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Notes from dhamma talks by Bhante Sujato and Bhante Akaliko

Monks in cyberspace

Monks in cyberspace - 18 Jun 2021

A brief history of Buddhism


A meditation (on breath) and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Meditation is a way of training the mind. It's not unique to Buddhism. There are about 40 different types of meditation in Buddhism, and a few fundamental ones (see the toolkit).

We project our experiences outwardly. History allows us to check and learn. How do we listen to who peope are from the past? When looking back at history facts are sacred! How did what the Buddha taught >2500 years ago get from there to here? The Dhamma has passed through many hands.

Bhante gave a brief history of Buddhism - discussing the Sangha, King Ashoka, Sri Lanka, the doctrinal differences of the different schools that emerged, the four main schools (a result of different interpretations of the same scriptures), the destruction of Buddhism, the 11th century in Sri Lanka, King Parākramabāhu, and the Pali canon.

Buddhism has always responded to the needs and challenges of the time and place. The fundamentals remain - how can I live a better life? how can I attain freedom from suffering?

Reference: Sects and sectarianism (Bhante Sujato)

Monks in cyberspace - 11 Jun 2021

Q & A session


A meditation (on metta) by Bhante Akaliko.

The Bhantes took questions e.g. Bhante Sujato on "stream entry" in lay life, Bhante Akaliko on being joyful.

Monks in cyberspace - 4 Jun 2021

Q & A session


A meditation (on metta) and talk by Bhante Sujato. Attended in-person.

Bhante Sujato based the talk on a question from a new attandee: "what is sankhara?" depends on the context! Bhante also provided guidance to a community member who was having issues at work, regarding inappropriate questions about religion.


Monks in cyberspace - 28 May 2021

Final in the series on the life of the Buddha


A meditation (on impermanence) and talk by Bhante Sujato. Attended in-person.

Reference: Mahāparinibbāṇa Sutta - The Great Discourse on the Buddha’s Extinguishment -

Monks in cyberspace - 21 May 2021

Guest speaker Ayya Suvira


Meditation (on breath) and talk by Ayya Suvira.

Separating Buddha the man from the myth. The Buddha experienced much physical suffering. We shouldn't be surprised or embarrassed about this, it is part of beng a physical human being. The late canonical texts (Abhidhamma) try to link his suffeing to karmic causes.

Who are we worshipping? "Whoever sees the Dhamma sees me."


Monks in cyberspace - 14 May 2021

What the Buddha got wrong!


A meditation (on death contemplation) by Bhante Akaliko, and talk by Bhante Sujato.

If you find this topic heretical, you may be too attached!


Monks in cyberspace - 7 May 2021

The Therigatha Festival


A meditation (on breath) by Bhante Sujato, and interview by Bhante Akaliko with Bhante Sujato about his translations of the Therigatha.

"Theri" means senior nun, and "gatha" means verse. The Therigatha are the verses of the senior nuns. A senior nun is a nun who has been ordained for at least 10 years - they are not necessarily senior in age. There were lay women who were Theris as well e.g. Punnika, Rohini, and Cappa. The Therigatha contains 73 poems grouped by numbered verses. Some are teachings given by nuns, or to nuns. Theris are not defined by their experiences, they transcend them.

Bhante Sujato's translations of the Therigatha were done collaboratively with Jessica Walton who used to be a nun. What Bhante tries to bring to all of his translations is a warmth and closeness to the teachings.


Monks in cyberspace - 30 Apr 2021

Who was the Buddha as a leader?


A meditation (on breath) and talk by Bhante Sujato. Attended in-person.

The Buddha was a leader who empowered the monastic community (sangha) from the start. The Khandaka begins with the Buddha's enlightenment, when the sangha first began. The sangha was empowered to ordain monks and nuns themselves. The sangha also choose mentors called upajaya, a father-son or mother-daughter type of relationship that works both ways. From what I understand there's not really a hierarchy, and there's no requirement for obedience. So if a student sees their teacher is doing the wrong thing they need to call it out.

Monks in cyberspace - 23 Apr 2021

The meditation struggles of the Buddha


A meditation (an inquiry using sound) and talk by Bhante Sujato. Attended in-person.

