What does it mean to know ourselves deeply? It is true that gaining a psychological understanding of our patterns and conditioning can provide relief, more agency in our actions and reactions in life, and a certain healing and freedom. But there is a layer beyond this, a deeper insight into the true nature of things, where what has held the heart in bondage is revealed and released.
While it is inevitable that we will encounter story and content as we sit in the stillness of presence, and it is important to be able to contend with these at times, there is a risk of staying in the psychological realm in an attempt to “solve” our suffering. We know that we have exhausted our psychological insights when deep wounds, which we have addressed and looked at from every direction, resurface yet again and all our skills, techniques, etc., are simply no longer effective.
Knowing ourselves deeply goes beyond our stories. It goes to the root of all operations of existence. It is knowing (in the heart) the essence of what drives all human hearts, and what causes a pervasive inner suffering. It is knowing intimately, through our own experience, the nature of all things. It is going beyond the superficial realities that seemingly provide safety, and dropping below that to touch what is unfailingly reliable. This dawning of wisdom is revealed through a committed awareness that “strongly knows” what is happening in all aspects of our being.
Rather than getting wrapped up in our mental stories, we watch the nature of our thoughts - simply knowing that they arise, what they cause in our body, and how they change. We maintain a relentless, gentle awareness in the body, allowing physical sensations, energetic and emotional movement, thoughts, and senses to be known, without abandoning ourselves, without being lured away into compelling stories, reasoning and evaluation, without obsessive noodling with how to be present.
It is a commitment to knowing our inner experience strongly, clearly and continually throughout all states and situations. It is a commitment to seeing the mundane realities of life as path. It is a commitment to seeing everyday mind and conduct as the absolute core of the path to liberation. There is no other place where freedom can actually occur!
Through this process of continual clear witnessing and radical honesty over the course of many years, we develop a kind of sacred transparency with everything that happens in our mind (as well as “downstream” in our speech and conduct). This is the undefended self. The self that doesn’t hide or compartmentalize. The self that can take complete responsibility for what arises without any trace of self-judgment.
This class in an invitation into developing this kind of transparency and the radical, unshakable freedom that comes with it. We will be referencing traditional Theravada Buddhism more explicitly than previous classes. Traditional mindful-awareness is the beginning, middle and end of practice! It is both basic and advanced. Theravada Buddhism does a beautiful job at framing all the views and behaviors that support this strong knowing of our experiences.
It is a 10-week commitment to paying much, much closer attention to what is happening in our mental, emotional, energetic and physical bodies than we usually do.
In addition to listening to the weekly sessions and reading course writings, this course will be greatly enhanced through making the time for some light note-taking, journaling and mapping of inner-experience during the week. The course will also benefit from taking on the overall attitude that you are on a 10-week intensive retreat. This means that - despite the fact that you are not leaving or changing the external conditions of your life - you make strongly knowing your inner and outer experience your number one priority.
Megan Cowan & Chris McKenna
Dates & Timing
Live Sessions on Sundays
10:00am - 11:30am PST
Sept 15, 2019 - Nov 24, 2019
(10 sessions; no class Oct 20)
Live attendance is encouraged but not required.
Weekly sessions will be done
online using Zoom and will
include teaching and Q & A.
Each week will include specific practice assignments, journaling prompts, and written & audio supporting materials.
Class recordings & all other course resources will be stored online for easy access.
Cost = $300
Payment can be made in full or in two $150 installments.
For installments, payments
will be charged at registration and on October 15.
About Classes with Megan & Chris
While we offer our classes as multi-week excursions into discreet aspects of the path, our true joy, energy and motivation for doing them comes from the consistent group of people that has coalesced around this coursework over the last few years.
This crew - although scattered all over the world - has truly become a community of practitioners. The depth of what is shared during live course sessions is directly related to the authenticity, relaxed intimacy and total lack of pretense exhibited by the members of this community.
This dynamic (people willing to state their experience plainly and honestly without defense) effects the transmission of what is taught in ways that are difficult to express but which are extremely poignant and meaningful to us.
Newcomers are warmly welcome to join us at any time.