” could ever lose contact with the Dharma. (“Stream-enterer” is the term traditionally used to describe someone who has reached the first stage of enlightenment.) Ven. Sucitto says:

“The stream-enterer has some realization, but not complete realization, so, yes, they could lose the precepts. But the stream-enterer is of the quality that they could acknowledge this — and return.

“The stream-enterer has not eliminated greed and hatred, or passion and craving. But they have eliminated the personality view. The personality view is gone, so they’re not proud; they’re not defensive; they’re not justifying themselves. The stream-enterer is always someone who can be corrected. But they can make mistakes.

“The stream-enterer has essentially lost the first three “fetters”. The first of these is sakkayaditthi (personality view), which is the belief in being an independent entity. A personality. Meaning that the thing that makes us different — we take that to be the foundation of our life. Rather than taking the thing that makes us NOT different.

“That which makes us different — different faces, different attitudes, different personalities — that becomes the reference point. With personality view, that’s what I take a stand on; that becomes what I take as most important. That’s always going to cause division. Because there’s only one like ME!

“But if your reference point is the universal — which is the quality of goodwill, the quality of truthfulness, the quality of patience, etc. — there’s no person in that.”


The next two “fetters” are: silabbata-paramasa (attachment to rites and rituals) and vicikiccha (usually translated as “skeptical doubt”.) I’ll post Ajahn Sucitto’s explanation of those tomorrow.

Can’t wait? Click here to listen.

9 Mar
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Attention is the Active Part of Intention

(one more excerpt from the At-Home Retreat with Phillip Moffitt):

“In terms of the clarity of your practice, I want to remind you again that the first rule is that you are non-doing…in so far as you can. So: You are not doing the practice. You are letting the practice do you.

“There is a certain amount of doing. (This is one of these paradoxes that you just have to work out for yourself.) There’s a certain amount of doing or nothing would happen. But then you ask: Am I doing any more than I need to be doing…and you drop it. You feel your way. You drop it and then if you see that your mind just wanders off, you adjust. You feel your way.

“The practice can have great intensity and still be light. There’s not a lot of doing – despite of all the instructions we give all the time!

“But the practice does involve your knowing that you can direct attention, your knowing that you know how to direct attention, that you’ve practiced directing attention, and that you know when you are directing attention. And that means both the connecting and the sustaining aspect of directing attention.

Attention is the active part of intention. Intention in the Eight-Fold Path is the pivotal point on the Path. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where your understanding—your Right View—actually shows up in somebody’s life: yours and others. Without that intention, it just doesn’t happen.

Attention is the manifestation of intention and intention is what creates the karma for us (both immediately and if you believe in reincarnation, in the long term). So attention becomes very, very important.

“Being able to place your attention anywhere – in your body, in knowing Pleasant or Unpleasant, in the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, in the Forth Foundation of Mindfulness, in the Three Characteristics, in the Twelve Aspects of the Four Noble Truths…whatever degree of knowledge you have – being able to place your attention where it seems wise to place it, is part of this clarity.

“You place your attention, and you really know these locations. Whatever you’ve learned, you know the locations where you can be mindful. Anything you’ve ever been taught, you can be mindful of that. So you can locate yourself. You know how to have your mind rest there. Or there. Or there.

“The ability to direct and sustain attention is one of the things that comes faster than some of these other things. So that’s the good news in it. You really see: I can direct my mind. And I can locate it here, and here. And I can know these locations. It gives you something to be doing and it can add to the inspiration.

“One of the inspirations of practice may be the very practice itself. It inspires you to more practice. And discovering new things in practice can be an inspiration for practice. Letting go can be an inspiration for practice. Surrender can be an inspiration for practice. Having clarity can be an inspiration for practice.

“See how it all fits together? It’s a hologram. It’s all contained. Any one piece of the Dharma contains all of the Dharma. You start anywhere and you can get to every other single realization. And that’s why sometimes when you hear a dharma talk on retreat and you think: well, that’s kind of what they said the night before or two nights ago…they’ve just sort of come back around to this. That’s because it’s a whole piece. It’s unified. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, the Dharma. Just as a structure. Just as a perception of what it is and what you are. It is breathtakingly beautiful in its architecture, its blueprint, its DNA if you like.”


(Click here to listen to this talk. The excerpt above begins at about 2 hr 31min into the tape.)

7 Mar
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It’s Mysterious

Just a little bit more from the At-Home Retreat with Phillip Moffitt:

There is a mysterious aspect to this practice. We don’t make many references to that in the practice, but it’s very mysterious. And mysterious things happen while we practice. Part of this mysteriousness is: When we’re being available in practice, what at are we being available for? Who is being available? What does it mean to be available in the first place?…

What arises when we practice is this illuminating quality of awareness. It’s illuminating — the sound of my voice is illuminated by your knowing. The quality of knowing is what illuminates it. Otherwise, it has no existence outside of itself…

Consciousness — that which knows — has an illuminating quality to it. That illuminating quality is a source of energy. When we “know that we know” anything, that which is illuminated is illuminated with energy. And that energy becomes the source for intentionality — that’s where intention comes from. It’s why we’re not stuck in samsara forever…

It is inspiring to think of this.

As you become more aware of awareness, you actually start to have a direct feeling of this knowing. You begin to see why the Buddha stressed the importance of mindfulness. Our actual showing up for the direct experience — that’s how we have choice in our life — because the knowing has this inherent energy. It has a responsiveness. It’s benign. And we can know it in this illuminating nature of knowing.  



(To listen to this talk, click here. Most of the quote above begins at about the 1 hr and 37 minute mark.)

