Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Meditation Beyond Conditioned Thoughts

The instructions shared here are a little compressed and accelerated in that Buddhist masters in the past would have taken at least a week to go through them and the significance of each step. I have shared other versions of this before and go into more detail on my blogsite (, see "four steps to freedom").

Place your attention on your breathing, gently expanding your belly on the inhale, gently expanding your chest and rib cage on the inhale (but with no strain, even a few milli-meters of expansion is helpful, see if you can have the feeling of expansion be present in the front and back, and even the sides of the chest), and then gently relaxing the belly on the exhale, having a smooth and soft exhale. Notice if any anxiety or fear is making you push the air out on the exhale a little too fast or too forcefully, and gently allow this push to soften and slow down, again no force is necessary. You do not want to impose softness, but simply allow it to slowly appear as you ease into surrender into life. Allow the place where the inhale becomes the exhale and the exhale becomes the inhale, what Shiva called "the turnings of the breath" to be smooth with no harsh pauses, so that your whole breathing feels like a continuous circle. When you exhale, follow the air out and feel like you are touching the world at the outer turning, notice the freedom and relief from the internal world and any thoughts, emotions, and sensations that may be whirling around in some angst. When you inhale, follow the breath deep into your body and belly, even the point two to three inches below the belly button, the chi point or center of gravity point. Notice the depth of being that can be accessed there, deep below any angst that is felt Feel like you are moving through your dukkha, your sorrows, tensions, and contradictions with both the inward and outward movement of the breathing. As you move through the dukkha, intend not to avoid or fixate on this sorrow. Place about 70 percent attention on the breathing and 30 percent attention on the angst.

There is a kind of harsh analytical awareness of dukkha that is subtly resisting our sorrow and trying to get rid of it, yet the harshness is actually part of the sorrow and actually reinforces it. There is also a kind of sad resigned attention which has given up on eliminating sorrow that also subtly reinforces it. There is also a fearful attention that is trying to avoid or block out sorrow, but ends up making it more and more obvious. Notice how you are noticing sorrow and relax the effort within the attention, letting the sorrow simply be while feeling the breathing flow in and out within a nourishing circle of pranic energy generation.

As this kind of breathing becomes more natural, you may notice the dukkha dissolving of its own accord. When this happens, watch for the part of ourselves that wishes to coopt this discovery and try to again lock into sorrow and try to get rid of it. This harsher attention only reinforces the existence of sorrow by subtly trying to make it more solid in order to eliminate it, rather than seeing its "emptiness" and letting it dissolve back into the field from whence it came.

Gently see if you can rest in awareness as awareness while the breathing is flowing. There is a quality of space in the breathing within the feeling that the breathing is breathing itself and needs no effort at all. Feel into a kind presence and identity that is not formed by thought or belief, not put together by thought, not maintained by clinging to ideas and resisting ideas. Let the older thought based and even emotion based identity dissolve. Rest in awareness, resume your deeper and truer identity as pure consciousness, pure awareness, pure understanding, pure compassion, pure unmanifest creative potential, pure intentionality before intending anything. Notice the thoughts that float around and see if you can not get caught in them, not caught in resisting them, reacting to them, or clinging to them. Normally, we are run by our thoughts. They dribble us around like a basketball player, running us around the court, and shooting us through all kind of hoops (goals). One of the most important experiences one can have in meditation is to notice how much our thoughts control us rather than the other way around. If we intend to sit in silence and experience a storm of intense thoughts, then thought is not following our intention. This means our real wishes and our thoughts are not together. Thoughts run by their own causation and their own laws. There is "no self" in them. We are usually a slave to them and do their bidding without question, and are hypnotized into believing the sense of self that they produce in us. See if you can, at least for a short while, awaken from this trance, and maybe later on you can resurrect from the death that they represent when we are living always in their trance.

If you can master this some, there is yet a deeper level that is possible. One can notice that there is less of a difference between "your thoughts" and "my thoughts". When we shift our relationship to any thought, no matter who the thought seems to belong to, then we generate a wakefulness and ease that can ripple through the human and animal community in this world. We can "pray" without words and vibrate an energy of awakening into this world that can heal it and bless it, invite others to do the same. It is a kind of osmosis or transfer of awakening because we are ultimately part of one organism, waves in the same ocean. It can be easily felt when calm abiding in awareness as awareness is relaxed into. There are no boundaries between self and self on this level, no lines drawn between imaginary mental countries, no duality. Because of this we can and will heal each other. This way of meditating and praying is really very much without words or beliefs, since all mental formations are abandoned along the way, whether mundane or spiritual, Buddhist or Christian or whatever. Without the divisions of religion, there is a greater peace, beyond the conflicts of all the "isms" that plague this world, all formed by thought.

1 comment:

  1. It seems that a lot of advice in meditation and spirituality has to do with "living in the present moment". In general, I think it is a good thing, but I wanted to touch on something about it.

    When we try to imagine what it means to be in... the present moment, we generally touch into our last memory moment, the last recording of the last sensation that we remember experiencing. We then decide to live in that moment, to be there. But that moment is already gone, already past. In some sense, it does not matter whether the past moment is a second old or a million years old. It is already gone. As soon as something is captured in memory and noticed through memory, it is already gone.

    There is another moment that in some sense is between what we call the present moment and what we imagine is the future. From the standpoint of our memory function, it is one step into the future. We can be there, rather than in memory at all. This other present moment is really "unknown". Because how we know something is largely a function of naming and analyzing, all of which depend on memory to hold something and look at something.

    To live in this present moment is stepping into the unknown, into a flux, where nothing really defines itself well, nothing there to analyze, nothing there to grasp, because to do all these things, you need to freeze something in memory and hold it, look at it, and analyze it, and by then it is already gone.

    This is the same with people that we may have issues with. In order to have issues with them, we need to freeze a lot of memory pictures of them, and hold their content against them, even though they may have already changed. Unless we stay with the present moment of everyone, then we do not know. But the present moment itself is in some sense unknowable. We can let go of our issues with everyone by noticing how all those pictures are obsolete. This means that living in the present moment, the event horizon between the present and the future where flux is always happening, requires a kind of surrender of all the frozen time pictures that we are holding about everything, including all the ones we hold about ourselves to define ourselves.

    What is the nature of this other present moment? We usually experience it through the five senses and sensations in general, eye sensations, ear sensations, touch sensations, taste sensations, and smell sensations, coordinated together into one flow of experiencing, with reactions going on almost as fast as the sensations. If we just notice the sensations, just watch, noticing the space that the sensations are arising in and dissolving in, we may notice something more that we do not always pick up on, because we are usually too busy reacting to stimuli to notice. It is like the mind is in a fever and a frenzy, always having thoughts, emotions, and reactions about everything, too busy reacting to everything to relax attention, open wide attention, and just be attention to what is arising. Unfixated on sensation and reaction, not worrying about endlessly doing something, then something else becomes apparent, something very wide and spacious, something that has always been there. Something that does not need to be captured by memory and sensation, not invoked by thought and intention, something that is needed to have any experience at all. It is like a quiet ground we can always relax in, beyond all the explosions of sensation that pull our attention into themselves. It is like a silent depth below a stormy ocean.