Meditation: centered

Thank you for meditating! The world is definitely benefited by everyone who meditates and contemplates. And, the collective human consciousness of which everyone is a part is also positively affected by everyone who holds their mind in light and beingness.

Meditation practice coordinates the vehicles of body, speech, and mind or said otherwise: the body, emotions, mental processes, sense of self, and innate/higher nature. That coordination is experienced as centeredness.

When a meditative attitude and application of meditative way of being is brought into the common circumstances and situations of one’s day, one brings centeredness to those occurrences. Being centered demonstrates as being thoughtful, heedful, patient, calm, present, and overall mindful. With this mindfulness or awareness, one completes task, attends to things in a light-hearted way, keeps things in perspective, and lives from centeredness. The result of doing so, of being so, is ease in the life, ease with others, positive energy and positive karma.

The beneficial results of meditation – on and off the cushion – are constant as long as we are constant in practice.

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Meditation: when we are not looking

The instructions quoted below have been engaged thus far from a pure perception point of view, a wisdom point of view. Today’s preamble acknowledges that the same words point out one’s mindlessness.

To look but not see is a common experience; think of looking for something but not seeing that it is right in front of you. The same line refers to all our senses and, therefore, illustrates that we are often or usually quite mindless about what we are eating but not tasting, hearing but not listening, in tactile relation with but not sensing, etc.

The second line, “thinking but not minding,” is a categorization of what’s going on in the emotion-mind complex almost incessantly. All kinds of thoughts repeat, repeat, repeat thoughtlessly. Another example  is projections which are a type of thinking. With them, we are not minding the energy (often critical, judgemental, or negative) being cast along with the projection. Wishing, such as “I wish I had that,” or “I wish the weather would change,” or “I wish he/she would stop,” also arises many times through the day. We are thinking but not aware of the self-importance and self-cherishing in these types of thought.

“Speaking but not expressing” is the next line. Yup, guilty! The habit of filling space with words was robust enough before texting and typed forms of quick communication but now non-sequitors and incomplete sentences, misspellings and auto-filled but incorrect words have reduced communication to inarticulate babble. Both examples, filling space with words as well as language used inappropriately, incorrectly, or inarticulately are referenced in the line “speaking but not expressing.”

“Traveling but not going” – when not in reference to pure perception/sunyata/Awareness – directs one to notice activity generated from impulse and acted upon thoughtlessly. Human beings are constantly in motion but that motion is desire driven most of the time and not noticed as restlessness and distracted behavior as well as not recognized as impulsed by desire. The desire could be to change a moment of boredom into a moment of browsing or cleaning or eating or talking, for example.

A meditation practice must be engaged through the day. The vast majority of one’s day is where the habits of consciousness play. One’s sitting practice is an encapsulation of one’s habits of consciousness. This is very important to understand and is vipashyana. To “look correctly” must begin with ourself, our daily routines and commentary.

A meditation practice also is a supreme act of kindness, patience, non-judgement, and observation of one’s self to one’s self on and off the cushion. The dakinis dance and laugh, the buddhas smile, the meditation masters of the world chuckle spontaneously and have resolved, thus removed, the gene of seriousness. Nonetheless, do these beings live with a sense of urgency, the knowing that there is only the now and its vast importance as the juncture of Awareness-Ignorance, Awareness-Perception, Awareness-Action, Awareness-awareness? Yes. Dakini, Blazing One with a Garland of Lightning, invites us to the same.

  • the quoted vajra song is from Luminous Melodies translated by Karl Brunnholzl. It is available where you purchase books.
  • the image used with the text is called “Ah” by infinitefiend on DeviantArt

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Meditation: looking but not seeing 4

Duality is the experience of subject and object. Nonduality is both a truth and an experience. The term nondual indicates that subject-object are inseparable, thus there is not subject reviewing an object or an object divorced from the experiencer/subject. Any measure or variety of this second experience is felt as nondual. Conjoined is another word for this; as is non-two. The object is not being particularly distinguished by the subject. Said otherwise, the subjectivity of an object – which is personal to the subject/experiencer/perceiver – is temporarily not engaged. This potentially happens within any shamatha session when

  • letting be,
  • or objects arising in the mind and let to float through,
  • or of non-attention to what is on the visual screen if open-eyed sitting, walking, washing dishes, and such are the session. Underneath what the practitioner thinks is being cultivated (mindfulness, non-distraction) is the substructure of presence-impartiality.

Shamatha is profound! Its layers and levels are limitless. Shamatha is nirvana (not the rock band or the perfume). Nirvana is a state of equanimity, impartial Awareness, freed of clinging and reactivity. Nirvana also has many levels, but it should not be misunderstood as a final escaped state. That is not so, and maha beings including the Buddha have stated this. The training for nondual awareness, tranquility and its clarity, insight arising, and of nirvana begins with the impartiality of shamatha and is exemplified by its simplicity and clarity.

