Free Buddhist Audio

Free Buddhist AudioHappy Holidays, Everyone! So, this is as close as we could get to a Christmas edition… You know, ‘Buddha Nature – easily confused for ‘incarnation’, all that…

No? Oh, well, what this most definitely is is an absolute cracker of a talk from Sagaramati. A brilliant, scholarly-but-accessible, look at the origins and development of the Tathagatagarbha (Buddha Nature) school of Buddhist thought through the lense of early Buddhist scripture.

Many misunderstandings are addressed as Sagaramati (aka. Professor Robert Morrison), with his usual wry, testy humour, takes us back to basics in considering just how – if at all – Tathagatagarbha doctrine is in harmony with Buddhist tradition. And he surprises himself in the process, evoking a path of practice rooted in kindness and a vision of ever-present possibility for all of us.

Talk given in 2004.

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Direct download: podcast27.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 3:15pm EDT

Free Buddhist AudioOk, buckle up. ‘Padmasambhava’ by Danavira is, as we’ve come to expect from the man, a rollicking ride of a talk. Actually, ‘talk’ doesn’t really do it justice: try incantation, wrong-footing evocation, dramatic monologue and enactment through storytelling, with a good dose of chanting and singing thrown in – some planned, some spontaneous. Sprinkle in a healthy quotient of hilarity and excitement and you’ve pretty much got yourself a knock-out, world-spinning excursion into the magical realism of the Great Guru, the Second Buddha, the Master of Enchantments. Be shaken by this. Be beguiled…

Please note: In this talk Danavira uses and adapts verses from the excellent ‘Self-Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness’ by John Reynolds (Station Hill Press 1989)

Talk given at Padmaloka Retreat Centre, 2001

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Direct download: podcast26.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 6:38pm EDT

Free Buddhist AudioOver here, Clemenza! Ever wanted to know about ‘General Systems Theory’ – one of those subjects you always hear vague things about yet never quite know what it actually is? Ever wondered why we seem to love a good gangster? Well, then this is for you! To tell the truth, we would have picked this anyway for the podcast because the title was just so good! But it happens to be an excellent and very full short talk by Khemasuri on a growing area of contemporary Buddhist philosophical thought. This one requires a bit of concentration – but it pays off with her passionately argued case for embracing personal responsibility and community engagement as a way of effecting social change in our troubled world. Just like “going to the mattresses”. But in a good way…

Talk given at the Buddhafield Festival, Devon, 2007


01 ‘Evolution or extinction’ by Sangharakshita (1971) – this talk as a response; the Buddha’s basic teaching and experience; conceptual constructions of a specific time and culture – ‘pratitya samutpada’ (‘dependent arising’) and ‘general systems theory’

02 The difference between causality and conditionality; Cartesian thinking – from the holistic to the mechanistic; conditionality through the whole of human culture and experience; properties of all systems; feedback mechanisms; systems evolving in complexity – evolution and change; points of instability – the possibillity of collapse; non-predictability and synergy

03 Repercussions for how we act; the Cartesian model of the world and its effect on behaviour; systems theory, actions and consequences; means and ends as the same thing

04 Social networks, systems and change; ‘event-triggering process’ – shocks to the system and creative response; change with a community of individuals; the properties of a living community

05 What the Mafia can teach us about supporting change; Fritjof Capra’s ideas on the criminal underworld’s success; what the Mafia does well as a community; towards an ethical underworld

06 What we can do individually and collectively; the revolutionary nature of the ‘metta bhavana’ meditation (‘development of loving kindness’); actions and consequences again; taking risks; different ways of doing community; collective change is not comfortable – the validity of strong emotions

07 The importance of passing on knowledge and promoting another vision of the world; diversity; don’t leave your values and principles at home; acting from the heart; the ‘infinite game’; profound personal feedback from your efforts

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Direct download: podcast25.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 6:40pm EDT

This is another great talk from the ‘Dharma Warriors’ series given at the Buddhafield Festival 2006. Karunagita is the author of ‘Growing as a Parent – What Buddhism Has to Offer’, and here she presents some of that material to an audience of summer loving practitioners under the blue skies of Devon. Settle back and enjoy the sound of drums, kids’ voices, and Karunagita’s perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of raising a child as part of your practice of the Dharma. She encourages us to see and accept the gifts of love, letting go and awareness (of our limitations and of our mortality) that are inherent in the life of any parent – and we catch a hint of the growth and wisdom that are possible for the heart as it opens to meet its experience in the most fundamental relationship of all.

