Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Jhampa Nanaimo Oct 4 88
Last week I introduced the idea of how we should realize the potential of what it means to be human, and also how we want to work with ourselves. The main focus for one's practice is one's self. In saying that, it doesn't mean that one is selfish. It means that the practice helps you to reveal your enlightenment nature, a more beneficial and kind attitude. In developing that, you should not negate any part of yourself. An example is a field being cultivated, if you say my desire and my greed are bad and the good vibes are wonderful, then it is like rejecting a certain section of the field and concentrating on only other parts. In that way if you discriminate too much, you end up having a very lopsided practice. You then have good versus bad, white versus black. This doesn't mean that you want to act out your negativity, but rather you want to develop awareness to leave it behind consciously. In developing awareness, it refers to being conscious of what is taking place in all areas of personal experience. Therefore as you become more in touch with yourself, then you understand better how to work with yourself and holistically transform your negativity. Be a holistic farmer of your spiritual growth.
Last week we talked about the ultimate nature of your being as a clear light and energy, the finest level of consciousness existence. These two aspects, clear light and energy are like two sides of a coin. The consciousness is the clear light side, and the form, whether subtle or course, is the energy side. Generally it is said that the mind is formless, something that is intangible. What the mind has though is the potential for form. As that conscious clear light manifests, then you have the body which is a manifestation of the energy side. That form is related to the attitude and propensity of the mind. You create your own existence. In saying this it must be taken in the context of a series of lifetimes. Taking the previous lifetime, as it unfolded, I chose to act in a particular way, decided upon an attitude and approach I felt appropriate for my interactions with beings and the world. Thus I formulated my future physical being by acting out my desires and intensions. In this life those imprints draw me to certain parents that assist in creating the existence I must manifest. This aspect of individuality can be seen in a family of several children in that each child demonstrates their own individuality, even thought they are from the same parents. This is all part of the mind and its temperament and my body's response to that. Or as described at the beginning, as a manifestation of my clear light consciousness and energy. I create my future being by the manner I consciously feel and act.
In working with yourself be holistic and don't reject any section of yourself. Don't feel in your practice that there is something inside yourself to be emphasized and something else that has to be left unconscious or unrecognized. If one does that, one ends up with a splitting up of the personality. That's not good. One should rather work with just how one experiences the immediate moment of reality. Then the spiritual practice is real, and the light of awareness can deal with everything that is pertinent to our selves.
What I wanted to talk about tonight was the process of developing awareness and the capacity to allow whatever is going on inside of you to function without negatively judging it. Because in judging, you end up trying to hide from certain things, or reject certain things. In rejection, "I don't want or like this...", comes the inability to deal properly with the issue. Take the three principle delusions; ignorance (unawareness), aversion and attachment. These function constantly to disrupt our ability to experience real happiness and joy. It is for this reason we try to meditate, to gain insights into where we have mistaken conceptions about reality. From this standpoint we say meditation is a very important aspect of what we do. If we then say, I want to be a good meditator, I want to be a full of good vibes, I want to be a nicer person. Whatever we want to label ourselves. That establishes what we want and everything that is contradictory to that is to be rejected. So we say "I want to be a very together person, and I don't want to be unconscious. I don't want to be unaware, I don't want to be rude and insensitive." Those are things to reject. But if we put in our mind that we should be this certain way and we don't want to express any negativity, we then can reject any capacity to deal with these negative things. We set our selves up to want to be unconscious about our negative side. That dichotomy can make a lot of trouble for us. We get a lot of discrimination and become judgmental. From that we also can start to project our own negativity on other people, and become basically not very nice people. So it's important to realize how to work with ourselves in a holistic and wise manner.
In developing awareness we look at whatever state we have as being alright, as being what it is. Then from there we can ask ourselves questions like .... "If I act out my greed, what's that do for me?" Let's say I would like to have lots of money, and so you think, "O.K. I'm going to work hard to get my money." But along in there, maybe you find that you can balance the accounts on your side, get extra money, by cheating. You can lie about the amount of hours you work, whatever... So your desire, your greed, is taking over your actions. What needs to happen is the recognition that you have those negative thoughts in yourself. It develops in simple ways too. We seldom say to ourselves 'I can leave five minutes early and get paid a full day,' but we do think that no one will notice if we leave just a little early. These are really very common things. But what you have got to look at is that...the mind is trying to ignore the negative sides of what we do. I don't want to be that way but I let little decisions and actions slip out all the time. Our unawareness then is wrong. We have to be aware of what we do, and what are the consequences.
By consequences it does not mean getting fired, rather it means that we are internally deceiving ourselves. We are not in harmony with our personal image and philosophy of goodness. The consequences are in the light of awareness, where one makes decisions. So if you are sitting there for an extra five minutes, then you say "Look, I consciously made that decision and know I've got to do this extra work." You judge your own action in the sense of weighting the consequence, really making decisions about it. What type of imprints it is leaving on your stream of consciousness. Everything is based on awareness. Therefore you are more in control. It's not negative judgements on the actions, but being aware of how we are creating ourselves in each moment our our being.
