Ordinary Mind Precepts Program 2008-09
Awareness naturally awakens our aspiration to benefit all beings. The relational quality of lived experience is the complete function of “being Buddha.” It lies in our liberating, intimate encounter and interaction with all beings. For this reason, Buddhism rests on a deeply ethical foundation. The Buddha taught the principles of ethical living throughout his forty-five years of teaching, to every kind of audience from farmers to disciples to kings. Although this ethical foundation parallels the ethical teachings of every major world religion in some ways, Buddhism is unique in the way the precepts are presented. Rather than reflecting moral judgments or declarations of “what is good” and “what is bad or evil,” the Buddha taught an active process of inquiry into that which is wholesome and that which is unwholesome. The definition of what is wholesome is simply that which leads towards liberation and well-being for oneself and others. Rather than setting out rules or commandments, the Buddha urged his followers to investigate for themselves their own words, thoughts, and actions to discover their qualities and consequences. This very process is taking the Buddhist path. He taught a set of precepts to help focus this ongoing inquiry.
Ordinary Mind will offer a one-year program of once-a-month meetings to explore the Buddhist precepts from a contemporary practice perspective. This program will follow the Ordinary Mind principle of experiential work, rather than following a classroom or academic model. We will incorporate into each meeting some time for sitting, some writing, small experiments or exercises, some inquiry work, and discussion. We will also draw on contemporary teachings about attachment and attunement in interpersonal neurobiology, internal family systems, spiral dynamics, and Hakomi. The real heart of this course, however, is utterly simple: it is in the everyday work, lives, and relationships of the participants, the ground of true practice.
At the end of the year, we will offer a small, informal ceremony for those who would like to commit themselves to the path of the precepts in their own lives. This step is entirely voluntary; participants will decide if it is appropriate for them. The ceremony will be a public acknowledgment of a personal commitment and dedication to the practice path as it unfolds right here and right now, in this very life.
You do not need to be experienced in Zen practice to begin the Ordinary Mind precepts program; you may just be curious about the subject. We will ask you to maintain a daily sitting practice (even a very short period of sitting each day) and commit to attending the monthly meetings to the extent that you are able to throughout the course of the program. We will use as our text for the program Diane Rizzetto’s book Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation With Intelligence and Compassion. (Amazon link) We will also be using the Learning Record, a way of documenting for your own use your experiences as the program unfolds. This is a new way of supporting spiritual practice and we hope you will provide feedback to help refine it.
The meetings will be scheduled for the third Thursday of each month, beginning in September 2008 and ending in August 2009, from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening. The cost will be $300 if paid in advance, or $30 per month if paid over the course of the year. To register for this program, please complete the application form linked here in both Word and PDF formats. If you have any questions about the program, please let me know.
All my warmest wishes,