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The Voice of Home Practice is an online discussion board where people are invited to ask questions, share their experiences, and discuss topics of mutual interest regarding meditation practice with an emphasis on meditation practice at home and in our everyday lives. This forum will create social connections and a sense of community that is otherwise difficult and/or impossible as a consequence of how most of us live and due to the impact of the pandemic. Allan will monitor the site, and will both offer his support and direction in order that discussions remain wholesome and directed towards the cultivation of the Noble Eightfold Path in lay life.
Talks: Dharma on the Back Porch
Dharma on the Back Porch offers a listener the opportunity to listen to discussion series about the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Noble Path. Aired on Silver City, New Mexico’s Public Radio KURU and hosted by George Carr and Candice Burke. George and Candice ask Allan Cooper questions from the point of view of someone who knows just enough about meditation and Buddhism to be confused.
Using the common art of conversation this show will explore in theory and with practical life examples ways to explore what we know, what we don’t know, and what we think we know and don’t, about these life affecting practices.
The first six-show series entitled ‘Meditation, Why Not?” examines the Four Noble Truths in general.
- Enough Already
Ouch Ouch Ouch
Don’t Tread on Me
Chopping Water and Carrying Wood
- Review of the Four Noble Truths and overview of the Noble Eightfold Path.
- Right View/understanding.
- Right Intention.
- Right Speech.
- Right Action.
- Right Livelihood.
- Right Effort.
- Right Mindfulness.
- Right Concentration.
- Wisdom and summary.
Reader’s Comments About Householder’s Vinaya
The great Tibetan teacher Shabkar once said, “Let your life and practice be one.” For many if not most dharma practitioners in the West, especially non-monastics, the question of how one’s entire life can be practice—and of how one’s daily life practice, outside of formal meditation, can lead to our continued deepening in wisdom, compassion, and skillful action—is one of the great koans of our times. Allan Cooper has given us an inspired and pioneering guidebook answering this koan, offering a variety of basic resources and perspectives, as well as specific instructions for bringing practice into many of the fundamental dimensions of our lives, including sexuality, speech, food, livelihood, friends and family, health, creativity, and carrying out a retreat at home. He has helped to initiate our responses to this vital question of daily life practice in the spirit of collaboration and shared inquiry. May the development of a Householder’s Vinaya continue in this spirit!
This is a practical guide for people who have decided to dedicate themselves to a Buddhist path, and who seek guidance on the question of how to do so. It addresses the “how” question, not the “why” question (why to follow a Buddhist path). Cooper’s book is written for a select audience. Most people, if they know Buddhism at all, are not ready to devote themselves to a comprehensive reorientation of their lives. The “why” or “whether” question is foremost in importance for them. The audience to whom Cooper’s book is addressed, in contrast, is composed of the few who are (a) highly ambitious with respect to virtue; and (b) dedicated to a Buddhist path; but (c) not inclined to live as a monk or a nun in a Buddhist monastery. For those who proceed as “lay” practitioners, Cooper’s book may serve as a companion providing instruction on how to live. “How to Be Buddhist in Ordinary Life” could be an alternative title.
To examine Cooper’s premise, that ordinary life can be sanctified, one may consult Charles Taylor’s _Sources of the Self_ (1989), Part Three, where Taylor explains how the “affirmation of ordinary life” has become a central feature of the modern Western identity. Cooper aims to help non-monastic Buddhists “make everyday life part of spiritual life.” He aims to add “a new vinaya [way of life] to an ancient tradition,” designed “specifically for householders.” Cooper aligns himself with the same philosophical and historical development that Taylor observes in the non-Buddhist West.
The book is well organized and easy to read. I found it to be an inspiration.
How many times have you returned from a retreat with renewed enthusiasm for practice yet without detailed instructions on what to do? If you asked the teacher during closing interviews, at least in my experience, the advice was to sit more, to eat mindfully, to be mindful in everyday activities. This is all good advice but it seems to fade rapidly and old habits resurface for many of us.
