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posted to Wisdom-l
"The mind, the Buddha, living creatures - these are not three different things."
posted to Daily Dharma
Recognizing the power of our minds means that even as unfortunate or terrible things happen to us, we can receive them in a more spacious and ultimately more enlightened way. The Buddha taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that the mind becomes like space that cannot be tainted. If someone throws paint, it is not the air that will change color. Space will not hold the paint; it will not grasp it in any way. Only the walls, the barriers to space, can be affected by the paint. The Buddha taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that their minds become like a pure, flowing river that cannot be burned. No matter what kind of material is thrown into it, it will not burn. Many experiences--good, bad, and indifferent--are thrown into the flowing river of our lives, but we are not burned, owing to the power of the love in our hearts.
-- Sharon Salzberg, in Lovingkindness
Not Going Elsewhere in this Mind
by Toni Packer
This moment of being here, what does it mean? It means not resisting whatever is here: anxiety, discomfort, pain or disturbance. That's much easier said than done. By not resisting I mean resistance melting away in the awareness of being here-not giving way to fantasy, rather seeing fantasy as fantasy, as a veil hiding what is here in utter simplicity. To see that! That's not just saying, "Okay, all of this is just thoughts and fantasy." This is more thinking and it doesn't help, as we all have found out. It may even arouse anger because things have not changed in spite of all this work of being with them.
Have you ever experienced the difference between saying, "This is all thought," and directly seeing the appearance of thoughts and their effects on the body? Please hold it for a moment; don't just say "yes" or "no" and go on reading without stopping for a moment and wondering. Sitting quietly with energy gathering can be of immense help in detecting what is thought and what isn't. It allows one to experience directly how a thought generates emotion-pleasure or pain, sorrow or fear, and the credence given to it all-without acting on it. We assume that thinking tells us the truth about ourselves and the world. In thinking without seeing, everything seems so real, so true; there's no space here for questioning. Can there be seeing without thinking?
Wondering comes out of a moment of not going anywhere in thought, a moment of stopping- taking a deep breath and exhaling. It is a moment of not knowing where to go, because there is no place to go. It's realizing that all of the places thought can go to are fantasy. In our daily predicament of pain, of work fatigue or boredom, there seems to be incessant thought activity, with its restlessness, dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment and searching for something different. There is the strong desire to alleviate what we don't like, to get rid of it. Can there be momentary freedom from our consuming restlessness? From thinking, "Where could I go next to be free?"
People frequently ask me, "Why is my mind and life so terribly restless?" I can't answer this for you. Of course I can give answers, but we need to realize for ourselves that the nervous impulse to search for explanations and relief, and the impatient thrashing about to be free, is just more brain activity. Can there be a humble moment of being here without knowing? Can we let pain, discomfort and uncertainty be here without knowing?
When people come to Springwater they say, "Here it's relatively easy to be with problems. But it isn't easy at home, in the office, with the family or in a relationship." Actually it isn't difficult anywhere when it dawns what it truly means to be in this moment. It may be a moment of quietly listening to a spouse, to a partner or a boss, or carefully holding the steering wheel and letting the landscape go by, feeling the foot on the pedal, the touch of the upholstery and the different sounds of the motor. Or sitting at the desk, suddenly attending to the feel of the pen in the hand that is holding it, writing a check, experiencing the touch of the paper, the sound of the moving pen, the amazing appearance of ink patterns on the check, then tearing it off, the perforations giving way to the pull, one by one. Writing the check with loving attention is the only thing happening right now! There's no need to slur over it, thinking of what else has to be done. There's just full attention to what is happening right now. When this takes place it feels like a new discovery. Everything is taking care of itself. Not dutifully-it's not a duty to work attentively, but rather turns out to be a delight when it happens without force. It's freedom from the burden of the future.
Can you catch yourself as you're speeding along? Listen to the sound of speeding? Constitutionally some of us are speedier than others. We are different characters and body types. But both speedy and slow body types are burdened with the thought of all that has to be done in the future. So as we find ourselves racing with thoughts and sensations of restlessness, can we become aware of it as it is happening and wonder whether it has to be that way?
You don't know the answer, but the question is already a break in the current. See if it is possible to slow down in thinking, walking, arranging things, writing, talking to someone. This means simply watching the speedy body-mind-just watching it!-not saying, "I mustn't speed, I must slow down, this is no good, Toni says so." Just watch what you're doing right now; watch it carefully, attentively, and witness the amazing slowing down in the simple presence of attention.
When we're here together we affect each other. Somebody walking or doing things attentively affects us if we really see it. It is sort of contagious, as is the speeding. This doesn't mean we have to do things in slow motion. Just see what happens when you become aware. How is it when there is close attention to the hands washing a dish under the running water, scratching off the egg that has caked on, soaking it some more and seeing it disappear in the dishpan, lifting it out, shaking the drops off and putting it on the drain rack, with attention? It's wonderful, and it's amazing to realize how little attention we usually give because we're driven by thoughts about the past or future. This is not said blamefully. It's the natural task of the brain to anticipate the future, to solve problems. The more problems we have, the busier the brain gets in trying to solve them. But right now it's just giving attention to this moment of not going anywhere other than where we are, gently, not prescribing anything. Attention has everything in it to illuminate everything that's here, like a moment of clouds parting and the light coming through-and what a different world it is! Different and yet the same.
Are we together on this? Are we looking at all this together? It's easy to just follow words, but to look directly, that's not so easy. I was reprimanded the other day by someone who said, "I don't want you to teach me. I've tuned out the last ten minutes because I don't want to be taught by you." I don't want to teach you either. I'm looking myself, because all of these things I have described are things I have observed in myself. I'm looking and conveying in words what is discovered. If we all begin to look then we're not teaching each other, we're exploring together, discovering alone and together the incredible presence of this moment of not going elsewhere in this mind.
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