F E A T U R E D ᐧᐧ T A L K

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Dharma Door opens to the life and work of Dharmachari Kamalashila, a senior disciple of Urgyen Sangharakshita who enjoys communicating Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness in London and on retreat, has founded Dharma centres, lived four years in Wales as a hermit, and written
Buddhist Meditation: Tranquillity, Imagination & Insight which you can get in print and digital editions via Windhorse Publications at Triratna centre bookshops, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble etc.

Spiritual Rebirth
A talk about how passion can be transformed by insight and serve the needs of others. Illustrated by examples from Kamalashila's long solitary, exploring the nature of spiritual rebirth, the radical transformation of heart mind and being that follows insight.
Within Buddhism, and within our particular tradition, we encounter a diversity of dharma practices, and it's important we understand what each is intended to achieve.  All dharma practice really boils down to one: the practice of spiritual realisation. Cultivation of the Buddha's awakening, and receptivity to the influence of that awakening, is the thread running through all the many Buddhist practices of ethics, meditation and insight.  It is our overarching spiritual purpose, the compass for the whole dharma life. We need to maintain it strongly and continuously.

There is a progressive aspect to Sangharakshita's five stages of dharma life. First integrate the self; secondly cultivate an empathic, emotionally positive self.  Those are the developmental stages. Thirdly, see right through that concept of self — see that the illusory world we've been creating all this time around that illusory idea, while useful and necessary, is ultimately not real.  In the fourth stage, allow this realisation so thoroughly into our life that ‘we’ no longer obstruct its passion. In this way our passion for life, previously caught in craving and hatred, becomes purified, illuminated and awakened, a force for the good of the world.

This fourth stage, which comes after the insight of anatta, where the self view collapses, is called spiritual rebirth. Often in Triratna Buddhism this post insight stage is associated with visualisation meditation or sadhana, though its range is broader as we shall see. And since we are talking about more advanced stages of spiritual experience, where the waters are not well charted and experiences not easily described, then our discourse becomes exploratory rather than definitive.

Let's first distinguish spiritual rebirth from the ordinary kind of rebirth.  Embodied beings like ourselves are subject to unpredictable changes which just go on, on and on forever in the familiar world of impermanence, change, and endless varieties of suffering: that's the familiar kind of rebirth—a new life, but not essentially different from the old one.  Spiritual rebirth is a radically transformed life that starts when we see outside those karmically conditioned changes.  We poke our heads through the shell of ignorance, see the boundless spaces of nirvana, and step out into those spaces...
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Insight in Triratna approaching genuine depth in relation to the breadth of the Buddhist Path. How does insight come alive in the wholeness of life?

Back in 1985 it was something of a revelation to some of us when on a seminar at Padmaloka, I think it was Subhuti asked Sangharakshita why he didn't meditate regularly. It felt rude to ask. But Bhante said, that's right, he didn't meditate regularly; at least he didn't feel a need to do deep śamatha meditation any more. He said “If you develop any degree of genuine vipaśyanā you can't lose that, and it's simply a question of developing it after that..." He'd go back to śamatha from time to time if circumstances required, but it ceased to be necessary as a support.

At that point, most of us present had been around the movement for getting on for fifteen years, we were all Chairs of centres or with similar responsibilities, were all grown men, 35 at least, ordained at least ten years, and we felt as though we were pretty experienced as Buddhists. But that made us realise how much we still didn't understand about the Dharma.
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