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 !
We start with an introduction on the three different dimensions of suffering and pick up briefly on this morning's topic of becoming lucid in the waking state. The deep practice that follows is indeed a Compassion practice but its focus is on this lucidity. After the meditation we have some open questions focused on the practice, such as "how does vividness manifest in the practice of settling the mind in its natural state," and other general questions that might be good for all! We passed the microphone around so there are a lot people giving their experience and asking their own questions this time. Another photo by Ale! As you can see she had quite a nice trip and gave me a bunch of awesome pictures. I know I already used this one but I had some technical problems!
This morning we had an inspiring introduction regarding the space of the mind and its observation, as well as a sequence of steps to become lucid with respect to reality. We went into a 24 minute session focusing on the nature of the space of the mind, evident in the spaces between thoughts but also very present even when there are thoughts. After the practice Alan briefly discusses some interesting hypotheses that could be put to the test in the contemplative observatory. A very uplifting morning. Another great picture from the collection that Ale shared!
Alan starts with an introduction on "episodic compassion" and how easy it can be to feel contempt and superiority towards the people committing injustices according to us without looking at all of the perspectives. This practice of compassion focuses both on the victims of other people's behavior and on the "victimizers," who themselves are victims of their own strong mental afflictions. After the meditation we had some assorted Q&A about practice and I think I already have my Sunday bonus for this week although it's only monday! There was a great question by our deep-question expert Noah along the lines of why won't a yogi just display paranormal abilities in a massive event to "kickstart" the revolution of the mind sciences. The discussion that follows is extremely interesting and engaging, so I guarantee your Sunday this week won't be boring, although your monday may be tinged with the mental affliction of resentment towards me because of how I left this episode as a "to-be-continued" cliffhanger! A great opportunity to practice compassion =) By the way, sorry for the technical problems you may or may not have had recently, the internet here went down and I am in the process of fixing everything! That is why you may notice little weird things here and there (such as all of your great comments disappearing forever, boo). And finally this is another great photo from Ale’s travels!
Interesting title eh? This morning we practiced Settling the Mind in its Natural State. Alan gave a brief introduction on some cases of Out of Body Experiences and showed how they are related to this practice and to Shamatha in general. We have had internet problems so I don't know when I will be able to upload this! Hopefully it will be working this afternoon... Another great photo from Ale!
No, it’s not a side effect of your intense daily meditation -- in this podcast the picture actually moves! That is to say, it’s a video! With the help of David Cherniack, we were able to record Alan’s quick message. As you can see, we have created a mailing list for information, news, and retreat information all regarding the Mind Centre here in Phuket. Please note that this is different from the podcast daily updates that you might have subscribed to. In other words, if you subscribe to the mailing list, you won’t be getting the daily podcast emails, so don’t worry! Some of you sharp-eyed folks may see that it looks a lot like the SBI mailing list registration, however please note the following message from SBI: If you are already on SBI's mailing list, but wish to also be on the Phuket list, you may subscribe again and click on "Phuket Mind Centre News & Updates." That will put you on both lists. If you are not already on SBI's mailing list, you may subscribe and then choose to join General Interest or just the "Phuket Mind Centre News & Updates" list. So if you want to join the mailing list (or view the video in its full HD glory) please visit the website, or for those of you reading this on the website feel free to click the following beautiful, stylish Web 2.0 button: I should probably also add that David had nothing to do with the extremely cheesy introduction to the video. He is a great filmmaker (I highly recommend his film “The Oracle” about the Tibetan Oracles), and he will most likely frown at me when he sees the introduction to this video, of which I admit I am guilty! So don’t take that very seriously.
In this bonus podcast, B. Alan Wallace is asked about his ideal vision of Buddhism and Contemplative Science in "The West" (or modernity) for the next 10-15 years. Alan first describes his own term, "Contemplative Science," and then gets going on a very inspiring and precise view of how this can be absolutely groundbreaking for science and humanity in general. Can we penetrate and break through to knowing reality? Taking it out of the realm of metaphysics, religion, or theory, but actually putting it to the test and knowing? I wont say more in order to not ruin Alan's response, but if you are interested in Buddhism, Cognitive Sciences, Psychology, Brain Science, Philosophy, or Science in general, this is really worth a listen. It's not technical at all, and gives a very expository view of the unfortunate status quo of the previously mentioned branches of science. You know that sunday bonuses don't fail to deliver so just listen! The photo is another great sky from Rosa here at the mind centre!
We start with a very precise introduction of how mental afflictions are afflictions because they are rooted in delusion. Some feelings can be either very positive or afflictive depending on the above. I won't give examples in order to not distort Alan's words but it's a great explanation! We also get an explanation about four displays of compassion or Bodhisattva actions that are not immediately apparent, contrasting the sugar-coated, peaceful saints of other traditions with the Buddhist deities, which can be very wrathful but stemming from Compassion. He gives four examples which really opened our eyes. Then we go into a great meditation session and afterwards we have a few excellent questions, wrapped up with an amazing analysis of a verse (the first verse of the first chapter) from the Dhammapada in which Alan masterfully adds to both the question of how to live a rich, meaningful, Dharma-saturated life in modernity without going into solitude and becoming a yogi and about the brain-mind question. This is a clear example of Alan's exemplary knowledge compiling and interpreting at its pure best, and this podcast also has a crescendo ending in ƒƒ (for us musicians) which caused us to be late for dinner. This final point starts at 1:02:30 for you cheaters! Another great photo from ale!
