Tag: compassion

Eight-week online Dharma Study class series October-November 2020

Registration closes 10 October Cultivating resilience in challenging times:   Learning from the “heavenly messengers”  This eight-week online course offers an opportunity to develop and strengthen our inner resources of kindness, compassion, calm and clarity, through an exploration of what are traditionally known as “the four heavenly messengers.”  In Buddhist teaching, these are four archetypes

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September 2016 full moon – wisdom and (self) compassion

Emaciated Buddha figure, Spirit Rock The ascetic Buddha Back at the end of July, I was an assistant teacher on a nine-day retreat at Spirit Rock, together with a friend and fellow teacher-trainee, DaRa Williams.  One day, as we walked from the teacher housing to the meditation hall, I happened to notice a solitary Buddha

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August 2016 full moon – Seven Factors of Awakening and Equanimity (again)

Seven Factors of Awakening I’ve recently enjoyed leading a couple of longer residential retreats in New Zealand and Australia, exploring the teachings from the Satipatthana Sutta on the Seven Factors of Awakening: mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy or rapture, tranquillity, concentration or stability of mind, and equanimity. When cultivated together and brought into balance with each

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March 2016 full moon – Retreat and pre-retreat practice

Planning to go on retreat? I’ve had a few conversations recently with people who are planning to go on retreat soon, and at some stage in the discussion, there’s often an embarrassed acknowledgement of feeling some anxiety about it.  Even for people who have been on retreat before and have some familiarity with the set-up,

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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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Three new and interesting books for experienced meditators

I’m currently working my way – slowly! – through three new books that may be of interest to experienced meditators:  Seeing That Frees: Meditations on Emptiness and Dependent Arising Rob Burbea 10 October 2014 Hermes Amara Right Concentration: A Practical Guide to the Jhanas Leigh Brasington 13 October 2015 Shambala Compassion and Emptiness in Early

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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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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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September 2014 full moon – equanimity part 2

Equanimity: Evenness of mind Last month I wrote a bit about equanimity, and how the possibility of not holding on to changing experiences can offer a sense of ease, even in the middle of difficult circumstances.  So this quality of equanimity can be a kind of refuge, but – at least in my own experience

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