We meditate to be happy. Over time, with continued practice, we become more resilient, kind and content. Our mind becomes a lovely, pleasant home.

Keywords: Samatha, Sukha

Morality, conscience, and integrity protect not only us, but our society as well. When ethical principles disappear, civil society, which is held in place by these invisible yet sturdy beams, collapses.

Keywords: Dosa, Moha, Sila, Taṇhā

Right Speech activates the Eightfold Path and can be a complete practice, leading to awakening. Ironically, Right Speech creates a silent, peaceful mind.

Keywords: Insight, Nibbāna, Paññā, Right Speech, Sati; Samma Samadhi, Sila

Over time, the habit of recognizing and releasing deluded and obsessive thoughts has the power to return the mind to its natural state of clarity, contentment, peace, and inherent wellness.

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca, Avijjā, Awakening, Sati, Vipassanā

Meditation as a Way to Temporarily Enter Into Homelessness


A daily meditation practice is a way of relinquishing the world and entering a reality of freedom and peace.

Keywords: Renunciation, Samādhi

Uprooting the āsavas, the drivers of suffering, sets us on a course to profound peace, freedom, and bliss.

Keywords: Anattā, Āsava, Clinging, Dosa, Dukkha, Moha, Taṇhā, Upādāna

Contemplating our death motivates us to live every day according to our values and to focus on achieving what truly matters, a pure heart, free of clinging. When we rehearse the last hours of our life, we clarify what truly matters. With repeated practice, we also develop the skills to meet our passing with peace and love. (See the Guided Meditation on Death, dated 2/15/2021, which preceded this talk.)

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca, Nibbāna

Counterintuitive as it may seem, opening to physical and emotional distress reduces misery in the present as well as the future. Please see the February 8, 2021 guided meditation which accompanies this talk

(The readings came from Ajahn Brahm’s book, “Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?”)

Keywords: Anicca, Conditioning, Dukkha, Equanimity

We don’t have to suffer with intense, hurtful, or divisive emotions. We always have the option of choosing peace and infusing harmony into any circumstance.

Keywords: Equanimity, Nibbāna, Right Intention, Taṇhā

Freedom and joy originate from a profound understanding that the sensual world is incapable of bringing enduring happiness and well-being. Our first task on the path to awakening is to fully understand dukkha. When we fully grasp the First Noble Truth, there is relief and hope. We give up the pointless and impossible struggle of finding happiness in the sensual world and set our sights on what will satisfy. This infuses the mind with joy.

Keywords: Dukkha, Eightfold Path, Jhāna, Nibbāna

People on the path to full awakening do not fear death but rather have revulsion and dread about the prospect of birth, after birth, after birth. The practice of the Eightfold Path culminates in the end of this pointless cycle of birth and death.

Keywords: Anicca, Dependent origination, Eightfold Path, Nibbāna, Paṭicca-samuppāda

Progressive, Practical Teachings on Living an Effective, Happy Life


The Buddha offered practical instruction on a range of subjects, from the benefits of moderation, morality, sense restraint, non-greed, justice, and compassion, to guidance on how to be an effective, impactful leader.

Keywords: Compassion, Craving, Eightfold Path, Karma, Right Action

Restlessness of mind can be a deeply set hindrance on our path to Nirvana. Developing strategies to dismantle this uncomfortable state helps settle the mind and supports concentration in our meditation practice.

Keywords: Āsava, Equanimity, Fetters, Hindrances, Tranquility

As we abandon more commonplace pleasures and entertainments, we discover far richer, more refined, subtle, enduring, and reliable pleasures.

Keywords: Eightfold Path, Paññā, Right Intention, Sukha, Vedanā

As we develop more insight into the nature of reality, we find ourselves effortlessly shedding activities and interests that no longer satisfy. Over time, we come to prefer peace to raucous, fleeting sense pleasures.

Keywords: Khandha(s) (aggregates), nāma-rūpa (mind and matter), Nibbidā (disenchantment)

The Eightfold Path reliably leads us to happiness which comes from the abandonment of craving impermanent things.    Meditating and practicing mindfulness daily, allows us time to reflect on the state of our mind and develop the habit of recognizing and dropping unwholesome states as they occur.  Through strengthening wholesomeness with this daily habit, we  become dissatisfied with external pleasures that lead to suffering.


Keywords: Āsava, Dukkha, Emptiness, Impermanence, Mindfulness, Taṇhā, The Eightfold Path

The Game of Crazy Eights as a Metaphor for Awakening


The less we hold on to thoughts, behaviors, views, and outcomes, the freer we are.  By structuring our day to support solitude, we can use it for meditation and reflection in order to shed some of the trivialities that take our time and energy.  While this practice might be in contrast to what others and the larger society value, through it we can develop inner happiness that is not dependent on things out of our control.

Keywords: Awakening, Mettā, Sutta, Unskillful

 When our minds are still, we can enjoy the ending of the friction created by thinking.  During this deep meditation, we can then observe the pattern of our thoughts rather than following them.  Observing our mind in this formal way gives us the opportunity to drop unwholesome thoughts and support wholesome thoughts. Because our words and actions begin with our thoughts, practicing observing and dropping unhelpful thoughts can help free us from craving, delusion, and hatred.

Keywords: Dukkha, Jhāna, Right Concentration, Right Speech, Samādhi, Vipassanā

Meditation can help us track how our unknown conditioning creates our reactions to what is happening in the here and now.  Meditation and mindfulness give us the opportunity to sit with these fears and cravings in an effort to intentionally lessen their hold on our mind until they disappear.


Keywords: Conditioning, Dependent origination, Equanimity, Spiritual bypass

There are many ways to practice Right Mindfulness throughout our day. These simple practices purify the mind and allow us to rest in a pleasant, happy mind.

Keywords: Conditioning, Hindrances, Non-returner, Right Mindfulness

The benefits of meditation range from the mundane benefits of enjoying a refreshed, energized, and calm mind to profound states of insight and the freedom that comes from understanding the nature of reality. Over time, we develop an unshakable, mature happiness.

Keywords: Anattā, Dukkha, Equanimity, Vipassanā

Many of us suffer because we hold onto harmful ideas about ourselves and the world. When we move towards greater, non-verbal awareness, the suffering produced by thinking falls away.

Keywords: Dependent origination, Dukkha, Three Poisons

Brain research shows that through meditation we can reset our automatic responses and break negative mental habits.

Keywords: Aversion, Dhamma, Loving-kindness, Mettā

Anger often develops when we don’t get what we want or we get what we don’t want. With resolve, insight, and repeated effort, we can come to experience unpleasant or disappointing moments with acceptance and equanimity.

Keywords: Dhammapada, Dosa, Equanimity, Spiritual bypass

Mindfulness is our servant; it can free us from the habit of thinking about the moment rather than knowing and experiencing it.

Keywords: Dependent origination, Mindfulness, Saṅkhāra

We can develop a happiness that is not dependent on circumstances. Through meditation, we can bring attention to our habitual thoughts, reduce their grip on us, and replace them with mental habits based on love, kindness, and wisdom.

Keywords: Concentration, Mental habits

Practicing patience is the wisdom of no escape. We abandon the fantasy that we can manipulate reality to always find pleasant contacts. It’s not a mistake and we haven’t done anything wrong when unpleasant experiences return again and again. That’s just the way it is.

