March 2019 talks

Friday, March 1 and Tuesday, March 5: Leslie shared a talk by Jack Kornfield published on Insight Timer: A Talk on Healing. He stresses the importance of careful, deep listening to our bodies, our feelings, our thoughts, and our wisdom in healing both ourselves and our world. Those with the (highly recommended) Insight Timer app can find the talk here. Others may be able to download it here.

February 2019 talks

Tuesday, February 5: Sanghamitta shared one of Ajahn Brahm’s unpublished talks, this one about stillness (samadhi): how to reach it, and the joy that it brings.

Friday, February 8: Leslie  played a guided meditation by John Siddique, Be In Presence Wherever You Are. This is available only through the Insight Timer app, but he has similar videos on YouTube.

Friday, February 15: Jan brought a YouTube video by the Venerable Thubten Chodron of Sravasti Abbey, How Can I be Empty?  We have no overarching “I” controlling everything we think and do; instead, we are shaped by the many aspects of our self that have developed over our lifetimes.

Tuesday, February 19: Today, the full moon of the third lunar month, the festival of Magha Puja is celebrated in Thailand, other southeast Asian countries, and Sri Lanka. It marks the day nine months after his Awakening when the Buddha spoke to 1,250 arahants. It is known as Sangha Day, the day when we celebrate the existence of the community of devoted followers of the Buddha’s teachings, particularly the monastic communities. Ayya Nimmala explained the significance of this day, and discussed his instructions to these disciples found in Dhammapada 183 – 185 (the link is to Thanissaro Bhikku’s translation). She concluded with the poem of Maha Pajapati, the Buddha’s foster mother, as she approached her parinibbana, found in Therigatha 66.

2019: January talks

Friday, January 4: Leslie shared Gil Fronsdal’s dharmette, Resolution to present details.

Tuesday, January 8: We listened to Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu‘s talk on Dependent Origination. Delusions lead to formations – ideas, plans, desires, and all those other things our minds make up for us. All the rest follows.
A related essay appeared in the Lion’s Roar: Karma: The Choice Is Yours  by Ajahn Buddhadasa.

Friday, January 11: Jan showed us Bro. Billy Tan’s YouTube video ANATTA: From a Scientific Perspective.  He explores scientific explanations of how personalization of the body and its experiences gives rise to clinging and attachment (“upādāna”) that lead to the mental construction of a subjective “self”.

Tuesday, January 15: Sanghamitta shared with us an unpublished talk by Ajahn Brahm about breath meditation. He stressed the importance of establishing mindfulness through body scans, and allowing the breath to become the focus of attention.

Friday, January 18: Bodhipala (Nadine) brought two YouTube talks by Thanissaro Bhikku. In  The Four Noble Truths he reminds us that each truth is accompanied by a related task, and in Buddhists Are Not Bored Without Suffering he reassures us that the kind of pleasure experienced through Buddhist practice is worth enjoying forever.

Related suttas are worth reading:
– Sutta Nikaya 56.11: Rolling Forth the Wheel of Dhamma, the first address of the Buddha, in which he sets forth the Four Noble Truths
– Majjhima Nikaya 19: Two Kinds of Thought, how to understand harmful and harmless thoughts, and how to go beyond thought altogether
– Majjhima Nikaya 20: How to Stop Thinking, in which the Buddha describes five different approaches to stopping thoughts.

Tuesday, January 22: Suzanne played a talk by Thanissaro Bhikku about the value of mistakes. It is available only on a CD of his collected talks, but he has several similar YouTube videos; for instance, The Path of Mistakes.

Friday, January 25: We listened to Gil Fronsdal’s talk The Force Behind Preoccupation, and learned from Sanghamitta ways of dealing with recovered memories of trauma.

December talks

Friday, December 7: We listened to an unpublished talk (available to Sanghamitta because she attended his last rains retreat) about our attitude towards meditation. Be kind, gentle, and accepting towards yourself as you meditate. Let go of your past negative meditation experiences and be prepared to experience bliss.

Friday, December 14: We listened to another of Ajahn Brahm’s unpublished talks. He pointed out the beauty and benefits of not criticising – being able to walk meditatively through parts of the monastery that could be thought to be messy, for example. If a friend or colleague needs correction, it can be done in a way that shares the dhamma.

Tuesday, December 18: We celebrated the last Tuesday before Christmas with a rousing singalong of Ajahn Sona’s Buddhist carols, accompanied by Will on the guitar.


