Week 1

Media from week 1

From human to Buddha

Firstly , we will connect a little and see how we are

then we will meditate and calm our minds .

After a tea break we will introduce the Buddha and the course.

Meditation – Bodyscan and The Mindfulness of Breathing

An introduction to the course

  • We will explore and experience some of the basic methods of Buddhism and how these methods work with the Buddhist view of ethics, meditation and insight-wisdom.
  • Each evening will be split between practice of meditation and exploration of Buddhism . Each evening will be in 3 parts: Meditation – tea – Buddhism.
  • This is a course to experience Buddhism rather than believe in it. Its know by doing.
  • This course is self-contained, covering the basic things you need to practice.
  • There is also opportunity of connecting with people on the course and the Buddhist center who may be more likely to share your outlook and aspirations.
  • Part2 of the course explores deeper teachings of Buddhism , where meaning goes well beyond words and requires the imagination to follow.

Completion of Part 1 and Part 2 of the course will put you in a position where you have a clear picture of Buddhist Practice . You will have practiced the methods you need to transform our mind from our often disconnected state to becoming more and more in resonance with how things really are. Further , you will be more able to see your next steps and your way forward and the Buddhist center is there to help you go forward in studying and practicing Buddhism.

Lets explore any expectations and goals we might be bringing to the course.

  • What do you want to get out of the course; why are you here
  • Write main goals on a piece of paper
  • Keep this to refer to at end (to see whether you have got what you wanted, or perhaps got something else you didn’t know you wanted!)

Short body awareness and reflection practice on our motivation

Break out groups Small group discussion 10 mins

  • Back to big group.
    • Share/compare goals and reasons for being here

The Buddha

In the footsteps of the Buddha

Let’s Start with imagining the Buddha, his life, delving into his perspective, being with his mind, empathising. It will be a bit like imagining a biopic of say Leonardo Da Vinci intuiting from his art and writing the man inside.

With the Buddha we have as sources the Dhammapada, the Suttas and the Sutras to help
us develop our imagining.In our imagining effort, we will get it wrong, but that’s OK. If we keep bringing our attention back to him every so often over the course of time, we will start seeing some depth in our image.

We can fill in the details of our picture of the Buddha as we progress with our study and inquiry. The goal will be to see how his view and his volitions-desires played out over the eighty years in his life leading him from the four sights to enlightenment and his gift of Buddhist teaching to the world.

The life story of Siddhartha Gautama shows from the start that a clear inner ‘right view’ is already established creating changes in his life, from the four sights, that led inevitably to his enlightenment.

Buddhism starts with the four sights. Most of us have experienced aspects of old age
sickness and death, the first three sights, but we find it difficult extremely difficult to maintain an awareness that these are aspects of our lives and on the whole we forget about them while we live and make decisions and actions until they affect us directly or one of our loved ones. We tend to live our lives within the confines of not going there mentally.

Buddhism starts with the Siddhartha’s experience of the 4 sights because excluding these from our mind, say as a young healthy adult, leads us to false views where we do not consider our fate and look for happiness in the world rather than from within. This leads to emotions and actions that lead to unhappiness.

Siddhartha’s response to the four sights was to go forth, driven to meditation like Beethoven to the piano and like a bat out of hell – driven. He continued , driven by his view , his immediate need, to change his mind to encompass the four sights. He traveled on a path into the depth of meditation, through asceticism and then with the vision from under the rose apple tree, an approach to awareness, a kernel of attitude.

I feel the rose apple tree is the axle in the Buddha’s life. It’s his first reported connection with being with the world with contentment. And then under the Bodhi Tree he takes this precious jewel of opening ‘spiritual receptivity’ as the ground in which to establish his meditation into the depth of sentience. A warm receptive attitude of attention as the mind progressed and changed through higher states of consciousness becoming less confined less attached in respect to ‘greed hatred and delusion’. According to the Suttas this lead to a mind established in absolute receptivity and absolute compassion.

Then after enlightenment? How was he? How was his experience now? Well four stories of his being with others tells us a lot. The skillful interaction of the Buddha with those in the world around him to see how he connected with them individually and made that important difference in their lives. Looking at these encounters can give us some understanding of how his mind worked and how Buddhism might follow.

