October 17, 2011

Buddhist Meditation: Reclaiming the Awesomeness of Our Humanity.

The path is the most powerful urge in our life—the path is our life.

Contrary to popular belief, the Buddhist path is not a rejection of the thinking mind. Meditation is not some concentrated attempt to silence thought. On the Buddhist path, thought is totally embraced as a natural expression of our physical body. However, meditation does move beyond our personal story-line, in order to explore the silence, from which, thought emerges.

Buddhist spirituality is an embrace of the human condition. It is an exploration of the relationship between reality, the silent wisdom of the body, and the conscious mind. We are returning to the source—”the power of being in which every individual participates”—so that we may witness, in its entirety, the spontaneous movement of the human life-cycle. In Buddhism, our true life is described as a three dimensional process of pressing out called, the Three Bodies of Enlightenment.

Through the practice of mindfulness we are invited to participate in the birth and death of our personal life. We do not seek to kill or destroy our relative self; we grant it the space it needs to follow its natural cycle of life. In meditation, we simply watch as one thought arises and passes away, only to be replaced by another thought (shamatha). As this process of birth, death, and reincarnation slows down, we begin to notice the space or bardo between conceptual manifestations. This gap is incredibly interesting. It begs the question, “Who am I between thoughts?”

Overwhelmed by curiosity our practice takes on a more inquisitive nature (vipashyana). In a moment of silence—the gap that separates the death of one subjective self and the birth of another—we plummet into the infinite depths of our being and watch as our true life—silent, but creative—selflessly offers itself up as a gift to the world by taking birth in time-&-space (Bodhisattva/ warrior archetype).

The ground of being is the genesis of everything, including the limited self. Physical sensations, sounds, images, tastes, smells, thoughts, and emotions are all expressions of the source, awareness. Our relative life is not a stable event, but a constantly evolving projection of the changeless essence. The form or the image is insubstantial, but the process is vital. In other words, the forms are empty or devoid of any independently enduring characteristics or thingness (shunyata), but the source is luminous—self-emergent or unborn, and therefore, indestructible (vajra). However, the luminous source can only be made known through its projections. So, form is an expression of emptiness and emptiness is the true nature of form.

The true nature of mind cannot be distinguished from reality. Reality and awareness are co-emergent. The two—the relative and the absolute; ordinary consciousness and original Mind—are, in fact, different aspects of a single essence. Our life, in time-&-space—the finite—is the unmediated expression of the infinite—the uncreated ground of being from which everything in the universe, including the universe, is continually emerging (dharmata). At this point, all distinction of large and small self or unconscious and conscious mind disappear, like pouring water into water. This is the dissolution of the witnessing consciousness, at which point, we are revealed to be neither the wave (conscious mind) nor the ocean (unconscious mind), but “wetness.” The immediate circumstances that seem to define “our” life and reality, in it’s incompressible vastness, effortlessly co-emerge in an experience of undifferentiated being.

To use more Buddhist terms (the Three Bodies of Enlightenment), the creative body of being (dharmakaya) is the energy or indestructible experience of isness from which life (not our life) emerges. Creativity is not a quality of man. It is a quality of life that finds expression in innumerable forms, including man. The body of pure intelligence (sambogakaya) is the unmediated articulation of being—life seeking to experience itself through physical incarnation or the wisdom of the body. The intelligence associated with the body is a manifestation of the creative nature of being, marked by emptiness or the absence of censorship—the rawness of direct experience (mahamudra). Life, then, offers itself as a gift—susceptible to birth, old age, sickness, and death, repeatedly through a process of reincarnation. “Our” life is characterized by fleeting manifestations of individuality (nirmanakaya) that are born out of creative and unique interactions between the universe and the conscious mind that are facilitated by the body of sub-conscious wisdom. In other words, it is through our relative day-to-day life that the absolute is revealed.

Our day-to-day life—going to the grocery store, riding our bike, talking to a friend, or talking to an enemy—is truly magical. What we actually are is a mystery. It is only through mindful participation in this mystery—the cycle of human life, where the conscious and unconscious worlds are co-emergent manifestations of reality or Truth—“not a truth or the truth, but Truth”—that any genuine sense of fulfillment will ever be found.

The spiritual path is the most powerful urge in our life—the path is our life. Personal ambition or desire—the most glaring quality of the ego-centric mind—is nothing more than a perverted  example of the primordial imperative (Bodhicitta) to go beyond the self-conscious tendency to think about ourselves and awaken to the fullness or perfection of our humanity (buddha-nature) through an experience of being (enlightenment). True contentment is contingent upon my conscious consent to this primitive desire. Meditation is a practice of consent.

Meditation Instructions:


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