To cultivate mindfulness is to cultivate conscious awareness of present experience without judgment.
To empower people with profound contemplative practices that support their aspirations to become better people and to make a better world.
The practice of Innate Wisdom and Compassion has been a heart practice of mine for years now, something I do formally every day, and something that informs everything in my life. I am currently active as a meditation teacher in three different sanghas –- FAC, Natural Dharma Fellowship and a nonsectarian Open Awareness sitting group –- and it affects all my teaching.
This becomes apparent to all at our FAC sittings since we always have a discussion period afterwards, which often lasts as long as the actual practice. Not only do people share their breakthroughs in coming to deeper self-acceptance and relating more harmoniously and empathetically with others in family, work and service life, but they also often express profound understandings and creative rephrasings of the wisdom element of the practice. In this way, our awakening is truly communal. I also give great credit to these practices for helping me in these settings to be more receptive and attentive to the inherent wisdom in each participant –- to see them as benefactors and listen to them as innate Buddhas. Even if their comments or questions may need to be unpacked or clarified or responded to, I don’t see them as being the “problem” which needs a “solution” as much as seamless parts of a shared illumination. Likewise, as a teacher, the practices help me to be more patient and welcoming to all, even those who might seem like “difficult” students.
This is also true in other, non-FAC meditation sittings and retreats. Again the practice invites me to welcome all as potential benefactors (and to more consciously be a benefactor to all) and also to recognize the wisdom, both spoken and silently already present in every encounter and every moment.
I’ve also been struck by how receptive people of other Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions are to the power of these practices, what a unique and valuable offering they can become to them. For example, at a recent Eco-Dharma conference attended by dharma-inclined environmental activists and spiritual teachers, I adapted the practice to include benefactors inspired by nature, to help people to find a more inexhaustible source and expression of love and wholeness even as they engage in work to handle dire situations, where the world can seem endangered or broken or perhaps beyond saving, and their own efforts can seem endless and without assured success.
No activity or endeavor, in life or in service, is too large or too small to benefit from such practice.