The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Going onto insights; the hardest but most effective approach I can vouch for personally as a non monastic amateur is to note sensations - including thoughts - as they come and go. For about 2 years I did this for an hour each day then reminded myself in informal practice times during the day. What it shows on an experiential level; sensations are complex, multi-faceted and transient. They are separate from the label you tend to put on them, they are dependent on lots of other factors and they are not things you can hang your identity on. The usefulness of this was limited. If I got sad I sometimes noted that 'sadness' was just a label I attached to a variety of temporary sensations and some accompanying confabulating thoughts. It didn't often alleviate the thing though. Same with anger, same with joy. Actually, it was quite a de-personalising practice that made me act a bit irrational at times and feel a bit disassociated from my actions.

With hindsight, I needed to round that fucker out with some compassion based practices, a decent ethical and social support framework and a bit of lighten-the-fuck-up. But at least I gave it a good run.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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As you ‘progress’ you also notice the sensations on an increasingly granular level, until you are aware almost constantly of an at times irritating buzzing quality to all physical sensations. I would speculate that thought is similar but I’d be lying if I said I experienced this regularly. So from this you experience that life/reality is made up of lots of little things and changes all the time. This is one of the three characteristics to use Buddhist speak.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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So that is insight; you break shit down into its component parts until you realise they’re not permanent, not satisfactory and not you.

Concentration; you focus on an object to the exclusion of other things - artificially solidifying whatever the thing is and bringing a temporary peace of mind. A crisp beer or good whisky brings me temporary peace of mind too but I won’t get enlightened from it. Playing the guitar or painting a pic has similar effects. If the object of concentration has a certain association in your mind you may get a difficult to define sense of transcendence that you may interpret as god or something else. I get this most consistently walk in nature funnily enough. Problem is, it fades and you feel empty and frustrated afterward. A bit like having a crafty wank while the wife watches tv downstairs.


I’m being flippant, as I see merit in these practices but also see the limitations in a modern, householder environment
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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odin wrote: Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:40 pm Going onto insights; the hardest but most effective approach I can vouch for personally as a non monastic amateur is to note sensations - including thoughts - as they come and go. For about 2 years I did this for an hour each day then reminded myself in informal practice times during the day. What it shows on an experiential level; sensations are complex, multi-faceted and transient.

With hindsight, I needed to round that fucker out with some compassion based practices, a decent ethical and social support framework and a bit of lighten-the-fuck-up. But at least I gave it a good run.
I did a good chunk of sensation noting....and found it super helpful. I'd catch myself, for example, with my chest tightening and say "oh, I'm getting angry!" Then relax my chest and the anger would dissipate. But I also found doing it day after day boring, so now I just use it as an approach.

The best meditation book would make you want to meditate, because fuck there are a lot of things I would rather do - watch Netflix, eat ice cream bars, etc.

I basically just use it as a "I have nothing to do" activity. Stuck at an airport - meditate. Have 20 minutes between appointments and no book - meditate. Walking home and it's a nice day out and I've got nothing going on for a few hours - meditate.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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You see, many Buddhist folk would tell you to experience your anger, rather than doing something about it. Let it be there, experience it and eventually understand that it is simply some process in the body. Some of my patients tell me about being able to separate themselves from pain. The pain is still there, and they allow it to be there without getting caught in actually suffering. Weird.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Zen is boring - Brad Warner

Some years ago some psychologists did a study in which they sat some Buddhists monks and some regular folks in a room and wired them up to EEG machines to record their brain activity. They told everyone to relax, then introduced a repetitive stimulus, a loudly ticking clock, into the room. The normal folks' EEG showed that their brains stopped reacting to the stimulus after a few seconds. But the Buddhists just kept on mentally registering the tick every time it happened. Psychologists and journalists never quite know how to interpret that finding, though it's often cited. It's a simple matter. Buddhists pay attention to their lives. Ordinary folks figure they have better things to think about.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Sangoma wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:43 am You see, many Buddhist folk would tell you to experience your anger, rather than doing something about it. Let it be there, experience it and eventually understand that it is simply some process in the body. Some of my patients tell me about being able to separate themselves from pain. The pain is still there, and they allow it to be there without getting caught in actually suffering. Weird.
In a health setting, I guess the value of noting based insight practice is to see through the labels and judgements you attach to experiences. So, something like 'pain' is generally comprised of microscopic sensations like tingling, burning, fearing, thinking, aversion etc. You'd note those without any attempt to change them but it would be a very different experience to just thinking 'oh fuck I'm in pain and I want it to stop'. It's not an easy practice though and wont give you the happy buzz of a yoga class!
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Some time ago an Ayurveda practitioner surprised me somewhat. In the allopathic setting patients are recommended to distract their attention from unpleasant things: think of a rain forest when they stick a large cannula in your arm, or imagine yourself on the beach to reduce pain after surgery. According to him Ayurveda advises the opposite: bring all your attention to pain and experience it at its fullest. The reasoning was that pain is the signal to the body that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. The more attention you put on the sensation, the stronger the signal and consequently the healing.