Keywords: khanti, Paññā, Pāramī

Emptiness Series Talk 1 Not Self Experience


Excerpt from Ajahn Amaro’s talk on not-self experience 1:18:23 – 1:23:10: “…(when) engaging…in meditation, and things come together in such a way that you have a very clear moment, and…in that moment everything is… obvious to the mind…there’s a very clear seeing and a completely unbiased seeing, even if it’s only for… a couple of seconds…there’s a recognition of “oh,” it’s just seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking, arising, and passing away and that which is aware of it is not attached to it. Wow! Oh, and these things of me, (of) I think, and I feel, I want, and I used to, and I am going to, those are just thoughts, too. And they arise here and they’re all empty. Wow! Well, that’s great! Oh! And in that, “oh,” even if it’s again for just a finger snap, that is extraordinarily beneficial because at that moment, there’s a clear seeing…, you know it’s do-able. You know that there is a capacity of the mind to know things clearly, and for that freedom to be and to be manifestable, that can come into being, that can be embodied in your life.

Talk 2: Nibbāna. Also see the YouTube talk by Ajahn Amaro “We Need to Talk about Nibbana.”

Talk 3: Undoing the misperception of a “me” at the center of all arising and ceasing phenomena.

Keywords: Anattā, Emptiness, Not-self, Vimutti

Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation


These talks were given by Pat Tallman, a lay practitioner with over fifteen years experience, practicing mostly in the traditions of Vipassana as taught by S. N. Goenka and Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM) as taught by Bhante Vimalaramsi. He teaches at Camarillo Buddhist Center.

Talk on Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation TWIM

Information about Buddhist Global Relief

Keywords: Brahma-vihāras, Insight, Jhāna, Mettā, Paññā

Zen Buddhist monk Rev. Seikai explains the profound ramifications of basic Buddhist concepts. All of the Buddha’s teachings are skillful means to find liberation.

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca, Dukkha, Vimutti

One of the primary reasons we meditate is to observe in real time how desire ensnares us, how we become inhabitants of stressful worlds. When we fully understand this process, we are one mind-moment away from liberating the mind from its compulsive roaming and habit of becoming.

Keywords: Becoming/bhava, Nibbāna, Taṇhā

Bhikkhu Adhisila: How Emotions Lead to Awakening


In this talk, Bhikkhu Adhisila explains how to work with emotions in a way that allows us to see how they naturally cool, dissolve, and become extinguished, how they end in nibbāna.

Keywords: Awakening, Nibbāna, Saṅkhāra, Taṇhā

Idle Speech and the Role of Inner Silence in Awakening


Idle speech appears at the end of Right Speech. To the uninformed observer, mentioning pointless conversations can seem like a throwaway category, an insignificant one at that and only tagged on for good measure. That would be a grave misunderstanding. What we allow to run in our mind either imprisons us or frees us. Non-stop self-talk is the internal expression of “idle speech.” Though seemingly innocuous, this running commentary is a major barrier to awakening and is the primary infrastructure propping up the imagined “self.”

(This talk was given at Santa Barbara’s Open Door Sangha on September 22, 2022.)

Keywords: Awakening, Right Speech

Mettā is a delicious state of profound wellness and points to a mind drenched in kindness and subtle happiness. From this lofty dwelling, a lavish generosity naturally flows. Anchored in joy, we want the best for everyone.

Keywords: Brahma-vihāras, Mettā, Pīti, Sukha

The belief that knowledge, education, and technology can save us is delusion. What can protect us is morality and the Eightfold Path.

Keywords: Avijjā, delusion, Dosa, Moha, Taṇhā, The Eightfold Path

The truth about ceaseless stress of saṃsāra is everywhere, including in commercials which often aim at fixing the endless problems which assail us. Unlike the Dharma, TV commercials offer only a temporary fix. They never get at the root of the problem.

Keywords: Avijjā, Dukkha, Moha, Saṃsāra

In the Simile of the Saw, MN21, the Buddha shows us how a boundless mind makes it impossible for critical remarks to land anywhere and gain traction. We train to be able to modulate our awareness. We narrow our awareness when that serves us and expand the mind when that is needed.

Keywords: Brahma-vihāras, Jhāna, Mettā, Right Speech

Why do we meditate? To see reality accurately so the mind can be freed from the absurd expectation that some manipulation of mental states and matter can bring enduring happiness. This work centers on how we interact with unfolding reality.

Keywords: Avijjā, Dukkha, Samādhi, Vimutti

In Samyutta Nikkaya 22:27 the Buddha speaks candidly about his meticulous and exhaustive investigation into the many enjoyable things about body and mind. He then sets out with equal determination and scrupulousness to uncover the drawbacks and perils of delicious experiences. And finally and most importantly, he discovers how to escape the allure of these dangerous pleasures. This talk focuses on saṅkhāras, on mental and emotional amusements and joys, that drive continued becoming.

Keywords: Awakening, Becoming/bhava, Khandhas, Nāma-rūpa, Saṅkhāra

Restlessness is the second to the last fetter before full awakening and is an essential driver of becoming. When restlessness dominates our mind, we reject what is and search for pleasant contacts and enticing activities. Unsettled, discontented, we want something else, almost anything will do, other than what is presently unfolding. We might prefer existence as a reader of an absorbing novel or a gardener planting roma tomatoes. When we resist restlessness, we engage in hand-to-hand combat with the mind’s tendency toward proliferation and the urge to be. Not doing something is doing something exceptionally challenging. Until we utterly extinguish the longing to do, to be, we remain mired in the inescapable suffering endemic to samsara.

Keywords: Becoming/bhava, Hindrances, Nīvaraṇa, Papañca

Recognizing defeating desires and resisting their pull is a singular practice that can completely liberate the mind.

Keywords: Dependent origination, Sati, Taṇhā, Upādāna, Vimutti

When we have the “right information” operating at all times in the background, we recognize whether resistance or craving are present or absent. Freeing the mind hinges on overcoming these obstacles to freedom and peace.

Keywords: Eightfold Path, Four Noble Truths, Right Mindfulness, Right View, Sati

The hindrances prevent us from being alert, informed, and free to act in our best interest regardless if we are formally meditating or engaged in daily life.

Keywords: Hindrances, Moha, Nīvaraṇa

Producing a “me” in the flux of the aggregates is a way of trying to freeze reality, a maladaptive reaction to the stress of continual change.

Keywords: Anattā, Khandha(s) (aggregates), Mettā, Renunciation, Right Intention, Upādāna

The opportunity to choose is the very thing that makes awakening possible. The thousands of intentional acts we make in a year determine whether we become more entangled with mind and matter or become free and completely unfettered.

Keywords: Karma/ Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Vipāka

Becoming an adept meditator is a skill we master like any other life skill. It simply requires good instructions, commitment, patience, and persistence.

Keywords: Hindrances, Insight, Jhāna, Paññā, Right Concentration, Samādhi

Meditative dexterity expands when we meditate even when we are tired or suffering in some other way. Anticipating occasional physical challenges and devising strategies for them will strengthen our ability to maintain a daily contemplative practice.

