Consistency in Teaching

An e-mail to requested words on Ajahn Dhammadaro, my Vipassana teacher in Thailand, and any changes in my teachings since starting in the mid-1970s.

Ajahn Dhammadaro spent a total of about three years alone in a cell in a rice paddy in central Thailand where he developed his practice and interpretation of the Maha Satipattana Sutta – namely using all four postures with emphasis on all four applications of mindfulness. He once told me he had some exposure as a monk to Vipassana in Thailand but felt the practices did not convey the breadth and depth of the sutta. He felt Mahasi’s was too limited to sitting/walking.

Yes, Ajahn Dhammadaro was technique orientated but in a whole range of activities.  We received practice instructions in every movement of the body – eating, toilet, picking things up, putting on the robes, moving into the cross legged posture, bowing. He showed how, and we followed.

As for moi: I feel I have been consistent since starting teaching in the mid-1980s. I gave my first retreat in the West in 1976 in Australia. Subhana was the co-manager.

My concept of vipassana has stayed firm over the years. I have always used it in its original application – meaning “insight” as a precise translation of vipassana, rather than as technique. I regard myself as a dharma teacher who includes in his teachings meditation for calm and insight. Of course, this mouthful of description often gets reduced to a Vipassana teacher by others. Bless them.

I definitely encourage inquiry in and out of meditation. I prefer to start a question with “what” rather than who” since who assumes a ‘self.’

What is this experience?
What is to be understood here?
What does this reveal?
What do I need to be clear about?
What is the truth here?
What shows emptiness?

Risk with no inquiry is calm mind and no emergence of insight. Risk of inquiry is triggering thought and loss of samatha (calmness).  The Buddha has addressed this rather well, of course

Traditional non-dual means Brahman and atman are one (ocean and wave share the same nature). I use the “dualities” of the Buddha such as the

Four pairs of worldly conditions,
Eight pairs in the third satipatthana,
Neither here nor there,
Not good nor bad,
Not clinging to existence or non-existence

Again, I have been consistent through the years with the teachings always addressing “ultimate” and “relative” truth or “path” and “goal.”