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12/14/18
Vipassana Fellowship Meditation - 3 November - 9 November-Contemplation - Day 36-Day 37-Day 38-Day 39-Day 40-Day 41-Day 42
Filed under: General, Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Abhidhamma Pitaka, Tipiṭaka
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Vipassana Fellowship Meditation - 3 November - 9 November-Contemplation - Day 36-Day 37-Day 38-Day 39-Day 40-Day 41-Day 42

A Random Image

In
this sixth week we explore Appreciative Joy meditation. If you are
sitting twice each day, then please pick a complementary technique from
those we have already met for your other session. Work steadily and
gently to establish your regular sittings. We’ll also briefly outline
the final brahmavihara practice (for use beyond the course) and conclude
our look at the precepts.

https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=141


Saturday - Mudita: Appreciative Joy Meditation

1. Mudita: Appreciative Joy Meditation

APPRECIATIVE JOY

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with appreciative joy,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with appreciative joy,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

Venerable Nyanaponika Thera wrote:

“Your
life will gain in joy by sharing the happiness of others as if it were
yours. Did you never observe how in moments of happiness men’s features
change and become bright with joy? Did you never notice how joy rouses
men to noble aspirations and deeds, exceeding their normal capacity? Did
not such experience fill your own heart with joyful bliss? It is in
your power to increase such experience of sympathetic joy, by producing
happiness in others, by bringing them joy and solace.

Let
us teach real joy to others! Many have unlearned it. Life, though full
of woe, holds also sources of happiness and joy, unknown to most. Let us
teach people to seek and to find real joy within themselves and to
rejoice with the joy of others! Let us teach them to unfold their joy to
ever sublimer heights!”

Muditā
is the third of the brahmavihāra (or Divine Abidings). Its sense is
probably best conveyed by the term ‘joy with others’, but it is often
translated as Appreciative Joy, Sympathetic Joy, Empathetic Joy, or
simply Gladness.

We
shall begin practising muditā bhāvanā - the development of joy with
others. This is another of the practices designed to open our hearts and
is a beautiful complement to the karunā bhāvanā with which we have been
working. Muditā to some extent can be seen as a balancing factor to
karunā. It stops us becoming overwhelmed by the suffering in the world
and melancholia and instead allows us to feel an active bond with the
joy that exists in other people and the beings with which we share this
world.

The
structure we will be using is similar to those we have used previously.
The sections this time begin with a good friend and work outwards to
encompass all beings before returning to focus on gratitude at the joy
in us. We begin with a good friend because it is usually easiest to tap
into a resource of joy and happiness in someone whom we know well and
like. Although we may be aware that the complexity of their lives also
includes moments that are not joy-filled, we can usually remember
incidents that were characterised by happiness and joy. These are what
we focus on in this meditation.

As
in the previous brahmavihāra practices our job is to empathise fully
with the quality we are developing. We need to really feel the joy of
the person. We must work to take it on as if it were our own joy. When
we were working with Compassion Meditation we needed to feel the
suffering of the other being as our own. We showed compassion to the
reality of the experience and took on that suffering. Here we need to
really feel the joy of the other person and empathise wholly with that
joy. This may seem strange initially but we must not be afraid to share
in the happiness of others.

When
we begin to work with a person who is hostile we must be careful to
desist from being judgemental. In this meditation we are not concerned
by the hurt they may have caused or about any imbalance (or immorality)
in the way they choose to run their lives. We need to overcome our
disapproval of aspects of their lives and concentrate solely on that
which is joyful. There are glimmers of joy and happiness in the lives of
everyone and it is these we must cherish. Maybe the hostile person runs
an exploitative unethical business that has cheated us - but can’t we
still rejoice in the joy that he feels when he returns home in the
evening to his loved ones? Here he has no need for duplicity, no need
for stress. He can concentrate on the happiness that the stability of
his wealth and family life bring. Can we share that joy and happiness?
Can we not begrudge him it? Feel his joy. Celebrate it.

As
we widen our view we will see that there is joy in even the simplest of
activities. In some areas of the world even finding enough food to feed
one’s child is a joyful event. Others find joy and happiness in the
recognition of their activities by peers and superiors. Joy can be seen
throughout life if only we look for it and recognise it wherever it
occurs. Too often because we choose to be judgemental about the
individual or the circumstances we close down our hearts and are unable
to witness and share the joy that exists. Here we let go of the context
and focus on feeling joy wherever it resides - unconditionally.

The
final section of this meditation concentrates on the joy in us. The
muditā bhāvanā practice is mainly outward looking - we share the joy of
others - but it is helpful to reflect that joy does indeed reside in
many parts of our own lives and to celebrate and feel gratitude for
that. We should not feel guilt for the happiness we know. It is a part
of life which we need like all other sentient beings. Be grateful and
cherish the joy in your own life. Feel able to share it with others.

INSTRUCTIONS

Allow
at least thirty minutes for this meditation and try to give a
reasonably equal amount of time and effort to each of the sections. Set
up your posture in the usual way with your spine straight and a firm
base. Gently close your eyes and allow a gentle smile to play across
your face as any tension subsides. Focus for a few moments on the
breathing before beginning the first section. Any time that your mind
wanders remember to gently bring it back to focusing on the joy of the
being with which you are concerned.

Section 1



A Dear Friend



(We
are often most aware of happiness and joy in those whom we choose as
friends. Even if not every aspect of their lives is joy-filled, we can
recognise and empathise with those areas that are happy.)

Rejoicing in the success and happiness of a close friend.

Share his/her joy and gladness in any aspect of life.

May it continue.

…enjoying the happiness of our friend.

Section 2



A Benefactor



(Often
when we look with gratitude at someone who has benefited us - maybe a
teacher or parent - we see the great joy contained within his or her
life. Even if their lives are complex we can recognise and celebrate the
moments of joy and happiness.)

