Dharma Zephyr, good friends from western Nevada, hosted a week-long retreat at Camp Galilee on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe in early November. Threatened storms brought no snow but lots of rapidly changing and fascinating weather. Views from the shore invited many Dhamma contemplations, along with sniffles. I especially dug deep into the dhatus (elements, fundamental physical properties). The inner winds were normally calmer than outer.
Inside we were snug and comfy. The food was healthy and tasty. The companionship was warm, intimate, and supportive of deeper inquiry into Under the Bodhi Tree. Consequently, I spoke about inquiry quite a lot. Here’s a summary of how I understand inquiry (dhammavicaya):
Rather than take the usual academic approach of the so-called “12 links,” we explored some of the main ways of getting into the practical relevance of paticcasamuppada (dependent co-arising). This usually took the form of closely exploring how various “linkages” play out in our minds and lives. Each linkage is a dependent co-arising). One example is the relation between clinging and craving. This clip also demonstartes a non-materialist reading of this essential teaching:
Friends at Tender Shoot of Joy in Milwaukee have explored phassa (sense contact) in October. This is an exploration worth continuing throughout our lives as all hells and heavens arise with contact as the foundation. Being mindful of contact as central to Buddhist practice. On October 25th, Santikaro joined in the exploration with this offering drawing upon a few key themes from Under the Bodhi Tree. As we experience life, event by event, do our senses remain clear and serene, unclouded by self-destructive reactivity, or do we concoct egos of suffering (dependent co-arising)?
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.”