Keywords: Anattā, Dukkha, Hindrances, Right Effort, Samādhi

Reflecting on the Rioting of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol


The rioting and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, driven by delusion (moha) and hate (dosa), exploded in a torrent of violence, destruction, cruelty, racism, and anti-Semitism. We witnessed what happens when lies, enmity, and grievance are sanctioned. Hate only creates more hate.

Keywords: Dosa, Karma, Moha

Mettā: A Meditation Practice Leading to Non-returning


This simple sutta is a straightforward instruction manual on how to attain the ultimate state of bliss, Nibbāna.

Keywords: Anāgāmī, Mettā, Nibbāna, Non-returner

Taming, guarding, protecting, and restraining our mind generate enormous rewards and advantages.

Wild Sutta AN 4.31

Keywords: Clear comprehension, Right Effort, Sati

Dark to Dark, Dark to Light, Light to Dark, Light to Light


Complacency, delusion, and overestimation of our attainments spell trouble for anyone wishing to put an end to endless becoming, rebirth, and suffering.

Keywords: Becoming/bhava, Four Noble Truths, Ignorance, Karma, Saññā, Vipāka, Vipallāsa

The Buddha provides guidance on how and when to confront a person about problematic or self-destructive behavior. He also recommends praising those who are deserving of praise.

Keywords: Right Intention, Right Speech

This talk focuses on correcting the misperception that an enduring “me” can be found in the maelstrom of mental and material states. The process begins with recognizing when the feeling of a “self” arises. Deconstructing the misperception of a “self” can be understood as the definition of striving for full awakening.

Keywords: Anattā, Clinging, Moha, Nibbāna, Not-self

When the habit of generating a self ceases, bliss spontaneously floods the mind, a reality which has always been there but has been covered over by thoughts, emotions, moods, narratives, biological hard-wiring and assorted drives.

Keywords: Anattā, Clinging, Conditioning, Craving, Ignorance, Nibbāna, Not-self, Taṇhā

When contemplating dependent co-arising, we are instructed to notice the feeling tone of any contact. Is it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? We can choose to respond with craving or aversion, creating more dukkha in the process, or respond with insight and equanimity, and not grasp at the source of sensation, nor push it away. The Buddha reveals that “For those who have fully understood contact, who, having known it, delight in peace (Nibbana).”

Keywords: Dependent origination, Dukkha, Nibbāna, Phassa

Over time, with continued training, we see the 5-aggregates of clinging as not-self, ephemeral, and sources of suffering. With these insights, we naturally wish to cast off the aggregates and turn the mind to the Unconditioned.

Keywords: Khandha(s) (aggregates), Nibbāna

Views play a crucial role in the fabrication and clinging to a “self.” When our cherished views are invalidated or dismissed, we feel diminished and often react in anger. Undoing attachment to views dismantles the “me” that is endlessly seeking affirmation and security.

Keywords: Anattā, Clinging, Hindrances, Upādāna

The Buddha explained that views and craving stitch together a “me” from the maelstrom of life. Even though the “self” is a source of great suffering and is the final barrier to ultimate freedom and bliss, nevertheless, we find it hard to let go of it. Out of compassion, the Buddha left us with detailed instructions on how to dismantle the habit of “I-making.”

Keywords: Anattā, Clinging, Nibbāna

The defilements of others pose an existential threat to everyone. This insight motivates us to end clinging to any constellation of mind and matter.

Keywords: Clinging, Craving, Eightfold Path, Four Noble Truths, Taṇhā, Upādāna

It is useful to examine our motivation for giving. When we give without an agenda or thoughts of gaining recognition or prestige, our generosity produces joy. Ultimately, the best gift we have to offer is a purified mind. (Drawn from AN 7.52)

Keywords: Dāna, Pāramī, Taṇhā

Anger: An Opportunity for Transformation


Injustice provokes a desire for change. Our challenge is to transform that spark of outrage into compassionate action while maintaining a kind heart.

Keywords: Dosa, Karuṇā, Mettā, Right Intention, Right Speech

The Eightfold Path instructs us on ways to dissolve obsessions about old wounds and grievances as well as giving us a blueprint for making choices that lead to more freedom and happiness.

Keywords: Dosa, Eightfold Path, Right Intention, Taṇhā

Restlessness of mind can be a deeply set hindrance on our path to Nirvana. Developing strategies to dismantle this uncomfortable state helps settle the mind and supports concentration in our meditation practice.

Keywords: Āsava, Equanimity, Fetters, Hindrances, Tranquility

Patience is one of the ten perfections or virtues needed to cross to the Far Shore, to become fully awake and free. Let’s welcome the opportunity to develop this essential strength.

Keywords: Pāramī

In times of great upheaval, training our minds to see reality can ease our suffering. When we look into the nature of dukkha, we understand the emotional stress that comes from  expecting things to be different than they truly are..

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca, Dukkha, Saṅkhāra

If we reflect on the causes and conditions we are experiencing through the current pandemic, we can see how they drive our decisions and behaviors. This gives us the opportunity to  see directly into impermanence.  When we understand that all phenomena arise and vanish, we can lessen our suffering by letting go of clinging to the Five Aggregates.

Keywords: Aggregates, Anicca (impermanence), Conditioning, Formations, Vedanā

The “self” is actually rapidly stitched together mental phenomena. When alertness is able to identify distinct “frames” of consciousness, we discover there is no enduring “me” to be found.

Keywords: Consciousness, Viññāṇa

We are all emissaries of the Buddha, tasked with bringing peace, wisdom, harmony, and compassion wherever we go.

Keywords: Dukkha, Nibbāna, Samvega

The Four Noble truths and their tasks:

1. This is the noble truth of suffering.
This noble truth of suffering is to be fully understood.
This noble truth of suffering has been fully understood.

2. This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering.
This noble truth of the origin of suffering is to be abandoned.
This noble truth of the origin of suffering has been abandoned.

3. This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.
This noble truth of the cessation of suffering is to be realized.
This noble truth of the cessation of suffering has been realized.

4. This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.
This noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering is to be developed.
This noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering has been developed.

The Three Turnings and Twelve Aspects from the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma, Saṁyutta Nikāya 56, no. 11, translated by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This talk by Deborah Ventura and Susan Pembroke is based on notes and observations from a 4-day training with Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi on the Four Noble Truths and their tasks.

As practitioners, we are charged with penetrating each noble truth as well as completing their associated task, namely, fully understanding the pervasiveness of suffering, dukkha; secondly, abandoning all craving, tanha, that is the origin of suffering; and thirdly, realizing the cessation of all suffering.

From these instructions, it is apparent that these truths are not articulated as philosophical or dogmatic abstractions but are to be fully understood experientially and are to be known on a visceral level. The Buddha’s remarkable discovery is the promise of a complete end of suffering.

Keywords: Craving, Dukkha, Eightfold Path, Four Noble Truths, Nibbāna, Taṇhā

In this talk, The Four Foundations of Wisdom, Truth, Relinquishment, and Peace are explained, as well as the ways they serve to stabilize and free our mind.

Keywords: Aggregates, Clinging, Dukkha, Impermanence, Non-self, Six bases of contact, Sutta, Vipassanā, Wisdom

The Brahma-vihāras: Generate Harmony, Morality, Insight, Contentment, and Lead to Freedom.