Rejoicing in the happiness and joy of a benefactor or parent (if living).

Be glad for his/her success and achievement.

May it continue and spread to other aspects of his or her life.

…enjoying the happiness of our benefactor.

Section 3



A Neutral Person



(Those
about whom we know little often allow us glimpses of the happiness and
success they feel in areas of their lives. Let us feel that joy with
them.)

Rejoicing in the success and achievement of this person.

May the joy continue and expand throughout his or her life.

Recognising the gladness within, let us share their happiness.

…enjoying the happiness of this person.

Section 4



A Hostile Person



(Even
individuals with whom we may have some disagreement are capable of joy.
Let us not be blind to their successes and the happiness they exhibit
in particular areas of their lives. Although we may be unable to condone
their behaviour in some areas and indeed may feel aggrieved by it, can
we not open our hearts to celebrate with them their joy and happiness?)

Recognising the joy and happiness felt by this person.

May that joy continue and extend throughout their lives.

May we unconditionally share in their happiness and joy.

… enjoying his or her happiness.

Section 5



The Wider Community



(Individuals
and groups of people in our locality, our country, other countries, the
world. They too experience joy and happiness. Let us recognise it
within them and share their happiness.)

Recognising and sharing the joy of those around us…

The happiness of parents playing with children…

The joy of an employee recognised and rewarded by an employer…

The joy of a family whose loved one pulls through illness…

The contentment of knowing they are loved…

The happiness of financial and emotional security…

The joy of having enough food to feed their young…

The joy of knowing they have succeeded…

The satisfaction of a task well done…

…enjoying their happiness.

Section 6



All Beings



(Sharing the joy of all sentient beings in any aspect of their lives.)

Feeling the joy of…

Animals - safe, after the chase

Birds - on finding enough to eat in winter

Other beings - on finding their endeavours fruitful

… enjoying their happiness.

Section 7



Reflect on one’s own Joy



(Like
all beings our lives have moments of joy and happiness. Take some time
to recognise and celebrate this. Show some gratitude for the joy we
receive.)

Recognising the moments of joy and happiness in my life…

I rejoice in them and enjoy them.

I feel gratitude for whatever joy I have experienced.

I choose to share whatever joy I have or will have with others…

At
the end of the session, sit for a few moments before opening the eyes.
Resolve to take some of the spirit of joyfulness into your day and to
share it with others.

Summary Of This Practice

Try
to practise meditation twice each day for a minimum of thirty minutes
if possible. Alternate one session of ānāpānasati (Mindfulness of
Breathing) with one of mudita bhāvanā (Cultivation of Appreciative Joy).
If you are unable to practice twice each day then on alternate days use
one of the two meditations.

Mudita bhāvanā - Developing Joy with Others:

1 A Dear Friend

2 A Benefactor

3 A Neutral Person

4 A Hostile Person

5 The Wider Community

6 All Beings

7 Reflection on, and gratitude for, our own Joy

Practise
noticing joy in your daily life. Recognise it in the activities and
experiences of others. Simply mentally note it each time you become
aware of it.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=408


Audio Player - Appreciative Joy Meditation

Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your
own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to
meditate without listening to these audio files.

Mudita - Appreciative Joy Meditation

 


-25:19
 
Last modified: Saturday, 29 September 2018, 4:06 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=142


Contemplation - Day 36

215. From
lust arises grief,

from
lust arises fear.

Freed
from lust one is

free
from grief and fear.

216. From
craving arises grief,

from
craving arises fear.

Freed
from craving one is

free
from grief and fear.

217. Virtuous
and insightful,

principled
and truthful,

diligent
in one’s duties -

such,
people hold dear.

218. Intent
on the Ineffable,

with
mind inspired,

and
free of sense pleasures:

such
a one is bound Upstream.

219. Returning
safe from afar

after
a long absence,

one
is welcomed home

by
family, friends and well-wishers.

220. As
family welcome a dear one’s return,

so
will one’s good deeds

welcome
the good-doer

when
gone from this world to the next.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:23 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=143


Sunday - Recognising Joy and Sorrow

1. Recognising Joy and Sorrow

Some
folk do get a little obsessive about dukkha and Buddhists sometimes get
an undeserved reputation for being a glum and pessimistic lot! The path
we are following is concerned with recognising reality however it
manifests. It is certainly of critical importance that we do not shut
ourselves off from things that are unappealing or painful - that would
be a denial of reality - but it is equally important that we fully
recognise and engage with what is beautiful and joyous. If we orientate
our outlook only towards suffering then this is unbalanced, crude and
destructive: it denies the complexity of life.

There
is nothing to be gained from denying happiness and joy; they are
features of most people’s lives. What is cautioned against is the idea
that we can be permanently happy and joyful here when the evidence
abounds to contradict this. Unfortunately, some people delude themselves
that everything is solvable if only they think positive thoughts.
Though well intentioned, this soon becomes a longing or craving for an
unrealistic and unattainable ideal. This is contrary to the Buddha’s
teaching that deals always with reality rather than fantasy. We are
told, and may come to know through experience, that all conditioned
things are impermanent, not-Self and ultimately unsatisfactory. This
does not mean that our lives are doomed to be a miserable and monotonous
lurch from one grey experience to another. If we look around us we can
see clearly that there is great happiness, there exists pleasure, some
people are truly joyful. We should accept this with gratitude and share
in this joy. The last thing we need to do is go into denial about the
joyful aspects of life: we need to be able to experience them fully, see
them clearly, regard them as part of the picture - to be mindful of the
joy in our lives is as important as any other form of mindfulness
practice.