Something like this is mentioned in Fight Club, when Tyler Durden puts caustic stuff on the protagonist's hand: " This is your pain!", "Don't deal with it like dead people do!".
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Sangoma wrote: Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:45 am Zen is boring - Brad Warner

Some years ago some psychologists did a study in which they sat some Buddhists monks and some regular folks in a room and wired them up to EEG machines to record their brain activity. They told everyone to relax, then introduced a repetitive stimulus, a loudly ticking clock, into the room. The normal folks' EEG showed that their brains stopped reacting to the stimulus after a few seconds. But the Buddhists just kept on mentally registering the tick every time it happened. Psychologists and journalists never quite know how to interpret that finding, though it's often cited. It's a simple matter. Buddhists pay attention to their lives. Ordinary folks figure they have better things to think about.
That's a cool anecdote.

One of the points the author makes in the book is that you want to simultaneously maintain what he calls stable attention on the meditation object while maintaining peripheral awareness on the thoughts, feelings, etc. going on in and around you, just watching them go by.

One of things I do regularly is meditate on the chairlift while skiing. It's only a 5 minute ride, but its a 1-2 minute ski down, so over the course of the day you can add up some time. Attention on breath is easier because you are breathing in cold air and can really feel it, so you can easily "drop in" to focusing on the breath, but there's also all kinds of peripheral stuff going on around you. People on the next chair talking, skiers going past below, the guide wheels on the chairlift towers. I also need to be aware enough to not go through the unload station without getting off. A fun drill and good way to spend the chairlift time.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

Post by Hebrew Hammer »

Great book. I've read about and tried meditation many times over the last 40 years. This is the first time I've gotten it. He takes you carefully step by step in clear prose with insightful analogies to where you actually start meditating and then get better at it with the notion that it is a constant, growing practice.

Plus, he gives terrific insight into how the mind works and how mediation works for mindfulness and spirituality. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Glad you like it, HH.

All the stuff with forgetting, subtle dullness, stable attention and peripheral awareness, etc. has made meditation much more of an adventure for me. Seems odd to say that...meditation an adventure. But I can see each of the concepts occurring, and instead of getting frustrated, it’s now “yup, as described”.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Dear Dharma Treasure Sangha,

It was recently brought to the attention of Dharma Treasure Board members that John Yates (Upasaka Culadasa) has engaged in ongoing conduct unbecoming of a Spiritual Director and Dharma teacher. He has not followed the upasaka (layperson) precepts of sexual harmlessness, right speech, and taking what is not freely given.

We thoroughly reviewed a substantial body of evidence, contemplated its significance, and sought confidential counsel from senior Western Dharma teachers, who urged transparency. We also sought legal advice and spoke with various non-profit consultants to draw on their expertise and objectivity in handling this matter. As a result of our process, the Board has voted to remove Mr. Yates from all positions with Dharma Treasure.

In a series of Board meetings as well as written correspondences with Mr. Yates, he admitted to being involved in a pattern of sexual misconduct in the form of adultery. There is no evidence that this adultery involved improper interactions with students or any form of unwanted sexual advances. Rather, adultery with multiple women, some of whom are sex workers, took place over the past four years. The outcome was extended relationships with a group of about ten women. Relationships with some continue to the present day.

He has provided significant financial support to some of these women, a portion of which was given without the prior knowledge or consent of his wife. Mr. Yates also said he engaged in false speech by responding to his wife’s questions with admissions, partial truths, and lies during these years.

