Alan Wallace Live from Phuket!
Summary: Welcome! This is now an archive page for Dr. Alan Wallace’s teachings from the Spring 2010 Shamatha Retreat in the wonderful Phuket International Academy Mind Centre!This podcast feed was 100% created and updated by us (his students here in Phuket) so we can share Alan’s diamond-sharp teachings! This podcast was created live every day during the retreat in 2010. We will still maintain this site because the teachings are timeless. For more information, please contact the great people at firstname.lastname@example.org !
This podcast was spurred by a question from our philosopher Ilse asking about the difference of "Identitylessness" [or non self] and "Personhood" (as she put it). There are many misconceptions about Buddhism and the theme of the "Non-Self," and here B. Alan Wallace breaks it down skillfully and with his characteristic [irony alarm went off], funny and good-humored but extremely wise and accurate examples. This is really recommended if you have any doubts (as many of us do) on this topic! It is explained extremely clearly. As a bonus within a bonus, Ilse comments that the practice of Shamatha in this retreat so far is starting to weaken her sense of identity. Alan quickly says it’s a good thing then talks about how Shamatha can and does weaken the sense of identity (and the suffering it entails) and breaks down the "fortress" of ignorance and delusion, along with their derivative afflictions such as craving, aversion, anger, hostility, etc. At the end it gets very philosophical (and nicely so). All in all a great podcast for reflexion. In the spirit of this podcast, do you know who is in the picture? You might say, “What kind of stupid question is that?... That's Alan!” But what is it that you call Alan? The pixels on the screen? Your appearance of Alan? The voice? A dharma teacher? A friend? Do you see the same Alan that I am seeing as I add the picture? How many Alans are there? Is there an Alan (I hope so!) ? Have fun with that one!
In the introduction, Alan talks about Loving Kindness and how it is an aspiration and not a feeling (although it certainly comes with a feeling). He also talks about achieving Shamatha by method of non-discursive meditation on the apspiration of Loving Kindness (developing stability and vividness). After the practice we had an explanation of moving loving kindness into "enemy territory," talked briefly about the concept of "enemy," and saw how Loving Kindness can (and needs to) grow ultimately. Today I did something unusual in that I split the podcast into three. I won't be releasing them on Sunday this time (I am sending out the three at the same time), but I felt they were themes that a lot of people are interested in, and it would be handy to have them as stand-alone episodes. So don't be scared when you get 4 podcast updates today! It's actually the usual daily 2 with the afternoon one split into 3. This local photo is from Daniela.
Today we had a quite silent and relaxing session on the sensations of the breath at the level of the abdomen. The introduction talks about the several ways in which we can recognize progress in our practice, and the outro is a recap on the terms "mindfulness," "instrospection," and "conscientiousness." This local photo is courtesy of Daniela.
Today we re-started the 4I cycle with Loving Kindness. Specifically, we focused on motivation and how it has the power to make things possible or impossible, achievable or not achievable. The introduction was around this motivation and its power, while the outro contains a great several-part question by Malcom on the different methods of Shamatha, their pit falls, changing between methods, etc. It is a very concise explanation of the three methods we cover in this retreat, how they interrelate, and how it is possible to use them all cohesively. Also at the end there is a very precise explanation on how to correctly do the practice of Awareness of Awareness (spurred by a question from Noah). Alan utilizes his trusty sensory deprivation tank example and leaves the object of this practice quite clear. So if you like Awareness of Awareness but aren't sure if you are doing it correctly, the last 15 minutes or so of this podcast might clear many doubts! I might add that today we had quite a few doses of uplifting and informative humor scattered throughout, so hopefully it will add some icing to your mood as it did to ours! (As opposed to these Monkey-Deities' apparent mood in the photo of the local Chinese temple taken by Ivan) Feliz día de las madres en Mexico! Las queremos mucho y las extrañamos!
This session was the first of the meditations with less spoken guidance. However, Alan made up for it with the great introduction and outro! The talks are based on the importance of looking for genuine happiness, focusing on the more and more common condition of "General Anxiety," (or reality-based anxiety) its causes, and how society is depending on more and more brain drugs to band-aid the symptoms. The outro is particularly enriching; it details how a cooperation between the Pharmaceutical Industry (which can be absolutely necessary), Psychiatrists (talk treatment), and Dharma could work in synergy towards a real focus on healing the mind on all levels. This local photo is courtesy of Daniela. Last but certainly not least, happy mothers day weekend! We love you and miss you mothers!
In this juicy sunday Bonus, Alan answers a question from our friend Noah about why wait to kickstart the revolution in the mind sciences? Why not get an accomplished Yogi to demonstrate his paranormal abilities under scientific scrutiny? Maybe just a little bit of levitation, walking through walls, multiplying themselves, disappearing... The usual. You can be sure that what follows is a a very thorough analysis of this subject, from several perspectives and with some possible outcomes. Very interesting for those of us who have sometimes asked that question ourselves! Anyone want to guess who is depicted in this Thangka? Hint: I'm his fan. View this episode on the site for a larger version of the pic!