When
we were practising mettā bhāvanā it was stressed that whilst we can
work towards having the capacity to radiate mettā unequivocally to all
beings, this does not mean that we need necessarily approve of their
actions or even like their personalities. Mettā is a pure quality that,
with practice, can be shown to all regardless of whether they
reciprocate or whether we would choose them as friends. Similarly, when
we are working on muditā bhāvanā the empathy that we feel with the
joyous person is unconditional. The cause of the person’s happiness is
not our concern - we do not need to vet it to see if it would meet our
own standards. That they are happy in that moment is enough; and the
object of the exercise is to develop and extend our ability to share in
the joy of others. Appreciative Joy is untainted by qualification and
assessment - it is a pure point of contact between us and the happiness
that another sentient being experiences.

Muditā,
or appreciative joy, for some is more difficult to arrive at than mettā
or karunā. Like the other states, it is dependent on the conditions
that pertain for us at this moment and should not be associated with a
static view our personality or outlook. Sometimes meditators get the
idea that they are constitutionally unsuited to one or other of these
brahmavihāra practices but in reality we may just have to work a little
harder to tune in to those that present us with apparent difficulties
now. One beautiful aspect of impermanence (anicca) is that it releases
us from the oppression that a fixed self-view imposes. Impermanence
means that what we characterize as difficult now cannot remain so.
Through steady application of the technique, however awkward or
mechanical it might seem at first, a spark will arise that awakens us to
the potential of the practice. The four brahmavihāra techniques are
complementary and, to some extent, the development of any one of them
will give us the confidence to persist with the others. It is
traditional to begin with mettā but different people find different
techniques more immediately approachable.

When
we first come to recognize joy in someone else, it need not necessary
be unalloyed. There are degrees of joyfulness just like any other
quality. Don’t expect initially to feel overwhelmed by it. Most people
begin by recognizing a glimmer of joy and happiness that a person
experiences in a particular situation and then try to extend this
through the practice. Again, one can rearrange the order of the sections
if you find this helpful. Begin with the section that, for you, seems
easiest. Once you are more comfortable with the technique then revert to
the sections as given. It is important that we don’t prejudge the
experience: often there is an expectation that we will feel blissed-out
during muditā bhāvanā, but this is not usually the case and, in any
event, would be indicative of an imbalance in our approach. Take things
steadily.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=144


On Appreciative Joy (Video)

Andrew speak about the practice of mudita.

Last modified: Monday, 13 February 2017, 4:48 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=142


Contemplation - Day 36

215. From
lust arises grief,

from
lust arises fear.

Freed
from lust one is

free
from grief and fear.

216. From
craving arises grief,

from
craving arises fear.

Freed
from craving one is

free
from grief and fear.

217. Virtuous
and insightful,

principled
and truthful,

diligent
in one’s duties -

such,
people hold dear.

218. Intent
on the Ineffable,

with
mind inspired,

and
free of sense pleasures:

such
a one is bound Upstream.

219. Returning
safe from afar

after
a long absence,

one
is welcomed home

by
family, friends and well-wishers.

220. As
family welcome a dear one’s return,

so
will one’s good deeds

welcome
the good-doer

when
gone from this world to the next.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:23 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=146


Monday - Envy and Fairness

1. Envy and Fairness

Sometimes
when we focus on the joy in other people’s lives we may find feelings
of hurt or jealousy arise which stem from our own circumstances. It is
very easy to get caught up in comparison of the relative merits and
worthiness of people and on occasions even envy or other negative states
might arise during a session. When this occurs we can quickly, if we
are not careful, get into a spiral where guilt at the arising of the
unwholesome feeling brings about despondency or sadness. As with all the
samatha techniques the course of action should be to nip any
distractions in the bud - and this envy or grading of the worth of
others against ourselves is just such a distraction. Acknowledge any
feeling or thought that arises and return to empathising with the joy
that the person feels in his or her situation. The ability to do this
evenly - unconditionally - is the training we are working to master. If
we could accomplish this now we could skip the sittings altogether! …
but most of us have a bit of work to do first. It will be a gradual
flowering brought about by the warmth and nutriment that we bring to the
task; our commitment and dedication combined with the realisation of
just how important the brahmavihāra qualities are. As we cultivate these
qualities we will experience them in their pristine purity from time to
time and this will become more noticeable as our practice deepens.

On
a mundane level it is a benefit of these practices that we begin to
understand others and ourselves more. We become aware of motivation and
the factors that bring situations about. Within the meditation sitting,
however, we should try not to stray into the realm of exploration and
explanation. It is very tempting, but this is best saved for our time
off the cushion. There is nothing to stop us having some contemplation
time outside of our formal practice periods for thinking things through.
Try to maintain, as far as possible, a clear idea of the importance of
staying with the object of meditation. Although investigation into a
subject’s motives may seem related to the activity we are carrying out,
it is also a distraction from our object. We all have a tendency to go
down this route, initially, but it needs to be kept in check for the
efficacy of the process. The technique works without investigation or
analysis of a subject’s motivation; and the benefits of working in this
way will become apparent.

This
is a no blame path. We arrive at any technique exactly as we are. Some
things initially will seem easier than others, but this does not
necessarily mean that our continuing experience with a particular
technique will remain unchanged. It would be highly unusual were that to
be the case. Sometimes it may not be flattering to the ego to find a
practice focussing on joy to be so difficult. These are important
lessons and rather than using them as a cause for despondency, see them
for what they are: an opportunity for practice. Bhāvanā means
development or cultivation. We are taking the first tentative steps
along a path that can lead to our ability to share unconditional joy,
lovingkindness, and compassion equanimously with all. This is bound to
be hard work, but is eminently possible and we will be sustained in this
work by the small realisations that occur quite naturally from our
daily practice. This is a present moment philosophy - don’t shackle
yourself with guilt over perceived failings when you have the
opportunity to begin again in this very moment with the lessons that
have been learned.