As we develop skill in the Brahma-vihāras, we strengthen our goodness and naturally turn away from hurtful thoughts, words, and actions. Recognizing and practicing the Brahma-vihāras purifies, transforms, and frees the mind.

Keywords: Brahma-vihāras, Eightfold Path, Karuṇā, Mettā, Muditā, Upekkhā

Being mindful of the Four Positions of our body throughout the day can improve our concentration. These are opportunities throughout the day to remove the clutter of our mind by merely turning our attention to the body. These informal meditations of the body support our practice of formal meditation and can lead to insight.


Keywords: Conditioning, Emptiness, Impermanence, Mindful, Non-self, Sati

Karma means to do.  Good acts through our mind, speech, and body have real results for us and others.  We create our future by inheriting the results of our actions and thought patterns we return to again and again. Because karma is driven by intentions which could be out of our awareness, we can use meditation to examine them.


Keywords: Buddha, Dukkha, Equanimity, Karma, Wisdom

Mindfulness is the topic of many articles and research which point to the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.  However, mindfulness taken out of the context of Buddhism and the Eightfold Path leads to misunderstanding, sometimes dangerous practices, and unrealistic goals.  Right Mindfulness benefits us by aiding in the purification of the mind through meditation and following the Eightfold Path.



Keywords: Eightfold Path, Jhāna, Mettā, Right Mindfulness, Spiritual bypass

Tendencies in our minds can get in the way of becoming fully free because they make us vulnerable to the hindrances. These proclivities support a sense of self and, therefore, distort our perception of reality. Through meditation we can see past these distortions into the unchanging reality of Nibbāna.

Keywords: Anusaya, Āsava, Consciousness, Hindrances, Nibbāna, Non-self, Vipallāsa

If allowed to settle into stillness, even the most turbulent body of water becomes clear. Developing this kind of tranquility in our mind provides clarity and supports the work of deepening our meditation practice. Lovingly examining the state of our mind during the course of the day can strengthen our ability to settle our mind.

Keywords: Enlightenment, Equanimity, Jhāna, Nimitta, Saṅkhāra, Upekkhā, Viññāṇa

Living with kindness and compassion for others is an essential part of following the Eightfold Path.  True kindness is not tied to any expectation of positive outcomes that might come from a kind act.


Keywords: Compassion, Eightfold Path, Loving-kindness, Mettā, Muditā

Though often beyond our awareness, sensations are always occurring in our bodies. Whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, when we do focus on our sensations, we can add mental suffering because of the thoughts we attach to them.  Merely observing these sensations can free us from this cycle.



Keywords: Āsava, Craving, Dukkha, Fetters, Mental habits, Three Poisons

Clinging, craving and aversion drive our thoughts and create suffering. By developing strategies for dealing with thoughts and looking at the mind, we can develop skills which will help us live in the moment, slow our minds, and understand better the mind and body relationship.



Keywords: Clinging, Mental habits, Mindfulness, Non-self, Sense doors, Skillful, Unskillful

Labeling is a powerful strategy to dissolve negative and stress-creating mental habits as well as a critical tool in developing happiness-inducing, positive mental habits.


Keywords: Anicca (impermanence), Clear comprehension, Non-self, Vipassanā

The Buddha’s generosity to one person leads to the man’s freedom from suffering. He teaches if we see clearly, we develop wisdom and become disenchanted with the senses and their objects. In this way, our craving and aversion cool and pass away.

Keywords: Dosa, Four Determinations, Jhānas, Majjhima Nikāya, Taṇhā, Vimutti, Wisdom

With mindfulness and attention, we see how desire and aversion shape thoughts as well as witness how mind and matter condition each other in an impersonal, ceaseless way. The rapid rising and falling of mind and matter prevents us from seeing how the “self” is constructed millisecond by millisecond.

Keywords: Idappaccayatā, Nāma-rūpa, Saṅkhāra

People are like us- flawed. Understanding this can be a source of compassion for ourselves and others.

Keywords: Anicca (impermanence), Mettā

When we observe thoughts in meditation, we see firsthand how thoughts are constructed and how the delusion of self drives their ongoing fabrication.

Keywords: Anattā, Not-self, Right Action, Right Intention, Right Speech

Limited Self vs. Vast Self and the role of Jhāna


One reason we suffer is that we cling to an idea of a self. In Buddhism, the self is understood to be something we construct. Through meditation, we can go into a silence that helps us recognize the small mind as well as train in developing a vast mind. With training, even an infinite mind can be surpassed.

Keywords: Dharma, Jhāna, Right Effort

This oral reading of the Sutta, as well as the dharma talk, provides insight into freeing the mind of comments that assert the self. “When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.”

Keywords: Anattā, Arahant, Samvega, Sutta, Unbinding

Buddhism is without the concepts of evil or free will. Instead we follow the Eightfold Path to understand how delusion generates suffering.

Keywords: Conditioning, Eightfold Path, Not-self, Right Effort, skillful/unskillful

Intensely pleasurable contacts often trigger desire and grasping. That reaction creates tension and solidifies a sense of a “me” having this contact. Neutral feeling, though, offers an opening to a radically different experience, to equanimity, peace, and seeing that there’s no one here and never has been. When the mind is temporarily free of desire or resistance, the stage is set for realization of not-self.

By simply shifting our attention to the mind, to unadorned knowing, we perceive the absence of a “me.” Stated positively, a spacious, peaceful, boundless awareness opens, revealing subtle, delightful ease and wholeness that are always available.

Keywords: Anattā, Awakening, Not-self, Vimutti
Dharma Talks from RETREATS

Awareness and Peace, April 27, 2024
We train in breaking the habit of producing complexity, problems, stress, division, worries or distress. Instead we turn out attention to a limitless awareness that offers peace and subtle bliss, a rich land that has always been here and continues to call to us.

Talk 1:

Talk 2:

Meditation Instruction:

Enjoying the Pleasures of an Unfettered Mind, 11/10-15/2023
On this path to full awakening, various near-synonymous terms describe the enlightened mind -- unfettered, free, unbound, released or liberated. Liberated from what? From compulsions, obsessions, fears, cravings, dislikes, preferences of all kinds as well as the reflexive reaching for entertainment and consolation. Our running commentary reflects these longings and reveals how the mind becomes entrapped.

Delusion blinds us to the realization that this incessant chatter is stressful and volitionally created, an optional noise we generate again and again. With practice, we discover how much better we feel without all this mental rubbish and joyfully toss it all out, to paraphrase Ajahn Buddhadasa. With awareness, we train in preferring a spacious, empty, and profoundly peaceful mind. Our intent is to capture more of these lovely moments until they become customary rather than exceptional, until we come to prefer an unencumbered mind, free of grasping.

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Guided Meditation on the Ānāpānasati Sutta

Guided Body Meditation Scan

Ānāpānasati Sutta, 9/30-10/5/2022
Considered one of the most important teachings in the Pali Canon, this sutta outlines the very meditation the Buddha himself practiced during Rains Retreats and urged his monks to adopt as well. With the breath as an anchor, we progressively develop skill in contemplating the body, feeling tones, the mind, and the dhammas. In the first three tetrads, we form the intention to calm the body, generate mental tranquility, and liberate the mind from constricting, unskillful states. Once these first 3 tetrads are established, the transformed mind, now whole, stable, and equanimous, is capable of precise investigation and insight. In the last tetrad of this sutta, we turn our lens to impermanence, foster dispassion toward all changing and empty phenomena, and train in letting go of any clinging to mind and matter, thereby freeing the mind.

