Bristol Buddhist Centre
Day Four of our Virtual Rains Retreat in Bristol with Tejananda and there were still about 50 of us logging on, this time to explore the aspect of Spiritual Rebirth in the ‘Dynamic Mandala’ presentation of the System of Practice. Tejananda began with some reflections on the benefits of the ‘principial’ nature of the system of practice - especially the flexibility of application which it offers. This retreat is working with these principles in a somatic way, ie with the body as a field of energy or sensation. After a brief recap on the preceding stages we had a 20-minute meditation to help us become present for the teachings to come. There was a little time for any questions arising from yesterday’s theme (Spiritual Death).
In introducing today’s theme, Spiritual Rebirth, Tejananda mentioned the difficulties which some people encounter with the language used in the system of practice. He offered a one word equivalent of Spiritual Rebirth as an alternative: realization. He described the way in which, when we realise something, it brings a sense of clarity, openness, relief. Seeing through views around the view of self - or something much more minor. We become free of something we were holding onto - a particular delusion.. For most people insight develops by increments, by very brief experiences. He explored two dangers around this - doubting the experience and grasping on to the memory/idea/concept of the experience long after it had passed. Insight is only every here and how. Sangaharakshita uses the image of insight arising in flashes and the metaphor that our practice is like building a lightning conductor to increase the likelihood that this lightening can strike.
Tejananda went on to explore the ‘aftermath’ of insight experiences as an aspect of Spiritual Rebirth. The ‘laundry’ after the ‘ecstasy’. The ego-mind is still functioning, the samskaras (habit patterns) still operational, so we need to work with the kleshas (defliements) We can do this through ethical practice, cultivating samadhi and metta and we can also engage with the kleshas in direct, somatic experience.. He explored ‘Why do we ‘klesh’?’ And the importance of recognising that a kindly approach to seeing through the kleshas is needed - pushing away won’t work. ‘What we resist persists.’ The kleshas need to be ‘loved to (spiritual) death’!
We then did a practice called ‘bringing the kleshas onto the path’, in which we deliberately brought to mind an irritation or a craving and then allowed prapanca a free rein before switching strongly into awareness of our bodily sensations do as to experience and come into relationship with the klesha somatically. There was time for observations and questions after this practice.
The morning concluded with a short practice of sitting without moving at all - ‘Sitting with our own s**t’, as Reggie Ray called it. Once again, there were some shared reflections on this practice to conclude.
Although this material is open to all, please note it is intended for those with a regular meditation practice.