Sometimes
we block the experience of sharing another person’s joy by analysing
the situation that has produced it. Just as we are aware of our own
imperfections we will also become aware of those in others if we allow
ourselves to wander off into discursive thought. For the sake of the
efficacy of the practice, it is important that we pull back from getting
into whether someone “deserves” the happiness they have. The monster
that is envy is the enemy of muditā. Try to keep the scenario as simple
as possible, using only as much scene setting as is strictly necessary
for you to connect with muditā for the particular person. In time, this
preliminary work will be unnecessary. If we over-elaborate then it is
difficult for us to see the joy in the person’s life at all; it becomes
tainted by qualification. We simply connect with the feeling of
happiness that the person experiences. It is not necessarily the case
that the same incident or set of circumstances would evoke a similar
feeling in us - we respond in different ways to diverse events. The
practice is about empathy for what the person who is the subject of the
section feels. If they feel a moment of joy, however it is caused, then
we can try to connect with that feeling.

Making
judgements about people is standard behaviour and most of us do it much
of the time. Within the meditation session, though, it is important
that we try to suspend this tendency. It is not necessarily wrong, but
it is unhelpful. Discrimination (in its original sense, rather than when
used to mean prejudice) is a good quality, and one which is very useful
on the spiritual path, but it relies on too much thinking to be of
direct use within the actual meditation sitting; it takes us away from
the object. Its utility at this stage is limited to making the initial
assessment of which section of the technique a particular person can be
most usefully placed.

Our
reaction to each of the meditations and to individual sittings will not
be predictable. The brahmavihāra practices work at a very deep level
and this will sometimes inevitably mean that emotions and feelings arise
which are complex and occasionally difficult to reconcile with the task
we have set ourselves. Never forget that bhāvanā means cultivation or
development and this is exactly what we are doing here: we are working
to maximise our ability to act and react with joy in the success of
others. The perfecting of any these qualities will take time but there
will be a steady development.

Although
all of the brahmavihāra qualities are interrelated, and there is a
natural tendency to want to merge them, I believe it is most effective
to develop each one separately in order that clarity can be maintained
about the distinctive nature of each. Once they have been fully
developed, of course, then such structures have passed their usefulness
and can be discarded.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=147


Contemplation - Day 38

227. This
is an ancient practice, O Atula,

not
only of today:

they
criticize those who are silent,

they
criticize those who speak much,

they
criticize those who speak little.

There
is no one on earth left uncriticized.

228. There
never was, there never will be,

nor
exists there now,

a
person who is wholly criticized,

or
wholly praised.

229. Day
after day,

the
wise examine and praise

those
flawless in character,

wisdom,
knowledge and virtue.

230. Who
would blame one

pure,
as refined gold?

The
gods, and even

Brahma,
praise him.

231. Guard
against bodily misdeeds.

Restrained
in bodily actions,

abandoning
harmful bodily actions,

one
should cultivate good conduct.

232. Guard
against spoken misdeeds.

Restrained
in speech,

abandoning
wrong speech,

one
should cultivate right speech.

233. Guard
against mental misdeeds.

Mentally
restrained,

abandoning
wrong thought,

one
should cultivate right thought.

234. Restrained
in physical, verbal

and
mental conduct,

the
wise are indeed secure.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:28 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=148


Tuesday - Fifth Precept

1. Fifth Precept

THE FIFTH PRECEPT

surā meraya majjapamādatthānā veramani sikkhā padam samādiyāmi

I take the precept to abstain from taking intoxicating liquor

In the Sutta Nipāta we read that a Buddhist:

“…should
not take intoxicating drinks. The householder who likes this teaching
does not urge others to drink and does not condone drinking, knowing
that it ends in madness. Through drunkenness foolish people commit evils
and cause them to be committed by other foolish people. Avoid that
which is a realm of evils, maddening, deluding, and the delight of the
foolish.”

In
many ways this is the easiest precept for most of us to keep. Unless we
are addicted to alcohol it is physiologically fairly easy to give it
up. But oh what psychological resistance many of us will feel:

“Can’t I have just one glass of wine with my meal?”

“Surely in moderation alcohol can’t do me any harm!”

“I need to socialise with my colleagues and clients.”

Like
all of the precepts the fifth precept is entered into voluntarily. No
one is commanding or instructing us to change anything about our
lifestyles. The principle objection to alcohol is that it clouds our
vision. It makes us less likely to carry out actions that are skilful
and which benefit others and ourselves. It also numbs our senses so that
we are unaware of the subtleties of sensations and feelings and tends
to make our behaviour coarser and more selfish. If we have chosen to
follow a path that relies on clear seeing then that path will be much
less viable if we are operating at anything less than with all our
faculties in order. At best alcohol temporarily clouds the mind; at
worst it can lead us into destructive behaviour and permanently damage
our ability to function. Even if we feel we can handle our own alcohol
intake our public endorsement of drinking helps to portray the activity
as normal and sociable; this makes it far more difficult for those who
are alcoholics and non-drinkers to refuse to partake in social
situations without pressure.

Many
Buddhist practitioners continue to drink and feel guilty about doing
so. Others use arguments about balance and moderation. It took me a few
years to decide to observe this particular precept and when I did it was
based on my understanding of what was best for my development and my
interactions with those around me. There is nothing holy or angelic
about this: rather it is a practical consideration. If I am intent on
developing clarity and insight why would I choose to cloud my mind? It
seems like one step forward, two steps back! Similarly if I want clarity
and insight for myself why would I choose to deny that to others? If I
participate in promoting the drinking of alcohol (as a normative part of
my daily activities) aren’t I behaving less than compassionately?

