The Dharma of Relationships: The Paramis in Action
Bring Buddhist practice into your relationships.
A warm-hearted path
It's in our relationships that we see the progress we are making on the Buddhist path. This is where kindness, generosity, mindful speech, restraint, and a great deal of delight reveal themselves. But relationships can also be challenging. They often show us where we are stuck and so can be a great opportunity for practice.
The paramis are a series of qualities that are especially appropriate to a life lived in relationship. This online course is a journey of learning the paramis—individually at first—and ultimately combining them in creative ways to bring joy and wisdom into your relationships.
Begins April 10th, 2023
This easy-to-use online course is available to all. It comprises six units that form a program of instruction, meditation, discussion and contemplative exercises. Each unit contains around 60 minutes of material to view and practice. You are free to study at your own pace, and will retain ongoing access to the material.
The course will also feature four Zoom Q&A sessions with Martine and Laura on April 12, April 26, May 3, and May 17 from 5-6pm GMT (12-1pm EST). These will be recorded for all students to review afterward.
What are the paramis?
The paramis are a series of special qualities, often translated as "perfections" or "the highest." These are traits that a fully enlightened buddha is said to have mastered, yet they are relatively easy to bring into our daily life with a little intentionality.
There are different lists of paramis. We have focused on seven core qualities common to the traditions.
|7. Skillful means|
6 hours of video teachings
Enjoy a well-crafted curriculum with presentations, meditation, self inquiry, and daily life tasks—all designed to bring the paramis into your relationships.
Your life is the teacher
With guidance, we can see opportunities for growth and sincere practice right where we are. We don't need an ideal lifestyle to make progress. We work with what arises.
Experience greater ease in relationships
When we bring awareness and kindness to unconscious patterns of relating, we often find that a shift takes place...
Integrate your practice and your life
The Buddha said that community was the whole of the holy life. But sometimes we draw artificial lines around our practice: on retreat/off retreat; on the cushion/off the cushion. What happens when we remove these binaries?
Explore your relationship to life
We cannot always change our circumstances or the people around us, but we can change how we relate to life. As we bring the paramis into our lives, we cling less and therefore begin to suffer less.
Our method is to bring mindful curiosity to our experience, and to creatively unbind ourselves from well-worn habit patterns. This is the wisdom of the Thai Forest Tradition, Burmese vipassanā, and Korean Sŏn Buddhism that we learn from Laura and Martine.
Martine lived in Korea as a Seon nun under the guidance of Master Kusan for ten years. She is the author of Meditation for Life, The Path of Compassion, Women in Korean Zen and Let Go: A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits. She teaches meditation retreats worldwide and lives in France. Her latest works are the The Spirit of the Buddha, What is this? and The Definition, Practice and Psychology of Vedana. Recently she has been involved with the Silver Sante Study, teaching meditation, mindfulness and compassion to seniors in France to see if this could prevent age-related decline.
Laura began meditating in her early teens and ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1995. She was resident at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries under the guidance of her teachers Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Succito. Laura left the monastic tradition in 2015 and is now Staff Support Teacher at Gaia House, a retreat center in Devon, England. She has spent extended periods practicing with the Burmese teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya. Laura taught Beyond the Inner Critic, and Embracing Impermanence and Imperfection, both Tricycle Online Courses, with Gavin Milne.
Sample: A Conversation about Dharma Practice and Family
Laura and Martine discuss walking the Buddhist path amidst family life.
Here are the some of the topics Laura and Martine will discuss.
The teacher/student relationship
Martine and Laura discuss the benefits of the teacher/student relationship, and the importance of high ethical standards.
What is the effect of solitude on the mind? How do we relate to ourselves when we're alone? How do we balance solitary practice and life in relationship with others?
How do we bring sexuality into our lives as lay practitioners in a healthy, enjoyable way? How do we practice with these energies that are perhaps the most powerful of all for many of us?
Our psychological conditioning often appears most forcefully in family life. What if we could bring our path through the middle of this terrain, and remain open to what we find?
One of the great pains of relationships is that they can come to an end, sometimes unexpectedly. This can be impossibly hard but we can find wisdom in the teachings that helps.
How do we know when to end a relationship? How do we set that boundary in a caring but definitive way? Sometimes we will need to do this for our own wellbeing.
Unit 1: Mindfulness & Effort
The various relationships in our lives are the stimulus for so many feelings, ripples of reactions, wants, and desires: the ways we are affected, the ways we feel we affect others. And mindfulness is like shining a light on the preoccupations of the mind. We see how the mind has certain automatic ways of responding to these stimuli. And that in itself immediately shifts the equation. Automatic ways of operating can only continue as long as they're below the threshold of consciousness. This is a soft kind of effort, which is already there as soon as we become interested in our experience, in how we're relating.
Unit 2: Generosity
In our second unit, we'll look at how the parami of generosity can really bring something to our relationships. We want to see generosity in relationships as giving time and space, cultivating open-minded awareness, bringing curiosity to relationships, exploring impermanence, and how really knowing impermanence can foster a generous outlook.
Unit 3: Ethics
The focus of this unit is ethics in relationships. We're attuning to our principles. This can be done with simple questions like, "What is true for me here? What feels right in this moment, for this situation, with this person?" And often that's a heart-centered knowing, not just an intellectual knowing—"wrong, good, bad"—but a sense knowing of what's appropriate, what's needed. This felt sense of attunement—an alignment to where we are, where the other is—becomes more accessible to us.
Unit 4: Wisdom
The parami of wisdom can clarify our relationships. We hear a lot about non-attachment but what does it mean for a practitioner of the dharma to have, to experience, to cultivate creative, wise love in all of our relationships? We will look at how understanding arises in relationships, how wisdom informs how we interact in daily life, how we might be stuck in certain roles, and how we become unstuck.
Unit 5: Patience
Laura will explore patience and reactivity in relationship. She will discuss the dilemmas we are confronted with in relationships, and how it feels to be impatient or not. We'll explore the potential to experience patience as a powerful, deep presence. Martine will examine the relationship between patience and effort. Patience is not resignation. It involves creatively engaging in a certain way: giving time and space to people and to oneself. An essential component of this is wise speech, something that the Buddha really emphasized to help us cultivate healthy, friendly, connected, respectful, responsible relationships.
Unit 6: Skillful Means
The final parami we want to explore is what's called "skillful means." Martine's teacher, Kusan Sunim, thought the paramis were an easier model model to use in daily life and so he suggested to the lay people that they cultivate a parami every day. In his tradition, there are six paramis, and so he would add a seventh: skillful means. Skillful means is about adapting and adjusting in our relationships with others; letting go of preconceptions and trying to meet the person in that moment, in direct experience. To respond skillfully we bring in and combine the other paramis of mindfulness, effort, generostiy, ethics, wisdom, and patience.
Praise for Embracing Impermanence and Imperfection with Martine Batchelor, Laura Bridgman, and Gavin Milne.
This course presents profound and complex insights in a way that is easy to absorb and practice. The teachers wisdom is thoughtfully and humbly presented, providing a workable model for my own practice.
This is a beautifully taught, well structured course that gives you new perspectives and practices (off and on the cushion). It breathes new life into your relationship with impermanence, imperfection and conditionality, even if you’re a long-term practitioner..
Amazing introduction to the often challenging subject of impermanence and change. Beautifully facilitated!
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