Undefended Dharma with Mary Stancavage artwork

Undefended Dharma with Mary Stancavage

272 episodes - English - Latest episode: 2 days ago - ★★★★★ - 41 ratings

Dharma talks from meditation teacher Mary Stancavage. These focus primarily on the pragmatic aspects of Buddhist teachings and philosophy drawing strongly on wisdom and heart practices. All are viewed through the lens of learning to live with an Undefended Heart. (photo by @kimanhuynh)

Buddhism Religion & Spirituality Society & Culture meditation secular dharma bhuddhism pragmatic insight
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Episodes

An Undefended Heart

May 21, 2024 01:00 - 31 minutes - 13.9 MB

The idea of an undefended heart seems counterintuitive right now especially with all the suffering in the world.  We think that putting up walls will keep us safe but instead the armor just isolates us. The Buddha invited us turn towards the reality of our lives and the world and open to all. In this talk Mary discusses the need for an undefended heart, what gets in the way and how to move towards the freedom we receive by opening our hearts to each moment. Recorded May 19, 2024 for Insight ...

We Are All of a Nature

May 13, 2024 17:00 - 26 minutes - 11.6 MB

In the Buddha's wisdom he invited us to reflect regularly on our mortality which flies in the face of a society which tells us we can be immortal if we just do it all right.  The denial of reality and craving for the impossible causes so much suffering and disconnection. When we turn to face the reality of our lives and our shared humanity, we experience a freedom and a connection with others grounded in wisdom and compassion. Recorded May 11, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website ...

Wise Speech in Challenging Times

May 06, 2024 23:00 - 32 minutes - 14.4 MB

The Buddha's teaching on Wise Speech serves us well in these days of great polarization. We have our sides and spew our rhetoric, often without thinking about how we communicate can make a bad situation worse. The invitation, as always, is pause and think about the truth, necessity and kindness of how we connect with others. It does not mean we shy away from difficult conversations or keep quiet in the face of injustice. Instead, it asks us to really be present in how we show up.  Recorded M...

Letting Go Again and Again

April 29, 2024 22:00 - 15 minutes - 7.08 MB

Bhikkhu Analayo suggests that the Buddha's teachings can be summed up in two words, "Let go." Ah, but if it were only so easy. Mary reflects on how the act of letting go gets more and more subtle and challenging the deeper we go and the longer we practice, but the freedom is worth the effort. Recorded April 29, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Shining a Light on Grief

April 23, 2024 00:00 - 20 minutes - 8.85 MB

Grief seems to be a constant companion these days and making space for it is an important part of our practice. Grief can be scary and we're tempted to push it away instead of inviting it in. When we do acknowledge our grief, we reconnect with all of humanity and recognize we're not alone. Connecting with grief is empowering - allow yourself to feel and be open to this moment. Recorded April 20, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Everyday Impermanence

April 15, 2024 23:00 - 17 minutes - 7.84 MB

The teaching of impermanence is a core tenet of Buddhism and our ability to recognize the impermanence we meet each day is so important for us in order to be free. How we relate to shifting and changing experiences while staying in the present is the key. Mary discusses the places we get stuck and how we can let go. Recorded April 13, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Dropping the 2nd Arrow

April 08, 2024 15:00 - 22 minutes - 9.64 MB

Mary discusses this famous teaching of the Buddha. When we experience pain or something uncomfortable the tendency is to react it a way that mitigates the discomfort. The reactivity often just intensifies the initial pain rather than helping us be present with the discomfort. This reactivity is often subtle and deep and takes willingness and practice to uncover and let go of. Mindfulness allows us to see what's happening and to stay present. Recorded April 6, 2024 in the virtual world Visit...

The Four Efforts

April 01, 2024 22:00 - 26 minutes - 11.8 MB

Building on last week's talk about overwhelm, Mary discusses how vital it is to make the effort to come back from those places and stories that are not helpful an to make the effort to stay where we are. How do we let go and how do we stay present with whatever is showing up? And once we find place of equanimity, we realize that effort remains part of the practice. Effort is vital on our path to liberation. Recorded March 30, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on c...