Let’s look at four examples

Kisa Gotama

Kisa Gotami was the wife of a wealthy man of Savatthi. Her story is one of the more famous ones in Buddhism. After losing her only child, Kisa Gotami became …

His patience with Meghiya seeing the mental process Maghiya has to go through in order to
get to the point of Meghiya seeing how he can practice.

Then there is being with Angulimala, fearless to adversity and just concerned with
Angulimala’s wellbeing, as with meeting Mara’s blows under the Bodhitree where Mara’s arrows turned to flowers to fall on the forest floor around the Buddha


And of course being with Ananda, who just feels the compassion of Shakyamuni so
immediately and deeply on the Buddha’s death. In Ananda;s words singing down through the ages ‘He who is so kind’.

Hopefully we will see through the way the Buddha is with people, that the enlightened
mind arises from a very human mind . All the makings are here in our minds to attend to
the four sights and start following the path . We have all the makings for enlightenment.
I hope in the course of our study we will see that Buddhism is predominantly a prescription, a medicine.

So we can see the skillful interaction of the Buddha with those in the world around him and how he connected with them individually and made that important difference in their
lives. This might give us some understanding of how his mind worked and help us develop a
picture of what he was like and how for him and for us; ethics and meditation gives rise to wisdom.

About Buddhism

Buddhism is about becoming happier. It takes a radical approach to how to achieve this.

  • Central to Buddhism is developing a warm receptive heart and within that heart, conceptual ability;
  • Its intermediate goal is to take us to a state of a happy well-adjusted human
  • It goes beyond this saying practice like this, and you will grow into the sort of person who sees reality more clearly, experiences more deep happiness, can live a more meaningful and fulfilled life culminating in enlightenment.
  • The Buddha took this to its conclusion. He was a human albeit with exceptional talents – a prodigy.
  • In the Buddhist view, the volition and effort in him was such that he reached a much higher level of awareness and ‘woke up’ to direct experience of the nature of reality beyond all clinging to desires. Buddha means one who is awake. Through his compassion he devised a path to help others to wake up in a similar way.
  • In principle Buddhism is “a path” set in spirituals tradition that aims firstly to help human beings become happier, by helping us to become saner, by helping us to see things more clearly, by helping us to become emotionally warmer and more positive, and by helping us to liberate ourselves from our habitual patterns and assumptions about ourselves. Having developed the momentum and faculties of essentially a happy mind, it is then possible to further train the mind towards seeing clearly and being with reality transcend. The process of develop involves opening the mind more and more, whereby new faculties and sensibilities arise and eventually the mind transcends dependent attachment to anything.

While Buddhism has a somewhat logical philosophical aspect to its tradition, it is built on direct experience and that develops in the practicing individual towards a direct experience of a reality beyond words and concepts.

Some ‘Operational Concepts’

Buddhism offers us some concepts we can put into practice and see if they work in calming, integrating and warming the mind. Try these out over the period of the course – they are operational, you will need to try them out to see if they work.

These concepts are:

  • We can change. Human beings, like us, are not fixed by their heredity or upbringing . We have great potential, and we can become really happy if we practice and uncover and manifest more and more of this potential.
  • Happiness comes from inside, not from what we have around us or what we possess or what we consume. We know this. Go on a cruise, go to an expensive resort – you’ll see plenty of discontent. Comes from inner contentment, from positive emotion and inner warmth, a sense of ones own value and even nobility, from freedom from the sort of silly concerns we often fret about, from real warm relationships, from living a meaningful life.
  • We are interrelated. Happiness does not come from focusing on ourselves and getting what we want. . It comes from overcoming our narrow perspective and becoming the larger being we could be. If you like, comes from becoming more like our true selves. This includes being more other-orientated and more altruistic, more focused on goals that go beyond satisfying our own wants.

So :

Final Thought for the Day

  • Buddhism is about becoming happier
  • But takes a radical approach on how we can achieve this
  • Happiness comes from inside, and we can change to become happier
  • Buddhism offers us ways to do this, and a context that supports and helps us.