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Tag Archives: meditation

The practice of abstention

To abstain from putting effort into ones mind-ing is a wonderful thing. It can happen before something have grown tangible enough to be an object of letting go, before you are able to say for sure what to let go of.

There is a subtle movement of mind that awaits to be picked up and cared for. That is the habit of mind, to pick up movement from outside or inside
and “make something” out of it;
an instruction, an answer, an idea,
a question, a decision, an insight,
anything to make it real and useful.

When movement have formed to a mind-object;
a thought, a physical sensation,
a melody or even the concept of “silence”,
as soon as you consciously “know” it, there is some “thing” to let go of.

Now, if you can identify and connect with the energy of minds movement, there is the possibility of letting go of picking up. This is a delicate practice at the heart of effort vs. relaxation. I have spent many hours in meditation putting effort into letting go of something already present as a mind object. I guess that’s how the show goes for most of us.
You sit, things come up and then there’s the struggle involving effort, relaxiation, acceptance, naming, breathing, concentration and so on.

Having exhausted – enough of –  my capability to work along those lines, I have come to a place where all these concepts are words on paper. They look different but seems to come from the same place.
That place is where the energy of minds movement resides. I could not tell where that is, and anyway that’s besides the point of this post.
The point is to let that place open up.
That is where the “not- picking up” can happen.

The wierd(-est) part is of course that in a place where no thoughts or mind objects are defined or understood, there is no “you” that can “not-pick up” anything. Do you see the hillarious paradox?
Therefore, you cannot go to this place by intention alone. The intention itself keeps you stuck on the level of ready-made mind objects. If you start off with the intention of “opening up to the place where mental energy, or movement, has not yet been formed into specific mind objects“, you are already knee-deep in all those concepts.
“You” have to “open up” – whatever that means.
“You” are looking for “the place” – wherever that is.
Worst of all, you’re supposed to identify something that is without form and therefore cannot be identified as some “thing” without “form”.

The process I suggest is instead related to the acceptance of whatever will appear in your mind before it actually appears. The familiarity with an ever present mind- energy that doesn’t need to be care for.
You can read about it HERE and HERE.

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The Constant Gardener

Just sitting bores my self stiff
Roshi says “Doing nothing is nice for a change”
My self says “It’s boring and frustrating.
Nothing ever happens. It feels useless”
Just sitting kills my self
We smile

He’s watching my continuus self-icide
I look for distractions, credentials
He gives me nothing
That’s the plan
I suppose…

 If Roshi keeps handing me nothing,
eventually I might get it
Meanwhile my self squirms and moans
Sitting is not boring
It’s scary

 Relentless progress
Letting the tree grow
Just as it stands
Killing the constant gardener

The Gettaway Meditation

Try this if you’re prone to “mind wandering”
Meditate for 10 minutes with the only intention to lose track of the present moment. Try as hard as you can to make your mind wander off to past or future. Anything that has to do with “here and now” should be shut out. Your thoughts must contain only memories about the past or worries about the future. Induce mind wandering any way you can and stay out of the present as long as possible.
The only distractions allowed is internal thought keeping you away from the present.
Good Luck. Finally a practice that suites the wandering mind, right?

Trying To Be Is Not An Option

Everytime you put effort into “trying” to be something, you are already being it. There is no such thing as “trying to be present”, because either you are present or you’re not. If you are present, then what’s the problem. If you are not present, what’s the problem? Precense is Existence and that which exists is always present. It may not be percived by someone or something else, but that doesn’t mean it is non-existent. The tree deep in the forest doesn’t vanish as soon as it isn’t seen or felt by some “other”. If it “is” then it “exists” and so do you. It takes no effort. The deed is already done and there is nothing you can or need to do trying to change that.

A common task on spiritual to-do’s is to “practice the capacity to stay present in the moment”. What a red herring that is! How could you ever be out of the present moment to begin with? The practice suggests that you are in fact floatin in and out of time and space. Sometimes being “here”, sometimes being “elsewhere”. When we say that the mind wanders, where the heck does it wander off to? Does it go to the local pub for a pint of Guinness or what? Isn’t it more likely that your mind always is in it’s right place? The thoughts that arise as a result of your mind doing what minds do, now that’s  a different beast altogether.
We never say that “the current content/thoughts that, without someone controling them, arise in your mind is sometimes in line with what is happening around them, sometimes they’re not“.
Instead we build the misconception that the mind wanders as a concequence of the “minder” being inadequate in controling the mind. So the solution to this propoused problem is generally that the inadequate minder corrects that by doing mind-practice, like meditation.