After we brought this misconduct to the attention of Mr. Yates, he agreed to write a letter to the Sangha disclosing his behavior, which would give students informed consent to decide for themselves whether to continue studying with him. However, after weeks of negotiations, we were unable to come to an agreement about the content and degree of transparency of his letter.

At the end of this entire process, we are sadly forced to conclude that Mr. Yates should not be teaching Dharma at this time. Likewise, we are clear that keeping the upasaka (layperson) vows is an absolutely essential foundation for serving as the Spiritual Director of Dharma Treasure. With heavy hearts, the Board has voted to remove him from this role, from the Board, and from all other positions associated with Dharma Treasure.

We also acknowledge the benefit of Mr. Yates’ scholarship, meditation instructions, and the personal guidance he has provided for so many earnest seekers, including ourselves. People from all over the world have been deeply impacted by the Dharma he has presented, and we do not wish to minimize the good he has done. We are forever grateful for the study and practice we have all undertaken together with Mr. Yates.

We know people may feel disbelief and dismay upon learning about this pattern of behavior. However, it is our strong wish that we all use this time as an opportunity to practice patient inquiry, compassion, and discernment. Our goal in sharing this information with the Sangha is to provide each of you with enough information to make your own informed decision about whether or how to work with Mr. Yates as a teacher. We hope this transparency about Mr. Yates’ behavior can help us all move toward a place where we honor teachers for their gifts while acknowledging they are complex human beings who make mistakes.

You can imagine this has been a long, methodical, and distressing process. Moving forward, we feel it is in the best interest of the organization to form a new Board that brings fresh perspectives and energy. The current Board will resign after vetting and electing new qualified Board members to carry on the mission of Dharma Treasure.

Finally, we hope this disclosure about Mr. Yates’ conduct does not shake your confidence in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The transformative strength of refuge in the triple treasure can sustain us through this challenging time. Many other communities have walked this difficult path and emerged wiser and stronger. The ancient and modern history of Buddhism is filled with examples of the Dharma’s liberating individual and social power and compassion. Let us never forget that.

In service,
The Dharma Treasure Board of Directors
Blake Barton
Jeremy Graves
Matthew Immergut
Eve Smith
Nancy Yates
Culadasa went full IGx.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Protobuilder wrote: Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:39 am
Culadasa went full IGx.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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LMAO this always happens when white people LARP as Hindu/Buddhist/whatevers.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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LMAO, more like culodasa, amirite.

Implausible denial
Yates wrote:Please do not take this letter as fact. It includes false information, and distortions and misrepresentations of fact. I, in fact, resigned from the Dharma Treasure Board due to irreconcilable differences including their refusal to engage in mediation. Rather than accept my resignation as tendered, they chose to vote me off the Board and remove me as Spiritual Director of Dharma Treasure. A fuller and more complete explanation will be forthcoming. In the mean time, I strongly recommend everyone hold off on jumping to conclusions or engaging in analysis or commentary. We are taking our time (myself and my advisors) so as to respond in the healthiest and most appropriate way with the best interest of all parties in mind.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Korzybski's Science and Sanity is an interesting book on this type thing.

He locates the distress for which most meditate in a failure to appreciate which level of abstraction we are working on. A level of abstraction would be the chair you are sitting on. Another level would be that there is no chair, but only atoms. Yet another level would be the sub-atomic or quantum level where there aren't even atoms. Clearly, another way of expressing Maya.

Likewise, within our experience, we have levels of abstraction. There are sense perceptions, then emotions and then ideas.

The physiologically healthy way to operate is for sense impressions to travel up the thalamus and generate emotions. For example, seeing a tiger and then experiencing fear. Or seeing one's child and experiencing love.

Thoughts/ideas and emotions shouldn't connect this way. Because thoughts/ideas aren't connected to sensory impression. But they do. Thoughts/ideas will travel down into the thalamus and create emotions. This is a pathological state. Obviously, this is what one experiences when meditating. And the goal is to stop the thoughts from triggering the thalamus.

