Q&A Session Oct’17 – What is the Middle Way, Emptiness and more…

Duration 1:38:23

Questions answered during our Q&A session:

5:03     If everything is empty of inherent existence, then what is there? I understand that there isn’t “nothing” (nihilism) and that everything doesn’t really exist (well, conventionally it does).

13:45     What is The Middle Way according to Buddhist teachings?

27:36     As a person begins studying Buddhist teachings, meditating, starting the path, but not fully knowledgeable in their chosen path or following all precepts, at what point does one usually or appropriately say “I am a Buddhist” vs. “I am studying Buddhism” vs. “I have started practicing Buddhism”?

36:58     If we meditate with our eyes half open, can we focus on a picture / painting or would that be classed as agitation… or does it depend upon the picture?

41:32     How do we best deal with things like an itch while meditating? Should we just scratch it in order to not lose focus or should we try to endure it or should it become the meditation object as long as it lasts?

46:20     When one is enlightened and free of all defilements Buddhism says that Samsara ceases and that soul will no longer come back in a body. The Buddha knew and said that he wouldn’t be coming back after he “died”. Can you please explain this concept. If this is the case then wouldn’t the end goal of all “life” be to cease to exist in any tangible way!

53:07     Can one learn insight meditation (vipassana) without attending a course as is often recommended? If so, how? Also, must we adhere to a specific Buddhist tradition (such as Theravada) or can we incorporate aspects of the different types in our Buddhist path?

1:00:34     What is the structure of life from the Buddhist point (god realm, animal realm, human realm, hell (Mara)?

1:09:50     My question is about samma ajiva (right livelihood). I’ve struggled with this lately. The modern world has become very complicated. Corporations are extremely powerful nowadays and even though your job might be wholesome, your employer could be destroying the planet. How can one apply samma ajiva in the modern world and make an honest living that is in tune with the Noble Eightfold Path?

1:18:19     Is it normal to find it hard to do the Brahmavihara meditation practices (metta/loving-kindness and karuna/compassion)? What can I do to improve? What would you say are the differences between anapanasati and Brahmavihara meditation? Should I approach them differently?

1:25:19     Once off the cushion and in the hustle and bustle of daily life, how do we stay present and manage thoughts?

1:32:06     Sometimes it’s hard for me to separate myself from my mind. How do I stop identifying with the mind? During meditation I do observe it but I feel it has a very strong hold over me, especially if I’m excited about a matter I feel so engrossed in the mind.