Fall 2011 Shamatha Retreat



Dharma talks and guided meditations given six days per week during the Fall, 2011 eight-week Shamatha retreat at the Thanyapura Mind Centre in Phuket, Thailand, with B. Alan Wallace. Podcasts will be posted daily during the retreat.


  • 97 Finishing with loving kindness (and a lovely ceremony)

    21/10/2011 Duration: 58min

    We come to our very last session with a meditation on loving kindness and dedication of merit (0:50) Afterwards our group prepared such a lovely closing ceremony that we figured other people might like to cultivate some empathetic joy :) Thank you for listening! If you found these wonderful teachings beneficial and would like to help continue this vision, please consider making a donation to help support all these projects You can do so by going to http://www.sbinstitute.com/donations

  • 96 For a moment, everything can be ok

    21/10/2011 Duration: 38min

    We come to the last day of the retreat, where Alan invites us to reboot our mind by way of shamatha. Silent meditation starts at 01:16 Afterwards Alan shares a story and shows us how through shamatha, for a moment everything can be ok

  • 95 From chaos to calm

    21/10/2011 Duration: 58min

    Alan leads the group, who has started talking now, through a shamatha session (02:13) designed to bring the mind down from agitation to calm. He speaks to a question (35:53) regarding the Dzogchen view of rigpa and the extent to which one can provide a reason as to why one who awakens from the dream of reality won’t fall asleep again. Note: The first 5 or 10 seconds were missing because Alan started talking before the computer had finished loading. Sorry about that! We were coming back from our (hectic) group photo session so he was talking about that, and that's also why this session is shorter.

  • 94 Infusing the day with shamatha

    20/10/2011 Duration: 27min

    Alan briefly speaks on how to infuse a busier day with shamatha and mindfulness. He also announces that he will do 6 months retreat at the end of 2012, so there will be no 8 week shamatha retreat in Spring 2013. Silent meditation starts at 01:38

  • 93 The tornado of OCDD

    20/10/2011 Duration: 01h45min

    There are three strategies to protect from the tornado of thoughts in the mind. The first is to go to a shelter which is mindfulness of breathing – releasing and releasing the thoughts. The second is the tornado chasers who learn a great deal about tornadoes without getting caught in them – that is settling the mind in its natural state. The third is to go up into the tornado and come out on the other side in the expanse of blue sky – that is awareness of awareness. Silent meditation starts at 04:18 Questions (29:02) Were the four immeasurable taught as a part of the year of shamatha practice with Gen Lamrimpa? Could you discuss further the role of the observer participant related to frozen time.

  • 92 Whenever there's meeting, there's parting

    20/10/2011 Duration: 47min

    We are beginning our final descent. The deva realm of Tushita and the pure land of Tushita sit side by side. In the deva realm when it is time for a deva to leave their flowers fade and they suffer great mental anguish over leaving. However in Tushita, the pure land, beings have been training their minds in dharma and leave there because of their great compassion to help suffering sentient beings. So when they leave it is a time of celebration. Likewise, if we were at the sports and leisure center down the street we might feel sadness to be leaving the sun and the pool and the fit people. But since we are leaving the mind center with the intention to offer our best to those we meet it is not a cause of sadness but a cause of celebration. Silent meditation starts at 22:34

  • 91 Purifying our vision

    19/10/2011 Duration: 01h33min

    Silent meditation (no introduction) starts at 0:18 Questions (25:28): 1. Comment on the concepts of time and space. 2. What role do the “Hidden Lands” play in the context of Buddhist practice? 3. In the Vajrayana, there is the practice of the illusory body. Is there anything like this in the Mahayana? What is the concept of “wilderness” in practice? 4. What is the role of devotion and reverence in practice? 5. Pondering the metaphor of the carriage and the Four Immeasurables being like four horses, I have explored what the other parts of the metaphor are in my own practice. For example, the reins (which must be held not too tight or not too loose) are the discipline of my practice in the hands of the driver—who might be inattentive or alert, a good driver or not so good on any given day. The wheels and undercarriage are the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind (Precious human existence, Death and Impermanence, the Law of Karma, and the Defects of Samsara). Who is inside the carriage (a passive passenger or

