The journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step

Meditation

Purpose of meditation

We don’t meditate to see heaven, but to end suffering.

– Ajahn Chah

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When anxiety subsides


When we begin to perceive the phenomenal world with a sense of basic goodness, peace, and beauty, conflict begins to subside and we start to perceive our world clearly and thoroughly. There are no questions, no obstacles. As anxiety subsides, sense perceptions become workable because they are no longer distorted by any neurosis. Through the practice of meditation, we can relate with our thoughts, our mind, and our breath and begin to discover the clarity of our sense perceptions and our thinking process.

– Chögyam Trungpa

from the book “The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa, Volume 7”

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes


Meditation is drinking it

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If you have a glass full of liquid you can discourse forever on its qualities, discuss whether it is cold, warm, whether it is really and truly composed of H-2-O, or even mineral water, or saki. Meditation is Drinking it!

– Taisen Deshimaru
quoted in the book “Real Magic: Creating Miracles in Everyday Life”

Meditation on impermanence and death

Meditation on the impermanence of this life and the certainty of death is an extremely powerful method to destroy the delusions of anger and pride. If we want to destroy pride, anger, attachment and many other negative minds right away, the most powerful method is this meditation. If we want to relax and be happy, then we should remember the impermanence of life and death. If we are not happy with anger, our meditation on impermanence and death is so powerful, it can destroy the delusions like an atomic bomb.

– Lama Zopa Rinpoche

With thanks to Just Dharma Quotes

 


When thoughts come while you are meditating

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When thoughts come while you are meditating, let them come; there’s no need to regard them as your enemies. When they arise, relax in their arising. On the other hand, if they don’t arise, don’t be nervously wondering whether or not they will. Just rest in their absence.

If big, well-defined thoughts suddenly appear during your meditation, it is easy to recognize them. But when slight, subtle movements occur, it is hard to realize that they are there until much later. This is what we call namtok wogyu, the undercurrent of mental wandering. This is the thief of your meditation, so it is important for you to keep a close watch. If you can be constantly mindful, both in meditation and afterward, when you are eating, sleeping, walking, or sitting, that’s it – you’ve got it right!

~ Dudjom Rinpoche


How A Fourth-Century Taoist Concept is Treating Anxiety

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Waking Times

Derek Beres, Big Think
October 25, 2018

 

While the Tao Te Ching is not one of the world’s most discussed religious texts, at least relative to the amount of attention the Bible, Quran, and Buddhist and Hindu doctrines receive, Laozi’s slim volume of instructions has massively influenced how we think about Eastern philosophy. The basis of Taoism is embedded in his series of short and punchy ideas that are rooted in, at times, paradoxical thinking.

Consider one of his most famous aphorisms: “The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone.” The ‘nothing’ is wu-wei, often translated as ‘non-action.’ One translation of Taoist ideas, Tao: The Watercourse Way, written by British philosopher Alan Watts and Chinese philosopher Chungliang Al Huang in 1975, state that the concept should not “be considered inertia, laziness, laissez-faire, or mere passivity.”

The Fine Art of Non-Doing

As with those who believe meditation is ‘doing nothing,’ wu-wei is not an easily graspable concept when approached from a mindset of constant action, i.e. the perpetual distraction our brains (and by extension, technology) afford us. Rather, the idea is to not battle yourself to, at times, let the course of life have its way with us. As the authors put it:

Wu-wei as ‘not forcing’ is what we mean by going with the grain, rolling with the punch, swimming with the current, trimming sails to the wind, taking the tide at its flood, and stooping to conquer.

They compare the practice to judo and aikido, two martial arts that teach seasoned practitioners to use their opponent’s force against themselves. By waiting for the challenger to overextend himself, you exploit their exertion and use his body weight to overthrow him. To accomplish this, you need to maintain calm and composure in the midst of potential violence and chaos.

Obsession with Overthinking

Which is why Nick Hobson, a research psychologist and lecturer at the University of Toronto, recently suggested implementing wu-wei as an antidote to our rising rates of anxiety and depression. Instead of pinpointing a singular cause for our growing dissatisfaction with our lives, he points out the reasons are myriad: smartphones, sleep deprivation, a lack of meaningful social connection, and not enough movement. He doesn’t mention diet, though plenty of research implicates bad eating habits as well.

