A 91 year-old neighbor asked me to teach him meditation. He has an acute, well-trained mind that he has used throughout his personal and professional life. He is kind-hearted, of gentle spirit, and eager to learn. This man is scientifically-minded, mechanically-minded, and phenomena are a mechanism of empiricism for him. Metaphysical, esoteric or subtle frameworks and systems of knowledge are not known to him. Therefore, unless a clear corollary can be used to illustrate a relation or be used as an analogy between the dense/apparent and the subtle/less apparent, the subtle cannot be used as a frame of reference.
All of this is great for both of us. For me, being intuitive since birth and the esoteric being often more apparent than form, that type of understanding and communicating has to be put aside. For him, he is experiencing the training of mind that he has experienced for lifetimes, but does not know it. The evidence of this previous training demonstrates in his objective clarity, tranquility, and impartiality of mind, emotion, and demeanor. It also is immediately apparent in the results of his practice.
Employing the tried and true baselines used by both Patanjali and Buddha Shakyamuni in the training of shamatha, his first instruction was offered. His mind was naturally calm and required very little effort to stay on point, alert, and acute. Second instruction was given and we did it twice while he was at my house. After the second time he said something like, “It seems that there are thoughts that come or go, stay or do not, and that there is a primary canvas or background that is unaffected by the thoughts, by doing or not doing anything with them, and unto itself is tranquil and simple.” I smiled. “Yes, that is so.”
Inside, I was jumping with joy! In over 30 years of offering meditations and meditation instruction, no one has said that to me; not after two “lessons” or 100. Yes, some meditators have been led to realize this distinction and then could speak on it, but … .
He frequently has said statements that are almost quotations of Buddhadharma, too.
I share this because the training in meditation, contemplation, and ways to decipher reality from the conventionally accepted as real stays with us. It goes forward. He has picked up where he left off, as do we all. He has used his meditative training as an excellent problem solver and communicator as well as being a calm person through his life. Now, in the twilight of his years, he is coming back to meditation. What a great way to complete a life.
What have you brought forward from your past lives of training?