Although jhanas are not mentioned in this sutta, these tetrads can create a foundation for entering the jhanas which intensify the capacity to tackle the fourth tetrad as well as providing a lovely home for the mind.

Talk 1: Introduction to the sutta:

Talk 2: A Pleasant Journey to Awakening.

Talk 3: First Tetrad, Calming the Body.

Talk 4: Second Tetrad, Feelings

Talk 5: Third Tetrad, the Mind, and the Fourth Tetrad, the Dhammas.

Talk 6: Awakening: Direct Knowledge

Meditation instruction 1:

Meditation instruction 2:

Meditation instruction 3:

Meditation instruction 4:

Tranquility 11/2/2019
Training in tranquility is critical for establishing a stable, mental platform from which to do insight work. Adeptness in generating a peaceful mind offers the added bonus of being able to return to a serene stance, any time, any where. The equanimity coming from such a mind offers protection from being overwhelmed by negative states.

Talk 1: An Overview of Tranquility

Talk 2: Tranquility: Essential for Insight

Talk 3: Deepening Tranquility

Talk 4: Integrating the Practice of Tranquility

Guided Meditation on Tranquility

Clinging to Nothing in the World, 10/1-6/2019
In this retreat, we focus on dismantling the deeply engrained tendency to construct and cling to a self. The meditation strategies given on this retreat are aimed at breaking the habit of generating the epiphenomenon of a “self” which is the byproduct of a dull mind devoid of insight and precision. We train in abandoning the misperceptions that there is a “me” who is seeing, a “me” who is hearing, a “me” who is thinking. Instead, we see these activities as conditioned, impersonal, and empty. During meditation, we observe how the “self” comes into existence, how it is assembled in real time, and how it can be disassembled and prevented from reappearing. We do this by dispassionately observing the rising and passing of changing phenomena as well as diving into levels of concentration where most of what masquerades as the “self” cannot find footing. These simple, straightforward practices lead to the unconditioned reality Nibbana.

Talk 1: Introduction

Talk 2: The Eight Conditions

Talk 3: The Hindrances

Talk 4: The Anusayas

Talk 5: The Mālunkyāputta Sutta

Talk 6: Taking the Retreat Home

Meditation instruction 1:

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Equanimity: Creating an Oasis of Peace 8/24/2019
Equanimity appears in all of the essential categories pointing us in the direction of full awakening. It is the fourth Brahma-vihāra, the last of the seven factors of awakening, and the last of the Ten Perfections. Without the stability and maturity of a still, non-reactive, and stable mind, we cannot make progress in dissolving unskillful mental habits and freeing the mind.

Equanimity is both a dynamic and highly-skilled practice as well as an outcome. When we practice equanimity, we remember that incessant change is inherent in all phenomena. We recall the insight that reacting with resistance or craving only makes things more problematic. We simultaneously commit to remaining calm and accepting in the midst of any conflict, loss, physical pain, or emotional distress. We know shouldering the stress of the present moment will diminish future suffering. In essence, equanimity is the long game approach to happiness.

The sublime quality of equanimity can become our default mental state through practice. With equanimity, we can be free of fleeting pleasures and achieve peace that supports us.

Keywords: Brahma-vihāra, Concentration, Jhāna, Mindfulness, Upekkhā, Viriya

Achieving equanimity/equipoise requires practice and right effort. We can use mindfulness as a tool.

Keywords: Ānāpānasati, Mindfulness

Our happiness does not have to be dependent on changing phenomena. Through the work of observing and training our mind, we can achieve the freedom of equanimity, considered one of the Ten Perfections in Buddhism.

Keywords: Āsava, Brahma-vihāra, Conditioning, Equanimity, Samādhi, Upekkhā
The Path of Peace, 3/30/2019
This time of polarization and identity politics may seem like something new and extreme, but it is not. History has shown again and again what happens when fierce loyalties collide. The Buddha explained how clinging to views and developing an identity around them invariably leads to resentment and conflict. Holding ourselves dear, we feel threatened by anything that does not support our cherished ideas which serve to give us the illusion of control.

One way of defining the Eightfold Path is to see it as a path of peace. Right Understanding recognizes the suffering that emerges when we act in anger. The second limb, Right Intention, enjoins us to abandon ill will and cruelty. Stated positively, we see the wisdom of simplicity, peacefulness, kindness, helpfulness, and compassion.

On this retreat, we will examine what we cling to, what threatens us and why. In addition, we will explore how to hold views lightly, remembering we have been mistaken about things in the past and could be wrong again. And, even if our understandings prove accurate, we train in not allowing them to become sources of division and hurt.

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Guided Meditation 1:

Meditation Instruction and Q&A:

Insight and Concentration, October 2-7, 2018
There is no jhana without wisdom,
there is no wisdom without jhana.
One who has jhana and wisdom,
he is in the vicinity of Nibbana.

Dhammapada, 372, translation by Ajahn Brahm

On this retreat we activate the entire Eightfold Path, with a special emphasis on Right Concentration, jhana, and its essential role in penetrating reality and freeing the mind from its compulsive grasping at ever-changing physical sensations and mental states. To enter jhana, we happily abandon the mundane world, with its ceaseless demands and stress, and turn all of our attention to generating a still, peaceful, silent and blissful mind. With trial and error, with diligence and patience, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and body sensations cease as do the barrage of thoughts and emotions. Through direct knowing, we experience how lovely it is to drop the body and mind, to drop the self. Through prolonged exposure to jhana and repeated and varied insights, we develop the incentive and skill to transcend duality and find an enduring, higher happiness.

(We recommend reading Ajahn Brahm’s "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond, A Meditator’s Handbook" as a useful companion to the talks, especially to the morning meditation instructions.)

Talk 1: On the Verge of Nibbana

Talk 2: Nibbida: Insight Brought Us Here

Talk 3: Benefits and Insights Resulting from Jhana

Talk 4: Realizing Nibbana

Talk 5: Working Towards Nibbana

Guided Meditation: Developing Concentration

Guided Meditation: Brahmaviharas

Meditation Instruction 1

Meditation Instruction 2

Meditation Instruction 3

What Kind of Mind Is This? 3/3-4/2018
We spend most of our time concocting ways to escape pain and maximize pleasure. The unawake person does not understand that this is an endless struggle that only generates exhaustion and more suffering. Paradoxically, abandoning the compulsive pursuit of pleasure and accepting reality is the strategy to free the mind. Throughout this 2-day retreat, we shift from looking at the content of our mind and instead examine how the mind responds to what comes before it. Patient and self-reflective, we repeatedly ask ourselves, what kind of mind is this? We practice dropping desire and resistance when they arise, and in so doing, discover a much more satisfying way to live.