Suttas that show the Bodhisatta's struggles on his way to awakening:

  • MN 4 - Fear and Dread - Bhayabherava sutta
  • MN 19 - Two Kinds of Thought - Dvedhāvitakka sutta
  • MN 128 - Corruptions - Upakkilesa sutta

On fear and dread - the Buddha challenged his fears by maintaining his posture during meditation. When we feel anxiety it's natural to move away from it - but in meditation we learn to watch/notice it until it passes away.

On two kinds of thought - the Buddha couldn't stop thinking either ;-) He enquired into his thoughts e.g. what reactions are created in the body? He experimented with opposite thoughts e.g. unwholesome > wholesome (you can do this incrementally rather than switching). However, a good method for obsessive thoughts is to actively switch to a different thought. His purpose was to understand what was keeping his mind trapped in dukkha. He noticed the process of thinking and how this creates suffering (this is why he developed Jhānas).

On corruptions - it is important to note that the Buddha's path is the same as ours. In relation to meditation, in the suttas 'nimitta' means an aspect of experience, which when you focus on it, promotes the growth of similar or related qualities. Understanding the nimitta is undersatnding the reason i.e. the precursor (in the meditation Bhante illustrates this using sound).

These three suttas describe the Buddha's meditation progress - from coarse to fine defilements.

Keep inquiring into the cause of your suffering. Learn to read your own mind.

Monks in cyberspace - 16 Apr 2021

The story of the Buddha, "that peace guy" ;-)


A meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Meditation on mindfulness of breathing - start afresh - key? let go!

Bhante talked about renunciation and why he became a monk.

Reference: Attadanda sutta - Sutta Nipata -

Monks in cyberspace - 9 Apr 2021

The three characteristics of existence


A meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato on the three characteristics of existence.

  1. Anicca - Impermanence
  2. Dukkha - Suffering
  3. Anattā - Not-self


  • Tilakkhaṇa (three characteristics of conditioned phenomena)
  • Paṭicca-samuppāda (dependent origination)

Monks in cyberspace - 2 Apr 2021

New SuttaCentral launch!

Monks in cyberspace - 26 Mar 2021

Slow and steady


Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Notice the difference between what you think meditation should be versus what it is. The main obstacle in meditation is either not doing it or overdoing it! We meditate because we can see the results here and now. Mindfulness stabilises our consciousness.

Monks in cyberspace - 19 Mar 2021

A talk about desire

Recording available:

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

An interesting meditation ("wishless and directionless").

Bhante talked about desire as a creative force that underlies everything (this is the way the Buddha described it) e.g. desire drives animals to eat, reproduce. It also drives our longing for freedom and liberation. People plan for the long term. Thought, language and concepts allow us to do this - with repetition they become beliefs and fixed ideas. Desire is a communal activity as well ("triangulation of desire"). We are conditioned by our various cultures to want.

How to practice restraint, contentment, letting go? You can't pay monastics to do it for you ;-) What we can do is look into ourselves and recognise how these influences are shaping our mind - here and now. Investigate your mind.

Monks in cyberspace - 12 Mar 2021

The five frequent reflections

Recording available:

Meditation by Bhante Akaliko on the five frequent reflections:

  • Aging
  • Sickness
  • Death
  • Separation
  • Karma

Talk by Bhante Sujato.

Bhante was asked to talk about getting rid of resentment

At the end, he reflected on the importance of having the guts to step forward and make a stand for what is right e.g. Beware of bothsidesing i.e. making excuses for what is clearly not right. Bad faith is making excuses - you always have a choice to shift and choose your perceptions, to lead to a reduction in suffering.

Monks in cyberspace - 5 Mar 2021

The two truths or realities

Recording available:

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

The Buddha had a pragmatic approach to the two truths. What mattered was what worked, and the realisation of truth can come through either.

When it comes to spiritual growth we are our own experts, because only we know our own mind. The real questions are 'What am I holding on to? How am I creating suffering for myself and others?'. What matters is whether you are becoming more peaceful, wise, and free. Be careful if you think 'you've got that bit done' - keep learning.

