I try to convey that the wisdom and compassion we are looking for is already inside of us. I see practice as learning how to purify our mind and heart so we can hear the Buddha inside. In doing so, we naturally embody the dharma and help awaken that understanding and love in others we meet.
I try to use the formal teachings as a doorway for people to see the truth in themselves. I feel I'm doing my job when people look into themselves to come to their own deep understandings of the truth, access their own inner wisdom and trust in their "Buddha-knowing," as Ajahn Chah called it, which is different from their intellectual knowing.
The Buddha-knowing is a deeper place, underneath the concepts, which is in touch with the truth, with our seed of awakening. I want practitioners to have more and more confidence in, and familiarity with, that deeper place of knowing. It is accessing this dimension of our being that becomes the guide to cutting through the confusion caused by greed and fear. We have everything we need inside ourselves. We do not need to look to a teacher when we remember who we really are.
One definition of the word Dharma is Natural law. Trees hold a very special place in the Buddha’s teaching.. The Buddha was born under a tree, enlightened under a tree and died under a tree. He told his disciples to find “roots of trees” to sit and meditate. Trees are the perfect environment to practice in the Thai Forest Tradition. Metta practice was taught by the Buddha in response to actions of “Tree spirits”. We’ll explore the special significance of trees and Nature in the Buddha’s teaching.
James returns from his recent teaching In Europe and Israel. Besides his trip to the West Bank for a glimpse of Palestinian life, he shares a fascinating project: Israelis’ actually changed their attitude about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a marketing experiment called “The Conflict Campaign” based on paradoxical thinking principles.
Suzie Brown is from Melbourne, Australia. She’s co-founder of the Melbourne Insight Meditation Group and has taught Mindfulness to medical students at Monash University. Suzie has also been a facilitator, trainer and educator for over a decade in the areas of environmental sustainability and organizational strategy.
After seeing the movie "Won't You Be My Neighbor" about Mr. (Fred) Rogers, James offers reflections about how deeply we can be touched and inspired by the good we see in others. That capacity to be touched by and love goodness is, in some sense, the heart of spiritual practice. Something in us loves the truth and is drawn to goodness around us. And it makes us yearn to activate the good inside.
This month marks the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Ajahn Chah, one of the most influential Theravadan masters of the 20th Century from the Thai Forest tradition. Ajahn Chah was the primary teacher of Jack Kornfield, Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Amaro and other influential teachers. Ajahn Chah's teaching is a major influence on the Dharma as presented at Spirit Rock. This talk offers some reflections his approach to practice at once deep, fierce, down to earth, humorous and wise.
In the opening line of the Dhammapada the Buddha teaches: "We are what we think with our thoughts we make the world." Although we have limited control over what happens to us, we can hold our experience with a wise perspective that makes all the difference. Famed Buddhist writer Christmas Humphreys put it this way: "The one miracle this path has to offer is a change of heart." We can change our relation to experience and make the shift from suffering to clear seeing, wisdom and compassion. In this talk James sings a song he wrote in his 20's entitled "It's All in Your Mind".
In the Satipatthana Sutta (MN#10), the Buddha's discourse on mindfulness, the Buddha instructs us to contemplate mindfully, ardent and clearly comprehending each of the four foundations. "Clear comprehension" also translated as "clearly knowing" includes four areas of context for our mindfulness practice. In Part 1 we explored the first two elements of Clear Comprehension: "Clear Comprehension of Purpose" and "Clear Comprehension of Suitability of Action". In this talk we discuss the second two aspects: "Clear Comprehension in the Domain of Meditation" and "Clear Comprehension of Reality". With metta, James
James in a conversation with Dawn Mauricio, a fresh dharma presence based in Montreal.
Dawn is in the current Spirit Rock Teacher Training and is also on the West Coast assisting some upcoming Spirit Rock retreats. James invited Dawn to share her perspective on how the Dharma might unfold in the coming years and her experience teaching as a young strong female voice and teacher of color.
James invited Barbara Gates, co-editor for 31 years of Inquiring Mind journal, to discuss how she brings her dharma practice to her voter registration work which is her service commitment for the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program. They discuss bridging the divide between you and those with a very different perspective including skillful listening, engaging with metta, curiosity, non-separation and commitment to making a difference in the world.