While the causes are many, Hobson points to our penchant for overanalyzing every situation as the elephant in the mind. Instead of holism, a cognitive trait he associates with Eastern psychology, we choose the trees over the forest, leading to an obsession with overthinking.

This stark cultural difference has been confirmed by thinkers like social psychologist Richard Nisbett, who devoted an entire book to the topic. One of the most revealing instances involves the ways in which Easterners and Westerners—these terms are generic and broad, but serve to supply a bit of yin to our yang, at least as a metaphor–view art. Americans seek out a subject, an overarching detail that exemplifies the ‘purpose’ of the painting. Asians, by contrast, seek to understand the relationship between everything in the scene. Their focus is more on interdependence than independence.

Triad Test

Hobson uses the ‘triad test’ to make this point:

Suppose you’re presented with a dog, a rabbit, and a carrot, and then asked which two belong together. The analytic thinker chooses the dog and rabbit because both satisfy the internally held rule of ‘animal category.’ The holistic thinker, on the other hand, chooses the rabbit and carrot because of the interconnected and functional relationship between the two: A rabbit eats carrots.

Western ‘rule-based reasoning’ leads us to believe every problem has a solution. Research in cognition and narrative has shown that when we aren’t offered a resolution to a story, we’ll invent one, often to our detriment—your partner is cheating on you if they haven’t texted, while the reality is anything but. When we’re not provided an answer, we tend to overanalyze the situation, heaping anxiety upon anxiety.

Two Ways to Find Calm in the Chaos

Which is why Hobson suggests two Laozi-era practices to calm our overactive imaginations. Wu-wei is the first, which he says means “we shouldn’t hurry to action.” While he prescribes “to not do anything at all,” which is slightly different from Watts’s and Al Huang’s translation, Hobson recommends an “intuitive style of thinking” to chill our over-analyzing minds. Meditation and visualization exercises are two ways of rerouting our mental habits.

The second involves dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an evidence-based therapy created by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Among its many applications, it is designed to promote skills for cultivating “mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.”

To make this connection, Hobson points to Taoism’s great export, the yin-yang symbol, which denotes mutual dependence exists in everything. Hobson continues:

Two things can be mutually opposed, and at the same time, mutually connected. You can be, for example, in an anxious state and still have perfect control of your situation and your life. Thinking in this way allows a person to tolerate contradictions and to accept the uncertainties that inevitably present themselves.

Hobson writes that DBT has proven more effective than cognitive behavioral therapy (Linehan considers DBT a form of CBT) and pharmacological interventions. The goal is to make incremental changes by admitting that:

a) not everything is going to be exactly how you want it, and that’s okay, b) certain changes will have to be implemented, so practice those changes, and c) recognize that life is worth living. In the balance between states that afflict those suffering from psychological disorders—complete control and lack of control—an emotionally salient mindset can be achieved.

Breaking Free

Not that any of this is easy, but as Hobson mentions, neuroplasticity is a real phenomenon. Seeing the landscape instead of the singular figure walking through it is essential for breaking free of isolationism and the overwhelming burden of anxiety. As Watts and Al Huang phrased it:

Is a long life such a good thing if it is lived in daily dread or in constant search for satisfaction in a tomorrow which never comes?

We all intuitively know the answer. Putting that intuition into action, ironically through a bit of non-action, might just be an important key to healing our anxious minds.