Monks in cyberspace - 26 Feb 2021

Poya Day and Māgha Pūjā (Saṅgha Day)

Recording available:

Meditation by Bhante Akaliko, and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Bhante explained how the sangha and vinaya were established after the Buddha's enlightenment, and the core principles the Buddha taught the monastic community.

Monks in cyberspace - 19 Feb 2021

Our responsibility as Jedi Knights

Metta meditation by Bhante Akaliko...'may all beings see me as a friend' :-)

Talk by Bhante Sujato.

Bhante began this evening's talk with references to Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings - stories that highlight the binaries of good versus evil, things that arise feelings of conflict within. In Buddhism we don't start from the assumption that the world is fundamentally one thing or the other. Examples of morality in Buddhism can be seen by a person's responses e.g. do they feel shame? do they ask for forgiveness? do they feel sorry?

The Buddha never said the mind is naturally radiant - he said 'this mind is radiant' (in Jhana) then defiled. Purity and impurity are conditions. People aren't good or bad, they're conditioned. The choices we make are conditioned by internal and external factors.

When we can deal with the real world, then we can create condiitions in the mind to move to a state where we can overcome the binaries or right/wrong toward transcendance and universal love (acceptance). Wisdom knows the difference. But you can't jump over or spiritually bypass the steps to get there. You need to build from the ground up, which is why we start with the five precepts. This is the ground work.

Q&A - much discussion on spiritual bypassing - Bhante mentioned an essay he wrote on the mystique of the abhidhamma

Monks in cyberspace - 12 Feb 2021

Earth element, lunar new year - year of the Ox

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

The four elements are our experience of the world around us - earth, air, water, fire. They form our subjective view. It's important to remember that Buddhism is not about becoming untethered from our reality/place e.g. the earth element inside of our body is the same as the earth element outside of our body. Meditating on the earth element can be grounding.

~3000 years ago the vedas introduced by the brahmins talked about the four elements as gods. Agni the fire god was a key god as it represented the human ability to tame fire e.g. baking bricks, cooking food, carrying a micro-climate around with you so you could live in cold places. The Buddha came along and said they're not gods but forces of nature (a reductive approach).

Have we taken things too far in our modern world? Perhaps we need more of a spiritual understanding (which reminded me of Bhante's Australia Day talk, and Noel Nannup). Being in nature helps heal our relationship with our reality/place.

Meditating on the four elements is a good way of reminding us of the basics.

Monks in cyberspace - 5 Feb 2021

Questions from the floor

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato

Metta meditation

An important aspect to metta meditation is cultivating patience, so that you don't get angered easily. Patience creates emotional space and capacity for metta (love) to grow. Patience requires you to slow down and wait. These days we are conditioned to rush, whereas is the recent past, much of life was about patience and waiting e.g. working with the seasons on the land.


  • Is society in a spiritual crisis? Firstly, we need to understand what spirituality means. Is spirituality just about dhamma talks and meditation? These build skills for the mind, but we need to understand how to integrate those skills into everything else - the whole picture. This is often missing.
  • A question about missed opportunities and regrets. The way the Buddha framed this was 'things badly done in the past'. Firstly, acknowledge it. Secondly, take steps to make it right (if possible). Thirdly, don't wallow in the past - do better next time.
  • Questions about taking refuge and the Upanisa Sutta. What does taking refuge mean? In ancient times it meant a safe place e.g. a shrine or temple would serve as a physical refuge or place of protection. There's also a spiritual meaning. Suffering is the vital condition for faith. Sometimes it can be easy to feel alone e.g. things may be difficult to talk about. The dhamma puts suffering up front. It says 'your suffering is real', and it matters. Taking all three refuges (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) is being a Buddhist. The dhamma is a framework to help you make sense of the world - the teachings and philosophy. The sangha is the monastic community - your teachers and guides.

