5/8 & 5/9/21 Howie Cohn virtual retreat “Waking Up in the Midst of it All”

Ajahn Chah—Everyone who looks deep into the heart has the same experience regardless of language or culture. “About this mind, in truth there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s already peaceful like a leaf untouched by wind.” 

Include whatever arises. That’s what makes us peaceful.

Welcome whatever presents itself—that’s the dharma, the truth of this living moment.
The dharma is 6 experiences based on 6 sense doors –5 physical and 1 mental. 

Right here and now there are only 6 experiences—5 senses & thinking.

We create our world with our reactions to these 6 experiences.

Innocently, by our conditioning, we create a sense of lack, fear, and doubt.

Meet moments of reactivity with kindness.

Open to the full range of experiences, cut the chain of reactivity, and stay present.

There’s no problem to be solved here and now.

Know the difference between the story of ourselves and what’s actually occurring. 

Step out of your story into direct experience.

Relate to thoughts as to a changing, selfless sense experience.

Stop incarnating in your thoughts! They lead to a chain of delusion.

Whatever arises and passes away cannot define us.

We don’t need to erase thoughts. They think themselves.

Notice and cultivate wholesome thoughts. Let go of unwholesome thoughts.

Observe how thoughts self-liberate. Their only power is what we give them.

Rest your weary mind.

In any moment we can return to our natural state of lucid awareness.

Luminous is the mind. The mind is inherently open, peaceful and free. 

Stress is connected to an imagined past or future. 

Return to the simplicity of experience.

The knowing of anger is not angry. The knowing of sadness is not sad.

Thich Nhat Hanh—”You are the richest person on earth. You have Buddha nature.     

Stop begging and come home.”

Vipassana is a “back to nature” practice.

We practice for the people who have to live with us and for all beings everywhere.

To embody peace is a gift to others.

Pecka Joyce Gürtler—“Finally on my way to ‘yes,’ I bump into all the places where I’ve said ‘no’ in my life…. I meet them now and say ‘Holy, Holy.’”

Four Foundations of Mindfulness

1st—We begin with awareness of the gross sensations of the body. 

Mindfulness directed to the body calms us.

Be in the body in a continuous way.

As the mind and body settle, we see more clearly.

Mindfulness of breath relaxes the body and creates conditions for stability of awareness. 

Sense the awareness of breathing and the body being aware—all one. 

The light of consciousness reveals the monsters of old habits. 

This is no problem. We’re not worse off than before.

In the light of awareness, we can bring peaceful presence to the chaos of the mind. 

We perceive the malady as the cure begins.

The 2nd Foundation of Mindfulness

Every sensation has a feeling tone/valence—pleasant, unpleasant, neutral

Cut the chain of pleasant-liking-wanting-grasping

Don’t react to every beautiful or ugly grain of sand in the Ganges River.

Stress comes from wanting things to be different than they are. 

Guard your senses. See the cause of stress and remove the cause:

Fulfillment arises when we experience pleasure without grasping.

Confidence/acceptance arise when we experience the unpleasant without reacting.

Balance, satisfaction, and equanimity arise when we experience what’s neutral without boredom.

Master Hakim: “How sad that people ignore the near and search for the far.”

Have a felt sense that this moment is fresh; it has never been like this before and will never be the same again.

Heraclitis: “A person can never step in the same river again.” We’re not the same person, and it’s not the same river.

Go against the stream by not feeding every desire that pops into your mind. 

Feel what it’s like to experience desire and aversion.

Bear witness to the changing nature of our thoughts. Let them come and go.

3rd Foundation of Mindfulness—state and quality of mind

Knowing when the mind is spacious or contracted, dull or alert, concentrated, etc.

Bondage—caught in thought/emotion 

Freedom—relating to thought/emotion

Ruminating thoughts usually have underlying body sensations. 

Expand awareness to include the body.

Become emotionally articulate and curious about each arising emotion. 

Michelle McDonald: Recognize—Allow/Accept—Investigate—Non-identify (impermanent, not personal) 

Story of a wise woman giving a beggar a precious stone. After reflecting upon this good fortune, the beggar decided to return the stone to the wise woman and to ask for a favor, “Please give me what is within you that enables you to freely give away this precious stone.”

Suzuki Roshi: “In the mind of the beginner there are many possibilities. In the mind of the expert there are few.”

Ajahn Sumedho “Chitta Nebeka” (Chitta=heart-mind) 

“The practice of letting go is very effective for obsessive thinking/doing. 

Be constant and resolute in your practice, with letting go as a constant refrain.” 

Let it be. 

Let go of judgments and any “project” to manage the mind. 

Buddha—cautioned about “misplaced faith in satisfying hunger”

VR-Vipassana Romance or VV-Vipassana Vendetta 

Be gentle in speech and not so demanding in nature.
Open secret—What you look for is here.

Freedom from internal/external misinformation:

Desiring sensory pleasure leads to dissatisfaction.

Attachment to doing it right/perfectionism/rituals leads to suffering.

Views and opinions lead to lack of clear perception.

Selfing leads to unhappiness.

Yogi Bera: “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Cultivate the Korean Zen state of “Don’t know mind.”

Proust: See with new eyes.

Mother’s Day—Witness inner experiences the way a healthy mother watches over her child.  Treat yourself with reverence as a mother treats her only child.  

Paradox: Unconditioned vivid clarity is available to those who condition and train the mind. The “bliss of nonfeeling” comes from learning how to feel mental states and emotions—our internal weather.

Sam Kean-If we don’t grieve, we blame others. “Listen to the cry beneath violence. Learn to substitute grief for violence. Every day that we are not grieving, 

we take vengeance.”

Huxley—“Hold all lightly.” 

Nothing can make you happier than you are. 

Understanding how the mind works, Tibetan monks say, “How amazing!”

Take the seat of the Buddha.

Find equanimity in open, choiceless awareness. Be the knowing. 

We are a field of awareness without any fixed identity. 

Cultivate clear perception of arising views of self. 

Let the “sage on the stage” exit gracefully.

Precede speaking with an intention to be skillful. 

Forgive your own and others’ conditioned habits. We all suffer consequences for our actions. There’s no need to add ill will. 

Remorse for causing harm is wholesome. Shamelessness is unwholesome.

Walking meditation—Arrive in each step.
Stay relaxed, balanced, curious, attentive.

Mental noting: hardness, pressure, vibration, etc.

Don’t turn slow into a religion!

Experience the step you’re taking.

Riocan—Buddha is your mind, and the way goes nowhere.

Go forth! 

Sense the blessings of our practice and offer the merit to all beings everywhere.