Dharma talks and meditation instructions

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Last Update on Jan 11th, 2024

The Dharma talk from the final day of the 2023 international retreat at Buddha Pada has been added. Now all five Dharma talks delivered during the retreat are available online. May they guide your study and practice.

A Map to a Place Where Mindfulness Exists and How to Get There

To be mindful, you need to undergo a shift—moving from “this world”* to a dimension where awareness exists. When you happened to be mindful, according to Ven. Yamashita, it did not occur as the result of successful control of your mind, but because of the shift, which happened unnoticed and unintentionally. Without understanding this point, he emphasizes, you will suffer needlessly by demanding your mind to do what it cannot. Pursuing mindfulness that way would make meditation a torture.

He also imparts the teaching that one does not need to be a special person, like great masters or elite meditators, to access the dimension where awareness exists; it is inherent in every single one of us. We are double-structured—Dimension X and the perceived self.

By revisiting key topics covered in previous talks—total surrender, the function of each step of the One Dharma Method, the importance of faith, and our double-structured nature—Ven. Yamashita provides a map leading to a place where mindfulness is.

This marks the concluding talk from the last day of the Me as Blue Sky Retreat, including the final question-and-answer session. Ven. Yamashita plans to offer another international retreat in September 2024.

*In this talk, “this world” is also referred to as the “rectangular world” based on the drawing by Ven. Kosho Uchiyama.

Total Surrender, Then the ‘Jump’ Happens

The importance of surrender has been one of the most significant themes in religious discussions. But what does it mean to surrender? And what is it to surrender in the context of mindfulness practice? Trying to control, and doing things to achieve specific desires, are inherent to our human nature. How can we stop this? 

According to Ven. Yamashita, surrender occurs when you realize, through wholeheartedly trying to be mindful but to no avail, that your mind is helpless in becoming mindful. When your mind is ‘defeated’ like this and surrenders unconditionally, a different dimension, in which you are mindful, opens up. That is why surrendering totally is a crucial step.

This is the Dharma talk from the 4th day of Me as Blue Sky Retreat held in September 2023. In the question-and-answer session, several questions are raised including: Is surrendering the same as acceptance?, How do we surrender? etc.

Are You Ready for Crossing Over? —Three Essential Elements

The truth that the Buddha discovered, referred to as Dimension X in this retreat, does not exist as a continuation of our ordinary mind. Entering it requires a “jump,” which made it extremely difficult to teach. For this jump to happen, you need to be ready–says Ven. Yamashita. According to him, when he sees practitioners who meet the following three criteria, he considers them ready for the jump to happen. First, they must acknowledge that their mind is the cause of suffering. Second, they need to realize that their ordinary mind cannot prevent itself from causing suffering. Third, they must have absolute trust in the dimension they are jumping into. These three elements must be realized through students’ own experience, not just intellectual understanding.

This is the Dharma talk delivered on the 3rd day of Me as Blue Sky Retreat held in September 2023. As always, the talk is followed by a lively question-and-answer session. The questions include “How do you know you touched Dimension X?”, “Is being in Dimension X like being in love?”, “Is it possible to slip back into ordinary dimension after touching Dimension X?” and more.

Retreat, Ego, and Dimension X (aka the Other Shore)

When participating in a retreat like ours, the most significant obstacle is not the pain in your leg but your ego. However, attempting to escape from it or suppress it only deepens the entanglement in ego– judgments, hatred, and reactive responses, qualities that are contrary to mindfulness. Then, what should we do? According to Ven. Yamashita, we should move to “dimension X,” a realm where the ego cannot survive. This dimension X, known by various names in many traditions within and outside Buddhism, coexists within you alongside your perceived identity.

This is the Dharma talk from the second day of Me as Blue Sky retreat followed by a question and answer session.

For your mindfulness practice to work

While our suffering can take many forms, we know our mind is the culprit. Mindfulness can bring an end to it,  so we are convinced. However, can meditating with the same mind that causes suffering truly make us mindful? 

“NO”. says Ven. Yamashita. In this introductory talk, he teaches that real practice won’t start unless you realize this fundamental dead-end, the helplessness that there is nothing you—your ordinary mind— can do for you to be mindful. Only when your ordinary mind surrenders, what makes mindfulness possible begin to reveal itself. Let’s call it “Dimension X” for the time being and explore its historical background in the context of Buddhism. 

This is the first Dharma Talk from Me as Blue Sky retreat held in September 2023. The talk is followed by a question and answer session. 

True Meaning of Mindfulness

December 7th, 2018, Pune, India

Day 3 (the last day) of 2018 Zen and Mindfulness Retreat in Vajuradhatu

A view from Vajuradhatu Retreat Center, Pune

In this final Dharma talk, Ven Yamashita once again lays out what mindfulness truly means. Mindfulness, an impossible attempt for our ordinary mind, and yet the Lord Buddha tasked us to do, is the bridge for us to cross to the other shore. In order for this to work; however, we need a careful understanding of how we are made, double-structured nature.

This talk is followed by a question and answer session.

Middle Way in a New Light

December 6th, 2018, Pune, India

Remains of East gate, Kapilavastu castle, Nepal. Prince Siddhartha’s journey started here.

This is the 2nd Dharma Talk given at the 2018 Mindfulness and Zen retreat at Vajradhatu, Pune, India.

“The Buddha’s path is your path. Buddhism is about you, and every single one of us. So it is quite important that we understand the Prince Siddhartha’s story as our own”. By using Siddhartha’s two different approaches for enlightenment as an example, Ven. Yamashita explains the pitfall of trying to control our minds and what really means to take the middle way.

Why subtle body meditation?

December 5th, 2018, Pune, India

Dharma Talk (somehow we do not have Dharma talk photo of 2018. This is from 2019 Vajradhatu Retreat)

This is the introductory Dharma Talk given on the 1st day of 2018 Mindfulness and Zen retreat at Vajradhatu, Pune, India.

In this talk, Ven. Yamashita explains the reason why we need subtle body meditation, which is the first part of the One Dharma Method. Subtle body meditation is an “exit’ from our mind-maid stories that we call “suffering”. How so?

Topics covered include: the reason why mindfulness is so difficult (spoiler alert: because it is impossible), our double-structured nature, the difference between ordinary knowing and mindful knowing, how we cross to the other shore, and so on.

The talk is followed by a question and answer session. Questions are difficult to hear, but you can hear it in the teacher’s answer.

Meditation Instruction 2018ver

Meditation instruction recorded at the 2018 international retreat, Deer Park Institute, Bir, India.

Sunrise on the Holy river of Ganga, near Baranasi, India

On December 2nd, 2018, Bir

Please note that no recording of guided meditation was made at the 2019 international retreat. This is the latest version available in English as of 2020.