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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Eternal
Infinite
Stillness
One point is void of all
As is the universe entire
In harmony

Stillness, silence and non-attachment
The one point
Becomes one with the stillness, silence and emptiness
That is all and nothing
All material things, earth and water and air – from which we come
All thoughts, ideas and mental secretions which emerge from conscious, sentient existence
All desires, aspirations, dreams, which are mental but also spiritual – from the heart

All sensations we have known, know, and will know
Will come and will go
within the eternal stillness

Leaving only the eternal, infinite stillness
The eternal, infinite silence
The eternal, infinite emptiness
detached from all
For it is everything
And nothing

Most of our suffering comes from habitual thinking. If we try to stop it out of aversion to thinking, we can’t; we just go on and on and on. So the important thing is not to get rid of thought, but to understand it. And we do this by concentrating on the space in the mind, rather than on the thought.

– Ajahn Sumedho, “Noticing Space”

Over the past few weeks, my meditation practice has taken a turn towards exploring nothingness, emptiness and silence. After much visualization and other content-focused practice. I’ve turned my attention to non-content. To emptiness.

At first, practicing on emptiness sounds simple, no? Just meditate on emptiness. Yet, we live in such a material-laden world, it is quite difficult many days to imagine nothingness. True, pure, silent nothingness. And so, my journey began with trying to imagine

what nothingness could be.

I quickly converged on the scientific approach and took direction from the observation that most matter, if not most of the universe, is nothing. Some have reported that over 99.9999999999…..% of all matter is empty (yup, lots of 9’s ). So empty in fact, that others have claimed that all of what we consider to be solid matter could fit in something the size of an ice-cube. And given that all matter is effectively energy (courtesy of Mr Einstein’s E=mc^2), there is really no solid matter to work with.

When considering gases and liquids, which are even more void-rich th

an solids, it was further evidence that most of what we know and sense is nothingness and silence.

Practice is the spaces and the silence, not in what fills the spaces and the silence.

– dan

Without getting too metaphysical, or entertaining the concept of dark matter (a topic for another time), practice began to focus on the emptiness so pervasive around us. For a while, the emptiness was visualized like the matter which surrounded it. Emptiness also became as much a part of what surrounded me, and inherently a sub-component of matter. Emptiness was not empty.

20130919-225644.jpg

Then during one session not so long ago, and interesting observation of the breath revealed a different sensation of emptiness. While practicing Vipassana, and noticing the sensations on a tiny portion of the upper lip, it was clear that the space, the emptiness, the nothingness, the silence that was just adjacent to that sensation, the emptiness through which air molecules traveled to eventually enter my lungs, traveled through an emptiness that was no different from the emptiness within the molecules and atoms. My own body was composed of emptiness no different from the emptiness of the universe. My thoughts existed within an emptiness no different from the 99.999999….% of emptiness that composed all the known and unknown consciousness.

Allowing myself to rest in the infinite, timeless, silent emptiness, it became further and further clear with every breath that the only constant within an ever-changing cosmos, micro and macro, was this emptiness. An emptiness within which all sensations, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, manifest. An emptiness that welcomes all, and releases all. An emptiness so still and silent that we may live entire lives never aware of its ubiquitous nature. A still, silent emptiness within which comes and goes every moment, every sensation, every memory, every dream, every fear, every desire, every thought, every word.

In this silence, there is no fear, no desire, no wants, no needs. Nothing. There is nothing but peace, acceptance, non-attachment, love.

In this nothingness and profound stillness, the gap, the space vanishes between self and the world entire. We become one with the world and the universe, for we are all basically nothing. Essence of the eternal sea of nothingness.

Floating in an eternal, infinite sea of pure silence and emptiness, a calmness overcomes, and all tension subsides. All tightness dissipates. All becomes one with the eternal stillness.

Within this eternal, infinite stillness flows, I increasingly feel, the Ki of the universe. Coming to know the stillness intimately, is to come to know the silence and emptiness in its purest form. Within nothingness resides the stillness, silence and needlessness that is the foundation of achieving harmony of the mind, body and spirit.

The eternal stillness permeates the universe entire, planets, galaxies, bodies, solid, and not. The eternal stillness is infinite. It is timeless. It is boundless. It is without need, purpose or mission. It just is. Simply still, silent, empty.

And so should our practice be, on or off the mat.

Silence is something that comes from your heart, not from outside. Silence doesn’t mean not talking and not doing things; it means that you are not disturbed inside. If you’re truly silent, then no matter what situation you find yourself in you can enjoy the silence.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Heart of the Matter”

“Shugyō is a tricky word to define. At a basic level, it is a mental and physical discipline one undertakes for the sake of self-cultivation”
– Jk mann

Self-cultivation. Is there really any other reason to practice? Not self-improvement. Self-cultivation, the practice of simply being, and growing, is like when we cultivate crops, cultivate students, cultivate relationships, cultivate patience.

On the mat, a sense of calmness and flow occurs when we practice with the intent of self-cultivation. This is because there is no goal in cultivation – only being. Being with the growth that is intrinsic, and not extrinsic. Being with the moment that is pure and present, for all growth and cultivation goes through the present. Being, not doing.

You can’t do cultivation, you are cultivation. It is in the patience and awareness of simple being, simple, endless change, that manifests shugyō.

Shugyō is non-attachement, keeping one point at the hara, flowing ki, relaxed with our body weigh fully extended in all directions, an infinite awareness temporally as well as spatially.

Shugyō is without desire, without fear, without greed or expectation. It is the infinite awareness.

“With interest and investigation there’s wisdom. Effort alone, without wisdom—the way people generally understand it—is associated with strained activity because it is usually motivated by greed, aversion, and delusion. Effort with wisdom is a healthy desire to know and understand whatever arises, without any preference for the outcome.”
– Sayadaw U Tejaniya, “The Wise Invesigator”

Shugyō cares not for the outcome, for we are what we are. Shugyō is effortless for it is what we essentially are, once the fullest of illusions is subsumed. Shugyō is infinite for all is emptiness – all is infinite.

Shugyō is not learnt, for it is present. Shugyō is not mastered, for we already master our own spirit, when expressed.

Shugyō is silence.

Shugyō is pure presence, basking within the flow of ki ofthe universe.

Shugyō is just being.

Practice on and off the mat accordingly.

“Awareness cannot be taught. Awareness simply throws light on what is, without any separation whatsoever. Activity does not destroy it and sitting does not create it.

It is there, uncreated, freely functioning in wisdom and love, when self-centered conditioning is clearly revealed, in the light of understanding.

When the changing states of body-mind are simply left to themselves without any choice or judgment, a new quietness emerges by itself.

This new mind that is no-mind is free of duality—there is no doer in it and nothing to be done.”

~Toni Packer

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Upon the mat, as well as any other moment of the day, silence is always with us. Much of our world, however, seeks to interrupt our silence, fill our silence with sights, sounds, sensations – noise as I sometimes like to call it. Our world is sensations, sensations which are cast upon the silence that is our true essence.

Recently, I have found my meditation practice shifting to simply being in the silence, and listening, deeply. Listening for the thoughts that come and go. Listening to the sounds that traverse the neighborhood at the earliest hours of the morning. Listening to the cravings that speak to desires and wishes past and future. Listening to the mind who often seeks to convince that thoughts are silence.

Nothing other than sitting – silently – is required to being in the world – the focus being the word “being”.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Blaise Pascal

Being is not popular in a world where we are unfortunately often measured, loved or hated, liked or disliked, by what we do or not do, what we own or not own (as a result of what we do), what we say or don’t say, what actions we take or not take.

But rarely are we simply accepted, simply respected, simply loved, for just being. In just being is the silence, the space, the essence that is pure love. Not the love associated with things, events, or other external objects. Love associated with the acceptance and respect of the essential essence that resides in all beings – the silence – where the soul and spirit calls home.

But are we not “doing” when we are “doing nothing”? Are we practicing non-silence when doing? In the moment of pure silence, whatever we “do” is non-doing, for we are not attached to the “doing”. We simply do, detached from the past memories and future dreams, in the silence that is eternal.

I think this state is what was meant in part when some speak of “when you walk, just walk. when you eat, just eat, when you….”. You get the idea.

In pure silence, we do what we are called to do, not because of what it may bring, what it may resolve from past errors, what it might gain us, but because it is what we are called to do – simply.

So sit, quietly, and practice listening to the silence. Doing will then become simply doing.

My father taught me that we are what we do, not what we say.

~ David Suzuki

…a meditation on wei wu wei…action without action…

“delusion (or error) means to take as real what is not real and to take as unreal what is real. Leaving delusion behind is synonymous with overcoming the four demonic obsessions (the four maras): obsession with mortality, obsession with physical existence, obsession with power and control, and obsession with emotional reactions.”

~ Ken McLeod

Action without action

Will manifest

When effort is effortless

When motion is motionless

When focus is without focus

When desire is without desire

When we resonate with the eternal silence of the universe

When ki flows eternal to us

And flows eternal away from us

When duality fades

And our mind and body

Blends effortlessly

With our spirit eternal

“It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.”

~ Suzuki

Practice and being is not about control
It is about surrender
Surrender of the concept
That we control our world
And those around us

Practice and being is about katsu
It is as O’Sensei spike
About self victory
Surrendering the concepts
Of ever controlling the external
And becoming fully aware
And mindful
As the stoics spoke as well

The warriors battle is with the self
The world is your mat
Every moment is your mat
For your training and your practice
To control the self

True victory
On the mat that is the world
Is self victory

When you talk, say not a word
A white flower grows in the quiet. Let your tongue become that flower.

—Rumi (1207-1273)”

In 2006, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea for a business trip. At that point in my life, I had studied Buddhism for the better part of 8 or 9 years. For some reason, the proximity to the far east, likely combined with jet lag, led me to the most oriental of rituals – a Starbucks in downtown Seoul.

Over a latte or venti bold…it’s been too long to remember…I sat down and told myself that I would not rise from the seat I was sitting in until I produced a triad – a summary, in three verses, of what Buddhism had taught me up to that point. It was a point where I needed to summarize for me what Buddhism brought into my life, in simple and condensed thoughts.

Then, without much effort, the following verses came to me as an instruction of how to practice at every infinite moment:

Be silentwork triad

in thought

in speech

Be still

in glance

in movement

Be without need

in heart

in mind

I sat, stunned at the simplicity of the words, and the truth that they spoke to me. I looked out at the window, throngs of Koreans walking by, and was struck by the non-nondescript place and context within which such words came about. I also envisioned that they would come when visiting a major temple or shrine – never a Starbucks in a busy Seoul business district.

So what of these simple thoughts? I still study them often, and return to them in moments of difficulty on or off the mat. Many interpretations and ideas have I attributed to them, some in an attempt to over-analyze, others in an attempt to convince myself that these thoughts are filled with flaws. At this moment, I take them as follows.

Be still, in movement, is for me movement without movement. Movement required, no more. Movement with grace and peace. Be still, in glance, is to look at the world in a quiet, serene way. Not shifting, nervous eyes, but the eyes that come with coordination of mind, body and spirit – gentle eyes. In essence, stillness of the eternal nothingness.

Be silent, in thought, is the quieting of the mind, the chatter, the clutter that is our modern mind.  Be silent, in words, is to speak only when words are needed, and even then, with few words, reflecting patience, serenity and peace. Both are not to be interpreted as silencing all thoughts and words, but in seeing the thoughts and words against the silence of the eternal emptiness.

Be without need, in mind, is the quieting of desire, of craving, of neediness. In our consumerist society, our craving mind is a calculating foe – practice expends much in addressing this adversary. Be without need, in heart, is the quieting of desire, of craving, of neediness that is rooted beneath the mind, deep within our emotions and heart. Being without need, in heart, is not being heartless, but in being with unbounded love, for we can give, and fully expect nothing in return.

And so these words have been an inspiration and guidance for me over the years. I have two calligraphies that remind me of these words that uttered from my years of practice. One is home, the other at work. I often explain to those who ask what the calligraphy represents, and I try to explain. Often, gracious acknowledgement is given. Frequently, discomfort from some who seem to be surprised by the personal nature of the message.

Home triad

For me, the message is universal. Although it was the product of study, I consider it nothing more than the product of my understanding and decision to summarize my studies in a way that could be easily remembered, understood, and shared.

And my guideposts for when moments are fleeting or challenging my practice. I’ve come to accept that if only these three practices are sustained – silence, stillness, needlessness – practice will forever be rich and engaging.

Neither the past

Nor the future

Can injure or harm us

Only the present

And if our mind

Is unable to manage only that

Then we are truly without peace

 

– Dan, 2007