Posted by: Soh

Realization of “One Sense”

(by James M. Corrigan)

Filed under Prose
MellowYellow
Question:
What leads one to the realization that there is truly only one sense, not five or six as we normally understand experience?
Answer: One way that this realization arises is out of the process of “turning hearing around,” which is both a deconstruction of the subtle structuring of experience that is normally overlooked, and ultimately a direct experience.
Even though we may understand the emptiness of thoughts and other sensations, which arise without any intrinsic self-reality, and though we may also have direct non-conceptual experiences, what is still present is the perspective, even if there is no inferred, actual, or imagined observer/knower involved. This is the normal perspective that we all have, because it is our familiar way of experiencing things. So, in hearing something that is arising impersonally, we still understand it to be “heard,” even if we know there is no one to hear, nothing to hear, etc. But instead of taking that perspective, turn it around: “you,” which is that perspective even when it is stripped of all the concretions of ego and identify, is still a false structure. “You” are confusing, through a subtle structuring of direct experience, what is actually happening. “You” are doing this because you understand hearing to be structured as a perception, therefore encompassing something perceived and the perception of it.
Sound is a manifesting experience that is empty of an intrinsic self-nature like everything that manifests is. You neither create it, nor hear it in a dualistic sense. Instead it is experienced because all that is manifesting is the process of knowing. This knowing is not self-centered, so all the problems of shared knowledge are not present, but a perspective still exists. So which way, truly, should the perspective be pointing? From an illusory “you” that, lacking an intrinsic self-nature, isn’t real at all, toward a “sound” that is just as illusory? Or from the source of the manifestation towards the manifestation? That latter perspective is our normal perspective turned around. When we realized that there is no “me” or ego “here” we forgot to realign our more fundamental understandings of perceiving and experiencing, leaving this subtle error to trip us up, and leading to a proliferation of identified types of perceptions and senses.
Once you understand that there has been that subtle misunderstanding of the experience of hearing sound, every time you experience sound, note the error and force yourself to understand “sound” as just something arising in mind, and by that I mean being selflessly natured, so really not having a source at all. Done with some dedication, suddenly you will experience it directly, without effort, because that is how it truly is. And once you have that direct experience you will understand that all of the senses are like this, and they will all collapse into the only sense there truly is—selfless naturing, which is the process of knowing.
It’s easiest to do this with hearing “unstruck sound,” in my experience, because the overpowering attraction of a source, like a tree falling in a forest, is absent with “unstruck sound” which has no source in what is manifested.
Unstruck sound has been referred to in many ways, even by me. Some of them are: unborn sound, Anahata Nada, Chönyid kyi rangdra, Dharmata Swayambhu Nada, Divine Tremoring, Shabd, Eternal Sound, Music of the Spheres, Primordial Sound, Sound of Creation, Soundless Sound, the Word of God, Autogenous Resonance, and others.
Question: It is difficult to comprehend that sound isn’t dependent on a source. How can this be?
Answer: In my experience, there are two ways that sounds can arise: as sympathetic resonances in the mind based upon manifest conditions, and autogenous resonances in the mind. I use the word “resonance” so as not to confuse what I am speaking of with normal “sounds” that we understand we hear in a dualistic sense, and the difference between sympathetic and autogenous must be fleshed out below. But note that the word “autogenous” is being used, not because its meaning is accurate, but because, properly understood, it’s meaning can be clearly intuited. Once one clarifies their understanding, the “auto-“ prefix is seen not as indicating a relation to a self-entity, but to the “essence of self-less naturing,” i.e. “emptiness.” So, onward…
Since everything is empty of an intrinsic self-nature, everything that arises does so spontaneously and uncaused. I experience a self-less (actor or agent-less) naturing and mindfully do not infer a cause or source of that naturing as many do, because that is intellect trying to impose rational order on our understanding. Thus, for me, there is nothing to be known apart from this naturing, and that necessarily includes the understanding that there is no entity such as a “nature” that is naturing.
In all cases, this naturing is the event-horizon between the intelligible—all that we experience, and which can be puzzled out, to make sense of—and what is beyond the intelligible. And of what is beyond the intelligible, there is nothing that can truthfully be said, although interpretive explanations abound in religious and spiritual traditions. But the fact that the naturing itself, as well as what is natured, is intelligible, at least in some respects, provides a hook into a more subtle understanding, as I will explain. By this I mean, for example, that we can note that what manifests is coherent—things go together—so we can say something like: “this naturing, while spontaneous and uncaused, is conditioned by what has already manifested.”
First, this naturing is viscerally known. It’s not a knowing of something, and it’s not a knowing by someone, it’s just an awake/aware naturing, so while ultimately empty of selfhood, it is also ultimately pregnant with infinite possibility of visceral presence.  If this was not the case, then nothing would or could be known, given that what manifests has no intrinsic self-nature, and reality is an inside without an outside, so there are no other forces, causes, actors, etc. at play here.
But in our experience, it is noted that what arises is somehow coherent with what is already the case. At least, that is how intellect orders experience. I understand our idea of “time” to be just such an ordering placed upon what appears in the eternal (i.e. timeless) Now, in which there is no time, so no past, no future, no present—only presence. I have noted that the coherence is not the result of causality, but of conditioned freedom, thus what arises is coherent with the range of possibility opened up by what is manifest Now, but it is not caused directly by it—how could that be, since there is no “it” and no separation, nor “self-causality,” and thus without such bounds, there can be surprise, novelty, range, awesome serendipity, etc.
What is experienced is always arising in mind (i.e. naturing), and what we experience arises sympathetically (coherently) with current conditions—the state of the universe, so to speak. The perspective, the “I” and the “we,” is what is imposed upon reality by intellect, and intellect is the acquired habits of conceptualization and thought, a kind of karma I suppose, that imposes a narrowing down of focus. That narrowing can be overcome… but that’s another subject.
And in the case of sound, everything up to, but not including, the magical idea that consciousness arises from some quantity, configuration, or function of physical matter, that scientists have observed, holds. Yes, a tree falls and it’s falling conditions the arising of pressure (sound) waves that travel through the air, striking our ears, which are so structured that when the pressure changes condition a vibration in the eardrum, those vibrations condition impulses that move into the brain, which conditions further electrical and chemical activity in the brain, which conditions the arising of sound. But all of those steps, are just intellect imposing ordering upon the dichotomized conditions that are selflessly natured.
So, “sound,” properly speaking, arises only in the naturing (called “mind”) based upon manifest conditions. Sound is thought of as a kind of vibration, but the time and space that vibration requires are also impositions of order by intellect upon this naturing—they are our way of conceptually explaining experience, ordering it, and showing where we have cut things up with our distinguishing thoughts.
What we are trying to do with such orderings is explain what is beyond the event horizon of self-less naturing. But given that we cannot truly succeed, what happens if we just step back and don’t impose an intellectual order? What is “sound?” It can only be the visceral (known) presencing of this self-less naturing, and specifically one kind of presencing that our intellect distinguishes from all other kinds (the concept of “kinds” itself shows this to be the result of intellection). Vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and thinking are all just subtle structures of distinctions that intellect imposes on self-less naturing. And light, sound, tastes, kinds of physical touching, and smells, as well as thoughts, are all just distinctions that the ordering intellect imposes upon what selfless naturing is manifesting, in this case pointing to the content of the distinguished experiences.
Thus, what is manifest is intelligible in this way. We can, through habit of thought, whether self-developed or learned, make all these distinctions and order all the conditions and coherency in such a way that we build this whole edifice of a world of separate things somehow interacting together through causal relations. And we do this without intent, thoughtlessly! These habits are the very structuring that we have become so accustomed to.
But there are manifestations for which there are no conditions, such as a source for a particular kind of sound that we can experience. We can distinguish these sounds into kinds, but cannot relate them to any conditions that, such as a tree falling, open the possibility of these sounds arising, so they can be called “unconditioned,” or “unstruck”. And in our normal, sleepy way of being, we don’t even notice them, but in deep meditation we can. And when experienced in meditation, they are called “nimittas,” or “meditation signs,” also “siddhis,” and “charismata,” among other names.
When they are experienced, and clearly so as unconditioned sound, they can be referred to as the “resonances of selfless naturing” as well as all the other names from different traditions that I gave earlier. I call them “autogenous resonances.”
We tend to screen these out of our awareness (i.e. we do not turn our attention to them even when they become apparent), or we immediately think, upon hearing them, that we are ill and run to a doctor for drugs or therapy to make them go away. But being that they are unconditioned, there is no intelligible link between them and current conditions in or around us, and so the intellect can’t jump in and say “over there, over there! that’s where they are coming from” thus imposing a subtle conceptual structuring, and even a dualistic perspective, on what we are experiencing. Thus these are the easiest way to see through the dichotomization of our experiences into kinds of phenomena perceived by kinds of senses, collapsing it all into just self-less naturing, which we habitually call “mind.”
I don’t know if this is helpful, without a direct experience of these sounds. Just stay vigilant and if you notice them, follow them. The trail leads to surprising experiences and insights.
Question: What is this “non-conditioned” referring to? Buddha taught that all that arises does so contingently, which is referred to as “dependent origination” in Buddhism, so doesn’t this go against his teaching?
Answer: No, this doesn’t go against what the Buddha taught. It’s comes out of a subtle point about the truth of Dependent Origination—which is that while what arises originates in dependence upon conditions, this truth is not itself dependent upon anything. Dependent Origination holds independent of conditions—there is no contingency upon which it is or is not true.
And what I am saying reflects a more wholistic understanding than Dependent Origination when it is emphasized out of the context of Emptiness.  Dependent Origination and Emptiness are not two truths, they are two perspectives upon nondual reality. On its own, Dependent Origination could be just a codification of the conceptual idea of Causality, and that is how it is often understood, in my experience with others, given the tendency to speak about “causes and conditions” as if they are they same thing. What I am speaking of as non-conditioned is useful for seeing that sound arises solely in mind, and this insight originates in a direct experience I’ve attained and is not the result of speculative intellection. I am presenting this explanation to overcome the absence of first-hand experience of it, pointing others to the possibility of using unconditioned sound as a meditation support, and its superiority as a support.
So, what is non-conditioned is the naturing itself… this processual unfolding is unborn, timeless, and immortal. There is no condition that allows it to be, or not be. What is conditioned is the contingent arising of coherent manifestation, which is called Dependent Origination. That which is unconditioned can also be found in the spontaneous freedom of naturing—because conditions don’t cause anything to arise, they are merely the conditioning of possibility, so that, what arises is not specifically caused, but is dependent upon the conditions that made it possible for them to arise.
The unconditioned sounds that I speak of arise as the resonance of this naturing in the same fashion as the universal ether, the Akasha, is conventionally understood to be both the medium for vibrational movement (sound), as well as, more subtly, nothing other than the vibrational movement. Thus self-less naturing—“dharmata” in Buddhism—can be directly experienced as resonant sound, as well as the manifested appearances. These unconditioned sounds are the naturing of what manifests, thus we can turn towards the naturing in its bare essence as resonance empty of a cause—the non-conceptual emptiness of all that manifests—or toward the formal, structured experience of all that manifests. This is unconditioned sounds’ importance as a meditational support, and the origin of its power to heal and transform.
Posted by: Soh

