More and more, the teaching practice takes me into the community where I engage directly with students. My focus right now is on bringing the continuity of the Dharma into the market place. Although retreating is an important form for self-knowledge, I find myself less interested in the immediate results of a retreat and more interested in helping students investigate their relationship to the ups and downs of their everyday life.
Nature, death and spontaneous freedom continually interweave themselves into my teaching. From the forest of Thailand, where I spent several years, I bring a deep awareness of the healing quality of nature into my teachings. Relaxing into our true nature allows us to realize what it means to be a human being. It is here we find a resting point, a counterbalance to the speed and turbulence of our culture.
My work in hospice brings a sense of urgency into my teaching. Working with the theme of death and dying reveals the here and now of life to us, how important it is to open to each loss, change and transition that marks our path. Life is precious. We need to awaken without hesitation.
Many of us crave to be more calm and centered. We know that life has more to offer than this fleeting material world. For each of us, the Dharma offers an immediacy of freedom for which we do not have to strive or wait. In practice, we can learn to relax deeply into the moment and rediscover spontaneous freedom.
Feelings move quickly into a narrative that captures our attention and promotes further images, all with their own feelings and further story. The sense of "I" arises, and we are surrounded by feelings and reactions to feelings, giving us a sense of ourselves in time and space. We call this life.
Neutral feelings pervade our life when we try to maintain a high level of intensity for our life's purpose and meaning. Busyness is an indication of this dependency, but as soon as the energy decreases below an established threshold, our mind wonders, and we become dull, listless, and uninterested. Awareness has not waned in the slightest, but we have been conditioned to stop paying attention.
Once a moment is avoided, a world view of division and separation springs forth, accompanied by a compelling narrative that justifies the aversion. Now we are in full armor with the world as our adversary, tying us to a ceaseless argument with it.
Once pleasure becomes a determined pursuit, the world divides itself into a pleasure/pain polarity. We now pursue pleasure, both to sustain a pleasant feeling and to avoid the discontent of pain.<br />
The Second Foundation of Feelings is most easily held within the First Foundation of Body. The body gives clues to the mind's feelings. Postures such as physically leaning toward, away, or wandering in confusion show that the body is moving in alignment to a conditioned reference.
Feelings are the first conditioned reference we offer the moment. Through our feelings we are prepared to turn away, ignore, or grasp the experience at hand. Feelings set up our attitudes, personal story, and character to carry us forward in a predisposed way.