Monks in cyberspace - 29 Jan 2021

Dependent origination 'for dummies'

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato

Metta meditation

Metta is a state or process of energy in the mind. Metta meditation helps to make the feeling of metta grow - recognising love in the heart, and bringing it out and forward. Meditation is a training ground. In the real world things are complicated. During meditation we try to tease out, foster, and cultivate a particular emotion. During meditation it's important to avoid complicated feelings and thoughts - keep it simple (there's a time and place to address issues but not during meditation). Develop metta by experiencing it in your body - embody the feeling.

Dependent Origination (DO)

  • DO is about how rebirth happens without a soul
  • Through a process fuelled by energy (our choices)
  • As long as we're trapped (e.g. in ignorance and craving) a new body is created
  • DO is the law of unintended consequences
  • The choices we make are finite, causes have effects
  • In contrast, annihilation and eternalism are extreme ends of the spectrum, and provide some solice from actions
  • Kamma does not provide solice from actions - you are responsible for your actions
  • DO is a process that continues on, a naturalistic philosophy, a process that evolves
  • During meditation we train ourselves to undo likes and dislikes, to be aware and mindful - slowly undoing DO, and taking fuel out of the fire
  • Some traditions have made DO over-complicated e.g. abhidhamma

The Buddha used moving house as a metaphor for past lives. There are three components to moving: intention; opportunity; and availability. There are some similarities between houses. You may inheret a similar personality or character. The eightfold path leads the way out of repeating patterns, and undoing choices at a subtle level. We've arrived in this life as a result of choices in past lives.

Nibbana, peace, and happiness are the same thing we feel during meditation.


  • Do we have free will? Yes we do have will but it's not free. The natural laws of the world describe what we do rather than determine what we do.
  • Someone mentioned being a much happier person than they used do be, when they suffered from depression and anxiety. Bhante mentioned happiness is a more 'buoyant' state of mind - the results of letting go.

Should you believe in rebirth? Whatever!

Monks in cyberspace - 22 Jan 2021

Australia Day talk

Started with a relaxation meditation, led by Bhante Akaliko.

Bhante Sujato shared stories about Aboriginal Elders he has met, like Noel Nannup, and things they've taught him. In Aboriginal philosophy, everything is impermanent. Indigenous education teaches how to relate to the world in a meaningful way. In the oral history tradition, hearing the same stories at different times in your life will reveal different things - this develops wisdom.

Noel Nannup - A Nyoongar perspective on spirituality
Noel Nannup - Perception versus Reality

Monks in cyberspace - 15 Jan 2021

When is a Sutta not a Sutta

Recording available:

Monks in cyberspace - 18 Dec 2020


Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Metta meditation is a meditation on love, on a feeling. As with the breath, it was there all along. The capacity for love is in you. The hurdle to metta is acceptance. Metta bhavana means making more of love, making it grow, like a feedback loop.

Metta Sutta
Introduction to Metta Sutta

Bhante Sujato doesn't use the term 'loving kindness' because he feels it's emotionally distancing. The term 'metta' is more profound, more vulnerable. Vulnerability and emotional acceptance is key to metta.

Love is a different experience for everyone. It can be overwhelming and unpredictable, so come to a vulnerable place on your own terms. Feel safe.

Practical suggestions for metta meditation:

  • Don't do it when you're stressed/angry etc - calm down first or else it won't be genuine
  • Practice with patience
  • Take your fully are you in contact with the feeling of metta?
  • Keep different types of meditation separate e.g. sit to do breath or sit to do metta, but don't combine them
  • Stay with it..can be quite trippy :-)

When metta is fully developed, it will be balanced and come together.

Bhante recommends the following types of meditation as a balanced Buddhist toolkit:

  • Metta
  • Contemplation of body
  • Breath
  • Impermanence

Monks in cyberspace - 11 Dec 2020

A continuation of last week's talk

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Bhante continued this theme because people keep referring to breath as an object, and it's not. Important to understand this fundamental.

The Buddha reached Jhana as a child. This is the paradox of meditation - its nothingness.

Trust yourself and the simplicity of the process of meditation.

Peace is a natural state of being. The five hindrances agitate the mind, and prevent peace.
Kusala - leads to results
Akusala - does not lead to results

Accepting, creating space for things that come up in meditation. Your thoughts are your own. Don't create aversion to yourself. Pushing thoughts aside comes from a lack of confidence. Accept and let go.