Malcolm Smith (Lopon Namdrol) wrote:
"I never maintained that N had no views at all. I have always maintained that he had no view concerning existence and nonexistence."
"He (Nagarjuna) states in the VV that he has no propositions/thesis concerning svabhāva as defined by his opponents. He does not say he has no views at all. For example, he clearly states in the MMK that he prefers the Sammitya view of karma.
Your claim is similar to the mistaken assertion made by some who claim that Candrakirti never resorts to syllogisms, which in fact he clearly does in the opening lines of the MAV. What Candra disputes is not syllogistic reasoning in its entirety, but rather, syllogistic reasoning applied to emptiness.
Likewise, he clearly asserts the view in the VV that there is no svabhāva in phenomena. Madhyamaka is not a simple minded "I have no view" proposition."
"There are only two of those views, i.e., "It exists" and "It does not exist." Nāgārjuna negates these two because he has a view — dependent origination, which he calls the "the pacification of views.""
"You are confusing emptiness with dependent origination. Emptiness is a negation, but dependent origination is a statement on how conditiond things function, i.e things do not arise from themselves, from other, from both or without a cause.
You are also making the mistaken argument that views cannot be antidotal, that they are invariably pathological. Thus, Candrakirti states that right view, emptiness, is the antidote for wrong views.
I think you are getting a little too carried away with your anti-view view."
"As long as we understand, as I pointed out at the very beginning here, that "all views" simply means views of existence and nonexistence.
Is it possible to express anything concerning this truth? Perhaps this:
"There is no distinction whatsoever between saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
There is no distinction whatsoever between nirvāṇa and saṃsāra."
MMK 25.19
Or perhaps more apt:
This pair, samsara and nirvana, do not exist.
However thorough knowledge of samsara is nirvana.
But of course, all of this concerns the objective state of phenomena, and not how we subjectively experience the path and its realization."
"But it clearly is a view: "Where this arises, that arose; with the arising that, this arose; where cease ceases, that ceases; with the cessation of that, this ceases."
How does dependent origination function? It functions because entities are empty of existence and nonexistence. That emptiness is what is not to be taken as a view. But dependent origination is acceptable as a view. Why? This is the question you need to ask yourself. If Buddha taught no views at all, then there is no need for Dharma, a path, nor could there be a result."
"The Buddha did not teach emptiness as a view, indeed, but he certainly taught dependent origination as a view. In fact it is what is called "right view.""
"Ummmm...Nāgārjuna held the metaphysical view that sentient beings take rebirth, that past actions ripen, that merit must be accumulated in order to earn the marks of a buddha, etc. So obviously this is not the case."
"He is saying precisely that the reality of phenomena is dependent origination and emptiness, depending on which way one is seeing things.
For example, in the 70 he says:
The nature of all things is empty.
For what reason? The nature of all things
is an assembly of causes and conditions.
or, because there is neither being nor nonbeing
in each and every thing, they are empty
He is here declaring that the nature or reality (the state of being pertaining to things) of all things is emptiness.
He says,
Having realized things are empty,
one will not be confused because of seeing correctly"

Reminded me of what Thusness said in 2014,

"I m not into no view...but actualization of right view. We all know views r only provisional and r approximate of "reality" but some views r better representations of "reality" than others. I m not into "no view", that will lead us into taking "non conceptuality" as the goal of practice. I hv no issue adopting "right view", "non conceptuality of view" to me simply means not to let "view" remains intellect and conceptual but have experiential insight and actualized it in daily activities."
Posted by: Soh
in INNER KNOWLEDGE by James Corrigan%s Comment Part Two of REALITY AND EXISTENCE.

Because what is real must be simple, it must be nondual. This nondual oneness of reality is the great mystery at the heart of all things. It’s why people who talk about it are called mystics and what they’re talking about is called mysticism. You might think that saying non-dual or One captures reality, but it doesn’t at all. That expression I used above when describing my experience as a young man, unseen loving light, fails to capture what was, at that moment, and similarly, non-dual and One fails to capture what is real.

The best explanation of why that is, that I’ve ever read, is from a 3rd Century Neo-Platonic mystic named Plotinus. I’ll quote what he said, but don’t get lost in it. Why? Because it is often more helpful to use a visual or allegorical depiction when dealing with a difficult subject such as that of the nonduality of reality. Speaking of the nature of reality necessarily introduces errors that cannot be overcome, unless one uses a technique designed to mitigate such structural errors which are introduced by everyday dualistic language, since all language is unsuited for metaphysical and spiritual discourse in the sense that it was created for the marketplace, according to the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead.

One such technique used almost universally by mystics is apophasis, which means unsaying or saying away. In apophasis all statements are signs in a most indeterminate way, since they are used to point to that which can only be apprehended in a flash of illumination, or gnosis. It must be noted that apophasis is a linguistic performance and is different in intent than apophatic, or negative theological statements, with which it is frequently confused. Those kinds of statements say what something isn’t. That’s not what is going on in the quote below in which Plotinus explains the problem that necessitates his use of apophasis in this section from his “Enneads:”

“Since the substance which is generated from the One is form one could not say that what is generated from that source is anything else – and not the form of some one thing but of everything, so that no other form is left outside it, the One must be without form. But if it is without form it is not a substance; for a substance must be some one particular thing, something, that is, defined and limited; but it is impossible to apprehend the One as a particular thing: for then it would not be the principle, but only that particular thing which you said it was. But if all things are in that which is generated from the One, which of the things in it are you going to say that the One is? Since it is none of them, it can only be said to be beyond them. But these things are beings, and being: so it is beyond being.
“This phrase beyond being does not mean that it is a particular thing, for it makes no positive statement about it, and it does not say its name, but all it implies is that it is not this. But if this is what the phrase does, it in no way comprehends the One: it would be absurd to seek to comprehend that boundless nature; for anyone who wants to do this has put himself out of the way of following at all, even the least distance, in its traces; but just as he who wishes to see the intelligible nature will contemplate what is beyond the perceptible if he has no mental image of the perceptible, so he who wishes to contemplate what is beyond the intelligible will contemplate it when he has let all the intelligible go; he will learn that it is by means of the intelligible, but what it is like by letting the intelligible go.