Wow, I have to say that we ended this cycle of meditations perfectly. We had a very valuable practice (although, what practice has not been very valuable?) on Equanimity paired with wisdom. We started with a short and sweet introduction, and then went straight into the meditation. After the meditation we had two delicious juicy questions. The first question by Nick I took out because it's perfect for a stand-alone bonus that I'll send out tomorrow. It entails an explanation of the Four Immeasurables, their faux facsimiles, and how they balance out. The question which I did not edit out was Ana Lorena's, and she asked if it was possible to cultivate the Four Immeasurables without all the conceptualization and just bringing forth the aspirations. I won't pollute the podcast anymore with my description, but if you trust me by now then I'll tell you that it's really worth a listen! This beautiful photo was taken by Daniela at one of the local temples!
Hello everyone! Last week we had some internet trouble over here which caused the podcast XML to get corrupted. As a result, I have received many comments saying that you were having trouble downloading the podcast episodes from: April 28 - May 1 The problem has now been fixed, so you may try downloading the episodes again. If the episodes do not show up in your iTunes, then follow the instructions in the video and they should work properly! Sorry for the trouble and enjoy your meditations! May there be great benefit!
This morning we practiced the final phase of Awareness of Awareness, and quoting from Alan's great analogy in the introduction to this practice: "Putting it in the Oven." The title comes from the succinct explanation of the practice as described by Tsongkhapa. This time it was just a brief 5 minute introduction and then we went into the meditation (as taught by Padmasambhava), the most profound of all Shamatha practices. With this method, the path and the fruit are similar in aspect. Enjoy as we did! (And if you were wondering if I really had to use another sky picture-- the answer is yes!)
This podcast starts with a microphone test; you may notice that this podcast has none of the annoying popping noises that went out in the previous episodes. And the sound quality will keep getting better as we tweak the system. Ok, enough of that! Today's afternoon practice was on Equanimity, and it was a very valuable meditation. We start as always with an excellent introduction with illustrative examples before going into the practice. After the practice we had some assorted Q&A, but before that Alan gave some great tips on Lucid Dreaming and Dream Yoga (with many references to Stephen LaBerge). The questions are on assorted topics, from practice to theory, and are very illustrative. Enjoy! I included this cellphone photo of yesterday's sky to aid in reflecting about impermanence! I kept looking at the sky after taking the photo and in less than 30 seconds it was completely different!
This morning we had a practice of the third method of Awareness of Awareness. Alan starts with an introduction and explains some points on the practice, and after the practice he gives some tips on keeping a constant meditation even when having to do other things. The meditation session in this podcast is a very clearly explained and great practice of Awareness of Awareness. As you can probably tell by now I like interesting skies, and especially so when talking about Awareness of Awareness! This is another typical sky here after dinner.
Today's practice was focused on taking delight both towards being of benefit in the world outwards but also of going into meditation and being apparently useless for a while, because it's a cultivation with which you can become immensely useful afterwards. There is a great introduction on this point, and after the practice we had some great, fluid assorted Q&A with answers from the crowd. The questions vary from how to balance quality and quantity in meditation and some sprinkles of dream yoga near the end. Another great local photo from Sara's collection!
This morning we followed a second method of Shamatha without a Sign (Awareness of Awareness) as taught by Padmasambhava. This method included probing into the very nature of that which inverts and releases the attention and in so doing one may realize rigpa! Alan first explains in detail the confusion around this practice and its true potential, using a dream analogy. A greatly inspiring overview. Afterwards we have the actual practice and a short outro about the parallels of this practice and Dzogchen. A great way to start the day!
This afternoon was great. We started with an overview of four immeasurables as an extrordinarly wise system of emotional regulation, and although that sounds utilitarian (since the qualities of loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity are some of the most noble virtues to develop), they can be excellent for emotional balance. Alan then talks about how to develop motivation, inspiration, enthusiasm, lightness, and hopefulness towards the practice, which is directly linked to the meditation we do afterwards. After the session, we had some assorted Q&As on great subjects, including great tips and practices for maintaining the object of mindfulness between sessions and "seasoning" the day with the four immeasurables. There are also some great explanations on the 10 non-virtues and one of the great "path overviews" and bigger picture discussions that we know and love. This photo is of Master Luang Phor Cham in the Chalong Temple of Phuket (another great one by Sara!)
This morning we started with a brief recap on some details about the breath in Settling the Mind in its Natural State, and some notes about the substrate conciousness and Awareness of Awareness. Afterwards we had a very clearly explained practice, including some tips for people who are new to this type of meditation. We are having some microphone adjustments so you might have to turn up the volume on this one! Sorry! This photo was taken by Sara here at the mind centre... Very suitable photo for Awareness of Awareness!