Practice & Teachings

Of the original Buddhist schools (traditionally numbered at eighteen) from the centuries immediately after the Buddha’s parinibbāna, only the Theravāda (Teaching of the Elders) school still exists. The main practices of the Abhaya Dàna Meditation Group are based on the Pāli Canon and inspired by the practices of the Theravāda school, which emphasizes samatha (calm abiding as a prerequisite for concentration) and vipassanā (insight) meditation.

The goal of samatha is samādhi (one-pointedness, or concentration of mind), while the goal of vipassanā is paññā (wisdom). A Threefold Training is described in the Pāli Canon in this way:

The Buddha explained how it is with moral conduct (sīla), how it is with concentration (samādhi), and how it is with wisdom (paññā) – how concentration that is invested with moral conduct is of great fruit and of great benefit, how wisdom that is invested with concentration is of great fruit and of great benefit, and how the mind that is invested with wisdom is fully released from the taints, namely the taint of sense desire, the taint of becoming, the taint of false view, the taint of ignorance. (Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, DN 16)

In order to enhance our practice, we read aloud a discourse or teaching of the Buddha from the Pāli Canon during each meeting. The language of the Pāli Canon is Pāli, which was a language of everyday use during the time of the Buddha. Originally transmitted orally beginning three months after the Buddha’s parinibbāna with the recitations of the Suttas (Discourses) by the Elder Ānanda and of the Vinaya (Discipline) by the Elder Upāli (both recited at the First Council that was held at Rājagaha), the Pāli Canon was committed to writing between the 3rd and the 1st centuries BCE.

The suttas (discourses) of the Buddha presented in the Pāli Canon reveal a simple, profound, and highly systemized set of teachings that are meant to reshape the way that human beings see and think about the world in which we live and, most importantly, to reshape the way in which we relate to all things in the world. At first, the method may appear analytical and detached from everyday experience, but those who stick with it will develop an understanding of the teachings as it becomes more and more clear that they do, in fact, open up the way to calm, happiness, and a more direct experience of reality.

Several discourses of the Buddha that we have read during meetings can be found by clicking “Discourses” in the menu above or by clicking HERE.

Our practices can be beneficial and useful for those who are willing to use the teachings of the Buddha to understand their experiences and use their experiences to understand the teachings of the Buddha, for those who appreciate stillness, calm, and silent reflection, or for those who have benefitted from the experience of an Insight Meditation retreat.

For more information, email abhayadana@aol.com.

There is no charge for attending our meetings.

* * *

“I have seen you, Builder of the House. The roof
beam is broken and the rafters are smashed.
Nevermore will you build this house.”
Dhammapada, XI.154