Talk given at the Buddhafield Festival, Devon 2006

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Direct download: podcast24.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

A short but sweet talk from San Francisco’s very own Suvarnaprabha, in which she explores the Buddhist vision of compassion through her own experience of meditation and contact with inmates within the U.S. prison system. Moving stuff.

Talk given at the Western Buddhist Order convention, 2005


01 Survanaprabha – poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca; a personal interest in violence

02 Violence as resistance in meditation; compassion as not resisting experience

03 Prisoners talking about self-perpetuating violence

04 The vastness of compassion; the difficulty of talking about shunyata and compassion

05 An anecdote about selflessness; quote from Shunryu Suzuki

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Direct download: podcast23.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 8:18am EDT

Time for another talk from Vajradarshini. More poetry, more Rumi, more listening joy. Actually, we just liked the title so much we had to go for it this month – but, in fact, it’s another splendid journey around the idea of Enlightenment, using the languages of surrender and discipline from the Sufi context. It’s as heady as a sumptuous wine, but also sobering and down to earth, whether we’re “following a railing in the dark” or walking lost “inside the red world”. Drink up!

Talk given at Taraloka Retreat Centre, 2005


01 Starting with a poem by Rumi – not a ‘sensible’ talk

02 ‘Enlightenment’; following a railing in the dark; wine in Rumi’s poetry; the Dharma as studying the self; surrender and discipline

03 The Tavern – pushing off for Truth; ‘managing’ samsara and settling down

04 Fermentation; being cooked – slowly

05 How we are cups; two ways we limit ourselves – i. literalism; a quote from Aloka – abandoning ideas of what the ‘path’ is

06 Sangharakshita on literalism and craving; effective Going for Refuge and giving up limited ideas; the antidote to beauty

07 ii. Utilitarianism; Sangharakshita’s idea of the Greater Mandala of Uselessness; literal takes on aesthetics; breaking the cups

08 Pushing off into truth; kinds of connection with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; Reality and form and emptiness; visualistaion practice and life – things arising and disolving

09 ‘Fana’ and ‘baka’ in Rumi’s poetry – two streamings across the doorsill; Shams-e-Tabrizi – Rumi’s teacher

10 The importance of reflecting on form and emptiness; the eight-point mind training – taking all obstacles with you on the path; the Bodhisattva Ideal from the perspective of emptiness; spiritual practice in a world neither real nor illusory

11 Pema Chodron on how to avoid burn-out; shunyata and unrealistic ideals; a quote by Dennis Potter near to death; the trivial and the important; birdsong

12 Hsuan-Tsang’s ‘trusting mind’; introducing the dirt we buy to the dirt we already have

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Direct download: podcast22.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 4:07pm EDT

Here is the second part of Paramabandhu’s excellent exploration of the lessons Buddhist techniques around meditation and mindfulness training can bring to the field of mental health – especially to problems with depression and addiction. Drawing on many years of experience as a consultant psychiatrist and Dharma teacher, here he takes questions on his previous talk and elaborates on the general theme. There’s a wide range of material opened up – and considerable detail about how we can actually go about applying these techniques to whatever challenges we face in your own lives. Essential listening.

Please note – the questions in this recording were made at very low levels. We’ve amplified and clarified where possible – but the general sound quality drops noticeably at these points. However, they are all now audible and, in almost all instances, questions are repeated by Paramabandhu before he answers.