November talks

Friday, November 2: Leslie continued sharing Bhikku Analayo’s thoughts and guided meditations on the Satipatthana Sutta. This week we did a body scan based on the traditional elements: earth, water, fire, and wind. Analayo’s guided meditations can be downloaded from Windhorse Publications. Joseph Goldstein’s  talk on the four elements based on Analayo’s research can be found here.

Friday, November 9: (Sorry about the missing Tuesdays – your blogger is studying the Nakoda language on Tuesday evenings. If someone else could fill in the missing info, that would be great).
Leslie shared Bhikku Analayo’s guided meditation on death, and a few minutes of Ajahn Sujato’s excellent talk on the contemplation of death. Sujato’s translation of the Satipatthana Sutta can be found here.

Tuesday, November 13: Ayya Santacitta is joining us for the next month. She shared with us the Bhikkhuni Arahant Chant in English and the Bhikkhuni Arahant Chant in PaliThe chant in Pali can be heard here.

During Tuesday evening’s session, Ayya spoke about the 8 worldly winds:
pain and pleasure
praise and blame
fame and disrepute
gain and loss

Friday, November 16: Ayya Santacitta led us in the Bhikkuni Arahant Chant in English and Pali. After our meditation, she read a beautiful poem by one of the earliest Bhikkunis, and spoke about the importance of energy (viriya) in our practice.

Ayya’s interview was broadcast on Mountain FM this morning. When we have a link to the interview, it will be posted here.

Friday, November 23: Ayya spoke of the need for patience, a characteristic mentioned in many of the lists of virtues leading to freedom.
We found Ayya Santacitta’s interview on Mountain FM here.

Tuesday, November 27: Ayya Santacitta shared a video on the history of the bhikkhuni sangha.

Friday, November 30: Ayya led us in a guided meditation beginning with the parts of the body and leading us to wonder at and watch the watcher.



October links to talks

Friday, October 5: Jan shared with us Gil Fronsdal’s talk, Alternatives to Thinking. Meditation practice can lead to a whole paradigm shift. Thoughts, which are mostly about yourself, lose their attractiveness. We become situation-centered, attentive to the here and now.

Tuesday, October 9: Mary shared Rachel Lewis’s first dharma talk at Spirit Rock, a discussion of impermanence, dukkha, and non-self from an astro-physicist’s point of view. It was given at a retreat called Evolving Together: Mindfulness Meditation and Modern Science.

Friday, October 12 – Sunday, October 14: Ajahn Pavaro led a retreat for us.

Tuesday, October 16: We discussed our experiences at Ajahn Pavaro’s retreat.

Friday, October 26: Leslie shared a book she discovered on a recent self-directed retreat: Bhikku Analayo’s Satipatthana: A Practice GuideShe played the first of seven guided meditations based on this book, a meditation on the parts of the body.

September links to talks

Tuesday, September 3: Jan stepped in at short notice to begin the group with Thanissaro Bhikku’s talk, The Breath All the Way, followed by meditation and a lively discussion.

Friday, September 7: Jan led the group again, helping us explore the Five Aggregates. First we listened to Ayya Santacitta’s talk on working with the aggregates, and then Thanisssaro Bhikku’s The Battle of Your Selves. She urged us to listen to Pascal Auclair’s talk on the five aggregates, too.

Tuesday, September 10: Sanghamitta returned and shared with us the fruits of her retreat at Birken: thoughts on the Eightfold Path.

Friday, September 14: On her Birken retreat, Sanghamitta discovered a delightful counterpart to C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters: Ajahn Punnadhammo’s Letters from Mara. She read the prologue and the first letter to us – the letter to the host of sense desires.

Tuesday, September 17: Sanghamitta offered her thoughts on dealing with physical and emotional pain

Friday, September 21: We continued listening to Letters from Mara, the epistles to the hosts of Boredom, Hunger and Thirst, Craving, and Sloth and Accidy (torpor). They continued to be both amusing and too true.

Tuesday, September 24: We listened to Ayya Santacitta’s talk, The Five Aggregates of Clinging. We didn’t find it as useful from a practical point of view as Sanghamitta’s explaination: when suffering arises from an aggregate, look at its impermanence and see that it’s not I, not mine.

Friday, September 28: The letters from Mara continued: CowardiceUncertaintyMalice and Obstinacy;  and Honour, Renown, and Notoriety.


