This is a March 19th 2021 Zoom interview/conversation/teaching (experience)/chat with Ms. Beth Upton.
For the video version I imagine some of this could appear awkward especially for the audience. While I seem to handle awkwardness with indifference, Beth graces with gentle and pleasant speech.
I have been teaching meditation since 2014, and the more I teach the more I love it. If there is one thing that I have learned in my years teaching it is that we are all different, with our own strengths and weaknesses. In order to teach well, I need to get to know each student individually, guiding each to tap into their own innate wisdom, offering instruction that fits each student’s unique circumstances.
The ten years I spent as a Buddhist nun afforded me the great privilege of being able to practice meditation in much depth and detail. I was blessed with masterful teachers and all of the support I could have hoped for. I spent five years in Myanmar training diligently in the Theravada tradition under the guidance of Pa Auk Sayadaw. I then spent a further five years training in several other methods, and spent many months doing long solo retreats in various caves and forests.
The opportunity to practice meditation so comprehensively has been the greatest gift of my life. My passion is now to repay that debt of gratitude by providing the same opportunity to others.
Since deciding to disrobe in 2018, I have been on a sharp and wonderful learning curve, reintegrating the challenges of western lay life into my Dhamma practice. Through this process not only has my appreciation of the Dhamma grown deeper, but also my understanding of the students I am teaching.
As well as teaching meditation I am also enthusiastic about building community. Over the past years I have been leading Sanditthika Meditation Community in the caves of Almeria, Southern Spain. I am also finding ways that we can support each other wherever we may be in the world. I am also finding ways that we can support each other wherever we may be in the world. If this work interests you, I welcome you, either online, or in person, or both, to join our community.
End of Beth’s website bio. [Video correction: the end of a portion of Beth’s bio]
Amongst Beth’s copious wisdom teachings a big thanks goes for furthering my training in mindfulness of speech and presentation.
Be aware that audio challenges may be from me adjusting the zoom volume without monitoring the audio level for the screen recording.
Some of the topics we get into include:
- How I found Beth online [Practicing The Jhanas book and Beth’s Pa Auk Sayadaw interview]
- Life as a Theravada Buddhist monastic with Pa Auk Sayadaw in Southeast Asia — including the challenges and benefits of monastic precepts
- Transition to lay life
- Generosity, the gift economy, and giving culture. Around 13:42 Beth recommends the work of https://charleseisenstein.org [Video correction — 17:23: The teaching of the importance for focusing on before, during and after giving is not related to Rahula]
- Relationships, community and lack of community
- Advice for establishing and maintaining a daily meditation practice
- Meditation trends
- What Beth’s meditation interviews are like and a mini example interview from my current practice addressing tinnitus and energetic blockages
- Samatha / Vipassanā
- And Surpamundane or psychic powers [Video correction: I mistakenly say Supermundane instead of Supra]
As we run out of time, I dangle a question about arhatship, so I include it here with a few pro and cons not included in the video:
What are the pros and cons for revealing and then discussing arhatship — for both lay and monastic — while mentioning and considering the relevant monastic rule(s) surrounding this? Also how are the Four Stages of Enlightenment verified?
- lay community may be more likely to ignore other monastics/teachers
- followers could end up boosting personality (in their own minds) thus detracting from their practice
- more desire for Dana to arhats for greater merit
- risk of locking in particular arhat’s experiences as litmus test, benchmark, and/or “this is the way arhatship is, not what so-and-so says about it”
- stirring up politics — what country/monastery/tradition has most arhats.
- could attract jealous detractors and those denouncing validity of attainment
- potentially inciting unwise external comparisons perhaps leading to overemphasizing striving for attainment, or the opposite of giving up because it seems unrealistic and so far away
- proof that it’s actually possible (in this very life) and not hearsay
- inspiration for practice
- perhaps more helpful advice available for those closer to the arhat stage in their path
- could better settle wonderings about what it would be like to interact with an arhat and how an arhat would experience such and such
- more authoritative perspectives