(General information and maps to Wat Yannawa hit the
<– Green Button )
Make the special effort to come every week – to re-commit to your meditation practise, and meet the other expat meditators in Bangkok.
Here are the topics for each week. It is possible that they will be changed as we go along depending on circumstance, so check back here. There will be a progression of topics – each will lead into the next week’s talk, but at the same time each topic will be covered in entirety, so if you can’t make it every week, you will not be left wondering. Notes or references relating to each talk will be posted in the comments below in case people want to look up references or quotes.
We will be focusing on the way to live a lifestyle based on Dhamma – to maintain a peaceful mind, with increased awareness and freedom from the grasping, needing inclination of the world we live in.
Thursday August 21: The Elephant’s Footprint
There have been countless gurus and sages through the ages – why are the practises all different, and more importantly how can we emulate their path and attain the enlightenment they have tasted? Teachers like Krishnamurti, or the Zen Patriarchs – all had abstruse teachings that are hard to follow. Modern teachers such as Eckhart Tolle are inspiring, but lack a methodical blueprint of practise for us to follow. The Buddha laid the gradual path out clearly a number of times in a clear and precise way in suttas that are often overlooked by meditation teachers. These include methods to stabilize the heart and ego, and ways to pass beyond them.
Thursday August 28: The Wheelwright
There is a lot of interest in “Buddhist Psychology” these days – psychologists are taking isolated practises from Buddhism and using them, with varying results, in therapy and stress management. What would the Buddha have made of the psychological approach ? What kind of ‘therapy’ did he recommend? Broadly speaking he recommended a twin approach; character stabilization techniques, and a deeper complete emptying out of the personality. There is only so much you can do, and then much of the remaining practise involves stopping – a kind of passive pervasive growth that will attain far more than ones desire driven ego can.
Thursday September 4: The Gatekeeper
Mindfulness: The Gatekeeper. Or why rock climbers do not get enlightened. ‘Mindfulness’ is a term pervasive throughout Buddhism, but what does it actually refer to? The English term is somewhat vague, and the Pali term is commonly mis-understood. How exactly does it relate to the present moment, or to paying attention to what you are doing – both qualities the rock climber practises in the extreme. But we are told to go to the roots of trees to meditate, not to climb cliff faces. ‘Mindfulness’ refers to a highly specific state of consciousness, of which the rock climber knows nothing.
Thursday September 11: The Hook and Bait
‘Feeling’ in Buddhism refers to the condition of liking and disliking. While common stress relieving practises and New Age Therapies focus on positive thinking, at bottom they are only generating pleasant feeling as opposed to unpleasant (positive over negative states of mind). But what lies on the other side of pleasant/unpleasant? These two are the hook that pulls the id – the pleasure seeking principle of the psyche. Many people avoid meditation practise fearing they will have to give up everything they like – but when liking and disliking cease in awareness, what is the resulting experience?
Thursday September 18: The Hero
From Gawain and Parsifal, to Luke Skywalker the spiritual path has always been represented as the way of the warrior. How and where is the battle fought? Right Effort is the sixth part of the Eightfold path, and often overlooked in favour of its oft mentioned older cousins mindfulness and concentration. Despite what Eckhart Tolle and similar gurus claim, there is an effort to be made, and there is a self (a character) to be developed. How to make the effort without the battle being fought with ones ego is the knack.
Thursday September 25: Facing the Tormentor
Dukkha is the Universal Tormentor; the stick that drives the Holy Life. Sooner or later, this demon has to be faced down. It is the nature of a mistake to flee when it is looked at – but with Dukkha it is the last thing we want to see. Should not the Path be filled with beautiful things and not ‘suffering’? There are all kinds of clever schemes that humans employ to avoid facing the demon. They are called ‘Defense Mechanisms’, and were most thoroughly expounded by the brilliant Anna Freud (the earthy and pragmatic daughter of Sigmund). We look at how they relate to human’s avoidance of Dukkha.
Thursday October 2: Disenchantment
This world is endlessly enchanting. The myriad of beautiful things to chase, the bad things to avoid – the world seems firmly based in the ‘Real World’. But the truth is the content of experience enchants, casts a spell on the mind that becomes clouded and full of its desires, fears and self. But giving up desire is impossible, even for an hour. There has to be a strategy for breaking the spell, for disenchantment. In Pali it is called Nibbida, and is neither something that you can generate with desire, nor something that you can progress on the Path without.
Thursday October 9: Ballast of the Ocean
Karma is future looking, and is not concerned with the past. Modern mis-interpretations of Karma suggest that what happens to you is caused by your own actions in the past. But this negates the effect of the central character of Karma – the Will. ‘Intention’ is the driving force of Karma, and always relates to the future. Setting up and using will is called Resolution (adhitthana), and is one of the 10 perfections to be developed. This talk puts karma in its proper place, and suggests ways to use resolution to integrate a meditation practise in daily life.