February 2016 full moon – Motivation, Respect, Resolve

The rewards and challenges of technology Earlier this evening, I gave my first dharma talk via video-link, from the YHA in Sydney to Auckland Insight in New Zealand.  Nothing too remarkable about that these days; but still, it was a delight to be able to connect with the group in this way, and I felt …

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February 2016 new moon – sea anemone heart

Sea anemone by Virginia Draper http://www.virginiadraper.com/p822038089 Opening, closing, opening, closing ... Everything has its natural rhythm, including the human heart.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to understand this, but a childhood memory - of exploring rock-pools with my father while on holiday in Scotland - helped.  On family visits to chilly …

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December 2015 full moon – In praise of trees

This year, the full moon coincided with Christmas Day for the first time in 38 years. I'm in New Zealand visiting family for the holidays and even though it's the middle of summer, there are evergreen Christmas trees decorated with icicles and snowflakes everywhere. The symbols of Christmas have always been messed up - the …

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November 2015 full moon – gratitude

A few slightly random reflections on Gratitude "These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done." AN 2.118  As the three-month retreat at IMS comes to a close, there's a definite …

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September 2015 full moon – Maintaining Motivation (or finding antidotes to “sloth and torpor”)

The five hindrances I've been back in New Zealand for the month of September, and with the Auckland Insight group, we've been exploring the Five Hindrances, five particularly unhelpful states of mind that get in the way of clear seeing, of insight.  They appear in the Satipatthana Sutta under the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, as …

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February 2015 full moon – freedom from the fetter of views

While in San Francisco recently, I had an opportunity to visit Alcatraz island, the former federal penitentiary, 19th-century military fortress, site of Native American heritage and protest, and now one of America’s most visited national parks.  As we walked through the decaying cell blocks, I was struck by the layers and layers of defence that …

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January 2015 full moon – resolution and determination

"The days and nights are relentlessly passing; how well am I spending my time?” (A question that the Buddha advised practitioners to contemplate frequently) 2015.  Each year this changing-of-the-calendar-numbers seems to arrive a little more quickly.  Each year, it seems that somehow there is less TIME ... and so at first reading, the above reflection can seem to reinforce a sense …

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December 2014 full moon – wisdom and compassion

This December full moon I happen to be assisting James Baraz with a seven-day retreat in the Yarra Valley, outside of Melbourne, Australia.  Those of you who are familiar with James' teaching know that he infuses the traditional mindfulness practices that lead to insight, with the "heart practices" known as the four brahma vihara: kindness/metta, …

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November 2014 full moon – Right Effort and the Middle Way

Last month, I wrote about the quality of viriya, sometimes translated as "heroic energy," and how at times, just signing up for a retreat can seem to kick-start an inner process where qualities such as determination, dedication, commitment, effort, and trust begin to deepen - even before we actually arrive at the retreat itself. Also …

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