Perhaps
our tendency to compartmentalise our lives into `the spiritual’ and
`real life’ is part of the problem. We kid ourselves that as long as
we’re completely sober during the spiritual bit we can carry on living
it up in everyday situations. Well, we might be able to do this for a
while - and I would guess that most Buddhist converts in their early
years probably do manage this to a degree - but it cannot be a long-term
strategy if we are serious about this Path.

Gradually,
for most people, there comes a realisation that this separating out of
‘fun’ versus the spiritual doesn’t really work. It comes from the
misconception that there is a separate spiritual side to us - serious,
deep, meaningful, developing - and, presumably, so profoundly dull,
unsatisfying and unimportant that we need to escape it at regular
intervals. In reality we are not these separate individuals. We can
choose to live consistently; with every aspect of our lives becoming a
feature of our spiritual practice. This is not easy - you may have
guessed by now that I’m not a big fan of folks who claim that the
spiritual life is easy for any of us - but it can be worked at until it
becomes more natural for us.

Whatever
you decide please do not think that unless you give up totally there is
no point in following other aspects of the Buddha’s teachings:
Meditation will work for you to a degree whether you give up or not; the
other ethical teachings will reduce the amount of suffering you
occasion and receive. BUT, but, but… The best advice given by all the
teachers from two and a half thousand years of this tradition is that
ultimately it would be worth your while to make a determined effort to
reduce your craving for alcohol. If you can try to do that sooner rather
than later then you will most likely see the benefits sooner rather
than later too. We are not working against the clock but we are told
that this human birth provides the optimal chance to make the leap from
the rounds of suffering - surely that’s worth making an effort for.

There are many good reasons that we may like to consider for observing the Fifth Precept. Some of them include:

In
our meditation periods we are aiming for maximum clarity. If there is a
residue of alcohol in our system we can’t achieve this.

Outside
our meditation periods we are trying to make sure that our actions are
mindful and skilful. If we wish to make the correct assessment of
situations in order that we can act ethically and compassionately then a
clear mind is likely to help.

The
consumption of alcohol is often about masking our true feelings. The
chemical stimulation makes us feel happy - it is a quick fix to change
our mood. We should be aware by now that quick fixes don’t work. We need
to be honest about our moods and emotions. If we constantly seek to
escape them we will never discover their true nature or be able to deal
with them appropriately.

Even
if we drink alcohol in moderation we broadcast a message to those
around us that this is a normal thing to do. Aware that others may be
prone to addiction this could be regarded as an uncompassionate act. Are
we sure that the colleagues we are offering a drink to can handle it?
Do we ever consider that we are offering them something that is
intrinsically harmful? Aware of the violence and social breakdown in
part caused by consumption of alcohol why do we conspire to make it a
normative experience?

Is it really so important to us? Why do we crave it? We know it doesn’t do us any good so why continue with it?

The
Fifth Precept specifically refers to alcohol (distilled or fermented
intoxicating liquor) in ordinary life and does not refer to medical
drugs. It is permissible from a Buddhist point of view to use any
substance for purely medicinal use and medicine is seen as one of the
essential requisites of the Sangha. In most cases, though, I don’t think
lay folks can, hand-on-heart, claim that their drinking of alcohol is
for this purpose.

The
Fifth Precept is a common stumbling block for many Westerners. There
are many other sense pleasures and diversions - things we crave, things
we avoid - which will similarly require our attention as we edge our way
along the path. It is a measure of the destructiveness of this
particular activity that it was felt necessary to single it out as one
of only five precepts given for daily observance by lay people. It was
deemed that important. Have another go at abstaining for a while if you
can. Don’t try to see it as a make-or-break situation but do it because
you have acknowledged that it would be helpful. If you find you come
back to drinking later then accept that this has happened and try again.
Don’t beat yourself up with guilt: that is a pointless destructive
activity too. All this abstinence sometimes gets Buddhism labelled as a
killjoy religion - but we are merely abstaining from a chemically
induced haze in order that we can have the clarity that may lead to the
end of all suffering. Why settle for the temporary fake stuff when there
is real bliss to be experienced? Nor need this be thought of as aeons
away - we can earn, at the very least, glimpses of such bliss in this
life.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=149


Contemplation - Day 39

235. You
are like a withered leaf;

the
messengers of death await.

You
stand on the eve of your departure,

and
no provision made for the journey.

236. Make
an island of yourself.

With
swift effort become wise.

Purged
of stain and passions,

you
will enter the Noble Realm.

237. Now,
your life is ending,

you
approach the King of Death.

There’s
no resting place along the way,

and
no provision made for the journey.

238. Make
an island of yourself.

With
swift effort become wise.

Purged
of stain and passions,

never
again to face birth and decay.

239. Step
by step, little by little,

moment
by moment,

the
wise remove their impurities -

as
a smith purifies silver.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 4:58 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=150


Wednesday - Eight Precepts

1. Eight Precepts

THE EIGHT PRECEPTS

We
have concluded our look at the Five Precepts - the rules of training
which we may choose to observe and which are traditionally deemed
necessary for our development. The Five Precepts can be augmented by
other precepts on Observance Days. I will give a brief outline here in
case you wish to explore them further. Most often the formula given is
as follows:

(1) I take the precept to abstain from destroying sentient beings.

(2) I take the precept to abstain from taking things not given.

(3) I take the precept to abstain from sexual activity.

(4) I take the precept to abstain from false speech.

(5) I take the precept to abstain from intoxicants.

(6) I take the precept to abstain from taking food at inappropriate times.

(7)
I take the precept to abstain from dancing, singing, music and unseemly
shows; from the use of garlands, perfumes and unguents; from things
that tend to beautify and adorn (the person).

(8) I take the precept to abstain from (using) high and luxurious seats (or beds).