  • 90 Moving from coal to solar energy

    19/10/2011 Duration: 32min

    Relying on hedonic pleasure is like a town that relies on a coal-fired generator. We begin to realize how much pollution this represents and seek more environmental friendly energy sources. In the same way we can begin to gradually shift into the "solar panels" of genuine happiness, by way of simplicity and contentment. Alan comments how even the Dalai Lama has stopped watching TV as he says it clouds his mind. Silent meditation starts at 8:30

  • 89 A wellspring of good advice

    19/10/2011 Duration: 01h41min

    This last Monday afternoon’s session, which we can say that is indispensable to listen to, Alan offered a huge number of pieces of advice that are extremely useful for those that are going to do a long retreat, for those that are going to meet their daily activities and for all of us that want to keep practicing Dharma the rest of our lives: how can we deal and respond to the eroding of our Shamatha practice and the striking back of our OCDD? What is a balanced Dharma practice and the role of Shamatha within it? With the aspiration of undertaking a long retreat: how to avoid a waiting attitude and neglecting the practice in the present day? How to avoid being like the cat that is either flapping in the surface of a pond or sinking to its bottom, but rather become like the happy elephant in a long term retreat? Also, how to avoid expectations but keeping joy and gratitude during it? What to do when we have days during which we cannot even count until three? And most important: how is our Dharma practice affec

  • 88 Karma must ripen

    19/10/2011 Duration: 45min

    The root of all Buddhist teachings and practice is compassion. We start out with the reality of suffering – something that we have all experienced. The background radiation of anxiety has got to go. It is the result of grasping onto what is not – what is not is “I” and “me.” We must discover who we really are. We are born with inborn ignorance then we learn some more fabricated ignorance. Go to that which I am before I reified all my human roles. Shamata is not easy. There is nothing left of who you thought you were. The substrate consciousness is bare, raw being. Go in and observe the agent – who, who, who? Is there anything more than a concept? Karma must ripen. Silent meditation starts at 21:03

  • 87 The built-in antidotes

    16/10/2011 Duration: 01h35min

    In this session Alan reminds us that shamatha is designed to dispel the 5 obscurations and as the imbalances are built-in, the remedies are also built-in. In the same way, among the 4 Immeasurables one naturally arises as the remedy for the near enemy of another one. For Loving Kindness' facsimile which is self centered attachment, the remedy is Equanimity For Compassion's facsimile which is depression, grief, despair, the remedy is Empathetic Joy For Empathetic Joy's facsimile which is frivolous joy or hedonic fixation, the remedy is Loving Kindness For Equanimity's facsimile, which is aloof indifference, the remedy is Compassion Silent meditation starts at 4:08 Questions (29:10): • How do the 4 immeasurables transform into bodhichitta and into the stages of a bodhisattva. Is there any text you would recommend? • What happens when one realizes emptiness? Does it happen in meditation? Do your senses go dormant or the opposite? Can you lose it? • If a being in the bardo chooses parents not only out of

  • 86 The Path

    16/10/2011 Duration: 34min

    The Four Immeasurables unguided meditation. Alan reiterates how important it is to have a sense of direction, a path. You really need to have a vision in your heart of where you want to go. He mentions that on the Dzogchen path he has the sense that rigpa breaks through to our side, whereas on other paths one has to break through to rigpa. Meditation starts at 7:44

  • 85 Practicing after the retreat

    15/10/2011 Duration: 01h40min

    For those of us returning to our ordinary lives, Alan suggests that we avail ourselves of all the shamatha practices depending on our body and mind at that moment. For those of us continuing in retreat, Alan suggests that we focus primarily on one practice and deepen that. Non-guided meditation (7:18) on shamatha practice of our choice. Questions (33:02) Q1a) It takes one countless eon to achieve the Path of Seeing. Why not take the shravaka path of realizing selflessness and using that wisdom from the very start? Q1b) Where are we after achieving shamatha and vipashyana? Q2a) Please tell us about Sakya Dagmo-la Q2b) What is Samantabhadra’s pure land of Akanishta? Q3) Who are Alan’s 2 principal teachers? Q4a) How can we practice shamatha during ngöndro? Q4b) I haven’t had any success with lucid dreaming, so are there easier practices? Q5) Please give advice on preparing for retreat. Q6) In Settling the Mind, is there subtle preference in letting thoughts arise in free association? Q7) Since dzog