Overwhelm is in the Mind

March 26, 2024 01:00 - 16 minutes - 7.34 MB

When life gets busy, we can become overwhelmed by everything. Both our lives and the world can be too much. However, the invitation of practice is to be right where we are -- overwhelm occurs when we spend our time in the future or the past and being present is how we cope. It's overwhelming if we don't pay attention. Recorded March 23, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Grounded in Gratitude

March 19, 2024 05:00 - 21 minutes - 9.53 MB

In this talk Mary discusses how important being grounded is in the present moment is to be open to gratitude. When we're stuck in thoughts about I, me and mine, it's a challenge to recognize how connected we are to the world and how gratitude arises naturally when we are. Recorded March 16, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Heart Practices for Our Times

March 12, 2024 00:00 - 29 minutes - 12.9 MB

When we practice for extended periods of time we find that our hearts become tender. But often we don't have the time to practice so intensely. The question becomes how can we cultivate a loving and compassionate heart right now, and in a world that can be challenging. Mary discusses the Buddha's invitation to move through the world with good will towards all and reads a poem by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel called For All Beings. We are asked to see what gets in the way of kindness and compassion. ...

Reflections in the Moment

March 05, 2024 00:00 - 7 minutes - 5.06 MB

There is no dharma talk this week so Mary offers a few reflections on the benefits of residential retreat and the invitation to make peace with the way things are. Recorded March 4, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Taking Refuge

February 27, 2024 02:00 - 24 minutes - 10.8 MB

Taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, The Triple Gem, is usually done on retreat or other occasions. In this talk, Mary delves into what taking refuge means and how reflecting on each of these supports our journey to liberation. "Taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha is like putting on an overcoat on a cold night. There is great comfort to be found there." Recorded February 24, in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Love and a Very Loud World

February 19, 2024 23:00 - 24 minutes - 10.9 MB

The world seems to be screaming right now - there is so much going on with violence, climate change, oppression and injustice at every turn. We also have our day-to-day issues to deal with. At times it like these it is more important than ever to realize that love is the path to liberation rather than hatred, greed or delusion and apathy. The Buddha taught over and over again how vital it is to cultivate a mind and heart imbued with goodwill and compassion. Mary discusses how to show up for ...

Untitled Episode

February 13, 2024 01:00 - 32 minutes - 14.6 MB

In this talk Mary discusses the concept of samvega which means the experience we feel when we finally see through the delusion and stories that we have believed and used to guide our lives. It can be a shocking experience and an example is when the Buddha saw a sick person, an old person and a corpse. He experienced samvega.  This feeling can help us move along a spiritual path and Mary talks about the benefit of seeing clearly and the faith and trust, or pasada, which enables us to move alo...

Start Where You Are

February 06, 2024 02:00 - 21 minutes - 9.28 MB

Mary offers the invitation to start where you are quite often but what does it mean? It's the name of a wonderful book by Pema  Chödrön, but additionally it is a reminder that we cannot be anywhere other than right here. We often think we have to get to a certain place before we're ready to tackle our problems, or that something has to go our way. Instead, we're asked to start right here, because this is where the dukkha is. How do we show up for this moment? How do we ground ourselves in th...

The Six Realms of Saṃsāra

January 29, 2024 22:00 - 29 minutes - 13 MB

Buddha taught that the six realms of  Saṃsāra  are where we are caught in the continuing cycle of birth, death and rebirth. We only become free when we are free of craving or clinging, and see clearly into the characteristics of existence. These realms can also be viewed as psychological states that we experience from day to day - the heaven realms of pleasure and the hell realms of suffering. In this talk Mary discusses how we can use this lens as a way to view where we get stuck in  Saṃsār...

To Cling is to Suffer

January 23, 2024 02:00 - 24 minutes - 11.3 MB

In this talk Mary dives into how craving and clinging show up in our lives and how much suffering, discomfort and discontent is caused because of it. We chase after pleasure all the time and hold tight to ideas and beliefs we think will give us what we want. The suttas are full of examples and wise advice to let go and let it be. Recorded Jan. 20, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Spiritual Reslience

January 16, 2024 00:00 - 27 minutes - 12.3 MB

Reflecting on the themes of humility, equanimity and resilience, Mary talks about how the practice can help us find the strength to meet each moment and each day. Mindfulness and an intention to be an advocate for ourselves are powerful ways we  stay grounded in an upside down world. This talk owes much to the teaching of Rick Hanson. Recorded Jan. 14, 2024 for the Insight Community of the Desert Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Greeting the World with Goodwill

