Towards Insight: Three Myths

In September 2020 Maitreyabandhu and Jnanavaca led a special online retreat from the Adhisthana shrine room exploring Samadhi and Prajna in the context of the three myths of self-development, self-discovery, and self-surrender. Having worked together on a book, Jnanavaca and Maitreyabandhu on this retreat what it means to gain insight within our tradition. The retreat assumes a basic understanding of the Three Myths as expressed by Subhuti in his article in Madhyamavani.

Here you’ll find  video recordings of all the content from this retreat so that you can follow along at your own pace. Helpful links are provided here to easily navigate the various elements of the retreat.

Session 1 was not recorded as it was an unlead meditation session. A few of the meditations are missing from the earliest sessions. If there are any errors, please email admin@adhisthana.org.

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Day 1

Session 4

Kicking off with a talk from Jnanavaca, who gives an overview of the Three Myths, and sets the scene for what will follow over the week.

 Video

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Welcome from Maitreyabandhu
Jnanavaca’s Talk
Dedication Ceremony

Day 2

Session 2

Maitreyabandhu gives an introduction to Samadhi and looks at the hindrances, or ‘coverings’, and Maitreyabandhu and Jnanavaca hold a Q&A that touches on rebirth, arhants and what we are trying to explore in relation to this material. (Sorry about the gallery view).

 Video

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Maitreyabandhu’s Talk
Meditation Mindfulness of Breathing (no video)
Q&A
Meditation (introduction to meditation only)

Session 3

Jnanavaca discusses metta as the foundation of samadhi, taking us back to basics and reminding us to dwell with patience and acceptance in the body.

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Jnanavaca’s Talk
Metta Bhavana (no video)

Session 4

Maitreyabandhu explores the front and back of the myth of self-development or self-transcendence, looking at the advantage of having something to do with our will on the one hand (particularly when relatively new to the spiritual life), and the dangers of infinitely extending samadhi and prajna away from ourselves while we perfect sila.

Video

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Maitreyabandhu’s talk
Introduction to the Puja
Start of the puja

Day 3

Session 2

Jnanavaca talks about beauty, nihilism, and leads us into a body based awareness meditation. This is followed by a Q&A which touches on our temperamental inclinations towards samadhi, the differences between mind and brain, and how to tackle the tension that arises when we try to keep track of all the change that is present in our experience.

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Jnanavaca’s talk
Body Awareness & Anicca Meditation
Q & A
Just Sitting Meditation

Session 3

Maitreyabandhu looks at reflections around impermanence or inconstancy, reminding us that our lives are like dew on a blade of grass.

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Maitreyabandhu’s talk
Meditation

Session 4

Jnanavaca concludes the days on the myth of self-development or self-transcendence with this talk, looking at other ‘back’ sides to the myth, and sharing his concerns for how those may manifest in the movement.

Video

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Jnanavaca’s Talk
Puja

Day 4

Session 2

Maitreyabandhu enters on to the topic of self-surrender & the laksana of dukkha presided over by Tara, followed by a meditation, Q&A (touching on the relationship between dukkha & grasping, the dukkha laksana for those with a nihilistic tendency & subtle joy), followed by another meditation.

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Maitreyabandhu’s Talk
First  Meditation
Q&A
Second Meditation

Session 3

Jnanavaca in this session covers softening around dukkha, recognising that both grasping and aversion cause dukkha, and then gently leads into a meditation, finishing with a period of just sitting.

Video

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Jnanavaca’s Talk
Meditation

Session 4

Maitreyabandhu gives an inspiring talk about the unconditioned reaching into the conditioned, symboliesed by Tara (the quick one) on the shrine. He also looks at how views create the context in which we live out our lives, the front and back of the myth of self-surrender, and the secular and the divine, of which Buddhism is neither. The talk is followed by a seven-fold puja.

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Maitreyabandhu’s Talk
Puja

Day 5

Session 2

Maitreyabandhu moves on to the anatta reflection in the context of the myth of self-surrender.

Video

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Maitreyabandhu’s Talk
Meditation – Reflection on Anatta
Q&A
Meditation – Just Sitting

Session 3

Jnanavaca shares how he uses Subhuti’s idea of Reaction Practice to give him something to work with in meditation to deepen insight.

Video

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Jnanavaca’s Talk
Meditation

Session 4

Continuing to investigate the ‘front’ and ‘back’ of the myth of surrender, Jnanavaca talks of the myth of his own ordination, of faith and meaning. He talks of the myth of the vajraguru, of making your life an offering, and the fear of betrayal or losing oneself.

Video

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Jnanavaca’s Talk
Introduction to the Puja
Puja

Day 6

Session 2

We move on to Self-discovery presided over by Manjugosha. Jnanavaca introduces and leads us through a Just Sitting meditation. The Q&A explores how to sit with Dukkha and the role of the teacher in the myth of self-surrender.

Video

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Jnanavaca’s Introduction
Meditation – Just Sitting
Q&A
Meditation – Just Sitting

Session 3

Maitreyabandhu shares his thoughts on the sense of ‘relief’ or ‘release’ that we can experience when reflecting on the laksanas. Followed by an open meditation.

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Talk from Maitreyabandhu
Open Meditation

Session 4

In this confessional talk, Maitreyabandhu reflects on his meditation history in the light of the myth of self discovery. He looks at the ‘front’ of this myth; its direct and experiential approach that tells us that liberation is possible for us right now, and at the ‘back’, that it can undermine the path (and therefore dispense with the need for sangha and changing the world), lead to claims of attainments, and result in demands of others to suspend their critical faculties in relation to ones experience.

Video

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Talk from Maitreyabandhu
Puja

Day 7

Session 2

Jnanavaca introduces the Vajrasattva Sadhana from a personal perspective followed by a lead meditation. During the Q&A we touch on approaching the myths with a pure heart, reflection & thinking, & how sadhana relates to the three myths. The session finishes with a short period of Just Sitting.

Video (not yet available publicly, retreatants should have received it via email)

Session 3

Maitreyabandhu talks about bringing what we’ve learnt to everyday life.

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A few comments about the program and Maitreyabandhu puts his foot in it
Maitreyabandhu’s Talk
Open Meditation

Session 4

Jnanavaca begins this talk on the fourth myth, emergence, by sharing some of his own meditative experiences and gratitude for the people he has been able to talk to about them. Continuing to emphasise the experiential benefit of this myth, he then nevertheless expresses reservations; the dangers of calibrating our experience and therefore fixing it, of non-effort undermining the path and of reifying experience. He then also reflects on how humanism influences our Sangha, and ends by expressing his belief that Order Members have a duty and an obligation to look at how their experiences fit within Bhante’s system of practice.

Video

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Jnanavaca’s Talk
Introduction to the Puja
Puja

Day 8

Session 2

The concluding summary talk for this series of talks, given from the Urgyen House, where Bhante Sangharakshita spent his final years.

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Final Words