  • 84 Maturation

    15/10/2011 Duration: 31min

    Experienced meditators can move through a process of maturation where the Dharma and practices become ever more central to their lives. They come to practice without preference for good or bad meditations but continue regardless of their personal experiences - much like a veteran sailor has learned to ply the seas regardless of the weather. Silent meditation starts at 7:05

  • 83 Lucid dreaming and dream yoga

    13/10/2011 Duration: 01h42min

    After a silent meditation (1:40) Alan gives an overview and brief ‘how to guide’ of lucid dreaming and dream yoga. Then questions (67:20) include eyes closing as we progress along the path of mindfulness of breathing, the use of tonglen for shamatha and discussion of the life of Dudjom Lingpa and other great Dzogchen masters.

  • 82 Envision the novel of the rest of your life

    13/10/2011 Duration: 32min

    “Shape your mind, shape your life.” Having completed the cycle of guided meditation, Alan speaks briefly about envisioning the transition from retreat into daily life, and in particular the difference between “aspiration” and “hope and fear”. Silent meditation starts at 8:11

  • 81 Shamatha without a sign, part 4

    13/10/2011 Duration: 01h40min

    Reading from Vajra Essence regarding the difference between consciousness, substrate consciousness and Rigpa. Meditation on awareness of awareness expanding out to all directions (26:30) Questions (51:23) How does the "naked" healing process of the mind by way of settling the mind happen with other shamatha methods? How lasting or fleeting are the changes to the coarse and subtle bodies caused by altering the flow of prana through shamatha practice? Person getting headaches from meditation – what suggestions to prevent it? Question related to rigpa being necessary to explain extrasensory perception such as precognition and remote viewing What is meant by the compassionate display of rigpa? Difficulty seeing rigpa as compassionate. Question regarding how to move away from not liking oneself and feeling guilty over past unwholesome activities.

  • 80 Equanimity, part 2

    13/10/2011 Duration: 40min

    Meditation on equanimity. Start with loving kindness for ourselves. Mental afflictions come to us just like the flu – don’t fuse your identity with the mental afflictions. The more loving kindness you have for yourself, the more you can extend it to others. Meditation (16:23) Can do usual Tonglen practice. Can also visualize receiving blessings from your teachers and all the Buddhas in the form of light coming in to you and then breathe it out to others.

  • 79 Shamatha without a sign, part 3

    12/10/2011 Duration: 01h38min

    Dharma talk and meditation on Awareness of Awareness with the focus on the observer: Is there someone in there? The Bahiya (of the Garment) Sutra. Bahiya received a short discourse from the Buddha and immediately became an arhat. Bahiya was a merchant who had sailed the seas. On his eighth voyage, he was shipwrecked and washed ashore naked. He used the flotsam on the beach to cover himself and the local villagers saw him and thought he was a holy man. He became well-regarded as an arhat from whom the villagers often asked spiritual and mundane advice. Eventually Bahiya began to wonder if he was, indeed, an arhat. However a feminine diva appeared to him and said that he was not, but that he should go to the Buddha who could give him instructions. Bahiya walks a long way across India to find the Buddha and asks on three different occasions for instruction. The third time, the Buddha consents and gives the short discourse on selflessness. Bahiya becomes immediately liberated as an arhat. Three days l

  • 78 Equanimity, part 1

    11/10/2011 Duration: 35min

    We come back to equanimity and Alan talks about it from 3 different levels: Coarse mind - Shantideva: "If there is something you can do about it don't worry. If there's nothing you can do about it, don't worry" Subtle mind - Everything arises as a manifestation of our own karma. "I will paint from my own mind. All I'm seeing/experiencing are appearances from my coarse mind" Consider what you've contributed but don't respond with craving or hostility. Rigpa - Everything is an expression of the Buddha Mind. An all-pervasive display of compassion Meditation starts at 10:47

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