Allan Cooper has literally years of silent retreat experience going back to the seventies, and an intimate relationship with, in my opinion, the most skillful vipassana teacher for westerners in the world (that’s not a typo): Venerable U Vivekananda, the abbot of Panditarama Meditation Center in Lumbini, Nepal.
In The Householder’s Vinaya, you will find copious and detailed instructions and suggestions for your daily practice at home as well as how to organize and maximize the home retreat experience. The thoughtfulness and wisdom expressed in this book are literally priceless.
The author is always meticulous regarding the choice of options and how to accomplish this process for the yogi as a real, human individual rather than some generic, perhaps idealized diehard with unlimited time and dedication.
Please read and apply the guidance the author provides in this important book. With much metta.
So grateful for this book which is especially important now during the pandemic. It provides perspectives and instructions with a clear set of practices that address the needs of the dedicated meditation practitioner…importantly, in everyday life.
As a dedicated practitioner of over 40 years I highly recommend this brilliant book. There has never been a vinaya, a moral code, for householders, only for monastics. Even people who have practiced many years aren’t always clear on how to bring mindfulness and clear comprehension into daily life. Based on a strong foundation of ethical behaviour Allan guides practitioners into cultivating the continuity of sati/sampajanna. The depth and clarity of Allan’s wisdom shine forth in every word. The tone is warm, loving and light-hearted. For anyone who wants to make the dhamma the primary focus in their life, this book is a guide and companion along the way.
There are suggestions for working with whatever obstacles one might encounter on this path. He addresses both people who live alone or with families. His instructions are clear and precise, and include how to structure a home retreat. While there is a free download I would encourage buying a hard copy. All proceeds go to support Buddhist Global Relief.
Meditation practice, outside the meditation retreat environment, has some inherent difficulties. It’s common, after one has completed a retreat, to go home thinking, “Okay, great. Now I know how to do this thing on my own.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily go that smoothly. As is often said, meditation practice may be simple, but it ain’t easy. This book provides an awful lot of extremely practical and useful information about how to translate the Buddha’s teachings into everyday life. This includes how to make one’s way through one’s normal life while working, while being part of a family and community, and while recreating and, at the same time, how to continue one’s meditation practice in the amount of time one can allot to it. In addition, there is a guide on how to do a retreat at home even when one does not have the benefit of a trained meditation teacher and the support of a meditation center to supply one’s meals and other necessary aspects of daily life. I highly recommend this book. . . not just for reading but for applying to one’s everyday life.
This one has been waiting a long time for a meditation practice guidebook this good. Beginning with the Tibetans but that seemed to me to be very cultural to the Tibetans. So meeting with the Zen folks and I felt better about the results but it was when I discovered the ancient and venerable Theravadan School that I felt at home. Living in the wilds of culture in the USA, no teachers were local. Wanting to formalize or arrange my meditation practice and study of the Buddhadharma more coherently to benefit and get on the path to Stream Entry, I was going from one approach to the next, one text to the next, i.e. “two steps forward and one step back”. Most texts were quite deep and I met hurdles in Sitting. Even some beginner’s texts were difficult. Then I found Venerable Allan Cooper’s guide and almost immediately his presentation stabilized my approach and I now am on my way. He is very clear and precise in steps forward and my Sits became more meaningful and productive. I suggest that if you want to get ahead with the benefits of a solid practice, meet this highly respected teacher through his well written material.
Thirty-plus years into Vipassana practice, I find this treasure. A guide to help deepen my practice, and a clearer understanding of the foundations upon which it is built. I celebrate your generosity, Allan Cooper, for sharing your wisdom and your teachings with us.
Allan Cooper has practiced vipassana and samatha meditation practices since 1974. His primary teachers are the Burmese meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita, his student, Sayadaw U Vivekananda, Abbot, Panditarama International Vipassana Meditation Center, Lumbini, Nepal, and Joseph Goldstein, co-founder of Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA, USA. Allan is a retired hospice and mental health RN and has been teaching meditation and leading retreats for many years.