Stop being the controller and doer. Clarity comes from letting go. This clarity, hyperawarness, is a natural state of mind.

Monks in cyberspace - 4 Dec 2020

Breath meditation and untangling the concept of thought as an 'object'

Meditation and talk by Bhante Sujato.

Typically, people who are learning to meditate talk about having trouble concentrating, and being distracted by thoughts. This doesn't come up in the suttas - why not?

The term object comes from Abhidhamma language. There is no such word in the suttas. Object implies something that is separate (duality).

Meditation should be an integrated wholeness e.g. breath and metta is not objective to us. Breath is a process, a life force, a movement. You are not separate from your breath. Thoughts may distract you but they are not happening at you or to you (this is dissociation). Thoughts are produced by you. Think of it as a bicycle of thought.

This can be confronting when you have unwholesome thoughts i.e. where did that come from?! (you!). You are not the victim of your thoughts. This is conceit. Thoughts construct us e.g. patterns of thoughts. Understand them, don't supress them.

The Buddha never said 'try to concentrate' or 'try to focus'. He just said 'mindfully breathe in' and 'mindfully breathe out'. Bring mindfulness to the process of breathing. Allow the breath to soothe you. Let the breath do its job. The way we relate to our thoughts is what the Buddha talked about.

Q&A re "paying attention". Pay attention by sitting back a bit and letting things come to you, Example - Jazz musician losing audience attention so plays softer to get them back. Example - Ajahn Chah's simile of sitting by the water to see the animals appear from the forest to come and drink (not stomping around in the forest to find them).

Monks in cyberspace - 27 Nov 2020

Renunciation (aka 'letting go')

Meditation and talk by Bhante Akaliko.

Meditation - the practice of letting go

Letting go of baggage. Analogy of train trip - what if you had to walk with your heavy luggage - what would you leave behind? what do you need? Practice letting go to your ability - don't forcefully push things away, this is aversion. Recognise and let go. If you're having trouble letting go, develop the intention to let go. Every step helps to develop space in the mind = less reactivity = self care.

Talk - self care (in relation to stress), and caring for others

Stress covers a large spectrum of extremes. There's no one catch-all answer to self care - you need to know yourself, and what works for you.

  • Don't apply a dhamma hammer to every nail
  • Don't dhamma-fy people i.e. spout dhamma (your actions speak louder than your words)
  • Being too detached (hermit) or overly compassionate are also extremes - there is such a thing as compassion fatigue

The acrobat simile: "I'll look out for you, and you look out for me" versus

"I'll look out for me, and you look out for yourself" << this is the better option

By caring for yourself, you are more able to care for others. Through meditation we develop:

  • Patience
  • Harmlessness
  • Metta
  • Sympathy
  • Empathy

...which leads to strong and spacious mind states.

Get to know your mind, including your limitations!

  • Don't downplay your needs
  • If you're not in the right place at the moment to help it's okay
  • Listen to yourself when you're suffering
  • We need to develop equanimity, then our capacity to deal with things increases

Story of log covered in excrement and burnt at both ends...

  • This is the person who doesn't care for self or others << worst
  • Person who cares for others not self << better
  • Person who cares for self not others << better (oxygen mask scenario - help yourself first before helping others)
  • Person who cares for self and others << best

When you can't solve a problem you have a truth - it cannot be solved, you need to accept it.

Dhamma first aid (Dr ABC) >> appropriate responses:

  • A: Ask, don't impose e.g. what do you need? what can I do to help? how may I assist?
  • B: Breathe
  • C: Calm mind
  • Then dhamma

Monks in cyberspace - 20 Nov 2020

Community activism

Bhante Akaliko:

Bhante Sujato talked about how the Buddha engaged with politicians (kings) in a bipartisan way. We (they) have a moral duty to speak to political leaders on behalf of the Buddhist community as spiritual leaders. The values in Buddhism align with and support human rights. Politicians don't know what they don't know - we (the community) need to voice our concerns via our local member of parliament. An example of outcomes/change is the Dhammapada in the Federal Court of Australia, supporting Buddhist-appropriate oath taking.