Talk 1: Purifying the Mind Through Mindfulness

Talk 2: The Brahma-viharas, the Great Mind

Talk 3: The Surpassable and the Unsurpassable Mind

Talk 4: The Concentrated Mind, the Liberated Mind

1st Q&A Seeing Thoughts as a Desire to Be

2nd Q&A Tips on Breathing and Balancing Energy

3rd Q&A More on Breathing and Additional Comments

Being the Architect of Your Mind 9/21-24/2017
What is antithetical to Buddhist psychology is the idea that people are “set in their ways.” People oblivious to their capacity to change will say with conviction, “that’s just the way I am” even if the way they are, is a source of suffering for themselves or others. When mindful, we throw a floodlight on sabotaging habits as well as on our addictions, compulsions, and obsessions. The clarity of mindfulness enables us to not only see what these mental and behavioral flaws are, but how they come into existence, what maintains them, and most importantly, how to deconstruct and replace them. Right Effort, which is the stopping or preventing of unwholesome states from arising and the creation and sustaining of wholesome states, is foundational to the freedom that Buddhism offers. The good news is that we never have to be “set in our ways.” In this retreat, we will be drawing on the suttas but we will also be incorporating recent research from neuroscience on emotions, behavior, and personality to explain how we can design the mind we wish to have.

Talk 1: Architects of our Mind, Architects of our Destiny

Talk 2: State Versus Trait: How We Reconfigure our Mind

Talk 3: An Unfettered Mind

The Simile of the Quail, a Discourse on Fetters and Their Release, 3/25/2017
In the Simile of the Quail, Laḍukikopama Sutta (MN 66), the Buddha explains how slight attachments can act as insurmountable obstacles to making progress on the path to awakening while seemingly impossible barriers can be overcome when motivation is powerful enough. The discourse ends with gradual instruction on releasing the increasingly subtle fetters found in the jhanas.

A link to the sutta:

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Becoming and Non-Becoming , August 20, 2016
We long for enjoyable things – vibrant health, stimulating conversations, lovely sights, sounds, and tastes, and much more. We also long for the death of things we dislike, such as wanting a boring person to stop talking or a dentist to stop drilling. We often miss how seemingly innocuous longings generate suffering. In this retreat we will examine, on a granular level, where our desires take us and the price we pay for them. Becoming and Non-Becoming. We will also investigate transcendental aspirations as healthy and needed alternatives to our usual way of seeking happiness.

The Ultimate Decluttering: Emptying our Mind 7/15-17, 2016
Insight meditation trains us to recognize the many attachments that cause us to feel tight and tense, angry and apologetic, or sad and hurt. Over time, we become more adept at discarding opinions, preferences, limiting emotions, and pointless narratives. No longer needing to keep the ego propped up and defended, our load lightens considerably. As we persist in this massive cleanup of the mind, we default into states of buoyancy, fluidity, ease, and friendliness toward everything and everyone, all various ways of describing a liberated mind.

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The Art of Disappearing, 2/20/2016
If you want true happiness, disappear.

“When you practice this path, you’re slowly disappearing. If you understand the idea of vanishing and disappearing—that is, stillness and calm—you’re beginning to understand anatta, non-self. This is because the calmer you are, the less you exist. This might seem scary, but it’s actually beautiful. In fact, it’s the only real happiness there is, because the more you let go of the sense of self, the more you’re free from suffering in all its forms. The more you disappear, the happier you are; the more you vanish, the more joy you experience; the less you exist, the more bliss you feel.” Excerpts from Ajahn Brahm’s book “The Art of Disappearing.”

Talk 1: Why Disappear?


When the hindrances are gone, when negative emotions are absent, the underlying tendency to “identify” and generate a “self” from transient mental phenomena lessens. Realizing the unconditioned is only possible when the optical illusion of a self vanishes.

Keywords: Anattā, Fetters, Hindrances, Nibbāna, Not-self, Saṃyojana

How to identify and overcome the obstacles to generating a still, strong, and powerful mind.

Keywords: Samādhi

When a desire emerges, we automatically assume an “I” exists behind that desire. “I want this” or “I don’t want that.” With training, though, we recognize the corelessness and transiency of desire, of the “self.” This recognition, repeated many times, leads to profound insight and freedom.

Keywords: Anattā, Āsava, Dukkha, Taṇhā

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On an intuitive level, we realize we are not our thoughts or passing emotions or aging bodies. We realize we change from moment to moment, yet there is a distinct lingering impression that there is an enduring “me. “

Becoming fully free of a “me” in the course of three days is not realistic. What we can do, though, is train ourselves to recognize more quickly how the conditioned “self” arises. As a lovely outcome of this training, when we do find ourselves reacting to something in our lives, we’ll be more likely to recall, oh, it’s just a thought. I can put that down. Or, here’s a frisson of apprehension about how the meeting will turn out. It’s not me. I didn’t request this. I can put this down, too. What a relief!

You cannot read your way to enlightenment.

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca

All compounded things break down, go away.

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca

Because our minds are dull, there seems to be more stability…

Keywords: Anattā, Anicca (impermanence)
Together we will set the world aside, with all of its tumult and frenzied energy, and refresh our overworked minds. This is a day of simplicity, letting go, and resting in whatever surprises life offers. The emphasis will be on sensing and awakening to the present moment. Please bring an attitude of child-like curiosity, wonder, and playfulness.

Over the past year, Susan Pembroke has been talking about the significance of being aware of the kind of mind we inhabit at any given moment. She has also urged making a conscious choice to step out of the limited, binary mind, and jump into the vast, infinite mind. Knowing how and when to move between these two manifestations of mind, between the finite and infinite, are essential to happiness as well as being our legacy and good fortune. During this silent retreat, as we did last year, we will focus on quieting the limited, conceptual mind long enough to sense the immense, vital field which is our true home. Expect longer sits and encouragement to develop a robust and unwavering base of concentration so that the mind can expand and return to its natural state.

Use this awareness to create a space between what’s coming up and how you are responding.

Keywords: Dukkha
Awareness does so much more than simply allow us to reject dead-on-arrival habitual responses and discover possibilities that are fresh, rewarding, enlivening. Even though awareness is essential in remembering and acting on our highest aspirations, there is still so much more to this ever-present state, one that we can overlook the way we fail to see the space in a room. Awareness reveals our true identity as well as connecting us with all that is. Awareness takes us home as well as being our home.


Not-Self, an Essential Support for Mettā, 3/24/2024

As we deepen our capacity for friendliness, goodwill, and protecting life, we recognize clinging to “me” stands in the way of fully realizing these heart qualities. Not-self is not an esoteric insight, then, limited to a few, but an essential, lived reality needed for us to be able to radiate benevolence. With intention, we deconstruct the “self” so kindness and boundless love can spring up naturally.

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Stilling the Mind, 2/18/2024

This half-day builds on the previous month’s training on stilling thoughts and learning to prefer a silent, relaxed, peaceful mind. Desires are the barrier to awakening, to cutting through the delusion that there is a “me” at the center of everything. Craving produces tension and stress, and makes itself known through emotions and thoughts of “I, me, or mine.” When we stop obsessive thinking, we decrease the sheer mass of desire. A positive feedback loop is established in the process – fewer thoughts, a quieter, more contented mind, a more contented mind, fewer thoughts until the mind movement stops and the misperception of a “self” dissolves.  

