Focus of a Wednesday DharmaTalk, Second Quarter of 2015

RMI is a Theravadan Buddhist sangha rooted in a lineage from southeast Asia.  This tradition is known for focusing on meditations that condition “Insight” or “Vipassana” and has two forms:   One is the development of concentration called “samatha” in Sanskrit or “Samadhi” in Pali.  This is a one-pointedness of mind by various methods discussed in ancient texts leading to different states of awareness.  This form existed before the Buddha, and he used it in discovering the other form of meditation known as Vipassana. This second form gave the Buddha insight into the nature of things leading to the complete liberation of the mind and to the realization of Ultimate Truth, Nirvana.   A more analytical method, Vipassana is based in mindfulness, awareness, vigilance, and observation.  Looking into Ultimate Truth or Reality is looking deeply into the three marks of conditioned existence:  dissatisfaction or “dukkha”, impermanence or “anicca”, and no permanent separate self or “anatta”.  Insights are determined by exploration into these three conditions.  Contemplative practices go hand in hand with the arising of insight. A question that often arises is “What is the difference between Meditation and Contemplation?”  Our RMI founder, Lucinda Green, has a clear and concise answer:  “In Meditation, we are “observing” our minds, our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and all phenomena.  In Contemplation, we grant ourselves the permission to think!  But think with a particular focus.  The thoughts, thinking process and reflection need to stay on a certain point and be related to the chosen topic of Contemplation.” Because Contemplation practices involve more thought, it is helpful to know what to expect.  If your mind wanders beyond the reflection you have chosen, then come back to your breath or a sensation.  After settling your mind again, go back to the Contemplation.  Again, assess your overall state of being. Here are some Contemplation practices that we will explore over this second quarter of the year starting in April:  

  • The Four Material Elements
  • Contemplations on Dying and Death including the Charnal Grounds Reflection
  • The Four Heavenly Messengers:  The Beginning of Buddha’s Awakening
  • The Five Hindrances—Reflection on the nature of one or more of  these five:  Sensual Desire, ill-Will, Sloth and Torpor, Restlessness and Worry, and Skeptical Doubt.  What are the conditions and causes that give rise to this hindrance?  What form does it take?
  • The Five Remembrances in the light of Dependent Origination, Karma and Rebirth
  • Am I my Body?  The “Zipper” Contemplation of mentally taking body parts out of our form through a disassembling process and then re-assembling them back.

  Come and join us in discovering and experiencing these Contemplation Practices. Lucinda Green, Pat Komarow, Michele Sneath, and Practice Leaders of RMI