The Fundamentals of Integral Buddhism

Patrick Sweeney
February 11th, 2008
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In this extraordinary 10-part series, Patrick Sweeney offers a comprehensive introduction to Integral Buddhism--sometimes called the "fourth turning" of Buddhism. Here you will learn the story of the Buddha, the basic fundamentals of Buddhism, the essentials of meditation and tonglen practices, and some basic tips to help remind you of your already-enlightened nature.

PART 1: THE LIFE OF THE BUDDHA | Patrick recounts the remarkable story of Buddha's life, which is not just the story of a man in India thousands of years ago, but is in fact the story of your own becoming. "It's your life that's being discussed. He left home, and entered the wilderness—the wilderness of his own heart and his own mind. He stepped out of the dream. Have you stepped out of your dream? Do you want to step out of your dream? Do you have the taste for waking up?"

PART 2: SEEING THROUGH THE MYTH OF IDENTIFICATION | Continuing his talk about the life of the Buddha, Patrick discusses some of the central teachings of the Buddhist path. He tells of the Buddha's conquering of the four maras, or the last four vestiges of fear, overcoming the temptation to take refuge in the manifestations of bodily sensations, emotions, death, and spiritual bliss. By seeing through the ultimately illusory nature of identity, we can wake up to the transparent nature of consciousness, and of phenomena itself, both within and without.

PART 3: THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BUDDHISM | Buddhism has brought an enormous amount of care and insight to our understanding of the human condition. As one of the world's great Wisdom Traditions, it is truly an invaluable resource to anyone interested in learning about some of the highest potentials for human life. Here Patrick shares a general overview of some of the foundational teachings of Buddhism, including the "Three Turnings" or historic stages of Buddhist thought and practice, the Four Noble Truths that outline the nature of suffering, and the Eightfold Path which offers us all a way out of the endless cycles of pleasure and pain.

PART 4: IN THE WAKE OF THE BUDDHA | Here Patrick discusses the fascinating legacy of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, and the various stages or "three turnings" that Buddhist teachings have gone through thus far. From Theravada to Mahayana to Vajrayana schools of Buddhist thought, examples of how Enlightenment itself is perpetually evolving along with the rest of the universe—and it is exactly this integral understanding of the evolutionary nature of enlightenment which may itself be the Fourth Turning of the Wheel of Dharma....

PART 5: THE ART OF SITTING WHEN YOU AREN'T SITTING | Patrick answers a couple questions about meditation and Tonglen practice, namely how to go about your sitting practice when you are unable to find a cushion, and what to do when compassion practice becomes simply too overwhelming to handle. Patrick's extraordinary capacity for clarity and direction really shines through as he helps us navigate some very common obstacles in our spiritual growth, regardless of the path we might happen to be traveling.

PART 6: INTRODUCTION TO TONGLEN | We are typically accustomed to doing whatever we can to avoid pain and suffering—both in ourselves and in our immediate environment—as the "separate self" unconsciously strives to seek as much safety, stability, and affirmation as it can find. The practice of Tonglen, however, cuts directly against the grain of this conditioned response to human suffering—teaching us to turn around and directly face the darkest and most painful areas of our human experience, to meet the impossible pain and misery of the world head-on. The practice further invites us to actually breathe the torment of the world deep into ourselves, where it can at last find some glimmer of liberation in the purifying light of consciousness. Tonglen is a radically transformative practice, one of the most effective methods of deepening our love and compassion, by teaching what it really means to genuinely step into another perspective—into a space of absolute openness, unwavering empathy, and radical ONE-ness—where together we sit in the darkness, the agonizing tears of God streaming effortlessly down our cheeks.

PART 7: NONDUALITY AND THE INNER GURU | In this clip, Patrick offers a wonderful description of the nondual state, in which all of the distinctions between self and other, inside and outside, "me" and "not me" slip away entirely, leaving only the naked awareness of pure, unadulterated experience. He then goes on to discuss the difference between what are commonly called the "outer guru" teaching and the "inner guru" teachings of Buddhism.

PART 8: ORDINARY MIND | Patrick continues his beautiful discussion of nondual consciousness, the nameless, effortless, self-liberating quality of awareness in which all distinctions between self and other, this and that, inside and outside fall away completely, leaving only the brilliant clarity of this very Moment, exactly as it is. Although this "Ordinary Mind" is and always has been the ever-present condition of consciousness, the separate self somehow rarely seems to notice that which it always already is—in fact, it is fair to say that the majority of our actions and intentions as human beings are in avoidance of this simple recognition, with all its ego-shattering implications. However, we have all experienced this radical One Taste many times in the course of our lives, if even for the briefest of moments. Patrick mentions accidents, orgasms, and death as typical moments of spontaneous and profound realization, but these experiences tend to occur whenever the normal continuity of life becomes suddenly disrupted—during which people tend to report radically altered states of experience, including a sense of time dilation, an overwhelming feeling of peace or oneness with the world, and everything simply becomes much more vivid, vibrant, and present. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to miss these experiences without a stable contemplative practice, which helps train our capacity to be persistently aware of ourselves and our environments, making it much easier to recognize our own Original Face whenever it chooses to reveal itself.

PARTS 9: FOUR SLOGANS FOR EVER-PRESENT CONSCIOUSNESS | Here Patrick offers four very simple slogans to help remind us of our already-enlightened Self: Too close, you can't recognize it. Too profound, you can't appreciate it. Too simple, you can't believe it. Too good, you can't accept it.

PARTS 10: FOUR SLOGANS FOR EVER-PRESENT CONSCIOUSNESS (CONTINUED) | As you repeat these slogans silently in your mind, ask yourself: who is the "you" in each of these statements? Who is it that already knows all of this, and is qualified to make these observations? Who is struggling to understand, and still needs to have it pointed out occasionally? Simply relax into the inquiry, and allow your responses to arise spontaneously, effortlessly, released from the constant chatter of the conceptual mind....

Running time: 1 hour 52 minutes

Images by Tashi Mannox [+view gallery]

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