“But this, what it is like must indicate that it is not like: for there is no being like in what is not a something. But we in our aporia, complete befuddlement, do not know what we ought to say, and are speaking of what cannot be spoken, and give it a name because we want to indicate it to ourselves as best we can. But perhaps this name One contains only a denial of multiplicity. This is why the Pythagoreans symbolically indicated it to each other by the name Apollo, in the negation of the multiple. But if the One, name and reality expressed, was to be taken positively it would be less clear than if we did not give it a name at all.”

The second guide I have adopted, is to see a kind of event horizon between the real and what exists. It’s an expression taken from Science where it is used to explain an hypothesized character of Black Holes. An horizon, as we all have or can experience, hides what is over the horizon from us. In the case of the expression event horizon, what I mean is that experience, which is easily analyzed into events, something we do all the time, still doesn’t show us what is over the horizon because the other side of that horizon cannot be directly experienced.

As Plotinus mentions, the intelligible must be let go of, if one is to reach enlightenment, in the same way that in order to reach the nature of the intelligible, one must meditate in a way that is free of all mental formations, mental images of independent things. What is the intelligible? Why, all experience, of course! Including all our theories, hypotheses, dogmatic assertions, and mental attempts to seize something that can never be within reach. We cannot understand what does not exist. But we can accept the reality of that which is evidenced, necessary, simple, and not contingent on anything for reality.

Yes, this is mystical. And that may grate our Western mindset even if we think we are better than that. We do so love our terminology! There will still be those that believe that they have the final answer to the riddle. But I learned from the example of Aristotle, renowned as The Philosopher in Western history, who, always looking to the material world for what was real, in the end realized that the only answer his exquisite powers of observation and reasoning could arrive at, was that God put everything in motion.

He failed. Why? Because he was trying to do something that is impossible. Not beyond our abilities; just impossible. He was holding onto the intelligible, searching for The Answer that he thought was there somewhere, and because he thought of Nature as an actor that had to be put into motion somehow. He also thought reality was populated with substantial entities, so he didn’t need to distinguish between what’s real and what exists. He didn’t realize that naturing is possible without a nature doing it, and that there was no need for the answer to why there is something, rather than nothing, there just is, and you and I cannot deny it, because in doing so, we affirm it. Nor can we point to a Nature that truly exists. It’s just idea that we have.

The tricky part is letting go of all those mental formations. There comes a point, the event horizon, when language, and ideas, just obfuscates our way completely. Which leads me to the point of this essay: What is known can only be known by appearing, in showing up the knowable is known. It’s that simple. But we are not the ones knowing. Let me explain this insight. If there is no observer and no true entities to be observed, then knowing cannot originate on this side of the event horizon which consists of that which exists, and therefore knowing cannot be structured as a seizing hold of, or grasping with awareness which is dualistic in the sense of involving a perceiver and the perceived a consciousness.

Frankly, there really can’t be any awareness on this side at all, which might explain why scientists can’t find it, but even speaking of awareness or knowing causes dualistic understandings to slip in because awareness is usually understood as being aware of something, as is knowing. This imputes a perspective into our understanding that is misleading and wrong. We may not see it as a perspective because we have removed the illusory me and you and it, so that it is now a perspective from nowhere; but that is still a perspective, and thus is still wrong.

This view from nowhere is widely found in science, where it is the basis for objectivity. But that kind of structural perspective can’t be real because it exists in experience. So this is my third guide: no views from nowhere. Any explanation that permits such a view to creep in, is defective in at least that way. This fundamental problem we have to confront, these perspectives, is exemplified by our tendency to speak of mind and body. This is yet another dualistic distinction we make because of our habitual failure to recognize our true nature, and that there is no entity in body, nor in mind, nor in the whole of both. Everything we think of, feel, and perceive is also lacking any independent reality. I could not, and I believe, nor can you, ignore what becomes so clear in deep meditation, that there is nothing other than this spontaneously creative naturing going on, and that is the true essence of Reality.

What we think of as mind or Mind is just the spontaneously creative naturing of forms, feelings, perceptions, consciousnesses, and mental constructions, the five Buddhist skandhas. We confuse the naturing of what exists with a mind that we lay claim to having, which finally dissolves in the clear light of meditative insight. Yet, if we adjust for the lack of an entity that we can call our mind, calling it instead, and grandly doing so, Mind, that is again a misconstrual of what is the case, because we think that Mind also knows or is aware in a conceptually dualistic sense, in most cases.
Naturing is not limited to the internal skandhas. Everything that exists has the same origin. This includes all forms: including the five skandhas, mountains, planets, galaxies, hummingbirds, trees, bacteria, quantum particles, wind fluttering leaves on a tree, a musical note, a kiss, a thought, etc. There is no mind entity in reality, neither is there a Nature entity. There is no place for knowledge to reside. That which is known is not known through cognizing in an awareness of sense, as if through reflection or contemplation of something, but directly through naturing. It’s the great mystery, of course.

I can think of an allegory to help you get over the initial difficulty that occurs as you try to swallow this argument, if you are hearing it before actually experiencing it: it’s something called the Piezo Electric effect. You make use of it all the time, in microphones, earbuds, even old phonograph pickups, as well as the clickers that ignite gas stoves today. A certain kind of crystal can create an electric field when sound vibrations strike it, causing it to slightly compress its structure. This is how a microphone works. The same crystal can vibrate and thus create sounds, when an electric current is passed through it. This is how earbuds work. In fact, the same crystal can be deformed in such a strong way by a large enough force that it can produce an electric spark in the kilovolt range. Using a small piston to strike the crystal is how a stove clicker works to create a spark. Think of the electric field as knowing and the crystal deformations as the known. They are not two things, they are the same process.

In a way, this allegory sits on the top of every Buddhist stupa in the form of the sun and moon, the Bindu-Nada void-point and vibrational emanation that our brains interpret as sound and which is the support of my meditation. I can only imagine what stupas would look like today, if they had had earbuds back in the day.
Posted by: Soh
http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/lib/wcf////coming-home/
Coming Home
By John Crook
Mahamudra Retreat 2005 - Session One

When we were introducing ourselves last night, several of you remarked on how valuable you found it just coming to the Maenllwyd and how much you valued the place.

Let us begin then by asking why that might be so. I have a good story that helps us here. Some years ago there was a practitioner, Jane Turner, whom some of you might remember, who used to be a regular retreatant at the Maenllwyd, driving herself here from north of Glasgow. One year she got the dates wrong and arrived here after her long journey in the wrong week! She told me about it afterwards. In those days the track, was largely undriveable so she had walked up the track only to find the place deserted; there was nobody here! The Maenllwyd was completely silent; not a soul! Locked up! Yet she told me that she was so radiantly happy just being here that when she went back down the hill and got in her car and drove back to Glasgow, it was almost as good as if she had done a retreat!

Jane, perhaps, was a slightly extreme case, but a lot of people make remarks along such lines, I myself sometimes arrive here and discover myself smiling; and, as is my wont, I sometimes ask myself, "What on earth are you smiling about?" I have often gone into that because I have found that if I just sat and allowed the smile, as it were, to seep into my bones, then I began to experience a move beyond smiling, into something really very blissful. And of course on such occasions, it isn't necessary to know why; Something is happening, which is bringing about a feeling of bliss. And indeed that bliss ... that joy ... at thinking about Maenllwyd or being here is, in many ways, a very important component of Dharma. Many people experience bliss in the course of meditation, but in this case it simply arises out of the smile at being here, or maybe even just thinking about the place.
So what is going on here? Well, Shifu gave me a clue to this many years ago when I was talking with him about the fact that sometimes in meditation blissful feelings arise. I had been experiencing bliss on retreat in New York with Shifu; and I went to him and I said, "What is all this bliss about?" So he said, "Well, bliss arises out of gratitude". "How come?" I said. "Well, what it means is that, without really knowing it, in meditation there has been a moment of stillness ... silence. You've got yourself out of the way. And because you did that, you feel gratitude; and gratitude produces bliss."

I have contemplated those remarks of Shifu's ever since .... and tested them out. And I find it to be true. When one experiences those moments of bliss in meditation, it emerges from a process of which one is not fully aware. One has dropped the cares of everyday life for a little while, and the fact that they have gone gives one a freedom and a clarity. And spontaneously, out of that freedom and clarity comes a feeling of thankfulness, gratitude; and that expresses itself in bliss.

I think something like the same thing happens when some of us arrive at the Maenllwyd ... or perhaps when one even thinks about the Maenllwyd, or maybe one does a visualisation which might involve the place. And it is not, of course, only Maenllwyd. Those of us who travel around and visit various monasteries or power places for meditation sometimes find the same thing happening there too. In fact it has to do with the fact that what we have been doing here is creating a little monastery. Maybe not exactly a monastery as a place, but rather a monastery of the mind, in that when we come here we practice a certain " dropping of attributes"; we let go. Maybe we're not always sure about that, and maybe some of us find it very difficult, but essentially the key thing that happens here is the letting go of care. When you arrive here you let go of something; you let go of the troubles of life. And you find yourself arriving and you find yourself smiling, and you say things like "coming to the Maenllwyd is like coming home". Many people say that. Home, of course, is a place where there is no care because one is 'at home'.

This is a very interesting discovery to reflect upon, because we may ask what is going on when one "drops care"? What's happening? One could say "Well, it's just that I'm away from the kids for a bit", or " I've left the office and don't have to worry any more about the bloody finances",., or "Thank God I'm away from him or her for the weekend" .... a bit of rest from the relationship. Any of these things might be, as it were, the stimulus, but that's a fairly shallow response. Because, of course, in problems of relationship, in problems of work, in problems of looking after the children, it is actually one's own performance that one is most worrying about and monitoring. "Am I a good enough Daddy?" "Am I a good enough friend?" "Oh, dear, I wasn't very nice on the phone last night." "Oh, I'm always stressed when I go to work; I'm no good at my job." Many of these things which we attribute to outside calamities, pressures, strains and stresses, are really actually internal strains and stresses. It is self concern.

So I put it to you that one of the things that happens when we arrive here, when we find ourselves "coming home", is that we drop self concern. And in dropping self concern, what does one find? Well, if you drop your self, then you allow a great space to appear; a great space for just appreciating precisely what's in front of your nose, namely: the yard; the clouds glowing in dawn light; a kite flying over; the sound of chanting. All of those things can then make a immediate and direct impression because 'You' are not in the way. You're not worrying about, for an example, "Am I meditating well today?", because you've dropped self concern. There is then no worry about whether you're meditating well or not! You're just sitting there. And if you're truly Just Sitting ... to use that Japanese expression ... if you are truly just sitting and not being there as a 'me', then everything is present to you, for you, of you ... in a kind of special freedom. It's what is called "emptiness" in the Buddhist jargon, the psychological experience that is thus named.

Unfortunately, 'emptiness' is also a technical term in the Buddhist philosophical vocabulary and this may be confusing. Whenever one wants to try to understand what emptiness is, one has to say "What am I or what is it ' empty' of? What is it that's 'gone empty'? And, if you've dropped self concern, that's marvellous: you're empty of self concern. And that's well on the way to enlightenment! We are smiling on arriving at the Maenllwyd because we have actually, unbeknown to ourselves, dropped care. And particularly , for a little while, dropped self concern.

So there's a very useful lesson in this; because, of course, dropping self concern is precisely what the Buddha was talking about in his first two Noble Truths. That's really quite a discovery. If one has found, as it were, an indirect way into understanding the Noble Truths, that's really very useful indeed. So how come? Well, let's just remember the pattern of the Buddha's fundamental thought here. The Buddha, as you know, was concerned about suffering, and suffering, of course, is self concern ... or in a very large measure, self concern. So suffering and self concern go together. So at the moment when self concern is dropped there is no longer suffering ... or, at least, a big alleviation of suffering. And Buddha called that a dropping of "ignorance": we are ignorant of the fact of self concern and the reasons for it. The Buddha worked out why. Self concern is usually concerned with time. It is usually about something I did in the past, or the fear of something in the future. Self concern is time bound. And time, of course, is the measure of impermanence.

The Buddha realized that absolutely the root for understanding suffering is to understand impermanence; because it is the fact that things are impermanent which causes us distress. Something beautiful happens, a lovely holiday on a Greek beach, and then it's gone and Winter comes. Spring comes, but then it goes again. The joyful love affair is over and one is left by one's self. One gets older and one realizes that, as somebody said last night, the idea that one is going to go on for ever (which one takes for granted when one is young) begins to fade, and one realizes that Time is shortening. It's all impermanence and, of course, what we do with impermanence, through our ignorance, is to grab onto things that we like and try to hold onto them and make them permanent, because then we can be "safe" and 'happy'. The reason why that is so ignorant is that we fail to face up to the fact of impermanence: things cannot be made permanent; nothing is permanent. The universe itself is not permanent; it's endlessly moving and God knows where it's going to ... and probably He doesn't either!

In our stupidity we try to make the things that we like permanent and to annihilate or get rid of the things that we don't like sometimes, even the people that we don't like. And this is ignorance, and the root of suffering. The Buddha called it anicca, But then the Buddha said, "Well, what is it that is so worried about impermanence?" Well, of course, it's Me. I'm worried about Me because I am impermanent; I am going to die one day. I'm going to get old; God knows what's going to happen. As somebody said yesterday, arriving on the retreat, "God knows what's going to happen here!" Quite Right! Goodness knows what's going to happen here!
It's scary, very scary; impermanence is scary ... if one is holding onto permanence. Of course, if one isn't holding onto permanence, it's not scary, obviously. The two go together. But time flies, troubles come, troubles go. Nothing to hold on to ...if one tries to hold on, it's like trying to grasp the wind. You can't do it. The Buddha's truth however, was to say "Well, who are you anyway? What are you? What is it you're holding on to?" Well, the Buddha realized that he was holding on to Siddhartha; I have to realize that I am holding on to John; you have to realize that you're holding on to Rebecca, or whoever it might be; Eddie. That's what we're holding on to. This thing which appears to be here; John, which appears to be here, is what I am holding on to because it is that which is changing, it is that which is fading, going away ... it won't be here much longer! So scary. But then, "What is this John?", asked the Buddha. This is where he made a very important discovery. Because when he examined himself through yogic meditation he was able to see very clearly that, actually, what was going on, what was called "John", was a process; not a thing, a process. And it could be divided up into five different aspects. Very simple; very simple psychology; but a very, very good model. It still works. It still works better than a good many modern models.

First of all, there is Sensation. Obviously, you feel something, a sensation; something happens. You sit on a drawing pin Ooooh!: a sensation.

But then there's Perception. Perception is "Oh, what's this? Have I sat on a scorpion? ... Oh, no. No, it's just a drawing pin; that's not so bad." That's perception. You perceive what the sensation is.
And then there's Cognition, which is working out why there happens to be a drawing pin on your chair: "Did someone put it there? Who could have done that? Somebody hates me, and put a drawing pin on my chair so I'd sit on it ... or is it just that I dropped one out of the box yesterday?" Or if it actually is a scorpion, "Oh, my God: scorpions! Better put down some DDT or something. Let's be nasty to scorpions for a change." That's cognition: working it out.

And then there are the so-called samscaras: we have to use the Pali word because it's rather difficult to find an English word for it. The samscaras are, as it were, the habit formations from all one's previous thinking, so you think now "What about scorpions? Yes, I remember about scorpions; well, they are supposed to occur in the South of France, so what is one of them doing here in England? It must have escaped from the zoo. But I haven't been near a zoo, so how can there be a scorpion here?" And so you start working out, by referring to the past, by referring to karma, why the present situation might be as it is. And of course it is these samscaras which become what you might call the "habit formations", because they determine what you worry about next. Thus karma is built up out of these samscaras, these past habits. So a mind, this John, is actually a complicated functioning of Sensation, Perception, Cognition, and habits of the past, which as it were make one decide what is good and what is bad. And all of it has a certain form: and that form ... bodily form ... bodily presence, that is what we call "John". But John is just a name; there is no John, there's just this process; the process of Sensation, Perception, Cognition and habits, going round and round and round. Quite temporary; moving through time, but no fixed entity, no John. John is just the name. So if John is just a name, where is John? Is John the perception? Well, no, that's not enough. Is it cognition alone? No, not enough. Is it the history? Is it the past? No, that's not John. So where is John? There is no John as a thing! It's just a name for the process. The Buddha called that anatta, No Self.

So. We have Impermanence; no self. Very radical; a very scary teaching. Because, of course, what we want is John, this thing, to be loved by everybody all the time (at least John likes that, to be loved by everybody all the time); John wants to be permanently young, permanently beautiful, permanently clever ... whereas, in fact, he is becoming increasingly idiotic, falling apart and getting dotty, and generally becoming absurd. That is the truth about John, it is the zen truth, total absurdity; one big dottiness after another! But that's not how we want things to be: that's because we get attached. So, ignorance is made up out of this attachment to something, which is a flowing, ever moving, process. There is no Thing to be attached to; there are just names. Language fools us: technically it is called "reification"; the making of things out of concepts. Just as another example, take the word Spring. We speak of Spring as a thing; but actually, of course, it is just a period in time, in which all sorts of other things are happening: we know there is Spring because the flowers flower. But we can't actually see Spring; Spring is just a word which refers to the period of time within which flowers flower. There is no Thing called Spring which you can grasp hold of. That's another example of reification. And me, John; you, Betty; whoever it might be, are just like that.

So, the Buddha's thought is very subtle here. But the problem is the illusion that there is a thing to which we can be attached, which we must be protective of. Now, in common sense terms, of course, conventionally, we do look after ourselves; that makes sense. But we don't have to be obsessively attached to the ego in the way in which we usually are; that's where self-concern comes in. Self-concern is actually illusory. Now this message of the Buddha is not so easily taken on board, because we are so easily convinced of the normality of John being John. This is why, in order to really understand the Buddha's message, we have to investigate the mind, to explore and find out whether these things are true or whether it is just the Buddha's fantasy. That's why we meditate. Meditation as it were is always the testing of a hypothesis. The hypothesis is "Where am I? I exist. Am I here?"

Am I here? Well, let's investigate it. And of course, what you find in meditation, as you calm the mind, as you practice, is that gradually the attachment to things begins to fade. You begin to find a kind of openness emerging. Something which is much more difficult to characterise; you can't find words for it. Language begins to fail because you're actually going beyond language. You're going into that which language tries to express but never entirely succeeds. Because it's just language; it's not the thing in itself. So we work at that and in our meditation we begin to test the Four Noble Truths for ourselves. In Buddhism, it is said you should never accept things on trust. There is faith in Buddhism, yes; but it's a faith in the method of exploration. It is not a faith in a thing; it is not an attachment. Faith is often an attachment to a concept. This is more like faith in an investigation, *an unending investigation, because there is no end to it. The universe goes on; we go on ... for as long as we're here. Then we disappear. But what an exciting adventure!

And the moment of smiling as you arrive at the Maenllwyd is a hint that there might be something in this. Because if it's true that you're smiling and enjoying being here because you've dropped your self, even for a moment, and just allowed the space of the place to impact upon you directly, you've actually tested the hypothesis. For when you drop attachment to self, the universe is there in all its wonderful turning, in all its manifestation as a place: Maenllwyd in December. "Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat" .... whether you're a vegetarian or not, the goose is still getting fat!
So we have then in this very simple beginning; this simple recognition of happiness at arriving home at a place we call Maenllwyd; the being open to the monastery and all that the monastery is for, we discover that we drop something. We can either investigate what it is that we have dropped or we can just enjoy the fact that we've dropped something, and let it take care of itself. That's fine also, although it may not allow one an understanding of what one is actually experiencing. So the letting go is an absolutely key thing in Buddhist practice. The Buddha himself discovered his insight through letting go, through the process of letting go. He didn't discover what eventually he knew by adding , as they say in zen, adding a head on a head, more ideas on top of more ideas, more philosophies on top of more philosophies. Intellectual construction isn't it at all. You drop the intellectual constructions and there It is the thing in itself; the Thing In Itself, which can never be quite caught by language, or fixed in philosophy. The experience of Being.

The experience of being is the experience of flowing. Being, in fact, is always becoming. It is never stationary; there is never a halt; there is never permanence. The challenge of Buddhism, the challenge of the words of the Buddha, is whether one can actually allow one's self to enter the flow of being, the flow of time, without trying to grab on to things which keep one safe. That's the challenge. And that's why an entry into Buddhism can be quite painful.

* There are people who come in interviews and meditation and say, "A strange thing happened today: I seemed to be about to fall into nothing". So I say, "Yes?" And they say, "... very scary". So I say, "Why?" "Well, I might not exist". And I say, "Yes, you might not exist."

It requires a certain nerve to say, "Okay, I'll fall into that nothing". So that, in your meditation, you let go of your attachment to your little self, just let go of it, and then you find the extraordinary freedom of the flowing of time without attachment. But it is not easy to do. One has to have a certain nerve to jump off the high diving board; as I know, having jumped off the top of high diving boards. I've done it, but I must say it was quite difficult! And I'm not talking about diving; I'm talking about just jumping into the water: "Oooooh! All the way down there!" Big splash! Yes, big splash, but rather nice.

So maybe out of this comes a key message for this retreat; in fact, for all retreats. Jump!

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Posted by: Soh


Happy Vesak Day!

"The condition of practice-and-enlightenment

“Buddha” describes a person in the activity or condition of practice-and-enlightenment, the deepest meaning of the term "zazen." The keystone of Zen practice is not “sitting meditation” (though that is where it is often first discovered), it is “mustering the whole body-and-mind” and perceiving the world directly.

Seeing and hearing (as well as smelling, tasting, feeling, and thinking) sights and sounds (smells, tastes, sensations, and thoughts) with the ‘whole body-and-mind’ means truly being intimate with them. When we are truly intimate with them, there is no sense of I see that or I hear that. Hence, Dogen tells us that in such a condition “buddhas do not know they are buddhas.” In Shobogenzo, Genjokoan, He says, “It is not like an image reflected in a mirror, and not like the reflection of the moon on water” -- there are not two things (e.g. moon and water).

When we are authentically engaged in practice-and-enlightenment we do not hear a bell, there is simply, booooonngg–boooooongg. The classic Zen koan about escaping heat and cold illustrates this point wonderfully:

A monk asked Tozan, “When cold and heat come, how can we avoid them?”
Tozan said, “Why don’t you go to the place where there is no cold or heat?”
The monk said, “What is the place where there is no cold or heat?”
Tozan said, “When it’s cold, the cold kills you; when it’s hot, the heat kills you.”"

- Ted Biringer, http://dogenandtheshobogenzo.blogspot.com/…/condition-of-pr…

 
I love this teaching by Buddha to Bahiya because this teaching was the one that led to my sudden realization and entrance into the Great Way, which is not an end in itself but the way towards effortless and ongoing practice-enlightenment/actualization:

"So we continue on with Bahiya’s meeting with the Buddha and the Buddha’s response to Bahiya’s urgent pleading to teach him how to truly enter the Great Way of freedom and happiness. Remember that although Bahiya has sought out the Buddha as a result of deep doubt and the realization that he is neither free nor practicing in a manner that will lead to freedom, he is nonetheless completely ripe to receive a teaching that will utterly transform him. He has dropped literally everything, emptied himself of everything except his completely focused urgency for awakening. The Buddha meets his simple openness with a simple and powerful response:

“Bahiya, this is how you should train yourself: Whenever you see a form, simply see; whenever you hear a sound, simply hear; whenever you taste a flavor, simply taste; whenever you feel a sensation, simply feel; whenever a thought arises, let it be simply a thought. Then “you” will not exist; whenever “you” do not exist, you will not be found in this world, another world or in between. That is the end of suffering.”

There are at least two approaches to understanding this teaching. The first is to follow closely just what the Buddha says; that this is an approach to training the mind and training one’s life; a teaching to be practiced and worked with as a process. Bahiya gets it in one deep jolt which he swallows whole, digests instantly and is fully awakened.

Most of us have to work at this as a practice for a very long time, and yet we don’t know how long Bahiya worked at his in order to come to this place, available for this encounter. And it doesn’t really matter whether we have gradual cultivation and sudden awakening, or sudden awakening followed by gradual cultivation. In fact both are not only true, together they encompass the whole of the life of practice-realization.

...

See, hear, sense, touch, taste; everything happening all at once with no discrimination, preference or choice. Every sense door completely open, welcoming, receptive, alert, completely alive. So that listening is with the whole body/mind; every pore of our skin, every hair on the body, one whole receptive, alive field of listening. In this there is no “who”, is there? No “me” listening, is there? Check it out for yourself. It may be a little slippery to catch, because when “you” are only hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling; there may not be anyone there to record or reflect on the experience; no “you” there! See what happens when you notice there is separation from what is; when the mind is wanting this to be some other way than just how it is. What happens in that moment of just seeing separation? What happens when you’ve traveled down the mind road and there is a sudden seeing of that? Was there a “you” in that moment of awareness? What if seeing is awakening? What is hearing is awakening? What if it is just as simple and as obvious as that? Then you might wonder what you are doing here on this retreat! What happens if there is just awareness of that thought? This is the practice of awakening, but it might be more accurate to say that it is really awakening which is practicing us!

- Douglas Phillips, http://www.emptyskysangha.org/bahiya2.htm
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Posted by: Soh
http://levekunst.com/meditating-more-than-an-hour/
MEDITATING MORE THAN AN HOUR
In TRAINING by James Corrigan
12/15/20152 Comments

A lot of people ask me about my meditating for more than an hour each day, my target is 108 minutes. My short answer is: all the really interesting stuff happens after the first hour! If you are meditating to develop concentration and mindfulness then even a 30 second pause has important benefits; but if you are meditating to go beyond mindfulness, seeking insights, vipassana, then I recommend sitting for more than an hour because your mind needs time to let go, and then the really interesting things start.
Why do I sit for 108 minutes? I found myself always striving to do 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, an hour-and-a-half, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have to follow the clock geometry of how we tell time, so I picked 108 minutes as my daily target. It’s the number of beads on a Buddhist mala.
There have been two external changes that came while meditating like this for as long as I have that I’ll mention. One is a remarkable ability to be patient. Very little fazes you, and you have a seemingly limitless equanimity when dealing with difficult situations. This became very evident when I was caring at home for my wife at the end of her battle with breast cancer. The nurses, doctors, and hospital admins overseeing her care were constantly remarking that they had never seen anyone with the ability to gently care for someone in such a loving way and yet never fall into emotional turmoil myself. The head of the home hospice service from the hospital wrote in her report that she had never worked with anyone even close to my “stability” in the face of such a painful experience.
The other change was at first disconcerting, until someone independently remarked to me that if one meditates for sufficiently long periods of time each and every day, they will lose large amounts of memories—unimportant memories—like rain wearing down a mountain. Scientists have recently taken note of this phenomenon, saying that it appears that since meditation brings with it the ability to quiet the mental chatter that normally goes on, during which we constantly replay events in our lives that disturbed or delighted us, and thus strengthen them, many of these memories will slowly fade away. Only important memories remain, while our memory itself functions normally. We just don’t hold onto unimportant information anymore.
You may be wondering why I referred to these two changes as being of an external character when they both seem to be about internal changes that I have experienced. Well, the simple answer to that is all the really interesting things happen after the first hour. You’ll see. And when you do, my calling these external changes will make perfect sense to you!
Posted by: Soh
https://www.reddit.com/…/to_new_meditators_and_newbies_to_…/

To New Meditators and Newbies to /r/meditation: How to Actually Make Meditation A Habit in 2016 (self.Meditation)
submitted 4 months ago * by GreenMonkeys4LifeDesroyer of the Orange Iguanas - stickied post
To all those visiting /r/meditation for the first time, or those who have struggled to build the habit - this one's for you.

Full article here and condensed below!
"This year I'm going to start meditating regularly."
It sounds good, but in the real world we rarely follow through.
Maybe we meditate a few times and nothing exciting happens. Or we make some progress. But after a few days, a week, a month, we stop. It doesn't become a regular part of our life.
It doesn't become a habit.
If you want to get the benefits of meditation, talking about it with friends, reading about about it on Facebook and Reddit, and meditating "every so often" is not going to cut it.
It's time to start thinking about how to turn it into a habit, robust enough for the long run. We know meditation is a practice much like exercise (it only works if done consistently) - so treat it that way!
Today we're going to abolish the casual: "ughh, I need to meditate more." If you ever expected to evolve from a Facebook-addicted mind to a Zen master in a matter of weeks, this article is for you.
Meditation is amazing - it rewires our brain, literally building gray matter and undoing years of conditioning.
That's why today I'm going to give you a blueprint to actually make meditation a part of your life.
Make Meditation Stick
We are just primates with self-awareness. Our brains and minds are these amalgamations of evolution - flawed, complex, and weird.
But we can leverage this weirdness, exploit its flaws and make them work in our favor. Using best practices from behavorial psychology, we can turn the forces behind advertising, video games, and Facebook to our favor, making our minds work for us.
Below is a blueprint to making meditation stick. It's not about working harder, but instead putting some smart plans in place to make each and every meditation session feel natural - like this is what you're supposed to do now.
Once you have established the habit of meditation, you should begin to drop many of these strategies away, allowing your practice to grow organically. Without further ado:
Step 1: Start small and build in progress from the start.
This is the obvious one, but crucial: Thinking about meditating tomorrow for 30 minutes when you can hardly sit for 2 seconds sounds excruciating. Already your brain is calculating all that system 2 willpower it has to spend, and it's getting tired from just thinking about it.
And then, somehow, you never make it to that session.
Instead, tell yourself you only have to meditate for either 2 or 5 minutes (feel free to go longer if you're feeling it).
But here's the kicker: You don't get to stay there for months and months. Instead, plan from the start to raise your minimum time incrementally every week. Even if it's just by 1 minute a day.
If you are on the fence about whether you're ready to add more time, just do it and see how it goes. If you've been meditating for 2 minutes a day for two weeks, it's time to level up.
Step 2: Attach it to an existing habit.
Habits allow your system 1 (the automatic mind) to do complex tasks with minimal brainpower (driving, brushing your teeth). But when you form a new habit, system 2 is required to come in and make it happen.
This is why it feels laborious, effortful, and tiring. Like that feeling you get when you have to do large mental math. "Ugh."
Remember when you used to build sand castles as a kid (or last week, who am I kidding) and you dug out tunnels to vent the water away from your castle? Forming a habit is a bit like that - the forming the habit part takes effort, but once you do, the water (your brain) finds the path of least resistance and it's all down hill from there.
That's why we're going to find a habit you already have, and do your meditation right after.
Here are a few example morning habits to piggy-back off of:
Brush your teeth, then meditate.
Shower, then meditate.
Coffee, then meditate.
Get dressed, then meditate.
The habit can be anything - so long as it's a well-established habit in your day.
By attaching your meditation to an existing habit, you won't have to do as much work (system 2) in remembering to do it each day. (The scientists call this anchoring or piggybacking. It increases your chance of success. Use it!)
Step 3: Vary your practice time.
A common analogy to describe the mind often uses a glass of muddy water. The idea is that by letting the glass sit out on a table and doing nothing, the mud will naturally settle to the bottom naturally and the water will clear up.
As you approach a new meditation habit, you should consider the very real possibility that a 10-20 minute meditation might feel a lot easier than a 5-10 minute meditation.
This is because the first few minutes can be the worst part. Once the monkey mind takes some time to calm the eff down, your meditation experience can change dramatically without much extra effort.
If you spent your first two months only spending 2-5 minutes a day, you might NEVER get to the point where your mind naturally settles down... and you might think you must just suck at this meditation thing.
I suggest adding at least one day a week (pick a specific day) where you at least double or triple your total sit time. See what happens over time, and make adjustments to your practice accordingly.
Step 4: Find the right time of day.
We all have different peak times of energy based on our work, personal, sleep, and workout schedules.
If you choose a time to meditate where you are naturally tired, it's going to be a lot harder than you think - maybe even impossible for you to actually build the habit.
I suggest experimenting with a few different times of day before you officially choose your time slot.
I have a short window in both the morning and evening where if I meditate I know I'll be distracted and tired. If this happens to you, know that you aren't bad at meditation. You probably just need to find a better time.
Step 5: Stop thinking about this as a temporary change.
Imagine your doctor told you that you need to now take this life-saving medication every day in order to stay alive. That it now needs to be taken regularly in order for you to survive.
You would view this dramatically different than a week's work of antibiotics. It is now a part of your life, not a thing to be endured.
Your mind is permanent fixture. It demands a permanent response. This isn't a crash diet or quick fix. This is a new way of being. Treat it that way. Give it the mental respect it deserves, and start to think about this not as a temporary change, but a new part of who you are. Once you really accept this, you will feel a weight come off your shoulders.
Use your self-construction to your benefit. Tell yourself (and believe it): "I am a person who meditates each day" or "Meditation is important to me."
Making the meditator ego work for us, especially in the beginning (and telling friends about it) can be an extremely powerful ally in habit formation. But this is one especially you'll want to watch carefully - don't let your meditation ego grow too strong and go to your head. You'll want to dispose of all this later.
Step 6: Call yourself on your own bullshit.
Everyone has time to meditate, every day.
If you think you are too busy, reframe this thought in more honest terms. Instead of thinking about meditation like a thing you don't have time for, tell yourself it's not a priority. "I don't have time to meditate" becomes "meditation isn't a priority."
All we have is our conscious experience. Everything we do falls in the category of the movie theatre of our minds. We spend time on so many things in our life - but all of it is trumped by the way we see the world; all of it falls on this movie screen.
You are going to come up with excuses, whether it's time or something else. You need to stay vigilant and call yourself on your own BS.
Try meditating on a commute, on a walk, or while exercising if need be.
Step 7: Choose one bridge activity.
Don't let your formal meditation practice stand alone. Practicing just meditation for a few minutes a day in the modern world is like sending out 300 Spartan warriors to hold back a tide of thousands or millions of enemies.
Give your formal meditation practice an ally - a bridge to the real world.
Identify some real world scenario you can be more present or mindful in.
Can you apply mindfulness to stressful meetings? Can you take advantage of an otherwise "mindless" commute and do a walking meditation or basic breath awareness? Do you have any boring or menial tasks that you can explore with mindfulness? (dishes, cleaning?) Choosing a bridge activity does two big things:
It helps you see the real world benefits of meditation as you level up. This creates a positive feedback loop - you stay motivated, you see results, you become more motivated. Everyone wins.
It helps you build momentum. When we have a particularly good meditation session, it can feel like the "real world" quickly undoes our work. A bridge activity can help you chain together mindful moments and return to the mat with momentum.
The Meditation Habit Blueprint
That was a lot of information, so I'm going to run you through a real world example.
Start small. Build in Progress: 2 minutes each day, but bump it up to five minutes after week 2.
Attach it to an existing habit: After I brush my teeth I meditate.
Vary your practice time: "Fridays I meditate for 2x as long."
Find the right time of day: I have great energy right when I wake up and right after lunch. That's when I'll meditate.
This is not a temporary change: I am someone who meditates and values meditation.
Call yourself out: I have the time and resources I need to meditate. It's on me to make it happen.
Bridge activity: On my walk to the bus each morning I will practice walking meditation, or at the very least try to be mindful during my walk.
Finally, here are some other random tips you might find useful:
Stop looking at each meditation session as good or bad:You will feel like there are ups and downs. Don't beat yourself up for the downs. Just go with the flow and accept them as a part of the process.
Try creating a dedicated space to meditate: If you have a quiet space you can set up with a chair, pillow, or cushion, claim it! It might help you build a ritual and thus the habit.
Read meditation books/blogs or listen to lectures: I find that when I am particularly immersed in a new piece of literature on meditation, my practice gets reinvigorated.
Try an app: Certainly not necessary, but if you need an extra boost, it could be right for you.
Find an accountability-buddy: Find someone who also wants to form the habit, and check in daily to verify you got it done, and debrief about the sit.
There you have it. Any steps or tips that you think I left out?
Full article here!"
first comment on reddit page:
"Thank you so much for posting this guide. The biggest mindset switch I've seen to help make meditation a daily habit is to actually make it a priority. Like you said, we all have time to meditate but we don't consider it a priority enough to get it done. Once you reframe it as something that is essential to life like water is essential for a flower to grow, it makes it seem less like a burden and more like something that is a part of you.
I will be sharing this guide with any up and coming meditation enthusiasts I come across."
Posted by: Soh
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/09/dr-reggie-ray-busy-ness-is-laziness/

