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 a great introduction on the Four Inmeasurables and how they interrelate based on Buddhaghosa and the Tibetan Buddhism perspective, including the "faux facsimiles" or close but very distorted versions of the 4I (yes! I finally found an abbreviation that I will be using from now on) and some commentary on how to remedy the delusion about thinking that we will be the lucky ones in samsara. After finding that Loving Kindness is the cure for that, we go into a great, deep practice to "get real." Afterwards there is some reflection on the practice and a few misc. Q&A. This samsaric picture by Malcolm was taken before the retreat. This will probably be the only beach picture you see from us!
This morning we started the cycle all over again with a delicious soothing practice of Full-Body awareness (or as Alan calls it, "The Infirmary!") He also gives a very brief introduction on why it is worthwhile to go into the infirmary and about "balancing earth and wind" and "balancing earth and sky". The picture (once again by Sara) is of the reclining Buddha at Prathong temple here in Phuket. He went into parinirvana in this position, which shows that sitting isn’t the only position for meditation!
Today we also finished the basic cycle of the Four Inmeasurables with another practice of equanimity. We first get an introduction to the sheer importance of the practices of Four Inmeasurables (and how they not only are tremendously beneficial practices in themselves but also how they are the "golden ground" for cultivating Bodihchitta) and brief instructions for Tonglen. We then proceed to a practice of equanimity with Tonglen mixed in, and end with some good assorted Questions and Answers (Q&A). The picture of this podcast is beautiful Chalong temple here in Phuket! This great photo was kindly provided by Sara.
Today we practiced the last method in the "cycle" of Shamatha methods for this course. It is the final variation of Awareness of Awareness. In this podcast we go straight into the meditation followed by a brief recap of the four Awareness of Awareness practices and a short reminder on the importance of Shamatha. This is today’s sky here at the Mind Centre, perfect for Awareness of Awareness practice!
It’s Sunday (for us!) and here is the bonus I promised! After yesterday's practice on Equanimity, Alan said he had to add a couple of "footnotes" to the question about Nirvana and Rigpa from two days ago. You can expect what follows: 30 minutes that capture you and just keep escalating and escalating into a pure jewel of a lecture. And I say escalating because as we approach the end of the podcast, well... just listen for yourself! I will (humbly) say from my opinion that listening to this is probably one of the best ways you can use 30 minutes of your life. Several of my fellow Phuket Sanga members asked me to make sure that this recording was going to be available in the future, and with very good reason. We love this kind of stuff over here, so as Alan ocassionaly says after these kinds of talks "Hopefully that wasn't a waste of time for you. It certainly wasn't for us!"
This afternoon we started with more cultivation of equanimity, specifically dispelling the "I-It" relationship with ourselves. First we had a great introduction to the concept, a couple of questions arose, and then the meditation (an extremely valuable practice). Afterwards, Alan reflects on some of the incorrect "selling points" of buddhism that are sometimes portrayed in the media and as an effect of this modern (last 50 years) boom in Buddhism and other misconceptions. There was no Q&A, only one very long and simply astonishing lecture which I will upload as a bonus tomorrow! It will really be worth your time. This great photo of our teaching hall Buddha was taken by Malcolm.
In this morning session, we went straight into an Awareness of Awareness meditation with some extra techniques. Short and sweet! This is the third method in our Awareness of Awareness cycle. (You may have to turn up the volume on this one! Sorry!) This photo is also part of the great series from Malcolm!
This afternoon we meditated on the fourth of the 4 Immeasurables: Equanimity. There is a preamble on Equanimity, followed by the meditation and by some reflections of the importance of this practice. Afterwards there is a Q&A with a question about the breath followed by a question which again turned into a goldmine: it started out with "what exactly is the difference between nirvana and rigpa" and evolved into a very deep overview of the path and the final stages just prior to complete enlightenment. In Alan's words, "deep waters." Very interesting topic. This photo of the cloud front was provided by Rosa!
This morning we practiced a slightly different method Awareness of Awareness, or Shamatha without a sign. After the meditation, there is a short section on insomnia and anxiety that can arise when in retreat. It is mostly focused on our situation here in Phuket but I included it because it can be relevant to many around the world, especially if you are doing retreat with us! May it serve you well! By the way, the podcast picture for this episode is part of a Thangka called “The Nine Progressive Stages of Mental Development” (or other names). Google it along with its explanation, it’s very inspiring! You can view the Thangka full size at the podcast website.
One of the things we love about Alan is his ability to answer a single question with a 30 minute reply in which he not only answers the question completely but he explores all of the branches and leaves you deeply inspired. I felt the need to separate this into a separate episode for those who do not have time to listen to everything. I feel the start of the bonus episodes! Alan talks about awareness of awareness (specifically the ability to realize rigpa through this practice), the several buddhist paths, the solid foundations of his teachings, the reasons for Shamatha, and more. This is a “must listen” episode which I hope will leave you as inspired as it did us.
This afternoon we went straight into a practice of empathetic joy, followed by a reflection on guilt, remorse, and how empathetic joy (mudita) can affect our deeds. Afterwards there is just a short Q&A section because a large part of it was extracted for the next episode of the podcast. The picture is of yesterday's beautiful sunset right outside the teaching hall!
A brief preface to the practice of Shamatha Without a Sign as taught by Padmasambhava, followed by a 24 minute practice and some commentary on the practice as well as some tips as to how to maintain mindfulness throughout the day. As a bonus, we get the first taste of Alan’s fluent Tibetan with the addition of our newest Sangha member: Mugi from Mongolia! Please enjoy this sublime practice as we did! This sky photo was also provided by Malcolm, and I think it fits this practice very well!
This afternoon lecture was about one very important but often overlooked aspect of the four immeasurables: Empathetic Joy. It starts with a very precise, relevant, and bright introduction about the guilt, self-loathing, and low self esteem that plagues modernity and the west. Afterwards there is a 24 minute meditation on equanimity, focused mainly on the Phuket retreatants but relevant anywhere in the world. To finish, there is a long Q&A session with many practical questions that have come up during the personal meditations. This full moon picture was also provided by Malcolm!
In this Morning Session, we practice Settling the Mind in its Natural State with an emphasis on observing the spaces in between thoughts and the "background" of the mind rather than the foreground and the thoughts. Alan starts with a brief introduction, followed by the practice, and an outro regarding sensory distractions such as noises. Another artistic shot by Malcolm. Enjoy!
In this afternoon session, Alan Wallace gives a brief introduction to the wisdom aspect of compassion, followed by the practice, some reflexions, and a Q&A session mostly focused on attachment. This great photo was provided by Malcolm! Please enjoy as we did!