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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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It seems like dude being a poon hound at 80 is actually a fairly strong endorsement.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Rather, adultery with multiple women, some of whom are sex workers, took place over the past four years. The outcome was extended relationships with a group of about ten women. Relationships with some continue to the present day.
That's some level 11 Dharma there.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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Meditation is simpler than many believe it to be. Sit down, shut up, follow the breath. When your mind wonders away from the breath and you notice it - bring it back to the breath. Continue for 20 minutes. Do not set goals. Do not expect anything to happen. There is no progress. This is it. You will know when it works.
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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All this time, people thought he was gazing at his own navel
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Re: The Mind Illuminated - best meditation book

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I must have donated my email address somewhere, as I just got this in my inbox. The doc linked to is kind of fascinating in a "too much information" kind of way.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A Message from Culadasa

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

I am finally able to break my silence! I sincerely apologize for not being able to respond to all of you following the letter the Board of Dharma Treasure made public on August 19th, 2019. I realize how much my silence may have contributed to the hurt, anger, doubt, disappointment, and even sense of betrayal many of you have felt as a result of those accusations.

Every day that has gone by I’ve wanted to make a proper response but haven’t been able to. I filed for divorce from Nancy after all this happened, and couldn’t make any statement until the divorce was final. We chose to enter into to a collaborative divorce process, and it took much longer than expected. My hope and purpose in responding now, almost a year and a half later, is to bring clarity to what happened so that a true healing might begin for all of us.

I’m aware that one unfortunate effect of my silence is that people may have taken that silence as a withdrawal from teaching and an admission of guilt with regard to the accusations in that letter. I want you to know the situation is quite the opposite. That is what this message is all about, so please do read it in its entirety, including the document attached to this email.

I also want to be clear, while I respect that some may wish to discuss and speculate on the particulars of what I will be sharing with you, my intention – with, perhaps a very few exceptions – is to put this whole matter behind me. Thoughtfully discuss and even debate as you see fit, but I will be redirecting my energies to teaching and writing. I hope that you understand this boundary I am setting for myself.

Almost six years ago (and almost four and a half years before the Board’s letter) both Nancy and I recognized and accepted that we needed to sell our home and business and would not be living together afterwards. From that time forward, we began making choices and taking action based on our mutual decision. It wasn’t until weeks after that letter went out that I realized the Dharma Treasure Board didn’t seem to know this, and I’d never raised it as an issue when confronted by them. Nor had I communicated it to any of you. The enormous relevance of this simple fact had completely eluded me at the time I was being confronted.

Likewise, the Board’s focus, both when confronting me and in their letter to you, was a highly distorted version of events that had happened over a very short period four years earlier, and many months after Nancy and I had made that decision. Nancy had been fully aware of those events (my relationships with other women) at the time they happened, and they weren’t a problem for her. Once again, not until after they’d released their letter did it strike me that the long past events the Board had focused on had nothing to do with anything that had happened since, or to the real issues between Nancy and myself. I now seriously question whether the Board was ever made aware of those real issues. More likely, this distorted information was all they ever had to go on. Failing to recognize how much information was missing, I tried to respond to those long past issues without ever asking why they were being raised so many years later. Then, when the letter came out, I saw those events were being misconstrued as having continued throughout the next 4 years. On reflection, I realized this had been the Board’s operating assumption all along, but I hadn’t recognized that when they were confronting me.

Because I couldn’t fully understand what had happened and why, I wasn’t able to respond effectively, either to the Board when confronted, or to you after the Board published their letter. Nevertheless, as is often the case in situations like this, my first response on reddit, to “not take this letter as fact. It includes false information, and distortions and misrepresentations of fact,” was by far the most accurate thing I said at the time.

My later apology where I said, “I engaged in adultery and wrong speech…” wasn’t accurate. The mutually agreed upon status of our marriage, long before any extra-marital encounter, was such that my behavior was not adulterous. Nor should I have ever said I’d engaged in wrong speech. Some of the things I told Nancy years three years later were not true, but the intent was to protect another from harm, not to hide adulterous relationships from her as implied by the letter.

How could I have overlooked such obviously important facts as those described above? Why would I have ever made such an ill-considered apology?

Following those unfortunate events of August 2019, and during the last year and a half of forced silence imposed by the divorce process, I set out to understand what had happened and why. In addition to sorting truth from fiction, I had to go beyond the “red herring” that had been presented by (and perhaps to) the Board, delving into the real issues that led up to this situation. I began with the premise that I am the one who was ultimately responsible for what had happened, regardless of circumstances and any role played by others. I wanted and needed to clearly understand where my responsibility lay, so that I could overcome the causes for my failings, make amends, and hopefully bring about some healing.

