Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Realistic First Step

Interpersonal suffering is part of being a human being. Everyone of us experiences loneliness, doubt, and fear - but do we recognize it? It is gift to be able to feel the suffering that arises in normal life experiences - though we certainly don't desire or seek suffering. Recognizing what is true does not exacerbate the pain and sorrow that exists. Being in contact is the way to release and freedom.

In the deliniations of kinds of suffering this passage (pages 26-30) can help us recognize suffering that is ineveitable, suffering that connects us to humnanity, and suffering that is optional.

Interpersonal suffering is the suffering that stems from our associations with other people. It is a vast subset of psychological suffering. Stresses with family members, coworkers, and friends are interpersonal suffering. Loneliness and disconnection are also part of interpersonal suffering. Each of us regularly experiences interpersonal suffering. Simply recognizing these dynamics at work, and knowing that they arise as constructions of the sensitive heart-mind, can be helpful. (pp. 26-27)

To observe life this directly is not pessimistic; it is realistic. Ignoring the problem doesn't help. Indeed ignorance keeps the suffering invisible, assures its continuity, and establishes it as determining the tenor of our lives... If we can see things clearly, we can begin to reorient our lives toward happiness and freedom. Understanding the causes of suffering is the first step toward freedom. (pp.29-30)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bare Attention

A Bare Assessment of Suffering - pages 24-26 - an excellent description of the teachings of the Satipatthana Sutta in action.

You will find in these pages a clear description of ordinary everyday suffering and a personal description of its causes and conditions in the subtle unfolding of experience, both pleasant and unpleasant. The author's personal examples are a helpful model for looking at your own experience in ways possible with a trained mind.

Develop your own mind by rereading this passage and working with personal experience. Your ability to observe as discretely as Greg does will increase, especially if incorporated with a formal daily insight and mindfulness practice.

These pages warrant careful attention. Stay with them several days and return to them periodically as you progress through this book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Loving Kindness

Noticing your own suffering is a compassion practice (karuna). We cannot be compassionate to others without compassion for ourselves - certainly if we are not even aware of our own suffering or our need for compassion.

Compassion begins with self-care. As you become aware of subtle and ever present sufferings it is important to maintain a quality of loving kindness (metta) toward yourself.

May I be peaceful and happy,
May I be safe and protected,
May I be healthy and strong.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Fact of Suffering

We begin the exploration of Interpersonal Suffering, the First Noble Truth, with the Fact of Suffering. pages 21-23

When we look honestly at the human condition, we see stress.
Stress is sometimes hidden because it is mingled with happiness...
Some experiences of stress are unmistakably miserable... Many... are less obvious...
...even joy can be stressful because we reach out to grasp the source of happiness...
Gregory's clear descriptions of the kinds of stresses present in an ordinary day help open our eyes to our more subtle experiences and to our ways of responding to ordinary suffering.

After reading these three pages spend several days observing subtle experiences. Include pleasures, but especially notice the little aversions that impinge on your sense of ease and well being. As you do so, keep in mind the good news that by looking clearly at how things actually are, we can escape from the jungle of unnecessary anguish....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Part Two: Four Interpersonal Truths

Please notice that in this section, Gregory is reframing the four noble truths in a vital and intriguing way!

Chapter Four : First Noble Truth - Interpersonal Suffering
Chapter Five: Second Noble Truth - Interpersonal Hunger
Chapter Six: Third Noble Truth - Cessation
Chapter Seven: Fourth Nobel Truth - The Full-Spectrum Path

Before beginning reading consider what you already know about the four noble truths and where you thing Gregory might be going with this.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Part One: This Comes from the World

Why do you think the author choose this title for Part One?

Change the three chapter titles in Part One into a questions and answer them.

Consider answering the question or writing a brief summary of each of these chapters. If you'd like to share a valuable insight from your writing feel free to add it to the comment section. Your insights will be valuable to others.

We will work through following chapters slowly. Give yourself as much time as you want before you go on to the next post. You can do this study blog in the time we are creating it or linger with segments as long as you wish. When you are ready move on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Part One - This Comes From the World
Part Two - Four Interpersonal Truths
Part Three - Practice
Part Four - Living the Tradition

Read Part One, chapters 1-3 (On the Path Together, The Emergence of a Practice, An Awake Human Being), then return to begin work together with Part Two, Four Interpersonal Truths

Monday, December 10, 2007


Prepare your mind to receive the teaching in whatever way is usual for you. Consider reading reviews of the book or do an overview of the text.

See for ways to preview the text and to come to engagement with the author and his messages. The engagement is an essential element in integrating the teachings.