By this practice we hope to become more “present in the moment” and “mindful”. A lot of things can come out of this. It is not bad or useless in any way. It is what it is and that’s it. The point I’m trying to make is not to discard meditation. Not at all. All I’m saying is that you don’t need to train yourself in any particular way in order to gain anything in particular. It might happen so that you are practicing meditation. Well, then you are being “meditation”, together with the cushion, the incense, the guru and/or whatever makes up the concept of “meditation”. If it changes you in any way, than you are “changing” for a while, together with thoughts, actions, feelings and whatever constitutes “changing”. Meditation isn’t a “thing” that changes “you”. It’s a living process along which a lot of happenings arise and then fades away.

If “trying” is happening somewhere in this process, then so be it. There’s no one to stop it anyway. But beware of the tendency to separate “trying” from “being”.
I never tried to write this. It was written, and I was totally present when it happened. It took no effort at all. It couldn’t possibly have been any other way.

When you meditate, you are always there.
You are what’s happening all the time.
There is no separate part of that “meditation” that can fail.
It is existence doing what existence does.
That’s the Doer and it needs no to-do list.
It Is the to-Do list and everything is on it.

Just let yourself be done…

No Practice No Retake

So what’s up with your practice? Is there progress in meditation, are you being present enough?

Have you balanced the root chackra and done your yoga positions? Is progress taking you anywhere?
I’m sure you have checked with the curriculum of choise and asked some head-master about it.

-Am I doing it right?
-What do I do now?
-Am I thinking wisely?
-Is this an insight?
-Is it right to …?
-Is it wrong to…?

All of that is perfectly fine. It is not futile or meaningless. It is not lame or stupid. If it were, I’m King Stupid for sure.
If what we call “spiritual practice” happens, it happens. Maybe it’s a good happening, maybe not. Who knows what happens next?

Just notice, there is no one doing the practice and there is no practice time separate from lifetime. There is no hiding from life. No place to go where you can refine your apperance to make it worthy elsewhere. Wherever you practice and whatever you do, the camera is on. Life is live and direct. A broad, if not boundless, cast that goes on 24/7. It doesn’t stop for you to rehearse because rehearsal is part of the play. It’s an episode called “Rehearsal”. There are no stand-ins for your part. In fact, there are no parts. There is just One Great Show and the One Great Show goes on and on and on.

You didn’t have to audition for the One Great Show. No one was dissmissed. Everything, including “You” and “Me”,  is signed up by default. There were no obligations, no strings attached. Life made us happen, no questions asked. You didn’t choose and you were not selected by anyone. There is no one or no thing to blame for any thing. No reason, no expectations, no jury.
Life is not American Idol, but Everything Happening is an expression of Life, including American Idol.

So keep “practicing” or let go of “practice”. It’s all the same. It is Life Happening in various forms and ways. It has no direction, so the “Director” is an equal part of the play. Controlling no one, controlled by no one.

No One Sits – So Who Stays Sitting, Who Gets Up?

If there is no one individual, separate person sitting on the cushion, who is it that is supposed to stay there until the gong sounds?
Who is doing the practice correctly and who fails miserably? If failure and success is possible we must assume there is someone there to praise or whip. Some separate individual in control of her/his actions. Who would that be?
If I get up before the designated sitting-time, who controls and thus decides that action. Did I just make myself “getting up”? Did the others make themselves/their selves stay put?
How wiered a perspective that is. At least in a practice thought out to promote the realisation of “oneness” and “letting go”.

Actually, there is no one in control of anything. Not in the zendo. Not in the not-zendo.
If you sit, there is sitting.
If you get up, there is getting up.
There is no “you” doing either. Neither is it the “entire universe” doing it. Still it happens.

So, drop the idea of you doing anything and let doing happen. There is no one to stop it. It never ever fails. Never has, never will.

“It” keeps on “happening”.

