Audio: Advice to Meditators – Embodied Basics Facilitate Mindful Breathing

Northfield Buddhist Center has posted a recording of the talk I gave there on September 17th. You can download it or play through their website. (Thanks to Evan for posting it.)

In Advice to Rahula (Middle Length Discourses 62), the Buddha advises his still young son to ground himself in basic realities of embodied life before settling in with breathing. Whether the breathing or something else is the primary locus of mindful presence, being well grounded in primary physical realities allows us to settle, be non-reactive, and cultivate insight into the flow of selfless experience. Buddha uses the dhatus (basic experiential properties of our physical existence) as a framework for grounding ourselves, investigating the flow of experience, and making our minds imperturbable. In this advice to his son, who was a young man (novice monk) at the time, Buddha points us to an appropriate response to whenever young, restless energy, impatience, distraction, and similar stuff are unsettling meditation. Whatever our age, we can learn from this advice if we take it to heart, explore it, and cultivate familiarity — as a sutta phrase puts it, “cultivate and make much of.” That has “great fruit and great benefit.”

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Special thanks, special women

Hundreds of people have contributed to the guest house and garden hermitage over the last couple years. Yet, the project could not have been successful without a special mother-daughter team: Carol Jean and Jo Marie. Now that these facilities are … Continue reading

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Guest House is receiving many visitors

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Folks from Walla Walla, Milwaukee, Chicago, Pune, Texas, Evanston, Menominee, Madison, Cambridge, Viroqua, St Louis, Toronto, and elsewhere have been making consistent and ample use of the Guest House. They stay in the Garden and Valley Hermitages, the Guest Room … Continue reading

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Still Water, Flowing Banks

On his final Age Teasing Day (27 May 1992), Tan Ajahn Buddhadasa gave a single talk titled Still Water, Flowing Banks. The custom of celebrating his “birthday” had evolved over many decades. When his health was strong, he gave three talks to the students and Dhamma seekers who traveled to Suan Mokkh to fast and share in Dhamma inquiry. In his last years, the doctors tried to keep him from speaking but invariably failed. His final major stroke occurred just before his 87th final Age Teasing Day (1993), which made the 86th his last.

A major part of the talk worked a theme he often addressed in his last year, Sammata or Rightness. This references the noble eightfold path and its fruits, culminating in supreme unsurpassed emptiness. In this talk, and a follow-up the next day, he framedĀ Sammata with a powerful allegory, “still water, flowing banks.” This is a dynamic allegory, so please listen to the talk to follow the twists and touch the stillnesses.

The recording is not a strict translation of his talk. Rather, Santikaro made careful, detailed notes of the highlights and key insights of the original talk. These are spoken along with background information and some commentary.

I originally presented this theme at a conference at Suan Mokkh Bangkok honoring Tan Ajahn Buddhadasa’s 111th Age Teasing. I had the opportunity to do so again in Eau Claire, WI this past Tuesday. The audio here is from this more extensive presentation.

May waters be stilled rightly and then more deeply, for realizing “all right.”

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Guest facilities ready

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Since the contractors finished, Jo Marie has been working hard to get the guesthouse and cottage ready with furnishings, amenities, and more. She has painted walls, scrubbed floors, and assembled furniture. (Santikaro was involved with a lot of teaching yet … Continue reading

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