Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses (bodhicourses.org) an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a meditation center in Mountain View, California (imsb.org). She has been practicing meditation since 1980, with more than eight years of accumulated silent retreat experience, and has taught since 1996 in the USA, and internationally. Shaila has dedicated several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal and Thailand, completed a one year intensive meditation retreat with the focus on concentration and jhana, and authored Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity, (Wisdom Publications, 2008). She has extensive experience practicing and teaching mindfulness, loving kindness, concentration, and a broad range of approaches to liberating insight. Since 2006, Shaila has continued her study of jhana and insight under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw, and authored Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana (Wisdom Publications, 2011).
Right view is an approach to life that leads to awakening, to enlightenment. As mindfulness becomes mainstreamed in western culture, serious practitioners should take care that the framework of virtue, the integrated eight-fold path, and the liberating potential of meditation practice are not lost. Both mundane and supramundane right view are examined in this talk. Ultimately, right view implies a direct realization of the four noble truths and of the model of dependent arising.
Right view appears as the first step of training in the Noble Eight-Fold Path. It leads to an integrated understanding of the liberating teachings of the Buddha and the successful development of meditation and wisdom. Right view is essential to understanding the causes and the end of suffering. Without right view awakening is impossible, and wrong view is considered the insidious obstacle to all progress. In this six-week series Shaila explores right view from several perspectives found in the discourses of the Buddha. Related themes of wise attention, concepts of liberation, truthfulness, false beliefs, attachment to opinions, kamma, cause and effect, learning and peaceful engagement in discussion will bring this traditional theme to life in our contemporary practice.
These guided meditations and talks were given at a day-long program that explored the place of profound happiness in Buddhist practice. Although Buddhism is reputed to emphasize teachings on suffering, the teachings occur in the context of a path infused from beginning to end with contentment and joy. The teachings highlight the essential role that happiness plays in the development of our practice, from the enhancement of daily ease and well being, to the bliss that saturates the mind during meditation, and finally to the unsurpassed peace that comes with awakening.
Underlying tendencies (toward greed, hate, and delusion) fuel habits that obstruct our freedom. Tendencies toward irritation, anger, craving, and ignorance may arise in times of stress when our mindfulness is weak, and they distort our perception of things. But tendencies arise in both luxurious and modest environments, in situations of comfort as well as pain. How we relate to experience reinforces patterns and conditioning. Greed, hate, and delusion are causes for the arising of kamma (karma). The simile of the two darts describes the difference between simply enduring bodily feelings of pain, and proliferating reactions of anger and aversion that add suffering to our pain. This talk explores the primary tendencies of sensual desire, anger, and ignorance, and shows how we can free the mind from their influence in our everyday life.
We make many decisions and choices in our lives. To choose one option, we inevitably sacrifice other possibilities. Beliefs and personal standpoints limit the range of our options. What are your priorities in life? What are your strongest intentions and aspirations? The Kalama Sutta offers recommendations for making decisions—consider what leads to happiness and what leads to harm. The ten unwholesome and ten wholesome actions, and ethical precepts are explored in this talk as guidelines for wise decision making.
This talk introduces the Four Elements Meditation as a systematic method for developing mindfulness of the body. A guided meditation and instructions are provided that reveal the body as a dynamic interaction of characteristics classified as earth (hardness, roughness, heaviness, softness, smoothness, lightness), water (flowing, cohesion), fire (heat, cold), and wind (supporting, pushing).
The Triple Gem: Recollection of the Sangha—Community As Refuge. This is the third installment in the three part series on the triple refuge or three jewels. This talk introduces the contemplation of the virtues of the Sangha (sanghanusati) as a support for inspiration, trust, and gratitude for community. The liberating sangha is considered worthy of gifts and offerings; a field of merit; a community people who have made the effort to practice diligently, energetically; and who are cultivating a direct and liberating path.
The Triple Gem: Recollection of the Dhamma—The Liberating Teachings. This is the second installment in a three part series on the three jewels or three refuges. This talk introduces the practice of contemplating the Dhamma (dhammanusati) as a meditation practice that enhances joy, delight, energy, and faith in the efficacy of the path. The reflection considers the Dhamma as good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, pure in its meaning and in its detail, immediate, timeless, inviting one to come and see, worthy of application, to be experienced by the wise.