Keeping
these precepts for a 24-hour period each week (or even once each month)
is an additional discipline. In Buddhist countries many lay people
would adhere to the Eight Precepts on the Uposatha Day, and would spend
time at their local temple listening to Dhamma discourses or meditating.
Although most of the precepts are the same as the Five Precepts, we can
see that the additional ones aim at a reduction in our attachment to
the sensual world.

In
this formula the Third Precept becomes an undertaking of celibacy for
the period to which we have committed. The new Sixth Precept stops us
over-indulging in food by taking just what we need and deciding not to
eat at all after mid-day (Note: we still drink liquid). The Seventh
Precept is about modesty and reducing vanity: it is a challenge to stay
in the here and now without resorting to fantasy and escape, and an
opportunity to practise not clinging to sense objects. The Eighth
Precept is a decision not to overindulge in sleep and other creature
comforts. When visiting temples and retreat centres it is also about
respecting those who may be our spiritual superiors and learning to put
aside our egos for a while.

The
Sixth Precept is usually also observed on periods of retreat and
mirrors a rule that is followed everyday by monks and nuns. Lay people
choose to observe this precept as a way of not over-indulging the
senses. In the same way that other religions observe fasts, Buddhism
sees value in restraining our habitual tendency to greed. For one day
each week, or on the monthly observance day, we commit to taking what
food is necessary and abstaining from that which is not. In practice
people observing this precept eat shortly before noon, without greed,
but ensuring that they have sufficient nutrition for the rest of the
day. They then abstain from eating until the following day (after dawn
or whenever they rise). It is important to take liquid during this
period, but most people would not drink milk as that is deemed to be a
food. Clearly if someone has health problems (e.g. they are diabetic) it
is unwise to go without food for this period. For most people, however,
it is perfectly healthy to do this.

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=151


Contemplation - Day 40

240. As
rust, once arisen,

consumes
the iron on which it forms;

So,
his own deeds lead the

transgressor
to a woeful state.

241. Infrequent
repetition is the rust of scriptures.

Neglect
is the rust of homes.

Indolence
is the rust of beauty.

Heedlessness
is the rust of a guard.

242. Misconduct
is the taint of a woman.

Miserliness
is the taint of a benefactor.

Taints,
are indeed, are all that

is
evil in this world and the next.

243. Worse
than these is the taint of ignorance:

the
worst of all taints.

By
destroying this one taint,

one
becomes taintless, O Bhikkhus.

244. Life
is easy for the shameless

-
impudent as crows -

backbiting
and presumptuous,

arrogant
and corrupt.

245. Life
is hard for the modest

-
always seeking purity -

detached
and unassuming,

clean-living
and reflective.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:00 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/book/view.php?id=152


Thursday - Introducing Equanimity

1. Introducing Equanimity

Please
note: Today and tomorrow we will introduce the final brahmavihara
practice: upekkhā, or Equanimity. As mentioned earlier, this practice
relies on a firm foundation in the other brahmaviharas. You may wish to
print these details and download the audio file for use beyond this
course when you have deepened your experience of mettā, karuna and
mudita. We thought it was important to complete the sequence so that the
framework is clear. If you are relatively new to the brahmaviharas
please continue to work on Appreciative Joy Meditation in your main
sitting.

THE PRACTICE OF EQUANIMITY

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with equanimity,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with equanimity,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

Upekkhā
or Equanimity is the fourth of the brahmavihāras or Divine Abodes. In
many ways it is the culmination of the other three practices as it adds
even-mindedness to the object of meditation. When we practice the other
three brahmavihāra meditations we are still aware of the separate
qualities of the different subjects on whom we choose to focus. In the
upekkhā bhāvanā (Cultivation of Equanimity) we actively work at
impartiality. This is not a dull indifference, but rather an acceptance
of the true nature of all beings. We are working in a spirit of goodwill
rather than lack of concern. Bhante Gunaratana has written that
“Equanimity as a divine abiding is the socially directed, meditative
state marked by the transcending of approval and resentment towards
living beings, the sublime attitude of impartiality which looks upon all
beings equally without preferences or discrimination.”

When
we work with the different people and other beings in our meditation we
still see them in relation to ourselves. We form opinions about how
they measure up against what we are. Even when we are directing
lovingkindness or compassion to another being it is difficult to escape
the idea that they and we are fixed individuals. We have a tendency to
enshrine our own self-image and to attach semi-permanent labels on
others. “I am a good meditator sending out lovingkindness even to this
person who is difficult.” “I am unsuccessful at radiating compassion
even to people who are downtrodden.”

What
we begin to realize is that we are making various assumptions that do
not really bear much scrutiny. This fixed I is not really that stable,
is it? We change our views (including that of our self-worth) constantly
and our needs, moods and motivations are in constant flux. Similarly we
start to understand that others too are not really made up solely of
those qualities with which we might at first label them. Can anyone
really be labelled hateful? In every aspect of their lives?
Consistently? By all others as well as ourselves?

The
Cultivation of Equanimity begins by breaking down some of these views
of self and others. It is an acknowledgement that we habitually put
ourselves at the centre of the universe and interpret the value of
everyone and everything solely in relation to this world-view. We fix
the personalities and characters of others on the basis very often of
little more than our own projections. Once we have categorised the
individual we can group him or her in terms of people whose company we
crave or avoid. Each time the value judgement is made in relation to
ourselves as final arbiter. We see ourselves as solid, stable judges.

In
truth of course we are not so capable of certainty. Even a cursory
glance back over a few years will tell us that our views change, our
physical body constantly changes, our relationships alter over time, our
aspirations and political outlook modifies. In short we are pretty
uncertain of what this ’self’ is actually made. If we look around us we
can see that others are in a similar position. Who are they today? Are
they the same as five years ago, or five minutes ago? If this constant
flux is so readily apparent to us can we really feel confident that our
judgement about others and ourselves is so very sound?