My Understanding of MU

Who should practice the MU-koan?
No

What’s the purpous with MU?
No

How can you understand it?
No

Seems rather ridiculous, right?
No

Why has it been around for so long?
No

Is every answer a negative?
No

So what’s an affirmative answer?
No

Is the point to bore you with your own questions?
No

Is MU representing The All?
No

What can possibly come out of this?
No

So “No” is all what it is?
No

Dang it, I’ll go back to counting breath!
No

Whaddya mean “No”?
No

Hey, I’m talking to you…
No

This is just my thoughts
No

I’m tired
No

Ah, I see. When…
No

Wait a minute
No

This is so cool
No

I say “No” to everything!
No

I say “No” to every-THING
No

I should stop this, right?
No

But if “No” is all I get..
No

…then I know the rest of this
No

So I should just keep at it?
No

OK, so I’ll quit right here?
No

This if freakin’ useless
No

This gives no insight whatsoever
No

Luckily, there’s only five minutes left ’til the gong
No

Whaddya mean “No”, it is!
No

Shut Up!!!
No

You just won’t cave will you?
No

You’ll always be here?
No

Two minutes left…
No

YES IT IS!
No

?
No

You wait and see
No

I’ll just relax for now
No

Oh yes, I’ll abide in…
No

So it’s impossible for me to relax?
No

Aha, I must let go of trying to relax
No

I gotta let go!
No

You are so wierd
No

When is that bloody gong?
No

GONNNNGGGGGG

Yessss!
No

You can’t fool me to go on with this
No

That’s right, I win
No

________________________________________

Ok, so that’s how I see it. No matter what I come up with, the response is the same. It’s reliable and solid as a rock. It tells me that there’s no “I” to make up all those questions and in the end “I” will understand that and the real I will shut up. It’s also “No” to all of concepts, rationalizing, analysing and effort to “understand”.
I’ll just sit with it and that will arise in me.

-How about that Joshu?

-No

How To Play Hide And Seek With Your Thoughts

I only have 10 minutes for this post so this it’s very “on the go”. I just read This:

For all thoughts the source is the ‘I’ thought. The mind will merge only by Self-enquiry ‘Who am I?’ The thought ‘Who am l?’ will destroy all other thoughts and finally kill itself also. If other thoughts arise, without trying to complete them, one must enquire to whom did this thought arise. What does it matter how many thoughts arise? As each thought arises one must be watchful and ask to whom is this thought occurring. The answer will be ‘to me’. If you enquire ‘Who am I?’ the mind will return to its source (or where it issued from). The thought which arose will also submerge. As you practise like this more and more, the power of the mind to remain as its source is increased.
Sri Ramana

I then thought  of a litte game I sometimes play with my mind during meditation, try this:
Ask yourself  “What am I thinking right now” and then be attentive.
You might try to gently leave out the “now” like when you count in a song – 1,2,3,-. Just so you don’t mix up counting with playing the actual song. Leave some space after you’ve established the rythm.
“What…Am…I…Thinking…Right…” and then full attention.

In my experience, when I succeed in nailing down my attention to that space (usually take nine inch nails and it’s hard work), then I find nothing, When I say “nothing” I mean no Thoughts. There is of course awareness of whatever is prominent in my perception, but I have no Thoughts about them. It is as if the five senses can be experienced without thought, but the sixth sense of thought itself dissolves when it tries to look at itself. That would be rather “so what”-ish since the eye cannot see itself. But it’s kind of interesting anyway. Maybe this assignment of attention creates a situation where Thought dries out as a result of not getting any input.

If not hearing, touch, taste, smell, vision and not memories or fantasies, then what?
Space, emptieness, peace…?
I dunno.

Is this what Sri is saying with “the power of the mind to remain as its source is increased”. Or is it the other way around? Probably it’s a matter of word-entanglement and misconception on my behalf. My experience is Sri’s but inverted, haha.
Asking my question gives me the answer;
– If Thought is the forerunner of all things, then all things are based on emptieness because when I pay close attention to my Thoughts it seems like they’re totally dependent on other sense input and/or memories to arise at all. A consequence of that would be that all things are the forerunner of all things. They just pass through our minds in order to manifest as action.
– Thought, seen as such a transformer between input/output, past/future is only present here and now and is inherently empty in itself. You can either let it be filled with all that is here and now (mindfulness), or you can direct it to your vast archive of then and there-memories to build fantasies about when and where (mindlessness). If you direct it towards itself, thought looking at thought, there’s nothing to find.

Oh well, times up and Old Joshu screams, MU! I’d love to hear from anyone trying this.
Maybe it’s just me?

 

Where is my mind?

According to the Buddhist tradition, the working basis of the path and the energy involved in the path is the mind—one’s own mind, which is working in us all the time

Fundamentally, it is that which can associate with an “other”—with any “something” that is perceived as different from the perceiver. That is the definition of mind

Mind makes the fact of perceiving something else stand for the existence of oneself. That is the mental trick that constitutes mind

It is the fact that the existence of self is questionable that motivates the trick of duality

The method for beginning to relate directly with mind, which was taught by Lord Buddha and which has been in use for the past twenty-five hundred years, is the practice of mindfulness

Mindfulness of body is connected with the earth. It is an openness that has a base, a foundation. Without this particular foundation of mindfulness, the rest of your meditation practice could be very airy-fairy—vacillating back and forth, trying this and trying that

