Suppose, bhikkhus, a man wandering through a forest would see an ancient path, an ancient road travelled upon by people in the past. He would follow it and would see an ancient city, an ancient capital that had been inhabited by people in the past, with parks, groves, ponds, and ramparts, a delightful place. Then the man would inform the king or a royal minister: ‘Sire, know that while wandering through the forest I saw an ancient path, an ancient road travelled upon by people in the past. I followed it and saw an ancient city, an ancient capital that had been inhabited by people in the past, with parks, groves, ponds, and ramparts, a delightful place. Renovate that city, sire!’
Saṃyutta Nikāya 12
Welcome to Exploring Maps of Our Inner Worlds, a course that was initially inspired by the concise, thought-provoking book by Robin Cooper (Finding the Mind by Dharmachari Ratnaprabha from the West London Buddhist Centre). Whilst the course remains connected to the book and there has been an extensive dialogue between myself and Ratnaprabha, the course takes its exploration a little wider than the confines of his original work.
What is the course about?
This course is an opportunity to examine and to follow a number of ‘maps’ of the ancient city referred to in the quotation above. The term map is used to denote a framework or system of practice that enables one to ‘rediscover and excavate’ your own mind. Each map leads in a similar if not the same hidden treasure - greater awareness of self, other and the world.
Over seven weeks you will be exposed to some familiar maps and charts as well as some that may seem mysterious and strange. Like the old seafaring maps painted by hand on vellum, one will need to be vigilant on the journey as one may encounter alluring merpeople or be entangled in the tense coils of sea-serpents. The bottom line is that over the next seven weeks, you will have a variety of new ways of investigating and understanding the ancient city of the Dharma which manifests in your own mind.
What ‘maps’ will be explored?
Each week we will address a key question that sets the direction for that session’s expedition. Each week you will explore the theory as well as the practice outlined in each map. A map, after all, is a means to an end not the end in itself.
• Week 1 - Why find the mind?
• Week 2 - What are you made of?
• Week 3 - Where does the mind take you?
• Week 4 - How do you change your mind?
• Week 5 - Are our minds interconnected?
• Week 6 - Am I more than my mind?
• Week 7 - The mind at war. Who wins?
What is the structure of the course?
Each week begins at 7pm with a meditation followed by a short break and exploration of that week’s question until 9:30pm.
Each week a practice will be explored and made available here on The Buddhist Centre.com for personal reflection. Participants are encouraged to comment upon and share their experience of the practice over the week on an online forum.