Week 7 – Online Winter Retreat

Week 7 – Online winter retreat, presented by Deer Park Monastery.  To follow along copy and paste this in your browser, there are talks, questions and readings posted every week: http://deerparkmonastery.org/teachings/the-ten-gates-online-course-winter-2012-2013/the-ten-gates-online-course-winter-2012-2013


My notes from Brother Phap Hai’s talk:

There is no way home, home is the way.

“I walk for you,” Thay.

The 4 great buddhist archetypes (to cultivate in our own mind of bodhicitta): Manjushri: great understanding, Samantabhadra: great action, Avalokiteshvara: great compassion, Khistigarba: great vow.

The 6 crossings over (paramitas): generosity (material, dharma, non-fear), mindfulness trainings (three cumulative pure precepts: refraining from harmful actions of body, speech and mind, cultivating wholesome seeds in self and others, benefit all beings), inclusiveness (open heart, present with conditions as they are – to be patient with anyone regardless of their situation), diligence, meditation (quality of mind that embraces all and excludes none – our meditation is our daily life, not just on the cushion), and insight (seeing things as they really all – the mother of all the buddhas).  The paramitas are the petals of a flower – when we cultivate one we cultivate the others.  We can chose to make them the framework of our raft.

Reflection Questions

1) Do I notice any “flower” moments this week?  What are some situations where I am called to a deeper understanding, a widening of my heart?

As described in the talk offered by Brother Phap Hai a flower moment is one where the true nature of something is revealed.  I noticed many flower moments this week.  I am currently visiting my family on the east coast where I was born and raised.  In the past when I’ve come home to visit it has been a little stressful trying to see as many people as possible in a short amount of time, always feeling like I’m not spending enough time with this person or that person, getting swept away by the fast paced culture here, and getting wrapped up in my stories and judgements of a myriad of things.  This visit has been different.  I feel much more relaxed.  I’ve been practicing deeply to simply go with the flow, to release my judgements and to embrace.  Embrace myself, my surroundings (whatever they are), my family and all of the energies that are floating, whizzing or rocketing around.  Seeing my old stomping grounds as a beautiful and deep part of myself has helped to transform the relationship I have with this area, which up until now was quite strained.

I am called to a deeper understanding and widening of the heart when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone.  I very much enjoy seeing the transformation of a once awkward or challenging situation into a comfortable one with joy and ease.

2) Reflecting on the paramitas – which one(s) are most present for me in my practice and daily life at this time?

Inclusiveness is alive for me right now and has been in the past week.  Being with situations as they are, being with people as they are.  One of the great fruits of the practice is the cultivation of ease and comfort in a variety of situations.  And I’ve been enjoying seeing this process unfold.

3) Take some time, just as mentioned in the podcast to reflect concretely on the interconnectedness of the paramitas and how they manifest themselves in your practice.. e.g. How is generosity a part of the mindfulness trainings, how is inclusiveness part of the trainings etc, until you have looked at all of them and their different manifestations. This is a really interesting reflection and you are going to discover many aspects to your practice and motivation that you hadn’t touched until now!  Enjoy!

4) What does compassion mean to me? How does compassion manifest in my life?

Compassion is how I relate to others in a way that expresses my care, understanding and support.  I practice to stay in touch with both the joys and suffering that exist, to look at things deeply and keep an open mind.  Compassion is cultivated through my mindfulness and meditation practice and manifests through my relationships to both myself and my surroundings.

5) In the Discourse on the Eight Realizations of Great Beings, what does “to suffer with all beings” mean to me?

To me this means to stay in touch with suffering, to not turn away from it.  It means to practice looking deeply to see the causes and conditions of suffering and to embrace it fully as a part of life.  It also means to offer support and care to those who suffer, to help show them how to transform their suffering to become light and free and joyful.

Suggested Practices

Create space and time this week for walking meditation. Space set aside, and also a natural practice of embodied walking as you move through your day. Notice times and spaces where you feel relaxed and unhurried, and situations where you feel rushed and “pressed.”

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