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Contents of Mitrata Omnibus - Pre-ordination Course Tuscany 1981 and 1982 - Part 2

by Sangharakshita

Tuscany Preordination Course 1981

Question and Answer Sessions, Part Two
Held at 'Il Convento', Batignano, near Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy from 3 September to 3December 1981Present: Sangharakshita, Ratnaguna, Sthiramati, Subhuti, Vessantara; Alan Angel
(Devapriya), Johnny Baker (Yashomitra), Mark Bowden (Prajnananda), Dave Brennan
(Vajracitta), Gerald Burns (Khemaloka), Brian Duff (Dharmavira), Peter Fletcher
(Sthirananda), Andy Friends (Subhadra), Steve Francis (Sumitra), Peter Hill (Jinapriya),
Rudiger Jansen (Dhammaloka), David Luce (Saddhaloka), Bob Jones (Vajraketu), Simon
MacIntyre (Yashomitra), Clive Pomfret (Kevala), Dave Rice, Jonathan Rice (Yashopala),
Cieran Saunders (Ruciraketu), Michael Scherk (Dharmapriya), Peter Shan (Vajrananda),
Malcolm Webb (Sudhana), Murray Wright.
Sessions on the Mitrata Omnibus and various topics: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20,
23, 29, 30, 31, 32, and Concluding Remarks.
NB: SEE ALSO Q/A SESSIONS FOR 1982 page (viii)
COMMUNICATION EXERCISES: some notes (Prajnananda) (ix) Session Two: 12.9.81Was the Buddha's asceticism instrumental in his gaining Enlightenment?
1People's unwillingness to admit they've made mistakes
3The difference between effort and will
5- overly willed effort as violence to self
6- " " " desire to please group
8Importance of knowing own motivations
- proceeding from where one actually is
11Doing what needs to be done
- How to deal with the gap between seeing and feeling
15'Self-development' requires involvement with the objective
16'Being in touch' - work and self
18'Gross' and 'refined' energy in work
20'Communication' in work
21What is the relationship between an initial flash of
Insight and Stream-Entry? Samatha as basis of Vipassana
22 Strength of Insight needed to break fetters
24Nature of Insight
27Procedure for practising Insight
30Vipassana in visualization practices
31Realization in Zen
32Use of conceptual formulations of Insight in meditation
33Insight in metta bhavana practice
34Insight in dreams
35Session Four: 14.9.81
Why doesn't Bhante perform miracles? And are the miraculous mythical events in the
Mahayana sutras actually historical? What would be the nature of such physical
manifestations, miracles, telepathy, etc.? How and why they happen.
1 - 14Heaven and Earth - are they complementary or contradictory in Buddhism?
14The symbolism of the bull - and the general nature of symbolism.
- Symbols cannot really be explained.
15The purpose of giving talks on Mahayana sutras.
- Symbols need to be evoked.
20Similarity of fundamentalism and rationalism
21meaning of 'abhinishkramana'
23What are the Avadanas?
23Nature of visionary experience in dhyana and in dreams
23Session Five: 15.9.81
Nature of Mara the four Maras
1Nature of Evil in Buddhism
2Is Buddhism religion or philosophy?
- Dealing with beginners' questions on Buddhism and Christianity
3Can Reality be personified?
4 Nature of the kundalini and its relation to Enlightenment
5Yidam
(Recording incomplete due to power failures)
Session Seven: 18.9.81
Distinction between emotion and will
1Does an Enlightened being have a will?
2Distinction between bodhi and Prajna
3Does experience of the Sambhogakaya involve Insight?
3Samayasattva and jnanasattva
4Is the Samayasattva an experience of the Sambhogakaya?
4The Trikaya doctrine
5- linked with Imagination
5Ratnasambhava and Amoghasiddhi
6Importance of developing the Imagination - contact with myth
and legend through visual and/or literary forms
9Colour
10Usefulness of drawing and painting on retreats
11Discussion of culture - 'culture is not enough' - music most subjective &
protean of art forms - poetry least - need for an intelligible element in art
11-15Indian culture too Hindu for Indian Friends
15Reactions to paintings
16Session Nine: 20.9.81
Why is the female figure smaller when a Buddha is depicted with consort?
Relation of Wisdom/Compassion & Feminine/Masculine
