From the BlogMeet Ron


Dear friends,
During a three month intensive meditation retreat one of the teachers, Joseph Goldstein, gave us an exercise. During the course of our day, when we were not sitting, he asked us to take a few moments and stand perfectly still, and then notice the different thoughts that came up relating to what to do next. 
It was rather startling. I found that every single movement of my body, be it the simple adjustment of my posture, the scratching of an insect bite, the putting on and taking off of a sweater, the walk toward the bathroom, or the tea area — every movement was preceded by a thought whose message was accepted, then acted upon.
And all seemingly without much input from “me.” 
The point of the exercise hit home: mindfulness allows us to see when we are operating on automatic pilot. 
How many times have I walked into the kitchen at home and opened the refrigerator door to have a look inside? I mean I had just opened it not even an hour ago. No one has come home with goodies to stash inside since I last looked.
What was I expecting to find?
Mindfulness allows us to see the arising moment with increasing clarity. And it is only in the present moment that we see how thoughts arise, how at some level of the mind they are evaluated, and how some thoughts are “chosen” and then acted upon.
We all have heard how mindfulness allows us to respond more creatively and maturely in the present rather than acting out our conditioned habits. That mindfulness allows us to respond to situations rather than merely react.
But how does this work? And how can we align ourselves with goals we may have for our spiritual practice, such as being more emphatic, more peaceful?
I have found over and over again, that setting goals for my meditation practice gets in the way of their actualization. As Phillip Moffit points out:

“When we make mindfulness a goal, we have—by definition—moved out of the moment. We have created a discrepancy between what we’re experiencing now and what we would like to happen. This inevitably leads to tension—we might begin judging our current experience (or ourselves) as “not good enough,” “unacceptable,” or “to be got rid of.”

This is another example of the brilliance of the Buddha’s teaching — the second step of the 8 fold path he taught his students 2600 year ago: mindfulness of our present moment intentions.

Intentions are not the same as goals, as goals are often based on some future fantasy, whereas intentions, as understood and taught by the Buddha, are grounded in the present moment.
Mindfulness puts us in a space where greater choice is possible – the present. 
According to classical Buddhist teaching, every mind-moment involves an intention. I saw that very clearly in the exercise Joseph had us do on that long retreat – while I was standing still, every moment presented an intention: to walk, to eat, to go to the bathroom, to give in to boredom, or to greed-anger-delusion.
While we can’t control what thoughts arise, we can choose which we will follow into “intention” and then action.
The Buddhist path encourages cultivating so-called “wholesome intentions” – traditionally presented as letting go, loving kindness, and not causing harm.
As Jack Kornfield observes:

The greater our awareness of our intentions, the greater our freedom to choose. People who do not see their choices do not believe they have choices.

When we simply react, we are most likely acting without being aware of intentions, and then may do stuff we later regret. Mindfulness helps us become aware of our intentions (impulses) before we act, and then to decide wisely. 
On the Buddhist path this decision is based on whether the intention is a wholesome one. Phillip Moffit gives the example of a business person who practices mindfulness meditation in order to get a competitive advantage. 

“When the effort to be mindful is fueled by greed, that very effort also fortifies the tension and insensitivity of greed. When the effort is fueled by loving- kindness, it energizes the inner openness and sensitivity of loving-kindness.”

Gil Fronsdal puts it succinctly: “Attention and intention are two cornerstones of Buddhist practice.”

Often we realize through mindfulness that our intentions are not always on the up and up. That’s what makes this a path of continual development – seeing our often mixed motives is a step towards greater self-awareness and the letting go of deep-seated patterns of greed, desire and aversion. 
May deeper self-awareness bring us to lasting peace and happiness, not just for ourselves, but for everyone in this troubled world.


Tom, Katina, and the kids
A five-day non-residential retreat at the Broken Ridge Korean Temple
June 19th to June 23rd, 20179:00AM to 5:00PM

Led by Gregory Pai, Ph.D. Gregory Pai has practiced meditation for over 50 years principally in the Burmese Vipassana tradition. He has taught at the Broken Ridge Korean Temple for 19 years.

The retreat is open to both beginning and advanced meditators.

Cost for the retreat is based on individual voluntary donations (dana) depending on each individuals ability to pay and benefit from the practice.

Please contact Gregory Pai by email ( to register for the retreat. This is necessary to plan for facilities, disseminate detailed information to participants and schedule personal interviews.

Participants are encouraged to register for the entire retreat. However, if that is impossible, participants may register for selected days.

If you would like to be included in Greg’s email list, email him at

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Hope to see you tonight, Thursday May 11, 2017 — bring a friend.

Be safe, be well…

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