During the past year and a half, I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about myself that I didn’t know before. Working with a therapist and a life coach, I discovered deeply embedded automatic patterns of responding in fundamentally unhealthy ways to certain situations. For all my life I’ve had almost no ability to establish and maintain clear personal boundaries in interpersonal interactions. If someone was upset, angry, hurt, disappointed, afraid or whatever, I took personal responsibility for their mental state, regardless of the cause or whether or not I had anything to do with their being upset. I’ve also been extremely conflict avoidant. When confronted with anger and/or aggression, I would do almost anything to placate. I tended to avoid conflict by being excessively compliant, acquiescing too quickly, and engaging in various conflict avoidance strategies. I too readily accepted the views of others, or tried to find ways to side-step issues of conflict, to relieve another’s anger while disregarding the cost to myself or future consequences. If attempts to placate failed, and full-blown conflict seemed inevitable, I would often disengage, withdraw, surrender, and even take a beating if necessary.

Conflict avoidance and lack of personal boundaries overlapped in their effects on my behavior, such that I would do almost anything to make things OK. It has been difficult for me to say no, so I committed to things I didn’t really want or agree with. Until recently, I’d never been conscious of reacting out of these conditioned patterns. Now that I am much more aware of these tendencies, I no longer fall so easily into these conditioned patterns.

During the past year and a half, I’ve also learned to appreciate and experience certain profound depths to this Dharma that I’d known about, but hadn’t fully understood and applied before.
For years I’d been living mostly in the present moment, more in the ongoing awareness of suchness and emptiness than narrative and form. As part of this radical shift in perspective, I’d stopped “thinking about myself,” creating the “story of me.” I now realize that, while freed of the burdens of “if only” and “what if,” I’d also lost another kind of perspective those narratives provide. By embracing the now as I had, I’d let that other world of linear time and narrative fall away. Thus I found myself unable to counter what the Board confronted me with by providing my own perspective, “my story” about what had happened so many years before. Having lost the perspective and context that comes from longer term and larger scale autobiographical narratives, I failed to recognize how out of context those long-ago events were with the present.

While all narratives may ultimately be empty constructs, they are also indispensable to our ability to function effectively in the realm of conventional reality and interpersonal relationships. When trying to respond to the Board, all I had were the pieces from which those narratives are usually constructed. I was hopelessly unsuccessful in my attempts to put them together on the spur of the moment to provide a more accurate counterpart to the unrecognizable narrative I was being confronted with.

And that is how I overlooked such obviously important facts as those described above, and why I apologized so inaccurately.

In sum, at a time when every aspect of my life was shifting, the effects of unhealthy conditioned response patterns, driven by residues of psycho-emotional trauma, and a radical shift in perspective converged in an unfortunate way. As a result, I failed to respond appropriately to the situations I found myself in over a period of four years. This culminated in the events of July and August 2019 that have caused so much pain and disruption for so many. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not offering unskillfulness due to the effects of my conditioning and/or my practice as an excuse for anything. Rather, I’m acknowledging and accepting my unskillfulness as a serious and harmful shortcoming that I have a responsibility to do something about!

Out of all this, there has emerged for me a clear picture, far more complete and consistent with my lived experience than what the Dharma Treasure Board had confronted me with or presented to you. Having done this work, I now have a much clearer understanding of how and why this happened. Indeed I am responsible, and I was at fault – just not for the things that have been alleged and used to undermine my reputation.

Where my chief responsibility lies, and what I feel tremendous regret for is having at first failed to recognize the intensity of Nancy’s emotional distress for too long; and then when I did recognize it, my inability to respond appropriately. I understand that, and will always be deeply sorry for the suffering Nancy has experienced. I am likewise deeply sorry for the subsequent suffering that affected first the Board members and then yourselves.

I am sharing in detail what I have learned in the hopes that it may help you to understand and make sense of what was happened as well. To read my perspective of these last years, please open the document attached to this email. There you will find my frank and detailed description of the last 6 years. My perspective is presented in considerable detail, because I know of no other way to counter the misinformation in that letter and in subsequent communications from the Board. I will also share with you what I’ve learned over the last year and a half about myself; the dharma I practice and teach; and what I see as its implications for all of us as lay practitioners, teachers and students alike.

I have included this email in the attachment so you will have it all in one document.

Love and best wishes,
Culadasa

https://mcusercontent.com/9dd1cbed5cbff ... _12_21.pdf
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