January 09, 2024 02:00 - 23 minutes - 10.2 MB

Kindness, friendliness, goodwill. The Buddha invited us to greet the world with a kind heart and without causing harm, but how do we do that in a world full of greed, hatred and ignorance. Mary discusses what gets in the way and how to move towards a heart of goodwill with integrity and wisdom.  Recorded Jan. 4, 2024 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Wear the World as a Loose Garment

January 01, 2024 21:00 - 18 minutes - 8.09 MB

This simple quote from St. Francis Assisi contains a wise teaching on equanimity. What does it mean? How do we do it? Mary unpacks this invitation to move through the world with spaciousness, compassion and wisdom. Recorded Dec. 28, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Connection and Community

December 26, 2023 17:00 - 28 minutes - 12.9 MB

Loneliness and isolation are feelings that are so pervasive these days. In this talk, Mary discusses how damaging this sense of disconnection can be and how the Buddha taught the importance of friendship and community. Finding true friends on the path supports our movement toward liberation. Recorded Dec. 24, 2023 for Insight Community of the Desert Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Finding Ease in the Present Moment

December 19, 2023 01:00 - 28 minutes - 19.9 MB

This talk was recorded at the Compassionate Heart Retreat in Los Angeles on Nov. 11, 2023. The title speaks for itself. Thanks to Recovery Dharma for the invitation and the recording. Much love! Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

It's On Fire

December 12, 2023 02:00 - 23 minutes - 10.4 MB

The Buddha's famous Fire Sermon describes how our senses are aflame when we're caught in craving and aversion. Mary discusses how often these flames are more like embers that we become used to. They smolder and continue unchecked while we're lost in our delusions. Paying attention helps to put them out and lead us towards liberation - nirvana is the cessation of the flame. Recorded Dec. 9, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Gratitude and Grief

December 04, 2023 23:00 - 19 minutes - 8.39 MB

Sometimes it feels as we're living in a binary world where there is either grief or gratitude and the mind creates stories as to why one experience is appropriate and the other is not. In this talk, Mary discusses being open to both - they do not cancel each other our, but with awareness, we can hold and be present for all. Recorded Dec. 2, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Yeah, but...

November 28, 2023 00:00 - 9 minutes - 4.24 MB

A brief reflection on how we are so deeply stuck in our conditioning that we are often unwilling to turn towards the reality of the moment. "Yeah, but" is what shows up when we hold on tightly. Let go of the 'yeah, buts' and greet the moment. Recorded Nov. 27, 2023, in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

My Brother Died

November 21, 2023 00:00 - 18 minutes - 8.15 MB

Mary talks about how the practice of mindfulness and compassion has allowed her to walk through the few days after hearing about her brother's death. Willing to feel the grief, recognizing how we keep ourselves from feeling, and simply being present for the experiences of life is the simplicity and the power of this Insight practice. Recorded Nov. 18, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Greeting the Demons

November 14, 2023 16:00 - 21 minutes - 12.8 MB

The story of Milarepa and the Demons is so emblematic of how we live our lives and how we can cultivate a spiritual path. We can choose to fight the reality of this moment or allow ourselves to be open to whatever arises. Mary talks about how this teaching can help us stay present for our lives and the world. Recorded Nov. 11, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Good Wolf or Bad Wolf?

November 06, 2023 21:00 - 22 minutes - 13.4 MB

Mary reflects on the old story which tells us that there are two wolves at war in our minds - the good wolf and the bad wolf. The one who wins is the one we feed. Many times we get stuck in incredibly mundane ideas that cause so much discomfort.  How do we recognize when we're caught up in those unwise stories and how do we let go and feed what is most beneficial? Recorded Nov. 4, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Staying Grounded in a World of Uncertainty

October 30, 2023 23:00 - 35 minutes - 15.3 MB

The world is spinning so quickly and it's easy to become unbalanced when things shift so rapidly. There is fear and anger, grief and sadness. It's important to be grounded and know our priorities in order to navigate each moment. In this talk Mary discusses developing a foundation that will support us which is based on the Buddha's most basic teachings. and which allows us to take care of ourselves, and take care of each other. Recorded Oct. 29, 2023 for Insight Community of the Desert in th...