Source: How A Fourth-Century Taoist Concept is Treating Anxiety


Moving Beyond Meditation

creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com
Nov 15, 2017
“Meditation is a lie. When we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.” ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
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Tibetan Buddhist teacher Mingyur Rinpoche (shown in photo above) shares a profound teaching that he learned while visiting his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
“For the next few months I continued to visit my father every day, and he taught me more about the Great Perfection. Often times we wouldn’t talk at all as we sat together. My father (Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche) would simply sit in front of the large window and gaze off into the sky as I sat quietly by his side and tried to meditate.
I desperately wanted his approval, so I always did my best imitation of what I thought a good meditator should do. I sat bolt upright and tried to make it look like I was absorbed in some deep experience, while in actuality I was just repeating a mantra in my mind and trying not to get lost in thought.
Occasionally, I would open my eyes and peek up at my father, hoping that he had noticed my good meditation posture and ability to sit still for so long.
One day, as we sat together in silence, I glanced up at him in the middle of my meditation and was surprised to find him gazing down at me. “Are you meditating, son?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I said proudly, filled with joy that he had finally noticed. My answer seemed to amuse him greatly. He paused for a few moments and then said gently, “Don’t meditate.”
My pride vanished. For months, I’d been doing my best to copy all the other meditators who came to be with my father. I learned some short prayers, sat in the right posture, and tried hard to still my turbulent mind. “I thought I was supposed to meditate,” I said with a shaky voice.
“Meditation is a lie,” he said. “When we try to control the mind or hold on to an experience, we don’t see the innate perfection of the present moment.”

Pointing out through the window, he continued, “Look out into the blue sky. Pure awareness is like space, boundless and open. It’s always here. You don’t have to make it up. All you have to do is rest in that.”

TUR Maya Andreas (1)
For a moment, all of my hopes and expectations about meditation dropped away and I experienced a glimpse of timeless awareness.
A few minutes later he continued, “Once you’ve recognized awareness, there’s nothing to do. You don’t have to meditate or try to change your mind in any way.”
“If there’s nothing to do,” I asked, “Does that mean that we don’t have to practice?”
“Although there’s nothing to do, you do need to familiarise yourself with this recognition. You also need to cultivate bodhichitta and devotion, and always seal your practice by dedicating the merit so that all beings may recognize their own true nature too.
The reason we still need to practice is that at first we only have an understanding of the mind’s true nature. By familiarizing ourselves with this understanding again and again, however, it eventually transforms into direct experience.
Yet even then we still need to practice. Experience is unstable, so if we don’t continue to familiarise ourselves with pure awareness we can lose sight of it and get caught up in our thoughts and emotions again.
On the other hand, if we are diligent in practice, this experience will transform into a realisation that can never be lost. This is the path of the Great Perfection.”

With these words, he stopped talking and we both continued to rest in pure awareness, gazing off into the deep blue sky above the Kathmandu Valley.”

CNR TUR Nagi (1)
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Attitude of a Dharma practitioner

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To put it simply, from the moment you enter the sacred Dharma and become a Dharma practitioner, your inner attitude and outer conduct should far surpass those of an ordinary mundane person. As the saying goes:

The sign of true learning is a peaceful temperament,
And the sign of having meditated is fewer afflictions.

If, on the contrary, your attitude and conduct are not even slightly better than an average person caught up in worldly affairs, you might consider yourself a scholar simply because you have some intellectual understanding of a few texts. Or you might think you are a perfect monk simply because you maintain celibacy. Or just because you know how to chant a few ritual texts, you might start thinking of yourself as a ngakpa. These are all just instances of blatant arrogance, and only go to show that even with the Dharma one can stumble in the direction of the unwholesome. As the incomparable Dakpo Lharje [Gampopa] said:

When it is not practised properly, even the Dharma can catapult one into the lower realms.

– Dudjom Rinpoche


The path of curiosity

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The path of meditation and the path of our lives altogether has to do with curiosity, inquisitiveness. The ground is ourselves; we’re here to study ourselves and to get to know ourselves now, not later. People often say to me, “I wanted to come and have an interview with you, I wanted to write you a letter, I wanted to call you on the phone, but I wanted to wait until I was more together.” And I think, “Well, if you’re anything like me, you could wait forever!” So come as you are. The magic is being willing to open to that, being willing to be fully awake to that. One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here just as we are. That’s not considered to be a problem; the point is to see it.

– Pema Chödron

from the book “Awakening Loving-Kindness”

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Meditation is not passive sitting in silence

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Thich Nhat Hanh Philosophy & Practice