Neutrality is spacious and allowing. Due to the repetition of practicing neutrality on and off the cushion, the immediacy of clutching a thought or desire, craving, or disappointment, etc. is rendered less potent therefore is subconsciously felt as less demanding. This neutrality in the moment, this ease within one’s self, is nirvana. That it is fleeting – well, that’s Path! As spaciousness and impartiality work their magic on habits of react/reify/respond to everything, then nirvana is being “cultivated.” The auto-pilot of reactivity, thus ups and downs, and the aggressive response to the weather or a mosquito or to the tick of time is consistently less engaged, less energized. These habits and the autonomic ways of response/react are the causes of distraction and the hamster wheel of life (samsara). Ah, three cheers for neutrality!

Add to all of this, we don’t understand that it is the vibrancy of life’s experiences that elicits our attention. It is this – vibrancy/intensity – that we become habituated to through immediate response. Colors or shadows from the corner of our eye, the intensity of a smell or memory or of pain, sorrow, or joy are all vivid, strong, and seem unmistakable. They are loud or call out through their subtlety. We become habituated to “oh”, “oooh”, “ah,” “ouch.” But, a contemplation or a meditation practice provides direct access to the “oooh” that is inside, the “oh” or “ah” of clarity, the “ouch” of empathy and telepathy as well as their merging and support. Neutrality? Not in the beginning! The classic metaphor is that in the beginning, meditation practice is like a waterfall: uncontrollable, rushing, restless, multiple parts all moving at the same time. But, with the gift of diligence to ourself, we sit or walk or do dishes present to the current moment, undistracted. We are doing the thing with impartiality.

Subject and object is how the world goes ’round. It is commerce, relationships, creates art, and has written this post. But, the object of these words and the thoughts behind them are an invitation to your subjectivity, rather than you as a subject: a reader. Neutrality is  subjective. Impartiality is subjective. Tranquility, luminosity, clarity, peace, spaciousness and so forth are subjective. My overture is to your subjectivity because nondual is a subjective experience, too.

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Remedies for body and mind

Winter often gives us one last kick to the can of our physical health before the warmer weather establishes. Most of us have go-to herbs or vitamins or methods that we use at the first, littlest symptom of a germ or virus trying to find habitat in our body. Pau D’Arco is mine.

It is in my suitcase, my carry-on (under 3 oz.), and on my kitchen counter with the daily supplements. Pau D’Arco is a Peruvian herb. One can take it by tincture or brew a tea from the bark. I use the non-alcohol based tincture.

At first hint of something off with my body, three droppers of the tincture every 2 to 3 hours is the action. That is maintained for three days, even if symptoms decrease or disappear in less days. I don’t wake up specifically to take it, but have the night time dose when Mother Nature calls from the bathroom.

I have used Pau D’Arco for about ten years and have used the non-alcohol tincture from Botanic Choice (online vendor) the whole time. When in a pinch, Natural Grocers also has a non-alcohol brand. Whole Foods tends to have alcohol-based. Why non-alcohol? It is quite palatable; the alcohol-based tincture is very caustic to the mouth and tastes terrible. Yes, alcohol tinctures are slightly more potent than glycerin based ones, but if you can’t get it down, that small gain in potency is no gain. And, if one is offering herbal tinctures to children, definitely non-alcohol based for this reason.

Here’s a link to the product I use. I always have an extra bottle on hand. It is often given out to friends and family as well.

One’s mind is probably the most faithful prophylactic there is. A non-stressed mind supports a non-stressed body, thus supports well-being. Humanity and the world are sorting of a variety of causes and conditions. We and Mother Earth will be doing so for some time. But one thing I know is that we are all connected in every way seen and unseen, recognized and yet so. As such, my state of emotions and mind are not only important to me but to those around me and those far away. So, in addition to my daily meditation practice inclusive of its prayerfulness for the illumination of truth and truth of being, the documentaries listed below lift my spirits when the psychic currents of humanity around the world are those of despair and fear. Yes, I do this for me, but we are all connected! I trust that someone somewhere feels the buoyancy and is helped in their situation or through their day. I trust that because it happens with me some days.

Music documentaries
I’ve gone back to music that had social meaning and the people who were making it, as well as to music as an instrument of unanimity. My choices of documentary are admittedly narrow. But maybe this short list will inspire others to investigate music from other parts of the world.

American Epic: This series originally played on PBS several years ago. It was produced by Jack White, T Bone Burnett, and Robert Redford. Current musicians where brought into a one-room studio with one mike from early 1900’s to record songs originally recorded on wax discs. Each episode provides music according to the part of the country and type of music being recorded back then, but now being freshly performed. This includes the first Cajun song recorded, the first Hawaiian songs and the first time steel guitar was heard on continental America, as well as the first recordings of Native songs. Of course, there are the songs of Appalachia and the Ozarks, too.

The Rolling Thunder Revue: Martin Scorsese has made more than one music documentary. This is one. The Rolling Thunder Review was a creation of Bob Dylan together with a group of artists. Dylan’s music is timeless, like Shakespeare’s plays. The performances of songs like “A Hard Rain” made me cry with how prescient he was. Dylan saw then (60’s-80’s) the soul of America and the ways that we obstruct it. This documentary was riveting for the music and him as a masked truth-teller, as well as the ideal of small-town, small venue performances which Dylan preferred post Newport Jazz festival and the Albert Hall in London.

20 Feet from Stardom: If you haven’t see this one yet, or haven’t rewatched it in a while, my goodness, get your dancing shoes on and play it loud!

The Wrecking Crew: Another documentary about the people who made music possible: studio musicians. This collection of musicians played behind numerous male and female artists through the 60’s and 70’s. Great music, all done without race as a consideration.

Then, of course, there is Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads) and The Last Waltz (The Band).

Permaculture and Earth’s Renewal
Now that I’ve moved to southern Colorado where it’s high (7800ft) and dry (semi-desert), my love of gardening has become an inspiration to renew and rebuild the soil in my small back yard in way that leaves it regenerating itself annually, growing fruits and nuts, and doing so with moderate to minimal water use.

YouTube is such a great resource! Many documentaries are posted there and, if not, I’m happy to support a small film company through the purchase of their film.

On YouTube, check out the channel for Happen Films. It’s an Aussie film company and the examples of the full-length documentaries are also in Australia. But dry is dry where I live! I’ve learned a lot from these films but, more important, it is so cool to see what is being done to renew Mother Earth in other parts of the world. I know I can do it here. The principles of permaculture are few and basic. The distinctions of what plants to plant  where is unique to your environment. There lies particular research and working with those in the know.

Dirt, the Movie: This documentary talks to medium to large scale farmers all over America who understand that one is not really growing crop, one is growing soil in order to grow crop. Fascinating to listen to these farmers champion cover crops, no-till, and restoration of bio-diversity within their soil as methods that brought their farms back from financial hardship.

Green Gold, a documentary by John D. Liu. Amazing, again! Watch how people with pics and shovels in China remake a vast devastated landscape, devastated by centuries of human overuse. He, then, takes his camera and principles to other areas in the world.

The Biggest Little Farm is sooo inspiring. If you have not seen it, do. This one has to be rented for $3.99.

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Meditation: looking but not seeing 3

If you listen to the podcast, some of this is said there.

The instruction given by dakini, Blazing One with a Garland of Lightning, is many layered. The teachings embedded within her words are vast. It is always up to the listener to open the words to their layers as well as to open one’s mind and vulnerability to what one might find within the vastness.

There is the somewhat literal interpretation of the instruction. In this case, there are four lines, each quite specific but, at the same time, vague as to how to accomplish. “Looking without seeing, that’s my eye” is first. How does one do that? And, why is “eye” singular?

In meditation practice as well as all ways of the Path, the practitioner is left to sort out these questions; and that must be so. In fact, it is the wisest, most compassionate implicit instruction to us all. “Figure it out.” “What does it mean to you?” What the instruction means to someone or how he or she might apply its meaning is useful to him or her but might be gibberish to you, be confusing, be already established within you and your awareness, and so forth.

Second, the dakini’s instruction or call to innate knowing floats on the ground of shamatha: tranquil abiding and its impartiality. “Looking without seeing, …” is possible only as a neutrality of emotion-mind-self is somewhat stable. Otherwise, looking instigates an immediate magnetization of preference, projection, hopes and fears, wants and dislikes. Then, seeing is nothing more than a projected fabrication or conjuring of all of the above. However, if shamatha has somewhat established, there will be a fraction of a second of neutral quiescence in the mind-consciousness, an impartial moment in which the something is just a something but not a thing or a person or a story.

You see, we go through the day naming, claiming, and dooming the something to the label and personal relationship that we have to the something or someone. Shamatha practice on and off the cushion provides space between the eye consciousness and the mind consciousness, the feeling nature and what is felt, etc. With that, the sense of self is not re-fueled for a flash of second.

Third, and due to the ground of tranquil abiding, insight can arise; insight will arise. But, importantly, due to neutrality, the insight will not be something that needs to be grasped – almost attacked – but rather, is realized as obvious, as “of course,” as natural.

The dakini can say “that’s my eye,” “that’s my mind,” etc. because these are normal. Insight is normal; it is Awareness being aware. To look and not be interested in seeing is a union of spacious luminous Awareness and being aware. Aware of what doesn’t matter. To be aware is a neutral activity. “Aware of what” is a preference, limitation, and thus non-awareness.

* And this is barely the surface of the layers of meaning.

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