How the bell passes through you…

Have you ever been sitting in meditation and the sound of the bell at the end of the period made you jump? It brought you back to the room from a drowsy state or a fully constructed mental fabrication and — WHAM — your reality was jolted from one state into another in an instant?

Have you ever been sitting with pain, trying to stay open to the experience, but desiring the bell’s ring and the sound of the bell is heard, but immediately drown out by the thought, “Oh my God, Thank God it’s over!” [NB: I don’t mean to intentionally bring a ‘God’ into the discussion, but that phrase is what comes to mind for me.]

Have you ever been sitting in meditation, highly concentrated on the body and the sound of the bell passed through your body as a physical sensation? Has the sound of the zendo bell ever passed through you as a wave of light?

Have you ever been abiding in meditation, free from clinging to form and quite equanimous and the sound of the bell passed right through your awareness without any ripple at all?

The original nature of the mind, what is called ‘innate wisdom’ or ‘self-arising rigpa’ (as the Tibetans refer to it), has the qualities whereby it is ’empty of essence’, ‘cognizant in nature’ and ‘unconfined in capacity’. Knowing is the nature of the mind, even though it is also characterized by emptiness. This thought is both beautiful and astounding. When sense data enters the mind what does it impact? Where does it go? What does it land upon? And how does emptiness have the capacity to know, anyway?

These are fascinating questions. They fall at the heart of inquiry itself. More fascinating still is that there is such a state of being– a case whereby all clinging is released and all mental fabrications are ceased and with nothing arising in the mind — consciousness does not find a place to land.

“What is intended (ceteti), what is acted upon (pakappeti) and what lies latent (anuseti):this is a support for the establishment of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing of consciousness.

But when nothing is intended, acted upon or lies latent, there is no support for the establishment of consciousness. There being no support, there is no landing of consciousness. When that consciousness does not land and grow, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of dukka.” -Buddha


Via –The Island by Ajahn Pasanno & Ajahn Amaro

Sometimes the zazen bell runs smack into the busily working mind and causes us to jolt. Sometimes the bell comes into our story and causes us to utter praise and thanks. Sometimes the bell is perceived as sensation or light. And sometimes the bell finds nothing at all and passes right on through.

Four Noble Truths | Ajahn Sumedho

Download The Four Noble Truths
by Ven. Ajahn Sumedho

My dad sent me a copy of this book via email. I’ve been reading it and I’m blown away.  What buddhist doesn’t know about the four noble truths?  Everyone knows them. Just about everyone can name them — can you? The funny thing is that knowing them and reflecting on them deeply are very very different. This book is a fantastic tool for reflecting deeply on what may be the foundational teaching of the Buddha.

It’s not super long. It is super amazing.

If you’re poking around the web and finding cool stuff about meditation and buddhism, please do yourself a huge favor and hit the link. Read the book. It’s fantastic.


Urban Sitting and Witness Consciousness

I’ve been grounding my practice in the breath and the body lately, primarily focusing on breathing in while being aware of the body — then breathing out being aware of the body. I say, “breathing in… then breathing out” because it helps me to get concentrated when I think of each breath in both parts, letting each half of the breath bring me back to the present moment. Being aware of the body while breathing in focuses the mind on just this slice of time, along the whole of the in breath; then the out breath gives you a chance to start again and focus on just this slice of time, along the whole of the out breath. It is like a reminder to be present and a container in which to focus two times with every breath cycle.

This method of meditation can be used to focus a busy mind, or overcome noisy external circumstances. Sitting today at lunch — downtown and outside — I was able to achieve focus while sitting on a cold concrete step with a high wall behind me and a wide courtyard in front of me. The courtyard itself is surrounded by pedestrians and skyscrapers. I’ve found that sitting on a curb or curb height step with legs folded burmese style can be quite comfortable and very similar to sitting on a zafu.  Breathing in; and breathing out. The city buzzing all around. Even so, the mind can become steady. After some time with the body, I stayed anchored to the breath but let my mind become aware of some of it’s own subtle movements. Self referential thoughts and images – seeing myself from various vantage points as I imagine others must be able to see me, labeling smells and sounds as they arise, monitoring my posture and feeling my sit-bones on the hard surface.

At some point, both the mind and the body settle down. Staying connected with the breath, but feeling unaffected by sensations and thoughts, I had the sense of recognizing witness consciousness. The sense of being the witness is often discussed in the context of meditation. When this sense of witnessing is strong, there is generally a good deal of concentration. Being familiar with witness consciousness through past experience, and recently reading sutras on breath meditation that describe consciousness as a state to become familiar with and from which one must ultimately release– I sensed an opportunity here and I began to focus on the state of consciousness directly. Being the seer. Being the knower. Being the presence of awareness itself. Resting there. What are the movements that take place at this level? What is the flavor or texture of awareness? Can I find any tension or stress; and can I release it? Is there an inkling of something more subtle still? Is there still mental noting or is there silence? Is there any mental imagery or mental fabrication in my effort to rest in the witness?

It was a good sit. Especially for a city-sit.

Eckhart Tolle, letting it be as it is

Eckhart Tolle on Surrender Eckhart Tolle on Surrender

There is a whole lot about what he says in this video that rings true and goes deep. This may or may not point to vipassana directly as a method, but I believe it is strongly consistent with elements of classical enlightenment. It’s refreshing to see it all from just a slightly different angle. The description of the loss of compulsion in the thinking mind and it’s quieting down is distinctly reminiscent of the first and second jhanas. The sense of freedom from struggle is deeply in tune with the release of the Dharma’s four noble truths — only he does it in one step. The yes vs. no. The freedom to stop labeling. The non-clinging, non-identifying and recognition of impermanence are like gently whispered truths. I still think vipassana is an amazing tool for bringing one to the realization of freedom, and I appreciate the zen stories and teachings as being direct and enlightening, but I have to give a hat tip to something like this that gets so quickly down to business.

And if you liked that first one, here’s another, which touches directly on the emptiness v. creation post just prior to this.

Eckhart Tolle on creating while being connected to the source.

notes on creation and/or emptiness

Struggling to choose between creating a better world
vs. striving for the release and freedom of Nirvana?
When do you create?
You do it when not doing it would fail to recognize the face of reality. We have to strive to do what’s right, but we also have to be with what is. We need to explore what is possible.
With this precious human birth in the age of technology
we are so capable of creating: mentally and physically.
Also rich with technology, ability and information–
we have lush screens alive with our creations.
Printers producing reality before our eyes.
Sharing with others around the world at the speed of light.
To not create in our situation is to not honor the situation itself, it’s very being. The multiplicity is crying for you to be interactive with it.
“Come, Create.” — The Universe
Creatively, we want to live to the fullest.
However, living wisely seems to bring the best results.
Sila is part of the Dharma, so is meditation.
Right Livelyhood and ‘do no harm’ are key.
Always awareness
Always caring
Always love
Always side with the truth
Not clinging or coveting
Not fixating on a self
No harm, no blame
Without a footprint
Appreciative of the Dharma,
Buddha, and the Sangha.
Always aware of the way.
Striving with diligence for total release.
May I strive to spread peace and wisdom,
improving the world with this body, while I have it
for the benefit of all beings:
May I find my true happiness and bring it forth to share with others.
May I let wisdom guide me, may I see the potential all around me.
May I create the causes of my true happiness and may I bring happiness to others.