So, pictured here is my trip to Kuma so see my friends Rob and Chris, as well as the 44th temple on the 88-temple pilgrimage. All over the forest were these large snake-like worms that were iridescent. There are 4 pictures of them. At the entrance of the temple was a dead snake. Also in Kuma there were crossed vajras (a buddhist symbol representing the nondual nature of total realization), stenciled on the light posts leading up to the temple. near the bottom of this blog post, notice the three animals--the lizard, the crab, and the frog, all sitting together next to the road. Then, notice the frog jump onto the crab's face. Also, at one of my schools I found this poster clearly showing two ways to avoid getting an STD. Also is a poster that explains why eye contact helps convey your heart. The principal at the local high school committed suicide last week and here is a picture of some students being questioned by the media. There is also a better picture of my new painting. Oh, and if you want to hear about Rick's visit to Shikoku, and learn a little bit about his kindness and unbelivably warm love, visit his blog. there is a link to the right.
And now a ramble I typed this morning as a kind of advice for meditation.
Advice to a Meditator
At the beginning of meditation, (whether it be zazen, vipassana, tonglen, ana pana, dzogchen, guru yoga, or whatever) be sure to FIRST rest as the non-seeking mind. This is very important. If you go at the meditation with the motivation to help improve yourself in any way, that self-centeredness can get in the way of opening your mind up to its deepest nature and potential. It can get in the way of a fair, even, interpretation of what is going on in the moment. It can limit the cultivation of true compassion. But, by first resting in the aspect or your mind that is already complete and satisfied, already embracing everything arising, (that mirror mind condition already witnessing), by abiding as that basic wakefulness you already are, all practice will arise out of that space as a gesture of your own primordial self, actually helping to dissolve the karmic traces and habits, while also strengthening your attention and clarity. This will greatly help you progress along the path.
This is known as “Just Sitting” or “Having no Goals” or “Developing Bodhicitta.” And it is to be done at the beginning of meditation. Then, from this non-conceptual space that is the nature of your mind before you do anything to it, let the meditation take form and explore its energies and insights.
In high school when I started studying the world’s religions, what I liked most about Buddhism is that it emphasized what it called my “Buddha Nature.” Buddha Nature was said to be the already enlightened and Pure Awareness that was my deepest Self. It maintained over and over that there is an aspect of my current condition that is already enlightened, or released from AND embracing everything in the universe. Free and Full. This Spacious Buddha Nature, “Luminous” “Open” “Vast Conscious Emptiness ” just like a mirror was said to embrace everything inside it, while also changing none of it. The Mirror Mind. The Buddha Mind. The Buddha Nature.
It would be like Christianity emphasizing The Kingdom of Heaven Within, or the God Within, or The holy Spirit, and not as some Spirit that I must invite and then pray and hope it enters into me and my life, but a holy spirit that is already occurring as the foundation of my experience; a Holy Spirit that is actually my deepest Self right now and right now and right now; the Omnipresent aspect of God or the Godhead. (Christianity in its more popular forms instead seems to emphasize the sinful, impure nature of my mind. Which is fine, for that is an important perspective to have, but not when it claims to be the entire show. For, what is the awareness that is aware of the impurity? Isn’t that awareness in some important ways free from the impurity it is aware of?)
There is, of course, Buddhahood as the great Other Awareness, The Great Goal, The Great perfected state of total Compassion and Wisdom. Or, there is God, the great Goal, the Great Other giving the universe in grace and glory to all who are. But Buddhism, alongside emphasizing Enlightenment and Buddhahood as a future state, also taught and emphasized Buddhamind or Buddha Nature as the current condition. It even emphasized a Dharmata, or the Buddha Mind that is the great, active, moving system and body of the manifest universe.
And by keeping all these three spiritual entities in mind—Buddhahood (Great Other), Buddha Nature (Great Self), and Buddha Mind (great System of manifest Thusness or Isness)—it is possible to simultaneously Be all Being, Become all Being, and be in Aw or worship at all Being. (These three bodies are also known as the trikaya, or the mystical holy trinity)
There are none to liberate so I vow to liberate them all! The truth is too vast to know so I vow to know it all! The Self is not attainable, so I vow to attain it for the benefit of all life! These kind of paradoxical impulses in the mind can then flower and intermesh as living planes of liberated experience or senses occurring in and as your Being-in-the-world.
So, advice to a meditator.
Don't forget to exercise all three of these aspects of the Buddha into your practice. Because developing compassion and selflessness needs to be rooted in altruistic thinking which puts others before itself, it is advisable to first rest as the non-seeking mind, the already enlightened present Moment you already are, and then, from that Self, begin to concentrate on the breath, or use tonglen and breathe in the suffering of others in exchange for your happiness. Or recite the mantra, or practice calm abiding or single-pointed attention. Usually, all these things are done to improve your condition, yes? To build mental energy, to cultivate more compassion, to intensify and prolong the realization of Clarity and Emptiness. But if you are going at it from that Goal-oriented impulse (which is another dream of the ego), it may keep you locked into your desiring self, and actually strengthen you sense of separateness and alienation and ignorance. But if you first rest as the already enlightened mind, Basic Wakefulness, Buddha Nature, that is not seeking anything but is aware of all desire and seeking, your practice will self liberate in the vast space of being, and not strengthen egoic habits but act only as generous and self-perfecting currents being cultivated within the energetic space of your own primordial body. This then certainly helps transform negative karmic traces and plant seeds for future happiness, purifying body, speech, and mind, to be open completely to what is, while also not strengthening any egoic habits still lingering around, secretly using the time of meditation for its own benefit. By resting as the non-seeking mind first, all compassion or trained concentration will instead dissolve your separate self sense and liberate the ego into its own ground: the energetic, transparent emptiness that is also acting as the entire display.
So, first, abide as the Enlightened Non-seeking Mind, and then express that Buddha Nature through your practice. As it is said, we do not sit in order to attain the Buddha Mind, but in order to express it. The Buddha Mind cannot be attained, because it is impossible to avoid. Buddha Mind is none other than the already occurring present Moment.
And so, with that in mind, practice diligently everyone!
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