Developing Skill in Reflective Meditation
Ajahn Pasanno, Ajahn Karuṇadhammo and Ajahn Ñāṇiko
Upāsikā Day, Dec. 1, 2019
Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California
2 sessions, 20 excerpts, 50:07 total duration

Luang Por Pasanno, Ajahn Karunadhammo and Ajahn Nyaniko lead an exploration of the Buddha’s teachings on bringing a specific theme into the mind for reflection during meditation, including choosing and developing fruitful themes and the benefits of this skill.

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Sessions:    1    2
Session 1 – Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Karuṇadhammo – Dec. 1, 2019 Download audio (1:32:39)
[Recollection]

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1. [23:04] “What did you mean by 'lifting up?' Is it an object of attention?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Directed thought and evaluation] // [Restlessness and worry] [Sloth and torpor] [Postures] [Energy]

Quote: “Namo viññaṇa dhatu (Homage to the element of consciousness).” — Ajahn Chah [Ajahn Chah] [Consciousness] [Elements] [Knowing itself]


Download audio (4:04)
2. [26:06] “Can one bring up a theme to gain deeper understanding?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Insight meditation] // [Relinquishment] [Cause of Suffering] [Dependent origination] [Conditionality] [Not-self] [Long-term practice]

Quote: “Whatever is of the nature to arise is of the nature to cease.” — SN 56.11: Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta [Impermanence]


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3. [30:10] “Can you reflect on incidents that cause suffering in your life to explore your habitual patterns?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Suffering] [Habits] // [Noble Truth of Suffering] [Desire] [Not-self] [Conditionality]


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4. [31:28] “You mentioned 'Look for the gap.' Is this related to looking for fading away?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Insight meditation] [Dispassion] // [Cessation] [Cessation of Suffering] [Impermanence] [Faith]

Follow-up: “So we're not just looking at the blank...” [Wrong concentration] [Emptiness] [Nature of the cosmos] [Unwholesome Roots] [Not-self]


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5. [34:30] “I recently went to a Zen gathering. My understanding is that they don't focus on the Four Noble Truths. They try to be present in the moment and get to some sort of no-mind state. How did this arise and why is it considered Buddhism?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Zen] [Four Noble Truths] [Present moment awareness] [History/Mahāyāna Buddhism] // [Emptiness] [Buddha]

Story: Ajahn Pasanno visits a Dzogchen master who says, "Whatever teachings you hear, if they don't fit into or fulfill the Four Noble Truths, then it's just not Buddhism." [Ajahn Pasanno] [Vajrayāna] [Hearing the true Dhamma]


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6. [39:18] “Bhāvanā means 'bring into being.' How do I balance this with making the mind clear or peaceful?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Meditation] [Tranquility] [Calming meditation] // [Noble Truth of Suffering] [Contentment] [Insight meditation] [Sloth and torpor] [Patience]


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7. [43:36] “You mentioned Ajahn Chah reflecting on viññaṇadhatu. Was this the consciousness of the six senses or something more fundamental like citta?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Ajahn Chah] [Consciousness] [Elements] [Sense bases] [Heart/mind] // [Release] [Liberation]


Download audio (2:39)
8. [1:22:40] “Did the Buddha ever say to send lovingkindness to oneself?” Answered by Ajahn Karuṇadhammo. [Goodwill] [Sutta] // [Heart/mind] [Spaciousness]

Reference: Amaravati Chanting Book, p. 43.

Note: Not all translations of this passage include the phrase "to all as to myself." For examples, see the available online translations of AN 4.125 and AN 3.65.


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9. [1:25:19] “What would you use for someone who is extremely confused and angry? Lovingkindness seems so far away.” Answered by Ajahn Karuṇadhammo. [Delusion] [Aversion] [Goodwill] // [Concentration] [Spaciousness]


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10. [1:29:46] “If you lose the firm center of lovingkindness, how do you reestablish it?” Answered by Ajahn Karuṇadhammo. [Goodwill] [Concentration] [Right Effort] // [Visualization] [Mantra] [Seclusion]


Session 2 – Ajahn Ñāṇiko and Ajahn Pasanno – Dec. 1, 2019 Download audio (1:29:08)
[Recollection]

Download audio (1:24)
1. [7:18] Quote: “If you want to succeed in your practice, you have to think a lot.... You have to think all the time about Dhamma.” — Ajahn Baen. Quoted by Ajahn Ñāṇiko. [Ajahn Baen] [Directed thought and evaluation] [Investigation of states] [Recollection/Dhamma] // [Chanting]

Reference: Amaravati Chanting Book, p. 6.


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2. [33:02] “On a daily basis, coming home, my mind is too distracted to pick up any of these objects of meditation. Would you recommend doing ānāpānassati first and then switching over?” Answered by Ajahn Ñāṇiko. [Everyday life] [Restlessness and worry] [Mindfulness of breathing] // [Mantra] [Recollection/Buddha]


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3. [34:20] “You mentioned the example of the monk who wanted to commit suicide and then he remembered his virtue and that uplifted him. In the Saṃyutta Nikaya there are a few instances where monks committeed suicide, but the Buddha said they attained Nibbāna (SN 22.87 Vakkali; SN 35.87 Channa). How is that possible?” Answered by Ajahn Ñāṇiko. [Monastic life] [Suicide] [Sutta] [Buddha/Biography] [Nibbāna] // [Jhāna] [Māra] [Saṃsāra] [Delusion]


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4. [36:20] Comment: Appreciation for Ajahn Ñāṇiko's guided meditation on Buddhanusati and lovingkindness. [Gratitude] [Ajahn Ñāṇiko] [Recollection/Buddha] [Goodwill]


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5. [36:57] “Can you say more about recollection of renunciation? How can this be used skillfully or not?” Answered by Ajahn Ñāṇiko. [Recollection/Generosity] [Renunciation] // [Contentment] [Self-pity] [Sickness] [Equanimity] [Buddha/Biography] [Fasting] [Devotion to wakefulness] [Lunar observance days] [Abhayagiri]

Recollection: Going without in the early days of Abhayagiri Monastery. [Almsfood]


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6. [1:04:58] Quote: “We have to get out of the habit of being theives.” — Ajahn Buddhadāsa. Quoted by Ajahn Pasanno. [Ajahn Buddhadāsa] [Relinquishment] [Stealing] // [Aggregates] [Clinging] [Naturalness]

Quote: “The peace of Nibbāna is note something that you gain, that you get, that you claim ownership over; it's by relinquishing and releasing these bases of identity.” [Nibbāna] [Recollection/Peace] [Release] [Self-identity view]


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7. [1:12:48] “How would I apply the perception of unattractiveness in my daily life?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Unattractiveness] [Everyday life] // [Sensual desire] [Ageing] [Proliferation] [Dispassion] [Appropriate attention]


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8. [1:15:36] Comment: Instead of thinking of one thing which I was having difficulty with, I brought to mind all the things that were working. [Directed thought and evaluation] [Appropriate attention]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Guilt/shame/inadequacy] [Recollection/Virtue] [Faith]


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9. [1:17:28] “Is there a recollection about recalling one's own successes and good qualities?” Answered by Ajahn Pasanno. [Recollection/Virtue] // [Perfections] [Directed thought and evaluation] [Right Effort]


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10. [1:19:29] Comment: I'm going to recollect this day, and your kindness in teaching, and the people who planned the Upāsikā Day. [Gratitude] [Teaching Dhamma] [Compassion] [Recollection/Generosity] [Faith]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Abhidhamma]