When
we begin to practise the Cultivation of Equanimity we see that our
strategies of ego protection are flawed. In a system where everything
changes there is little point in hurriedly assigning labels even to
ourselves - and certainly not in relation to others about whom we know
even less. We begin to see the interconnectedness of life and its
non-separate nature. If we can cultivate an attitude of even-mindedness
we can begin to see into the true nature of things because we are no
longer blinded by our prejudices and desires.



Thursday - Introducing Equanimity

1. Introducing Equanimity

Please
note: Today and tomorrow we will introduce the final brahmavihara
practice: upekkhā, or Equanimity. As mentioned earlier, this practice
relies on a firm foundation in the other brahmaviharas. You may wish to
print these details and download the audio file for use beyond this
course when you have deepened your experience of mettā, karuna and
mudita. We thought it was important to complete the sequence so that the
framework is clear. If you are relatively new to the brahmaviharas
please continue to work on Appreciative Joy Meditation in your main
sitting.

THE PRACTICE OF EQUANIMITY

“I will abide pervading one quarter with a mind imbued with equanimity,

Likewise, the second, third and fourth quarters.

So above and below, around and everywhere, and to all as if to myself.

I will abide pervading the entire world with equanimity,

Abundant, exalted, immeasurable; without hostility or ill-will.”

Upekkhā
or Equanimity is the fourth of the brahmavihāras or Divine Abodes. In
many ways it is the culmination of the other three practices as it adds
even-mindedness to the object of meditation. When we practice the other
three brahmavihāra meditations we are still aware of the separate
qualities of the different subjects on whom we choose to focus. In the
upekkhā bhāvanā (Cultivation of Equanimity) we actively work at
impartiality. This is not a dull indifference, but rather an acceptance
of the true nature of all beings. We are working in a spirit of goodwill
rather than lack of concern. Bhante Gunaratana has written that
“Equanimity as a divine abiding is the socially directed, meditative
state marked by the transcending of approval and resentment towards
living beings, the sublime attitude of impartiality which looks upon all
beings equally without preferences or discrimination.”

When
we work with the different people and other beings in our meditation we
still see them in relation to ourselves. We form opinions about how
they measure up against what we are. Even when we are directing
lovingkindness or compassion to another being it is difficult to escape
the idea that they and we are fixed individuals. We have a tendency to
enshrine our own self-image and to attach semi-permanent labels on
others. “I am a good meditator sending out lovingkindness even to this
person who is difficult.” “I am unsuccessful at radiating compassion
even to people who are downtrodden.”

What
we begin to realize is that we are making various assumptions that do
not really bear much scrutiny. This fixed I is not really that stable,
is it? We change our views (including that of our self-worth) constantly
and our needs, moods and motivations are in constant flux. Similarly we
start to understand that others too are not really made up solely of
those qualities with which we might at first label them. Can anyone
really be labelled hateful? In every aspect of their lives?
Consistently? By all others as well as ourselves?

The
Cultivation of Equanimity begins by breaking down some of these views
of self and others. It is an acknowledgement that we habitually put
ourselves at the centre of the universe and interpret the value of
everyone and everything solely in relation to this world-view. We fix
the personalities and characters of others on the basis very often of
little more than our own projections. Once we have categorised the
individual we can group him or her in terms of people whose company we
crave or avoid. Each time the value judgement is made in relation to
ourselves as final arbiter. We see ourselves as solid, stable judges.

In
truth of course we are not so capable of certainty. Even a cursory
glance back over a few years will tell us that our views change, our
physical body constantly changes, our relationships alter over time, our
aspirations and political outlook modifies. In short we are pretty
uncertain of what this ’self’ is actually made. If we look around us we
can see that others are in a similar position. Who are they today? Are
they the same as five years ago, or five minutes ago? If this constant
flux is so readily apparent to us can we really feel confident that our
judgement about others and ourselves is so very sound?

When
we begin to practise the Cultivation of Equanimity we see that our
strategies of ego protection are flawed. In a system where everything
changes there is little point in hurriedly assigning labels even to
ourselves - and certainly not in relation to others about whom we know
even less. We begin to see the interconnectedness of life and its
non-separate nature. If we can cultivate an attitude of even-mindedness
we can begin to see into the true nature of things because we are no
longer blinded by our prejudices and desires.



Friday - The Practice of Equanimity Meditation

1. The Practice of Equanimity Meditation

INSTRUCTIONS

Allow
at least 20-30 minutes for the session if possible. Try to spend an
equal amount of time in each of the five sections of the meditation. We
will begin by suggesting comparative phrases to be used during the
particular sections. As in previous brahmavihāra practices we are
looking for a real understanding of the ideas behind the phrases rather
than a mechanical repetition of them. Once we have fixed the procedure
in our heads we will no longer require these phrases. We are working at
balancing our responses to the individuals on whom we focus during the
meditation. An explanation of each of the subjects of our meditation is
given under the individual sections.

Set up your meditation posture and gently close your eyes. Concentrate for a few moments on the breathing.

Section One



THE NEUTRAL PERSON

(Someone
about whom you currently have no strong feelings either for or against.
In effect someone about whom you already have equanimity.)

Picture the Neutral Person in front of you. Note how you are neither drawn toward him or her nor does he or she repulse you.

Reflect:

“This Neutral Person, like all beings, suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

This Neutral Person, like all beings, is ever changing - physically, emotionally…

This Neutral Person, like all beings, is not a permanent fixed entity…”

Move
on now to compare the Neutral Person individually with each of the
other subjects of this meditation. Begin by picturing the Neutral Person
and the Friend in front of you.