5 Mar
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Keys to Effective Meditation

More from Phillip Moffitt’s At-Home Retreat for Experienced Students: 

The first key is inspiration. If you are not inspired to meditate, you will not go through the boredom of it, the times you have to be with restless mind, the times you have to be with sleepy mind, the times when you feel like you can’t go anywhere in your practice… So inspiration is a real key. And inspiration has with it a sense of commitment and also of surrender.

“Surrender is so important because when we surrender we’re not trying to get anywhere, we’re just showing up. And boy does that make a difference in being able to tolerate the ups and downs of the practice! This doesn’t mean we don’t have our preferences. But when we surrender we’re saying: This is what’s important to me — that I be present for my life. I surrender to controlling my life; I’m just going to be present. I can choose to be present — and I will.

“So we start with inspiration and then the second key is the practice itself. How do you get better? By practicing. Better in what sense? Better in being able to be more present for whatever the meditation is like.

“So, you have to practice! But practice can be a 5 minute session in the morning. It can be 3 minutes of walking mediation. It can be 45 minutes of mediation in the evening. It can be two 1-hour sessions a day. Two hour-and-a-half sessions a day. Two 2-hour sessions a day. These are all lengths of practice that people that I work with practice. Some of these folks have very busy lives and they’re still taking an hour or an hour-and-a-half a day. I’m not saying that you should. I’m just saying that there’s a range of what’s possible. You have to have some sort of commitment to daily practice, some sort of commitment that’s within sangha in some way or another, some sort of practice that’s a listening practice, and coming on retreats as much as you can — to daylong or longer retreats, whatever’s possible for you — but you’ve got to do the practice! And cultivate the qualities of practice, which are patience and persistence. That quality of surrendering shows up at practice level as: No Expectations….

And then being available. Truly being available. Beyond any level that you can image. However much you think you are available, I mean a LOT more available than that! You have to have a certain amount of practice to be available to the next level. So being available to practice, to being open to this whole experience, is an emergent quality. It unfolds as the conditions become appropriate for it to unfold.”


Phillip goes on to list two more keys to effective meditation: having clarity as to how to practice, and having a range of practices that you can choose from. Click here to listen (starting at 2 hours and 25 minutes into the recording.)


2 Mar
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Metta for the Body

This morning during my meditation, I practiced sending metta (loving-kindness) to different parts of my body using the instructions from Phillip Moffitt’s “At-Home Retreat” tape, which I posted about yesterday. (The instructions for this begin at about 1 hr 50 min into the tape.)

Here’s what Phillip says about the practice:

“The orientation towards this is the kind of well-being that can come to the body when the body is infused with awareness…

“Part of doing this practice is imagining your body having the well-being. Well-being is relative to what’s possible. I cannot imagine well-being as though I were 25 years old. That isn’t within the realm of possible. But I can image the various parts of my body having well-being within the range of their condition right now. And that works quite beautifully. Because otherwise you’re getting unreal. You’re falling into magical thinking. And it’s not magical thinking.

“There is a feeling of well-being that can develop in the body from doing this, in part just because there’s a kind of deep relaxation going on. And part of it is because energy follows attention, so you’re energizing the parts of the body, and that energizing is very wholesome for the body. Part of it is that you are letting loose of certain tensions that are held and it’s like doing yoga of the mind for the body…

“And then there’s a mysterious aspect. It’s just mysterious as to why this has a certain well-being-ness to it, but it mysteriously does happen.”

For a couple of weeks now I’ve had a bad cold (runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc), and the skin on my elbow is dry and irritated, and my fingers are stiff and tender from arthritis, and my knees are just about shot, etc, etc…so my meditation this morning went like this:

May these sinuses be safe and feel protected.
May these sinuses be happy, just as they are.
May these sinuses be healthy and strong.
May these sinuses be at ease in the world.

May this skin on these elbows be safe and feel protected.
May this skin on these elbows be happy, just as it is.
May this skin on these elbows be healthy and strong.
May this skin on these elbows be at ease in the world.


It was really wonderful!


Find Phillip’s instructions for this and several other meditation practices here.

1 Mar
Posted in: Practice, Talks
By    Comments Off on Doing a Little Doing

Doing a Little Doing

I listen to a lot of dharma talks, which sometimes can get a bit repetitive, but this week I listened to one that’s quite different.

It’s called: At-Home Retreat with Phillip Moffitt and it’s a selection of instructions and guided meditations from a Day-long for Experienced Students held in 2011.

Here’s the description:
“If you’ve never had the opportunity to study with Phillip in person, here is a way to experience one of his day-long retreats. Explore what inspires you to practice, regain trust in your own knowing, and discover ways to direct you attention.”

I highly recommend it.

The tape begins with very rich instruction on the use of the “Four Elements” practice as a way to establish presence, then moves to an image-based guidance for practicing “Aiming and Sustaining Attention” to develop samadhi, then progresses through several specific practices for working with sleepiness, then on to “Open Awareness Meditation,” then quite a unique practice directing Metta to the body, and more. (The whole tape is 3 hours long, but it’s sequenced so you can listen to it in segments.)

All this could seem like a lot of work. But I love what Phillip has to say about that:

In meditation, we are seeing how things happen… You are looking to have the experience. You are not looking to “get it right.”

This is a huge difference.

There is as little “doing” as possible in our “doing” in meditation. And “getting it right” is a whole lotta doing!

Having the experience and saying: ‘OK, I’m going to use this technique’…that’s a little “doing”. But it’s a light “doing.” But a “getting it right” is very, very heavy as “doing.”

OK. Here we go…. 


Give it a try. Click here, then click on the mp3 link. Enjoy!