August links to talks

August 3: Cori shared with us an essay by Thich Nhat Hanh that led to a deep and helpful discussion of equanimity and caring for others.

August 7: Sanghamitta shared with us her thoughts on the Noble Eightfold Path

August 10: We shared our thoughts and experiences with breath meditation.

August 14: Sanghamitta played a YouTube video in which Reverend Heng Sure reflected on the various bridges between Abhayagiri and the City of 10,000 Buddhas.

August 17: We listened the first part of a video in which Joseph Goldstein discussed the importance of being mindful of impermanence and change. Leslie also suggested that Ajahn Sona’s talk, How the Wise See Cancer (part 1) would make interesting viewing for anyone, affected by cancer or not.

August 24: Jan shared with us two of Thanissaro Bhikku’s talks on trust, which generated a good discussion. We had a number of newcomers, so talk moved to suggestions for resources for learners. Besides this website, we mentioned Thanissaro Bhikku’s introductory teachings and the Insight Timer app, which includes many guided meditations and Dhamma talks.

August 28: Leslie began the session with Ajahn Sona’s brief introduction to breath meditation, intending to continue with another of his short talk from that YouTube series. However, the discussion that started after meditation proved so fruitful that we didn’t bother with another teaching.

August 31: Judy gave a reading of the last chapter in Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart, again stimulating a deep discussion. The Friday sessions, perhaps because they are smaller, are generating much important sharing of ideas and experiences.


July links to talks

July 3: Sanghamitta prepared a talk for us: The Removal of Thoughts 

July 6: We enjoyed a two-hour visit from Thanissaro Bhikku, who spoke to us about the relative  importance of the Four Noble Truths versus the Three Characteristics. Emphasis on impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self lead to an essentially negative life view, while the Noble Truths give hope of release from suffering, and a plan of action.

July 10: Marilyn talked about her retreat at Birken, and Sanghamitta began sharing what she, Jan, and Marilyn heard at their weekend in Saskatoon with Thanissaro Bhikku.

July 13: Sanghamitta shared a reading about Ajahn Chah’s visit to England and the US.  He had never witnessed meditation retreat for lay people…..just the one day a week meditation time at the monastery for lay people.  He didn’t think it was useful unless they were incorporating the Dhamma into their daily life.  So we went around the circle and everyone shared how they did this.  It was a really rich experience…..some people found out they weren’t alone in their daily struggles and were glad to share and receive Dhammic methods to approach the sufferings of life.   And Sanghamitta reminded senior people that Friday was an opportunity for them to take turns teaching to give her a break!

July 17: Sanghamitta finished sharing her notes on Thanissaro Bhikkus talks in Saskatoon. You can see the notes she received at the retreat here. His teachings are also available in one of his study guide books, called the Ten Perfections, available here.

July 20: Judy led us in a discussion of wanting. Jan mentioned that she found a talk by Andrea Fella, Ignorance fuels the habit of craving, useful. You can stream it here.

July 24: Sanghamitta shared the beginning of Ajahn Sujito’s talk on the Noble Eightfold Path.

July 27: We continued discussing wanting and craving with the help of a brief talk by Ajahn Sona on desire, one of a series of mini-talks on the hindrances available here.

July 31: We concluded Ajahn Sujito’s talk on the Noble Eightfold Path.

June links to talks

June 1-3: Ayya Medhanandi led us in a silent retreat, sharing the wisdom that has arisen from her long study of the dhamma.

June 5: Our last day with Ayya Medhanandi. She shared with us some of what she learned by standing mindfully holding her alms bowl outside Nutter’s on Bargain Tuesday. It took a pepper sticking out of her bowl to help people realize what she was doing. She gained many insights into people’s lives just by watching mindfully.

June 8: Our first time meeting without leadership from a monastic or Santutthi for what seems like a long time! Sanghamitta shared a truly encouraging talk by Ajahn Achalo: Experiencing Spiritual Power.

June 12: Jan and Everett lead the group, while Sanghamitta had her eye “done” (successfully). More to come.

June 15: Sanghamitta, bright-eyed again, shared part of Ajahn Nyanadhammo’s talk on the ten paramis: the introduction, and thoughts on dana  – generosity.

June 19: Sanghamitta played the first part of a talk by Ajahn Nyanadhammo, The Factors of Awakening in Meditation.  She also shared with us her discovery of an inspiring and useful book:  The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates).

June 22 and 29: We continued listening to Ajahn Nyanadhammo’s talk on the ten paramis.