Monks in cyberspace - 13 Nov 2020

Internal qualities

Metta meditation - Bhante Sujato's advice on setting foundations for meditation:

  • It's important to set boundaries for the meditation
  • Start where you're at (don't jump to an ideal state/goal) - the path is incremental and gradual, be patient
  • Repeat the foundations again and again
  • Provide a context (container) for the meditation - a place, a start time, an end time
  • You don't need to control or cope with your emotions during the meditation - let whatever arises arise
  • Growth comes via refelection at the end of each meditation >> ask yourself what just happened? how did I use my mind? how did my mind change during the course of the meditation? how do I feel now compared with when I started?

Bhante Sujato shared the story of Superman. The time and place of the Superman story was important (this is true for all stories, investigate the context). Superman has parallels with Nietzsche's human potential. The thing that made Superman super were his internal qualities.

Q&A - Discussion on arahants. Recognise conceit within yourself...this is ego! Be ready to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously.

Monks in cyberspace - 6 Nov 2020


Meditation prepares the ground to grow the wisdom you already have - 'Indriya' - one's faculty. In meditation we look at things in a way, in order to grow wisdom. Meditation is an experience. The 'experience' and the 'idea' are different things - the idea is a type of shorthand. Meditation is an impermanenet experience and will change over time.

Bhante led a meditation on the impermanence of the six senses. The 6th sense = the mind...what are we looking at when we look at the mind?

Q&A - Discussion on misunderstood words in the suttas. Look at words in their context. Important to note that The Buddha used ordinary words and language, e.g. 'nimitta' in the suttas in relation to meditation = an aspect of experience, which when you focus on it, promotes the growth of similar or related qualities.

Monks in cyberspace - 30 Oct 2020 (Halloween)


Sacrifice means 'to make sacred'. Generosity is a type of ethical sacrifice. Why do it? Dana to the sangha is an example. Important to think about the cultural roots of things - the meaning of things to people e.g. halloween has cultural roots. Theravada has Sri Lankan origins. The cycle of birth > life > death > birth...

Bhante Sujato shared a story of the

The act of giving is the practice of letting go.

Monks in cyberspace - Oct 2020

The five spiritual faculties

1 - Faith Includes faith in ourselves, confidence

2 - Energy Means making an effort to let go of unwholesome ways, actively cultivating good thoughts and actions.

3 - Mindfulness Includes memory and meditation. We remember what it is we are doing in meditation.

4 - Samadhi The four jhanas, unification of the mind.

5 - Wisdom The Four Noble Truths and understanding impermanence.

The 5 faculties are already within us = human nature. Learn to cultivate and grow these qualities in an incremental way. We each have the potential!

Monks in cyberspace - Oct 2020


Jhanas are the eighth of the Noble Eightfold Path They describe the states of meditation in terms of psychology. Reflect on the inner-outer relationship - their 'intertwingledness' Senses come into being out of desire, cravings, attachment. These are relative states, there are no absolutes.

Don't get hung up on this - just keep practicing the letting go of suffering. Every meditation practice helps the process.

Monks in cyberspace - Sep 2020

Growing wisdom and compassion

Check your sources before you share information. Plenty of guidance around on how to prevent the spread of fake news

Silence is a type of false speech (in that you are being complicit).

Monks in cyberspace - Sep 2020

The pacifist anarchist

Recording available:

Bhante Sujato identifies as a pacifist anarchist :-) The pacifist anarchist uses networks and connections to get things done rather than a top-down approach. Principles are:

  • Consensus rather than majority rule
  • Direct democracy rather than representative democracy
  • 'Things' are held in the Commons
  • There is a lack of coercion

Never undermine each other, always support each other.

Monks in cyberspace - Sep 2020

Your best teacher

Stop searching, stop looking...your best teacher is yourself!

Your senses are your gauges of your suffering. When you meditate, the goal is to notice and let go of suffering...let peace come to you. Then you can look into your heart with clarity to decide your next choices, your next actions.

What we do is what matters. Karma = work/action/deed. Learn from the past (and let it go). Make ethical choices.

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