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Thread: Vipassana Fellowship

  1. #1

    Vipassana Fellowship

    greetings, I ran across an organization called the Vipassana Fellowship which offers 12-week online courses in mindfulness meditation, looking at both vipassana and shamatha traditions. the person directing the course is a man in England named Andrew Quernmore.

    anyone have any knowledge of the man or organization? might this be supportive of our treeleafness in any way?

    gassho, O

    who can't lose the suspicion this has been talked about somewhere else here, please excuse the redundancy and

    sat today.
    and neither are they otherwise.

  2. #2
    Hi Oheso,

    We do not practice vipassana/mindfulness meditation in our Dojo (rather like asking someone in a Karate Dojo if they wish to practice Aikido or tennis). But no harm in someone giving something a try if one wants (and provided that they are still sitting Shikantaza each day).

    I do not know anything about this teacher though.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    thank you for your reply Jundo. I haven't forgotten the chop suey in an italian restaurant teaching. actually, this line of inquiry pretty much had it's origin in something you posted in another thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    It is Vipassana (Insight into the human mind and its games) which, although we do not practice "Vipassana meditation", is vital to most schools of Buddhism really including Zen.
    your teachings on "mind theater" were really helpful to me.

    gassho, O, who still sat today and still so soto it hurts, sometimes.
    Last edited by Oheso; 11-14-2014 at 07:00 AM.
    and neither are they otherwise.

  4. #4
    Thank you Oheso. For those who do not know what you mean, I have posted the following many times ...


    When sitting Zazen, we "just sit" ... we let thoughts go without analysis during Zazen. There is nothing to do or attain in the sitting, nothing to examine or focus upon ... and that non-doing and non-examining is VITAL and SACRED. Even during our busy day, when annoyances or resistance, anger or upset come into mind, we can turn to a bit of "standing Shikantaza" ... just release them, let them go, do not become trapped.

    However, "vipassana" (in the meaning of insight into the human mind theatre) is also vital in about every corner of Buddhism, Zen included. Pretty much all schools of Buddhism instruct us to become aware of the games the mind plays, the "monkeymind", or "mind theatre" as I sometimes call it. For example, "thought awareness" as thoughts and emotions arise during our busy day ... when tired, hot, a little angry, happy, etc. ... is a wonderful practice. I might not go so far as to encourage a practice of detailed labeling morning until night, but I also advocate a practice of being aware of the different thoughts that come into mind (just not --during-- Zazen itself, when we are not to be adding anything). This awareness is, however, a very important part of learning to observe our mind's workings and tricks. So, for example, instead of just feeling angry, greedy or tired, and instead of just saying to ourselves merely "I am feeling angry/greedy/tired now", we should learn to say to ourselves such things as "this is my mind now temporarily feeling angry/greedy/tired during present conditions ... I can feel it arising, I can feel it developing, I can feel it passing away, I can let it go". When we learn to do that, experiencing the emotions of the mind becomes just watching a bit of theatre.

    All that is good, just not a practice for "during" Zazen, when we observe everything and nothing in particular.

    Here is more that I wrote on the topic ...

    Buddhist Practice is usually described as flying upon the twin wings of Samatha (calming thoughts and emotions, illuminating and dropping body-mind) and awareness and understanding of vipassana (insight and awareness primarily into the nature and workings of 'self' and mental functions). That is true in Zen practice no less than most other forms of Buddhist practice.

    In a nutshell, Vipassana might be described as insights and awareness, based on Buddhist psychology, as to how the mind works and plays it games. It is an understanding of the Skandhas (form, sensation, perception, mental formation, consciousness ... those words always sung in the Heart Sutra), how our thoughts and emotional reactions arise, how we label and divide the world. We should also understand the Buddha's ideas about how suffering arises within us, which is intimately tied to all that.

    However, unlike some schools of Buddhism, in Shikantaza we do not pursue any particular practices --during-- Zazen itself in order to cultivate such vipassana insight ... and much insight naturally arises from Zazen as "Zazen does its thing". Perhaps we might say that, just in "just sitting" Shikantaza ... dropping thoughts of this and that, thus quieting the mind's "mind games" ... we develop a natural sensitivity and understanding of the mind's "mind games" (much like one first comes to really appreciate what "urban noise" is when one first drives out of the city to the middle of the desert or some other truly quiet place).

    Off the cushion too, we can learn to bring Shikantaza out into the world, learning to release thoughts and emotions which arise without being trapped by them.

    And, apart from "on the Zafu" sitting times, it is also good to develop some insight and insight into the "mind's games", and come to identify the workings of the Skandhas and such within us day to day.

    For example, if you feel an angry or jealous thought arising within you during your day, it is very helpful to identify that as a "bit of temporary mind theatre" and "just the self judging and conflicting with another perceived self". That gives us some distance from the passing emotion, and we no longer see the emotion as quite as inevitable and "true" as we might have before.

    For example, in the case of anger ... We need to develop a sensitivity to how anger arises within us, the triggers which tend to set it off, the first feeling of it starting to arise and the cycle it follows until vanishing. We need to catch ourself more and develop the ability to say, "I am feeling the emotion of anger now, but it is only the mind created theater which is present in this moment ... it need not be so." We need to see it as a story the self writes for itself, "catch it" and thus not be "sucked in" and fooled as much. (Most people who feel anger do not realize it is just a mind created bit of theater which can be replaced by something else ... it is not the way things "have to be". E.g., most people think, when they become upset, that they have "reason to be upset, and it is true and justified", not an optional response to the circumstances). That realization and understanding of how our inner theater works is a step to developing the ability to "rewrite and change the story" at will.

    So, yes, "samatha/vipassana" are both important.
    Again, here is a practice called Nurturing Seeds, related to all this and inspired by some of the writings of Thich Nhat Hahn, which we encourage around here.

    Gassho, J

    Sat Today!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    All that is good, just not a practice for "during" Zazen, when we observe everything and nothing in particular.
    wakarimasu! understood! (yeah, right). thank you Sensei!

    gassho, O, who, today, sat
    Last edited by Oheso; 11-14-2014 at 01:14 PM.
    and neither are they otherwise.

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