Talk given at San Francisco Buddhist Center, 2006


01 Question-and-answer session – two books to reference on mindfulness; working with depression – discrepancy monitor and rumination

02 Knowing what you can and cannot change – considered action

03 Difficulty doing mindfulness work when actively depressed; noticing subtle shades of pleasant and unpleasant

04 Can mindfulness initiate depression? Stepping out of patterns of thinking; difference between rumination and ‘staying with’; body awareness

05 Over-active mind; 12 step program – something to actually do; expectations and suffering; having your experience – the truth as sometimes uncomfortable

06 Letting go of what you don’t have; relationship break-up; staying with unpleasant experience and not compounding it – the Buddha in the ‘Dart Sutta’

07 Not identifying with one feeling; sexual addiction; recovery from addiction and mindfulness practice

08 Rumination in the body; working with internal sensations; using metaphors to work with your mind

09 Psoriasis and mindfulness

10 What is meditation? A brief introduction and exercise – the ‘Three Minute Breathing Space’

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Direct download: podcast21.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 10:49am EDT

This is a timely and invaluable talk from Paramabandhu. Drawing on many years of experience as a consultant psychiatrist and Dharma teacher, he invites us to consider the lessons Buddhist techniques around meditation and mindfulness training can bring to the field of mental health – especially to problems with depression and addiction. The talk evokes the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutta to explore the four traditional foundations of mindfulness and discuss their potential use in therapeutic contexts. It is a kindly and empowering expression of practical hope, whose message applies to us all as we struggle to overcome whatever it is that holds us back from greater freedom in our lives.

Part 2 of this podcast will feature a question-and-answer session based on the material

Talk given at the San Francisco Buddhist Center, 2006


01 Contemporary interest in mindfulness; brief therapeutic history of meditation since the 1960s; the Buddha as behavioural therapist – the obese king, Kisa Gotami and her baby

02 John Kabat-Zinn and mindfulness-based stress reduction; other therapies based around mindfulness

03 Mindfulness in Buddhist tradition; the Satipatthana Sutta; sati and sampajanya; analogies for mindfulness; the four foundations of mindfulness – an analysis of technique in practice

04 Four aspects of mindfulness in therapeutic context; i clocking what’s going on – being on automatic pilot

05 ii Sitting with your experience; Rumi’s poem ‘The Guest House’; the kindly aspect of awareness; body awareness and mental proliferation

06 iii Perspective; cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy – the implicit and the explicit; not taking our thoughts so seriously; iv choice – mindfulness of purpose

07 Taking awareness deeper; freedom; Kotita’s ‘Song of Realization’

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Direct download: podcast20.mp3
Category:Free Buddhist Audio -- posted at: 10:28am EDT

Settle back and touch base with this very enjoyable and, at times, inspiring talk by Saddharaja on the great blue Buddha of the eastern quarter of the mandala – the Unshakeable One, the Imperturbable Akshobya. This is particularly good because it departs from standard fare on the figure. We get a great reading from Wordsworth, a stimulating discussion of ethics and their relationship to issues of doubt and self-confidence, as well as a meeting with a wooly mammoth… Listen out too for a terrific story about standing inside a mountain which communicates something essential about the depth of presence and mystery Akshobya is all about.

Talk given at Padmaloka Retreat Centre, Winter Retreat 2001

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Direct download: podcast19.mp3
Category:Podcasts -- posted at: 3:36pm EDT

This wonderful talk by Ratnaguna looks at the Pureland tradition of Shinran, comparing some of his approaches to those of the contemporary teacher John Kabat-Zinn, pioneer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. The nature of ‘problems’ versus ‘difficulties’ is explored – notions of ‘acceptance’, ‘development’, and awareness itself are considered from new angles that can shed light on our experience of failure and suffering. A lovely, sympathetic and good-natured look at the foolishness of human beings which can, when held in the heart, begin to approach wisdom itself.

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Direct download: podcast18.mp3
Category:Podcasts -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT