The enlightened mind is completely involved… Realizing this begins with taking our seat.
The fundamental teachings of the Buddha point towards our true nature, which is that of a Buddha. We see that underlying all of the diversions, which arise as a result of confusion, we are fully awake; open, clear, and consistent. This is an essential point to understand about meditation practice. In meditation practice, we are not looking for anything. We are simply looking. Buddhism nor meditation make us better people. It is not self-help; rather, it is a process of discovery.
However, discovery only takes place when we stop looking for something else… Something outside of ourselves.
When we look at meditation in the Buddhist tradition we see that we begin with Buddha Nature, the whole path consists of realizing Buddha Nature, which finally results in the realization of Buddha Nature. That is why Gampopa, in the Jewel Ornament of Liberation, calls Buddha Nature “the foundation of all practice.” This is why I keep saying that we are not talking about becoming a better you, instead we are talking about realizing the your own enlightened potential. When we first hear this idea it might sound lovely, but it can be somewhat difficult for us to relate to such an idealistic principle on a practical level. A belief or the view inspires us to set off down a path, but if we do not take certain steps, this view or belief is sterile. So, we relate to the practice or path which will point out the underlying principle! This is the way view, path, and fruition unfold in the context of our daily lives.
The premise is simple: If I see myself as some disgusting piece of crap, then I will probably relate to the world as though it is one great big toilet! On the other hand, if I see that I am king and that all beings posses this potential, then I begin to relate with the world as though it were a Kingdom, because it is!
We are not talking about becoming a dictator who tries to force his will on everything; rather we are talking about accepting the Kingdom as it is and working with it from there. Accepting the Kingdom as it is, is our invitation to work with it. Otherwise, we sit around, whining and complaining, because it isn’t how we think it should be. On the other hand, once we accept it, it is like hearing the music and now we can begin to dance.
So how do we develop such a drastic shift in the way we see and relate to the world? First have to recognize that there is no fundamental separation between mind and body— that they are inextricably connected. From here, we can begin by taking our seat. Meditation starts with our posture, with the way we sit. Currently our rather flimsy view of ourselves leads to a floppy posture— one that radiates little respect and dignity. We lay around like sacks of flour. That is why when you walk into a temple there are certain rules, like no laying around, because these types of postures are the manifestations of attitudes that do not agree with meditation practice.
So in meditation we arrange ourselves with confidence. We sit in the cross legged posture, with our back straight, place our hands palms down on our thighs, head slightly lowered, with our shoulders pulled back gently, we bring our eyes to a slight gaze, and place our tongue behind our two front teeth in the roof of our mouth. We sit in this way, because it is genuine, open, and dignified. In time we begin to develop confidence. With the development of this confidence we see that our presence in other activities changes, because it radiates our confidence. We walk with poise, we sit in our chair with dignity, and we talk with respect. Conversation becomes a little lighter, more spacious, because we have confidence, we have dignity. We no longer feel threatened or afraid, there is no need to fight or hide. This confidence isn’t limited to ourselves, it is extended out towards everything. We are completely involved, and all this begins with taking our seat.
Here is a video I made with simple instructions for the practice of meditation.
Elephant 365 is an example of Elephant Journal’s commitment to the Mindful Life. Everyday we will offer a new reading regarding meditation practice and the spiritual path, all infused with a fresh perspective on traditional spirituality. If you would like to follow Elephant 365 on FaceBook click here and become a fan of Elephant Meditation by clicking the “Like” tab at the top of the page.
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