Reflect:

The Friend

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does this Friend….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too is this Friend…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is this Friend…”

The Boon Companion (A Joyful Person)

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does this Boon Companion….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too is this Boon Companion…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is this Boon Companion…”

The Hostile Person

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does this Hostile Person….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too is this Hostile Person…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is this Hostile Person…”

Oneself

“Just as this Neutral Person suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too do I….

Just as this Neutral Person is ever changing…

So too am I…

Just as this Neutral Person is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither am I…”

Section Two



The Friend

(Someone whom you know well and are aware of the complexity of his/her character.)

Picture the Friend in front of you and reflect:

“This Friend, like all beings, suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

This Friend, like all beings, is ever changing - physically, emotionally…

This Friend, like all beings, is not a permanent fixed entity…”

Allow the image of the Friend to be joined one at a time by:

The Neutral Person

The Boon Companion

The Hostile Person

Oneself

In each case reflect:

“Just as this Friend suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does….

Just as this Friend is ever changing…

So too is…

Just as this Friend is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is…”

Section Three



The Boon Companion

(Someone
who is regularly joyful, happy, welcoming. The first impression we have
of the person is joy. Boon Companion is a term used in the
Visuddhimagga to describe someone who embodies joy, who is a joy to be
around, who exudes joyfulness.)

Picture the Boon Companion in front of you and reflect:

“This Boon Companion, like all beings, suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

This Boon Companion, like all beings, is ever changing - physically, emotionally…

This Boon Companion, like all beings, is not a permanent fixed entity…”

Allow the Boon Companion to be joined one at a time by:

The Neutral Person

The Friend

The Hostile Person

Oneself

In each case reflect:

“Just as this Boon Companion suffers and seeks the end of suffering…

So too does….

Just as this Boon Companion is ever changing…

So too is…

Just as this Boon Companion is not a fixed permanent entity…

Neither is…”

Section Four



The Hostile Person

(Someone who is regularly difficult, unfriendly, obstructive. The first impression we have of this person is dislike.)

Continue as before. Begin by focusing on the Hostile Person and gradually allow this person to be joined by:

The Neutral Person

The Friend

The Boon Companion

Oneself

In each case reflect: “Just as… So too…”

Section Five



Oneself

Continue as before. Begin by focusing on yourself and gradually allow yourself to be joined by:

The Neutral Person

The Friend

The Boon Companion

The Hostile Person

In each case reflect: “Just as… So too…”

https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=410


Audio Player - Equanimity Meditation

Guided meditation files are intended to illustrate how to structure your
own sittings. Once you are familiar with the format you should try to
meditate without listening to these audio files.

Upekkhā - Equanimity Meditation

 


-20:48
 

Last modified: Saturday, 29 September 2018, 4:19 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=153


Contemplation - Day 41

246. He
who destroys life,

who
speaks falsely,

who
takes what is not given,

who
goes to other men’s wives,

247. who
is addicted to alcohol -

such
a man digs up his

own
root in this world.

248. So
know, my good man,

evil
deeds are difficult to control:

don’t
let greed and wickedness

drive
you to protracted misery.

249. People
give according

to
their faith or their regard.

Envious
of the food and drink given to others,

day
and night one attains no peace.

250. But
one in whom this is fully cut off,

uprooted
and destroyed,

day
and night attains peace.

251. There
is no fire like lust,

no
grip like hatred,

no
net like delusion,

no
river like craving.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:02 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=155


Contemplation - Day 42

252. The
faults of others are easily seen,

our
own faults are difficult to see.

Like
chaff one winnows another’s faults,

while
concealing our own like a fowler in a hide.

253. Focusing
on another’s faults,

ever
censorious,

his
own defilements grow:

he
is far from their destruction.

254. There
is no track in the sky.

There
is no outside samana.

Mankind
delights in impediments.

The
Tathagatas are free of impediments.

255. There
is no track in the sky.

There
is no outside samana.

No
conditioned thing is stable.

There
is no instability in Buddhas.


256. Not
by passing hasty judgements

does
one become just:

the
wise investigate

both
right and wrong.

257. Judging
- impartially -

according
to the Dhamma,

one
is a guardian of Dhamma

and
a just person.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:03 PM
https://course.org/campus/mod/page/view.php?id=221


Chant Workshop 6 (optional)

1. Chant Workshop 6

The
meditation practices we are using are drawn from the Theravāda
tradition which bases its teachings on the words of the Buddha and his
early followers as recorded in the Pāli Canon. Pāli is a written
liturgical language and is often also used for traditional chants that
many meditators find helpful as part of their spiritual practice. During
the course we will introduce a small number of these chants in Pāli or
in translated English form.

Over
the weeks the individual chants build to form the text for a puja, or
dedication ceremony, that some practitioners may wish to use as a way of
periodically rededicating their meditation practice. Please use the
chants if you find them helpful; please ignore them if you prefer.

CHANT 6: Frequent Recollections

Note: This English chant is related to the practice of vipassanā
and the realistic attitude to life that is demanded of the serious
practitioner. It reminds us of the transient nature of life and of our
opportunity to use the present moment skilfully.

Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection

I am of the nature to age,

I have not gone beyond ageing.

I am of the nature to sicken,

I have not gone beyond sickness.

I am of the nature to die,

I have not gone beyond dying.

All that is mine, beloved and pleasing,

will become otherwise;

will become separated from me.

I am the owner of my kamma,

heir to my kamma,

born of my kamma,

related to my kamma,

abide supported by my kamma.

Whatever kamma I shall do,

for good or for ill,

of that I will be the heir.

Listen to the chant:

 
-0:00

Download link:  https://course.org/mcaudio/c/6-Frequent_Recollections.mp3

Last modified: Thursday, 13 September 2018, 5:05 PM

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