Living the Dharma in Difficult Times

October 23, 2023 23:00 - 19 minutes - 8.71 MB

Continuing the conversation from last week, Mary discusses ways to stay present in the face of tragedy and the challenging moments we're walking through. Continuity of mindfulness, guarding the sense doors, skillful means, continuity of compassion and seeking connection with others are ways we can be present for this moment with wisdom and kindness. Recorded Oct. 21, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Deep Intimacy with our Experience

October 16, 2023 22:00 - 32 minutes - 14.3 MB

A deep intimacy with our experience without preference is the essence of equanimity, however it's difficult to accomplish especially in the current moment when, once again, there is so much violence, suffering, greed, hatred and ignorance. There is so much grief and anger to hold. How do we sit with what is? How do we make space and become intimate with our feelings? Mary offers the Buddha's teachings on mindfulness as a path to equanimity. Recorded Oct. 14, 2023 in the virtual world Visit ...

Generosity, Patience, Metta

October 09, 2023 23:00 - 34 minutes - 15 MB

Mary looks at three qualities in the Paramis, Generosity, Patience and Metta, that will enable us to love unconditionally, and with an undefended heart. These qualities are within reach of all of us and can be cultivated to move towards a freedom in how we move through the world. We learn to treat ourselves and others with deep kindness and open heartedness. Recorded for the Insight Community of the Desert on Oct. 8, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes an...

Everything is in This Moment

October 03, 2023 00:00 - 19 minutes - 8.61 MB

Reflecting on the passage of time and also how life is contained in just this moment, Mary discusses how we can be present for both. Awareness allows us to see both the big picture of our lives and still be intimate with each moment and emotion as it arises. She also touches on the Nine Contemplations of Atisha which offer a wise way of reflecting on death and the human condition.  Recorded Sept. 28, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Continuity of Mindfulness

September 26, 2023 17:00 - 11 minutes - 4.96 MB

A brief reflection on the way the practice informs how we move through the world.  Even during times when we can formally sit, awareness allows to be fully present for the moments we experience. Let it all in. Recorded Sept. 25, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Wrong View

September 04, 2023 23:00 - 26 minutes - 11.7 MB

The Vipallasa Sutta is the Buddha's Teachings on Wrong View, or the distortions of the mind. We are taught about Right View as part of the Eightfold Path, but how do we recognize when the mind is caught up in views or stories that may be far from reality and in fact, which may cause harm to ourselves and others. Recognizing both personal and larger scale wrong view is vital in move towards liberation for ourselves and for all beings.  Recorded August 31, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary...

Not Permanent, Not Perfect, Not Personal

August 28, 2023 23:00 - 24 minutes - 10.8 MB

Using this wisdom from Ruth King as a framework, Mary looks back at 15 years of teaching and her experience with impermanence, imperfection and things not being all about her. It's been a journey of integrating the teachings and finding a foundation in the dharma leading to freedom. Recorded August 26, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Holding Emotions

August 22, 2023 01:00 - 20 minutes - 9 MB

Reflecting on a few hectic days of multiple emotions, Mary discusses how we can recognize and hold them with 'kindfulness'. How do you greet the moment since there really is nothing else. Recorded August 19, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Impermanence & Uncertainty

August 14, 2023 23:00 - 27 minutes - 12.2 MB

We all want to figure something out and be done; we want to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, the reality of existence is just the opposite: everything is impermanent and life is uncertain. This does not mean we are doomed to experience fear of loss and change, but instead the Buddha invites us to acknowledge the reality of this which in turn leads to freedom as we're no longer chasing the impossible. Recorded August 12, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on ...

Be Careful of Your Legacy

August 07, 2023 20:00 - 19 minutes - 8.71 MB

Inspired by a quote from Lama Rod Owens, Mary reflects on what legacy might mean in a Buddhist context. How do you live in this moment? How do you impact the world around you? Each action is our legacy and the invitation is to practice for the benefit of all. Recorded August 3, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

Joy Joy Joy

August 01, 2023 00:00 - 30 minutes - 13.4 MB

It's seems that joy takes a backseat when things are difficult or messy.  The critical voices take over and tell us that now is not the time. However, it absolutely is the time. In fact, joy is one of the Awakening Factors and vital for our liberation. In this talk Mary discusses how to have joy in difficult times and how not to confuse joy with outside pleasures. Deep gratitude to James Baraz and his Awakening Joy class. Recorded July 29, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for ...