All the above come from Trungpa’s text on The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. All seems very true and workable to me. Again it points me to the importance of basic simplicity, and where to find a solid starting point for my particular path. I find most basic questions in meditation to be jumping the gun a bit. You know most of them I guess;
– Who am I
– Who is asking the question
– Who are you
– Where do you come from
– etc
It’s not that these questions are wrong in any way, they’re brilliant, but all of them which I have read takes the actual existence as a given. If Trungpa’s on target, that “existence” has to be established by experience, as a personal fact, before I can move on. The basic question is therefore – Am I?
What does it take for me to answer Yes? Could mindful meditation of body be seen as a quest for evidence of my actual existence?
That seems redundant at first glance. Of course I exist!
Think again about Trungpa’s words; It is the fact that the existence of self is questionable that motivates the trick of duality. Maybe it isn’t so easy to answer Yes after all. If the massive and persistent perception of duality is indeed a result of our ambivalence towards our own existence, the basic answer would be – I don’t know for sure? So why is the question so hard to answer? My current thinking suggests that the problem is we’re barking up the wrong tree, and trying to find Me in my physical body won’t do it. I’m thinking parts of Me resides somewhere else, and that “somewhere” is seemingly empty. Trick is that whatever there is to find in that empty space exists only in relation to my actual physical form. Furthermore, my actual physical form exists only in relation to other physical forms.
That leaves us with a mind that can only deal with different types of form, my form and the forms outside of it. So being “mindful” would mean to establish the actual existence of these forms by bringing into awareness that there is a transmitter (other form) and also a receiver (my form). If that’s the function of it, then mindfulness “with the mind” can never discover the True Self in it’s totality since parts of the True Self is to be found in-between the various forms recognizable to the mind. Bottom line would be that by using my Mind, I can only connect with half of my True Self. The other part is untouchable so to speak. And it won’t help much to be consciously “aware” of this since “awareness” is also a function of my physical form. Only thing I can be aware of, and that’s a good one, is that finding my True Self, my Whole/Holy Self, lies beyond my minds reach. That in itself could save me some wasted time on mind-gaming. So what Trungpa says to me is;
– mindfulness of body gives you evidence of your physical form – if you experience this, then you will soon realize that everything about “you” is in relation to “other” – if you experience this, you’ll eventually find that your mind cannot deal with anything else than duality – if you experience this, you’ll stop searching for your True Self by sitting on a cushion. What then happens is an open question. Maybe you try finding your Self in others. Maybe you try to find your Self in relation to others or maybe you just go home and do some dishing.

I won’t fool anyone by saying this is “my thinking”. Obviously it is Buddhadharma for Beginners. I just have to write it down to let my playful mind have something to juggle with. It’s all nonsense anyway. It’s all I am. Now it’s all I was.

Now I’m a new thought; if the My True Self is to be found in-between forms, namely My Form and Other Forms, and My True Self is to be regarded as an expression of Oneness, how the heck can Oneness be without the duality of different forms?
Jeeeeze, is this the paradox that leads us to the Ultimate Reality being neither Oneness, nor Duality?
This formal expression of the ongoing Big Bang needs a cup of coffee real bad.
As for Me, I’ll soon be  the joy in having just that.

Bored to the bone

What Chögyam Trungpa has to say about boredom is worth reading. I’ve never come across something so clearly put and so totally to the point. On mindfulness of breathing:

– Nothing happens, it is absolutely boring.
– When you take away the idea of credentials, then there is boredom.
– Boredom is important in meditation; it increases the psychological sophistication of the practitioners.
– It’s a good feeling to be bored, constantly sitting and sitting. First gong, second gong, third gong, more gongs yet to come. Sit, sit, sit, sit.
– … the introduction of boredom and repetitiousness is extremely important. Without it we have no hope. It is true- no hope.
– Simply relating with the breath is very monotonous and unadventorous…

It’s very refreshing and fun to read this, it’s hard not to laugh out loud. Someone is slamming what everyone is thinking- bang- on the table. Look at it, acknowledge it, relate to it, accept it and really go into it. Boredom will play it’s tricks in almost every aspect of meditation, at least if it’s about getting to the core and not just for “credentials” and entertainment.
I often read that mindfulness of breathing is The Basic Excercise, but Trungpa puts this in a new prespective. The Basic Excercise is to deal with boredom in a new way and what would make better practice than meditation? I can really relate with this view because my 1 month of daily sitting has been 95% about not getting up from the cushion before the gong. It’s more about not doing what feels neccesary than actually doing something useful. I’ve failed a couple of times, but all in all it’s been a success.
I sit, mind wanders, body hurts, I breathe, mind wanders, I’m bored, I sit, breathe, sigh, mind races, I loose it, I catch it, frustration, boredom, breath, restlessness, I sit and- gong- I’m free.
Reading Trungpa helps me realize how much progress I’ve actually made by being bored to the bone and staying with it.
This weird practice is a paradox in itself. Why am I surprised that failig to follow instructions, achieving nothing and getting bored could mean doing it right, having progress and enjoying that what is not-fun?