2010 Workshops in Basic Buddhism

Six Saturday sessions, 9 am thru 1 pm ... upcoming

Life Force Arts Foundation, 3148 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago

(just east of Ashland on Lincoln)

Registration for this series is now full. (Another series in 2011 is likely*.)

Insight Chicago will host a series of half-day workshops exploring the core teachings of Buddhism. Santikaro will lead these explorations. These will be every other month, beginning January 16th.

There will be fee $10.00 for each session to cover space rental. Dana (donations) to Liberation Park are encouraged in gratitude for the teachings.

The purpose of this series is to provide a working foundation in the central teachings of Buddhism in order to guide the practice of mindfulness and cultivation of the middle way. The workshop format will include a silent sitting, short talks, exercises, and small group work. If there is sufficient interest, we may add silent practice periods in the afternoons of the Saturday sessions (with options for practice interviews with Santikaro). To continue the conversations online ...

Themes to be explored & scheduled dates:

Saturday, January 16: The Ennobling Truths & Middle Way

The foundation teaching that frames & guides all aspects of practice

Please read The Turning of the Dhamma Wheel Sutta (many translations to choose from)

Also useful: LIMC study series on Practicing with the 4 Noble Truths (MP3)

You might also consider Reading the Suttas according to the Suttas (MP3)

March 20: Karma & Dharma

The Buddha's original teachings on "Action" without the later accretions & mystifications

Karma From His Own Lips - translations from the Pali suttas (PDF, updated June 24th)

MN 136 Mahākammavibhanga Sutta (M.ii.207, MDB 1058)

MN 61 Ambalatthikārāhulovāda Sutta (M.i.414, MDB 523)

May 1: The Establishments of Mindfulness

Satipatthana is the organizing framework for much of meditation practice in early Buddhism, guides our training in mindfulness (sati), and leads to contemplation of these four areas of life: body, feeling, mind, and Dhamma.

Please read a competent translation of one of the main satipatthana suttas: DN 22, MN 10, and MN 118 (Anapanasati-sutta, download pdf).

An excellent, comprehensive exploration of this core teaching is found in Satipatthana by Analayo Bhikkhu, available from Windhorse. This is well worth your time and energy, whenever you are ready to jump in.

Afternoon: following lunch, we will have an optional mindfulness practice session (sitting and walking) from 2-4:30pm. There will be opportunities for teacher interviews. Please let Mike know if you intend to stay for the afternoon.

July 17: Living in the World: Practical Ethics (we will have a new location)

How we relate to others & the world around us reveals the depth of our practice. In an ethically confused world, living out the Buddha's ethic of non-harming and kindness is a great gift to others & ourselves. The issues are best tackled in Sangha rather than individually. In this session we will consider:

Basic sila training (precepts):

In Buddhism, the core ethical principle is non-harming (avihimsa). The "five precepts" are like training wheels for learning to live an ethical life. Given the complexity of modern society, this is more difficult than ever. Please reflect on how you are challenged to apply these five aspects of harmlessness (see handout).

Healthy values:

Early Buddhism list and discusses many important virtues to cultivate in Dhamma practice. The 10 Virtues for Crossing Over (parami) are an especially popular and influential list (see handout).

Right livelihood:

Within modern consumer capitalism, how we earn our livelihood, invest, do business, shop, and consume are even more important ethical issues that ever. Which aspects of livelihood are exploitative, unjust, and harmful? How can we supply our legitimate needs without harming and exploiting others?

Right relationship: Sigalovada Sutta (DN 31): Roles & Responsibilities

Two translations are available on Access to Insight: Kelly, et al & Narada. Maurice Walshe's translation is published in The Long Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom).

Please use these "directions" to reflect on the significant relationships in your life, which may not fit tidily into one of the six. Consider, too, the reciprocal responsibilities between you and the people with whom you are related. Are there responsibilities we tend to prefer and others that are downplayed or repressed?

Social responsibility:

We are both individuals and members of groups. Though our culture has emphasized individualism, the importance and value of culture and society are also relevant to our lives, and thus an arena for Dhamma practice. What are some of the ways we can take responsibility for the communities and societies in which we live? (Hint: You don't have to be a hero and figure it out by yourself.)

September 25: The Clear, Calm Mind & its Hindrances

The clear, calm mind sees dhammas as they actually are. Consequently, the original Buddhist teachings give as much importance to samadhi (the mental unification that is calm & clear) as to vipassana (the seeing clearly that leads to true letting go & freedom). In fact, speaking of one without the other, or which is more important, is a major confusion these days.

In practical terms, we need "good enough samadhi" to progress in the path of wisdom & compassion. Good enough samadhi is discovered when the hindrances (nivarana) no longer distract, disorient, and pester us. Learning to recognize these hindrances and get out from under their influence is crucial to this path, and is essential for deeper happiness in quotidinal life.

Please look at the Maha-Assapura Sutta (MN 39) for descriptions of the hindrances (the section on "Abandoning the hindrances," which is paras 12-14 in the Bodhi translation). The description of the samadhi-mind at the beginning of "The three knowledges" section is also valuable.

The Vitakkasanthana Sutta: The Relaxation of Thoughts (MN 20) outlines strategies for practicing with distractions and obstacles in meditation & contemplation. Though not explicitly about the hindrances, these approaches can be fruitfully applied to them.

In addition to reviewing these suttas, we will explore how the hindrances show up in formal meditation & daily life, and help each other find skilful means regarding our favorite ways of falling off the path.

November 13: Dependent Co-Arising: the Heart of Awakening

This radical teaching bridges the millennia between the Buddha's time and today's science. It is the core of the Buddha's vision and integrates all aspects of his teaching. See the immediate truths of dependent co-arising and you will see the Dhamma and the Buddha.

Universally, in terms of all phenomena (dhammas), dependent co-arising illuminates how nothing happens in isolation and all things are empty of independent essence or selfhood.

More specifically, dependent co-arising reveals the Buddha's subtle exploration of dukkha (unease). Rather than blame our suffering and problems on fate, chance, gods, governemnt, others, or even ourselves, dependent co-arising shows the causes and conditions that foster and support dukkha. Release these causes and conditions and dukkha is released.

A new book by Ajahn Buddhadasa focuses on this teaching. For our reading this month, Mike Zieve will email you PDFs of these chapters. If you do not receive them, please email Mike (mlzieve at yahoo.com).

Further, take a look at some of the many suttas that point to this heart of Buddha-Dhamma. Some passages are included in this pdf file.


As we will focus on the earliest strata of the teachings as found in the Pali canon, this series is suitable for everyone interested in the teachings that underlie all the schools that eventually developed.

Another study series will take place on the Sunday afternoons immediately following this series. They will be hosted in Oak Park and will explore some of the more profound teachings of Buddhism, beginning with Emptiness, and will involve a fair amount of reading.

For the Saturday workshops contact:

Michael Zieve mlzieve at yahoo.com ... phone 219-871-2094

Registration for this series is now full.

A 2011 Study Series is likely. Let Mike know if you want to be informed of details as they emerge.

To continue conversations online, join discussion group hosted by Yahoo groups

Buddhadasa group

The group focuses on exploring Buddha-Dhamma along the lines of Suan Mokkh. Participants in the IC study series are welcome regarding all topics connected with our series.