As a monk, I bring a strong commitment, along with the renunciate flavor, to the classic Buddhist teachings. I play with ideas, with humor and a current way of expressing the teachings, but I don't dilute them.
Sitting in a field of fifty to eighty people really starts my mind sparking. Since I don't prepare my talks ahead of time, I find myself listening to what I'm saying along with everyone else. This leaves a lot of room for the Dhamma to come up. Just having eighty people listening to me is enough to engage me, stimulate me, and create a nice flow of energy. The actual process of teaching evokes ideas that even I did not realize were being held somewhere in my mind.
Different teaching situations offer their own unique value. In retreat, you are able to build a cohesive and comprehensive body of the teachings. When people are not on retreat and come for one session, it opens a different window. They are more spontaneous and I'm given the chance to contact them in ways that are closer to their "daily-life mind." This brings up surprises and interesting opportunities for me to learn even more.
I'm continually struck by how important it is to establish a foundation of morality, commitment, and a sense of personal values for the Vipassana teachings to rest upon. Personal values have to be more than ideas. They have to actually work for us, to be genuinely felt in our lives. We can't bluff our way into insight. The investigative path is an intimate experience that empowers our individuality in a way that is not egocentric. Vipassana encourages transpersonal individuality rather than ego enhancement. It allow for a spacious authenticity to replace a defended personality.
We might experience running down familiar emotional tracks (saṇkhāra). Tracks get laid down by the repeated and habitual reactions to contact (kamma). To clear disturbing and negative tracks, widen attention and check the habitual impulse. The mind naturally seeks harmony and balance. Listen deeply for its response.
There is a 3-fold system through which energy operates: bodily, conceptual and emotive. As we practice to resolve and release negative energies, we need resources. Bringing together the 3 aspects of body, mind and heart provide a way to open channels to drain and release unresolved energies.
How to arrive at a grounded centre and undefended heart? Generally, attempts to firm up involve holding on or hardening the exterior that inhibit the heart’s opening. Instead, a shifting of attention and energy is suggested. Three reference points are offered to support this shift: food, work and rest.
We practice Dhamma to clear through distortions and disturbances that become established. It takes training – setting aside what’s not needed and cultivating receptivity. Then what has always been there – the qualities of citta – are revealed.
The main quality of chanting is spreading energy to the body and space around. We use sound to send out heart energy. Practice with bringing breath and sound together is provided. Overview of Pāli pronunciation and explanation of puja follow.
Instructions for using body and breathing to establish a firm centre that’s also open. Building firmness from the ground up, releasing congestion through the out breath, drawing in fresh energy with the in breath.
The heart has tremendous potential for good or bad. We practice to clean up unfortunate effects that get established on it. Principles of respect, restraint and compassion are not only foundations for heart cultivation, but offerings to the world.