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πŸ“˜ Seeing That Frees – by Rob Burbea

Seeing That Frees leads the meditator through layers of practice. It approaches the Buddha’s teaching at increasingly deeper levels. Starting from first principles, Rob Burbea explains the various terms and practices.

“It is a book about practice, and about the profoundly freeing insights that anyone who practices can discover and unfold from themselves first hand.”

Rob Burbea

The reader should have an established meditation practice with exposure to cultivation and insight techniques. However, it could be used as a navigation aid for someone starting to practice using other resources.

One of Rob Burbea’s qualities as a teacher was his ability to start from where the student was, and find the practices that were helpful to them in that moment, while never putting a limit on what they might ultimately be capable of as they developed.

β€œIt is rare to find a book that explores so deeply the philosophical underpinnings of awakening at the same time as offering the practical means to realize it”.

Joseph Goldstein‘s introduction to Seeing That Frees

β€œThis great book can inspire us to the highest goals of spiritual awakening”.

Joseph Goldstein‘s introduction to Seeing That Frees

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πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ Meditation Journal

πŸ§˜β€β™‚οΈ Meditation: Fix Problems Or Make A Path?

I heard a meditation teacher give an interesting answer to a student’s question. The course was about embodiment and the question was about trauma. The teacher said something like this:

“Don’t make a meditation project out of healing your trauma. Instead, cultivate the qualities that meditation offers, and let them do the healing.”

Some people use meditation as a collection of tips and tricks to fix specific problems. Others meditate as a path taught by the Buddha and other teachers. So which makes sense for me?

There are multiple problems that I’m struggling with, but the one that troubles me the most changes day by day. So there’s a regular feeling of alarm, but an irregular response from my mind about what to do about it. This increases anxiety and damages confidence.

However, if I take the teacher’s advice above, then I have a single problem. Meditation starts quite simply and becomes more complex as you see the options for further practice. But I can take it one step at a time. I can focus. I can think, without being scattered by shifting priorities.

So, I’ll focus on building a coherent path of meditation. And I’ll write about it here.

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☸️ Dharma

☸️ Ways of Looking and Emptiness in Buddhist Meditation

I saw an entrepreneur on youtube describing people using a virtual reality headset for the first time. Afterwards, some of them looked bewildered. Beforehand, they were sure what reality looked like – it’s like this. But on removing the headset there was a moment of confusion when they realised that reality and virtual reality could be equally convincing. Their confidence in one reality being special – the reality – had been temporarily shaken.

A similar outcome happens when a meditator works through the various Buddhist meditation practices. With basic mindfulness, we might have the sense of coming out of a dream and being reconnected with this present moment – reality. However, when we take up the cultivation and insight practices, we experience the world through a variety of different lenses. During these times, we know we are in the world, not in a dream, and yet our experience of it seems so different. On dropping the practice, we return to our default view of the world and it no longer seems to be clearly the one, true view of reality. Rather it is merely one of multiple views. Often, our default view isn’t even the one in which we function best.

This points to what buddhists call emptiness – that the things we experience don’t possess all the qualities of reality on their own side. Our meditations show us the evidence that mind participates in the making of experience, to such a degree, that it’s no longer possible to describe things as real. They are real – we haven’t become disconnected from the world – but things don’t create reality in the way we thought they did.

This taking up of different views, ways of looking, via the various meditations the Buddha taught, loosens our grip on reality, in a good way. It’s our unconscious belief in reality’s unshakeable concreteness that allows us to be gripped by suffering over it. The insight of emptiness sucks the energy out of our attachment to things being a certain way. Those things have lost so much of their authority over how reality appears. It was that attachment that caused us so much anguish about our vulnerability in the world.

Hence the title of Rob Burbea’s magnificent guide to emptiness practice: Seeing That Freesβ†—οΈŽ.

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πŸ“š Books

πŸ“˜ A Fearless Heart – by Thupten Jinpa

Of all the Buddhist traditions, the Tibetans seem to be the masters of compassion practice. I notice this in The Dalai Lama, Matthieu Ricard and, here, in Thupten Jinpa.

I hope to bring compassion down from the pedestal of a high ideal and make it an active force in the messy reality that is everyday human life.

Jinpa Thuptenβ†—οΈŽA Fearless Heartβ†—οΈŽ

Thupten Jinpa first met the Dalai Lama when he was six years old and became a monk at the age of eleven. His intelligence and his fluency in English led to him becoming the Dalai Lama’s interpreter. He nows lives in Canada and he has helped to pioneer the CCT (Compassion Cultivation Training) program, which is the basis of this book.

Whatever good emerges from the creation of this book, may each one of us experience the warmth, courage, and lasting joy of genuine compassion.

Jinpa Thuptenβ†—οΈŽA Fearless Heartβ†—οΈŽ

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πŸ“˜ Zen, The Art of Simple Living – by Shunmyo Masuno

To be embarrassingly honest, I was attracted to this book by the picture on the cover. It’s the feeling of simplicity combined with beauty that really did it for me. It made me feel like I could breathe.

Zen, in this case, means the teaching of the Zen masters as expressed through Japanese spirituality. There is the appreciation of simplicity and beauty, and the performing of actions in a way that mirrors the qualities we are trying to cultivate.

Try not to be swayed by the values of others, not to be troubled by unnecessary concerns, but to live an infinitely simple life, stripped of wasteful things. That is ‘Zen style’.

Shunmyo Masunoβ†—οΈŽ

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πŸ“˜ Loving-Kindness – by Sharon Salzberg

Loving-kindness, or Metta, is the Buddhist practice of inclining the mind towards goodwill.

When I wanted to add this quality to my mindfulness practice, my friends instantly recommended that I read Sharon Salzberg. This is the book that I started with.

Sharon Salzberg is one of the founders of the Insight Meditation Society, which seeks to bring the teaching of the Buddha to the West, without the culture clash of Buddhist religion.

This is what should be done, by those who are skilled in goodness, and who know the path of peace.

The Buddha – from the Metta Sutraβ†—οΈŽ

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πŸ“˜ The Book of Joy – by The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu are highly qualified to speak about finding joy in the face of suffering. They spent a week together to discuss this subject, and this book is the result.

The light-hearted friendship between these two spiritual leaders reinforces the practices of warmth and joy that they have to teach us.

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πŸ“š Books

πŸ“˜ Mindfulness for Beginners – by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn has bridged the gap between the meditation practices of Buddhism and the western, science-based treatment of mental suffering.

In the first two years of my own practice, I followed guided meditations from Jon Kabat-Zinn. This laid a foundation of mindfulness for understanding many other meditations.

The audio guided meditations that come with Mindfulness for Beginners are a perfect way to start meditating. The book itself contains short chapters that help to deepen a practice once it has started to take root.

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πŸ“˜ Happiness – by Thich Nhat Hanh

I think this is Thich Nhat Hanh’s best book. It’s a great place to start practicing mindfulness according to his teaching.

“All these practices have the same basic purpose: to bring our minds back to our bodies, to produce our true presence, and to become fully alive so that everything happens in the light of mindfulness.”

Happiness – by Thich Nhat Hanh

The book is short and to the point, but it’s rich with practice tips. It gives a real flavour of the style of practice and how it changes our experience of life. After explaining how to practice as an individual, he covers the group or sangha practices of the Plum Village tradition that he has created.

“We can recognize that we have a treasure of enlightenment, understanding, love, and joy inside us. It’s time to go back to receive our inheritance. These practices can help us claim it.”

Happiness – by Thich Nhat Hanh

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