Notes from recent Dharma Teachings

In the past week I was able to attend a teaching with Ven. Mathieu Ricard, a retreat with Venerable Sudhammacara and a teaching with His Holiness the Karmapa. Below are my notes/main take aways from the teachings!

Mathieu Ricard – November 5th

Need for finding meaning

Happiness à compassion


Experience relation to reality and when at odds with reality there is disfunction

Selfishness is a contradiction to genuine altruism

Self centeredness, ego bubble is an unhealthy field of experience based on the false notion that we are separate beings

We need to be attuned to reality

Recognize deep within that NO ONE wants to suffer

We have to try to be skillful and have a LIMITLESS heart

We are not the anger! We must use skillful methods to deal with the monkey of a mind and employ mind training…don’t underestimate the power of the mind

His Holiness the Karmapa – Notes from Teaching at the Grand Hotel, November 10th, 2009

Have taken a path in which spirituality is our sole focus

Make our lives meaningful in that context

But secular individuals strive for meaning and to be of benefit for others too

The path of being a human being is about making our lives meaningful and this is the tie that binds us

Spiritual aspect of endowing our lives with meaning…aspirant on the spiritual path (there are many routes on this path) achieve some level of truth and meaning beyond what the mundane world offers

Simply entering the spiritual path does not guarantee…must apply teachings directly to your mind and life and your relationship to reality

If it changes your habits of mind than a deeper sense of meaning has been achieved

2 fundamental approaches one can take on the spiritual path…two types of soldiers. There is a modern, impressive, powerful tank. One soldier has great confidence in the tank and when attacked he climbs in the tank and is safe while the other soldier isn’t content with being inside the tank and instead he uses further capabilities of the tank to neutralize the fire. So, one path is to regard spirituality as protection and a refuge from the negative while the other is not to hide oneself but to use them to interact with realities that confront you and this is a much more dynamic approach.

The essential message of all spiritual paths is to open our eyes and see what is going on. So many sufferings, we should open our eyes and bring our virtuous intentions to bear actual reality. Keeping our eyes open, cultivate virtuous, pure intention and bring spiritual life to problems in the world.

We all want to improve our lives and derive meaning. Contemplating death and impermanence and having a good understanding of how this is used…death relates to every moment of our lives while we are living…birth and death are ongoing continuum. See the microcosm of birth and death in every second of our lives. If we look closely you appreciate the value of what you have with each second. Learn to appreciate life more completely. Death and the preciousness of our existence, precious human birth…freedom and resources, we must come to understand that having a human body is a precious situation and this can provide a tremendous amount of happiness and well being.

What we already have is bountiful happiness and well being. Source of happiness in every breath you take. Enlarge your happiness and well being. Simple contentment in one’s mind and relax with your own skin. Humans have the capacity to derive contentment through just being (dog story).

How do you go about contentment with the present moment without fidgeting and discursive thinking? Sometimes we cause ourselves further anxiety to find a solution. We spend so much of our lives in doing things. We find ourselves very busy and this can be very hectic. We must remember the purpose of why we are alive! To appreciate and value being human and to experience love and to love…All those actions orient  towards our lives skillful means and value being human and being alive and experiencing love and loving others this is Who we are…Why we are here…and Where we belong…

Swimmer story (adept swimmer taken out of the pool put in unfamiliar waters he panics) You must never forget who you are. Don’t lose yourself. Have awareness to your actions. Don’t worry about making a meaningful contribution so much. It is all about the attitude you bring to it.

It is easy to have an open and relaxed mind when alone but with partners this is especially difficult. Give yourself a break when you have the urge to react. There is also the Buddhist concept of emptiness and the very practice of this in our daily lives…gap, an open opportunity from where all opportunities arise.

Zero is very important, zero enables all other numbers to exist…space for further opportunities…

Important to have confidence in yourself and in your goals in what you want to accomplish will be beneficial rather than focusing on negative reactions focus on positive results and skillful methods that can guide your motivation..fresh way…

Benefitting others we could be too grand in what we want to contribute. ..cultivating the mood to give is the key…Just being alive and having love in your heart and being a source of inspiration to all sentient beings is enough.

Illusion example illustrates how all things are shunyata and by nature discovering to think things exist as illusions (moon shining on the water) lacks inherent nature but they still appear (become comfortable with this paradox)…things come into being based on causes and conditions. Union of emptiness, dependent co-arising…understanding, living emptiness.

Retreat with Ven Sudhammacara

Use of the word attention is a little more precise…the miracle of attention or miracle caused by attention

Check your mind and motivation, be free from anxiety, suffering and fear

You need to do two things: 1. Be honest with your own heart that you are suffering 2. Confidence in solving your problems

Check your mind when you are suffering to understand the nature of your suffering to understand the nature of your suffering…the right medicine is attention…understand the nature of your anxiety…your mind is creating an anxious story but you think it is real…if you think a problem exists then you need medicine but if you check your mind you realize it creates its own anxious story…your mind is creating an anxious story one after the other…you are making your own movie…instead watch the movie!

Cause of suffering exists in your mind…your mind gives you suffering…be free from your mind

Attention to in breath/out breath…when your thinking mind drops you feel peace and joy immediately…the thinking mind prevents you from ultimate reality