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Basic Buddhist Teaching for Working With Strong Emotions and Difficult Situations

  • ZaZen 2219 Filbert St San Francisco, CA, 94123 United States (map)

With Valorie Beer

Register Online  / $ 25 members, $40 non-members. Limited income (free) enrollment option. 

How quickly a problem, mistake or loss becomes a full-blown story! As our inner critic narrates a soundtrack of blame and regret, we are held hostage by a mental movie that rapidly becomes "real" and "true." Fantasy becomes documentary, and we lose our perspective and our options. Buddhism calls this avidya -- literally "not seeing" -- and it is the root of our suffering. In this class, we will examine and practice two foundational Buddhist teachings that bring us out of our heads and into our bodies, helping us to remember our innate capacity to be compassionate and wise, even in stressful times.

Part 1: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Six Paramitas

These core teachings from the earliest Buddhist canon contain the seeds for transforming suffering into kindness. By returning to the wisdom of our body, we have a chance to stop the mind's automatic stories -- this is the teaching of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Once we have given our mind and body some calm spaciousness, we can then examine our options for thinking wisely and behaving compassionately -- the teaching of the Six Paramitas (sometimes translated as "perfections," but also as "transformations").

Part 2:  Practicing with Strong Emotions in Everyday Life: Using the Four Foundations and Six Paramitas in Difficult Situations

Grief and loss, anger and retaliation, blame and resentment, shame and guilt -- powerful emotions from painful events. But often our reaction only makes things worse, solidifies our position, and prolongs the suffering of ourselves and others. In this afternoon session, we will apply the two basic Buddhist teachings that we learned in the morning to actual difficulties in our own lives. We will practice techniques to develop the muscle of kindness and compassion so that it will become an increasingly automatic response, even in times of stress. 

Kyosho Valorie Beer has practiced Zen Buddhism since 1991. She was ordained as a priest in 2005 and received dharma transmission in 2013 from her teacher, Edward Espe Brown. She lived at Green Gulch Farm from 2003 to 2012, then moved to San Francisco. After serving as the San Francisco Zen Center corporate secretary, she was the City Center ino, and is now serving as a visiting teacher to various SFZC-affiliated sanghas. Before taking up monastic life, Valorie worked for two decades in corporate Human Resources at various high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. She is the author of four books, a private pilot, and the mother of a thirty-something daughter who works and lives in the Bay Area. Valorie holds a PhD and MS in Education from the University of Southern California, and a BA in Anthropology from The George Washington University. Her professional career spanned two decades in human resources and organizational development, with a focus on group facilitation and management development.