Meditation Instruction on Mu, Wu or No

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Making a Silent, Still Mind our Home, 1/21/2024

Concepts and language are so critical for relationships and understanding and navigating our world. Equally important is information about reality coming from emotions. These tools, though, if left unchecked, dominate our inner life and block out direct knowing of ultimate reality and freedom. We’ll spend this half-day training the mind in silence and stillness, in preferring peace and awareness over unabated thinking and sensory stimulation.

Talk 1: The Dense Overlay of Thoughts and Emotions Block the Unconditioned

Talk 2: Shifting Attention from the Content of the Mind to the Awareness that Holds the Content

Seeing Delusion, 10/15/2023

Delusion masquerades as something innocuous and enticing, our best friend. This snake oil salesman promises instant cures and endless pleasures. We get duped time and again. Craving and delusion are collaborators. Desire blinds us to delusion’s campaign to rationalize its demands. Whenever any negative emotions are present, you can be sure delusion is up and running. All problems begin with our failure to identify delusion and all end when there is total clarity about reality

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Guided Meditation:

The Peace of Equanimity, 9/17/2023

Meditators have the astounding capacity to place their attention wherever they want, such as being aware of their hands touching or their feet on the floor. We can also place our mind on simple knowing, on being aware of being aware. Neutral contacts offer a shelter from more intense or unsettling sensory impact. With practice, the mind becomes skilled in detoxifying itself and altering its mood by seeking out and resting in neutral experiences that have the capacity to expand into a still, spacious mind.

Talk 1: Intention, Attention, and Neutral

Guided Meditation on Neutral Contact

Talk 2: Equanimity's Pivotal Roles in Awakening

The Fun House of Pleasant, Unpleasant, and Everything-in-between, 7/9/2023

Our mind can be compared to an amusement park fun house. Sometimes we experience funny, delightful, or amusing moments. Other times we can be knocked off balance and struggle to remain upright. Without warning we can find ourselves in disturbing, scary, and confusing realities. Welcome to the world of fluctuating mental and physical states, to never knowing what awaits us around the next corner.

This half-day explored how to maintain balance on the tilting floors of life. The last talk explains how to use neutral contact as an entryway to realizing not-self.

Talk 1: Introduction to vedanā, our felt experience of the world.

Guided meditation on vedanā.

Talk 2: Navigating the open-air, no-entrance fee amusement park we call life.

Guided meditation on neutral contact as an opening to peace and balance.

Talk 3: Neutral feeling as an entry to experiencing not-self






Samādhi, the Mind’s Ancestral Home, 6/11/2023

Samādhi is defined as “perfect peace of mind, stability, stillness of mind, and mental composure.” For many meditators, though, this isn’t their experience at all. Rather, meditating can be a frustrating, unrewarding task they push through until the timer goes off. Watching the breath can feel boring, dry, even tedious. Adding to the difficulty, the mind can be a chaotic, stressful jumble of thoughts. The challenge for any meditator is overcoming these difficulties until a strong, steady, collected focus emerges.

The promising news is that the mind can become as adept at meditating as playing an instrument or mastering a dance step. Over time, with continued practice, we discover we’re being meditated. The mind simply knows how to do this. All we have to do is create the opportunity for the mind to return to its ancestral home.

We’ll spend this half day experimenting and finding our way into a contented, pleasant mind. For some it will be focusing on kindness and joyful memories while keeping the breath in the background. For others it may be keeping attention grounded in a stable, still body, with the breath as a secondary anchor. For some walking and relaxing in nature soothes and calms the troubled mind. There are many different roads into deep states of peace. We simply have to find what our path is and remember to return to silent wellness.

Talk 1: Introduction and Meditation Instruction

Talk 2:

The Mind's Tendency to Conceptualize, 5/7/2023
This half-day retreat is a companion piece to last month’s half-day on restlessness. The mind expresses restlessness through obsessive planning and dwelling on past events as well as longings or fears. This mental proliferation isn’t driven by restlessness alone. Desire also plays a pivotal role in the mind’s agitation and churning. Never satisfied, the mind wants more and more. Resentment, bitterness, grievance, and victimization add to the cauldron of discontent and misery.

We can become inured to these mental states and even assume they are normal. They are not. It helps to view this overheated mind as ill and needing our attention and intervention in the same way we would immediately spring into action if we felt physically ill. In the latter case, we would not react as if being sick were acceptable and required no response.

Reprogramming our mind demands perseverance in abandoning the habit of commenting on everything large and small, the endless liking and disliking. Instead we decide again and again to rest the mind in stillness, silence, and peace until the mind naturally and effortlessly gravitates to these preferred states. In other words, we train the mind to remain in the empty, present moment. If the mind lapses into old patterns of pointless proliferation, the unpleasant flavor of these emotional states prompts us to drop the activity.

Talk 1: Introduction and Meditation Instruction

Talk 2: Dharma Talk on Mental Proliferation

Restlessness, 4/2/2023
Restlessness constantly hunts for novel experience or contact. The inflamed mind wants something else, anything else, other than what is right before it. This inner turmoil is experienced as a compulsion to move, do, analyze, comment, and on and on in endless proliferation. The restless mind rejects the present moment, but doesn’t know how to satisfy its longing. It only feels that what is present, isn’t it. Driving this inchoate search is the delusion that contentment can be found outside ourselves. Restlessness, one of the last fetters to overcome, prods us to keep sending the mind out, like a fisherman casting his reel again, and again, and again. What are we hoping to capture? What out there will make us feel whole and well?

Talk 1: Introduction and Meditation Instruction

Talk 2:

Not Taking a Stand, 3/12/2023
We cling to views, "take a stand" on them, in the hope that they will protect us. Views are the infrastructure of identity. They define us. We often act as though they are real even though we assume and shed many identities over a lifetime. Typically views take the form of identifying with a nationality, gender, sexual orientation, political party, religious affiliation, role in a family – son, wife, father, grandmother – professional identity, among myriad other labels. When a cherished view or identity or capacity is ridiculed, dismissed, or lost, we feel attacked, anxious, or grieve.

We also carry around more abstract ideas about who we are, such as thinking we are intelligent, generous, resourceful, hard-working, well-read, attractive, funny, and on and on. We also assume our conditioned preferences aren’t preferences at all but truisms, such as having the opinion it’s better to live in the city or in the country, or drive this type of vehicle rather than another.

Not all conceptions are harmful. Common sense ideas are useful, such as recognizing it’s a good idea to live within our means or protect our health, but even these we hold lightly. On the path to awakening, certain supportive views are essential, though. With intentionality, we develop Right View or Right Understanding about the Four Noble Truths and the nature of reality, namely, that all things are impermanent, empty of an enduring core or self, and are thereby unsatisfactory, and inherently incapable of providing a basis for safety and peace.

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Integrating Not-Self Into Our Lives, 2/12/2023
It wouldn’t be accurate to claim there is no self. We all have personalities, preferences, emotional patterns, and reactions. All of these, though, are changing, with new patterns replacing old ones. The “self” is a complex, conditioned, flowing process similar to a river.

When consciousness is not captured and held hostage by sensory phenomena -- by sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensations, thoughts and emotions -- the mind remains open, spacious, buoyant, complete and well, just as it is. There is no sense of lack. Here, in this limitless awareness, peace and freedom are found.

