Topics for Contemplation

Topic Guidelines

As part of the ‘Sit & Share’ meditation meeting, the leader reads a single topic, no more than a short paragraph or two; which is then contemplated during a 5 or 10-minute silent meditation (see Meeting Format Options).

There are no set books specifically relating to the Fifth Precept ‘Foundations of Awakening’ approach but the following books are highly recommended:

From Hungry Ghost to Being Human – by Vince Cullen

Let Go – A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits – by Martine Batchelor

Against the Stream – A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries – by Noah Levine.

Noble Eightfold Path – Way to the End of Suffering – by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Buddha’s Little Instruction Book – by Jack Kornfield.

One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the 12-Steps – by Kevin Griffin (helpful 12-Step – Buddhist references)

Dhammapada- any translation that works for you.  There are a couple of versions available on the Access-to-Insight website; and one from Ajahn Munindo available for download here.

Eight Step Recovery : Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction
– by Valerie Mason-John  and Dr. Paramabandhu Groves.

Refuge Recovery : A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction by Noah Levine

Alternatively, in place of – or as well as – a short topic for reflection, a group may choose to have a suitable reading, perhaps from any of the above books, or from any other appropriate source for discussion and sharing. The following book is used as a source of readings on Hungry Ghost Retreats and is full of thoughtful and thought-provoking readings:

Suggested ‘Readings’ from the essays by Bhikkhu Bodhidhamma in particular – Encouragements Towards Awakening
(Encouragements Towards Awakening in PDF format 14MB)

However, people can bring their own books to donate to your ‘topic basket’ or your ‘readings library’ which can be a stack of books or topics written on slips of paper.

A valuable source of Dharma quotes some of which make interesting topics for reflection and discussion can be found at the Tricycle magazine online Daily Dharma page.

We would prefer to stick to established Buddhist themes so that, over time, the group develops a common language relating to our practice.
Possible sources of topics might be any simple, short paragraphs covering Foundations of Awakening; and Buddhist core principles or themes.

Truth, Karma and Commitment to Recovery
Generosity in thought, words and deeds
Ethics (All or individual Precepts or Harmlessness-Blamelessness)
Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy-gladness and Equanimity
Mindfulness and Meditation
Admirable Friends & Fellowship
Buddhist Core Principles & Themes

As well as considering the dark side – if any – of these topics and how they may have brought suffering into our lives; it is essential to also reflect on the bright aspects that have directly affected our recovery and our well-being.
We might also consider what is it that leads to further suffering and what is it that leads to the end of suffering… what is the wise choice, the kind choice; the choice of the heart?

A PDF file with Example Sit-and-Share topics can be downloaded here.
Please send suitable suggestions for contemplation to

Inspired and adapted from Wat Thamkrabok Tudong Sajja contemplations;  Against-the-Stream : Refuge Recovery Meeting format; Awakin Wednesday Gatherings at;  ‘How to start a 12-step Sangha Meeting’ (Darren Littlejohn) and the Buddhist Recovery Network (Kevin Griffin).

Examples of previous topics contemplated at Virtual Sit-and-Share meetings can be found here –