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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Report from a Practicing Member

Personally, I have received many benefits from our group practice, especially from the interviews with Venerable Dr. Dhammapiya Sayadaw. Please see my report card below from last weeks interview on 9-20. I wrote this to show my appreciation.

Meditation is normally called a skill of mental training, but the ultimate truth is that Vipassana meditation is in reality a process of processes. All things are manifested in a process of phenomena in constant change. All things--including the act of observation in daily life or in meditation, the observing mind and the object--are in a process of flow from the direct experience of practice, flowing in the flow and with the flow. As Sayadaw Shaw O Min states in his booklet, Right Attitude in Meditation, "...The object is not important. The mind that is working in the background-working to be aware, i.e., the observing mind- is more important..."

In a slow process of mental training, to shift attention from the observed object to the observing mind (or noting mind), I have been struggling, and have slowly built up the skill of using the observing mind to watch itself as the object. Venerable Dr. Dhammapiya Sayadaw pointed out to me from my first telephone interview that the key in practice is to work on awareness, that the function of mind is to know what is happening as it is, in this very moment, here and now. This is easier said than done. In the real world of practice, mindfulness is the cause, and awareness develops as the end result, or as an effect from practicing the skill of mindfulness. I had to understand that by working continually on mindfulness that awareness would fall into place naturally.

Interview Report @ 9-20
The interview only lasted 3 minutes, the shortest one in my history of IMG practice. In the past few weeks of practice, I have been struggling and stumbling in cultivating awareness. I kept wondering how to be aware, and how to know this mental activity from its' invisible, intangible nature. The problem lies in fine tuning the skill of mindfulness, learning to balance it so as not to overshoot or minimize my effort, until it becomes a natural flow. One day, a thought came to me. I realized that in the real world, mental and physical events happen all of the time, and have always existed. In my past practice, I always wondered how I could be aware of the physical process of events in flow all of the time, but not be aware of the mental process? Suddenly, I understood that awareness has been “there” all the time--built up from past practice--but it wasn't sharp enough, so that I was missing the mental events most of the time. From that point on, I came to understand that in my life experiences and discoveries, that there are different modes of the thinking process at different levels – one on the surface and the other in the undercurrents. The mind reacts in a chain reaction to the objects in meditation, and to the external world via the six senses-- like how unpleasant feelings from not accepting what is happening becomes an agitated mind, which in turn generates more thinking and judgment and more agitation...and on and on and on... never stopping. In the inner world, the mind is always busy.

Today's report @ 9-24
This morning in my regular daily practice at home, I had my first experience of being aware of new thoughts that popped up. When I paid attention and watched what was happening to these incipient thoughts, the thoughts arose and then just went away, disappearing naturally, just like nipping hindrances and defilements in the bud. What an insightful experience from the practice of Vipassana meditation!

Friday, September 25, 2009

November 7-Day Insight Meditation Retreat

Stilling the Restless Mind- a 7 day Insight Meditation retreat lead by Venerable Seelananda. This will be held in a idelsitic location- the American Bodhi Center. The retreat date is from November 26th, 2009 to December 2nd, 2009.

The American Bodhi Center is dotted with rolling hills and brooks and is full of geographical variety. It serves as a cultural, educational, and altruistic activity center for Buddhism. The Bodhi Center has a grand meditation hall and comfortable living quarters for meditators. Surrounded by quiet forest (see video and phots) accommodating either individual or groups retreat.

To register please call 979-921-6969 or download for retreat information, registration and consent forms.