Weapons of Compassion: The Four Karmas

Compassion is peaceful at heart, but must engage with sharp clarity, like a crystal sword. In the Buddhist tradition, there are four awake and compassionate actions or karmas: pacifying, enriching, magnetizing, and destroying. How do we know what’s appropriate? In particular, how do we work with aggression and hatred? When must we “destroy”? How do we stop a violent attack without being consumed by anger and hate?

This weekend program included sitting meditation and the compassion practices of contemplating the four limitless ones and exchanging self for others through tonglen.

Four talks hosted in person at Karmê Chöling and offered online from November 4-6, 2022.

The Bone of Existence: The Path of a Lonely Buddha

Once upon a time a meditator picked up a bone in a charnel ground, and wondered how this bone came to be. Upon reflection, they concluded it came from death—someone dying. Then how did death come to be? This lonely practitioner proceeded step-by-step to penetrate their direct experience. Ultimately, they came full circle to realize that the fear of death and aloneness is the root of confusion and suffering. Achieving liberation as a solitary buddha, they awakened through their own intelligence and bravery. In four gatherings, we will retrace the twelve steps of this “wheel of life,” pondering cause and effect, asking questions, listening, and speaking from the heart. Each gathering will start with a half hour of sitting and contemplation led by the teacher, then a talk, small discussion groups, and a final full group exchange.

Four talks hosted online by the Boston Shambhala Center weekly from April 13 to May 4, 2021.

Grandmother’s Soup: The Charnel Ground of Birth, Life, and Death

A charnel ground is an isolated place where dead bodies are abandoned, and therefore is teeming with wild animals feasting. Nothing is hidden. Life and death are on full display. It is a powerful place of fear and naked truth. In our life, the charnel ground is our own mind. We are often afraid to face our emotional craziness or even embrace our wisdom. The energy is too raw and overwhelming. Meditation is a gentle way of opening our hearts to the chaotic and fertile richness of our whole being. Living in the charnel ground is a path of courage and compassion.

Single talk hosted online by the Atlanta Shambhala Center, February 3, 2021.
Hosted online by the Atlanta Shambhala Center, February 3, 2021.

Renunciation, Patience, and Wisdom: A Three Yana Journey

Renunciation is the ground of our path of meditation. How do we recognize our self-centered passion, and how do we give it up? Patience is key to our path as bodhisattvas and working with hurt and aggression. How do we know what to accept and what to reject, when to act and when to be? Wisdom is uncovering our unconditional awareness. How do we tune into what is already fully present when we are numb and blind to it? In this talk, we explore and discuss these questions of our journey together.

Single talk hosted by the Durham Shambhala Center on December 13, 2020.

Mindfulness of Breathing: The Life and Death of Breath

Being mindful of our breathing is the most fundamental and helpful meditation practice. Breath is at the heart of our being alive and aware. It intimately mirrors the state of our body and mind. Breathing is mostly invisible, but through mindfulness, we tune into its subtle power to relax our tense body and tame our wild mind. Over time, such a simple practice can help us to open our heart, to live and die with courage and compassion. In this talk, we will explore the view, techniques, and everyday experience of mindful breathing, mindful living, and mindful dying.

Single talk hosted by the Atlanta Shambhala Center on November 17, 2020.

Wasting Our Time: Vipashyana Space Awareness

Vipashyana means “seeing fully and precisely.” It’s translated as “awareness,” “panoramic awareness,” or “insight.” We refer to sitting meditation as shamatha, being directly mindful of what is happening on the spot. But there is always vipashyana awareness of a larger space. Joining mindfulness and awareness is the heart of our path, from beginning to end. It encompasses meditation and our whole life. We will explore our practice of shamatha-vipashyana with a particular emphasis on vipashyana. Shamatha may bring us peace, but vipashyana liberates.

This 5 talk series was hosted online October 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 by the Atlanta Shambhala Center. *Highly recommended to begin here.*