Thanks for your interest in this course. You can find this course on insight timer with a membership; otherwise, please contact me for more details. See the course description and daily descriptions below- each day is 10-15 minutes of audio with a short teaching and meditation:
Buddhist scripture describes five spiritual faculties- Faith, Energy, Mindfulness, Concentration, and Wisdom- these faculties can be described as useful qualities for the pursuit of skill. While you could apply these qualities to any skill, we are particularly interested in strengthening the skill of leading a Good Life. Furthermore, the scripture suggests that these faculties can be cultivated in the practitioner to the point that the faculties themselves are finally released, with the release of all clinging- this is one definition of the well-known term, nirvana. While this may seem like a lofty goal, the practice is actually very down to Earth. To begin to understand these terms, listen to these phrases that connect them: faith is sometimes translated as confidence; having confidence creates energy; an energized mind is more alert and better able to be mindful; mindfulness helps us recall what is needed to make ourselves more settled, tranquil, and concentrated; concentration creates a stable platform so that our wisdom, or discernment, has more clarity. In addition to our everyday understanding of these faculties, we’ll look at some ways they are specifically discussed in Buddhist scripture. The course approaches the practice as a set of skills we can continue to strengthen, and also considers some of the gradual and sudden, subtle and overt, aspects of becoming more awake. Each day will have a lesson about one of the faculties, followed by a short guided meditation to practice what we’ve learned. I encourage you to share questions and comments in the course classroom, where I can respond with written and audio responses. This not only helps you get more out of the course, it can also illuminate certain aspects of the course for other students, and for me. Please join me for a practical, and hopefully fun and enlightening journey into this ancient teaching.
Day 1. Faith (conviction): We will consider spiritual faith as something that is not at all blind, but full of growth and appreciation of a sometimes hidden world for which we continue to deepen our understanding. The lesson will describe how we incrementally build faith through simple things like trust in friends that we admire, and how this same process can be applied to our practice. The lesson will finish with an opportunity to engage this faculty in a guided meditation.
Day 2. Energy (persistence): Energy is the fuel generated by inspiration, by faith, and as we become more attuned to its presence, we can let it grow to help our practice flourish. This factor can be understood as initiatory, but also as a factor that keeps us going in the practice when we might otherwise have quit. We’ll explore how energy may be more available than we think if we just remember our natural interest and curiosity in the observation of our being.
Day 3. Mindfulness: A centerpiece of Buddhist practice and theory, mindfulness is an ever-present quality of recollection, present awareness, and understanding of consequences. We’ll talk about Right Mindfulness, as it is referred to in the noble eight fold path, and consider what its opposite might be. We’ll come to see how mindfulness is interwoven in all aspects of our practice, possibly more than any other factor described in Buddhist scripture.
Day 4. Concentration: Concentration is often what we think of when thinking about meditation. It is a quality of gathered faculties- a coming together. Concentration on a meditation object, theme, or subject matter is part of the practice, but there is also a transcendent quality of unified being in mind and body which becomes more and more common through practice. This in turn reveals concentration as a factor of stability. In a way, we set up our concentration so that other factors have the best chance of success.
Day 5. Wisdom (discernment): Wisdom has an air of mystery about it, as if it’s something that’s cultivated through the ages and attained only by the old, and possibly strange. But it essentially means getting better and better at knowing the right thing to do, the healthier way to think and be in the world. It’s worth noting that wisdom is demonstrated through one simple choice after another. Becoming more and more refined in our access to the present moment offers us increasing ability to demonstrate this faculty. This is possibly why the wise seem mysterious, as they are witnessing subtleties that do not appear to those whose attention is scattered rather than rooted in the present.