Going back inside of yourself. The principle goal of meditation is that you want to be a good person, actually an Enlightened person. But if you set it up wrong and try to ignore all the bad things you do, that is the wrong approach. Take rudeness and insensitivity. You should try to be aware of "rude" and "insensitive". Be very aware about it. For example when somebody is rude to you. You feel like getting very curt with them. But in being aware, watch what happens. Say to yourself, "Well, that was interesting. That person was just rude, if I snap back I will later have to repair that relationship. I have to go through an extra ten, fifteen minutes of patching it up. Then again if I don't try to repair the hurt I hope to inflict, it could get worse. That person will start to slander me, and even try to make more trouble.
What's being said is, you just make yourself more conscious of what is happening. Then the next time you are rude, realize that I am being rude right now. Was it really worth it? Especially if you have kids. You want to discipline them, put them in their place, but when they don't do something you get really pissed off. Then you should check up and ask yourself, "O.K. I'd really like to be a together person, or whatever is the label you want for yourself. I'd like to be a neat person. I'd like to be a beautiful person. I'd like to be a nice person." And, identifying that, then say, "O.K., I've got my good and my bad sides. But I'm not going to judge them. I'm just going to be aware as I act. My actions create me in each moment. So I am going to create the better me right now." The more you have consciousness in your interactions with people and what you do with yourself, you will start to find that you'll not be involved with manipulating people or trying to be deceitful about what you do. You would rather be up front about it. And then automatically you go on the good side. It's not that you have to act in any particular way. following the traditional religious rules, 'I must be good, I shouldn't be bad. But, in acting with yourself, it is so important not to reject whatever you are. Let's say you are a very licentious person and you look at other people and you fantasize. Maybe it's someone you interact with in a very minor fashion. But you have that sort of nature. And then all of a sudden you decide you want to be a religious person. Or a more sensitive person. Or a meditator. And then you are fantasizing sexually, and that's bad, I shouldn't be doing that. So you start fighting with those thoughts. Well you will find that it comes back twice as hard. I'm using a gross example, a very strong example, because it is a good one. What you have to do, you have to accept the fact that you are licentious, because if you don't, you will have a hell of a fight. You will have a hell of a battle, saying, "Well I shouldn't be that way, but when I look at somebody.....(for a man, looking at a woman's breasts...or maybe for a woman looking at a man and thinking he has a nice ass)..and if you put yourself down about that, you will find yourself twice as fascinated with peoples' asses or womans' breasts. Then you get paranoid about it. You start hassling yourself. You make a lot of trouble. You are making yourself basically neurotic. Rather than that, just let yourself be comfortable with who and whatever you are. Then when you find yourself going off into a fantasy, whether it's a sexual fantasy or whatever, rather than rejecting them, and rather than being judgmental, and rather than saying that is irreligious, just accept and be more aware and allow yourself to work with who and what you are. Now we have not really dealt with how to transform that particular negative mind, but there is a very good foundation or bottom line for your practice, then your practice can be very real as you go into yourself.
So that was a little of the philosophy of being able to accept just who and what you are, and being able to appreciate it in a light just being aware. Therefore breathing meditation is very good for this. It's simply awareness of breath. Awareness of the breath is the principle way of toning that down the internal dialogue. Whether it's awareness of the air passing through the nose or the rise and fall of the abdomen, it is immaterial. In being aware of the breathing, the mind stops thinking as intensively as it normally does.
In awareness of breathing, different areas of focus will give different results. If you focus on your forehead or on the nostrils, you will develop higher awareness and more clear mind. If we are feeling sleepy, if we have worked through the day and have been busy, and then sit down to meditate and put our attention deep down into our body, we will go to sleep quite quickly. But if you put it to the forehead or to the nostrils, you will keep aware and awake longer.
Meditating in the abdomen is much more relaxing. If you are a high strung person, you should always meditate with your abdomen, being aware of the rise ad fall of the abdomen. That tones down the emotions.
You can focus on whichever one is necessary at the time. It's not like there is one that is better. They say to develop a more constant meditation the abdomen is better. It grounds you more. But don't be fixed in that. If you find yourself sleepy go to the nostril. In saying that, people have a funny idea about awareness. Awareness in meditation isn't something strange. It's just being aware, like a feeling. Let's take the nostril. You breathe out. You feel such a little feeling of air passing through the nostril. Maybe it's touching some hair. Well that's just it, you allow your mind to focus on that. That is awareness focused. When you inhale, maybe it changes just a little bit, but allow there to be a continuity of awareness. So it's not like the air went in and then the awareness went in and the air goes out and the awareness goes out, but, rather that there is a continuity of the awareness of the mind. That there is an exhalation or inhalation is immaterial. It's the awareness of it. And so your mind becomes more conscious awareness versus being fascinated with a exhalation or that the energy has moved up a little bit in the nostril. That is being too picky. So now we will meditate.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
All Rights Reserved