2011 Talk Topics
Dance of Emptiness
The Empty Mind walks through the uneven with an even stride.
Monday August 8th
The Hero’s Journey (or the Noble Search)
It all starts with a feeling of ‘not-quite-rightness’. That despite enough food, shelter, medicine … there is something more to search for. Every religion has had its mystics, those who took to forests, caves and deserts to seek for something ‘other’, something more than the mundane. Did they find something real? Buddhism is essentially a mystic tradition – the meditator engages a training of the mind and steps foot on the Hero’s Journey. How does it start; how does it end? By emptying out the mundane.
Monday August 15th
The Spirituality of Imperfection (or Dropping Hot Coals)
Despite your best intentions, and harshest criticisms of others, you are no Saint. Where religion demands you be perfect, spirituality knows you are not. Where your highest aspiration makes you sit on the cushion, your raging mind will give you no peace. This is the spirituality of imperfection, and the long patient battle to tame the mind.
‘Attachment causes suffering’ makes no sense in worldly terms, but like most spiritual laws, makes perfect sense when it is viewed inwardly. The Suffering of imperfection is the compass to change, and the foundation teaching of Buddhism.
Monday August 22nd
All You Can Know (or How Not to Polish a Brick)
We understand things through our constructs; internal models that guide our decisions. Adopting new and different models then, you can change your behavior, change your experience of being yourself in the world. Buddhism has a series of useful models. They are not ‘Truth’, but a way to interpret, to channel the energy of the mind. One teaching covers ‘Everything You Can Know’, and the emptiness of it. Stark and simple, it is a process of perception that leads to stabilization of the mind.
Monday August 29th
Taking a Moment (or the Stainless Deconstruction)
Nothing you can do will make the world ok. There are too many facets, too many problems. But there is a way to deconstruct the world, by staying in the present moment. This doesn’t mean you ignore responsibility, nor does it mean to pay attention to what you are doing. Everything gets reduced to a size you can handle, and the Exit Strategy becomes clear.
Monday September 5th
Path of Purification (or Everything’s Aspect)
The three higher practices of desirelessness, signlessness and emptiness – relating to three aspects of everything. Confused? Emptiness is a concept associated with Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, but it all began in the original sutta teachings in the Theravada tradition. There are certain characteristics that belong to everything, the observation of which lead to ‘breaking the spell’. Disenchantment is a beautiful thing.
Monday September 12th
All the Beasts (or the Ballast of the Ocean)
The journey is for the Hero – in all tales the hero needs a weapon, a focus for effort and energy. The weapon is the ‘Ballast of the Ocean’ which means by guile or might it will get the job done. So meditation is not just about peace and quiet – properly wielded it is a tool that marshals energies and determination you would not think you possess. Every year we do one faerie story, and examine how it is to be understood as a teaching. ‘All the Beasts’ is a story, on the face of it rather gruesome, with a startling message of empowerment.
Monday September 19th
Kamma vs Forgiveness (or Why the Prodigal Son had to Wait)
Karma is the law of just returns, where forgiveness suggests there is a shortcut way out of our past sins. Are these two contradictory ideas? In fact there is some common ground. We look at what to do with your past transgressions, in the light of an emptiness that will accept neither right nor wrong.
Monday September 26th
That First Fine Careless Rapture (or Shut up and Dance)
Finishing off this year’s dhamma talk series with stillness as a methodology. The entry point is Cessation – the overlooked but pivotal 3rd Noble Truth of Buddhism. Developed, you move into the silence between thoughts, the space between the breaths. As everything is emptied out, you experience the wholeness of Complete Emptiness, of meditational rapture.