New York Insight Meditation Center, New York, NY

The Three Characteristics

This program is a series of three workshops:

Saturday, Feb 9 – The Characteristic of Impermanence
Saturday, March 16 – The Characteristic of Suffering
Saturday, April 13 – The Characteristic of Non-Self

The Three Characteristics teachings will be offered as three daylong workshops, perfect as a series to deepen your practice or as standalone workshops so. Feel free to take one, two or all three. 

In classical Buddhist tradition meditation is not an end in itself, but a means of accessing wisdom. Mindfulness meditation is meant to lead to insight into the three characteristics of experience, namely impermanence, suffering, and non-self. This three-part program examines each of these in turn, emphasizing how each is encountered, not theoretically, but in the moment-to-moment flow of the mind and body. The program consists of lecture, discussion, and meditation practice. Beginners will find the language and the practices accessible, while experienced meditators will be guided towards the deeper meaning of insight meditation.

Deepening Wisdom: Paññā    Cambridge Insight Meditation Center                                                                          Sat Jun 8

Learning how to meditate, and how to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy habits, is of great inherent value. But in classical Buddhist tradition, these practices are the precursors to the most important aspect of the path—the development of paññā or wisdom. This involves the cultivation of a series of specific insights, emerging from the close investigation of experience, that are ultimately transformative and provide access to deep and sustainable levels of well-being.

Topics we investigate include:

understanding wisdom as a gradual and natural process;
reviewing the obstacles to wisdom that need to be cleared away;
accessing the core Buddhist insights of impermanence, suffering and non-self through meditative engagement with the stream of consciousness;
a close examination of both the theory and the experience of non-self;
an examination of interdependent origination; and
a practical, accessible model of awakening.

Developing the Mind: Samādhi, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center                                              Sun May 5

This workshop focuses on samādhi—the various practices of meditation. When the mind can get free of its habitual restlessness and settle down upon a chosen object of attention, with some stability and tranquility, one can begin to see more clearly what is actually going on in the mind and body from moment to moment. This is a set of skills that can be learned, and the tradition teaches how to cultivate different practices for different circumstances.

Topics we investigate include:

a detailed look at the classical instructions for establishing and maintaining mindfulness;
a close investigation of the gradual stages of concentration and the development of equanimity;
a review of some of the less-well-known descriptions of loving-kindness and related “limitless” practices; and
an examination of the role of skillful effort in meditation.

A Talk on Non-Self, Community Meditation Center, New York, NY                                                                             Sun Mar 17

The Characteristic of Suffering, New York Insight                                                                                                    Sat Mar 16

The central Buddhist teaching on suffering is among its most misunderstood ideas since the word has only negative connotations in our language. The noble truth of suffering is not the same as ordinary unpleasantness and holds the promise of more profound well-being than the simple escape from pain. Shifting from an abstract conception of suffering to exploring the detailed experiences of mind and body accessed through insight meditation, this day-long workshop examines the texts and practices of early Buddhism that bring out a more nuanced understanding of suffering and its cessation. Insight into suffering enables letting go of wanting things to be different than they are, accessing the wisdom of being with things just as they are.



Living with Integrity: Sīla, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center                                                                             Sun Mar 31

Sīla—ethical living and integrity—is the cornerstone upon which the entire Noble Eightfold Path is built. We look at how to live skillfully, understand and purify habitual patterns of behavior, and build a stable foundation of ethical action upon which progress in developing the mind and deepening wisdom can be supported and sustained.

Topics we investigate include:

the importance of the practice of generosity, not as a form of financial remuneration

but as a “gift of harmlessness” one gives to others;
the basic principles of careful speech;
understanding the distinction between healthy and unhealthy mental states

and how to encourage one and abandon the other;
harnessing the power of intention; and
cultivating the quality of contentment.

The Characteristic of Impermanence,  New York Insight                                                                                         Sat Feb 9

The idea that everything changes is widely understood, but the actual experience of everything changing is rarer and is potentially transformative. Insight meditation gives us access to the phenomenology of experience and points to specific ways we can learn to observe and explore the ongoing changes of mind and body. This day-long workshop focuses on the teachings and practices expressed in the earliest Buddhist texts that guide a practitioner through deepening stages of engagement with experience, thereby revealing the changing nature of mental and physical states. Insight into impermanence brings with it the wisdom to let go of what has just passed and open fully to what emerges next.

A Talk on Impermanence, Community Meditation Center, New York, NY                                                              Sun Feb 10

Andrew Olendzki

Buddhist Scholar, Teacher and Writer

The Characteristic of Non-Self, New York Insight                                                                                        Sat Apr 13

No Buddhist idea is more central or more perplexing than non-self. Yet insight into non-self is the pivot point of wisdom, the gateway through which all the other teachings suddenly make sense. The realization that a person is not what we normally take them to be arises gradually and naturally from the careful observation of moment-to-moment experience in the mind and body, and has the potential of changing everything. This day-long workshop examines the early Buddhist texts and practices that walk us through this territory and provides an opportunity to understand the teaching of non-self in a way that is inspiring rather than challenging. Insight into non-self constitutes the wisdom that is ultimately liberating, in both large and small ways.

Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC), Cambridge MA

A Three-Part Integrated Path

This program is a series of three workshops:

Sunday, March 31 – Living with Integrity: Sīla
Sunday, May 5 – Developing the Mind: Samādhi
Saturday, June 8 – Deepening Wisdom: Paññā

Join Buddhist scholar-practitioner Andrew Olendzki, and a group of committed practitioners, for an in-depth exploration of the Buddha’s path of awakening, the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Over the course of three day-long workshops, the “Integrated Practice Series” will focus on all three aspects of a balanced path of transformation—sīla, samādhi and paññā—integrity, meditation and wisdom—and foster a thorough understanding of their relationship to each other.

In classical Buddhist tradition, the practice of meditation (samādhi) is inextricably linked to the practices of moral integrity (sīla) and wisdom (paññā). Meditation is meant to be supported by healthy ethical behavior and is intended to guide the practitioner to profound insights into the nature of experience.

Appropriate for both new and experienced meditators, each workshop will involve a close reading of key passages from the primary early Buddhists texts and will help ground one's meditation practice in its appropriate traditional context. There will be plenty of time for explanation, discussion and experiential investigation using both guided and unguided meditation. Everyone is welcome.