- Sunday, March 1 -- The Characteristic of Impermanence
- Sunday, April 5 -- The Characteristic of Suffering
- Sunday, May 3 -- The Characteristic of Non-Self
In classical Buddhist tradition meditation is not an end in itself; it is a means of accessing wisdom. Mindfulness meditation is meant to lead to insight into the three characteristics of experience: impermanence, suffering and non-self.
Join Buddhist scholar-practitioner Andrew Olendzki, and a group of committed practitioners, for an in-depth exploration of these truths. Over the course of three day-long workshops, this “Integrated Practice Series” will focus on the three characteristics, examining each of them in turn, emphasizing how each is encountered, not theoretically, but in the moment-to-moment flow of the mind and body. Each workshop will involve a close reading of key passages from the primary early Buddhists texts and will help ground one's meditation practice in its appropriate traditional context.
Appropriate for both new and experienced meditators, each workshop will involve lecture, discussion and experiential investigation using both guided and unguided meditation. Beginners will find the language and the practices accessible, and experienced meditators will be guided towards the deeper meaning of insight meditation. Everyone is welcome. Individual workshop registration is not available.
The Characteristic of Impermanence (Sunday, March 1)
The idea that everything changes is widely understood, but the actual experience of everything changing is much rarer and is potentially transformative. Insight meditation gives us access to the phenomenology of experience, and points to specific ways we can learn to observe and explore the ongoing changes of mind and body. This day-long workshop focuses on the teachings and practices expressed in the earliest Buddhist texts that guide a practitioner through deepening stages of engagement with experience, thereby revealing the changing nature of mental and physical states. Insight into impermanence brings with it the wisdom to let go of what has just passed and open fully to what emerges next.
The Characteristic of Suffering (Sunday, April 5)
The central Buddhist teaching on suffering is among its most misunderstood ideas, since the word “suffering” has only negative connotations in our language. The noble truth of suffering is not the same as ordinary unpleasantness. It holds the promise of a more profound well-being than the simple escape from pain. Shifting from an abstract conception of suffering to exploring the detailed experiences of mind and body accessed through insight meditation, this day-long workshop examines the texts and practices of early Buddhism that bring out a more nuanced understanding of suffering and its cessation. Insight into suffering enables us to let go of wanting things to be different than they are; we can access the wisdom—and freedom—of being with things just as they are.
The Characteristic of Non-Self (Sunday, May 3)
No Buddhist idea is more central or more perplexing than “non-self”. Yet insight into non-self is the pivot point of wisdom, the gateway through which all the other teachings suddenly make sense. The realization that a person is not what we normally take them to be—that we are not what we take ourselves to be—arises gradually and naturally from the careful observation of moment-to-moment experience in the mind and body. And, this realization has the potential to change everything. This day-long workshop examines the early Buddhist texts and practices that walk us through this territory and provides an opportunity to understand the teaching of non-self in a way that is inspiring rather than challenging. Insight into non-self constitutes the wisdom that is ultimately liberating, in both large and small ways.
Andrew Olendzki is a professor at Lesley University in Cambridge MA, and the director of its Mindfulness Studies program. He is a scholar of early Buddhist thought and practice with a special interest in Buddhist psychology and its relevance to the modern world. Prior to joining Lesley, he worked for almost thirty years in Barre, MA, first as the original executive director of the Insight Meditation Society and then as executive director and senior scholar at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, where his focus was upon the integration of academic study with the practice of meditation. He writes regularly for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and is the author of Unlimiting Mind: The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism (Wisdom 2010) and Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are (Wisdom 2016).