“Busy-ness is Laziness,” by Dr. Reggie Ray, from elephant journal’s Autumn 2005 issue.

Life emerges out of the silence of our inner being. The life that we have in our mind, the life that is a reflection of our planning, the life that has been constructed out of bits and pieces in our environment—external conditioning, things we have observed in other people, things that influential people have told us—is actually not who we are.
That pre-planned life is rigid. It’s artificial. It’s unresponsive. It doesn’t reflect the life that we were born to live.
As a student of mine observed, obstacles—which are always with us—are not really obstacles when you work with them in the right way. And we have to work with them.
Many, many people tell me “I’m having a lot of problems doing this [meditation] practice because I am so busy. I’m really busy. I have a full life. It’s busy and I run from morning ‘til night.” People actually say that.
Now think about that for a minute. What kind of life is that? Is that a life worth living? Some people feel it is. America is probably the most extreme example of a speed-driven culture—and this is not my particular personal discovery, but something that has been said to me by many people from other traditional cultures. The first time this was said to me was when I was 19 and I went to Japan. Western people are running from themselves and they use the busy-ness of their lives as an excuse to avoid having to actually live their own life. We are terrified of who we actually are, terrified of the inner space that is the basis of the human experience.
We are actually incapable of being alone—of any work that requires genuine solitude, without entertainment, that requires making a connection with the silence of the inner being. The American family engineers a life in which there is never any time alone, where we never have to actually talk to each other. Even dinnertime is around the TV, at best—or we’re just grabbing something at McDonald’s.
But it’s not the larger culture. It’s actually us. It’s me and it’s you. We load our life up to the point where it’s about to snap. And when you ask someone to sit down and be with themselves they go, “I can’t. I don’t have time for that.” Now you and I may realize that there actually is a problem. Most people don’t think there is a problem.
We run our kids in the same way—and it’s destroying them. The soccer practice and the music lesson and three hours of TV and homework—it goes on from the minute they get up until they go to sleep. They never have an opportunity to experience silence. Psychological development requires periods of solitude. Anthropological psychology—studying other cultures, as well as our own—shows that when children do not have completely unstructured time, when there are no parental expectations looming over them, they actually can’t develop normally.
We see this at higher levels of education, too. Even the unusual and gifted students at Naropa [University]. These people are disabled, in many cases, because they have lived a busy life, fulfilling all expectations that middle and upper-middle class parents lay on their children because of their fear. The underlying thing is fear of space.
We all have it. I have it in a major way. I am busy. I have all these things that I like to do. When one thing ends, the next thing starts. It’s all important and I have to do it and I don’t sleep enough. So we all have to take another look.
The problem with being busy is that it is based on ignorance—not realizing that by keeping your mind occupied constantly you are actually not giving yourself a chance. We even put an activity in our life, called meditation, where you practice not being busy. Think about it. It’s actually genius. You have added another thing on top of everything else you do, but you are pulling the plug for a period of time every day—so it actually has a reverse effect of opening up and creating space. So you are just going to be more busy now! But this is good, especially in Western culture. People put meditation on their To Do lists. This is something I tell my students: “If you don’t put meditation on the top of your To Do list, it will be at the bottom, and it won’t happen.” I find that if meditation is not the first priority of my day it won’t happen. You know if I am
foolish enough to say, “Well, I have to make this phone call, check my email…,” then it’s over. Finished. “I’ll do it later.” It never happens. Look at your life and ask, “Am I being honest with myself? Is it really true that I don’t have time?”
When I was in graduate school I worked with a Jungian analyst, June Singer. She used to say, “Work expands to fill all of the available space.” The problem is not the amount of things you have in your life, it’s the attitude. It’s your fear of space. Busy-ness in the Tibetan tradition is considered the most extreme form of laziness. Because when you are busy you can turn your brain off. You’re on the treadmill. The only  intelligence comes in the morning when you make your To Do list and you get rid of all the possible space that could happen in your day. There is intelligence in that: I fill up all the space so I don’t have to actually relate to myself!
Once you have made that list, it’s over. There is no more fundamental intelligence operating. So the basic ignorance is not realizing what we are doing by being busy. What we are doing to ourselves, what we are doing to our families, what we are doing to our friends.
When my daughter Catherine, who is now 24, was a newborn baby my wife Lee and I went home to my mother’s house. My father had already died. I grew up in Darien, Connecticut—the ultimate suburbia. Everyone works in New York and they are all busy. My best friend from high school came over with his wife, who was also a close friend of mine, and my godfather came over. This succession of people all came in…and Lee picked up on it right away, because she is from Alberta and out there, there is a lot of space!
These people…we loved each other. We were so close. But it was always the same: after 10 minutes they said, “Well, we got to run!” Every single one did the same thing. And Lee said to me, “What are they so afraid of?” Not one of them was actually present. It made me realize why I left the East Coast and went to India. “How far away can I get?” But these patterns are deeply ingrained in us, and running away is not
going to solve the problem. It’s in us.
People on campus always say to me, “Gee, you must be really busy.” I could be standing there looking at an autumn tree. I say “No, I’m not busy, I have all the time in the world.” Now, I may not really feel that way—but somehow we have to stop this mentality. It’s sick. Literally. So I never say to my wife, “I’m busy.” Ever. I used to do it, but it didn’t evoke a good reaction. [Laughter]
“I’m too busy.” I am sorry. I don’t buy it. It’s self-deception: “I am too busy to relate to myself.” I don’t care if you have four children and three jobs—we have one human life. And if you can’t make the time, 15 minutes to relate to yourself, everyone else in your life is going to suffer. You have to realize that you are harming other people by making up excuses and not working on yourself. This is serious.
I do understand that things happen in life, and in the course of a week there are going to be times when you can’t practice if you have a job, a family. But to say that over a period of three months I can’t practice because I am too busy? That is the very problem that you came here to solve. I implore you.
My wife has developed some techniques to help with this problem. I am going to give them to you, and then I’ll ask her permission when I go home for lunch. [Laughter]
Being busy is tricky. We set up our life so we are busy. I do this to myself; this is one of my biggest obstacles. I get excited about things and agree to do things three months from now. But when the time comes I realize it is not a good idea because I can’t do it properly, because I have so much else going on. But I have no choice. I have to go through with it. “God, you idiot, how could you do that!” But getting angry
doesn’t help, because there I am and I’ve got a 16-hour day I have to get through.
Unless you viciously carve out time to work on yourself it’s not going to happen. You have to be brutal about it, actually. If your mind is always busy then you have no sense of the world you live in. Because there is no communication, there is no space within which to see what we are doing. We will end up destroying our lives, and you may not realize what you have given up until you are on your deathbed. By being busy you are basically giving away your human existence.
One of the things about being busy is that it is a un-examined behavior. It’s habitual.
What’s the Point?
So when something comes up and you think “I need to do this,” the first question to ask is, “Why do I need to do this? What am I expecting to get out of this particular activity? What is the benefit going to be?”
