Unitarian Universalist Church of the Shenandoah Valley | Nov 2019
it is said that there are seven profound qualities of mind and heart that not only lead us to awakening, but also perfectly describe the awakened mind. In fact, all our approaches to practice are to be considered in the light of the development of these seven qualities.
In this talk, Shell offers a summary of how we can use our meditation practice to develop these, in anticipation of a series of talks on each one.
As you might imagine, we cannot develop a good mindfulness practice without first learning how to be mindful. But, what does mindfulness (or sati, in Pali) really mean? And, how do we do this?
In this new talk, Shell explores this foundational factor of our spiritual development, and offers suggestions about how we can both utilize and strengthen it in order to discover more joy and freedom in our lives.
The great teacher Joseph Goldstein tells us that the awakening factor of investigation (vicaya) is a refined quality of mind that “discerns and illuminates the truth by means of discriminating wisdom.” In our practice, this is the crucial factor that can cut through our delusion, and liberate the mind.
In this 2nd talk in a 7-talk series, Shell explores how we can develop, nurture, and harness this important quality of investigation to discover more clarity – and therefore more joy and ease – in our lives.
The root meaning of the Pali word viriya, or energy, is “hero” … and in the Buddhist tradition, when we start walking on the path of meditation, we are considered warriors. This is because what we’re doing as we practice is acting as ‘warriors’ against the great forces of greed, hatred, and fear in ourselves. We are also courageously facing and confronting our natural tendencies … which are to run away from ourselves and our problems, or to fight them, or to completely ignore them, drown them out, or pretend they aren’t there. Tonight, Shell will explore this 3rd Factor of Awakening - viriya - and how it can inspire us to become more bravely dedicated to our path towards freedom.
The good news of our practice is that, as it deepens, we are bound to experience what in the Pali language is called piti - otherwise known as joy, happiness, delight, and even rapture. It’s an essential aspect of our journey, and we absolutely want to cultivate and nurture this sense of pleasure, and joy. Yet, it’s also vital that we learn how to skillfully work with it as it arises, so as to not become attached to it - which can take us in the wrong direction.
In this talk, Shell explores this 4th Factor of Awakening, and how we can both access it, and know when to wisely let it go."
As we deepen our meditation practice, it is crucial for us to learn how to develop the powerful quality of Passaddhi, also translated as “calm,” “tranquility,” “serenity,” or “composure.” This soothing, cooling quality of mind and heart can help to keep us peaceful and at ease, especially during times of difficulty.
In this talk, Shell explores this essential step along our path, and how we can better develop it.
In mystical and spiritual literature throughout the ages, deep states of consciousness have been described as having been achieved through the art of concentration – which is exactly what we’re trying to cultivate in our meditation practice. As we learn to develop a more refined and skilled awareness, this in turn offers us access to even deeper levels of understanding and insight.
In this talk, Shell explores how we can use our practice to train our minds to become more focused, steady, and clear.
In this talk, recorded live on Mar. 10, Shell explores how we can use the practice of equanimity (or balanced awareness) to work with our fear, panic, and uncertainty, and discover more kindness, compassion, connection, and ease during these difficult times.
(This talk is the 7th in a series of talks on the 7 Factors of Enlightenment).