This morning we had a short but sweet introduction on the mind’s capacity to heal itself and how the traditional sciences can cooperate with the contemplative science, come together, and share their insights. Alan also talks about how sometimes support from the psychopharmaceutical, clinical psychology, and psychiatry branches can be a huge support for contemplative practice. So this morning was about cooperation and synergy! Afterwards we have a 24 minute session of settling the mind and then we wrapped it up on time! The photo is a sunset from a few days ago courtesy of the wonderful (tia) Rosa!
In this podcast, B. Alan Wallace, Ph. D., answers a question involving having a friendly discussion about the relationship between mind and brain (don't we all have those with our friends all the time?) and explains his point of view as well as refutes several typical arguments about the mind being either part of, the same thing, or an emergent property of the brain. I won't say more, listen for yourselves! This will probably clear up any doubts you have about the topic, and his points are rock-solid. (And if you are like me you'll probably take note for the next time you have this argument!) Some quick further reading: http://www.alanwallace.org/Exploration%20of%20Consciousness.pdf You can tell I liked that photo!
Tonight we had a 5 minute introduction to the practice of Compassion and how to do it properly, as well as a reflection on the effect of Tonglen. Afterwards we go straight to the practice. After the meditation there is a question that a group of people had. The question was about not losing touch with Dharma even though we might get swamped with mundane tasks. I think this applies to many of us. Alan first gives a striking "bad-cop" approach to a part of the question talking about priorities. It makes a lot of sense. Then comes the real question about not separating from Dharma and alan gives a profoundly inspiring response which I believe might be very interesting and motivating to many of us all over the world (as well as the "bad-cop response") I stripped the last part of the podcast but don't worry, I won't make you wait till Sunday! I'll upload it right after this one and it deals with how to approach a conversation about the relationship of mind and brain. A favorite! Guess who took the picture and where it’s from!
Today got quite long for a morning practice, but it was very interesting! Alan immediately got going with a very sharp discussion of the current status of acceptance that cognitive sciences or even just attentional training such as Shamatha have in the scientific materialist view. He draws on several events from his experience with his subtle humor but also with striking clarity and in my opinion, sad truth. I will not try to describe or paraphrase what he said because it would not be very precise, but if you really are not interested then feel free to jump to 20:00! There we start our usual morning meditation which in this case was a great practice of Settling the Mind in its Natural State (a way to directly observe our minds), and after the practice Alan explains the three qualities of a worthy student of Buddhism, and explains that this morning was a preview of the talk that is to come this afternoon. He says that I am partly to blame for what got him going this morning and for this afternoon, and I will admit that this is because I asked him a question about debating the scientific materialist view of the relationship between the mind and brain. So if you are interested in these sorts of things don't miss this afternoon! And as Alan jokingly said, "if you want a peaceful evening, you might want to bring earplugs!" The relevant photo is from the Mind and Life XVIII conference in Dharamsala (2009) (to get you excited for this afternoon!)
We start with a few comments about the term "Loving Kindness" and definitions of love (neodarwinism, scientific materialism, freud, all the goodies) and the shortcomings of looking at human beings as simple animals from the metaphysical point of view. Then we start to observe the attitude of self-centeredness which we frequently have and how it it has different "concentric rings" (which we can extend to include all beings and therefore cure this self-centeredness). After this powerful reflective introduction we have a 24 minute session of practice of Loving Kindness and some Dzogchen bases. After the practice we have a question on Dzogchen and how some forms of it can be dangerous when used incorrectly or without preparation, and lastly we have a very juicy "trailer" of lucid dreaming. Which means I am going to advertize here: If you keep faithfully listening to the podcast we'll eventually come to great lucid dreaming practices! So keep listening and tell all of your friends! Everyone loves lucid dreaming. This photo is the same stupa in Kathmandu from the morning podcast but this time our creative Ale (or Julian? saludos!) used the trusty black and white setting!
This morning we had a 4 minuteintroduction on achieving Shamatha with breath awareness (and the acquired sign), followed by a classic, old school practice as taught by Buddhaghosa and practiced for millenia. This practice should be at the bottom of the food pyramid! Afterwards Alan explains some tips to slip back into meditation sessions with less transition from our "ordinary" state. Enjoy! This beautiful picture of Kathmandu courtesy of our cheerful phuket Sangha friend Ale!
This podcast is centered around a Loving Kindness practice designed to help develop joy and vision for our Shamatha practice, but it will work for many things. As almost always we start with a very good introduction followed by the 24 minute practice. Afterwards there is a short footnote about the difference between achieving Shamatha (access to the first Dhyāna) and actually achieving the first Dhyāna and what each entails. The podcast ends there because was a question asked, "Alan, how would you like to see the development of Buddhism and Contemplative Science in the West within the next 10-15 years." As you can imagine, I will leave this for the much-loved sunday bonus! If you know Alan, you know that this question deserves its own podcast episode. This picture is of the spirit houses (or san phra phum in Thai) at the entryway to the Mind Centre! The theory behind them is very interesting once again I suggest consulting our great friend, Google!
This morning we went back to the valuable practice of settling the attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen, a "transitional" practice. The podcast starts with an introduction about struggles, the "casino of samsara," discipline, and counting in breath awareness practice. After the practice, there is a reflection on the reality of suffering. The picture is of our gompa, or teaching hall! It's part of a bunch of pictures that have been uploaded to Alan's facebook today. Here (on the website) is a fancy button in case you want to become a fan! (Or “Like” as they now call it):