We come to short or long retreats to train in dissolving the habit of collapsing around minutiae and recycling constricting thoughts and emotions. This reflexive contracting is what obstructs empty, vital awareness. The small, collapsing mind is samsara. The vast immense consciousness is nirvana. What drives samsaric fabrication, again and again, are the usual suspects -- desires, clinging to view and a self. Bit by bit, we practice stopping these limiting, autopilot responses to what arises in the mind.

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Guided Meditation:

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Resting in Emptiness, 1/8/2023
As meditators, we are increasingly drawn to emptiness, even in our daily life. The signs of this growing attraction are revealed by an inclination to refrain from adding mental activity to a moment but preferring stillness and silence. When we lack clarity, we think we’re improving experience by adding reactions and interpretations. We come to understand that this mental activity only contracts the mind and generates tension. Emptiness is an acquired taste. Training in developing a spacious, luminous, peaceful mind demands time and patience. The reward for this effort is the lived realization that just this moment is enough.

Emptiness meditation instruction:

Guided meditation on emptiness:

Emptiness talk:


Samādhi: Discovering the Treasurer Within, 11/13/2022
Samādhi is a highly focused, stable, unified mind. From this subtle, rarefied state, we can dwell in the subtle bliss and peace of concentration as well as see the heavy toll thoughts and emotions exact. Free from our usual discursive chatter and psychic irritants, we experience the ease and loveliness of a mind that is at least temporarily liberated. With continued practice, we find ourselves drawn to this luminous emptiness more and more. Deep samādhi places us in proximity to Nirvana.

Talk 1: Overview and meditation instruction:

Talk 2: Discovering the Treasure Within

The Precariousness of Life, 10/9/2022
Through the prism of story, we’ll explore the reality that all living beings are dependent on nutriments to stay alive. In addition to the need for shelter, clothing, and medicine, we’d survive only weeks without food, days without water, and mere minutes without air. Often lost on us is how utterly fragile life is. Fully grasping this truth can motivate us to avoid the allure of temporary improvements or pleasures and get on with finding the ultimate safety of awakening. With wisdom, we know that all delights will inevitably end. This talk will present and revise the Native American Jumping Mouse story through the filter of the Dhamma.

This first talk is a brief introduction to the Jumping Mouse story and lays out the heartaches involved in seeking food to remain alive.

This second talk recounts the Native American story, Jumping Mouse, but adds the revision of an entirely new ending which reflects the harshness of life and the struggle to survive.

Unburdening the Mind, 9/11/2022
The renowned Thai teacher Ajahn Buddhadāsa spoke about the process of releasing myriad constricting emotional patterns, histories, interpretations, and attachments. These things never belonged to us in the first place but arose due to causes and conditions. When we return them to their rightful owner, nature, we feel buoyant and at ease with whatever is happening.

He described the process of dropping these mental burdens in this way:

“In the past we went around foolishly picking up heavy objects such as boulders. We lugged them along whenever we went. For this we constantly suffered dukkha. How many years has this gone on? Now, however, we realize how unwise we were in creating such problems for ourselves. We realize how burdensome these boulders are, and we just toss them away. Without these burdens we are light, all our problems disappear.”

Causes of Happiness, 8/14/2022
A key insight into the dhamma is to realize that happiness is not a matter of accident or luck. We don’t have to perform rituals or offer up sacrifices as they assumed was necessary thousands of years ago or cross our fingers and hope for the best. Rather, a peaceful mind is within reach for all of us. Unhappiness and happiness are not random, inexplicable events but arise due to causes and conditions.

Taming Our Wild Mind, 7/10/2022
We train to tame our wild mind to prefer peace and the subtle, exquisite joy found in meditation. With intentionality, we move from the sensual world to the wondrous pleasures of a still, balanced mind.

The Path to Freedom 6/12/2022

This talk centers on the natural, effortless delight that arises from an unfettered mind, one freed from the tension caused by craving and clinging.

Delusion 12/12/2021

On this half-day retreat, we investigate what delusion is, how it manifests, and how to free ourselves from perceptual distortions about reality and discover moments of sanity and freedom.

Discovering the Pleasure of Releasing the Self 8/8/2021
Freeing the mind involves recognizing how we construct and cling to the “self,” an ephemeral abstraction, devoid of an enduring core. Repeated reflection and investigation reveal how suffering is inevitable when we cling to any identity. From this clarity, we cannot help but become motivated to hold various identities lightly and master the skill to drop them easily when no longer needed.

Talk 1: How the Self Arises

Talk 2: Seeing Dukkha When Clinging to a Self

Talk 3: Training in Freeing the Mind

Consciousness 3/8/2020
The “self” is actually rapidly stitched together mental phenomena. When alertness is able to identify distinct “frames” of consciousness, we discover there is no enduring “me” to be found.

The “self” is actually rapidly stitched together mental phenomena. When alertness is able to identify distinct “frames” of consciousness, we discover there is no enduring “me” to be found.

Keywords: Consciousness, Viññāṇa

Anattā: Not Self. So What? Why Does That Matter? 2/9/2020
Anattā, not-self, is a distinguishing characteristic of Buddhism. As practitioners, we train to see that we are driven by coreless fragments. Once that insight is anchored and is an integral part of our cognitive landscape, we find it easier and easier to disidentify with changing mental and material states. What are the end results of this work? Freedom. Full awakening.

Anattānot self, is a distinguishing characteristic of Buddhism. As practitioners, we train to see that we are driven by coreless fragments. Once that insight is anchored and is an integral part of our cognitive landscape, we find it easier and easier to disidentify with changing mental and material states. What are the end results of this work? Freedom. Full awakening.

Keywords: Anattā, Fetters

Jungle Thickets 1/5/2020

In this sutta, the Buddha invites us to assess whether we are making progress in our practice or not. If we are, then keep doing what we are doing. If not, we need to investigate how to change our lives to support our meditation practice.

Keywords: Āsava, Nibbāna, Right Mindfulness, Samādhi, Sati

Desire, the Driver of Unhappiness 8/11/2019

Getting what we want but watching it slip away is painful. Not getting what we want as well as getting what we don’t want are equally distressing. Buddhist practice redirects us away from the dead end of desire and points us in the direction of equanimity, peace, and transcendent bliss.

Keywords: Four Noble Truths, Insight, Taṇhā
Momentary Desire 7/14/2019

Releasing momentary desires as they arise can protect us from fixating on transient pleasures, thereby avoiding all manner of future obsessions and suffering.

Keywords: Desire, Taṇhā
Samādhi 6/9/2019



The Noble Eight Fold Path is made up of the components of Sila, Paññā, and Samādhi. The elements of Samādhi (Right Effort, Right Concentration, Mindfulness ) work together during meditation which, in turn, helps in following the Noble Eight Fold Path. Through Samādhi, we can collect our mind and gain access to deeper states of concentration in meditation. With a unified mind we can have access to Jhāna states and insight into reality.

Keywords: Eightfold Path, Jhāna, Mindfulness, Paññā, Pīti, Right Concentration, Right Effort, Samādhi, Sila, Vicāra, Vitakka

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“Whatever a person frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of her mind.”

– Majjhima Nikāya 19