This is the yoga sutra that defines yoga: Continue reading
This is the yoga sutra that defines yoga: Continue reading
“Suppose there is a towering wall from the top of which one can see vast distances – but there is no apparent means’ to climb it, only a thin piece of thread hanging over the top and coming down both sides. A clever person will tie a thicker string onto one end of the thread, walk over to the other side of the wall, then pull on the thread bringing the string to the other side. Then he will tie the end of the string to a strong rope and pull the rope over. When the rope has reached the bottom of one side and is secured on the other side, the wall can be easily scaled.
“Our breath is such a fragile piece of thread. But once we know how to use it, it can become a wondrous tool to help us surmount situations which would otherwise seem hopeless. Our breath is the bridge from our body to our mind, the element which reconciles our body and mind and which makes possible one-ness of body and mind.
“Breath is aligned to both body and mind and it alone is the tool which can bring them both together, illuminating both and bringing both peace and calm. Many persons and books discuss the immense benefits that result from correct breathing. They report that a person who knows how to breathe is a person who knows how to build up endless vitality: breath builds up the lungs, strengthens the blood, and revitalizes every organ in the body. They say that proper breathing is more important than food. And all of these statements are correct.
“Years ago, I was extremely ill. After several years of taking medicine and undergoing medical treatment, my condition was unimproved. So I turned to the method of breathing and, thanks to that, was able to heal myself. Breath is a tool. Breath itself is mindfulness. The use of breath as a tool may help one obtain immense benefits, but these cannot be considered as ends in themselves. These benefits are only the by products of the realization of mindfulness.
“In my small class in meditation for non-Vietnamese, there are many young people. I’ve told them that if each one can meditate an hour each day that’s good, but it’s nowhere near enough. You’ve got to practice meditation when you walk, stand, lie down, sit, and work, while washing your hands, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, drinking tea, talking to friends, or whatever you are doing.
“While washing the dishes, you might be thinking about the tea afterwards, and so try to get them out of the way as quickly as possible in order to sit and drink tea. But that means that you are incapable of living during the time you are washing the dishes. When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life. Just as when you’re drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in your life. When you’re using the toilet, let that be the most important thing in your life.
“And so on. Chopping wood is meditation. Carrying water is meditation. Be mindful 24 hours a day, not just during the one hour you may allot for formal meditation or reading scripture and reciting prayers. Each act must be carried out in mindfulness. Each act is a rite, a ceremony.
“Raising your cup of tea to your mouth is a rite. Does the word “rite” seem too solemn? I use that word in order to jolt you into the realization of the life-and-death matter of awareness.”
“The life and death matter of awareness”… These words are unusual for us. When do we consider awareness a “life and death matter”? When we realize that all violence that is done among the human population on this planet is because of lack of awareness, then it makes sense. I struggle right now to bring awareness to a situation with a person in our community to whom I have great resistance. This person seems so far away from my perspective that I do not see a bridge. It feels like I would have to force this person to open their reality bubble in order to find common ground. I know that that is not an option as it would only lead to more resistance on both sides. At present I am practicing mindfulness and performing every action as a rite, as a ceremony that I want to perform with great care and awareness. I am at a quandary as to what to do and so I am not taking any action – outwardly, that is – inwardly I am asking what to do so that I can be at peace with this person.
The sadness (or whatever has caused the
pain) can be used as a means of liberation from
torment and suffering, like using a thorn to
remove a thorn. We should treat our anxiety,
our pain, our hatred and passion gently, respectfully,
not resisting it, but living with it, making
peace with it, penetrating into its nature by
meditation on interdependence. Continue reading
Mind of Unity and Thusness
HUANG Po, in speaking of the reality of true nature (what he called “the mind of Unity and Thusness”), said:
“Buddhas and living beings participate in the same one and unique mind. There is no separation concerning this mind. Since time immemorial this mind has never been created or destroyed; it is neither green nor yellow; it has neither form nor aspect; it is neither being nor non-being; it is neither old nor new, neither short nor long, neither big nor small. It transcends all the intellectual categories, all words and expressions, all signs and marks, all comparisons and discriminations. It is what it is; if one tries to conceive it, one loses it. Unlimited like space, it has no boundaries and cannot be measured. This Mind is Unity and Thusness, it is Buddha.”