A Little Awareness, A Little Emptiness, A Little No-Self

July 24, 2023 20:00 - 27 minutes - 12.1 MB

Inspired by Sayadaw U Tejaniya's teachings on awareness and experience, Mary reflects on how to use these teachings in our practice and in everyday life to keep us from getting wrapped up in stories about tomorrow and yesterday. Instead, we are grounded right here which enables the growth of wisdom and clarity and the diminishing of craving and aversion.  Recorded July 22, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

No One Gets Out of Here Alive

July 18, 2023 16:00 - 19 minutes - 8.6 MB

As much as we try to outrun old age, sickness, and death, each of us subject to these truths. We live in a culture of denial and telling us we're not doing it right if we "let" any of these things happen. Instead, as the Buddha teaches, we recognize the truth of our existence and make peace with the reality of the human condition. How do we deny and how do we become familiar with our reality in this moment? How do we greet it all with compassion? This is important work for our liberation. Re...

Put Down the Stick of Self

July 11, 2023 02:00 - 24 minutes - 10.6 MB

In this episode, Mary discusses a teaching from Sister Clear Grace Dayananda, the Traveling Nunk, who spoke about putting down the stick of self. This stick is when we see everything through a personal lens, through our own stories and craving or aversions. This stick is a stick of dukkha, or suffering, and when we learn to recognize it or put it down, we taste the freedom of just being. Recorded July 8, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

The Protection of Lovingkindness

July 04, 2023 00:00 - 28 minutes - 12.7 MB

The Buddha's teaching on lovingkindness, or metta, is not just about throwing magic pixie dust on others, but is about developing a way of being in the world which allows us to live without fear. We let go of self and other and move through the world with wisdom, clarity, ease and friendliness towards all. Mary explains how mindfulness practice is essential for this transformation and liberation. Recorded July 2, 2023 in the virtual world for the Insight Community of the Desert  Visit Mary'...

Don't Know, Let Go

June 27, 2023 03:00 - 21 minutes - 9.55 MB

The idea of Beginner's Mind, or Don't Know Mind is a useful practice in letting go of our preconceived ideas about the world and how things should be. When we get stuck in should, what if and if only, we get stuck in the dukkha of craving and aversion. The willingness to let go of those ideas and the humility to say, 'don't know' is the route to liberation.  Recorded June 24, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

A Short Reflection on Equanimity

June 19, 2023 23:00 - 17 minutes - 7.47 MB

Equanimity - it's a million dollar word, but what does it mean and how do we experience it? In this brief reflection, Mary talks about her favorite definition of equanimity - "a deep intimacy with our experience without preference" and what that means in our day to day lives. The Buddha's teachings offered equanimity a quality necessary for liberation and a way to peace in this moment. Recorded June 17, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary's website for more info on classes and teachings.

A Slippery Slope

June 12, 2023 18:00 - 23 minutes - 10.2 MB

In this talk, Mary reflects on the Buddha's instruction to his son Rahula about the importance of truthfulness. He says that once you're capable of lying, there is no evil you cannot commit. This is a strong statement but underlies the Buddha's teaching that being fully present with reality is the path to freedom. Lies and delusion are how we disconnect ourselves and others from the way things really are and should be avoided at all cost. Recorded June 11, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Ma...

Freedom Through Mindfulness

June 05, 2023 21:00 - 34 minutes - 15.4 MB

Mindfulness meditation is so common these days that many of us take it for granted and miss the incredible importance of this practice on the path to liberation. Mary discusses each of the four foundations in the Buddha's wise teaching. It is a path that offers a way to be fully present in each moment and to live with clarity, wisdom and compassion. Spend some time with this simple, yet subtle practice. Recorded June 4, 2023 for Insight Community of the Desert Visit Mary's website for more ...

The Relevancy of the Dharma

May 29, 2023 21:00 - 21 minutes - 14.7 MB

On the third anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, Mary reflects on how powerful the dharma can be as we greet the world as it is, and work to end injustice and harm where we find it. The Buddha's enlightenment offers us a path to end suffering for all. As Reggie Hubbard says, "If your offerings don't speak to the cries of the people, what are you doing?" How does your practice help you show up and do the work that needs to be done? Recorded May 25, 2023 in the virtual world Visit Mary...