1Meaning of 'Tantra'
4Nature of wrathful deities
- fear of them as increased resistance to Reality
6- attraction as projections of mundane anger & hatred
8 Making demands on people seen as threat
12Real individual needs & resistance to change
16Iconography of wrathful forms in the West
18Vidyadharas
20Symbolism of lotus and vajra
21Symbolism of the dragon in East & West
22Origin & development of forms of wrathful deities
27Degeneration of Buddhist Art
32Session Ten: 21.9.81
Can Insight arise spontaneously?
1Can the arising of Insight be guaranteed by the right conditions?
3'Buddha Mind' & 'One Mind'; Absolute Alaya, Sunyata; Relation of these
to mystical understandings of God
5More on Sunyata; 'unrestricted potentiality'
9Debasement and exploitation of initiations in Tibetan Buddhism
11Is the FWBO irregular in practice? Are our sadhanas Tantric?
19Session Eleven: 23.9.81
Questions on the communication exercises: Exercise three Who benefits
most? Ideal numbers for exercises - Effort v Will in the exercises -
No need for OMs to do exercises?
1-12Animals and the Wheel of Life
12Story of Leica the dog at Kalimpong
15Do some animals - e.g. dolphins & monkeys - have self-consciousness?
17Craving & sexual desire - distinguishing craving from desire
20Senility and death
22Coma states
31 Euthanasia
32The bhikkhu who committed suicide
34Mahayana tradition of self-immolation
35Persecution of Buddhism in Vietnam and the war
36Session Thirteen: 25.9.81
Questions on dhyana: Prasrabdhi in dhyana - Upekkha in dhyana
Experience of priti outside dhyana - To what extent can one operate from
dhyana? ~ Dhyana in communication exercises? - Dhyana, visionary
experience & the sense world
1-7Relation of dhyana and Insight - in Zen - Awareness, Insight & the Brahma
Viharas - Dhyana & the spiral path
8 -17Nature of Stream Entry
17Best conditions for attaining Stream Entry
20Spiritual experience cannot be formulated too rigidly
26Brahma Viharas may lead directly to arupa-dhyanas
26Are any Order A embers Stream Entrants?
27Correlation of Stream Entry, Going Forth, Going for Refuge, and the
Arising of the - Bodhicitta
29Session Fourteen: 26.9.81
What makes a 'semi-monastic' community?
1Communities - Size
2- Beginners' communities
4- Joining and leaving - Expectations
6- Names of communities
8How could wandering monks give Kalyana Mitrata?
10Should the Dharma be made less available?
10'Testing' people - and making them welcome
11Were the first disciples all Arhants?
13What is the nature of Pratyekabuddhas?
15 Can people become Enlightened outside Buddhism?
17Pseudo-universalism
19Session Fifteen: 27.9.81
Psychedelic drugs: Can they be useful in spiritual life?
1Spiritual friendship and ordinary friendship
14The 'need for space': indulgence or healthy human need?
17Hospitality - Guest-masters - Duties of host & guest
25Telephone manners
30Doing what you want to do
33Friendship must be based on respect
36Session Nineteen - On the Puja and Chanting: 2.10.81
Emphasis on certain words
1Pronunciation of certain words - in Ti Ratana Vandana
3- in concluding mantras
4Vajrasattva mantra
10Chanting in the Theravada
12The 'Last Vandana'
13Verse metres in Pali and Sanskrit
13Discussion on the Puja: Innovations and elaborations ...
- Importance of planning - Reading aloud as a spiritual exercise -
Varying pace of pujas - Basic Puja - Chanting puja in unison - Readings -
Omitting the mantras
14 -19Chanting the English translation of the Ti Ratana Vandana
19Session Twenty: 3.10.81
Preparation techniques for meditation practice
1Preparation for leading classes
4Supporting classes
8 Where to concentrate in Mindfulness of Breathing
10Should beginners meditate every day?
14Exactly when should one count in Mindfulness of Breathing?
14Choosing a subject for the second stage of Metta Bhavana
15Who should do visualization practices?
17Relation of Metta Bhavana to visualization practices
18Meditation leader must do practice being led
20Session Twenty-Three: 6.10.81
Can one develop femininity in a. relationship with a woman? ...

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