“According to Buddhism, one can only reach reality through direct experience. … Study and speculation are based on concepts. In conceptualizing we cut up reality into small pieces which seem to be independent of one another. This manner of conceiving things is called imaginative and discriminative knowledge (vikalpa).
“The faculty which, on the contrary, directly experiences reality without passing through concepts is called non-discriminative and non-imaginative Wisdom (nirvikalpajnana). This wisdom is the fruit of meditation. It is a direct and perfect knowledge of reality, a form of knowledge in which one does not distinguish subject and object, a form of knowledge that cannot be conceived by the intellect and expressed by language.
“SUPPOSE THAT WE ARE TOGETHER at my house and I invite you to have a cup of tea. You take your cup, you taste the tea which is contained in the cup, and you drink a little of it. You seem to take pleasure in the tea. You put your cup on the table and we continue our conversation.
“Now, suppose that I should ask you what you think of the tea. You are going to use your memory, your concepts, and your vocabulary in order to give a description of your sensation. You will say, for example, It is very good tea. It is the best Tieh Kuan Ying tea, manufactured at Taipei. I can still taste it in my mouth. It refreshes me.” You could express your sensation in many other ways. But these concepts and these words describe your direct experience of the tea; they are not this experience itself. Indeed, in the direct experience of the tea, you do not make the distinction that you are the subject of the experience and that the tea is its object; you do not think that the tea is the best or the worst, of the Tieh Kuan Ying of Taipei. There is no concept or word that frames this experience, this pure sensation resulting from experience. You can give as many descriptions as you wish, but it is only you who witness this direct experience of the tea that I have given you. When someone listens to you he can only recreate for himself a certain sensation, basing this on experiences that he might have had himself in the past concerning tea. And you yourself, when you try to describe your experience, are already no longer in the experience.
In the experience, you are one with the tea, there is no distinction between subject and object, there is no evaluation, there is no discrimination. This pure sensation can be presented as an example of non-discriminative knowledge. It is that which introduces us to the heart of reality.”
source: Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Keys, p. 39 – 40
Thich Nhat Hanh:
The process to Light Existence, Produce the Power of Concentration, and Bring Wisdom to Bloom is called in Buddhism the Process of the Three Studies. Sila, Samadhi and Prajna (Discipline, Concentration, and Wisdom) are the Sanskrit terms. The word “Sila” (Discipline) must here be taken to signify Awareness of Being. Sila does not denote rules to prevent immoral actions. To be attached to rules without grasping their meaning is to take a means for an end; it is to fall into what Buddhism calls attachment to rules, one of the major obstacles to knowledge. It is not by virtue of moral conduct that one can realize Wisdom, but by maintaining body and mind in the permanent Awareness of Being. That is why the application of thoughts leading to Awareness of Being is called the “Essentials of Discipline.” Continue reading
“The people of old said, ‘The mind changes in accord with ten thousand objects. And what is strange about this change?’ You should allow this change to happen in order to recognize your true nature. Once recognized, you will be free of excited joy and anxiety.
“This wonderful function that is happening in this present moment – who is performing it? Take hold of that and use it, and do not be caught in words. This is called the mysterious principle. Whoever has this insight is no longer obstructed by an obstacle.”
My Comment: When you allow this change to happen, you refrain from engaging with the chimera-realm of illusory forms. Only then does the monkey let go of one branch without grasping for the next. In this way abeyance happens. Allowing the wonderful function to occur without grasping, idea-making, naming or word-speaking is to look deeply at objects of perception. Then it is the openness for “Behold, it is I!” and “Who is performing this wonderful function now?” Continue reading