June 2012 I’m currently teaching a meditation retreat up in Santa Sabina Retreat Center in Marin w the SF Insight Community, and am reminded of my spiritual ancestor Thomas Merton since they have pictures of him around this Dominican retreat center. A well-known quote from him “I didn’t become a monk so I would suffer more, I became a monk so I could suffer more effectively”. And a less well-known quote “In the night of our technological barbarism, monks must be as trees which exist silently in the dark and by their vital presence purify the air”. Whenever you meditate, you too are performing this function!
Feb 2011: This past month, a significant meditation master from the Thai Forest tradition died, Ajahn Maha Bua (aka Ajahn Maha Boowa). He was a student of Ajahn Mun, another significant Buddhist meditation master of this past century. Ajahn Maha Bua taught about the citta (heart/mind) and how we mistake the kilesas (defilements, like greed, hatred, delusion) to be who we really are.
‘Our real problem, our one fundamental problem—which is also the citta’s fundamental problem—is that we lack the power needed to be our own true self. Instead, we have always taken counterfeit things to be the essence of who we really are, so that the citta’s behavior is never in harmony with its true nature. Rather, it expresses itself through the kilesas’ cunning deceits, which cause it to feel anxious and frightened of virtually everything … As a result, the citta is forever full of worries and fears. And although fear and worry are not intrinsic to the citta, they still manage to produce apprehension there. When the citta has been cleansed so that it is absolutely pure and free of all involvement, only then will we see a citta devoid of all fear. Then, neither fear nor courage appear, only the citta’s true nature, existing naturally alone on its own, forever independent of time and space. Only that appears—nothing else. This is the genuine citta’.
If you would like to read some of his teachings, you can find them here.