A lot of times we actually don’t even think what we are going to get out of it, or what it’s going to accomplish. Amazing. Say I need to call so-and-so right away. Okay: “Why?” You’d be surprised. You think
“Well, it’s obvious.” It isn’t. We have not thought through most of the things that we do at all. We haven’t looked at what the desired consequence is.
What are the Odds?
I may think I am likely to get something, and sometimes I do. But what is the likelihood that something is not going to happen? How sure am I that what I think I am going to get, will happen? What is the percentage of possibility?
Is Other Stuff Likely to Come Up?
This is the big one for me. Does this action have unforeseen karmic consequences? For example: I want to call up somebody and check on something. A lot of times they start telling me some terrible thing
that has just happened. I’d allowed five minutes for this conversation, and 45 minutes later I am still on the phone. We do this all the time. We don’t look at the consequences of a particular action.
It’s like somebody who goes into a café, and there is this huge cheesecake right there. You could buy a slice, but you get a cappuccino and sit down with the entire cheesecake and start eating. Now, from a certain point of view this sounds like bliss. And maybe for a short period of time you are going to forget all the pain of the
human condition. I mean, that is the great thing about cheesecake. [Laughter] It boosts your endorphins for 5 or 10 minutes. You feel great! But then, having eaten the entire cheesecake, you feel sick for the next three days.
Strangely enough, this is how we live our lives. We jump on things. Someone asks me, “Why don’t you come to Switzerland, teach for a few days and then hang out in the wonderful Alps?” By the time I get off the phone I am ready to pack. Then I talk to my wife. [Laughter] And she asks me, “Have you considered what a 17-hour trip is going to do to your bad back? Have you thought about that?” And then I get back on the phone. [Laughter]
But, because of our ambitions of all kinds, we are ready to fill our life up to the point where, even if I’m in Switzerland, nothing is different. This is one of the great discoveries: wherever I go it’s still lousy. [Laughter] It’s just me and my mind and I don’t feel good and I have got this work to do and I don’t have the energy. It’s the same story, no matter where I go or what I’m doing.
Except when I sit down and meditate. Then, I feel like I am creating an inner space so I can actually relate to the fact of what my life is, rather than just being in an out-of-control mode. So sit down and ask yourself, “What is important in my life, and what’s less important?” Almost on a daily basis, we have to look closely at the things that remain on our To Do list to see whether they are actually realistic.
Ten years ago, after I’d taught a Dathün—a month long meditation—some of the students said to me, “We feel bonded to each other and to you. We’d really like to keep going” And I said, “Well, we could start a meditation group.” And 10 years later I am trapped with a community of 200 people, called Dhyana Sangha. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful. But I got into it in a blind way. And there are many other things that I do not love in the same way that I get into blindly. We all do that all the time—and we wind up with a life that doesn’t work and isn’t helpful to others.
My ambition to accomplish things is going to be one of the last things to go. I can’t help it; it’s just the way that I am. I see a pile of leaves that need to be raked up and I start salivating. I love to do things. I love to be active. And you can say, “Well, that’s great.” But there’s neurosis in that. It’s a way of shutting out space. This is another thing my wife has taught me: when there’s no space nothing really happens.
I had a wonderful quotation by Chögyam Trungpa up on my wall during my [meditation] retreat. It goes something like, “If there isn’t a complete sense of openness and space, then communication between two people can not happen. Period. It’s that simple.” The communication we have with each other is often based on agendas: negotiating with other people to get what we want. That’s not communication.
My wife taught me that. Insistently. It’s to the point where that busy mind is just not acceptable in our house anymore. It doesn’t matter what’s going on my life. If she comes into my study, I have to be completely there. And that’s fabulous, because I’m never able to get invested in that neurosis. If I do, she’ll let me have it.
Giving up this state of busy-ness doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to be active, creative people. We’re giving up the mentality where you can’t actually relate to what’s in front of you because you have this mental speed going on. Let it go. I’m saying it to you. This is an issue that we are going to have to address if we want to be any good to anyone.
You’ll notice when you work in this way over a period of years—and this is something that I have discovered accidentally—the more you practice, the more you get done. If you sit for 2 hours in the morning, which is a lot for people, you will find that your day is 30 hours long. When you establish sitting, somehow, in your life—when you sit in the morning—your day takes care of itself. Things happen as they need to. There is a sense of auspicious coincidence throughout the day.
And when you don’t sit, things go to hell. [Laughter] Everything runs into everything. You say, “I don’t have time to sit ‘cause I have to do this email.” You run to your computer, turn it on and spend the next 4 hours trying to get your computer to work. This is just how things work.
Magic is actually very down to earth. It’s a part of our lives. It’s going on all the time, we just don’t see it. But when you actually take care of yourself, work with yourself and create openness in your life, life will respond by cooperating. And when you are unwilling to relate with yourself at the beginning of your day, your life is going to give you a hard time.
I got stuck on my first book, Buddhist Saints In India. If I wrote another book like that it would kill me. It was an unbelievable labor. I got stuck in the middle. So I started practicing more, I started doing long retreats. And the book started flowing. The more I practiced, the more the book happened. In a sense, when I meditated I was getting something good done.
I realized that the way you accomplish things in life—whether with family or going to work—is through practice. One hour of work with the practice behind you is worth two days when the practice isn’t there. Things just don’t work well—there’s too much neurosis in it. When I don’t feel busy, things I have to do fall into place. Going through my day with a sense of relaxation, I connect with people. I appreciate the outdoors when I walk to my car. I see the sky.
I encourage you to take a chance: put practice at the top of the list. Don’t make that call if it isn’t something that actually needs to happen—so many of the things we do is to make people like us. “I have to make this
call or so-and-so is going to be upset.” I have a pretty good idea that if you do that you will find that there is plenty of time to practice, no matter how busy you are. Busy people will look at your life and go, “I don’t see how you can do it!”
Here’s a teaching that Chögyam Trungpa gave that has changed the way a lot of people look at their work lives: learn how to invite space into your worklife. The space itself will actually accomplish most of what you
need to do. In the form of helpful people turning up, auspicious coincidences… And in so doing, you are not only opening up your self, you are opening up the world. It becomes a dance. It’s no longer your job to sit there for 10 hours doing your thing, it’s to respond to the way the world wants things to happen. It’s de-centralized.
In Buddhism, this is one of the paramitas: exertion. Exertion is tuning into the natural energy of the world. And when you tune in, you don’t get tired. You become joyful. That you are part of a huge cosmic dance that is unfolding, moment by moment. And you have to change your ideas of what you thought should happen. It requires flexibility on our part!
Busy-ness. It’s the most commonly mentioned obstacle that everyone faces, and I know for me it’s #1. So I thought it would be worthwhile spending a little time with it. I invite you to take a fresh look at your life. Relate to the fear that comes up when we are not busy. Am I still worthy? It’s that Calvinist thing, underlying our culture. But try letting go and lo and behold it’s a better human life, and much more beneficial for other people.
I hope I didn’t upset anybody by saying these things, but I can’t beat around the bush with you. I need to just lay things out as they come up.
The above is adapted from a talk Dr. Reggie Ray gave as part of his Meditating with the Body retreat.