Tony Bernhard first encountered the dharma in 1965 and became one of Spirit Rock’s first community dharma leaders in 1999. He currently sits on the board of the Sati Center, trains inmates and staff at Folsom Prison in mindfulness and dharma, leads sitting groups in Davis, and regularly teaches in a handful of venues in and around Sacramento and the Bay Area. He primarily focuses his practice on study of the dharma teachings in the earliest texts.
Tony covers the four noble truths and the 8-fold path with many modern metaphors. He suggests the dharma is like an inoculation against the suffering we tend to add on top of the inevitable pain that comes with living a human life. He describes how a vedana meter can be a useful means of bringing attention to the range of feeling tones evoked by experiences and thereby sharpening insight into the way things are.
Tony Bernhard gave the fourth talk in a speaker series titled "Goals in Meditation." Tony explained that the Buddha's insights is captured in the Four Noble Truth. The First Noble Truth points out suffering or dissatisfaction we experience in life. Unfortunately, we make things worse by complaining when we experience things as unpleasant, or wanting more of things that are pleasant. This is the Second Noble Truth, which explains the origin of suffering, namely our clinging and aversion. The Third Noble Truth tells us that we don't have to make things worse for ourselves. And the Fourth Noble Truth tells us how not to make things worse by follwoing the Noble Eightfold Path.
Tony Bernhard gave the third talk in a seven-week series on lesser known Buddhist teachings titled "Thus Have I Heard." This talks discusses the problems surrounding quarrels and disputes, and the suffering that results from clinging to views.
This is the second talk in a speaker series titled "Recollective Meditations." According to Tony Bernhard, the Noble Eightfold Path is the essence of the recollection on dhamma. Each path factor leads to the cessation of suffering, and thus, to the goal of liberation.
This is the third talk in a speaker series titled Ethics, Action, and the Five Precepts. How does the training precept of refraining from stealing differ from the Biblical Commandment of “thou shall not steal?” The precept of not to steal is based on the Buddha’s teaching of ending suffering. Instead of a black and white rule, this precept is meant to protect our mind from impulses to take what is not freely given. At the deepest level, this precept is designed to end tanha, our thirst, our grasping, our greed. It is a raft that carries us to liberation, rather than a rule to be clung to.
This talk was given as a part of the series "Where Rubber Meets the Road: A Series on Mindful Living." Most of us come to the Buddhist practice because of meditation, and not for the precepts. In our Western culture, we have an antipathy to ethical practices. It sounds to us that ethics is about right and wrong, and rules of conduct that involve judgment. However, ethical practices according to the Buddhist understanding is an investigation to the cessation of suffering. In the Buddha's teaching of the Four Noble Truths, the fourth truth is the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. Three of the Eightfold Paths -- right speech, right action, and right livelihood -- deal with ethical practices. It's the way we live off the cushion; the way we live in interaction with other people. Notice that sila is a growth out of the Eightfold Paths, and the Eightfold Paths is the way of being without suffering. Notice also that sila consists of forms of practices, just like meditation, instead of commandments. So in our ethical practices, we ask ourselves, "What is the best action in the circumstances? What can I say or do that won't enhance suffering?" We investigate in our hearts in terms of understanding dukkha and the end of dukkha.
In this talk Tony Bernhard discusses our relationship with consumerism and how our consumer culture cultures craving by creating a sense of lack and how we assume or accumulate our identities by purchasing. The idea is to see clearly just how we relate to this society we live in and to the kinds of things it inspires us to do. He discusses how important seeing how embedded we are in this consumerist culture is and that we cannot possibly be free if we cannot see clearly.
He discusses right livelihood in terms of constructing a lifestyle and way to live in this world that attenuates the suffering of the world and others.